The Southern Tier, or Just Tears?

11th – 13th Oct 2018

San Diego

Being the lazy shits that we are, and seeing as San Diego is Perth’s sister City, we decided to take a longer stay here. Three nights instead of two. So this gave us time to walk around the city, drink some local brews at a couple of different bars, blog, and do some planning for the next couple of days riding. Getting in and out of major cities is usually a bit stressful, so making the first day out a shorter one is a good idea. We had a pretty relaxing time, and great weather, in San Diego, but by the time we had to leave, we were very keen to do so. The hostel was a good place to stay, close to everything, but as is common in these types of places, the people who manage them, are the backpackers who stay there, and they are fucking messy. Or are we just grumpy old buggers with OCD?


Day one we walked around the harbour area. There is an old aircraft carrier museum, and every kind of tour you could imagine.


Lots of interesting art, wide open spaces, and pedestrian friendly.


A bright a colourful place, clean and friendly. Some great architecture too.


Electric scooters, maybe we should have given them a go. Our little house, with the big room, that fit the bikes in, and had a neat little hide away to relax and watch the goings on. I’d recommend it.

San Diego to Alpine 62kms

It doesn’t matter, it was value for money, and in a good spot, but it’s time to head East. We got up, stripped the bed and tried not to look at what we had been sleeping on. The hostel was in two sections, the big house, which had all the shared dorms, and our house, which had private rooms and a couple of dorms. Breakfast was supplied, in the big house, which was around the corner, so we plodded over there, to energise for the days ride. Bagels, boiled eggs, fruit, cereal, and cake. Yep, cake. I had 3 pieces today, gotta ride some hills. Also a massive urn of coffee, and some juice. We got stuck in, then went back to finish the preps. It didn’t take long, and after flinging our gear over the balcony, and Will muscling the kids down the stairs, we rolled on out of town.

Start the day going up, and I should have known it would continue that way.

Not really, we started the day up 1st Street, a bloody hill. Mostly following Madam Google, Davo was not with us this morning, struggling to get his satellites together, we were trying to link up with the Adventure Cycling America  (ACA) route. It wasn’t difficult, we just got to the river, and Bam! We’re on it. It was already a bit warm, but a breeze behind us was nice. Along the river path, we spotted a lady, lying in the dirt, hopefully just asleep. Now we’ve seen heaps of homeless people, and they usually have a bunch of crap with them, but this lady had nothing. It worried us, but we didn’t know what to do. Should we stop and check on her, or just ride on? Neither of us could make a decision, and we just kept rolling. We didn’t stop, but it worried me all day. I hope she is okay, and I think we should have made sure she was fine. 

In a city a good bike path is worth searching out. Better than being in the traffic.

Anyway, rolling on, suburbia just didn’t seem to end, but the riding wasn’t too bad. Lots of good cycle lanes, and a few cycle paths. Traffic was busy, but not ridiculous, and although we were going uphill mostly, it didn’t seem too bad.

On the very outskirts of the city, near San Carlos, we were directed onto this trail.
For hiking and biking, it was up and down, but very enjoyable.


The streets of the outer suburbs weren’t too busy, and we made good time early on.

Most of the time, this was the worst we had, as far as a lane or shoulder went. Pretty good hey?

Our destination for our short day one, was Lake Jennings Campground, a mere 40kms. At Lakeside, we only had about 5 and a half kays to go, so stopped to get a few beers and snackos, then carried on following Madame Google. Davo had got himself together at last, and contested a couple of turns with his annoying beeps, to which I told him to pull his head in. That was until we had ridden up a hill, down a hill, and ended up on a dead end road with a bunch of horses neighing at us to piss off on our weird steeds.  I apologised and asked if Davo could please get us out of here, to which he sent us back the way we’d come. Up the hill, down the hill, and then left. Cheers, mate! Now what’s this? A three tiered climb to a dam wall, which holds Lake Jennings? Ugh! Halfway up the second tier, old Madame Google starts shouting at us to turn left onto a road that wasn’t really there. It was a gated service road. Nope, we think, that can’t be right, and Davo is telling us to keep going over the second bit, then turn left. He’s fucked up too, there wasn’t even a track, where he was saying. Team Wiljen, starting to get the shits on, pull over, and have a good old look at it, then decide to roll back down to the service road and take a cheat. It was a muck around, a dangerous spot for crossing the road, but all went okay. With a bit of pushing and shoving, we got the bikes around the gate, and onto the dam road. Then we rode up another steep hill to the campground entrance, only to be told that if we didn’t have a reservation, it was fully booked and we’d have to go somewhere else. You are joking right? You can’t squeeze in one small tent, for tonight? Nope, they have occupancy restrictions. So someone’s going to be in to check and count the individuals are they? Not bloody likely, but hey, they couldn’t be persuaded, to pull a dodgey, and wished us luck finding somewhere. Good on ya’s. Fuck me, the next place is 14 kms, uphill all the way! 

On the dam wall after the navigation saga, and it looked pretty good.
Looking down to that road, it was the second tier of this bloody road. Grrr.

What choice do we have, but to crack on and just do it. Both of us were dark as hell, but decided we’d just get on and secure something, so we don’t get this again today. Off we go, literally riding uphill, all the way. We started the day at sea level, and we were going to end the day at over 500 meters. Most of which would be in the next 14 kms. It was 3pm, and this took us over two hours to complete. It was very slow going, with most of it slogged out in 1st and 2nd gear. 

I think we had about five more kays to go, and that sign is how I feel, all fucking bent up, or melted. 💦💧💦

I had to stop a billion times, to rest the old legs, and it was hot too. My sweat meter had gone berserk, I think I blew a pipe and may need a plumber. It was bloody difficult, just spinning your legs, not making much progress on the map, sweat dripping in yours eyes, everything was wet. I tried not to stop, but I just had to. With 500 meters to go, a left turn 200 meters ahead, I had to stop one last time. I’m frickin dying here. Really dying! I’m doing a Lleyton Hewitt, “C’mon!” Huffing and puffing, heaving and dripping sweat, we rolled up to the Ayres Lodge, in Alpine. I collapsed in a chair, Will went in to secure our room, then we staggered around to it and plonked down on the bed. Completely messed up and shattered. What a mess it turned into. Best we do some better planning hey? I’m on it, this was just an uphill disaster. Will got us a pizza. After a shower and food, we were like zombies on the bed, listening to the pouring rain outside. I guess the riding gods were looking out for us, we didn’t have to camp in the rain. Cheers, and zzzz, zzzzzz!

No, I didn’t squirt myself with water, it’s all sweat. I smelt like a footy player….ugh!

Alpine to Pine Valley 30kms

Good morning, how are you today? Actually okay, and ready for some more slow climbing. It’s pretty much uphill for the next 35 – 40 kilometres, until we reach over 4000 feet. So at least today, we know what we are in for. We’re aiming for a campground about 45kms up the hill, called Boulder Oaks. After that campground there is maybe one more big hill, then we’ve broken the back of this mountain range, which is the Cuyamaca Range. So after a hearty breakie of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast, a couple of coffees, and a juice, we are packed and slowly pushing p the hill again.

Feeling better, and off to smash down some bacon and eggs. Yeah!

Alpine looks like a nice place, and bigger than expected. It was easy to have a good look around at the speed of 7 kilometres per hour. A bit overcast this morning, but still 85% humidity, which has me sweating like a football player in a sauna. Now I may have mentioned before about Halloween coming up, and in Australia we are getting on board and enjoying the Trick or Treating as much as the next country. But here, they are going all out, and getting into it more and more each day. Lots of houses have enormous spiders, ghosts and all sorts of creepy things stuck all over them. It is kind of cool.

I’m sure this is just the beginning with the decorations. 

What can I say, except that it fucking took forever to get 20kms down. Ugh, what a chore. We even had to ride on the Interstate 8 highway for a while, which was noisey, but had a great shoulder. Yes, it was still uphill. 

Not much forest left here, they’d had a nasty fire, and the hills were very bare.
It looks cold, and when you stopped it was a bit, but with the humidity at about 85%, when you are moving, it was bloody warm.


I looked at that call box seriously for a few seconds, but chickened out, and just kept going. We took another rest at the vista spot on the I8.

Finally, we came to a little village, called Descanso, and the little store selling pies! Oh my god, yes! I could so demolish a hot meat pie right now. Huh, nope, cold, sweet, fruit pies! Blah, no way! It’s like 17C outside, we need hot shit. So we smashed down a Coke and some Doritos, and kept on slogging up this mountain range. There wasn’t even any flat stuff to give us a break, just up all the way.

Mmm, pie, Fruit? We don’t want fruit. We need meat lady, Meat!

We had a nice old roll, down into Pine Valley, which was a bit cool, due to how sweaty I was, but at least it was not slogging up. We spotted Frosty Burger, and decided we could get some hot food here??? So we pulled in, got a hotdog (still shitty compared to Denmark), and a hot chocolate. They were all out of coffee! What? Who is ever out of coffee? A hot drink is all I needed, so fine! After the food and a rest, we actually decided we had had enough, and stopped at the Inn on the way out of town. Luckily they had one room left, so we nabbed it.

A frosty burger? I don’t know about that, but your hotdogs are iffy.

It was another smart move, as an hour later, the mist and drizzle started. Road Gods have given us the wink again, and we are dry for another night. Thank You. We cooked up our food, in the room, using our camp stuff, and had a couple of beers, before passing out, completely buggered. More hills tomorrow, but then we are over the range and into the desert. Excellent.

Once again our slacking off saved us from the bad weather. How lucky is that?

4 thoughts on “The Southern Tier, or Just Tears?

  1. Way to go Will and Jen! Still biking, and still inspiring us all. We met you way back on your travels in Victoria BC, sometime around July?? Since then we have even crossed Canada on Canada’s transcontinental passenger train, the ‘Canadian’. Very scenic, .. recommend it for yourselves…not as much work as you guys are putting in! We are just passing on words of encouragement…you are an inspiration to us all! Keep safe, keep on biking!
    Jan and Doug
    Victoria BC Canada


    1. Hi Jan & Doug,
      Fantastic to hear from you both ! Getting out on one of the best Train Trips in the world, that is great. I bet you both really enjoyed it.
      Jenny & I are fine. Finding the start of the Southern Tier a bit more challenging than expected, but we’ll persevere. We just will keep riding east towards Austin Tx until the “Schedule” kicks in….which happens about halfway through November.
      Thanks for the positive feed back. Meeting both of you during our journey was brilliant.
      All the best & take care.
      Will & Jenny.


    1. Hi Julie & Al,
      Southern Tier is proving difficult so far, big hill climbs, strong headwinds & dust storms. The distances between towns is starting to increase also. On a positive note the Motels are heaps cheaper then the West Coast so more nights in rooms then tent time at the moment. It will be touch & go at this rate if we cycle through to Austin Tx, I think we need to average 50kms per day (that does not allow for any rest days). Obviously possible but no room for breakdowns of man, woman or machine.
      Looking forward to catching up with you both in December or the New Year to swap travel stories.
      Will & Jenny


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