Christmas traditions are those things done year after year, with their own particular rituals and patterns. The San Diego Hosteling International bicycle trip fits that description well. I’m riding it for the third time this year, so it is fun to see some of the patterns and slight differences. For example, the route sheets have been reprinted since I rode in 2003 (finally!) though the new sheets aren’t followed any closer than the old sheets.
Today was a solid day riding to Pine Valley. Only 52 miles, though we climbed from sea level to over 4000 feet so there were some slow uphill slogs and even one I walked. I hadn’t ridden much in the last few months and was riding a new bike, so I felt the hills today.
We gathered at University of San Diego at designated starting time, 7:30am. There was good turnout, with almost 100 people. A show of hands showed that about half were new and half had done previous years rides. I recognized some familiar faces. People checked in while others got their bikes set up. After about an hour the yellow rental truck showed up. I helped load luggage.
Don Schroeder whistled people over and gave intro and ground rules for the trip. After that we were off! Traffic was light as we cycled through the city. Within a mile, I felt a sharp cramp in left calf. Ouch! This wasn’t a good way to start. The route sheets directed us to bike path – but everyone continued straight on the main road, tradition!
After 11 miles, a left turn onto Father Junipero Serra Trail. This had obnoxious speed bumps, so going was slow. After this some back roads through Lakewood and then up the hill to parallel I-8. The grades slowly increased as we rode into Alpine for lunch. The deli was a popular choice and I waited there as well. A nice relaxing lunch before getting back onto the hill to keep climbing.
At 39 miles the frontage road ended and the on ramp led to I-8. The next 3.3 miles were on shoulder of the interstate. A bit noisy, but otherwise reasonable riding. I could feel the climb in my knees and was going a bit slower. At mile 44 one last stop at the Decasso store, before riding the last bit to Pine Valley.
Each night was stay in community centers, churches and other places. Pine Valley is the most cosy, though looks like a number of people with tents. Nice to get here at end of a long though not extreme ride. 52 miles today.