Charley’s ride across America 37. More angels, city riding, finish!


Day 75 April 12.  46 miles. 5:48. Ride to top, headwinds, city, end at Ocean beach, San Diego CA

Total miles 2937 100% finished

75 days total, less 11 off days, equals 64 riding days, average per riding day of 46 miles traveled.

Dear friends and family,

Well, we finished. Rode across the entire continent. I’m amazed more than anyone that I could do it.

Michelle, our bartender and volunteer angel, did show up as promised, to load the bikes and take us up the last big hill towards our finish. She took the scenic route, showing us the “ secret “ lake at Jacumba Hot Springs, and pointing out the old stagecoach route up the side of the hill.

I sat in the backseat as she drove. It seemed like she was driving really fast, although I couldn’t see the speedometer for the layer of dust that covered it. I wonder whether she could see it either. Maybe it just seemed really fast because I was used to a ten miles per hour pace. I did notice quite a shimmy of the front end as she drifted from lane to lane. 

Once we were moving up the hill, we both realized that it would have been near impossible to ride up this pass with these headwinds. Maybe impossible even after a wait for weather abatement, but I didn’t need to find out.

I also was found that my processing speed of taking in information had been slowed. I’m not sure I ever heard anyone rattle off so much information so rapidly, OR I was in slow brain processing speed and she was normal. My experience with her from the night before led me to believe it wasn’t normal, but I’m not sure.

She dropped us off just above Alpine, on the western side of the slope. It still took us five hours and forty-eight minutes  to reach the beach. Our route took us on a track to mostly ride bike lanes, but they were intermittent and often filled with gravel, garbage, or overgrown bushes. Yes, it felt dangerous, and we were aware of our poor mental condition, so we tried to focus on safety, even riding some sidewalks to stay out of traffic.

The last five miles were on a bicycle and running path to the ocean. Perfect timing of getting Deborah’s text offering  “ I could meet you at the beach with the truck” if we wanted. Yes, we wanted. 

Riding past many tents and filled and broken shopping carts of San Diego’s homeless, we dodged their camps to reach the ocean at Ocean Beach’s dog park. We pushed our loaded bikes through the last fifty yards of soft sand to touch the Pacific Ocean with our front wheels. Too slow to move out of the way of the waves engulfing our bike shoes, we retreated to the high ground as our latest angel arrived in the big Dodge truck.

Once bikes were loaded, we could finally collapse in rest. Done. Finished. Over. Be still.

I don’t think either of us were aware of how mentally and physically exhausted we were. Traffic, navigation, riding seven days without a break. The heat and wind. The aliens and the border. All contributed. We got up each day to ride west, but now was our break.

I intend to write a summary of my reflections on the trip- stay tuned.

Deborah and Allan put us up, fed us extremely healthy food, and gave a wonderful tour of San Diego, again a surprise of finding this fantastic place to finish and relax.

I knew Deborah from many years back. She worked for me  at Parma Hardware, the family business. She then became close friend with Geri Anne, my younger sister, in their college time at Cleveland State together, and we’ve stayed in touch.

Made me think of my not always responsible times as the owner and manager at the store. The business opened on Saturdays at 0800, which was sometimes challenging for me, the then party boy, who might spend Friday night out late and possibly even under the influence of more than water.

So, it’s five minutes to eight and the employees are gathered at the back gate to get let in to clock in and start their work day. My car was in the lot so they knew I was home. I lived above the store in a small apartment. Then eight o’clockarrived and still no Charley. A few hard knocks on the lower locked door failed to roust me, so anxious to get the store opened and clock in, the youngest employee, Larry would back his van up in the front below my front window, climb on the van roof to reach the window, climb inside, and roust me from my stupor. Within five minutes everybody was clocked in and business was going. 

This was my way to demonstrate responsible management allowing my team to use creative methods of getting the business open. I hope that their creative thinking exercise carried over to future endeavors.  I didn’t think it needed many iterations, so I didn’t make a habit of it. 

Deborah and Allan’s hospitality and kindness was terrific. I can’t thank them enough. But here’s a try: thanks!

I’m presently on my way to Port Townsend for visits, medical appointments and gear organizing for summer in Alaska. I’d love to see any of you available there.

Sending love to all,Charley 

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