Day 38: San Diego – Mexican Border
Distance: 42:07 miles.
Average Speed: 9.4 mph.
The big worry, when bike touring, is how you’re going to get your bike home at the end. So today, the minor issue of making it to Border Field State Park for the end of the journey came secondary to the concern of finding a bike box. My dash round San Diego last night had been part city exploration and part looking for bike shops that might have been good enough to leave boxes lying around.
The city centre hadn’t looked promising, so I compiled a list of bike shops further afield that I could cycle round in hope. The list was especially necessary as the month’s phone contract I had taken out on entering the States had now expired, so my phone wouldn’t be much use ‘out in the field’. I set off to my first port of call, Mission Hills Bike Shop, it was 2 miles from the motel, up a gradual hill. They had a box and were happy to give it to me, but it was a 21″ mountain bike box. Would it be big enough? No time to worry about that now, I had the box and needed to get it back to the motel. The box was folded in half, but if I hadn’t been watching people cycling to the beach with surf boards all week, I’d never have risked rolling back down the hill with it under my arm.
Relieved to at least have something to work with, I set off for the afternoon’s objective, the end of the route. I pedalled along the quay to catch the short ferry to Coronado.
Coronado was a lovely tourist town on a peninsula across the bay from San Diego, from there a beach-side bike path led round to the south side of San Diego further down the coast. The weather was perfect, a sunny day with a strong tailwind. I’d have to fight against it on the way back, but I could worry about that later.
I skirted through Southern San Diego on residential streets before being surprised to return to quiet agricultural land as I neared the border. I was also surprised to enter Tijuana River State Reserve, I hadn’t been expecting to cross the Tijuana River. Eventually, I could see the border fence on a hill, and Tijuana on the other side. I headed west on Monument Road, reaching Border Field State Park shortly after. The road led to a beach where the border fence continued out into the sea, on the other side the beach was bustling, a busy town right up to the border. On the US side the park was deserted, just me and Border Patrol. It was a great spot to finish the trip, where the Pacific passed on into a new country.
Turning to head home, the headwind was feeling particularly stiff. Back in San Diego, thoughts turned to duct tape for the box. I stopped at a craft shop and picked up some packing tape, just in case, before finding gorilla tape in Walmart. Spanish appeared to be the predominant language in parts of Southern San Diego, I was greeted with buenos noches in one shop, and the Walmart had bilingual signs.
It was another hour and a quarter back to the motel, pedalling for block after block on Broadway and through the ‘Mile of Cars’ before passing the downtown skyscrapers at dusk, reaching my destination at sunset, the story of my trip.
Quickly dismantling the bike, to see if it would fit in the box, I was relieved to find that it would fit, just! Such a relief, the rest of the packing can wait until morning.