March 6 - 11: California

3/8 - Jacumba (47 miles 80 total)
47 miles from alpine to jacumba
it was a biker's dream day---mostly climbs, some serious ones, with headwinds most of the way. even downhills weren't very fast (tho' that didn't bother me, the original downhill wimp who brakes the whole way down). after bundling up against the chill before starting from alpine around 7:30, we were plenty warm at the top of the 5-mi climb we began almost right from the motel.
then it was on to another favorite biking activity....biking on the interstate, this time I-8. for the 3.5-mi stretch we took, there's a bike lane, as bikers can't get from place to place any other way. here are a few of us about to head down the onramp. the bike lane was pretty wide, but wow it's noisy out there!
after only about a mile on the interstate, some of us took the first opportunity to get a scenic overlook.
here (from your right to left) are kathy & laura from santa cruz, & kathy grubb. notice the beautiful scenery in the background; this is the sort of landscape we enjoyed looking at all day. a sign near this overlook said "altitude, 3000 feet." many miles later, at tecate pass, the sign said 3890. sure felt like we'd pedalled uphill more than that since yesterday morning.
after getting off I-8, we turned onto old highway 80, on which we stayed the rest of the day. after a while we cruised down into pine valley, where we stopped at a little convenience store to use the bathroom. out of habit, i immediately checked out the frozen-food display, & lo & behold----a PHISH STICK! those, along with quite a few other special treats, are a bike-ride favorite.
here's me holding my first phish stick of this trip (it's by ben & jerry's---made of phish food ice cream encased in dark chocolate, all shaped like a phish).
note also the flowers from elisabeth that are still adorning my bike bag. something you can't see that's also adorning my bike bag is the little austrian crystal breast-cancer angel who rides at the top of my yellow caution triangle. she was a trip present from my friend linda schrock, a two-time cancer survivor.
when marilyn & i first arrived at the convenience store, a fellow filling his gas tank asked us where we were riding to, so of course we told him. he immediately said, "oh, i'd love to do that." a little later, after marilyn had gone inside, he came back over to where i was parked & "insisted" that i take some roasted almonds from a large canister he held out. no problem; i love almonds.
sue provided us a sag stop along the road, & how welcome it was, as i was going thru water at quite a clip. here are karen, rita, & mary (the other mary; this one's from boston) standing beside "little bo peep," the name given to the subaru that roams the roads making sure the womantours "sheep" are safe & accounted for.
we rode thru a couple of very small unincorporated towns & thru a section of La Posta Indian Reservation. we'd often stop to take a breather & rest our aching hands, wrists, & forearms, not to mention legs! while stopping, we'd take a bite or 10 out of the pnut butter sandwiches we'd fixed ourselves before leaving the motel parking lot this morning.
although the traffic was not at all heavy on hwy 80, the road's surface was often less than ideal, especially the shoulder where we should've ridden. & it was often littered with glass. some of the vehicles that passed us were clearly perturbed that we were riding on the roadway, but trying to ride on the broken-up, uneven surface of the shoulder would have meant instant bike wreck in many stretches.
but the birds.....i loved hearing them sing. i appreciated them even more after spending even a little time on the interstate, where the noise of the trucks was so deafening.
marilyn & i were pedalling thru boulevard, only about 7 mi from jacumba, when we were cruising downhill past a darling little building that had a sign out front, "wisteria candy cottage." i looked at it inquisitivedly as i rode, then a woman getting into her car in front of the store called out to us, "you mean you're not going to stop?" (do i have "dark chocolate addict" emblazoned on my forehead??) so marilyn & i stopped & looked at the shop while this woman started listing all the delectable candies we could find inside. when she got to truffles & fudge, we parked our bikes & headed inside.
what a cute shop. here's marilyn completing her candy purchase. the woman told us that she's the 3rd generation to run the business, & that the building is almost 100 years old. you can find out more at the shop's web site:
i bought 2 dark chocolate truffles, one of which i ate when i got to our lodging around 3:15 this afternoon. it was a grand marnier dark-chocolate truffle, & it was spectacular. who knows how long my chocolate mousse truffle will last.
tonight's supper, fixed by michelle, was delicious: a tasty vegetarian marinara sauce on tri-colored tortelini; another one of those wonderful salads with field greens, grape tomatoes, & fresh avocado; sliced french bread with bruschetta topping; a plateful of raw veggies (carrots, broccoli, & snow peas); & a plate of sliced cataloupe & fresh pineapple. for dessert we had fresh strawberries, which you could put on top of some angel food cake if you wanted to. as i pedalled today i noticed lots of signs along the road touting fresh avocados, strawberries, & myriad other fresh vegetables & fruits available at nearby farms. it's so nice to enjoy so many of the local produce in our meals.
along the road today we saw some border patrol vehicles; we understand that jacumba is about 300 yards from the mexican border.
michelle says that tomorrow we'll spend more time on the interstate...about 10 mi, all downhill, & some steeply downhill. this doesn't sound at all enticing to me. my hands will ache from all the braking i'll do.
(there are no phones in our rooms at the jacumba spa resort; the nice folks in the office are letting me use their phone line to send this report.)
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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