The Finish Line– Pine Valley, CA—San Diego, CA

After dinner in Pine Valley, we came home and packed our bags in preparation of what would be our last and final ride of the trip. I was preparing for some serious weather. Taylor and I laid out on the dining room or table our padded spandex shorts, shirts, socks, jacket and new rainproof suits.

One of the best purchases of the trip.

One of the best purchases of the trip.

I kind of felt like a gladiator preparing for what could be his last battle ever. I slept pretty well for my final night. I woke up a few times and poked my head out the door to see how the winds and rain were performing. A fierce wind and heavy rain pummeled us between 11:00pm – 3:00pm. At around 4:00am the rained stopped. I woke up at 6:00am to a light rain but nothing that would force us off of the road. While we were getting dressed, Graeme found a breakfast cafe where “the mates” would enjoy their last breakfast together.

The dudes getting ready to leave Graeme and Pine Valley for their last day's ride into San Diego. Forecast--RAIN. Solution--Dry suits.

The dudes getting ready to leave Graeme and Pine Valley for their last day’s ride into San Diego. Forecast–RAIN. Solution–Dry suits.

What a mixture of emotions! We just spent some fantastic quality time with our new friend Graeme. We were about to finish what would probably be one of our most epic adventures ever yet. (Little do our parents know we have already sketched out a plan for our European tour and our tour along the Pacific coastway here in the U.S.) Graeme spotted a break in the rain as we were finishing up our breakfast and insisted that we get on the move before another belt of rain came through. We went back to our motel rooms, took a few pictures, hugged good ole Graeme goodbye and took off over and down the mountain.

Killing Mode.

Killing Mode.

The Dudes with Graeme.

The Dudes with Graeme.

About to take off on the last day's ride.

About to take off on the last day’s ride.

Despite the on and off and sprinkles Taylor and I were all smiles. We were inching closer to San Diego with each pedal. What a strange feeling! Our 55-day adventure was about to come to an end. After Taylor’s epic day of climbing we didn’t have but another 700 feet to climb and then we would be descending close to 4,000 feet all the way to the coast. We took a pretty great ride down the I-8 and old highway 80. We had some fantastic scenery down from Pine Valley into Alpine. Once we were out of the mountains and into some flatter land we were mostly driving in city traffic. Taylor and I were moving pretty quickly towards the shores. Taylor must have known that his friends were waiting at the pier for us. He was pedaling hard and with a purpose!

IMG_0675
(now Taylor takes over to finish the post) Riding into the populated city was not my favorite. We got the brunt of chilly, coastal headwinds. But did you really think that this was going to stop us? The ACA maps led us through a bike route in this national park which dumped us onto the bike route that was a straight shot to the ocean. I started getting giddy and throwing up fist pumps in the sky in sync with the Portugal the Man album I was listening to, “Evil Friends.” I even threw down some air guitar/drums at one point. I could smell the finish line, and I knew that all my buddies were waiting for us at the beach. When I knew there were three miles to go, I kicked up the gear into “killing mode.” I wanted to finish it like a race, as fast as I could. As I could see my group of friends in the distance, I peeped my periphery to see where Darren was. He was nowhere to be found. I stopped, knowing that I could not finish without him. I turned around, saw his bike in the distance, and feared the worst. I was thinking, “flat tire.” I rushed back to meet him and then saw him coming out of the public beach bathroom.

“Had to pee, bro!” He shouted at me. I’m thinking, “we’ve got thirty pedals to the finish line of a 3,100 mile trip and you’re stopping for potty breaks!?” Anyway, we got back on the bikes and raced to the end of the bike path. My buddies started cheering us on, and once we reached the sand we dropped our bikes and had a big embrace.

The finish line.

The finish line.

We had done it. Our friends pulled out multiple bottles of champagne and showered us with it. It was blissful. Best feeling in the world. I imagine it would be something like winning the Super Bowl. This was my super bowl. I couldn’t stop smiling, and I didn’t even mind all of the grief that I got from my friends about my out-of-control beard. We made our way to the ocean and I proceeded to bike into the Pacific. I stripped to my bike shorts and even jumped into the refreshing ocean. We’d been biking towards the darn thing for two months, I figured I would dive in and get a taste. We met a nice couple who took a picture of us with all of the guys. In the excitement, my iPod fell into the water. As if a miracle from above, the little guy still worked. It looks like he too had been hardened from the trip. My adrenaline was PUMPING!

Champagne shower at the finish line!

Champagne shower at the finish line!

The guys took us to a great place to eat and get some celebratory drinks at Ocean Beach. We got amazing fish tacos, feasted on nachos, chips and guac, calimari, and some IPAs. Feeling sky high and being with my best friends in the world was how I felt at that restaurant. It felt like a dream, and it still didn’t register that I had just finished the trip. We all went back to Tyler’s house in Point Loma. The crew was Tyler and Kirk (native San Diegans), Brian, Kaz and Mike (LA natives). I lived with all of these guys while attending Boston College. Hadn’t seen most of them in a long time. Kirk for example, flew to South America in July 2012 to join me on a 5 day trek to Machu Picchu. I hadn’t seen him since then. But it was like we hadn’t missed a beat. When that happens with people, you know that you are going to have a good friend for the rest of your life.

FInish line

FInish line

The Finish Line Crew

The Finish Line Crew

IMG_8139That night, we all hung out at Tyler’s in Point Loma and then went out to a bar in Pacific Beach. I didn’t shave. Kirk wore sandals. We all ate burritos after leaving. I slept on a cot/couch hybrid that Tyler had in the back patio of his house. I had a bed, but for some reason I was itching to wake up to the sunrise. Maybe after all that time on the road, I had developed a knack for the uncommon. We all woke up and went to get breakfast burritos at a place called “Hector’s.” Tyler was quite fond of this small shop, and had even made friends with Hector over the years. Sure enough, when we entered Hector greeted Tyler like a friend and I even noticed that he was wearing a Boston College shirt. Get some, Hector! I ordered two burritos, one for the morning and one for later. I suppose that I was still in “biking mode,” and thus always thinking about making sure that I will have food a couple hours down the line. After this I rode with Kirk and Kaz to pick up some coffee and donuts. My metabolism was still BUMPING. We went to Kirk’s place and caught up with his mom and stepdad, who were big donors for the cause. Darren and I wanted to thank them personally. The sun started to come out and we decided that it would be a good day to spend at the beach. We went to Del Mar and settled in nicely. We soaked in some rays, went swimming, and had some good conversation. A wonderful way to spend a Sunday. Kirk and I even wore bathrobes. By the end of the day we packed our stuff and headed back north to LA. Brian’s mom Carol had lent her SUV AND bike rack to Brian. This was a massive help, and allowed us to get back to my home in Westwood safe and sound. We got home, greeted the Ross family, had some dinner, and watched the Oscars. I was out EARLY.

Tay and Kirk. Bathrobes were a nice touch.

Tay and Kirk. Bathrobes were a nice touch.

Nothing like good ol' convo with the dudes!

Nothing like good ol’ convo with the dudes!

(l-r--Mike, Brian, Kirk) The finish line friends. Taylor grew up a mile down the street with Brian since he was 12. The three all were great friends at Boston College together. This is taken with an epic ocean view in Del Mar, San Diego.

(l-r–Mike, Brian, Kirk) The finish line friends. Taylor grew up a mile down the street with Brian since he was 12. The three all were great friends at Boston College together. This is taken with an epic ocean view in Del Mar, San Diego.

The hazy, rainy view from Point Loma, San Diego. Those are our bikes attached to the bike rack of the SUV in the bottom right. A special shout out to Carol Page (Brian's mom and Team Tobati donor) who lent Brian the big car and bike rack to bring the dudes back to LA from San Diego!

The hazy, rainy view from Point Loma, San Diego. Those are our bikes attached to the bike rack of the SUV in the bottom right. A special shout out to Carol Page (Brian’s mom and Team Tobati donor) who lent Brian the big car and bike rack to bring the dudes back to LA from San Diego!

Darren and the guys taking in the sights in Del Mar, San Diego. (l-r--Darren, Nick, Wilbur (Kirk's brother), Tyler, Kirk(

Darren and the guys taking in the sights in Del Mar, San Diego. (l-r–Darren, Nick, Wilbur (Kirk’s brother), Tyler, Kirk(

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