We flew Southwest airlines (free bagg

age!) one way to San Diego on Tuesday and took a cab to our $30 hotel near Sea World. We had shipped part of our bike to B&L Bike shop which was across the street from our hotel. We arrived at noon and the rest of our bike arrived at 3PM at B&L. By 5pm we had assembled the bike and we took it for a 10 mile test ride in rush hour traffic in San Diego. We went down to the harbor boat ramp and dipped our back tire in the Pacific ocean. (some day we may finish the Southern Bike Route across the US...) We also went to the grocery store for food supplies.


Day 1 stats:

49.3 miles

5 hours 47 minutes

Average 8.7 mph

daily climb: 5,915 feet

Bike odometer total miles 10,060

  We started out at 7am sharp just as the sun was rising in San Diego. The first hour was relatively flat following the San Diego river valley and then we stopped for breakfast at the IHOP. Up to that point everything was routine. Then we started our hill climbs - or should I say our long mountain climb. For the next 30 miles is was up, up, up like nothing we had ever experienced. We would ride for 15 minutes, rest for 15 minutes - we had started to question our existence on the planet. Finally at 1pm we threw in the towel as the hot sun was getting too much for us - we found a large tree with level ground to lay our sleeping mats under along the route and took a nap in the shade. I woke up shivering. In the sun it was too hot - and in the shade it was too cold... go figure.

(This photo was taken just before our nap stop.  We saw this odd house nestled into the hillside.) 

We hit the trail again at 2:30 when a school bus stopped in front of us to let out some children. We started our routine of riding and resting until we got up to the area where we were supposed to camp. The camp ground was closed for two months so they could vacation. OK so the next camp ground was 20 more miles and another 1,000 feet of climb.... so we again threw in the towel at 5PM and checked into the Pine Valley Inn. We were burnt.... It was the most physically exerting day we had ever had on our bike. But a great early dinner and early to bed - like we had a choice....

Day 2 stats:

73.5 miles

5 hrs 37 minutes

Average: 13.2 mph

Daily climb: 1,952 feet

Total trip: 123.1 miles


We started day 2 at 6:15 - about 45 minutes before sun rise. The plan was to beat the heat. But is was only 39 degrees up in the hills and now were freezing cold. Now that we were in the hills it was up a 500 foot hill then down the 500 foot hill. Much more exerting than the hills of Iowa. We did all of our climb the first two hours of the day and again averaged only around 8 mph for those first two hours.


We stopped for breakfast at a Mexican restaurant in the middle of nowhere and met Greg. Greg was on a mountain bike - at first Greg said he just loved to bike around - but after breakfast we found out Greg had lost his license and car due to those pesky back child support payments.... but now he was fit and seemed happy to ride around the hills of Southern California. We then pushed on and had only one more 500 foot hill to climb, then on to Interstate 8 for 12 miles of 6% continuous downgrade and having to ride the brakes to keep us around 40 mph where we felt semi safe. Wow - what was taking us an hour and a half to cover we did in just 16 minutes!

We then were back down to the desert and things started to feel normal again for us. We passed by so many hay fields - the butterflies were just incredible! And we have never seen so many hay bales - anywhere. This must be the hay bale capital of the world! Piles and piles of hay bales everywhere - all covered with tarps waiting for????? We rolled into El Centro at 2:30 just as the heat started to get a little out of hand. We are now at the library using the internet and getting cooled down.

Day 3 stats:

81.5 miles

7 hrs 46 min pedal time

10.6 mph avg.

1,535 feet of climb

trip – 204 miles

  We awoke at our usual 5am and were on the road at 5:40. We wanted to get an early start due to the predicted heavy winds. We stopped at 7am in Brawley, CA for breakfast at the Denny’s. We met a guy that told us the Adventure Biking group (of 16) had come through and stayed in Brawley the night before and we were one day behind them. We restarted at 7:45 and made it back up to sea level and the beginning of the North Algodones Dune Wilderness area for a brief break around 9am. For the first two and a half hoursof pedaling this morning we averaged 13.6 mph with a slight headwind. Up to this break we had high hopes that the forecasted high winds we not going to make it to us today. Boy were we wrong.


As we started our climb for the day the winds began to pick up. And if you have ever seen the movies with the blowing sand, camels, and people with their faces covered so they can breathe without inhaling sand and keeping the sand out of your eyes – that was us (without the camel..). We had to pull up our t-shirts over our mouths to breathe – but that also meant smelling our own BO from our sweaty shirts…. Oh well.

  The wind was brutal – the remainder of the day. We rode on level ground at 7 mph, up hills at 3 – 4 mph, and down the steep hills at 10 – 15 mph if we were lucky. Today was supposed to be our easiest day on the trip – only 1,535 feet of climb and only 81 miles…. But Pam and I were questioning our existence on the planet the last two hours. When you have to peddle hard to go down hill – you are having a bad day.


We arrived at our planned camp ground at 4:30 pm. The route was the most desolate we had ever biked. There was 67 miles without a single speck of shade, grocery stores, restaurants, or anything to say we had taken a decent break. The camp ground was on the bank of the Colorado river – there was a bath room with a sink and running water and a few trees – but no picnic tables, no showers, just no facilities – but the mosquitoes made up for the lack of everything else. We rested under the shade of one of the trees, sheltered from the wind for about 45 minutes. I had felt that I could not peddle another mile – but we realized that staying at this camp site would be miserable – so we mounted the bike and peddled 3 more miles into the wind to the first sign of civilization we had seen in ten hours.


We checked into the Palo Verde (in Palo Verde, CA) hotel and got room 2 (out of 5) and had to wait for them to clean it. While waiting we figured we could get a bite to eat and found out we stumbled into the most friendly town we had ever peddled through. Everyone wanted to help us – one lady even lived in Casa Grande in the 1940’s and 1950’s and still had relatives that Pam knew from work. It was a good ending to the most grueling day we had ever encountered on our bike.

  Day 4

81.3 miles 7 hrs 13 min pedal time 11.4 mph avg. 2,690 feet of climb trip – 285.9 milesAfter a 10 hour power sleep we awoke at 5am to the alarm clock and again we were out the door and on the road at 5:40. The sun rose at 6:36 and the farm fields of the Colorado River valley. We made Blythe and breakfast by 7:15. We crossed the Colorado River at 8am and on into Arizona. At exit 1 we entered interstate 10 and rode up hill for the next 12 miles on the shoulder. At first we were nervous but soon we found out the trucks all rode in the right lane and gave us a little ‘push’ – we figured we gained about a full mile-per-hour average with the trucks helping us.

We exited I-10 at Dome Rock Road and found around 50- 70 RV’s of people all off in the desert all panning for gold. Some with the traditional gold pans and some with more elaborate machines that separate the dirt from the rocks. Visions of the old settlers hunting for gold quickly were caught back up to current times as the RV’s came back into view. The winds began to pick back up.

  We again rode back onto I-10 for another 12 mile run up the next set of hills. Shortly after exit we stopped in Brenda for a break and found we had caught up to the Adventure Biking group. We rode along with them out of town and found they were now down to 15 people as one person left the group last night. They had left two days before us on the exact same route – only they are going all the way to St. Augustine Florida. Anyway we felt we had done pretty good catching them – although not a goal – but at least we knew we had the ability.


We arrived at our camping destination – an RV park – only to find they no longer let tents camp there. We went to the next RV park, then a 3rd, but none of them wanted ‘our kind’ there. So again we peddled another 4 miles to the next town (Salome) that had a motel. Denied again our camping experience we shelled out another $42 to sleep. We showered and walked across the street to THE restaurant for dinner. The restaurant was cool in the fact it was originally built in the 1920’s but around the 1950’s a soda fountain was installed and the original chairs and counter was still there being used. Very cool!

  Day 5

90.5 miles

6 hrs 54 min pedal time

13.2 mph avg.

1,079 feet of climb

trip – 376.4 miles


We again hit the road at 5:45 and began the morning climb waiting for the sun to rise. The nice thing about today’s ride was all of our climb was in the first 58 miles to Wickenburg, then it would be all down hill to Reece’s house in Surprise. Around 9am I starting day dreaming of how soft Reece’s couch might be – is it leather, is it fabric, it did not matter, I had not sat on a couch now for a full week.

  We arrived in Wickenburg at 11am hungry for lunch as there were not any restaurants open for breakfast our first 58 miles on our Sunday morning ride. We found a quaint western style restaurant in downtown Wickenburg and ate with all the tourists and weekend Harley riders.


As we started to ride out of town the winds picked up from the South. What we thought was going to be an easy downhill ride to Reece’s was now again a headwind. We began to joke about why when we rode North two days ago was the wind out of the North?, then why today we are going South and the winds are coming out of the South? There will be no ‘give me’s’ on this ride! We continued down to the valley and must have had a thousand Harley Davidsons pass us. The weekend riders were out in herds.


We arrived at Reece’s house around 3:30 pm and were treated to the best home cooked meal – what a treat after eating at restaurants all week.


Day 6

83.4 miles 5 hrs 56 min pedal time 14.2 mph avg. 958 feet of climb trip – 459.8 miles  We woke up with Reece at 4:15 and were out the door at 4:45, almost two hours before day light. The goal was to beat the rush hour traffic across Phoenix. Well that was the plan. All I am going to say is that Phoenix is the least bike friendly city we have ever ridden through. Nowhere else did we have dozens of people flipping us off and honking at us like we did through Phoenix. It was bad. It is a good thing we chose to go South out of town and around South mountain instead of going all the way through town like the Adventure Biking map plots you to do. The mentality of the drivers is that bikers should not be on the roads – even when there are bike lanes – and we noticed that the larger the vehicle (Hummers) the bigger the a-holes – a trend that was re-occurring.  

Once we starting going around South Mountain everything was getting back to normal for us. The landscaping was familiar and then we could recognize our local mountains – a great site after a long journey.  We arrived back in Casa Grande just before 1pm.


Lessons Learned:

1)      Avoid big cities – a-holes gravitate toward them.

2)      Avoid windy days – Ride in the rain or heat instead. Wind is physiologically challenging and physically grueling – who needs that?

3)      Call ahead to verify camp sites and/or have a back up plan.


Friendliest town – Palo Verde, CA

Best Restaurant – Mexican in Boulevard, CA (pop 413)

Best hi-way – Hiway 60 between Salome and Wickenburg (most scenic) nice asphalt

Most nostalgic – (the) Salone hotel and (the) Salone restaurant


Total miles from San Diego to Casa Grande - 459.8

Total pedal time – 39 hours and 13 minutes

Average – 11.7 mph