18th April 2016 Newport Beach, Ca to Riverside, Ca 94.1 kms - 58.5 miles Up = 539m - Down = 314m
April 18th 2016 - NEWPORT BEACH TO RIVERSIDE
It was really hard to believe that the day to start this long journey had finally arrived!! I had a mixture of feelings - am I crazy, am I really doing this? - and let's get this show on the road!!!! We had to make a start - to the little steps each day, which if we managed to complete, would see us travel from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in 41 riding days (and 5 rest days along the way).
It was a happy / sad start to the day as our warmshowers hosts Dale and Diane Lawrence had been so very helpful, hospitable and become really good friends. Honestly we could NEVER have experienced better hospitality!! I am sure they probably wondered what they had let themselves in for by agreeing to host the 4 of us for 4 days – but they have made up my mind to be a warmshowers host and hopefully help other cyclists like they helped us!!
We had packed the van the evening before and with the three bikes, us, and our gear we were “overloaded”. The residue of our gear, and Dale’s bike went in Diane’s car, so we travelled in convoy to our nominated start point on Newport Beach - a beautiful Pacific Ocean beach.
Here we met up with “facebook friend” Janet Berg – her husband Keith, and one of their cycling buddies Lisa. We unloaded our bikes from the van, put the front wheels in, hoped that everything was in order and headed down the beach!! How exhilarating it felt to walk down the sand (although there was a sealed pathway most of the way) with our bikes, to touch their back-wheels in the Pacific Ocean to start the journey. Those start day photo’s will hold very special memories forever.
And then – we were off! Diane returned home to a calmer life than the last few days, Dale can never be thanked enough for helping Pat negotiate the crazy busy freeways of the area to get within easy striking distance of our stop that night. It was honestly such a relief to Pat and myself!! Dale took her via the local AAA and collected maps and tour books for all the States we would travel through which turned out to be most helpful. When everything electronic fails - to have an actual paper map is most necessary!! Dale hadn't been out on his bike much due to surgery on a broken hand due to a hiking fall, so for him to offer to do this and ride about 60 miles home was an incredible generous gesture!
With photographs all taken, we were off - and pedalled with Janet and Lisa along the SART – Santa Ana River Trail. How fantastic that Janet would lead the full day and the burden of finding our way was taken from our shoulders!!! I just don't "do" urban areas well and while there was great sign-posting along the route - I still noticed a couple of little turns we made where I think Janet's local knowledge was most necessary and made the difference between following the right path versus getting horribly lost!
We were amazed at the width of these laned bike-ways, in fact a network of linking bike-ways. Never once having to cross a road, it was easy riding and we were able to take in the scenery – and have points of interest shown to us by Janet. The LA Angels stadium, the flashy new transit centre etc. Janet knew the best places to stop in shaded area’s too (as the day went on so to the temperature rose) where we were entertained by squirrels and local wildlife.
Not long before we reached the town of Corona – we met Dale pedalling back to his beautiful home in Irvine. He had a couple of hours riding in front of him and while downhill – into the headwind that we had as a tail wind! Great to stop for a brief chat and wish each other all the very best!! We headed on, a steep little rise – and time to stop for a coffee at Starbucks.
The next section of the ride was on quiet streets, with little traffic – very enjoyable riding. We were soon going through an area named Norco – which Janet explained was the – horse capital of the USA. These wide 2-way roads had bike lanes on them, a parking verge and a sand track walkway down each side for the horses. I think predominantly trail horses for the numerous trails in the nearby hills. There were many stables along this part of the journey.
The temperature had been continuing to rise and somewhere near the edge of Norco, Lisa felt the pinch so Janet called her husband, Keith for a pick-up for Lisa. Meanwhile, we re-joined the upper SART trail through a very picturesque part of the Santa Ana River – and after a few more kilometres, took a bit of a breather in an attractive local park.
While Pat had been at the campground for a while, it all co-ordinated well that Keith and Lisa arrived at the Jurupa Park Campground not too long before we all arrived. A quick change, the tent up (for the first time), and we all headed into Riverside and enjoyed dinner and bicycle chat at "Prohabition".
I know I felt a bit tired, not sure about the others – first day nerves I guess, but having Janet there to guide us certainly saved a whole lot of angst!!! We are underway and it had been a beautiful day of riding!!!!! To Dale and Dianne, Janet and Keith and Lisa – thank you all so much for making this a great first day of riding!! It was a relief to be underway after months of planning and good to have that "first day" under the belt!