We’ve only flippin gone and done it..

Well, we’ve done it. Seattle to Los Angeles in just 6 weeks.

1,558 miles cycled.

Monday 25th June

With the last 35 ish miles of the home straight to do today a pretty leisurely start, no 5.30 am wake up call for us.

Getting up with blue skies and sunshine peaking through the trees it’s actually hard to remember that only a few weeks ago Phil was still cycling in woolly socks, both in waterproofs and I was sleeping in 4 layers with my soft shell jacket at night.

We just can’t believe it’s almost over. Our last camping in a Californian state park. Sycamore Canyon facilities were a bit grubby but shady trees, steep cactus filled canyon on both sides, more soothing noise of the waves on the beach last night and no rattlesnakes spotted so all good.

Last day with representatives of the Swiss cycle touring team so packed up our trusty Coleman Towers and headed off together for breakfast somewhere along the coast in Malibu. Sadly the frequency of decent diners has diminished somewhat in this neck of the woods – perhaps due to the cost of land/ property etc. But even so we ended up eating at a local’s favourite Lily’s and trying a bit of an Californian institution, a Mexican Breakfast Burrito. The tortilla, cheese, refried beans, 4 scrambled eggs, hot sauce and more bacon than you can shake a stick at is probably overkill with the few miles we need to do today… but hoping the healthy carrot and ginger juice that followed cancelled it out somewhat…err?

This was the last time we would see Patrick, Andrea and Benjamin, so we said our goodbyes after handing over a few cycle goodies to them which we would no longer need. This included ceremonially handed over our precious burger bell to Andrea, on to ring out in more distant valleys (Andrea and Patrick are off to cycle in central America now www.weltblicke.ch).

Andrea and her new burger bell

With Dave’s rear tyre still in tact, we hit Highway 1 to complete the last 20 miles into the outskirts of LA, Santa Monica being our final destination.

The road was busy and we had to dodge in and out of the shoulder to avoid parked cars, coming to a complete halt when we had to (thanks for the advice Ann).

Property for the last 50 miles has been impressive, but the density, size and engineering solutions to hang huge pads from the sides of the hills and over the beaches was becoming more and more jaw dropping. Topography doesn’t seem to be a hurdle now. If there is some land with a sea view, guaranteed someone will have made a home there.

With 5 miles to go, the increasingly busy road thankfully had an a escape route, this being the peaceful Los Angeles Bike Path. So the cycle instantly went from daredevil to daydreamy. The path winds its way through the huge, clean sandy beaches of Northern LA – past volleyball nets, palm trees and beachside cafes – a joy to cycle.

Guessing that all hollywood films must be inspired from things around here we now know where the maker of the film Swarm got his/her lightbulb moment… on the path a couple of miles in we hit a huge cloud of bees . People running all over the place. We just put our head down, closed our mouths and hit a speed Sir Hoy would have been proud of. We survived without a sting between us.

At 1.30pm we hit the streets of pretty Santa Monica and the city limits of LA, our final destination. Imogen’s cycle computer reading 1,558 miles. My computer read less, but then it hasn’t been recording anything below 8 mph since it got a good soaking in Oregon, so we’ve chosen to ignore it.

Dave the tandem, had made it also, even his worn our rear tyre:

It is at this point we need to say something about Dave, because Dave and Little Dave (Dave’s trailer) overall have been great to us. Yes we had some blow outs going down some hills, but we were pushing the limits of what he was originally designed to do. Since that point and with taking care on the descents, he has been as solid as a rock. Smooth gear changes, good breaking, strong climbing and super fast. We couldn’t have asked anymore from him. We will be toasting Dave later.

And on that subject it turns out dave is a true Brit afterall, loving blighty but loving the sun even more. He’s decided to stay and make Santa Monica his home.

Since cost of shipping him on this leg of the flight is pretty pricey and as the trip has drawn to a close we’d been toying with the idea of finding Dave a new home. After asking around a few cycle shops when we arrived it looked like we would be packing him up and happily taking him back to a less Californian lifestyle in the UK. But it’s a bit spooky as after we walked out of one swish bike shop at 3pm this afternoon (which turned out only deals in new bikes) a couple walked straight in and asked about second-hand tandems for an anniversary trip they are planning in August, what are the chances??! The lovely guy Thomas at the bike shop passed on our number and by 6pm this couple were trying Dave out for size. They are also exactly the same height as us respectively which is perfect.
So Dave is going to a lovely and knowledgeable new home with keen cyclists called Julie and David (another sign we think).

A well informed David and Julie and their new tandem “Dave”

Wrapping it all up:

It is at this stage of the blog when it is time to say goodbye. From the both of us, a big thank you for following us on our trip. We’ve had a fantastic experience over the last 6 weeks and really value the friends we have met and the kindness we have received from the folks of America.

We hope you’ve all enjoyed reading our blog. We’ll be adding another page in a few days with our thank yous, best bits, trip top 10’s, kit list and favourite photos.

Good bye and thanks again for all your support while we’ve been away.

Phil, his scruffy beard, Imo and Dave xx


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Penultimate day…

Sunday 24th June

After decimating the hotel’s breakfast offerings of pastries and muffins (after all we needed something for a mid- morning snack as well), all five of us ( the 3 Swiss as well) left the hotel around 10am this morning.
Although we left together, the others had some errands to run so we agreed to meet later at the next campsite.
Navigating our way out of town proved a little more difficult for us today. Perhaps we were too busy being dazzled by the well manicured scenery or the $million pads. Whichever, we still managed to take a wrong direction and started to climb a large hill that wasn’t shown on our map. At least it was downhill to re-join the route.
This was our penultimate day on the bike which felt a little strange. It led us to chat about the past 6 weeks, the places we’ve been to, the people we’ve met and the experiences we’ve had. Glad we’ve recorded them on this blog as (we hope) it will always serve as a great reminder.
Dave the tandem has been faultless since the front tyre blowing on us just after San Francisco and I guess we have relaxed more as a consequence. That said, I inspected the rear tyre this morning to see that we now have a full circumference of tyre thread showing as it is so worn. Oops. Rightly or wrongly, we decided to ignore it and we hope that it can give us the final 90 miles of the trip.

After beaches and bike lanes, our first stop was the town of Ventura for some street-side sit down lunch. Feeling guilty about how much food we had eaten over the last couple of days, we decided to share one meal instead. Sadly this just turned into a competitive eating fest between is. It’s ok though, I think I just edged ahead in the final straight..

After lunch we decided to take I some culture, these being the museum in Ventura, and the Channel Islands visitor centre, a bit further down the road. Both very good, although we were the only people in the Ventura museum ( at 2pm on a Sunday) so not sure about its future.

After 57 miles we finished the day at Sycamore Canyon State Campground, the Swiss just pipping us to the post. Darn. Last day on the bike tomorrow…







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Santa Barbara – day 2

Fabulous day off in sun in Santa Barbara. Pretty lucky as we rocked into town on parade weekend so lots going on. Bands and dancing in the park. All good. Met unexpectedly with the Swiss contingent. And ended up sharing accommodation and out for a meal and drinks. A good night.

Can’t believe it’s only 2 days of cycling left until we get to LA! Looking forward to coastal route amongst the palm trees tomorrow.







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Santa Barbara – day 1

Waves crashing against the shore all night. Sounds idyllic but I had probably my worst night’s sleep of the trip. Imo loved it, found it soothing and slept like a baby. Great to wake up 3 metres from the beach and palm trees though.

Our guidebook suggested that we stayed off the main road for the first couple of miles by taking a bike path to El Capitan State Park. It also stated that this route may be closed due to cliff landslip. With no sign saying it was closed, we assumed all ok. No such luck. 1 mile of up and downs brought us to a fence with a sign. Grrr.
Managed to avoid having to completely back track by disconnecting the trailer and scrambling over a bank and adjacent railway line – so not all lost.
An hour and a half on the bike brought us into Santa Barbara – a beautiful town. Have raised the mortgage value so we can afford to spend two nights here.

While waiting for our room to be ready, we bumped into a nice gentleman called Glyn. He was born in the Uk but had moved here in the seventies. Glyn, promptly invited us to his hotel for wine and hors d’oeuvres. Glyn owns the Simpson House Inn in Santa Barbara – and what a lovely place it was too. Beautiful historic house with landscaped gardens. We were made very welcome by Brad and Robin who worked there.

After this we popped to a pub called The Press Room and met up with Ernie who we originally met just before Cloverdale a few weeks ago. Ernie bought us a drink and so did loads of other people in the bar so it ended up being a great and blurry night for us… Ernie and his friends are lovely. Thanks for a fun night.

P.s imo will read pride and prejudice now honest, even thought she’s not met Colin Firth.






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Last day of proper climbs – wh-hoo!

Significant milestone achieved today as our adventure gets closer and closer to completion. According to our guidebook we have no more ascents or descents greater than 200 ft now, which is good news as today’s ride was an epic one – especially the final 2 mile descent.
As you are aware we’ve been very worried about overheating brakes causing our tyres to explode. Well on the final descent today we sort of had a catch 22 situation. To start with, it was a warm afternoon and we had a strong tailwind down the descent. Whilst the road wasn’t windy, with a 7% gradient, we gathered speed – fast. I tried to keep our speed below 35 mph but had to brake too much to do this and obviously too much braking could have had a less desirable affect.. So, we just coasted and held on…
Thankfully, we survived. Not sure what our top speed was in the end, but another trip to the laundry may not be a bad idea….

The upside to today is that we have knocked out 74 miles, and this was not flat terrain. And, even though it was a gloomy start, at 11am while we stopped in a diner in Lompoc, the clouds just melted away to clear blue skies in the space of about 20 mins. It felt like someone pushed the “clear the clouds” button.
We’re now writing this from the best campsite ever – Refugio State Beach Park. Hopefully the photos below will do it some justice. Oh and on the subject of photos, I innocently ordered a banana waffle in the diner this morning and this was what was delivered. I can vouch that there was some waffle and banana in there..







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Easy life…

Weds 20th June

Just a mere 28 miles covered today. How guilty do we feel? Well not very actually – after all this is a “holiday” remember.
Also to prevent our cycling lycra walking off by itself, this morning we attended to some mundane admin such as laundry, postcards and blah blah blah ( can you tell who is writing today’s blog yet?)

So the afternoon’s cycle didn’t kick off until 2pm. Not a great deal to say about it really. Very good tail wind until San Luis Opisbo, which kindly turned back into our faces just after.

Finding the state park at Pismo Beach was a little more interesting however. I guess things have changed here since our guidebook was published (Bicycling The Pacific Coast – 2005) so after 2 incorrect campsites, we found the right one.
However, although they had a “hiker/biker” area this wasn’t a state park, Just a regular commercial campsite. Handily Peter and Steven, two students in their early twenties pitched up on their bikes at the same time so we shared the cost.

What great guys. Both were studying hard to eventually become professors in their fields. We chatted till dark about travelling, cycling and politics. Don’t think we’ve come across people so positive about life and what they want from it. If you are reading this, it was great to meet you both.




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How early? ( Part 2 – the revenge)

Tuesday 19th June

Lovely sounds of the waves crashing on the shore as we drifted off to sleep last night. We’re right in jade cove, where you can pick up jade all along the beach.

The Swiss beat us off the mark this morning, as we decided that although we had more big hills, hairpin bends and traffic, we could afford to not get up when it is dark.

So, up at 5:30, on the road at 6:30 was the order of the day. The intention was to do just 35 miles as again the first bit had some a couple of 950 ft climbs in it. The roads so early are just great, so quiet. You see more wildlife too with the still and calm sea first thing. We saw a whale breaching yesterday.

In the end we met up with the Swiss for a leisurely lunch in the sun with only 1.5 miles to campsite. We all decided that we would push onto Morro Bay.

The roads this morning were spectacular. They are literally cut into the cliffs and there is evidence of major rock falls and complete loss of the road in many sections ( some being very recent). California highways must spend millions maintaining this stretch each year.

After the hills and cliffs this morning, we went back to lowlands, dry as a desert. It actually looked a little like Dartmoor with rocky outcrops here and there, but the ground was yellow, not green.

With temperatures heating up, Dave developed a really annoying and untraceable squeek. It drove us mad as it wasn’t consistent either, one minute it was there the next it went.

The road came back to the Pacific, and on the horizon we could see the towns of Cayucos and Morro Bay. We both didn’t expect to see this sort of terrain in California. The towns around the bay reminded us of Croatia, with uninhabited sun dried hills behind them. I guess we have always thought that the USA was highly developed and whilst it is in sections, this part proved that man has not tamed every bit of land.

Earlier in the day at lunch, two Canadian cyclists came over to chat and told us of a very good and cheap motel in Morro Bay, called the Sun Down Inn. With good reviews and around 40 GBP ($64 ) for the night, that was our destination. Afterall, we needed to do laundry, update the blog (which I am doing in the library now) and charge the phone and camera batteries.

In the evening we decided to go for some food by the water front. 59 miles today so we deserved it in our minds..

PS have now updated the San Fran post with a little bit of text.







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