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*EOR, pronounced Eeyore, with apologies to A. A. Milne
 
In late January Mike told me about a group planning to ride the Southern Tier Route. After some hemming and hawing I decided I would give it a try. I chose a Fuji 58 cm model. I immediately ordered and installed a Brooks saddle. To alleviate a persistent neck pain I replaced the 110 mm stem with a 90 mm one, and switched the 32 C tires for Continental 38s. I also carried two spare tubes although I never got a flat over the entire 3100 miles. Mike and I did a two-day test ride with fully loaded bikes from Ocotillo Wells to Agua Caliente in the Borrego State Park as test run; it all went well so in my mind I was ready.
Ocotillo Practice
Ocotillo Wells to Agua Caliente shakedown and campout with Mike, February 8th and 9th.
 
Group's first meeting in Cardiff
Our group of five met for the first time on March third CCW, Gary from Indiana (in Blue), Mike from San Diego, Susan from Port Townsend, Charlie from Tucson and me from Cardiff by the Sea.
 

Charlie made it to Saint Augustine Beach on May first.  Susan joined riders from Sacramento and arrived a couple of weeks after me. Gary got sick in Florida and had to go home. So close to the goal, he says he’ll complete the STR next year. With less than a week to go, Mike went directly to Jacksonville then home.

Practice ride in late FebruaryPractice ride in late February

We left from Ocean Beach at 7:30 AM on March fourth. We camped at Boulder Oaks the first night. I rinsed my jersey and set it on a bush to dry, it was frozen solid the next morning. We rode in strong gusty winds to the Acorn Casino for breakfast. When we came out of the restaurant it was socked in with fog. Fortunately as we descended to Jacumba we got below the cloud base. The ride from InkoPah along I 8 was challenging with 45 to 50 mph gusts and crosswinds, a hairy ride indeed. Ocotillo Wells to El Centro was fun with 25 mph tailwinds, although over 80% of the 51 day ride was into headwinds.

Charlie the trip initiator dropped out as we reached Arizona. He made it to Phoenix where he got lower gearing for his bike and kept riding with other people. We camped at a very nice RV park in Hope on our second day in Arizona. After that we were ‘beyond hope’. I have been waiting six weeks to say that. We made Phoenix on March ninth. The next day we rode AZ 87 on what we were told was the hottest day of the year, over 90 degrees. The road had narrow shoulders and was strewn with shredded truck tires. Truck tires contain a lot of wire and it is not friendly to bicycle tires. For added entertainment there were many areas of charred pavement from car fires. Jimmy, an Arizona Highway Patrol officer told us this was due to poor car maintenance by people set out into the desert woefully unprepared for the harsh environment. We got very low on water and were saved by two Hispanic fellows who stopped and lined up six-pint water bottles on the shoulder. Mike rode holding his water bottle upside down, they knew what it meant and responded with kindness. We learned the Arizona law requires that you give water to anyone that requests it, as it is a matter of life and death.
 
We camped in a roadside ditch that night although Susan made it to Jakes Corner. When we reached Las Cruces joined up with other riders heading east. So now we were three.
 
Crossing the Continental Divide between Lordsburg and Silver City was a milestone, which I celebrated with bottle of Sierra Pale Ale. Mike and Gary declined to have any beer, not my problem. We took a rest day in Silver City prior to riding over Emory Pass, elevation 8228 feet. The first part of the ride down to the Rio Grand River was exhilarating, lots of braking needed, but not too much lest the rims over heat and the tires blow out.
My rig, 70 pounds overall, rock on!
My rig, 70 pounds overall, rock on!
 
We crossed into Texas at El Paso on March 19th. I have coined a new definition for WTF, which now means West Texas (is) Forever. We would not get out of Texas until April 8th. At Fort Hancock Texas we met Bubba who was running a Coast 2 Coast Pampered Camper group of 25 riders. He provides full support including meals (except lunch), accommodation, laundry, bike repairs, midmorning snacks, the whole nine yards. It turned out they had left Ocean Beach four hours after us on March fourth. The best part of his service from my perspective as a self-supported biker was they were all on road bikes with no baggage. Anyway we took Bubba up on his offer of a meal, a shower, and ‘camping’ in an air-conditioned high school gym. We would cross paths with Bubba’s 25 riders from time to time for the rest of the journey. While we deliberated over the path to take, Bubba’s riders followed little red arrows pasted on the road surface at key intersections. Taking a SAG tour would have been about 60% more expensive, but it certainly will be the way to go if I ever do this again. I can’t say too much about Bubba’s generosity, it was offered again on my birthday a month later.
 
Probably the hardest day was March 22nd from Van Horn to Marfa Texas. This was a 72-mile day. It was over 90 degrees F, 20 mph head winds, rough roads, and a one to two percent grade all the way except for the last five miles. We caged water from Bubba’s SAG a few times. The first cold beer at the end of the ten-hour day was among the best I ever drank. I need to write a letter to Amtrak because the next day, a few hours out of Marfa, I was standing alone on the shoulder of the road drinking water when the streamliner went by heading west. The engineer gave me a couple of toots on his horn. Maybe it’s a small thing, but it really gave me a lift as the relentless head winds were back.
 
We took two rest days in Austin, a beautiful city. Only one day was planned but I needed to replace my rear tire as the TX chip seal roads ‘eat’ tires. The other reason for the extra day was a very strong lightning and thunderstorm with rain and the added fun of tornado watches. We really were lucky weather wise. There were many severe storms across the south during March and April. We missed them all except for Austin. I will go back to Austin, they hold an annual Eeyore Birthday party only announced one or two days ahead of the event, it is my kind of town.
 
It is fitting that our Big Mileage Day was in Texas; we rode 117 miles from Marathon to Langtry on one of the few days we got a tailwind. The elevation dropped 2000 feet in this section and helped make lots of mileage, still it was long day. I wanted at least one 100-mile day and I got it along with a baptism.
Greg administers the ritesGreg, who joined us for a few weeks, administers the rites. Greg is doing a perimeter ride of the whole country. He will be home in Sacramento in the fall.
 
After 20 days Texas finally yielded to Louisiana. Gary stopped at an R/V park in Merryville; it had a TV so he could watch the Masters. Mike and I rode on to DeRidder LA as it was only mid afternoon. Gary never rejoined us, now there were two.
Three Little Pigs brick house in Western LouisianaI found the Three Little Pigs brick house in Western Louisiana
 
To borrow from the trumpies, the South is an “Alternate Country”. As Mike and I pulled into Mamou I saw a ‘Drive-In Daiquiri’ joint. You drive up, roll down the window, hand over cash and get a plastic cup with a flexible straw taped to the side. In Louisianan logic this is not an open container. The CHP would take a different view. And a few days later just as we left the state we stopped in a convenience store/gas station had six packs of two-quart bottles of Jim Beam next to the door leading to the gas pumps. It was not lost on Mike and I that the patrons were on the same roads we were riding, so were lucky to get out of Louisiana alive.
Mississippi R/V ParkMississippi only took a day and half to ride through. We stayed in Red Creek R/V Park on the river. The proprietor Hilton Murray gave us a cold beer as all the stores were closed. He had been a rodeo rider, a rancher, and now was content to manage his park. The full moon and the fireflies made for a serene evening.
Just Drive ThruWe stayed in a hotel in Daphne Alabama and the next day had to ride in heavy traffic with nearly no shoulder. There was a ‘bike’ lane of sorts, but some genius put in a rumble strip that forced us to ride in the car traffic lane. I am writing several letters on this to the Alabama State DOT, the main Mobile newspaper, the governor, the tourism board, and the federal highway agency that provides the state with highway money. In particular, I will ask the governor to take his family on their bicycles to ride one of these official state bikeways. If I sound annoyed, I am.
Poor Alabama shouldersFlorida was a welcome change, better roads and relatively flat terrain. We were nearing the goal of Saint Augustine Beach so everything started to look better (for me at least). We crossed paths with the Bubbas and were again invited to camp with them. It was the evening before my 73rd birthday so I readily accepted, Mike declined. I got some welcome camaraderie and a happy birthday song. It was very nice indeed.
Ed's birthday with BubbaMike’s attitude shifted; the drivers, the roads, and perhaps the long journey got to him. With less than a week to go he rode directly to Jacksonville, got on a plane, and went home. Now there was one.
 
I rode alone, averaging 80 miles a day, for the next three days on nice roads with very little traffic, arriving at Saint Augustine Beach at 1500 on April 23rd. I swam in the Atlantic Ocean’s 72 F water and spent a day wandering around Saint Augustine. It is a lovely city, founded in 1565, making it the oldest city in the United States. I flew home a happy man, satisfied with my accomplishment.
Success as Ed dips bike in the Atlantic

I cycled, self-supported, 3150 miles from the Pacific to the Atlantic in 51 days, averaging 65 miles a day excluding rest days.

During our ride we passed many cyclists doing the STR from east to west. About 85% were British, several solo Americans, and one solo Swiss rider. We hopscotched with a number of American groups going east. The largest group was Bubba’s 25 riders along with 6 to 8 support staff, I have concluded that is the way to go in the future. They passed us on their road bikes many times, no baggage, is bike-envy a word?  I felt some small satisfaction in arriving a day ahead of them. However, they were less physically beaten up than me.

I met many great people I met in Middle America. It is another whole story that I feel compelled to write.

See below, it looks like I now have some spare time on my hands. 

Edward Slater,
Cardiff by the Sea, California
May 4, 2017
 
Post Script:
I went for a short 30-mile ride on my road bike up HWY 101 a few days after I got home.  My touring bike does not have clip-in pedals; which would have been a real nuisance on the long trip.
 
You guessed it. I took a spill and sprained my wrist.  After a few days of increasing pain I went into Kaiser Permanente for an exam. Within a week the orthopedic doctor got me in for wrist surgery.  That happened at 6:00 AM this morning. No pain yet, but I have been cautioned not to ride for up to four months, now that is real pain. At least I can type so no excuses for some long planned stories and sorting out years of videos and photos.
 
Ed, May 19, 2017
Booboo back home
Duh!

We did it. Bob Sheldon, Ursula Misiraca, Sherry Newsham, Ken Hartman and I rode from Vancouver B.C. to the Mexican border. We left Vancouver on August 30, 2015 and touched the fence on October 6, 2015.  Border 2 Border gangunpacking bikesFunny how when you take your bike apart and pack it, that after it arrives and you are trying to put it back together there are parts that don't fit, extra pieces and missing pieces and lots of adjustments needed to be made.

We arrived in Vancouver by train from Seattle. After checking into our hotel we were planning to cruise Stanley Park however, the park was closed due to unexpected high winds and downed trees. That’s how our adventure started trees blocking bike paths, wind, rain and being searched at the Canadian USA border.

Exploring Washington was an adventure of itself so many ferries and we rode many of them. There are some amazing places to cycle and or visit Whidbey Island and Deception Pass are two of them if you haven’t been there check them out online.
Whidbey Island Ferry
Our last stop in Washington was in Cathlamet. The last quaint little town before taking a ferry to Oregon. We had lunch and warmed up at this café. Before lunch
Cafe in Cathlamet for lunchAnd after lunch
Rain in Cathlamet after lunchOn to Oregon, it was our last ferry ride in Washington. By taking the ferry to Oregon we avoided the bridge that most cyclist talk about being extremely dangerous, it added a few miles but who's counting. We experienced more rain and lots of morning fog in Oregon but when it cleared the scenery was breathtaking. And one day we were fortunate to enjoy a picnic near Oceanside, Oregon.
Picnick lunch in Oceanside, OregonThe views, bridges and lighthouses in Lincoln County was our itinerary for the next couple of days.
Lincoln County coastFrom here we rode through another quaint town, Florence, with a great restaurant in an old train depot. And on to Coos Bay by the time we arrived in Coos Bay I was ready to ship my borrowed bike home and fly away. I had been having a very difficult trip on a bike that didn't fit me well. We found a bike shop and tried to change out and reposition things but the mechanic said it would be 3 days. While looking around the store the boys saw a bike that they thought might fit and work for me and it did. They were stripping one bike and putting the saddle, pedals and panniers on the other bike, in no time we were on the road again. The drop handle bars, disc brakes and wider tires were a comfortable and safer improvement for me. I'm happy.
Dee's new bikeFrom Coos Bay we stopped in Bandon where they make a cranberry whiskey, next was Port Orford a small small town that had one of the best restaurants and views and without a doubt the BEST crème brulee. Our reward for some of the challenging climbs was a decadent chocolate treat at the top of the most difficult climb for the day.
Port Oxford chocolateInto the woods, we are in California. Trinidad was our first stop it had been pouring rain and Bob wasn't feeling well we found a cute cottage in the forest
Forest cottage in the Redwoodsand the majestic Redwoods were everywhere.
Bikes against majestic RedwoodsThe Redwoods were calling us so one afternoon we parked our bikes and took a hike to feel the peace and tranquility of the forest.
The RedwoodsOn to Anchor Bay with a 17% incline we had a few of those from the very beginning.
Anchor Bay climb - 17 percent!with a well earned break at the top.
Resting at summit of Anchor BaySome more quaint towns Tomales, Gualala , no room at the inn, they had no rooms available because of the fires, first responders and heat. Fortunately we met this wonderful lady from the Chamber of Commerce who found us some rooms five miles back and of course up some hills however, she transported our panniers for us which made backtracking easier. On to Sausalito, Golden Gate Bridge, be careful what you wish for, I have always wanted to cross the Golden Gate Bridge by bike this day however the winds were gale force, the tourist oblivious, it was terrifying for me all I wanted was to be off the bridge. Later we traveled through a nice tunnel as opposed to scary tunnels, we had a few of those along the way. Yippee we are in Half Moon Bay and a rest day. The boys did some bike adjustments, we did laundry and then decided to go for a bike ride. Sounds like an oxymoron but it was fun no panniers.

On to Monterrey, Bixby Bridge and Big Sur. Somewhere on Highway 1 at the top of a climb, one of many, the boys were flagging me over, my thoughts were hallelujah they are going to throw my bike off the side of the cliff well not quite but almost as good they took my panniers and strapped them to their bikes and lightened my load.
On to Big SurBixby BridgeWhen we were in San Simeon a couple of friends met us for dinner. It was so good to see familiar faces and know we are getting closer to home. Now I am on well traveled bike roads that I have ridden a few times before. In Carpenteria another friend stopped by. And next Oxnard, Malibu and our last night on the road in Huntington Beach. The team tried to get me to develop a taste for beer as we stopped at many breweries for dinner along the way. At the jacuzzi they asked what I wanted to drink to celebrate I replied Mango, anything mango. Guess what they found, Mango Beer and I liked it!

Riding into Dana Point so many of our friends were there to greet us and welcome us home. And when we arrived at my house my neighbors came out from three different houses and cheered a heartfelt warm welcome home. An emotional finale to our adventure.
Emotional FinaleHeading for the Mexican Border. We rode with a lot of our friends and sponsors from Ride 2 Recovery again another wonderful group of people. When we arrived at the border fence Border Patrol are driving closer to us and another car was coming down from the opposite side also a helicopter was headed our way. Didn't realize so many wanted to greet us, oops we were in a restricted area and they wanted us out NOW. A quick photo.

An epic adventure.
Epic AdventureThis was an amazing experience an unbelievable accomplishment. Many evenings I was checking into flights or trains home I am so thankful for the encouragement from Ursula and my team and friends from home texting and following us on Facebook and my blog This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and even my grandsons classroom was following my blog. It was extremely challenging, I am Wonder Woman. Life is about doing the hard things because of the reward at the end.

I would like to go back and do segments and spend more time exploring there was so much to see, so many people to meet and yummy foods to eat.