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Day 2: San Diego CA to Boulevard CA - 65 miles / 105 km

Mile 0 - Start of Day shortly after a 6AM continental breakfast and American coffee.

Mile 5 - Dawn on the Otay Valley Parkway heading east - lots of up and down hills

Mile 10 - On the suburban outskirts of San Diego - Last houses before mountains

and here's one of the many sunrises I experience in the same day as I go up hills and down into valleys while the sun climbs above the first range of mountains:

The wide, smooth multi-lane Otay Boulevard abruptly turns into a narrow pot-holed road called Highway 94, which will be my route for the rest of the day:

I am initially worried about potential driver awareness about cyclists - however I meet several locals along the road and it raises my comfort level that most drivers along this road are going to be "cyclist aware".

Some foothills:

The road elbows its way around the Otay Lakes. Peppered along the water perimeters are very intent fisherman in their aluminum boats, standing and dropping fish lines (without poles) into the lake

Mile 15. The road finally pulls away from waters edge and starts a winding climb into the hills. A headwind springs up and is to be a constant companion (and irritation) for the entire day.

Mountains. Each curve in the road presents another hill to climb, and the upward slope gradually gets steeper and steeper.

The wind pickes up as well, which I reckon to be somewhere between 15 and 20mph, judging by the sound in my ears and by how quickly my bike comes to a rolling stop whenever I stop pedaling:

Finally, after one particularly long uphill climb (where I am reduced to using my "easiest" bike gear), I reach the top of the San Ysidro Mountain Range, with distant Mexico to the south:

Mile 25. And after all that climbing - I have a spectacular view of the Cottonwood River Valley, with my enjoyment impaired by the fact that I am now going to roll down to the very bottom and then have to go up the other side:

It was a 6% downhill grade (which is close to the safe maximum for tractor trailers). My speedometer is closing in on 40mph even into the wind, and the overall sensation with the headwind felt like 60mph.

My front wheel starts to wobble and I have trouble controlling it due to the weight of tools, food and water between my handlebars in the front pannier. I start squeezing my brakes alternating between front and back brakes so that I don''t blow out my tires and tubes due to heat of friction.

It is an attention-focusing ride down to the bottom of the valley and I dispense with riding in the narrow breakdown lane. I take over the car lane and in less than two minutes over the course of a very fast 2-1/2 miles I lose over 700 ft in hard-won elevation.

Once at the bottom, I pull over and take a short break to collect myself.Then I dump out all the weight in my front pannier and transfer it to the back of the bike, and repack the front pannier with my lighter- weight clothes. This immediately gives me a much better handling and steering of the bike.

Then it's uphill into the Potrero Mountain Range, a ten-mile long trek into the wind where I am standing on my pedals most of the time. This view is halfway up, looking back.

Mile 35. Looking back. Not only did I regain the 700 ft in elevation, I add an additional 1100 ft, for a total gain of 1800 ft of elevation over ten miles.

It is during this uphill stretch that a piece of classical music, with a tempo that matched my grinding away on my pedals, entered into my head and stays with me for the balance of the day - It's a passage from Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and you can listen to it here (album credits at end of page).

And around a curve and suddenly I'm into flat farmland and into the Village of Potrero, which is know for its Christmas Tree Farm.

Mile 40. Back into the hills, seemingly made up of piles of jumbled boulders, the leftovers dropped by a glacier a couple of million years ago:

up and up

Mile 45. and at the top, a winding road (with the ever present and relentless headwind)

Mile 50. Then, open fields....

and back to narrow roads

Mile 55. a popular road sign:

taking a break and looking back

at the top of the mountain range

Mile 60: I'm hoping this is the last range of the day

Mile 65. surprise surprise - I've arrived - those mountains are for tomorrow....

A welcome sign, and my motel for the night displaying "Lux Inn" on the top of a high high pole:

And when I check in, the clerk is doing her best not to stare at me, but her teenaged daughter has no problem ogling me with her mouth half-open. I lug my bike up to the second floor, open the motel room door, prop my bike up against the longest wall and turn to face the mirror.

I hardly recognize myself. Sun burnt, matted hair, sweat-stained and mottled riding clothes, my entire body still slick with perspiration and this glazed wild look.

I stretch, take a wonderful shower, then dress in my best khaki slacks and and beige v-neck top (basically, the only clothes I've got). Then I re-represent myself to the local staff to ask for directions, and at the same time re-establish (in my mind anyways) that I am in fact a respectable adult.

The teenager points me in the direction of the closest restaurant within walking distance, given that the Golden Acorn Casino in the Campo Indian Reserve would have meant me riding my trusty steed 4-5 miles and I REALLY didn't feel like getting on my bike again for the rest of the day..

And so I arrive at Salsa Linda's Mexican Restaurant, with "Grand Opening" banners and posters draped all over the restaurant and not a soul in sight.

I'm overwhelmed by an eager teenage boy acting like an oversized friendly dog who's clearly the owner's son and has been thrust into the role of head waiter and hasn't a clue about restaurant protocol in addition to having no english whatsoever - it was the first time that my broken spanish was superior to another's broken english.

He stands waiting while I look at the rather short menu that has no traditional mexican food to speak of - everything was a variant of barbequed ribs.

So I order ribs, and this is what I get:

I feel like I have been served the side of a cow (note the pen as a point of reference) and they are fantastic.

I tell my ever- hovering boy waiter to thank the cook, and the father comes out of the bustling kitchen (even though I am the only one in the restaurant) and tells me his story of coming up from Mexico, how he came up with a great barbeque recipe and was filling white man restaurants throughout the area with his secret barbeque sauce and meat cooking technique, so he decided to open his own restaurant named after his wive Linda.

To my amazement I devour the whole meal along with a gallon of Sprite, and waddle back to the Lux Inn and my room to watch Sunday Night Football until I fall asleep.

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