Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Here we go...T.J!

This story is a bit overdue but here goes.

So I spen the night in Ensanada. The last time I was here it was about 5 or myabe 6 yeas ago. The place has seriously changed since Ive been there last. There were a ton of new high rises, new resturants that looked like any other place in the US and a ton of party goers on a Saturday night. I wanted to get into the party mood on that Saturday night but I just wasnt feeling it. It takes a ton of energy and effort to go out by yourself. So I kinda just walked around, had a beer or two and called it a night but not before I had a late night McDonalds. Ohhhhh that was good!

The original plan was to wake up early in the morning and head to Rosarito. According to my map Rosarito was about 100 kilometers to the north. The ride wasnt supposed to have any hills or anything like that and it was going to be a straight forward day. I was going to ride on Easter Sunday and then spend my last night out of the country in Rosarito. From there, according to my map, the US and Tijuana was another 25 kilometers. On that Monday I was going to ride the last 25 kilometers, cross the border AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE and then ride the additional 20 miles or so to San Diego. I had a friend who lives in San Diego, Matt, who said I could crash at his house. He emailed me all the information and he knew I was coming. I met Matt last summer in Greece. We all had a blast parting it up on the Island of Ios. So the plan was set. But of course in typical Aaron fashion It didnt turn out that way.

Im not sure if it was the 3 Corona's I had the night before or the double cheeseburge I threw down my belly at 12:30am but I had the hardest time waking up at my usual 6am. Instead when I got up it was somewhere around 9.30. I was a bit frustrated but I quickly calmed down because I knew I only had around 100 kilometers that this time I could 100 kilometers in about 5 hours with stops. I was actually so relaxed about it I even decided to take a long and big breakfast on Ensanadas main tourist street. I got some amazing pancakes with eggs, bacon and juice. At breakfast I asked the guy for some directions and how far it was until I hit TJ. He said TJ was only 100 kilometers away. That was strange because my map said something like 130 kilometers to TJ.

So finally the ride started. It had to be something like 10.30 by now but I wasnt at all frustrated because it was Easter and I was crusing along the pacific highway with some amazing views of the ocean. The legs and the body felt great an I must had been crusing along at a great pace because It seemed as if I would be to Rosarito in no time flat.

I hit one hitch along the way. I tried to take the bike along the Pacific Coast Highway but apparently bikes arent allowed on the new toll road that follows the coast. After trying to negotiate with the police to try and get by I realized it wasnt going to happen. Again I was a bit frustrated because I had to back track plus by this time it was getting close to noon and I felt like I wasnt getting anywhere.

The old road to Rosarito was damn hilly but it was a beautiful ride. On top of the cool farm land that I went threw there were barely any cars. I threw on some house music and pushed as hard as I could to make up the time.

As I was getting closer to Rosarito I started to realize how much I missed home and I started to realize how close I was to being home. On top of that I started to see signs that were completely contridicting my map. For the first time on this trip my map and the road signs were different. My map said that Ensanada to TJ was about 130 k but the sign suggested that the distance between Ensanada and TJ was only 100 k. My mind started to calculate the possibilities of making it to the border that day instead of tomorrow. I started to really kick myself for sleeping in.

The border crossing at TJ was a hot topic lately. The news was telling EVERYONE to stay out of Mexico and TJ was probably the reason for all that news. So I had two options. One, cross TJ late on Easter Sunday afternoon or two stop in Rosarito and cross TJ early on a Monday morning. There were pros and cons for each option. But...either way I wanted to get home. The night before I was getting totally lonely and I wanted to get home asap.

So this is what I decided. TAKE THE SAFEST OPTION. My plan was to ask a police officer or maybe two what they thought and then I would leave the rest to fate. So right before I got into Rosarito I saw a military check point. I asked the army dude there and he said that it would be better to cross today then wait another day. He said there would be a ton of cars and people on Monday morning. When I got into Rosarito that really helped my decision because this place was a total crap hole. It was super depressing. There was no way I wanted to stay in another town that was full of crappy taco stands and Americans on Vacation.

So I pushed forward...hard!

It was probably around 4 in the afternoon. This was either going to be the stupidest idea or it was going to be a breeze. My body was a bit tired but the adreline was pumping because I was starting to realize that I could be on US soil in about an hour for the first time in almost a year and a half.

Theres a huge hill before you get into TJ and the quality of the road sucks. On top of that the cars were flying by at a ridiculous pace. Theres also a magic about TJ. I guess you could call it a black magic. People drive like freaks when they get into the city. I even saw one guy pull over on the freeway and reverse his car up the on ramp on the wrong side of the road. That made me nervous. So I pushed harder. I remember getting to the top of the hill and looking out over TJ. I had a huge downhill in front of me and I can remember coasting down it pretty fast. I wanted out of TJ as fast as possible.

Something went wrong with my bags. This car pulled up next to me and the guy in the passanger seat was yelling at me. Because the roads are so bumbpy in TJ my back two backs came loose and tumbled into the freeway traffic. On top of that the two bungee cords were loosly dangling next to my bike. If one of those cords caught the wheel than for sure I would have ended up in TJ general hospital. Luckily I got away with no injuries and only the sleeping map got run over by a big rig. I pushed even hard. The sun was going down.

I made the border.

I crossed the border.

It was anti-climatic for sure. Then I realized I had to figure out where I was going to stay for the night. I had to make it to San Diego. I pushed harder. This day was getting crazy.

I stopped at 3 different gas stations to get a map and ask for directions. I was in the US but I realized that I was still speaking Spanish.

I rode threw Chula Vista at night on Easter Sunday. That sucked.

I finally made it to downtown San Diego. Coming in on Harbor Drive and seeing those bright and clean city lights was a trip. I was back in the US. Once I got to downtown San Diego I went looking for a internet cafe but that was a total joke because here in the US that really doesnt exist. So I had another problem on my hands. It was Easter evening and I didnt have my buddies contact information. So...sitting on my bike in downtown San Diego, trying to figure out my life for the night, I looked up and saw a hostel. How first night back in the US and here I was about to check into a hostel. Whatever...lets do it...I told myself.

Back in the USA!

Peace, Power and Pedal


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