Day 65: To Julian! 73 miles.
We didn’t know much about Julian at all. Normally, someone will give a quick presentation in the morning of the town we’re going to, but we’d all presented twice already and no one had been assigned to the final 3 towns, so we had no expectations for Julian.
What we DID know was that Julian sat at an elevation of 4,500 feet. In Brawley, we were at -110 feet. So there was that. At this point in the trip, it was just comical. If there is a mountain to climb, we would climb it. That was the NC2SD motto.
So we set out on the day. I rode “chilly dog” style, meaning that we took our sweet time, with Claire, Gerk, and Lo. We had a tailwind for the first 25 miles, so we were able to catch up to the next group in front of us, even though we had gotten a flat and we were a little far behind. The caption for this next photo is “Gerk is really helpful with changing flat tires”.
We found ourself in the desert once again, but we could see the mountains in our path in the distance.
We crossed over the San Diego County Line that day!
Lunch was shortly after the county line that day, and then we began the first hills before the climb. The hills somehow re-energized me, and I honestly felt like I was in a Gatorade commercial… I whipped around curves, even as I was going slightly uphill because I had kept my momentum from the previous downhill. Feeling strong on the bike is one of the most powerful feelings!
When we finally got to the real climb, I stopped to take it all in. Rain clouds were creeping around the corner of the massive mountain that hovered over me, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would be in the middle of a downpour.
I was so happy when I saw Meg climbing up the mountain toward me. I don’t know how it happens, but whenever there’s a huge climb, Meg and I find one another. It was appropriate that it had happened again for the last mountain climb of the trip.
And then it started to downpour. But it was refreshing and it brought out so many smells from the surrounding landscape. Scents of basil, rosemary , and lavender filled the air. I kept saying over and over again “What an absolute gem of a road! This is beautiful!” I was absolutely sure that drivers passing by assumed we were miserable as we rode our bikes in the pouring rain, having to practically swim through the water on the road that was rushing down as we were climbing up, but I couldn’t have been happier.
We made it to Julian, and… surprise!… it was ADORABLE!
The first thing Meg did, in true Meg fashion, was eat a burrito. We decided to later come back to this same burrito place with more of our teammates. Sometimes, a day of riding plus food makes us sleepy (especially Claire because she falls asleep everywhere).
Getting to walk around this cute little town was such a treat!
Julian is known for its pie. So we had to get some, obviously.
When we were going to bed that night, I was in a “cuddle puddle” with Meg, Claire, and Regular Ryan. I remember trying to be locked in that moment, knowing that my time with these friends was coming to an end. Being around the same group of people every day for the past two months was something I’d gotten so used to and comfortable with that I was beginning to question how I’d function without them. I tried not to think too much about my sadness and focus on the simple pleasure of that moment.