Distance: about 70 miles Ride type: Check/training ride Climbing: at least 5k, probably more like 7 Time: Left 8AM, arrived Pine Valley at about 5PM

First overnight tour on the Surly! I set off on familiar roads along the coast in Del Mar. I decided to skip climbing Mt Soledad because on a short ride the day before my right knee had been giving me some issues. Not to foreshadow but let’s just say it was the right call…

The route wound its way South along bike paths and side streets until it got to Mission Bay. I stayed on the road and continued south past the morning hikers to a bike path South of the San Diego river. The route continues on that for aways, eventually winding to a paved path through Mission Trails regional park. Eventually it moves over to Mast Road heading through Santee.

Around this point I had a nice lunch at a deli, and saved half of my sandwich for later, but when I got to the stopping point I put the bag it was in on the ground and the ants enjoyed it within minutes. I looked at the map and saw that I still had 35 miles and 5k feet of climbing to do. My knee was starting to hurt so this started to worry me.

It seems garage sales are a big thing in East County. I saw so many signs in such random places. Also all the flower sellers used the same yellow sign. Flowers here! $5 and up.

The route headed to old Highway 80 and couldn’t pick whether it wanted to be North or South of I-8. Eventually it gave up and just dumps you directly on to the interstate for 2-3 miles. That was a brutal section in the midday heat. Worse, they’d just oiled/repaved (?) the shoulder on the highway so it was black as midnight and radiating an ungodly amount of heat. That was a pretty hard section. I got lots of honks from drivers during my short stint on the freeway, hopefully in support!

Just before getting onto the freeway I ran into an e-biker named Bill loaded up with panniers. He told me about planned tour with his wife from Santa Barbara. If you see this best of luck! He was riding a beautiful Trek ebike. He was nice enough to let me know that we were heading onto the freeway, and seconded my Pine Valley camping idea as a good one.

From there the route gets off the highway and meanders a bit through the hills, with more climbing, eventually ending in Pine Valley. I saw a US Forest Service sign indicating Lone Pine campground:

I headed down there and set up camp. It was a beautiful little trail, but I didn’t see much of it. I stayed off the trail and instead went down a fireroad. There were warnings everywhere that due to it’s proximity to the border the trail was used by people smugglers crossing the border. In retaliation someone had put up this sticker:

Coming from road riding my pace felt horrendously slow. I don’t know if it was or not, but I got frustrated at points with progress. The road surfaces were mostly nice.

For dinner I made an REI chicken, rice, and bean meal. All the cooking gear still worked from the last time I used it a few years ago. The meal was fine. 

Water is going to be an issue. Apparently it was only 70 degrees in Alpine (one of the towns along the route, they had the temp on their bank sign). Despite this I was sweating up a storm. On more than one occasion I was down to just 1 bottle. I will need to bring my camelback bladder for hot days on the real trip. I suspect it was 80 or 90 down at lower elevations. Also I may need more spare clothes, the ones I’m wearing are going to stink like crazy. 

The knee pain really sucked. It set in about halfway through the day. Left knee. At the top of each pedal stroke there’s pang of pain. I could try raising my seat a bit. If this continues I’m gonna have a hard time getting home tomorrow. 

The wildlife around my campsite is most birds and frogs, though I did see a blue tailed snake of some kind under a rock near my tent, maybe a lizard. I just hope it’s not poisonous. 

As I write this it’s 8 PM and I can’t keep my eyes open. May be time to head to bed. 


  • 2 Gatorades
  • 1 Peace Tea
  • 2 Kind bars
  • 2 cookies from deli
  • Half a sandwich
  • REI hiking meal
  • A crapton of water