It was not a good night. I didn’t fall asleep until almost 3:00 a.m. Yes, I was tired enough to need the sleep. No, I wasn’t dwelling on imponderables, like what’s keeping 300 of my fellow citizens in Washington DC from passing the assault weapons ban that 300 million other fellow citizens seem to want. A bad night’s sleep is frustrating enough when you’re at home in your own bed, but when dozens of miles lie in wait for you the next day, it’s downright oppressive.

Eventually, I dozed off, waking up with the crows a short time later. I ate breakfast, struck camp and whizzed back onto the highway, southbound.

It’s hard to say which is more dangerous: the PCH filled with relaxed, fun-seeking holiday drivers or the PCH filled with harried, clock-watching tradesmen and commuters. Either way, it’s loud, the lanes are narrow and nobody with a lick of sense has any business riding a sodding bicycle on it. It didn’t help that I was continually distracted by landmarks from my halcyon teenage days of driving the coast in a sports car. The endeavor firmly reinforced for me the words of the Claremont riders I’d met at Refugio a few days earlier: “Riding through L.A. is a death wish. Especially in Malibu. Those people are all crazy!”

Still, I reasoned, if I can do that, I can do anything.

I survived the maelstrom and turned onto the bike path that winds through Santa Monica State Beach. I paused for lunch near the storied pier.

The cycling map advised me to stay the course, but that same bike path through Venice is as frustrating as the town itself, so I took a detour from the map. I missed a turn on Washington Boulevard – another bad street for cycling – then spent a big chunk of the afternoon taking the long way around Marina Del Rey. By the time I resumed the route, I was in Playa Del Rey, with an annoying crosswind and airplanes from LAX roaring overhead.

“We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” I told my bike. “This long-haul riding in the city is for the birds.”

To judge from its name, Manhattan Beach ought to be flat. Other than the bike path, however, I guess it isn’t. I braved an end-of-day slog through town to Hill Section, the neighborhood in which my cousins live. Relatives visiting from Colorado also came over, and we all went out for a multi-cousin dinner at a local Irish pub, merrily catching up with one another and exchanging family updates.

When I hit the sack that night, I had no trouble falling asleep.

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