Never before had I arisen at 4 am on New Years day to commence a cycle tour, but then this was rather a special tour. It was almost 4 hours later that cycling history was made in Southern California when the largest group ever (247) set off on a bicycle trek around the World.
Following seven years of planning Odyssey 2000 ® had been dubbed as the cycle event of the century. It will last for 366 days and cover 28,000 Kilometres over 45 Countries and 5 continents. Having personally toured extensively over the past 6 years (since retiring) this was for me the climax of my own 3 1/2 years of planning and preparation.
The first 8 kilometres of day one was completed in a glare of publicity (as only the Americans know how) and for me, being one of only 2 UK registered riders it was a unique and unforgettable experience. The start of Odyssey 2000 ® coincided with the famous annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena and we (247 of us) had been invited to lead the parade at a sedate 5 MPH. The parade was due to be screened on the Nations TV networks starting at 8 am, but for reasons (yet unknown) our Police motorcycle escort moved us off at 7.50 am . In spite of this there were an estimated 1 million spectators who lined the famous Colorado Boulevard some of whom had camped out the previous night to ensure a good spot.
When I registered for Odyssey 2000 in July of 96 I did not fully appreciate that the final weeks of planning and preparation would be so traumatic and stressful. The climax of literally moving house and planning for an absence of over one year came when I locked the door on April Cottage (my home in the Vale of Glamorgan) on 10th December, and the following day handed over the keys of my car. There was almost a sense of relief at that point, although there was still much to be done before our departure for Gatwick at 5.30 am on 12th so much so that I did not get to bed the previous night.
It had been over 12 months earlier that I had decided to avoid travelling out to California over Christmas so I had reserved accommodation from 12th December at Escondido between San Diego and Los Angeles. At the time I had no idea who would be travelling with me (if anyone) there were in the end 6 of us including my sole UK companion for the year 2000 (John a CTC member from Lincolnshire) together with his wife Celia and other friends.
We touched down at San Diego at around 4.30 pm local time on 12th after a 15 hour journey which included a stopover in Phoenix Arizona. After picking up our hire vehicle we checked in to our apartment near Escondido, a mountain resort situated 45 miles north of San Diego.
Monday the following day saw us returning to San Diego where John and I had arranged to collect our Global 2000 Odyssey bikes. As expected adjustments and additions were required, plus the fitting of our own saddle and pedals so, it was arranged that we would return on Thursday after getting in a couple of rides.
Whilst I was down as a reserve driver on our hire vehicle I was thankful that John had agreed to do most of the driving for the next 2 weeks. Whilst I have had some driving experience in the US, I felt this was another experience I could do without even as a passenger travelling on the 8 lane interstate highway which runs from San Diego to Los Angeles. (it makes the M4 look like a country lane)
On Sunday 19th Dec we had a rendezvous with around 12 of our Odyssey 2000 companions who live within driving and cycling distance of our apartment. Then after Christmas it was back to the drawing board with the final packing before we travel on 30th December to the Hilton Hotel at Burbank north of Los Angeles for the 2 days of meetings/celebrations with the 240 odd folk who will be our cycling companions for the 366 days commencing on New year`s day. Arthur (can`t wait to get going) rider number 89.
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