The Ride of her Life

Inside the long-distance cycling craze


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Jackie Loza with her bike

Jackie Loza with her bike at Ocean Beach

The Cross-Country Craze

Long-distance routes that originate in San Diego
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Cross-country biking routes

The year Jackie Loza lost her job, she bought a bicycle and went on a very long ride, her first ever: 1,804 miles, to be exact. She took Amtrak to Washington, then pedaled south down the west coastline from Ballard to the U.S.–Mexico border.

All told, it took her a month and a half.

Loza, 32, had moved to San Diego in 2009 from her native Washington, D.C., to work on the construction of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law as a project coordinator. But when the campus was completed, her job ended. Then it was either move away from her home in Ocean Beach, or change professions.

“There was a lot of pressure from my friends,” Loza says. “They wanted to know what I was going to do, not being from around here.” Long bike rides seemed to let off steam. “It’s easy to freak out when you’re out of a job.”

That’s when she began to consider embarking on a journey.

She had done a little distance biking with a local friend who was training for a half Ironman triathlon, but as for the rest of what long-distance cycling entailed, Loza was green. “It’s funny,” she laughs. “I don’t look like a cyclist.” She had in fact never before considered such a thing as a tri-state bike ride, and says the deciding factor was being out of work.

“I’d never even gone camping by myself, let alone pull a 60- to 70-pound ‘bob,’ with all the equipment that I would need to be self-sufficient.” She explains that a bob is what cyclists call the small trailer that attaches to the rear of a bicycle: “A one-wheel bike trailer.” In it, one tows one’s life support while on the road: food, water, portable shelter, dry clothing, foul-weather gear. A sleeping bag.

But the announcement of Loza’s big adventure got a less than enthusiastic response. “Some people thought I was crazy.” A few of her friends were worried. She says one of them even asked what kind of weapons she was planning to take with her. “I had a pocket knife,” she says. “And some mace.”

“It’s funny, I don’t look like a cyclist. I’d never even gone camping by myself, let alone pull a 60- to 70-pound ‘bob,’ with all the equipment that I would need to be self-sufficient.”

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