Sorry about not writing yesterday. There was no WiFi, no real town, and no real services for miles and miles. I can honesty tell you that this was the worst day of my life. I was ready to declare that the ride through the Arizona deserts was the worst day of my trip but the California desert has them beat hands down. Let me get through the picture descriptions and then I will tell you my sad, sad story.
- While driving in the morning I saw this sign and thought that it might be fun to visit Mexico. Didn’t have my passport, found out it was 130 miles or so the wrong direction and stayed true to my course.
- When I was much younger I drove my motorcycle to California. I found a Jack in the Box and ordered the hamburgers. They had a drive-in widow and I recall they were the first drive in hamburger joint ever. Fun to see them still in business
- Sometimes when I am riding all day on my bike I get into a trace like state and don’t notice the surroundings. In this particular case I looked up and saw dunes. It really surprised me since I hadn’t seen any before or after.
- A much appreciated “Welcome to California” sign since this is my West Coast goal.
- This sign that says “Wind Gusts Possible”. What it should have said is “Wind Gusts Probably”. This is what made today’s trek so hard.
- My camping spot on Friday night. This is the first time I have ever just put a sleeping bag on the ground and gone to sleep in the mountains.
The story I alluded to earlier was not one that I want to relive. The morning started off as usual. Up at 5:00 a.m., on the road at 5:30 a.m. and cranking out the miles looking for about 70 miles by noon and trying to complete 120 by the time I stop at 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. I was amazed by the CA scenery that had large vista, crops of corn, sunflowers (both growing to only about 4′ high, soy beans, grass (for hay) and other crops. I passed rivers and canals (in the arid areas) that flowed to places where the crops needed to be irrigated. This part of the story was fine. While there was a wind it was what I expected and I was making about 12.2 MPH – on schedule.
I passed El Centro stopping to resupply my Gatorade. This is where the story changed for the worse. My first inclination that life was going to get bad was when I saw a sign (pic #5) that said wind gusts could be expected for the next 83 miles (no picture of the first sign). My thought was that the wind I had been going through was what could be expected and like I said I was on schedule.
The wind picked up considerably. This was evidenced by the huge wind turbines that were in fields. When I say the winds picked up I went from the 12+ MPH to about 7 MPH. I still had 50 miles to go and willingly shouldered the time necessary to get to Ocotilla. The sun was strong, the wind was strong but I preserved. There were a number of hills that didn’t make the trip any easier. Just prior to hitting Ocotilla, I ran into a dust storm. It wasn’t one of the storms that promised zero visibility but I did get dust in my eyes and mouth and was just another irritate. By this time I was at the end of my rope and the desired city was just ahead.
Pulling off the road I saw a service station and Cafe. The day didn’t get any better. I found out that the cafe was closed, there was no place to sleep, and no WiFi for my posts. I decided that I could force myself to do 17 miles to the next stop. Little did I know that there was mountain in front of me that required 3000′ of climb. I did get a Gatorade and a couple of sandwiches to power the last couple of miles – poor head work but I didn’t know about the mountain. I started off at 5.5 MPH and figured that I would make the new stop in 3 hours. Well this was not to be. My 5.5 MPH went to 4.2 MPH which went to my legs no longer had the strength necessary to pedal. I got off my bike and started pushing. My speed went to 3.3 MPH (5 hours) decreasing to 2.2 MPH during the hard points. I tried to get on my bike and pedal a couple of times but again not strength. I thought of and did hitch hike for 5 minutes. My thinking was that was a “poor” way to get out of my current situation that I put myself into. My mind made up I decided I would hike to the top of the hill if it killed me. My legs started to cramp but I was able to adjust so it never got bad. I got more and more tired and each time the hill made a turn with another incline my heard fell – but I was determined thinking that I would at some point have a decline taking me into the second town.
The top of the hill appeared at mile 13 or the 17 mile climb. I was spent before and decided that it was time to shelter in place. I was too tired to continue. There was sign that said all bikes had to go on Historic 80 which I took. About this time there was a sign announcing a off road park. The wind would have blown the tent down. I parked my bike by the sign (picture #6) had to stay close in case the off road guys came by (lots of tracks). As soon as I got off my bike I started to freeze. For whatever the reason the weather was down to 65 and further fell the high 50s. When I say freeze I am saying uncontrolled shivering. I knew the tent would blown down in the high winds so I laid my ground cover and mat down with the sleeping bag thrown over it. At this point I couldn’t leave this site since the wind would blow everything away without my weight weighing it down (which actually did happen during the night). I got in the sleeping bag fully dressed (yep, wet sweaty clothes, no shower, no teeth brushing) and pulled the top over the pillow so there were no exposed areas. I was able to warm up. Later that night (stop reading the rest of this paragraph if you are squeamish) my stomach had a discussion with my brain. It basically said that whatever I ate at Ocotilla needed to be removed and place on the ground. Thank goodness I wasn’t in the tent because that would have been a real mess.
Don’t want you to think everything was bleak. A woke up many times that night trying to figure out if it was time to leave yet. My watch light wasn’t working, it was cold, so I kept saying later. During these times I would look at the sky. Beautiful moon, lots of stars, the wind was crisp and clear, and I couldn’t help but admiring the beauty of the world (but it was cold so I kept going back into hibernation mode).
See next entry.