Monday 22 August 2016
Monday 22 August 2016
Sunday 3 April 2016
Decision is made, tickets are bought and the planning begins.
No time to train as we want to get a jump on the desert heat. Desert, surely you said dessert?? Call us Crazy to embark on another trip that involves getting anywhere close to the dry, scorching heat we experienced on our very first ride across our great country. But biking the Southern Tier (San Diego, California to St. Augustine, Florida) is on “our” bucket list (yep, that would be Jerry’s list). It shall be an interesting ride that admittedly, “I” will begin with trepidation but excitement at seeing new parts of the United States of America!
Stay Tuned, we’ll be leaving soon!
Friday 22 April 2016
It’s difficult to think of the hot, dry trek ahead when enjoying the deep blue Pacific Ocean or strolling down the streets of yeste’year in Old Town San Diego. But the hills that loom immediately in front, beckon us to the wilderness we will soon be surrounded by. We will dream of the cool ocean and delicious breeze off the water as we pedal up a mountain for the first time in a year……no looking back now okay, maybe once.
Saturday 23 April 2016
We were blessed with a beautiful morning and a cool breeze softly blowing off the ocean. Old Town was quiet as artists and vendor slowly began their set-up for the Saturday morning market. We wound our way through industrial parks, hotel row and shopping malls then on to a more picturesque and peaceful highway. Though our first few miles were relatively flat, our legs felt the strain of our bags’ added weight. The mild rolling hills were not bad and particularly scenic through Mission Trails Park, but at mile 27 the uphill became constant and our pace slowed dramatically. By 12:30 we reached a small town and a chance for rest, refreshment and the best Grilled Cheese sandwich ever (cheddar, smoked gouda and parmesan on the outside); hit the spot. The climb continued after lunch with a few mile trek on the interstate (the only road available in our direction)and a quick look back at the height we had climbed.The day was still cool and breeze had turned to a nice little tailwind. The terrain was getting more barren, though still green. The continuous uphill did not quit until mile 45 (18 miles straight up) when we finally got a break from the relentless climb. We had another hour of up and down before we crawled into the motel parking lot a little after 4:30, our legs too exhausted to scream, but our eyes not too tried to enjoy the view. We had no idea our 53 miles would be over 6000 feet of climbing and require over seven hours in the saddle, but then the map did show a pretty steep climb (we are at the top in Pine Valley). Dinner did not last long enough on the plate for us to get a picture of the all-you-can-eat spaghetti (only managed one Big bowl). Hopefully a good long night’s rest will do wonders for recovery.
Sunday 24 April 2016
It was a cold 40° this morning, before the sun rose to warm the morning.But by the time we’d finished breakfast at the retro cafe down the street it was 60. We began our climb (that started in the parking lot) and continued upward for a solid mile. Our legs responded well having Everything to do with the initial climb being only a mile. After a chilly four mile drop, we settled into an up, up then down ride,plenty of opportunity to enjoy the different landscape.A long climb began and finally peaked at 19 miles, rewarding us with another four mile non-stop drop as we left the mountains behind. The high plains desert was noticeably drier and barren. We continued our up and down ride along the Mexican border.
Though well before noon, at 29 miles we reached the only stop for food. A delightful spot in the shade, plus good food.We continued along the border for the next six miles, a constant up and down until the road fed directly into the Interstate and our downhill began. The signs warned of strong winds and possible side gusts, they were right. The 20h winds kept us clutching our brakes, sometimes with white knuckles, for our entire ride down. An occasional stop was the only opportunity to photograph the increasing barren terrain that looked more like piles of rocks, than mountains. It was a tenuous ten mile, 2500 foot drop into the dry and hot Yuha Desert. The wind that had cooled us all day, blew hot at our backs (a great silver lining) as we pedaled down a road that seemed to go forever.A few miles down the road, we escaped the heat in one of the finest of fine accommodations in the history of our tours. No internet (or much of anything else), but the shower was hot and the AC cold. The only dinner choice was the local bar offering frozen and/or microwaved food, but it worked. On our walk back to the motel, we noticed the winds had increased considerably; we only hope they have calmed by the morning. Fourty seven miles today, as we try to ease into this tour and not chomp off more than we need to….HA!
Monday 25 April 2016
We woke to a howling wind, the tattered fencing banging hard against it’s post and palms bending mercilessly in the wind driven sand. But the direction was out of the west and we were heading due east; time to enjoy the ride. First however, we had to backtrack westward to get on course. We attempted to pedal it, but the wind kept blowing us the other way; the only choice was to walk our bikes (or get blown over). It was a slow push, but soon we were facing east and coasting with the wind. Even at 7:00 a.m. it was a comfortable 60°, as we began our ride without breakfast. The only place in town didn’t open until eight, so we choose to head out early and get our first meal in the next town. The desert was a flat, dry dust bowl silhouetted by the Coyote Mountains to the north and a very rough road beneath our tires. Had we not had the non-stop speed bumps of the under maintained road, we could have managed 20 mph while barely pedaling; small price to pay, though, for the incredible tailwind. We passed Plaster City; no city just a manufacturing plant for plasterboard.
Thoroughly stuffed, we continued our ride; little did “I” know our course would slowly turn north. The pretty farmland framed by palm trees turned back to sand; the horizon hidden by the blowing sand. We now paid for the tailwind gift we’d been granted on the first half. Our last ten miles was a struggle against the broadside wind, often stopping in an effort not to be blown over; it took us 20 minutes to go the last mile and a half. But the day had remained cool; by the time we checked in, it was still in the 70’s The short 42 miles today was an effort to rest for tomorrow’s long ride; not sure the 17 miles fighting the wind helped.
The winds were still howling at 30 mph when we walked across the parking lot to the best restaurant choice in town.Today was a Fabulous culinary delight; between the delicious breakfast and the perfect dinner, we did not even miss not having lunch.
Wednesday 27 April 2016
It’s Cold – 46°
Thanks to our hotel’s early morning breakfast, we were able to start pedaling by 6:00, just as the sun was rising. There was not even a hint of breeze, which we could have used (to our back, of course) as we had a very slight, but always noticeable continuous incline. Still in agriculture country we passed beautiful fields of green and sunflowers.We crossed a canal and all civilization stopped, even the power lines ceased to exist. Next up, the Imperial Sand Dune Recreational Area, not our idea of a great vacation spot. The dunes however, were beautiful and stretched for miles; the Chocolate Mountains on the horizon. Twenty miles out, we stopped at the last refreshment outpost for the next 50 miles. A nice rest in the shade and chat with the locals and we were on our way. Once past the sand dunes, we were left with blooming brush andinteresting cactus, the one below is an Ocotillo.A huge (operating) gold mine stretched for miles; no chance of finding a nugget here, the place was surrounded by some very serious barbed wire. Finally our long desert road took us close to the Chocolate Mountains, quite impressive, even without Willie Wonka.
Reached the top of our climb shortly after 11:00 and 45 miles complete, we stopped at a border inspection station and borrowed their shade to have a quick lunch. A grocery store stop last night had us prepared for this long (no food outpost) ride. Equipped with a power bagel, fruit and still ample water, we replenished and hit the road. We were looking forward to the coast down hill,but the wind, that hit us in the face as we rounded the corner, was not going to let that happen. The day was still quite cool (70’s), which was a Godsend for our long trek in the desert wilderness. The landscape continued to change, offering welcome variety. Then once again, we were surrounded by green as farmland appeared from the previous sandy scrub. We were beginning to fade, actually just dog tired, so our 68 mile stop at 2:00 came none too soon. It also gave us the opportunity to meet Bernd und Mario from Munich, doing our same course, only faster. A nice chat and rest helped as we were sent on our way. But we were tired and the wind was becoming an exhausting nuisance. Though the afternoon was still cool and an evening under the stars would be comfortable, we were not ready to pitch a tent yet, so we had to continue on. On the edge of town, we grabbed the first hotel we came to, checked in and collapsed. A refreshing shower and then dinner at the Sizzler a block away. Steak was good, ice cream fixin’ bar was better. Almost nine hours in the saddle and 88 miles survived, it was time to rest.