Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sand Dunes, Headwinds, and Marriot Points

Alright where were we? Oh yes, back on the Colorado river...There were two other cyclist staying on the river that were our age, which is rare, most of the people we have seen touring are at least 50. The two guys were grad students at NYU and they were traveling by bike for the summer while visiting some alternative energy sources, which is what they both study. They came over to our site with cold beer and of course it would have been rude to refuse a beer, so we downed that beer and bought some more. Down on the river we all sat in the sand and swapped stories about our trips and drank a few cold ones. Del and I called it quits after a few beers and we hopped on our bikes and rode to Wendy's. The other two guys were going to come but another camper offered them "a scotch" and poured them a full glass of scotch. We ate our food and headed back to camp, full and ready for bed. On the way back we saw the two guys swerving all over on their bikes heading to Wendy's. I woke up around 2am to the sound of a drunk couple fighting. Apparently the girl got lost on the way to the restroom and couldn't find the group again, so of course she was mad that her boyfriend didn't come looking for her. The campsite was pretty small and there was a fence around the whole thing, so I'm not really sure how she got lost, but none the less they kept me up for an hour or so.
When I woke up for good Del was showering, so I ate breakfast and started packing up my tent. Soon we were on our way, but the other guys were still out cold. Let that be a lesson to future touring cyclist, alcohol and touring don't mix. I assume they took a rest day. We had a good start and passed two cyclist heading east, all in the first 20 miles. We grabbed some extra Gatorade to put in our bags for the 60 mile stretch of desert. We soon encountered brutal headwinds and slowly grinded our way west. If cycling cross country is a war, this day would be the key battle that will change the direction of the war. The day was long and the west winds proved to be a worthy adversary. We stopped just before the dunes where they filmed star wars. The Place was a crazy hot spot for motocross riders and four wheelers. We met some locals and swapped stories before they headed back into the sand. While enjoying the last shade for many many miles a solo female cyclist from Alaska stopped to chat. She had never ridden more than twelve miles before she started and she left San Diego a week before to ride for awhile with no real destination. She was lucky to be heading East. because by now she had a 30mph tailwind. We said goodbyes and good luck and headed our separate ways. Within minutes we were in the middle of crazy sand dunes with no vegetation. The dunes were so wild, but the headwinds made for a painful sandstorm. The sandstorm had an exfoliating effect and I felt like I had fresh skin by the time the dunes ended. After the dunes the winds became really strong and we struggled to maintain 7 mph. This battle was far from over. In my head I composed several open letters to the west winds. The first was something like: Dear west winds, You will not defeat us, we will pedal all day if need be. I don't even acknowledge your existence. I laugh at your wasted efforts that only delay the inevitable... After a few hours the letter read: Dear west winds, you annoy and amuse me... by the end it read: Dear west winds, lets make a deal.
We hit Brawley, California only to realize there was no tent camping. We checked out a cheap hotel, but it smelled pretty awful and I could tell Del was not into it so we rode away. Our buddy Alan came through and hit a home run by booking us a great room at the Marriott with some of his rewards points! Alan is the most generous guy I know, but this was a REALLY nice gift. We quickly grabbed a few double cheeseburgers and put on our headlamps. We had 16 miles to go and an hour and a half of light left at best, no big deal right? Wrong, it had just taken us over 4 hours to ride 27 miles, so do the math. The winds were so strong that we could barely stay on the road and we were both absolutely beat, but if you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough, so we rode on. We managed to make it just after sunset and checked into an amazing room. We showered, sat in the hot tub, and then walked to Chili's and grabbed some dinner. We had been in the saddle riding for ten hours and ten minutes and only covered 111 miles, if that gives you an idea of how strong the winds were. We checked the weather and realized that our route for the next day had 60 mph west winds predicted, so we booked the room for another night and are taking a rest day today. We are only 120 miles from our goal of San Diego. The whole way here, every TV we have passed has been on Fox News and we have joked the whole trip that instantly after crossing in to California they would all be tuned in to CNN. The funny thing is that it happened, the TVs here are all on CNN. It is crazy how many things change when you cross an imaginary line.


1 comment:

  1. some machine your body is: a mere 60 mph headwind slows you down. Why CNN and not MSNBC, I wonder. I bet that Marriott was a treat after the last few days. You're so close.