Thursday, March 13, 2008
Day 3, an uphill battle!
Mileage today: 35
Total to date: 155
I knew I would be climbing all day today, but knowing and doing are two different things. I took off at about 7 this morning and headed east from Alpine. Right from the word go I was climbing, a slow and steady uphill leading to the mountains. My buddies that I stayed with had been telling me how much I was going to get my butt kicked by the grade going over the hill there that runs for 3.5 miles and is a 6% incline. Well, to be honest, the 20 miles to get to the grade are far worse! The road that leads up to the big hill turns into rolling hills that are short but very steep. Climbing isn't so bad fully loaded if it is a gradual incline even over long distances, but if it is anything much over 7 or 8% then you really feel the weight of the trailer. I am going totally self supported too, so i have a lot of food, water, camping gear, etc. That thing is pretty dang heavy.
I stopped for lunch before I hit the big monster and as I had thought, my light camping chair that I brought is worth its weight in gold. That thing makes life so much easier. Instead of sitting in the dirt or on a rock, I get a nice comfortable and very lightweight chair in which I can eat, read, fix my bike, etc. As I camp more I am sure this will become one of my favorite pieces of equipment.
I climbed the grade which runs right up the 8 freeway. That was an interesting experience with trucks and cars flying by me a few feet away. After I got to the top I turned into a quaint little town called Descanso, and the people were really nice, letting me fill up my water bottles and giving my encouragement. The scenery riding through here was beautiful too, rolling hills and trees, lots of cows and horses.
Somewhere along my way, I took a wrong turn. I was going up the 79 and missed the turn for the S1.The climb was supposed to top out at 3800 feet and then cut east out into the imperial valley, but I ended up going all the way to the top at 4900 feet! I have never even climbed 1000 feet in a day before on any kind of bike! I know some seasoned riders will laugh at that, but it was quite the climb for me. Needless to say, after 7 hours of straight climbing I was totally zapped, and I had only gone 35 miles! The last mile to the top took me an hour and a half! I was seeing black and yellow spots and getting tunnel vision pretty badly. I had to ride about 200 meters, then stop. Ride, then stop, over and over till I finally made it to the top of the mountain and a camp sight, which was a beautiful sight to behold. I stayed at Paso Pichacho camp ground which is a great place to camp and it is only $3 for hikers and bikers!
I fired up some dinner on my tin can stove which worked like a charm and had a great sleep in the tent. I learned something pretty amazing today too, the best tasting food in the entire world is....anything after you have just towed a tralier up a mountain! I had read that cyle tourists eat a lot and wow was that right on the money. I am eating like a horse and nearly anything tastes good too. It makes sense though, considering how many calories I am burning in a day.
I have not camped out in ages and I forgot how nice it was to be up in the woods. It may have been a pretty stupid mistake to end up going 6.5 miles the wrong way up switch backs, but I felt pretty good when I topped that mountain. And, tomorrow is another day with new surprises.