Thursday, March 13, 2008

Day 4: Great Day, bad night!

Mileage today: 100

Total Miles so far: 255

I woke up feeling surprisingly good this morning and not nearly as soar as I had thought I would be. I got going at sun up around 7 again, and took off on a beautiful ride around Lake Cuyamaca and down past Julian where I got onto the 78 and had just a fantastic ride on a winding road that took me down the mountain through tree lined and very green country. It was an exhilarating ride as I flew down, leaning into turns. It was a little scary though as there was no shoulder or bike lane so you really had to keep your eyes open for cars and ride the brakes a bit to control your speed. With the added weight of the trailer my bike really gets going fast if I let it.

It was really pretty cool to watch the countryside turn from forested mountain country to scrub as I went out into the imperial valley. I caught a vicious 25mph headwind as I made my way down into the desert along the S2. I was literally laying down on my bike and pedaling my heart out but only going 7 mph! I actually had to pedal to go downhill! But the S2 turns south east and heads out to Ocatillo which is where I wanted to be going before my little detour yesterday and the headwind turned into a crosswind. It was so strong that I had to lean my bike into the wind like a motorcycle rider taking a sharp turn. My bike has so much lateral surface area that it catches the wind like a sail and a strong buffet would just toss me 3 or 4 feet. Good thing there was little traffic or that could have been very dangerous.

As I went out along the S2 I was in the serious desert. It is a beautiful ride but there are stretches of miles where there is nothing around at all. If you broke down out there you could be in big trouble. And, it was really hot! Much hotter than I had thought it would be in March. Good thing I can carry a lot of water as i was sucking it down fast. The ride was predominantly flat or slightly downhill so it was not that bad until a pretty steep climb about 10 miles out from Ocatillo. Coming off of that climb the wind turned into an awesome tail wind and I was flying down the road at 30 mph for about a half hour! It was amazing, I was just hauling serious butt.

After Ocatillo, which is about the most desolate town I have ever seen, I jumped onto old highway 80 and took off for El Centro. I had the tailwind the entire time and although it died out as the day went on, I averaged 24 mph for the last hour and a half of my ride, it was fantastic. I passed through some giant sand dunes and had to watch out for gusts of sand blowing across the road.

I made my first attempt at stealth camping, which for those of you that don't know is the practice of camping out for free. I was out in the country about 2 miles from El Centro, where there was nothing but farms everywhere. I was trying to find a spot to throw up my tent and crash when I spotted a building that was either abandoned (as tons of them where out there) or being rebuilt. I didn't see anyone around so I figured it would be a good spot. Well, as I was about to lay down for sleep, the owner of the place showed up and gave me a real ear full, which he had every right to do. So I first: felt like a total idiot, and second: packed up and cycled 2 miles down the road in the dark to El Centro along a road that has no shoulder or lights. That was incredibly dangerous. Thank goodness my headlamp has a blink mode which I turned on and put on backwards so that cars coming up on me would see my flashing light. It worked too as everyone that passed me slowed down and gave me lots of room.

So, in trying to save a buck I ended up having to get a hotel. Oh well, live and learn. Next time I will definitely be more careful of where I choose to sleep.

Also, yesterday may have been a bid detour, but it took me through some great riding and in the end, I may be behind where I thought I would be, but it was a great few days anyway, so who cares. It sure beats working!


Zee said...

Reece, I love reading your blogs everyday and seeing all the great pics you've already posted. I cannot believe how red your buff thighs got!! Hows the butt holding out? I hope you have a comfortable seat.
You are the epitome of perfection, Reece!
Any encounters with wild animals yet? I hope you have pepper spray or a baseball bat tucked away somewhere...
Keep strong, be safe..
Hugs and good thoughts coming your way...

Doug said...

I can't believe he didn't let you camp there. What a prick.

sizzle said...

Reece, I too love reading about your journey and have sent your info out to everyone I know around the US. There are a lot of people praying for you for a safe trip and tons of fun and good memories. I wish I could see the guys face who wouldn't let you camp on his property when you are sitting down with Matt Lauer talking about your journey. Wouldn't that be a kicker!
Sissi tatafornow,,,be safe