Today began at the Hampton Inn in Blythe, CA. Not much to say about the town of Blythe itself, but the people at the motel were very nice.
Here are Snoopy and I considering what fascinating items we will include in the day’s blog…
Notice I have the pepper spray handy beside my multiple beverages and bell pepper, just in case Brantly gets out of hand.
The destination is Brawley, CA. The maps I’ve found on Google don’t reflect the actual route as bicycles are frequently shunted off onto other, smaller less-traffic laden roads but it will give you an idea of the general conditions and area.
About half of today’s ride went through heavy agricultural. There is a mind boggling array of stuff growing around here. I identified onions, citrus, wheat, broccoli (at least it sure looked like it), alfalfa, dates, and possibly Brussels sprouts.
I wish I could show you pictures of the fascinating sites I saw today but my camera has stopped functioning. But that is another long (and curse word filled) story.
One of the things I noticed, unfortunately, were the number of pesticide spraying vehicles everywhere. Apparently toxic pesticide/dust storms in the area are not unusual.
It took a lot longer to get out of Blyth than we expected and by the time I approached the tiny town of Palo Verde (Pop. 170– the ‘0’ on the sign was a regular store-bought house number so somebody must have just left…) it was already warming up outside.
Oh, FYI, absolutely nothing was going on in Palo Verde on a Monday morning.
Everything was hunky dory up until Palo Verde. But then I entered the Marquis de Sade Highway…
The asphalt on this road was the first part of the Quint-fecta. I swear it felt like it was composed of broken glass and boulders. Most of my fillings had fallen out after the first mile, which is when the shoulder disappeared (part two of the Quint-fecta).
The shoulder disappeared right around the time the hills started (yes, part 3). I kept wondering why I was peddling and peddling and dodging semis and Canadian motor homes and getting nowhere when the fourth part kicked in. . . the wind.
Oh, the fifth part? (Come on, I know you all know this by now!) Yes, the heat.
Just as I was looking for a cool place to burrow into the solid rock beside the road I got to the top of the hill and saw my chase car waiting at the bottom. Yay!
I was stuffing my face and bitching non-stop when the squad car pulled up along side me.
Because I’m Catholic, I immediately wondered what I’d done wrong and began to slide down in my seat. Luckily the other occupant of the car was raised Episcopalian and more normal. Brantly ordered me to roll down the window and that’s when we met Officer Boudreaux, surely the most helpful (and nice!) California highway patrolman there is.
I immediately introduced him to Snoopy and then told him my PB&J joke.
Here we are, having a good time in the blazing heat.
Officer Boudreaux told us a little about the area and also said the temperature right then (before 10 am) was around 86 degrees. He then informed me the road was a shoulder-less, ragged-assed death trap for the next 16 miles.
Based on his recommendation I loaded up Snoopy and allowed my SAG wagon driver to chauffeur me to a spot where there was shoulder (but still poor asphalt conditions and WIND). There were also some lovely cacti and here are some pictures Brantly took:
Here is another cactus that is very common in the area. My mother says they are called “Buggy Whip” cacti.
And here are their blooms close up:
Here I am smearing on yet more sunblock and getting ready to hit the road again…
It seems I left my Union Jack cycling jersey in a motel bathroom somewhere along the way so I’m down to one jersey and 4 pairs of shorts. I guess I didn’t pack effectively for the trip.
Not long after the cacti photos were taken my cycling companions drove up with their bikes loaded on the back of their truck. They were (quite sensibly) fed up with the scorching weather, lousy road conditions, relentless headwinds, and insanely heavy traffic. They were done with the Southern Tier and I couldn’t really blame them. The road was extremely poor for most of yesterday and today and when the roads were decent the weather was brutal.
Anyway, so long Leslie and Lynda, it was fun while it lasted!
Onward to the town of Glamis, CA, one of the weirdest towns on the trip. The only thing going on out here was driving on sand dunes with off-road vehicles. This leisure activity was (luckily) only permitted in one (vegetation-less, animal-less) area. The air was rich with blowing sand and petroleum fumes for about 3 miles around the dunes. It seems there is a season for this kind of thing and it was nearing its end for the year.
The wind was positively howling as I cycled through the dunes and I could see sand moving across the roadway in piles as I fought my way to the top of each hill.
By the end of the day there was sand in everything. I was encrusted with sand and so was Snoopy.
The really good pictures of the dunes are trapped inside my camera but here are some Brantly took from the safety of the car:
Quite a crack in the windshield, isn’t it?
The trip ended in Brawley. I was so sand-blasted, filthy, wind-burnt, and tired I fell asleep at 5:30 and slept all the way until 5 the next morning.