Cajon Pass

I joked with friends that I quit today, and I did. I quit when my legs ached. I quit when my saddle sore stung. I quit everytime something went wrong on the bike. And I quit about 7 times climbing over Cajon “Ka-hone” Pass . Somehow, I kept going.

The morning started with me mapping out the local bus and rail services. For $6 I could get from my motel all the way over the pass and to Victorville. I got to the train tracks, ready to give in and remembered the regret a friend felt when he skipped. So on I rode.

Air pressure always makes me feel better!

It took about 5 miles, but my legs weren’t as heavy and my saddle sores seized their stinging. I followed the Pacific Electric Trail and then the Cucamonga Creek Trail and they were very pleasant. It was a lot of stop and go, but I didn’t mind. I had all but forgotten that I was hurting. The trails were well maintained and their was plenty of greenery hanging over the walls from the housing complexes. I was attempted to snag some oranges, pomegranates, and prickly pears.

Once back on the road I found a city park and spent some time writing. It was so cold and windy that I wish I had brought my Minion blanket. Where everything else is sandy and gray, the park was covered in green. At the park, I studied the map and decided I would do a short day of about 30 miles. That would get me a little ways up the climb and the rest of the day to rest.

Another 7 miles and I stopped for lunch. Everyone says that it is incredible that I am able to do this, but if you were to ride with me you would see that I don’t go fast and stop frequently. In fact, just a few miles from my lunch spot and I was looking for a place to take a nap. I found a county park, but they required a cash fee to get in. A little further up the road and I spotted a shade tree with no litter, sap, or ants underneath (this is key).  I pulled in and then noticed the fire station across the road. It had picnic tables out front so I went there instead. The firemen offered me a seat and a cold drink. They sat and talked with me a long while before going back to their duties. Their advice was to not stop and camp for the next 100 miles: too many criminals, drugs, and all around bad people.

With their advice, I chose a motel, 9 miles up I-15. They actually advised me to stay off of the interstate and to take a washboard dirt road, which would be an extra 5 miles. I listened to half of their advice.  I stayed on Route 66 for 7.5 miles before it merged with I-15. Old Route 66 ran next to the newer road and was sectioned off, so I had the entire two lanes all to myself. Occasionally a rogue car would break off and zoom by me. I wondered what made them so much more important than the cars marching slowly up the hills. Route 66 was bumper to bumper, and at times I was moving faster then the cars. Two people actually offered my bottled water out of their cars, but I had topped off at the firestation. Another plus for California drivers!

I was climbing up Route 66 in my 4th gear (remember I only have 10 gears now). I was thankful for going East rather than West because I had a light wind behind me the whole way. I could feel it pushing and cheering me forward. Transitioning to I-15 I had to drop into my 2nd gear. I have yet to use my 1st gear. It was 1.5 miles from the start of I-15 to the hotel exit. I know, because I set a route, and yet I still missed it. I remember seeing a sign that read “Best Western next exit”, but I never saw the exit. On the interstate there was no safe way of turning around so I just kept pedalling.

There were four lanes of North bound traffic, five if you counted me. The big trucks were in the lane next to me and usually that can be scary, but they were having as much trouble with the grade as I was. I held a steady 4.5 mph and them about 20. I’d feel my legs getting slow and then I’d hear a pattern of honks and some guy waving out the window encouragement. I had constant encouragement from the cars going by. Twice I found a place to pull over to catch my breath, shake out the legs and take some photos. If you look at the map you can see a false summit. False summits are the worst, and what is worse is I looked at the topo and new about the false summit before going up. At the real summit I stopped, took a breath, and looked back at the conquered mountain.

I earned seven miles of all down hill to the next town. I barely pedalled. I also hopped off of I-15 and onto a local road for those seven miles. At the hotel, I dropped my bike off with the front desk and walked across to the Chipotle. I can’t pass up Chipotle. Not sure if it was the sun or my fatigued muscles, but I could hardly eat. I wrapped most of my bowl up and took it to the hotel for later.

Chipotle!!

Looking back, it was a good day. I pushed through the pain, climbed a mountain, and got more miles than I had intended. There was some bad.  While I was on Route 66 I heard a sharp twang and instinctively stopped. I had never heard that noise before. It sounded like something under tension snapping. I had broken a spoke, my first broken spoke. I removed it, tucked it away and kept riding. On the descent on the local road I heard another twang, and removed my second broken spoke. At a stoplight I had a sympathetic moment with a motorist who had a bearing going out. I could hear his screaching and he could see my wobble.

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