First Leg of the Mojave

Sorry I’m late on posting. I spent too much time in the sun and haven’t felt very poetic.

Barstow to Ludlow was my first real test of the desert heat, and it kicked my butt. From Barstow I had a decent downhill until climbing a massive hill before dropping back down to Ludlow. What you may not on the elevation map below is the wicked hill just outside of Barstow. I found away around that hill, but when I took the route I was met by a guard at a military base. They had claimed an entire section of a highway, forcing unsuspecting cyclists to climb a mean hill.

The rest of the morning is a bit of a blur, so here are some photos.

I was riding on old Route 66, which parallels I-40. The old road in some places has a new slick black top, but it is mostly a beat up patchwork of a road. I spend most of the time jumping from smooth patch to smooth patch. At least it keeps my mind busy. On one stretch of some road at some point this trip I was riding a road with grating for water run off. Usually the grating is perpendicular to the road or in a cross pattern. After going across a dozen of them I lost focus and came up to one with not a cross section or perpendicular grating, but parallel grating. These were wide enough that my front wheel would have dove right in. In that split second I bunny hopped and cleared the two foot grating.

Back on Route 66, 30 miles from Barstow, I was ready for a break. It was already in the upper 90’s and supposed to get hotter. Only shade out here is under the palm trees around the occasional house. Off to the left I see the palm trees and then the small buildings at an oasis. It was a rest stop on I-40. Not finding a road to get to the oasis I treked across the burning sand (it was only about 100 meters) until I came to a fence. A fence that stretched the length of I-40 for who knows how far. The fence was tall enough that I couldn’t just toss my 30 pound bike over. I chose a direction and started walking along the fence looking for a hole I could squeeze through. Eventually, the chainlink turned into barbed wire. Barbed wire I could get through. I took the bags off, slid them under and then did the same with the bike. Parked along the road were a line of 18 wheelers that I hope weren’t watching the crazy cyclist hop this fence.

Inside the fence I had shade, a restroom, and potable, non-potable water with the aid of my filter. I chose a spot, spread out and enjoyed not being in the heat. It was still 100 degrees out, but I was in the shade. I had to relocate once due to the rest stop workers congregating and smoking near me.

Tired of just laying there in the heat, I packed up and left. Once again, I had to walk along the fence until it turned to barbed wire and then cross. This time I didn’t mess with sliding under and just picked up the bike, panniers and all, and lifted it over. I made good time getting to Ludlow. It helped that the last few miles were downhill. I got to the gas station there just before 8:00. By 9:00 I was setting up my tent in the corner of the sand parking lot away from the big trucks and RVs. The wind pulled my stakes right out of the sand, so I ended up using the bike and panniers to stake out the tent. I also had to sweep the ground good to remove all of the glass shards, wire, and bottle caps.

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