Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mojave Tour 2014: Day eight

Dec. 23rd.

Windy, crazy warm, Django up and down all night with the thrashing palms.  Jodi slept poorly, too.  Somehow I had an okay night, but my left hip was aching--tight IT band?  Gotta stretch more.

Despite the wind, it was a huge delight to awake to spring-like temperatures--52 deg. F.!  We were breaking the run to Baker into a couple of stages, and we knew only one moderate summit blocked our way, so we took our time over breakfast and packing, noting all the while the delicious payback for the rough night: turbo tailwinds, ferocious ass-spanking tailwinds.

At 9AM we jumped into the current and pure delight--glassy smooth pavement, rocket assist, and a gentle downgrade.  We gunned it with ease at nearly 30 mph for miles.  The whir of silver spokes, the pleasing rip of tires on pavement, the alien landforms of eroded mesas, melted cliffs and volcanic ridges rolled by in a pastel dream.

With the powerful wind at our backs, we climbed the gentle northern slopes of Ibex Pass, even hauling Django for a couple of miles until we determined it was time to get him some exercise and work out some of that doggie energy.  We topped out a little over 2,000 ft.  For the first time in over a week of riding we had to deal with commercial trucking.  The big rigs came sporadically and passed with expert care, but still, those monsters are unnerving.

The drop down the south side of Ibex is one of the greats--smooth, fast, seven miles of cycling bliss.  The Mojave spreads out before you in a vast canvas, the dry and ragged ridges, the rumpled softness of Dumont Dunes, the awesome expanse of creosote-studded basins stretching 30, 40, 50 miles into the distance.  Over our left shoulders we could make out the snow-capped Spring Mtns. over 12,000 ft. high near Vegas; to our right, the southern shoulder of Telescope Peak topped the cresting waves of desert mountains.  A warm winter sun poured down from a cloudless sky.  Nice work if you can get it.

Lunch at the bottom of the drop, a beach of fine grey sand, a picnic with chocolate mountains for company.  We motored a few more miles and took a short hike to a desert spring.  Verging on being too hot, I did the whole hike shirtless, and shade was welcome.  Camp arrived early down an abandoned service road.  We tucked in behind a stately creosote bush for shade and snacked and lounged and watched the desert afternoon fade into evening.

Miles: 34; Total: 230
Climb: 1129 ft.

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