Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mojave Tour 2014: Day eleven

Dec. 26th

One of our coldest mornings of the tour, ice in the dog bowl.  Brrrrrrr....  We stomped around, slurped coffee, packed as the sun slowly warmed us.  It would not be a warm day, however.  The wind kicked in again, again from the north, and we got back to work.  Work. Work. Work.

Kelbaker Rd., our path south through the Mojave National Preserve, is pretty much shit--huge tire-eating potholes, decaying broken edges, a well and truly rotted road, a special challenge on a trike trying to thread the craters.  There was no doubt the road had gotten worse since our last traverse in January 2009.  It's hard to imagine a road that has a lower priority in the state's list of jobs, unfortunately.  Don't expect much improvement soon.

And the traffic!  What the hell was going on here?  The holiday runs from Twentynine Palms to Vegas made the experience uncharacteristically crowded.  Usually it's you and the coyotes and the cacti.  While not the Oregon coast in the summer traffic, it kept us on our toes.  Christmas to New Year's, avoid it if you can.

My strength and stamina were solid, knees doing well, but my ass and back were definitely causing pain, something we've never really experienced triking.  We decided the blame lay with our very well used seat pads with many thousands of miles, 2012's Rocky Mtn. tour, and other adventures pressed into their once resilient foam liners.  They weren't up to the job anymore.  Dig in, take breaks, do what it takes.  Every 40 minutes or so, I needed a butt rest, although I worked out some extra padding from my windbreaker for my back.  Regardless of these aches and pains, we both wanted a rest day, but that wasn't happening until Joshua Tree, several days of riding away.  There were no places to resupply, no places to hang out except briefly between here and there.  Keep moving, pilgrims.

We dealt with the sweat-chill syndrome of hard climbing but a cold wind pushing us along, better than full-on heat but still a challenge.  We climbed steadily with butt breaks and snacky interludes, until High Noon when we hit the summit, gusty, 49 deg. F.  On with the down for lunch.  Django seemed to have tender paws, limping a little.  Uh oh.  However, we were on the summit, so for the rest of the ride, Super Hound would take his place in the trailer to survey his vast domain in style.  A rest would put him straight, wouldn't it?

Twenty miles of continuous descent.

Let me write that again:

Twenty miles of continuous descent.

Not much more to say about that except after crossing under Hwy 40 the pavement improved a lot so there was no pothole surfing, thank goodness.  At the bottom, we turned right for Amboy and battled intense crosswinds for about six miles, some advanced level cycle touring that was.  Freshman should not enroll in this seminar.  The grad students will kill you if the conditions don't.  For some reason I was reveling in the struggle.  Amboy, here we come.

We watered up and continued to the only good camping spot between Amboy and the Sheephole Mtns.  A few miles out of town--one gas station, a closed motel, a post office--we turned off on a crusty alkali track, pedaling and pushing through the sometimes breakable surface until we bumped up against dark flows of beautiful volcanic rock, three quarters of a mile from the road--ideal.  Django walked about gingerly on tender pads.  We worried, but he still had the night to recover.  He'd rally, yes?  We ate dinner under the stars as the cool air settled into the basin.  A cold front was coming in, they told us in Amboy.  Two days to Twentynine Palms.  We'd make it.  We didn't have a choice.

Miles: 42; Total: 340
Climb: 1800 ft.

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