In my quest to find suitable dirt roads for training to tackle the Great Divide Mtn. Bike Route in the Bishop area, I left the house before 6AM today and drove west into the Sierra foothills and massive bajadas. I had a feeling about a particular road being less sandy while offering a good climb. I was not disappointed. Patchy wasn't either. It took a few minutes to get up and rolling once we got to the start.
Patchy wears the astro-goggles to save his eyes. One sticker in the eye ball from chasing lizards is enough, thank you. We set off into the cool morning of a day forecast to break 100 deg. F. in the valley, but this is high desert country so there is a window of a few hours in the AM when aerobic exercise can be quite pleasant. As I should have known, even this high, there was sand, but I only had to push briefly a couple of times. In the back of my mind was the nagging truth that I was not towing the trailer and I only had twenty pounds of weights, some doggie water, a wind breaker, a cell phone, car keys, and a cliff bar as baggage beyond the standard minimal tire repair gear. Still, I was climbing!
From what I can tell from obsessive reading, the surface of this road was a bit rough compared to most of the GDMBR standards, and by lowering the PSI in the rear tire, I seemed to get a little more traction. It was slow going, for sure, although it wouldn't have been fast on a bike, either. The ascent was steady and, in some places, steep. Patch was mostly not to be seen as he ran crazily back and forth punishing the local lizard and chipmunk population. On serious days and big rides, Patchy will be tethered to slow him down. Practice runs at home are starting to show promise. He doesn't seem to mind the tether, and we got him to ride in the trailer a little. We now have the trailer parked in the living room and feed Patch treats in it. Remember, Pup. The trailer means FUN! He's a wilful, ADHD doggie, however, so it's going to take some time.
As I struggled with the dirt surfaces at times, I realized that while the physical demands of the GDMBR will be extreme, perhaps the greatest challenge will be emotional and spiritual. I'll have to find this happy place that deals with the struggle in a balanced way. Jodi wondered if we should bring a marriage counselor along with us! Meditating on what this extended effort will require helped me shift perspectives as I cranked up the grade. While slow, there was no denying the benefits. Total quiet save for the crunch of tires, mountains raising about me and breath taking grandeur, and virtually no traffic. Only one slow-moving V-dub camper puttered by.
I did not have a specific destination in mind for today, but when I decided it was time to turn around, I found we had gained quite a bit of altitude, and I could not make out the truck in the hazy distance below. I watered up Patchy, turned the Expedition around, let a little air out of the front fatties, and pushed off. Because of the chunky nature of the most of the road, the descent was not fast, but it was far more enjoyable than I'd imagined, navigating the rocks and ruts. When the path smoothed out, I eased off the brakes and flew down the mountain, the last bit in wooping joy as Patchy chased a rabbit and sprinted along my side in wild happiness. I did a little power slide through the last corner and climbed the easy though sandy grade back to the truck. Success! Today's ride was valuable in its own right, and I'll continue to do these wee cranks for what they have to offer, but I finished with some cautious optimism for the bigger project. Maybe we can do this....
I've ordered the frame extensions and some phat tires and tubes. Installation and commentary on those will come soon. Keep the faith, the pedals, and the pups turning.
Some more pics and a vid from today: