What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
Finished the second leg a few days ago, what a ride. Here’s a quick update, videos to come in upcoming posts:
Day 106: Tempe – Surprise, AZ (41 miles)
Super quiet roads leaving the Phoenix area. Sunday syndrome I guess. Through downtown Phoenix which was eerily quiet, all going well. Then a fast puncture (caused by a big chunk of glass) close to Avondale. Only this morning I threw away another bike pump (#2 of the trip) because it stopped working. So with no pump, I walked for a few minutes to a gas station and the air machine.
BANG. Too much air. In exploding inner tube is REALLY loud. Funny looks. Continue the walk to Walmart to get a couple of new tubes. After some very unsubtle in-store use of a Walmart foot pump, eventually the bike had two working wheels and the ride went smoothly from then on. Stealth bivvy on some grass near another Walmart in Surprise.
Day 107: Surprise – Wickenburg, AZ (36 miles)
Pretty simple riding today, flat mostly, through more desert, and with no mechanical issues which seems to be a rare pleasure at the moment. Highlight of the day was stopping for lunch, and talking risk with the staff. “What if you get chased by a pack of coyotes?” It’s a valid question, not so much because of coyotes, but because I haven’t really thought about animals at all, and probably should start doing. Bears will be more common and something to be potentially wary of heading North.
Big thanks to The Log Wagon Inn, in Wickenburg, for their generous hospitality.
Day 108: Wickenburg – nr. Quartzsite, AZ (80 miles)
Struggled with motivation to get going today, so checked out as late as possible. The ride was very stop start. Cycle to the next town, stop for a bit, next town, stop etc. More of the same in terms of landscape, really. The days highlight was being in a tiny little town called Aguila – and seeing the most traditional cowboy so far – full getup, all denim, cowboy hat, leather boots with metal things on the back, a ‘be careful you don’t fall backwards’ walk, chewing a toothpick. Probably had a good aim with a six-shooter, too.
Finished the ride at the junction of Hwy 60 / i10 near Quartzsite and slept in a lay-by just off the road. It was pretty rough.
Day 109: Nr. Quartzsite to Yuma, AZ (96 miles)
It’s weird how being constantly on the road offers such extreme changes in motivation. Some days you honestly feel like cycling is at the bottom of the motivation list. Those days become short days, filming days, or explore-the-place-you’re-in days. Today was unique in terms of it could easily have been one of those days in the morning. I didn’t drum up enough motivation to get going until really late. But a fast road does wonders to change your motivation. The road from Quartzsite to Yuma (Hwy 95) wasn’t downhill, but was strangely fast. As soon as you’re moving fast, you don’t want to stop. Next stop Yuma. Thanks to the wonderful El Rancho Motel for the room.
Day 110: Yuma to Calexico, CA (58 miles)
Quick ride out of Yuma to reach that flipping-wonderful sign of progress. California and a new time zone. The end of the second / west leg of the journey. So stoked to see that sign, and to know that having a few days to chill out was only a couple of days away.
“You’re in California now, what are you doing? You can’t ride on the Interstate!” Sorry officer. It didn’t take long to be stopped by the highway patrol and get booted off the interstate. Eventually pulled in to Calexico quite late after a run in with the border patrol, who clearly enjoy the power their blinding search lights must bring.
Day 111: Calexico to Jacumba, CA (50 miles)
Yesterday, numerous people asked “Are you going to be riding up the mountain?” Nothing like the reputation of the mountain to know there’s a big-ass climb coming up. Today was that day.
The ride went through the Yuha desert, surrounded by vast sand dunes for the first time. But other than that, there were no signs of anything out of the ordinary.
Until Ocotillo at about 7pm, the interstate, and the start of ‘the mountain’. Bloody hell it really is huge and steep. Even for cars, it clearly causes problems, as every mile are ‘Radiator Water Stops’ and there’s plenty of ‘Avoid Overheating. Turn off A/C for next 10 miles’ signs. It was definitely the hardest riding so far, and pretty cold. Lowest gear and seemingly never-ending. It took 4 hours to climb the hill and reach Jacumba, and it truly earned it’s notorious status.
There’s a park outside the library in Jacumba which is great for sleeping in, plenty of benches to sleep on, and grass for tents, even if there is an unusually loud sound of dogs barking.
Day 112: Jacumba to San Diego, CA (79 miles)
I haven’t been looking at maps for a while, with the thought that ‘the unknown’ might be a bit more exciting. So after yesterdays mammoth uphill, todays a downhill cruise into San Diego, right?
It didn’t take long before the inevitable. PSSSST. Fucking nail. Still without a pump, and now in the middle of nowhere, it was a huge slice of luck that Mike and Stefan, programmers from the San Diego area were out road biking for the day. Luckily Mike had a couple of CO2 canisters. Good job it was a couple, because whilst chatting to them and trying to replace a tube at the same time, I put the old innertube back, thinking it was a new one, and used a whole canister trying to put air in the same tube that minutes ago had a nail through it. Whoops.
The downhill just wouldn’t appear. It was a constant uphill for most of the day. Not sure how that can work geographically but still, a climb all the way to Alpine. And then the downhill, dropping down into San Diego. ‘Bout time.
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Spending a few days in San Diego staying with friends who I haven’t seen for a few years. And a bit of surfing hopefully. Normal scheduling to resume in a week. Currently looking for another sponsor too, so if anyone out there is interested, just shout!
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