Day 22: Palmdale - Yucca Valley
Wednesday, September 28, 2005

123.52 @ 16.4 = 7:30'03, max: 45.9, trip total: 1770.1

70's and 80's - nothing but sun

pop tarts, chocolate muffin, Bud Light, oreo's, double whopper, onion rings, vanilla shake, oreo's, crunch bar, vanilla shake, cheese fries, chicken fried steak, hashbrowns, eggs

Desert View Motel, $20.00 p/p

Wow - what a long day. When you're in the saddle for that many hours it really takes it's toll on you. But it was also a solid effort all the way through- not like some days where I would take it easy for chuncks here and there. We were reallly pushing the entire way. And still with all that we got in at about 6:20pm. It was a tough day even though much of it was relatively flat.

Started with a warm morning - no need for gloves or a jacket- first time this trip, and about time. It was nice - a bit cool to start but only for the first hour if that. As soon as the sun came up we started to bake. Sun tan lotion every stop and not evne that kept me from burning.

Coming out of town it seemed we were set- just cruising along. But as soon as the protection of the buildings disappeared we faced a nice steady headwind, the shoulder was sand, and the road surface left much to be desired. It was like biking throught the desert- right, we were. It was a mix of 12 - 14 mph (in a pace line) - the four of us marching out a constant rhythm, We could have gone faster but not for long. And this was just the beginning. Again, the mind starts to calculate the hours before the sun would set and the speed to accomplish 110+ miles. Hard to tell what the exact number would be. But I think secretely everyone was hoping for 103, maybe 105... something in that neighborhood.

The road got progressively worse. Rough Road sign. Rougher than this? Oh God- yes even rougher. At this point it was more about getting through without messing up your wheels than any other aspect of biking. Forget pace line, we were all over the road - I mean ALL over form one side to the other and even on the sand at times- although that proved to be to soft. Some of the potholes were the size of a kithcen sink - and not uncommon.

I kept thinking that the second half of the day would be better. It was a larger road that would take us down to Joshua Tree. It's gotta be better.

Then we were even faced with a dirt road section - a mile or two. The dirt was better than the road - in all honesty - but the sandy parts were hectic to ride a road bike through. At one point I hit a sizeable pothole that through me over my handlebars- luckily (and remarkably) I came out of my pedals and leap frogged over to a standing position-- and the bike didn't even fall- not sure exactly how that happened. I thiink part of it was that I expected it to some degree.

And then we had our first real stop - about 50 miles into the day. And yes the roads got better. More traffic and less shoulder but at least a flat surface. It wasn't smooth for much of the day but at least rideable. It was maybe 1:30 when we broke from lunch and started back up. After {only} going 50 miles and feeling like we'd done 100 it was hard to motivate yourself for the rest of the day.

"Just keep the van away from me- that thing will suck me in today."

We got in a groove and really hammered some miles out - about 30 more and we were feeling good - I mean 20 more and we'd be around 100 - we'd be about done. And then right in front of us as our energy was draining with each stroke, we saw it. We saw a sign for Yucca Valley - 45 miles! That's hard to swallow when you're on mile 80, its 3pm, and you just went all out the last 20 miles to catch up on the day. Ugh. There was an instant break and re-group.

The devestation was unspeakble. But what can you do. I laughed. 'Dig deep' came to mind. So did 'I can do 45 miles before breakfast'. And, 'Hell we still have 3+ hours'. All the tricks to get you back on track. Focus. Be smart- pace line. The headwind was more of a side wind but still punishing. And we set out our stop for 10 minutes every 10 miles for fluids. It was hot. We were going through bottles and ice quickly.

I almost lost track which stop we were on. Do we have 20 more? 30? - no, 35. Oh. Well good then, let's go.

"This is the most challenging day of my life."

"You know when you bike 120 miles through the desert it's an accomplishment. It's not like everyone is doing this shit."

Everyone had something to say - I think I kept laughing in my head. And slowly we ticked off all the miles. And surely it was above 120. With some nice climbs right at the end. Steep as anything and long enough to burn.

It was a ton of flat and headwind. And the sun was setting as we strolled into town. We did it. Tomorrow was an "easy" day. Only 80 or so. Then again it could be more, who knows. But going through Joshua Tree will be a treat. It's a National Park- it's got to have better roads- right? Please.


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