Day 24: Mecca - Mexicali
Friday, September 30, 2005

88.28 @ 17.0 = 5:10'14, max: 26.1, trip total: 1948.2

80 - 105°, sunny, hotter than hell

muffin, cheese danish, snickers, 10 pc chicken McNuggets, fries, M&M McFlurry, Tequila shot, Dos XX's, Tequila shot, Dos XX's, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, 4 pc fried chicken, mashed potatoes, 2 biscuits

Value Inn, $25.25 p/p

We knew it was going to be a hot day. There was no way around that. I was hoping to get an early start but that was a bit too optimistic. The idea was to beat the heat and get some miles out of the way. Maybe end the day before the real heat of the mid day sun reached its peak. But as it was we got rolling at 8:30 or so.

That's ok, it's the last day. The anxious feeling was now over- we were on the road. The mechanics took over and soon we were in line pushing forward, as the sun rose higher into the sky.

We were going around the Salton Sea (250 feet or so below sea level) for about the first 40 miles - relatively flat with some winds to deal with. The stench was particularly rancid at times and it was clear why the vacation destination spots were all boarded up. This was no place to hang out. It was foul.

The gatorade and water with ice only stayed cold for about five minutes after a pit stop- which we took about every 10 miles. I searched any spot of shade I could find when we stopped, and if there wasn't any then standing 20 feet away from the van was cooler- the metal radiated heat.

So the first 50 or so miles went by quickly - rather, we worked well, and the day had not beaten us up too much. Then the real fun began. It was better to keep rolling than to stop in the sun- it was just too hot to sit still. Any shade was automatically 15 - 20° cooler. So the rest of the day was like playing hot potato- even the bike frame (black carbon) was hot to the touch. The computer started to read double. The pavement was melting.

The scenery for the most part was the same. Flat sandy scrub bushes with some mountains so far off we'll never reach them today. The road- usually straight. The traffic- light most of the time and fast. The lake was uneventful - water in a flat field. You can tell by my max mph -- 26! That's it.

There was so little of interest (even though it was beautiful) that when the police officer advised Jessica about our riding- he told her, "Tell those kamikazes (bikers) to stay off the road, 'cause people drink out there- especially the truckers!" Luckily we didn't have any problems and for the most part the truckers treated us well.

video clip: the grand view »

Lunch was a good excuse to get into some air conditioning. It was hard to tell if the sunscreen was working since you could feel your skin burn - literally as you were biking.

After that it was all business. 10 mile breaks for fluids and ice. No slowing down until we get there. And stick together. It was quiet.

The flat of the day - of the trip - came at about 50 yards from the border. I got a flat earlier in the trip but not while riding- it was a valve leak when I went to top it off. So this was officially my first. And I could have rode the rest of the way but we were trying to figure out how to get the van and the bikes across so I had time to spare. Plus we were there. It was time to celebrate. Heck, might as well use up the CO2. So a few minutes later we were rolling across the border! That's it. No one telling you to stop. Nothing- just roll on through.

And the streets changed from fast food city (on the US side) to authentic run down green and red signs. It radiated energy and we were full of of it - now that we didn't need any more. Stop signs meant nothing and street vendors were running wild. It was an instant cultural change- even though we felt like we had already been in Mexico for a day, this was the real deal.

Of course our first item of business was to find a bar. It wasn't hard and with that we ended up at the Conga II. We locked up our bikes outside- yes, right there on the street- and walked right in, sat down, and ordered up some tequila shots and beers. We continued with round two of shots and beers and retelling all the worst/bests of the trip. Laughing at all the characters we've met. Toasting to a safe and successful adventure. Looking ahead into the future. We celebrated and breathed a sigh of relief- wondering when we'll touch those bikes again.

It feels like it's been just days since we started in Canada- but at the same time it feels like it was a year ago with all the visual information we have gathered along the way. Every day has had a ton of stories in itself - a ton of images - a ton of pedal strokes. Each mile has a different perspective and as you travel through each one it slowly changes from the cold lush and humid start up in Canada to the hot barren landscape in Mexico.

All in all it would have been great to have all the people that where on the trip to celebrate together. To get all the sides of the story. To hear and share all of our thoughts. And that includes all the support people too- the places we stayed, the drivers, and so on. We learned so much about each other, at times more than we wanted to. But maybe that reunion will have to wait until we get back home.

For now it was back to the U.S. side and get some food and rest. For some reason fried chicken sounded like the best thing in the world and we searched out all of southern California for a fast food chicken place. Shortly after that we were at a Motel cleaning up one more time. It was odd to think of not laying out the next days jersey and shorts ready for the 6am prep. Not thinking about the route ahead. Without a care of charging up the camera and iPod. No need to have the water bottles ready.

i felt a bit empty. It was over. For this trip anyway. And the thoughts of next time... the next adventure... which started to formulate months and months ago... are now in full force.


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