Monday, October 20, 2008

Part 18 Lon's First Cross Country

Part 17
We continued across Palm Springs and Indio. Yesterday I had ridden from Indio to the Santa Monica City Hall in fifteen hours. Today I covered the same 150 miles in nine hours. Getting out of town and missing Los Angeles traffic was a big help. The tailwinds didn’t hurt either. Behind us was the Pacific Ocean. Ahead was 250 miles of desert. I climbed back up Chiriaco Summit on Interstate 10. The afternoon temperatures were a toasty 115 degrees. The good thing was I was feeling pretty strong. The crew was giving me a cold water bottle every 15 minutes and I was dumping another bottle over my head. I was averaging almost 18 miles per hour for the day. By the time I reached the town of Blythe we had crossed California in 14 hours. The crew took a photo of the bank clock and thermometer at 5:00 PM which read 111 degrees.

The town of Quartzite, Arizona was 25 miles away and that was our goal for the day. The sun was still high in the sky when we arrived at the RV park. We had traveled 265 miles today which was what we needed to do everyday to set the record. My new Specialized Alez bike fit perfectly and I felt like I had been riding it for years.

We had a picnic dinner at the Quartzite RV Park. I went to bed before sundown and got a good night’s sleep. These were the days before the Race Across America and all night rides. The next morning the sun was coming up when I continued east on Interstate 10. I only had to go about 15 more miles before getting off I-10 and getting on Rt. 60 toward Prescott. It was nice to be away from the traffic and heading across the desolate desert. I was feeling okay this morning except for some saddle sores. The long flat roads didn’t allow me much time to stand up and change my position.

By late morning the desert was getting hot. The climbing to higher elevations started at about noon in the small town of Congress, Arizona. The grade up Yarnell Hill is deceptively steep at the bottom. The grade looked flat but I was going slower and slower...16 mph...12 mph..10 mph. Was I getting weak of did I have a flat tire? Out of frustration I made a u-turn and started riding back west. My speed immediately went to 20 mph just coasting. The grade was steeper than I thought. Satisfied I was really going uphill, I made another u-turn and continued east. I needed to climb another six miles up and out of the desert. Every mile was several degrees cooler. By the time I receive the town of Yarnell the temperature had dropped from 100 degrees to 85 degrees. It was nice to have the hottest part of the desert behind me.



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