Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Days 44 and 45: Needles to Barstow CA (160 mi)

Sheesh, that was rough.

Actually, the first 20 miles through the desert wasn't too bad. There was more of a crosswind than a headwind, and decent cloud cover kept things relatively cool. Then the clouds grew darker, the air... heavier.

The worst rain I encountered was yesterday, in the desert. Oh, the irony! Nonstop, five hours straight. At some point I reached a "Route Closed, Road Impassable" sign, and upon checking the map realized I needed to get on I-40 if I wished to continue west. A couple hours into that, I stopped and just walked the bike on the shoulder; it was too dangerous with the amount of rain and low visibility for trucks. I actually stopped at one of those emergency call stations and dialed the operator. I told her I was biking and didn't feel safe, and asked if she had any information on when the weather would clear up (I had sketchy cell service). She asked "Why are you biking on the freeway?", to which I shouted half at her, half at the sky, expletives. Sorry, lady.

Another hour of walking and I reached an exit. I sat, soaked, under the overpass and cried/shrieked at the rain. I was out of energy and food to replace it, and just slumped on the cement incline, contemplating life and its many happenings.

I don't remember how long I spent under that overpass. Eventually the rain stopped, the clouds parted, and I felt the wind shift directions - a gentle tailwind! I got back on the highway and cruised down into the valley, almost no pedaling. The setting sun was gorgeous over the mountain tops. Two hours later I finally reached a gas station and motel. After eating my first ever DQ Blizzard, I passed out on my comfy bed while Fantastic 4 played on AMC.

Today was more of what I had prepared for mentally in the desert: sun and wind. Even though I put on chapstick, my lips still cracked and bled. I tied a handkerchief around my face to help. I looked like a desert marauder. Actually, I look like a grimy teenager on a bike. But I felt like a badass, and that's important for the trip.

So, two days ago I encountered the hottest heat (topped out at 105 in Oatman AZ) and the steepest climb through Sitgreaves Pass. Yesterday was the heaviest rain, and today the strongest headwind yet. Gosh, everything's reaching its max! In my mind it's one last gut-check - the country wants to see if I really want to finish the trip.

The wind set me back significantly and I am still 40 miles from my hosts in Hesperia. I would keep pedaling but I actually don't have enough daylight to complete the ride. They offered to come pick me up... I'm debating that now. To be this close to the end and accept a ride, I just don't know. There's always the option of getting a room for the night and just adding a day to the trip. I'll make a decision soon.


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  2. Noteman? or Oatman? OATMAN OATMAN OATMAN.

    Keep it up Ric, and finish strong.

  3. Eric, your timing of desert-crossing was uncanny. That area had a few hours of rain on one day in August, a few hours of rain on two days in July, and before that, no rain since February. AND several hours of rain on Tuesday September 15. :-)

    Maybe the rain was still better than the alternative heat?

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