Day 5 started with another early rising, 3:30 AM with departure at 4:20.
This schedule seems to work very well for the cyclists. They are not totally exhausted at the end of their ride, as they usually stop by 9:00 AM. The cooler morning temperatures allowed for a faster ride today as well as covering more miles. They are also building stamina and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. This time frame allows them to capture gorgeous shots of the sunrise.
The SAG Wagon driver set out at 6:30 to provide a water break. WIth the sun in the background, I captured a few “shots” of the GGJV as they passed by my stopping points.
While I wait for the cyclists to arrive at their final stop for the day, I play my violin. The desert creatures all run the other way.
The SAG Wagon didn’t transport the cyclists this morning as they left directly from the hotel at 0′ dark hundred (4:15 AM). No photo, just imagine red blinking lights shining in the distance as they exited the parking lot. The desert sun and unseasonably warm temperatures motivated the cyclists to rise early and take to the dark city streets of El Centro, hoping to get a few hours of riding in before the sun rose.
So photos will have to tell the story of Day 4.
Leaving El Centro, the cyclists headed north and bypassed the town of Brawley. As the sun rose, the photographer cyclist captured date palm trees filled with beautiful white cranes (white spot on branch).
About 3 hours into the ride, the SAG Wagon driver got a call to say,”Where are you? We’re in the middle of the Imperial Sand Dunes and we need water.”
SAG Wagon driver threw the last of our belonging in the RV and raced the 49.5 miles to their location past Glamis to pick them up and water them. Needless to say the SAG Wagon Driver needs to get on their new schedule; early to bed, early to rise, nap during the brutal heat of the day and prepare to follow the cyclists in those early morning hours when temperatures are more bearable, sounding more like a lizard. Afternoon siestas are important.
Interesting sidebar to our trip. We got to play Road Angel today. As we traveled the 55 miles to Blythe for our evening accommodations, I noticed a cyclist walking along the side of Highway 78 pushing his bicycle loaded with panniers front and back. I had also noticed this same cyclist yesterday morning after the GGJV left the top of the mountain. I was playing my violin with no one around for obvious reasons when I noticed the cyclist making a loop around the RV before starting the descent down the In Ko Pah mountain. Today he was in need of transportation to a bike shop in order to purchase a replacement for a broken rear derailleur. We picked him up and took him into Blythe. He is traveling the same cross country route so we will probably see him again along the way.
The GGJV cycling team began their third day tackling a steep ride on Interstate 8 in the In Ko Pah Mountains through Devil’s Canyon Gorge with sweeping curves and 6% grade. With cool temperatures of 70 degrees and an early start to the day, the promise of a fun ride down the mountain put smiles on their faces.
Beyond the windmills and solar collectors as they approached Ocotillo, the desert stretched out flat before them on and on and on. The temperatures quickly rose as the cyclists descended to sea level and lower. With no shade and brutal sun, 40 miles was sufficient for the day’s ride.
Today’s ride also included flat tires, no, not the beer (Fat Tire), but a bicycle tire easily repaired and a SAG wagon tire that took a little more work. Thank you American Tire in El Centro, CA. If you need tires and you are in this part of California, check them out.
Cycling into El Centro, the team passed a somber reminder to ride safely despite the crackled old historic highway 80.A Ghost Bicycle was mounted on one of the palm trees. According to Wikipedia, A ghost bike, ghostcycle or WhiteCycle is a bicycle set up as a roadside memorial in a place where a cyclist has been killed or severely injured (usually by a motor vehicle). Apart from being a memorial, it is usually intended as a reminder to passing motorists to share the road. Ghost bikes are usually junk bicycles painted white, sometimes with a placard attached, and locked to a suitable object close to the scene of the accident.
Near This Location Larry M. Valenzuela February 17, 1963 – June 30, 2000 Husband, Father, Nurse Died Riding His Bicycle Age 37 El Centro, California
Once the decision was made to stop for the day, a comfortable Clarion Inn became a respite from the sun. Tomorrow’s heat demands an even earlier start… 3:00 AM? The early bird (cyclist) catches a cooler ride.
At 7:15 this morning (9/26/2015), Bill Grass and Jeff and Kim Grass started the epic adventure of crossing the United States on the Southern Tier route. Their auspicious beginning was shrouded in San Diego fog and gray ocean as they took off from Ocean Beach, California.
The hardcore team members are the 3 cyclists pictured above. The Gypsy Cyclist, aka Karen Grass, is taking a break from cycling. Instead she is driving the SAG wagon, getting meals ready, reading and playing her violin in her spare time.
Karen and Bill would like to extend a gracious thank you to Kim for the Team shirts – they are a great birthday present and we will all wear with pride and know that they will be filled with many memories from the next 60 days.
Okay, back to the ride information… With temperatures close to 100 later in the day, Jeff and Kim stopped in Alpine for lunch and a cooldown, as Bill had to take a quick trip to the ER for a few stitches. Afterwards Jeff and Kim continued on a few more miles to the Viejas Indian Reservation, where Bill and Karen picked them up and headed to our campsite for the night.
As you can see the 5 stitches do not keep a good man off his bike!
On the second day after a cool respite in the Cleveland National Forest (6000 ft. elevation) and a starting temp. of 59 degrees, the cyclists started their day with a continued climb towards Pine Valley.
After a short climb on Interstate 8, the cyclists returned to off-highway riding with a downhill run (obviously enjoyed by Kim) into the Japutal Valley.
After a short coffee, muffin, pastry, apple, leftover pasta, water, Gatorade and dewatering break, the cyclists climbed out of Pine Valley, traveling Historic Highway 80 with as Bill describes it “alligator pavement”, similar to what you see in the photo above (Beginning the second day).
GGJV finally stopped for a lunch break in Jacumba Hot Springs and debated whether to stop for the day or conquer a few more climbing miles and the 100+ degree heat.
6 more miles later, good sense took over and the cyclists were transported in the cool SAG wagon to Brawley for a nice, clean, cool hotel room. The desert beckons tomorrow.
But tonight we are enjoying the beautiful Blood Red Supermoon.
We are packed and ready to start the next great adventure. Bill will be cycling from San Diego to St. Augustine over the next two months. We are joining his brother, Jeff and his wife, Kim, who will ride a tandem bike. Bill will cycle on his touring bike. Karen will drive the SAG wagon, our RV. Bill has been training with rides up to 55 miles and faster speeds than Karen is willing to ride. Karen has simply ridden 25 miles 4 or 5 times a week to keep in shape for the next European tour.
Karen’s plan is to drive 50-60 miles to the campsite or rendezvous point which should only take an hour, get dinner going in the crockpot, then read or walk or hike or cycle until the XC cyclists get to the campsite. Karen may ride back 5 miles to meet them each day. Sounds like a good plan to me. Karen already has the camper stocked with reading material for the first month.
Glad I’m not tackling this hill during the first day out!
I’ll keep you posted as to the progress of the cyclists. The journey begins September 28th.