Indio, CA to Blythe, CA
Not exactly my best fashion look today. Unfortunately I do not ride across the desert with the style and looks of Omar Sharif or Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. I am looking more like a ‘past his best’ Desert Ninja, covered from head to toe in sun protective clothing also designed to help keep me cool.
‘Lawrence of Arabia’ was the first film I ever saw at the movies. It must have been a re-run as I think this film was first released in 1962. I clearly remember going to Cheltenham in the back of a Morris Minor car with my mother, brother and Anne (my mums friend) to see it. Unfortunately my Mother had to miss a portion of the film due to the fact that one of the baddies in the film stabbed a camel. This did not sit well with me, and the tears and sniffling followed quite freely. This happened to me again when I was at the movies with my Mum watching Patton, only to get distraught when Patton shot two donkeys and threw them off a bridge to clear a way forward. My mother took me out of the theatre for ice cream with me until I was less upset. With me, anyone could kill bad guys, blow up entire armies or buildings and I would be fine. However, if anyone killed or hurt an animal I was done.
So it was totally ironic on a day thinking about the desert, Lawrence of Arabia and Patton that our first SAG (support and gear) stop was outside the Patton Museum. Anyway I digress, a normal habit if you have ever been stuck in a pub with me rambling on for hours. Back to the desert!
On leaving the hotel this morning, I cycled straight onto Interstate 10 (I10). Normally bicycles are not allowed onto US interstates, however the exception is if there is no alternative route for the cyclist. Apparently the only way from Indio to Blythe is on this road, so I rode up the on ramp and away I pedalled, doing my best to hug the far right side of the shoulder, away from the endless 18 wheelers that were barrelling down the highway beside me. My wake up call was the fact that the first 12.3 miles was a continuous climb up into the desert hills. My climbing style is slow and steady, so I plod along while rider after rider passes me one by. My mantra for the ride, given to me by Marty Perlmutter who did this ride in 2017, is ‘Ride your Ride’ #RYR. Today, I did exactly that and
it was fine!
I don’t stay too long at the frequent SAG stops, as for some reason I feel far worse if I take any lengthy break when riding. So I tend to grab some food, fill up my bottles with fluids and my pockets with snacks and then head back onto the road. I ride another 20 miles and repeat the process. After heading back onto the freeway from one SAG stop, I found the road surface was poor to say the least. Obviously there is nothing Crossroads or any other tour operator can do about road conditions, especially when there is no alternative route. Quite literally, for 22 miles, I rode over a bump every 10 – 20 ft, with large cracks running perpendicular to the lane. This was not a lot of fun on the saddle, but hey what are you going to do apart from keeping moving forwards the ride is done. I had a reprieve just before arriving at our final stop, as the road had been shown some love and was newly paved. What a relief!
I was still riding alone as I could not hang on to the riders that passed me for more than a few minutes and did not want to slow too much in the desert sun. The final 20 miles was simply a steady run knowing I was close enough to just spin the pedals until Irma and I were home. Today was a day of survival and recovery for me. I survived my second longest ride ever with a long 12 mile climb and crazy bumpy roads. Tomorrow I will hopefully complete what will be my longest ride when we ride the 116 miles from Blythe, CA to Wickenburg, AZ.
Now it’s time to rest my legs, as they will need to be strong for tomorrow’s long day, followed by three days of heavy climbing on our way into Flagstaff and our first rest day.