Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bermless roads and SoCal drivers

Sunday, July 29. Indio, CA to Temecula, CA. 85 miles of riding in 6:07 hrs.

I’ve always said that you should always expect the unexpected on a X country bike trip. Trouble is that I tend to forget that important tenant far too often. Today was a classic case of that. Went to bed last evening thinking that I’d have some serious climbing to do to get across SanJacinto Mts and the Santa Rosa Mts, but then I’d be out of the desert heat and in the cool mt air for some amazing high country riding. NOPE!
         First I’m going to digress just a tad. We went to this little hole in the wall restaurant last night called Frankie’s. The place is famous for sushi and fish. Had reservations going in based on first impressions, but wow, what wonderful experience for such a meager price. Did some sushi for apps. which were just crazy good, and then got these main dishes that were awesome. I got a big bowl of miso fish soup with chunks of fish tail, belly, cheeks and shrimp. Add some mushrooms and Japanese veggies to that and it was out of this world. I damn near licked the bowl at the end. Jude got a Mahi Mahi with like a Salsa Verde on top. WOW. Great stuff. And I mean part of it was like: “well, I just have this little jaunt over the mts and down to the sea. We’re there!”
         And I stayed up late, watched the Olympics and had a couple Fosters Oil cans – too many. Just totally did everything I didn’t do for the past 2 months of pre-ride evenings. And it bit me in the ass today!
Did the breakfast buffet in our hotel this morning and I had two heaping plates of eggs, sausage and sausage gravy. I took off at 7 AM, in the desert city of Indio thinking that I’d be up in the mts in 3 hrs max and enjoy the cool mt air. So my pace was relaxed and my attitude was relaxed. Jude stayed around the hotel to watch some morning Olympics. The ride down Rt 111 from Indio through Indian Wells and Palm Desert was pretty spectacular what with all the massive palm trees lining the road coupled with the amazing homes, haciendas and hotels along the way. The places just reeked of money, money, money. But it was quite beautiful to ride through. Now that riding was mellow, with it being a Sunday morning the traffic was very light. Temp was in the mid 80’s so that was not biggie. But once I got to Palm Desert and jcn with Rt 74, my world changed.
         Now I knew that Rt 74 was about 26 miles of climbing, but as soon as I made the turn off of Rt 111 onto 74, the climbing was right in my face. That road ramped up out of the valley for a good 4 miles at 6-7%. Jude was waiting for me at this trailhead area where the road really ramped up into the heavens. I knocked down a quart of ice water and a Powerade. Having just done that 4 miles of climbing, I was totally soaked in sweat. I mean I was literally dripping. My jersey top was completely saturated. That was a freaking wake up call! And when I looked to the south up that climb it was just totally crazy, looking like it switched back and forth a gazillion times. So I toweled off my face and neck and got it rolling.
         On the good side I was able to do this whole climb in the middle ring. I just kept a good rhythm and spun it out in a high cadence with occasional sessions of out of the saddle. About 15 min into the climb a tri guy passed me just cranking it. Dude had the whole magilla going – awesome carbon bike, shaved legs, great pedal stroke. I didn’t even attempt to go with this guy. I was like, “ah, nope I think I’m pretty comfy here and I have no idea how damn far I have to climb like this. Have a good ride dude!” And on the good side of this story was the fact that the dude only rode for another 15 min, took some shots at the pull-off of a switchback, and then headed back down. So my little roadie ego felt totally vindicated! Jude waited for me at about 6 miles in, and I did that stretch at about 7 mph. What I had covered at that point was only half of the really gnarly part of this thing, that according to a lady Jude was talking to at the pull-off. Matter of fact this climb was so in your face that there was a sign warning drivers not to use AC when doing the mt climb due to engine overheating issues.
         So I did another 64 oz of liquids, and I was just guzzling the stuff, and then whipped out again for more. Now for the bad side…zero berm on this climb, and I do mean zero. I felt like I was just a moving target for any dipshit who wasn’t paying attention to the road, especially on these blind curves – which were at nearly every switchback. I was even scared to get out of the saddle for fear of being too high in the air and getting clipped by the rear view mirror of a pick-up truck or camper. But I had to do the OTS stuff just to give my quad muscles a break and work on the hammies a bit. After 3700 miles of cycling this stretch was just wigging the hell out of me. Not the climbing aspect, I love to climb, but having just no berm at all and having all these crazy weekenders out there driving up and down the mt and just whizzing past me within inches sometimes. It’s too bad to, because the sights and the scenery was just wonderful, looking way the heck back down into the valley where Palm Springs and Palm Desert are located. It was just to stressful to enjoy the climb.
         Got up the second section of the really steep, gnarly stuff to meet up with Jude again and guzzled another 64 oz of liquids. Once past Pinyon Pines the road got a bit straighter without the switchbacks, but it still continued to climb, all the way to the jcn with Rt 371 and Santa Rosa Summit, at 4900 feet. So from Indio, which is 14 feet below sea level, I’d climbed nearly 5K in 26 miles of riding. That was a bloody grunt for sure, especially with all the weekend traffic just flowing up and down that mt. And as for my preconceived notion of enjoying the nice cool mt air up there…NOT. It was still semi-arid and hot. Now not nearly as hot as it was down in Indio, but it was still a solid 85+ degrees. And the trees were not all that big up there. Hell, there was still cactus and desert vegetation up there at 4900 feet. Made the turn onto Rt 371 and began descending like a bandit. And I was thinking to myself that I was not too into descending because that could just mean that I’d be right back to climbing again to regain all the elevation. But that descent knocked off a solid 1K of elevation and took me into the town of Anza.
         And again, so much for my notion of a nice, cool mt environment. Nope, this was semi-arid and hot, about 90 degrees. Met Jude at a DQ and did another 64 oz of liquids. Thank God I had the foresight to really buy a lot of Gatorade and stock a lot of ice water bottles for today. I hadn’t figured on that kind of heat today at all. By then my thoughts of maybe making it all the way to the coast today, that was burst like a soap bubble. No bloody way was I going to make it much further based on the climbing and the heat. So the ride on Rt 371 was on yet another totally bermless road – a good road mind you, but no berm and a ton of weekend traffic. I’d figured out by this time that this is a prime cut-over route for people coming from San Diego and LA to get to Palm Springs and the desert valley area. They get on I-15 and then take 79 to 371 to 74 and into the valley. Most people were coming back from their weekend in the valley and heading to I-15. I was the little bunny rabbit on the road that everyone was trying not to hit in their mad rush to get home.
         Most of 371 was a descent, and that 20-mile section went pretty fast. At the bottom of 371 and the jcn of 79 I did yet another 64 oz of water – and I’d only pee’d once up to that point! And hit it on Rt 79, hoping against all hopes that I’d have berm. NOPE. Again, not but this sliver of 6 inches of berm to speak of, and the traffic was just like rush hour, with lines and lines of vehicles passing me. At least there was a rumble strip in the center so I could hear them coming at me. It was totally nerve wracking, really, and I’m not one who gets rattled much by traffic. These SoCal people drive like they’re race car drivers for God’s sake. I mean they’re flying around blind turns, passing on dbl yellows, and just screaming up and down the rollers. That up and down, rolling section of Rt 79 just put me in a survival mode – and a religious one I might add – to try to get the hell off of that road asap.
         In this whole trip that was the most nerve racking day of riding I’ve had. Made it into the city of Temecula and it was as if I was arriving at the height of rush hour. The place was a mad house right on the edge of I-15. Crazy place. Jude had gone ahead of me and got so tied up in the traffic that I had to wait about 15 min for her to make it back to me. I was never so happy as when I loaded that bike and the van and escaped all that traffic. What a mad house indeed. We got a motel asap and then went straight to eat, finding an Indian restaurant that was offering a Sunday buffet – it was jut super. Got some beer – WAY more than I need but after today I just may tap into the reserves! The temp here is 87 degrees, which is a far sight from the 111 back in Indio yesterday. I’ll take it. Did the motel pool for a half hour and here we sit watching the Olympics.
         Tomorrow I’ll finish in Oceanside or Carlsbad, whichever is the Least trafficked route! I think we only have about 30-45 miles to go to the coast. Then it’s time to kick back and celebrate. So that’s it for today…..Pete

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