Thursday, July 26, 2012

Heat and a whole new reality

Thursday, July 26. 20 miles east of Kingman, AZ to Lake Havasu City, AZ. 84 miles of riding in 5:12 hrs.

Up at 4:30 AM, loaded the van, cranked up the coffee machine and had two peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast. We were in the van and driving back to where I ended yesterday by 5:15 AM and I was on the bike and back on I-40 at 5:45 AM. There was a definite sense of urgency today, and for the next couple of days for that matter, because of the heat in the dessert. I wanted to be done, finished, and in the van before noon. Weather report for Lake Havasu City foretold of a high of 108 today. So I had to get my ass in gear and ride asap.
         Jude dropped me off and then went back to the hotel to do a workout and run while I’d ride into Kingman to meet her at the hotel and then dive into the complementary breakfast for a quick pitstop, and then hit the bike again and continue riding. Now after doing 90+ yesterday the old legs, and I use that term based on reality, were feeling a bit on the tired side. And what do I get to start the day off with? Well, a 5 mile gradual climb of course! It just plain hurt, and I had the chain in the big ring from yesterday, which really hurt. For about 5 min I just had to drop the chain in the middle ring and warm up. Once I felt a little life in those two dead stumps I popped it into the big ring and got chugging. Wind was out of the southwest again, but what with it being so early in the morning it was very light and not much of a factor. Nope, the long gradual was the factor. Couldn’t do any more than like 12 mph for the first 20 min of riding. The temp was just wonderful, about 70 degrees.
         Once I topped out it was smooth sailing for a long ways, really damned near all the way into Kingman. Riding in the dessert at this time is about the ONLY time to ride in the dessert. You’ve got about 3 hrs from the time dawn breaks until the sun really begins to crank on the heat. So I flew nearly all the rest of the way into Kingman winding it out in the big cookie. About 3 miles outside of my exit the berm turned into this crappy asphalt, where the asphalt was composed of large chunks of rock. It resembled a conglomerate of large asphalt gravel petrified on the road. Talk about bumpy – hell, the gravel roads of KS were nicer than this piece of junk. Even with duel suspension I felt as though I was getting a belt sander applied to my ass! Wow, I was never so happy when I saw the exit for Rt 66. Jumped on 66 and rode back to the hotel to eat breakfast with Jude.
         Loaded up on scrambled eggs, hash browns and sausage links, and I’m talking a full plate of this junk, piled about 2 inches high. I consumed it all in about 7 minutes, and probably looked like I was auditioning for a competitive eating contest. I mean the plastic fork was wilting from the speed with which I was shoveling the food in my mouth. Jammed back out to the bike and got cranking again while Jude did the shower thing back in the hotel. So I rode a stretch of 66 back to the interstate and then immediately did this descent down onto the dessert floor where it was nearly as flat as a pancake. And this was my gig for the next 40 miles of riding on I-40. The wind had picked up a bit and the heat was definitely firing up big time. I just felt like I was beginning to ride in an oven, and it was only like 8:30 AM.
         My berm was just fantastic, smooth, no cracks or crevices and no plants popping through the pavement. So I could ride at a pretty good clip – 16-18 mph. Made plans to meet Jude at this rest stop that was about 25-30 miles west of Kingman, so I had a real good chunk of real-estate to cover before my hydration stop. And I could just feel my mouth getting cottony dry, so many a time I pressed my tongue down into the bottom of my mouth to kind of keep it wet. Now I did drink from my water bottles, and by that time the water was more than luke warm, it was hot! No worries though, when you’re thirsty and have no real choices, water is water no mater what the temp. Made it to the rest area and by that time it was freaking major hot. You could just feel the heat rising from the pavement in the rest area. I downed a quart of ice water, a quart of Powerade, and an ice cold coke. And I was off again trying to stay on my ride plan of finishing before noon.
         How people ride and run long distances in this kind of environment is beyond me. And to go into the heat of the day, like noon through 5 PM, that’s just mind-boggling. I mean it’s indescribable how bloody hot it is when you’re not in an air-conditioned car cruising down the highway through the dessert. You’re in this cocoon and oblivious to the outside world. And I was thinking about that as I was riding along, watching the cars, trucks and RV’s zoom past me, with all their creature comforts at their fingertips, oblivious to the temps just climbing and climbing in the outside world. Now it wasn’t as if I was envious of them, although when the headwind continued to pick up I did feel as though the interiors of those vehicles look mighty inviting!
         So our next support stop was at the jcn with Rt 95 south. Jude had parked at a big truck stop and had everything opened up and ready for me. Downed another Powerade, another water and I just kept rolling. I think it was about 10 AM by this point and the temp was definitely in the 100’s, I mean it was smoking hot. Got going on a nice berm on Rt 95, thankfully, and it turned out to be this long, long, long, false flat for 6 miles – with the wind just blowing like hell out of the southwest. By then the wind was beginning to feel warm at times, and hot at other times. The landscape was just bleak and foreboding as hell with the heat. I could only imagine hiking or backpacking in that kind of terrain and with that kind of heat – total misery! The mts were devoid of vegetation and there was zero in the way of streams or ponds or lakes or anything aqueous. It was stark and appeared lifeless.
         Finally topped out on this pseudo pass and began a ripping descent down to the Colorado River and Lake Havasu, which I could see in the distance. And surprisingly I felt pretty good, being able to get out of the saddle and mix it up a number of times on the climb. Descended down to the river, which was still a good mile or so off to my right, and met up with Jude for the final support stop. Downed one more quart of water and quart of Powerade and rode on. Now it had appeared that we were right on the cusp of being in the city of Lake Havasu, but that was very much a mirage. We were on the outer limits of the city with all the strip malls. The real center of town lay another 10 miles south. And those were 10 hotter than hell ten miles indeed. I’d go by banks where the time and temp signs indicated it to be 105 degrees – at 11:10 AM!
         Turns out this place was founded in like 1964, so it’s really modern, and I’d venture to guess that the median income here is on the high side – nothing but nice homes and condos. Every third vehicle that went by me was dragging a boat, and it reminded me of Glen Canyon with all that speed boat traffic. Got to the hotel before noon as I’d hoped and there was Jude parked under this tree, the name of which I don’t know. But it was shade! And that’s where I sit right now, working here on the computer for several hours before we can check in at 3 PM. Even after 2 hours we still have this nice piece of shade above the van. Now my back is sweating like hell, and I’m toweling off occasionally as I work, but it’s a far sight better than being in direct sun.
         We’ll shoot for Blythe, CA tomorrow and then I’ll pick up I-10. From there, we’ll use directions from Judy’s friend to Glenys to get us the rest of the way to the beach. That’s it for today………Pete

Oh, BTW…it’s 112 degrees at 3 PM PST!!!!!!!!!!!

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