Into The Desert

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, June 19, 2011

Brian from the 30th Marine Corps was outside our tent before we could pack up and get away. He seemed a little put out that we had not gone over to his RV last night to look at maps and as a result said that he would not be riding out with us this morning (thank goodness for that).  He did however give some useful information about the route ahead for today and after muffins and yoghurt we were on the road out of Pomona.

There were lots of Sunday cyclists out and we saluted each other as we past.  It was easy cycling with nice wide roads and pretty flat but we were driven absolutely mad by traffic lights.  It is an incredibly stupid system the Americans have for dealing with any junction.  Even small side roads which may have a couple of houses on them create a junction with traffic lights.  This means that as you make your way down a main road, you are stopped by a red light every time a side road connects.  This meant that it took us a good three hours to cover 20 miles even though we were cruising at 15mph.

We took a MacDonalds stop.  The Golden Arch on every corner is no exaggeration.  Every mile throughout these satellite towns there is a fast food complex.  Pols and I have however agreed that MacDs will be our sure bet through the states.  For a cycle tourer it has it all; a toilet, free wifi, free water bottle top-ups and coffee.  We will not be eating burgers but we will be milking the facilities.  Ronald owes us.

The urban sprawl has not broken since leaving Venice Beach.  70 miles on and we were still passing down avenues of houses and shops.  We stopped for lunch finding some healthy food in a supermarket and then took a turn where the day really changed. 

Map reading has been very hard, finding a way out of LA was the most demanding navigation task of the journey thus far.  I have been able to memorise sections so that we don't have to keep stopping to check the electronic map on iTouch.  I knew that after passing Cedar, Beech and then Citrus Avenues we had to turn onto Sierra Boulevard.  This road took us out into a whole new world.  I am not sure we were quite ready for it and we feel pretty whacked sitting here tonight.

We were on the fringes of the California/Nevada desert.  The heat went up several notches and sweat started to pour off. A very kind man slowed down to offer us a bottle of water out of his window, he obviously knew more than we did about what was ahead.  We followed the Interstate highway for a while before branching off into a valley.  And then we had our first serious climb.  Riding up a hill takes on a whole new meaning when the hill is in the desert.  It was quite frankly brutal.

Another highlight of the day was the longest train we have ever seen (No kidding, it was towing more than a hundred cargo carriages, I counted).  It was all in all an amazing ride but for the last 48 miles of the 68 mile ride we got a real taste of what it is going to be like cycling across the US.  It was really tough and with a stretch of desert between here and Vegas which spans 200 miles (with very little in between) we know that we are in for a challenging few days.

We did find a campsite and very good it is to.  The well-earned supper which we had been so looking forward to went very wrong when the fuel became over excited and destroyed one cooker before refusing to work on our back up stove.  So, it was cold baked beans, cold frankfurters and uncooked hash browns.  Being a Sunday it really made me think how much I would like my Mums Sunday Roast.

Miles Cycled:  68 miles at first frustrated by traffic lights and then baked in the desert
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