Desert Meltdown

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

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Where I stayed
Barstow Calico KOA Campground

Flag of United States  , California
Monday, June 20, 2011

On paper today looked really easy. The last stop before a 120 miles stretch of nothing to Las Vegas, Barstow was only 35 miles away and presented a chance to get there early and prepare for the marathon to follow.  After half an hour of cycling and a very easy 7 miles covered, I then made the worst call of the trip so far and the day spiralled out of control and into a desert nightmare.

We stopped at the junction to Stoddard Wells Road and we were immediately hit by a sense of doubt.  The road ahead looked bumpy.  A UPS delivery man drew up and I asked him about the way ahead.  He said it was bumpy but there is no loose sand.  I checked the map and I estimated it was about 15 miles on this road before joining a more major road.  I pushed on but Polly stalled.  Drawing on her experiences of following roads which are not well paved, she strongly suggested we turn around and find an alternative route.  I disagreed and led us in what turned out to be a hellish several hours.

The road deteriorated.  The intensity of the desert heat increased and our water levels were quickly falling, despite rationing what we had.  There was nothing in sight, just the dusty track we were following and miles of open desert around.  The road then became impossible to cycle on.  Deep patches of sand made pedalling out of the question and pushing the heavy bikes was draining. 

The desperation we suffered is really hard to describe.  We inevitably encountered a puncture and Polly took a nasty fall when rolling down hill at speed and hitting a blind spot of sand.  We were out of water and resorted to a flask of milk we had left over from breakfast.  The heat was approaching the forties and we were really struggling.  A tomato we had strangely left in my bar bag quenched the unbearable thirst for another half an hour.

When we finally saw the sealed road, some 21 miles after joining the ill-fated track we thought we had done it.  But then came a half mile stretch of track which took us 30 minutes to pass.  The sand was now so thick and our energy levels completely empty that we were struggling to push the bikes.  We decided that we should dump one bike and both work on pushing the other.  With one bike on the road we hailed down cars.  We were able to get water from two different guys who stopped, it was enough to get us through the last 6 miles into Barstow where we stormed a petrol station and downed the largest cold drinks money could buy. The thirstbusters were incredible – thank heaven for US oversizing.

With a possible 120 mile stretch ahead tomorrow we needed to find the energy to stock up on cooking fuel and food.  It was a tired couple of hours we spent between Food 4 Less and Walmart.  It was an even more tired 8 miles out to the campsite which again involved an unplanned detour as we were asked to leave US Marine Territory by a complete A@#Ehole who was unable to display any reasonable communication skills.

Dusty and beaten after 10 hours on the bike and nothing to eat since a measly breakfast before we set out, we checked into the campsite and set up the tent.  In doing so we agreed that we needed a day off for recovery before heading for Vegas. Bruised, battered and with pounding heads, there was no way we would be in any state to set off at first light in the morning (5am). We cooked up a great camp meal and sat back under the desert skies to enjoy the stars and reflect on a day which went horribly wrong (I hereby publically apologise to my wife).

Miles Cycled:  45 miles which involved too many pushing through sand
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Amanda on

My goodness you poor darlings - what a rotten day! I hope you enjoyed your day off and there is no more fear and loathing in Las Vagas xx

Debbie on

Good luck in the nevada desert ... remember to take a car door so you can wind down the window when it gets hot xx x

triciagick on

You poor, poor things - glad you apologised Mikey, your mother in law was about to get a plane and come out to beat you up!! No, just joking and I trust you to look after our Pols (who must be feeling quite saw). Am worried about where you stop off on the way to Las Vegus - if they pinch bikes in town what might they pinch when no one else is around??
Anyway - don't over do it you two - remember this is your honeymoon.
Stay safe tons of love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

triciagick on

How is it that computers can make one quite illiterate - you must be quite SORE Pols (saw?) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Lindy on

Delighted to get the updates and to know that you had arrived safely in the USA
It all sounded good until your horrible ride in the desert and hope the next part is better and not so hot. You would probably like some of our rain - we certainly have enough of it at present!!!
Take care
Love Lindy

Jojo on

That was a bit of an ordeal by fire (even though it was sand) please fill every container possible with water but I'm sure once bitten twice shy and you will treat deserts rather wareily(?).
Had great time with Mums and Dads on Alice at the w/e to celebrate anniversaries. Weather was a bit on the blustery side but got to Cowes in time for a bit of retail therapy - Sally came out on top - and had on of Tricias lovely lasagnas (I know that's not right but can't work it out) for supper after the appropriate toasts had been made. Sun came out on Sunday morning for a lovely stop for breakfast at Osbourne Bay and back to Gunwharf. Amanda was still at home when we got back so we were able to wish her a happy time at Glastonbury - I only hope to heaven the weather improves, it's been wet and windy for too long!
I hope neither of you have a propensity for gambling and you will be able to shun the temptations of the roulette wheel and slot machines. And I hope the onward journey will be a bit more stress free - mind you, how do you get over the Rockies?
All love Jojo and CJB

Charlotte on

Wow, have just followed you through half of New Zealand and into America as hadn't been able to catch up with the blogs for a while.

Your desert ordeal sounds dreadful - please make sure you stay safe :-( Mikey deservced to be forgiven though - even Ironmen can make mistakes and at least it wasn't your b'day this time Pols.


triciagick on

Have just consulted my Big Road Atlas of the USA and I note Mikey that you are taking our daughter into the Wilderness!! You are going through the Soda Mtns Wilderness, Hollow Hills Wilderness, Mojave Wilderness - you then seem to cross Death Valley and go through Stateline Wilderness!! Great care to be taken at all times and- as Jojo says stock up well. Do you go through Boulder City - if so keep your heads down. Of course, I'm not really worried ... much! Am off to bridge to take my mind off it! xxxxxxx

Sarah Roberts on

Oh My God sounds horrendous!! Puts my day's stress over a couple of court hearings to shame! You guys be careful please; I am already highly over excited about your return! xx

Mum and Dad on

Not good night time reading!!But have great faith in you both to get through the difficult conditions you are experiencing .Plan well and lots of fluids on board.Speak soonxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Ray on

Listen to Polly you silly billy! xxx

Jojo on

I don'tknow about all those wildernesses I'd like to go to Truth or Consequences in New Mexico - what a name for a town!! The White Swan has scaffolding all round it and lots of vans so it may be up and running again when you get back.

Lindy on

I have been away "doing" the granny bit and have been missing my fix of the blog - as usual I seem to be behind and hope that all is well and that you have not had any more horrible days en route to Las Vegas.
Looking forward to hearing where you are now
Love Lindy

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