Salisbury Beach

Salisbury Beach
Thank You Katie, Mary, Caitlin and Brian

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

25 April 2011 Fast America Day 2

Palm Springs, CA to Blythe, CA

Mileage:                      137.50 miles
Riding Time:              7:50
Total Time:                9:27
Climing:                     2572 ft.
Flats:                           1

The morning was beautiful, and instead of the mass start of yesterday, I set out with four others. The first twenty or so miles were through the neighborhoods of Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage (??) and La Quinta. To give you an idea: the bike paths had icons of golf carts on them.

But today I think things sunk in: the little things are going to accumulate over the next month. Note: this post won’t go out tonight, because the motel wireless doesn’t work, and I left my computer charger in Costa Mesa. After a number of phone calls and messages that didn’t get passed from one shift to the next properly, it will rejoin me in Winslow, AZ on Thursday.

Mile 7.5: Another flat. This one for no reason at all so I am sure that it came from a poorly done repair on the road yesterday. Hey: it is hard changing a tire in a 30 mph wind on the side of a freeway after riding 100 miles. But doing it in a park the next morning while fresh is a piece of cake. Speaking of winds: I did not make up the wind yesterday. There were Extreme Wind warnings out, and I believe that some roads were closed.

Mile 17: An embarrassing pratfall. Where I live, near the ocean, people are familiar with looking to the horizon and not being able to tell where the sky ends and the water begins. The desert has a similar phenomenon: you can’t tell where the road ends and the sand begins. So I took a little trip into the sand; thinking that it was the same hard packed dirt I was used to at home. After the tires dug in to slow me from 20 to 5 mph, I did an Arte Johnson imitation (if you are too young to understand the reference, ask your parents about Laugh In). I could pretend that it did not happen but Jim (one of the ABB Mechanics) caught up to me just as it happened. He stopped, allegedly to help, but perhaps to laugh. Note: Jim was riding sweep, which means that at this point I was probably the last rider on the road. I ended the day, however, 11th of the 25 riders at the motel. I thought that the fall was no big deal, but my knee won’t bend. It is fine while spinning but, for example, I can’t raise my foot high enough to cleat in the way I normally do, and I couldn’t stand up after sitting on the toilet earlier. I just spent 20 minutes icing it.

After all this, I found myself with four riders and we were hammering. I tried not to take a turn at the front, but when I did, I found myself riding away from them (no sudden acceleration, which would be bad form unworthy of an experienced cyclist) but the next strongest guy couldn’t hold my wheel. After slowing and waiting a couple of times, I said the heck with it and just rode off.

About mile 45, after the town of Mecca, we started the one 2,000 ft. climb of the day. It was only 2-3%, but went on forever; through the most incredible scenery. I did not stop for pictures (but took a few from the bike) because Mike (tour leader) took many (note: he will take about 3,000 pictures, which will ultimately be on a DVD and his web site, which I will link to this blog. Most everyone caught me by the lunch stop at Chiriaco (sp?) summit. From that point it was all downhill with a tailwind to Blythe. I averaged well over 20 the rest of the way; 60 of the 70 miles were on Interstate 10.

Rumble Strips: These are probably a good invention, and they delineated a clear spacing between the giant trucks and us. Most of you have probably ridden over one of these in a car; trust me; the experience is amplified 10 fold in a bike at 30 mph. After one freeway entrance, the rumble strip machine must have gone berserk, and the strip was the entire width of the shoulder. We’ll all remember that experience. And there was a 6 mile stretch where the freeway pavement was beautiful but the stress cracks on the shoulder (perpendicular to the road every 5-10 ft.) were left to grow. We were all longing for the Flanders pave instead, and we actually had to drop our speed about 10 mph to make it bearable.

My Achilles Foot: My Achilles Heel is my Foot (sorry for the pun). Because of the bloot clot after my foot operation about 5 years ago, my foot/leg are prone to swell on hot days (it was 90 today; without a hint of shade). When it swells, it causes a phenomenon called “hot foot”. In other words, my foot feels like it is on fire. I have learned that if I lie down with my leg up for five minutes, I can make it go away for about an hour of riding; so that is how I spend my SAG stops (there are 2-3 per day, including lunch). But I am sure that I caused some rubbernecking, when I just had to stop to elevate my leg lying on the desert sand beside the freeway at about mile 105.

Motel: Checked in to my room, unpacked and spread stuff all over the bed, got ice for my knee, started to undress to shower, etc. and looked around for a spot to sit down to take my compression socks off (a difficult task). Where did the luggage on the couch come from? Turns out someone was already in the room. Took 25 minutes to sort out; because the front desk person wisely decided not to move me into a smoking room, which was available.

Words of encouragement: At the evening session to go over tomorrow’s ride; which finishes at Wickenburg, AZ; 2,000 ft. + higher than Blythe Mike gave a little speech, saying that we were the best matched group that has ever done this tour. His point was that maybe there had been a better rider or two in the past, but we were well matched. There is no one who doesn’t belong on this ride (the staff responsibility for keeping track of someone 30 miles down, must be horrendous). We’ve all finished within about 30 minutes of each other the first two days, there are no out of control egos, and everyone is helping everyone else.

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