|Ready for the desert!|
One of the features of extended tours like this is that time is very precious. Unless we are staying right in the middle of our overnight base I don’t usually get a chance to explore. All I can tell you is that Indio sits on the edge of the desert and has a casino. How do I know this? Well, last night I had dinner in the casino! It was quite an eye-opener to me as I strolled past the rows and rows of slot machines and various gaming tables. I have no interest in gambling. My only experience of it was many years ago when a friend took me to a casino in Leeds. After exchanging £10 for some chips I sat down at one of the tables and laid my chips out. The croupier, who as I remember was very enticing, did what to me seemed like a fancy card trick, leaned forward and swept my chips away. At this point it dawned on me that I had lost! So realising that for me at least, this was a mugs game I have stayed away from gambling ever since. Of course, like many others I have had a flutter on the lottery or taken part in the office Grand National sweepstake.
My goodness, will you look at that. Yet again I seem to have drifted off the subject with another little diversion. So let’s get back to the main event. After leaving Indio apparently we crossed over the San Andreas fault line. I’m not exactly sure where as the earth certainly didn’t move for me. Then it was on to the only climb of the day a nice long, steady 12-mile ascent. This wasn’t especially steep and once again it was a case of getting in the right gear and tapping out a steady rhythm. From time to time I got out of the saddle to stretch my back and do a little dance on the pedals – a brisk foxtrot if you will! The main challenge was the heat as I was riding directly into the sun so I sweated quite profusely and every 10 minutes or so took a couple of swigs of water from my Camelback. It took me around one hour to reach the summit where the landscape opened out dramatically. Although we were still climbing I could see the desert stretching for miles ahead and on either side. We were riding along a broad valley, several miles wide and flanked on either side by rock bluffs. Look at the ride flyby above if you’d like to get a better sense of the scale of the landscape.
|How many cyclists does it take to change a tube?|
Riding along the Interstate wasn’t anything like as bad as I had feared. Most of the truck drivers pulled over to the outside lane when it was clear, giving us an extra berth. Quite a few gave us a friendly toot on their horns. I suspect that they must have thought we were quite mad when they passed us. There was one stretch which was very rough due to frost cracks so we christened it ‘The California Cobbles’ and imagined that we were riding Paris-Roubaix. There’s an irony for me here since the CV I am riding was originally designed by Bianchi specifically for the Paris-Roubaix. (It surpassed itself, incidentally.)
The long distance views and the straights were incredible. I will no longer complain about boredom again when riding in the Fens back at home. Compared to the Interstate, the Fenland roads are nothing. As we rode on I could feel the temperature rising to its peak at around 35C. I was getting through my water at a fast rate – both drinking it and also spraying it on my head and arm coolers. At our final SAG Paula had provided a cool box containing stockings filled with ice to wrap around our necks as an additional coolant. And very cool they were too!
|That iconic photo!|
After having my clothes and body shower and the Route Rap for tomorrow we all gathered together for dinner. This was a rather different affair as Itchytoo had got some outside caterers to lay on a very tasty range of barbecue delights. With the addition of a can of cold beer I was one happy rider! And guess what …
… we’re going to do it all again tomorrow. Yaay!