What a ride! Today’s 90-miler into Brawley, CA was hot, hot, hot. We’re not sure of the precise temperature, but we’re pretty sure that it was in the 90s at times. Eek Squeak! But still better than the 120s that we would have hit had we tried this in August…
We didn’t quite make our mega-early start, but were on the road by around 8.30am. It was a windy day. But, for once, we caught a break. After the first few miles, where we had a ridiculously strong sidewinder, we had 25 miles or so of tail wind, which was just glorious. Services along the route were few and far between, so we had to stop around 20 miles into the trip to refill our already empty water bottles. We had a great chat with the local deputy sheriff (we think his name was Alfonso) and then rolled out of the gas station knowing that it would be 40 miles before the next gas station or grocery store.
The road today was both the most stunning and the most dangerous that we have ridden on. It was a 2-lane highway (i.e. a single lane in each direction) with a very narrow (Kate Moss-like) shoulder, and 18-wheelers, RVs and pick-ups speeding by at regular intervals, many of which were too close for comfort. And for some reason, even vehicles coming in the opposite direction seemed to think it was OK to overtake and speed toward us head-on rather than waiting until they had passed us. Still, we’re here in one piece, so it can’t have been that bad. It didn’t put off the cacophony of cyclists we saw riding in the opposite direction to us either: seems like California is living up to its reputation.
More than making up for this, though, the scenery was truly unique and breathtaking (see photos). We rode through the middle of the sand dunes of Glamis, giving the feel that we were right in the middle of the desert. And just to add to the vista, on one side of us in the distance were the Chocolate Mountains; a great contrast to the expanse of white sand. At the Glamis viewpoint we met Kent and Gary, from Phoenix, who kindly took a photo of the 2 of us together, a novel scenario, and entertained us with their witty conversation as we took in the view.
And then just as we were stopping to take yet another photo on the side of the road, a sheriff’s car pulled over. We were slightly uncomfortable until we realised it was Alfonso, who was on his way home, and who had pulled over to say hello and to check that we were getting on OK. What a star! Having been charged $7 at the one grocery store in Glamis for 2 bottles of Gatorade, and what with them trying to charge us $2 just to use the restroom (we crossed our legs instead in principle), we felt like reporting a daylight robbery… but we guess that’s what happens if you have a captive audience, and 40 miles to any other services.
So, we rolled into Brawley, CA, a bit hot and bothered, but having had an amazing ride. The hotel has its own restaurant too, so we were able to get some fish, rice and vegetables for dinner, which was an extremely welcome change to our recent diet of Mexican food and pizza.
We’re 220ft below sea-level at the moment…which is a bit strange given our jaunts at 8,230ft only a few weeks ago. Still, we’ll soon put that right. A 67-miler tomorrow, with a big 2,800ft climb at the end up to the small town of Jacumba, right on the Mexican border.