Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pine Valley to El Centro...The easiest 70 miles I've ever ridden! February 6

70.21 in 5:05....Feb. 6. ( today would have been my Dad's 79 birthday)...We woke up and it was ccccccold. Pam Jeeped me about 10 miles to my starting point at the Pine Valley Frosty Burger, and I got rolling at 10 am. The temp was about 46, and it bounced around between 46 and 56 for a good part of the day, depending on sun or shade, and elevation. I immediately climbed about 300 feet out of Pine Valley, and that got a little sweat going. US 80 rolled for a while, between 3800-4100 ft, but it was a nice ride because my legs are fresh, and I had a crazy tailwind for most of my ride. Hence, the title for the day, the easiest 70 miles I've ever ridden. I climbed 2500 ft or so early in the ride, but total descent for today was a mind boggling 6350 ft.! US80 was a sweet ride with very little traffic and a smooth, shouldered surface. I eventually came to Crestwood Summit, which would be my highest elevation for the day, and the wind was whipping. The wind farm on top of the hill testified to the fact that it was not an unusual phenomenon for it to be blowing there. I began to descend through some small towns, and soon I could see the tall wall running parallel with me that was the US/Mexican border. I followed it for quite a while, through the town of Jacumba, and in one place I could have thrown a rock and hit the wall. It was see through, made out of I-beams, with a gap between each,  I guess, so you could see what was going on on the other side. Border patrol was everywhere, in Jeeps, trucks with dogs, helicopters, and I saw some glider/drone type planes on the ground, but I could imagine them being used for surveillance. I was cruising along on US80 just outside of Jacumba, when some road construction directed me onto Interstate 8, which I had been paralleling more or less the entire trip. The descent out of the mountains and into the Yuha Desert was a wild, wind swirling ride of 6% grade for seven miles. The mountains looked like someone piled up mounds of boulders, and then planted cactus in them. It was pretty cool, but the wind that was blowing was not too cool. I was just about blown off my bike several times. I hit 45 without pedaling when I had a tail wind, but it would switch and hit me from the right, left, or head on without warning. I had to go under 20 at times to feel safe. Most of the time I was somewhere between 30-35 mph for the seven miles of descent on I-8, but I didn't stop descending until I got to El Centro. I got off on Rt. 98 for a few miles at the bottom of the steep stuff, and rode through another wind farm, with an uncountable number of windmills, as far as I could see. Soon I was in Ocotillo, which wasn't a very big place, but it was the starting point of Rt. S8, which has to be the bumpiest, most torn up road that the ACA maps have ever put me on. It looked like the desert was reclaiming it because I-8 was so close by. It was paralleling an even older road that I had first noticed coming down the mountain, that was only partially visible in places. The road I was on had markings on the bridges that said 1949, so the other road was pre 1949. It was interesting to think about the history of the three roads that were all so close, yet served different periods of our history, and were still there to compare.
As I now rode through what would normally be a hot, arid desert, I was thankful that I'm here in February. The temps started to climb quite rapidly, and my 40's and 50's became 60's, then 70's, and it topped out at 78 degrees. The gradual descent never stopped, and the tailwind made it so I really didn't have to pedal unless I wanted to. As I cruised along the downhill with a tailwind, I saw bikers coming towards me, and I realized how brutal their climb, with a headwind was going to be. It turns out that what I saw was two college girls on a tandem bike, pulling a trailer. We stopped to talk, and they were having a rough time of it. I told them of what was ahead, and they were undaunted, but not looking forward to that climb. They were riding from Phoenix to San Diego, but they were students at Washington State University. One was from Idaho, and the other from Washington. Best of luck to them, because they had a hell of a climb before they reached their promised land, the Pacific Ocean. 
After leaving them, I came to a town on the map called Plaster City, but all it was, was a mile long dry wall and sheet rock factory. Soon after that I saw storage facilities with hay in them. I have never seen so much hay in one place in my life. Nothing even close, not even in Texas. From there, the land became filled with canals and agriculture. I saw mostly alfalfa and broccoli, but we are getting into a very fertile agricultural district, with the water coming from the Colorado River and several lakes that I began to see. 
El Centro is just about at sea level, and when I pulled into the campground, the descent was just about done. There is no place to go but up from here, but much of this area is below sea level. For the first time on this trip, I beat Pam to a campground. She had stayed behind to have her hair done, and the salon was running behind, and when she left there was pretty good rain falling, so she pulled in almost a hour after I did. The wind was still blowing pretty good, but the forecast is for calmer weather ahead. I ended my evening sitting in a hot tub watching the palm trees whipping around, in the desert, in February. I've had worse February days.

Border Patrol Station


Cleveland National Forest

US 80

Wind farm on Crestwood Summit

Either illegal aliens or zombies!!!

Mexican border


The wall is taller than it looks

Unlike Pam, Bike isn't afraid of rattlesnakes!

Jacumba

Can you see the border wall!

The mountains are in Mexico

Drones along the border wall

Mike spent some time riding on I-8

Coming down the mountain

Last of the nice asphalt

Wind farm in the desert

S80 pavement is worse than it looks!

Doesn't look like a desert does it?!

Walls of hay everywhere, but no cattle!!!

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