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Published: March 31st 2008
Sunny and 60s
The forecast called for rain in Red Bluff- long gone bucko!
The initial plan, thwarted by weather, would have seen Day 2 of the ride running South from SE Oregon, through Nevada into Death Valley. Instead, from Red Bluff, California, the route to Death Valley would be SE via Reno and along the Western diagonal of the Nevada border. This is where the high wind warning was in effect for severe crosswinds. Instead the plan was to run south to Bakersfield, then over the South shoulder of the Sierras and NE to Death Valley. The long way around.
I-5 and Hwy 99 run basically parallel down the length of California. A navigation error occured when I chose 99 over I-5 south of Stockton. Thinking it would be more interesting seeing more towns and the bread-basket of America, instead I found the main artery for truck traffic in California. More involved in passing, the traffic gave me something to focus on as the long miles rolled by. Did I mention the Ipod? Nothing like a great soundtrack.
So here's the deal on two-lane Hwy 99. The right lane is for trucks and slow traffic. The left lane is for everyone else. So it's good news, bad news. The bad news is
Thank goodness this was a tail wind.
that no-one pulls back into the right lane after passing a truck. They just stay in the left lane que. This line includes some marginally moving cars. The good news is for the faster drivers (and riders) who choose to run up the long gaps in the right lane past the left lane que, will find the left lane drivers opening gaps for them to move left when they come up to the slow obstacle on the right. These California drivers tend to work together in some ways. And when traffic opens up, they move!
Upon reaching Bakersfield, a hard course change to Port was made and the NE run up to Lake Isabelle and over Walker pass was begun. With the gain in altitude the winds aloft from the Pacific Front produced a prodigious tail wind over the pass. The occasional cross-wind section was turbulent and intense. Rolling into China Lake the breeze was dead downwind at a steady 45mph.
As the sun began to drop over the ridges, the desert road became empty, straight and fast. Temps that had run in the 60s and low 70s most of the day began to creep higher with the
Walker Pass: 6,100'
I love this bike, can you tell?
darkening descent into Death Valley. A quick stop at Stovepipe Wells for provisions burned up the last light, and the final 35 miles to Furnace Creek was ethereal in it's dark isolation. Did I mention the Ipod? In the dark?
Rolling into Furnace creek at 830pm it was 82F. That would be 48 degrees warmer than when I left home the morning before. Another 650 mile day, ending by starlight.
I found my reserved campsite occupied be a large family of well entrenched claim jumpers. They must have been relieved to see me, a lone, tired, hungry and thirsty rider. I quickly acquiesced their offer of dinner, ice for my Boodles, and $20 cash for my campsite fee. I secured a nice spot under the scrub trees for my tent and pitched just the bug netting, enjoying the stars.
Their campfire was pleasant, the wife of the clan, Renee, is an ER nurse and we talked shop. her husband Joe writes technical manuals for aerospace companies.
That night I was happy to accept their hospitality in trade for my territory, but you have to give them the cojones award for campsite management!
Tot: 2.367s; Tpl: 0.085s; cc: 12; qc: 50; dbt: 0.0439s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.3mb