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Published: September 29th 2019
Day 4 Lone Pine to Beatty
Keith, Bryan & Ian left Lone Pine around 8.30, turning off not far out of Lone Pine towards Cerro Gordo mine. This became a steep rocky road, eventually reaching a supposedly defunct but appearing to be still operating gold & silver mine. While descending a steep & loose rocky trail into Death Valley, a squadron of fighter jets flew overhead at an unbelievable pace & noise level. Not realising their rapid approach created a startling experience when they arrived, not conducive for relaxed riding for adventurers of a certain age!
Choosing the difficult expert option of Lippincott Pass which was a rocky, narrow, off camber track with huge drop offs on one side. Don't look down was the predominant thought. The consensus was that this pass was as difficult as any riding we have done in North America & confirms the rating of the Southern Californian BDR being the toughest of them all. Eventually cresting the summit was quite an achievement (& a relief) firstly because the official route is south to north so would be a bit easier going down the harder northern side with all the loose rocks. Our direction is
opposite so had to climb the difficult side. Descending the well formed loose metal road led to the “Race Track” so named due to it’s moving rocks. The rocks move across the surface leaving a track behind them. There is a highly complicated explanation for this phenomena which involves ice & temperature variances & is best read about on Google. Needless to say, fortunately none of these rocks moved out onto the track as our team road through. Check the photo.
Heading into Titus Canyon which was part of the BDR even though it was closed to East bound traffic, the gamble failed as after a few kms there was an official “Definitely No Entry” sign which turned the team around. Due to this enforced detour it was onto the road & into Beatty to meet Mike whose ride is detailed below. 280kms of exciting riding today. Mike's Day:
Once again I exercised discretion & decided to have a "nearly" rest day of around 190kms, all on seal through Death Valley. Pretty cruisey riding on smooth black top with some nice winding curves through the elevation changes. Reached an elevation of nearly 2000m so the
temperature was a pleasant mid 20s. Stopping at Panamint Springs for morning coffee, & using the café’s WiFi to send & receive some communication, I thought I had lucked it as far as heat goes..
Pressing on & losing elevation I reached Stovepipe Wells which is the lowest point - at sea level. Temperatures here were a little different at 105F which equates to around 41 C - quite warm for Autumn. The air-conditioned gift shop seemed to be a very popular place! In the shop I purchased a sticker which says “Death Valley the hottest recorded atmospheric temperature on Earth at 57 degrees C”. Interestingly according to Google this milestone was reached in 1913 at Furnace Creek (we go through tomorrow). Things that make you go hmmmmmmm?? - CO2 levels in 1913 were 301ppm, now over 400ppm but this temperature hasn't been reached again. Perhaps someone could perhaps ask Greta for an explanation .....IF YOU DARE
I Started a conversation with two young American cyclists (one of who had lived in Hamilton for 6 months studying geography at Waikato University – small world) Saving their day with cable ties as one of their carriers was falling off,
they pedalled off West towards Panamint Springs where they planned to stay the night.
Deciding to do the right thing I went to the Rangers Office to buy a National Park pass but they were closed for lunch & their automatic payment machine only sold passes for commercial buses. Onwards to Beatty our final destination where only a half hour later the others arrived having conquered Lippincott Pass. Sitting on the porch of the local saloon later for pre dinner drinks, we met a local rent a cowboy who with others Day 5 Beatty to Tecopa
Leaving town after a subway breakfast we visited the old ghost town of Rhyolite, named after the rock rhyolite which is 70%!s(MISSING)ilica & in this case contained the magic gold. Interestingly they still had ghosts (see photo). Most of the buildings were half ruined – good to see the Romans weren’t the only idiots travelling all over the place building ruins. Apparently this town was built during a mining boom which fizzled out pretty quickly.
Riding seal the 80kms to Furnace Creek (back in California) scene of the highest temperature measured on earth (1913 in case you
missed it yesterday), we encountered spectacular scenery looking down the valley as we rapidly dropped from 1500m to nearly sea level. Gassed up here then visited the information centre to pay for our Parks Permit. It transpires today is National Lands Day so there was no fee – we got lucky. The information centre had some great displays which explained the layout of the valley, the fact there was a lot of past mining activity for borax (used in washing powder), a rock used to create talcum powder which caused lung disease among the miners & the ubiquitous gold & silver. Temperature here was around 34 degrees C but around 5 miles out our route left the main road which continued along the rim of the valley. The road we were now on, took us right into the centre of Death Valley & riding south on this corrugated gravel road for 40 miles we encountered patches of soft sand that had been blown across the road. The wind here is ever present & the air seems to be permanently full of sand. We had now descended further & reached around 100m below sea level and closer to 40 degrees C
with barren rocky landscape on either side of the trail. Rounding a corner in this already eerie landscape I was met with a group of around 10 figures pulling handcarts all wearing hoods. My first thought was a scene from “The Road” which is a book/movie dealing with a boy & his father travelling across the ash strewn post nuclear holocaust American landscape trying to find food & shelter. Often they encountered marauding bands of people doing the same but using violence to achieve their ends. Realising quickly, I would probably have known about a nuclear Armageddon, I then wondered if it was a weird death squad cult or just everyday zombies out for a stroll. I rode past with a friendly wave too nervous to stop. Ian stopped & spoke to them & the truth was much tamer. They were a French scientific expedition walking through Death Valley for 6 days then the same in the deserts of Oman, studying reactions of the human brain under adverse conditions. They could have just checked me out when I first saw them as I was definitely under the impression that I had ridden into an adverse situation!
Continuing on &
with my heartbeat starting to return to normal, I missed my turn off to avoid soft sand shown on the BDR map. I continued with the others on the official BDR track striking quite a few soft sand patches where wind had blown sand over the road making some very technical soft sand patches. Encountering a soft sand warning sign towards the end of the track (it must get worse) Ian opted to continue and we took a go-round meeting him later on the main road. Finding our accommodation shortly after in Tecopa, still in Death valley we had an early finish We are staying in a hot pool resort which, whilst basic appears to be in the process of renovation Good cabin accommodation & mineral pools to soak in, eased away some of the aches & pains of a 260km day in rough & hot terrain.
Tot: 1.971s; Tpl: 0.05s; cc: 17; qc: 45; dbt: 0.0303s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.7mb