Of all the days of this trip,?this?was the one that worried me the most. ?It was going to be nearly 90 miles (the longest riding day of the entire trip). ?At the front end of the day’s journey it included a twelve mile?stretch of climbing through Cajon Pass. ?Plus, I was going to have to ride on Interstate 15 for a good stretch.
I got started at 5:30AM, very sleep deprived.
Because I had been staying at a private individual’s home (an AirBNB listing) I didn’t feel comfortable raiding their ice stash. ?Basically, I started out carrying no water.
First thing I did was find a convenience store. ?In exchange for the price of a 7 pound bag of ice, the clerk let me use his ice dispenser on his soda fountain machine to fill up all four water bottles and the Camelbak. ?I also bought a gallon of water and filled in the cracks between the ice.
The climbing started right away. ?I probably wasn’t averaging more than 4 to 6 MPH, but the early foothills weren’t killing me.
According to CALTRANS (California Department of Transportation) I was to ride Cajon Blvd until I reached Cleghorn Road. ?It was there I could then hop onto Interstate 15. ?But when I reached where Cajon Blvd was supposed to begin, the exit was closed. ?The road was completely torn up. ?Now?what the hell do I do?
Well, what any sane person would do who only had a convenience store’s “Mega Smoked Ham and Cheese” to eat by then. ?I found me some breakfast.
She routed me through a little town called Devore.
Now, when people say, “Man, you must in shape to do this ride!” I point out to them that since “round” is a shape they are correct. ?Unfortunately “round” isn’t conducive for climbing mountains on a bicycle.
There was a half mile stretch I needed to climb. ?It had an 11% grade according to my inclinometer:
Back on Memorial Day 2015 I had to tackle some monster hills in PA / WV / MD, with grades of up to 13%. ?I wasn’t carrying all the gear that I am toting now. ?On that May ride I could make it up the hills a quarter mile at a time. ?I’d have to stop and recover my breath for a few moments, and then knock out another quarter mile.
Up this half a mile stretch in Devore, fully loaded, according to my odometer, I was only getting 0.05 miles before I’d have to stop. ?That’s right. ?5/100ths of a mile. ?264?feet?before I was “done in.” ?I bet it took nearly 40 minutes to go?one half mile. ?
I finally reached the top of that stretch, and threaded my way back down in search of the?other?end of Cajon Blvd. ?But when I reached the intersection, this sign caught my attention:
Actually, it was a lack of?other?signs that caught my eye. ?Mainly the signs that are normally posted telling you what’s?prohibited . . . like?bicycles.?Those?signs were covered up.
I’ve lived most of my life under the operating principle that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. ?I trotted right out onto Interstate 15 like I belonged there.
This was right at the start of the Cajon Pass. ?The cars were moving dead slow . . . and in some cases were coming to a complete stop. ?Remember, this is Saturday of Labor Day weekend. ?Those folks who didn’t get started on Friday were heading out today. ?So traffic was backed up for miles.
Which allowed lots of gawkers to check out the crazy bicyclist on the Interstate. ?I can’t tell you how many people hollered, “You can make it!”, honked their horns and waved, and just gave out a lot of “You go, Fat Boy!” wishes. ?In a particularly slow area — has to be bad if you’re in your car moving no faster than a bicyclist going up a 6% grade — a couple had pulled up beside me, snapping pictures and asking me all about my ride. ?Not sure how I found the breath to pedal and talk to them at the same time.
At one point I passed a state trooper who was foolishly manning a speed trap. ?(See the part above about a?bicyclist?keeping up with traffic.) ?He didn’t jump out of his car, run over to me, and demand to exactly what the hell I thought I was doing on?his?Interstate. ?He later gave up on the speed trap and passed me. ?Another trooper did the same a few minutes later. ?See how that not asking for permission thing works?
I was faced with a 4% to 6% grade once on Interstate 15. ?Still a challenge to climb, but not that 11% grade that had kicked my ass a little earlier. ?I was making a 10th, a quarter, and sometimes even half a mile before having to stop.
I had broken my sunglasses the previous day. ?Saturday was a bright shiny day and my eyes were overwhelmed by the glare. ?The heat was beating down on me. ?And I hadn’t had much sleep in the last week. ?All of those factors combined to have me taking those 1/4 to 1/2 mile breaks with my head down and my eyes closed as I stood on the side of the highway.
During one break, I heard a very loud, “Are you ok?” ?I snapped my head up immediately and looked directly ahead. ?I didn’t see anything that could make that sound. ?I looked to the left. ?Then to the right. ?Didn’t see a thing. ?Then, again, “Are you ok?”
The sound came from the left. ?I looked that direction and there was a state trooper in the break down lane (where I was riding) talking on his microphone through his loud speaker. ?He looked a little concerned.
I vigorously nodded my head, “yes,” and gave him a big thumb’s up. ?He said through his speaker, “Ok, just wanted to check on you, make sure you were ok. ?You have a safe ride now, ok?” ?I again gave him a thumb’s up and he merged back into traffic.
After 12 long miles, I finally reached the?last?mountain to climb. ?Now I could let gravity take over for a little while.
That morning my sister had texted me:
Well, my sister stands in good with the Lord. ?Because the wind that was trying to blow me into the traffic while climbing through Cajon Pass . . .
Have to fight the wind too. It wants to blow me into traffic pic.twitter.com/ohFPXqpxBN
— ca2sc (@ca2scbybike) September 5, 2015
. . . was now pushing me from behind. ?I rode for?the next 17 miles?at speeds north of 20 MPH hour (and as much as 36 MPH)?without pedaling a single stroke. ?I’ve?never?had that happen in all the thousands of miles I’ve ridden. ?The closest I could compare would be riding down the Haleakala volcano in Maui.
Thanks, Sistah, for giving me a hand!
Some things I saw:
I hadn’t intended to get on Route 66, but, here I was.
The Blair Witch Man wants you know there’s absolutely no trespassing . . . to the concrete slab behind him.
At 22 cents a gallon I would filled up on Ethyl just to keep the place open.
And her story:
What. ?The. ?Hell?
Someone’s got too much time of their hands. ?Maybe they should take up cross-country bicycling.
I took this video of the bottle place. ?You’ll see a man and a woman in the video.
— ca2sc (@ca2scbybike) September 6, 2015
As soon as I put my camera down, the guy said, “Hey, I saw you on Interstate 15 earlier! ?That was crazy!” ?Steve and Stephanie Kooiman are Keller Wiliams real estate agents. They’re also very nice folks who befriend crazy fat guys they find riding bicycles on Interstates.
My fan club was out in full force again.
One of those guys started his own pizza place, The Cross Eyed Cow Pizza.
This was a strange one. ?I noticed something off to the horizon, but wanted to first show how desolate / poor the area was:
Desolate area. So how to explain what's on horizon at end of video pic.twitter.com/VgHb9ikvWw
— ca2sc (@ca2scbybike) September 5, 2015
Way out at the end of the horizon were a lot of what appeared to be very modern airplanes:
My first thought was I’d stumbled onto the plane graveyard, but the one I’m thinking of is in Arizona.? I don’t know what the hell that was. ?There was no airport anywhere near where I was at. ?I’m stumped.
I started before the sun got up and didn’t make it to Barstow before the sun gave up on me.
All in all, though the ride through Cajon Pass was the most challenging ride I’ve?ever?done, it was good day.
Starting temperature: ?62.
Distance: ?85.09 miles.
Average speed: ?10.1 MPH.
Maximum speed: ?37.4.
Total?riding time: ?8:23:01
Cumulative mileage: ?140.95 miles.