Our first day of riding in California started out in Nipton which is surrounded by mountainous desert and the Mojave National Preserve. If you have never been to this area I suggest you check it out, especially the little Trading Post in this small railroad town. The camp site was beautiful at night when we arrived but it blew my mind when the sun rose. There were little bungalows that faces the Mojave with nothing between them except the railroad and desert.
Two guys who were doing turtle research came over from their bungalow to see where we were headed. They gave us some info on our two route options 1) trough the Mojave National Preseve or 2) on I-15 the very busy interstate between LA and Las Vegas. Both option were no good with lots of mountains to climb and limited towns to eat, get water and eventually find camping or hotel.
We decided with the more populated route just because Baker was a town that lay between Nipton and Barstow about 50 miles away. There was going to be a partial eclipse of the sun so we didn’t know if we would be able to ride in the high heat of 3 to 6 pm. We usually ride straight towards the sun as it sets in the west so not looking at it would be near impossible. Our goal was to make it to Baker before the eclipse and see if we could push further or not from there.
This day seemed impossible but we were not surprised because we knew that getting through these few days of Nevada/California desert would be our most challenging of the trip. After 51 days of riding our minds, bodies and bikes are as prepared for this kind of challenge as they will ever be. Our first test came straight our of the tents as we climbed a 1,700 ft up a mountain for the first 2.5 hours of the day. It was mostly on a side road next to I-15 which seemed to go on for an eternity and once we turned left to get on the highway there was even more uphill pedaling. We got off the bikes
For the first time at an overpass to rest and realize we only covered 16 miles. The signage read 37 miles to Baker and 99 to Barstow which was soul crushing.
By this point it was close to noon and the sun was heating up as we sat at 4,760 ft up in the sky. Our next two hours of riding would be spent in awe of the mountains as we kept losing and gaining elevation until Baker. A gift eventually came in the shape of a 17 mile downhill stretch to our lunch spot at the Mad Greek in Baker. We spent over two hours there avoiding the sun and trying to decide of we could push ourselves to Barstow or not. Most of this thinking was done while we snored on the booths by the door welcoming in all the tourists as our phones charged.
We could have just stayed there, well not at the Mad Greek because the music would have made us lose our minds but there were plenty of cheap hotels to stay at in Baker. Eventually our minds overcame our bodies as we decided to gather our things and ride on to the next town which was at least 60 miles away.
Between 5 pm and 10 pm we rode through several more mountain passes just like we had been doing all day. It’s amazing how in the beginning of this trip we thought that climbing the Cumberland Plateau or the Eastern Continental Divide was a crazy difficult 1,500 ft climb and that we would only be able to ride 60 miles in a day if we had any serious climbing to do in a day.
Today we climbed several thousand feet up and bombed several thousand feet worth of mountains landing us in Yermo, CA just a few miles outside of Barstow for a total of 107 miles. This brings our grand total to 3360 miles and we completed our first California century!
We only have about 520 miles left before we arrive in San Francisco in 8 days where our Street Soccer
USA family is arranging a fun finish line at the Golden Gate Bridge on Friday and then some soccer fun on Saturday.
You may ask yourself how does cycling and soccer connect here. Well all day my motivation came from photos and articles posted about Street Soccer USA players who are currently at the Homeless World Cup in Santiago, Chile. So many inspiring homeless or formerly homeless soccer players are not just competing but sharing their stories about how they have overcome so many mountains off the field.
These success stories are what inspired me to believe that anything is possible. My hope is that by us riding on this incredibly long bicycle tour we are able to raise some awareness about these amazing friends of mine and that we all continue to motivate each other to keep pushing to reach our goals in life no matter how impossible they may seem.