|The hot, high and dry Sierra Nevada of Southern California|
|A touching mural for a motorbike accident at the side of the Caliente Bodfish road|
I'm now drinking 6-8 litres of water per day plus coffee - I got a bit stuck for a refill of water yesterday but found a hosepipe in the garden of a shut cafe and sterilised the water I got from that (tasted kind of funky but still good). I'm practising what I call the camel technique - rationing out the water carefully throughout the day until finding a sure refill point, then downing a litre or so at once. My mouth is almost always dry from the dust so finding a sure refill (diner, grocery store) and drinking all your spare water in one go is a lovely feeling. I start the day with 3l at the moment, but will increase that to 4 or 5 if necessary.
After about 60 miles last night the left knee started tweaking again. The velcro on the new and expensive strap I bought for it has also helpfully cut into and strained the ligament behind the knee cap. I checked my maps straight away and called the nearest motel, which was 4 more miles uphill. I could maybe have made it to a campsite but it would have been more uphill and dark before I got there. The motel was relatively cheap, friendly, authentically dirty, the guy on the desk knocked the tax off the bill and called me in the morning to let me know coffee was in the office. He was chuffed he guessed I was from London, although I think that is his standard guess for anyone from the UK. He wanted me to use my stove to cook dinner outside in the parking lot, but after some testing with my awesome folding silicon travel mug and the microwave in my, I managed to rustle up coffee, chicken Top Ramen Noodles (leading brand of supernoodles!), oatmeal, and tea in the microwave using my mug. A cockerel woke me up, he was strutting round the parking lot when I left in the morning.
|Portable travel alarm clock|
Today was downhill the flat after some climbs this morning, no tweaks from the knee thankfully. Some good wild riding, the route took me up over the Tehachapi wind farm which was spectacular, turbines as far as the eye could see, literally hundreds of them. The wind was gusting up to 25mph today, and gave me prod in the back downhill. I was freewheeling along, glanced at my computer and found I was doing 51.7mph! While my load is bitch to haul uphill, it pays me back on the downs. I took a photo of the max speed while at a standstill, for the record.
|Those with sharp eyes may wonder what the red thing is mounted next to my light - this is pepper spray. Some of the hillbilly roads have dogs off leashes that could be a problem, nothing has tried to bite me yet but this is just in case!|
I got a puncture on a hot flat stretch after turning into the wind. I'm interpreting the puncture as punishment for wasting a few minutes on the following vanity shot. I wanted a photo of my new orange t shirt while it's still clean, fresh out of the bag bought for $5 from a Family Dollar store.
There was no shade to fix the puncture in so I had to get on with it in the glare midday sunshine, eating jerky and tortillas to cheer me up. A passing trucker shouted something at me from his cab window and proceeded to throw me a cookie after I gave him a big thumbs up.
I'm becoming quite superstitious lately, changing inner tubes is one of the only bad things about this bike, it's just hard, hard work. I tend to offer up little prayers to the landscape around me after fixing a puncture, asking for there not to be a pinch puncture from the swap. I've prayed to redwood trees and barren southern California mountains, and they have been good to me (I always remember to be thankful afterwards!).
Tonight sees my tent still packed away in my big red bag for the second night running - sad, useless and resentful. I got into Palmdale about 7pm and had to decide on either finding a room or cycling another potentially hilly 10 miles out of town to find somewhere to camp. In the pre-knee-injury era I'd have missioned off into the unknown but I'm playing it safe for now, especially as my knee was hurting again last night.
I'm in a Holiday Inn room, which is too big and expensive for my needs (about twice the price of a motel room). I've learnt a lesson from this and have downloaded a few budget motel finding apps for my phone. If I think I'm going to struggle for camping in the evening, I'll try finding a Starbucks or Mcdonalds and get on there wifi to get motel addresses. Towns where I can't camp usually have both.
But rest assured I'm keeping it real in the Holiday Inn room. I just at a tin of refried beans with tortillas and a big beer for dinner, and washed it down with all the complimentary coffee, real followed by decaf.
|Slightly battered and worn but keeping on!|
I'm going to wash my clothes in a bathroom in a minute and I'm taking the small packs of sugars and creamers with me tomorrow.
As for the knee, it seems relatively happy if I keep the cadence high (spinning my legs faster on a lower gear than usual) and if I can limit the number of hills I go over, so being more disciplined about ending the day once a planned mileage has been reached. I'm happy to ratchet up the credit card bill on motel rooms if it keeps the trip alive. I'm also tempted to find a good bike shop and check my options for swapping over the front chain rings to lower the overall gearing. I'm going to have to take it one day at a time.
I should hit the Los Angeles forest tomorrow and hope to wild camp for 3 mights to even out my spending. I'm hoping for real trees and shade not just cacti and scrub, but looking forward to finding out either way!