Having climbed to 4200 feet yesterday, I knew I would be rewarded with a lot of downhill today. What I hadn’t anticipated was strong winds. When we got up in Julian it was 39F. We met a group hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. After talking with them and sharing our adventures, Becky offered to give a couple of them a ride to the trail head 12 miles away. I joked, “you don’t look like a serial killer”. They smiled and one said I’m not. Then I pointed to Becky and said “How do you know she’s not? ” Becky was still alive and well when she sent me a text 45 minutes later.
I dressed up in several layers – long sleeve undershirt, jersey, windbreaker, leg warmers, shoe covers, full finger gloves, and baclava. I didn’t want to get chilled going downhill with 90% humidity and predicted strong winds. I used the brakes a lot more than I used the pedals over the first 6 miles as I went down the curvey road in the wind. Without pedaling I was doing 25 to 30 mph.
I had a consistent tailwind as I got into the open desert after my downhill descent. The wind was consistently 25 to 35 mph with gusts of up to 60 according to the weather reports. There was an occasion when I was going downhill around a curve and caught a head wind. I had to pedal real hard going downhill to do even 14 mph. For long stretches I finally used some of the high gears I never use at home. I could maintain 25 and even 30 mph for stretches of several miles.
As I crested one hill, I slapped Hidalgo into high gear and the wind pushed me faster than I’ve ever gone on a bike. I took a quick glance at the computer and saw a 4 as the first digit. When the wind shifted slightly to a cross wind, the whole bike was shaking. I was just glad there was no one around on this straight away. Later, I was able to see that I had topped out at 48.69 mph! My average speed for the time on the bike was 22 mph over the 74 mile ride. I have never gone that fast for so long in my entire life.
Becky sent me a text after I hit 50 miles asking to meet at the Date Shack in Westmorland. It was only after I saw several road signs advertising the famous DATE SHAKE that I finally understood what she had in mind. A milk shake made from the locally produced dates was indeed very tasty 15 miles later, but different than what I originally thought was in store for me 🙂
Without a doubt this was probably the easiest ride of the entire trip, in spite of the sand blasting I got throughout the ride. Even though I rode 10 miles farther, I completed it in 2 hours less time than yesterday.
Tomorrow will be one of the most desolate areas I will travel as I go from Brawley to Blythe.
The Lone Rider