“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Willie Hunt has an amazing talent for designing beautiful and audacious routes. This year he created a route from Joshua Tree to Las Vegas following (in reverse) the finish of the old Furnace Creek 508 course. Since the route traveled through such a desolate area, it required quite a bit of work on his part to make sure the riders were supplied and supported at the otherwise barren contrôles along the way. Other than scenery, there’s not much out there. Willie also arranged to shuttle the riders back to Joshua Tree after the ride.
We left the town of Joshua Tree at 06:00 and rode quickly toward the rising sun and the town of 29 Palms, helped by a slight tailwind and a gentle descent.
From 29 Palms we climbed Amboy Road over Sheephole Summit and down towards the “town” of Amboy on old Route 66.
Our friend John from the San Francisco Randonneurs started feeling the effects of the rising temperatures and decided to abandon the ride and join the support crew. At this time of year I don’t think there’s any way to train for this kind of riding in Northern California.
From Kelso Depot the route diverged from the 508 course and headed northeast through the stunning and remote Mojave National Preserve.
I’ve noticed that every long ride seems to have a surreal experience or two. On this ride we passed a group of Japanese motorcycle riders on Harley Davidsons who were stopped to reconnoiter. Dressed in new leather motorcycle outfits, they were obviously on tour seeing the Western part of the U.S. The driver of their support truck stopped us and explained that they were looking for Route 66. Since we had just come from there, it was easy to point them in the right direction. They gave us a cheer and a round of applause as we pedaled North into the Mojave.
This was the best part of the ride – quiet, remote and scenic. As we climbed the Joshua Trees started to reappear. Nearing Nevada, we could see a huge dust cloud created by an ORV race.
From near the state line, the course took the most direct course of riding on the I-15 itself, which wasn’t too bad as the shoulder was wide and in good condition. The only downsides to riding on the shoulder were the chunks of blown-out retread tires and the curiously large amount of gravel. Fortunately we had a slight headwind from the East that blew the dust from the ORV race away from us. At Jean Nevada the route took the frontage road, South Las Vegas Blvd, which was nice fast downhill all the way to the finish at the south end of town.
We were able to eat, shower and sleep before driving back to California the next day.
Thanks to Willie for hosting this great ride, and to Judy and John for the support.