To the expanding list of things that can do you harm here, we now must add that comedy item, tumbleweed. With gusts of wind today to 60 mph, these things are a menace and most unpredictable.
We did not intend to be in Palmdale for four days, but that is what happened. A good rest day was had and then early to bed, which is as things should be. Next morning I could not stand up without feeling nauseous and then this quickly escalated to, full on sick as a dog. Crawling around on the floor of the motel room and sweating, between visits to the pan,meant that something serious had to be done.
You do not call an ambulance here, well not if you are in a hurry, you call a cab. He was there in three minutes and I staggered out of the door, wretched and fell to my knees. “He’s not drunk is he?” The cab driver was concerned for the cleanliness of his seats. “My husband is ill, not drunk”, Esther was stern but kept calm, and we were off, with me telling the driver “I’m so sorry”.He was driving like a teenager and things were bad in the back.
We made it to the hospital and they diagnosed a somewhat bizar combination of vertigo and a virus and gave me pills for everything. The guy looking after me told me a great Lance Armstrong story. A friend is Lances neighbour, and they have a young son with a show and tell project. ” Could you ask Mr Lance if he would be my object?”. The nurse tried to find the photos on his phone of Lance in school as a show and tell object, but got called away.
Feeling better I was discharged and we called the taxi. “I will be there in 3 minutes”, and twenty minutes later he was there. He had been on the way to pick up a woman when he diverted to our emergency, and then went on to the lady’s house apologizing for being late because he had to drop a sick man at the hospital. The woman was in the cab already and freaked, ” there is death in this cab and now I am going to die. I can smell death here!” She refused to pay for the ride. So four nights in Palmdale within easy walking distance of nothing with any nutritional value nor any food with a crunch, and we were off again.
Ridding out early onto Palmdale Boulevard we were dressed for the cold. We had been praying for cool temperatures for this desert section and goodness did we have them. Down to Quartz Hill which was our bail out point if I felt sick and then onwards and down to the edge of the Mojave desert.
The first 30 miles we had the wind blowing us along these arrow straight roads. As we edged West the wind came around to hit us side on. Along Willow Springs Road we now had wind full in the face. Ahead at Oak Creek Pass the road rises steeply to Oak Creek Pass, such a perfect windy spot that thousands of turbines stretch along the ridge in row after row.They were spinning perfectly and we were walking.
We dropped down to Tehachapi at the end of a good day where we had got some miles done and regained our confidence. Tehachapi is a nice place with good places to eat and we went to bed happy, unaware that it had got even colder overnight and was now snowing a thousand feet above us.
Up into Golden Hill the next morning we were concerned that we would be riding on snow as we climbed later in the day. This was a full on climbing day and already we were going up and down. The road overlooked the Tehachapi loop where the train tracks loop around under themselves. Rather impressive train set engineering.
We passed under a bridge and to our right in a stream the sound of a frog amplified by the perfect busking position. “Ribit” – it went, and we both laughed as this is the Hollywood frog. Story goes that a sound engineer needed the sound of a frog and recorded this Californian frog unaware that frogs all have their own croak that varies with the type of frog. That recording has been used in so many films that it is now the universal sound of a frog.
Into the Keene Cafe for a wonderful fruit pie and a great chat and unbelievably a chance to warm up. We pulled onto Highway 58 following our Adventure Cycling route and on the ramp we had a big problem. The sign quite clearly said “NO BIKES”. This should not happen on a bike route but there was no mistake and also no alternative route. At times like this we have a motto “It is quicker to ask for forgiveness than for permission” ,so on we went, with the trucks at our elbow.
Five hard pedaling miles latter we turned off on Bealeville Road which is a short cut from the route. We had avoided a ticket but would pay with a few thousand feet of climb at grades of up to 10%. We always kept the dusting of snow above us, and as the climb really got going we broke it into 200 ft sections on the altimeter, looking forward to the rest every time.
We were climbing up through Oak forest and after a dozen or more stops we were on the ridge at over 4,000 ft, with spectacular views all around. This was great riding indeed. Down we went to a wide plain and then mashing on the pedals up again. The last but one climb had a shop at the summit which was a boost for morale.
One more climb and we had done almost 6,000 ft that day and the town of Isabella was down there in the valley. It had been a long day and Lake Isabella Motel was our resting place for the night. All very quaint, if a motel can be such and a wonderful owner who ran us down to the town to get food.
We had come through the desert dressed in near winter gear and now there are far more campsites ahead. The ride ahead looks like it could be fun.