Rod McLaughlin

Yucca Valley to Adelanto, CA (06 nov 12)

Headed off out of Joshua Tree on the Google bike route - north on Sunburst. After a few miles, it became an 'unpaved' street. In this part of the world, that means a sandpit. It would be hard work on a normal bike, but on my recumbent with a trailer, it's not practical at all. So... back to Joshua Tree, back to Yucca Valley to find the alternative route, straight up Old Woman Springs Road to Lucerne Valley. 

The tire on the wheel of my trailer sprung a leak for the first time. To be precise, it sprung at least three leaks (I'm about to check if the third patch solved the problem). It was impossible for me to find the second hole while on the road without using all my precious water. So... I'm back in the Super 8 motel in Yucca Valley CA, where I've fixed (I hope) the flat with the aid of their wash basin full of water (you submerge the inflated tube and the bubbles show you where the hole is).

I sound like a wimp in the above paragraph. Since then, I've fixed many flats in the middle of the desert, without a basin. I improvized one by cutting a water bottle in half, but didn't need it, as my ability to find holes in tubes has increased considerably, about 36 hours and 10 flat tires later. 

I got to Lucerne Valley with only two flats - one in the 20" front tire, and one in the 16" trailer tire. I asked about motels and got various replies. There were two motels on the way out of town west. The first had two guard dogs. There was a phone number on the notice board, which I rang, and was answered by a guy trying to spread stereotypes of Latinos. He said it was too far for him to come, and to ring the bell. I said I already had, and no-one had answered. He said "maybe they go to the market or something".

The next motel said it was full, but it didn't look it.

Carried on riding west. Saw snow in the distance - the highest point in the Sierras. Found a pile of rocks on top of which one fashion model was photographing another. Naturally, I pulled in, set up camp, and they came over and joined me. Actually, I made up that last bit. I waved, but didn't talk to them - I doubt if fashion models would be interested in an old guy on a recumbent, even if it's an HP Veloteknik Street Machine. They drove off, and I camped there. 

I went right through Victorville without noticing it, then Google on my phone said to go 7 miles south, against the wind, to Victorville Cycles. It was difficult to find in the nightmare-land of malls, but hey had everything I needed, except a presta valve 20" tube. I did buy a new front tire however. I have had more punctures in the 20 miles since than I had in the entire life of that tire's predecessor. I blame it on thorns on the highway, not on the bicycle shop. They did tell me about thorn-proof tubes and a repair kit which works on them - perhaps I should have taken notice.

On the way up highway 395 toward Adelanto, I got three punctures at once in the front tire. Trouble is, you can't detect three punctures at once. You pull out the tube, carefully remove three thorns from the tire, inflate the tube, and find only one hole - the biggest. You repair it. You can't inflate the tube with the new patch on it without putting back on the wheel, otherwise the patch will slip off. So you put it back, inflate, and wait. Then you find the second-biggest hole. Repeat. Then... I made it to the Days Inn motel in Adelanto before detecting the third (and hopefully final) hole. Cheap, and run by an Indian family. Between my room and the next is only a door, so I can hear their television. Fortunately, they are not as low-life as many of the people I've seen in this forgotten corner of California, and they are not shouting at each other. Used their wifi to contact Google to correct the route from Joshua Tree to Lucerne Valley (see above).

Tomorrow, must get try to get to Mojave, though it's sixty-eight miles. If the wind stays behind me, and don't have too many flat tires, I might be able to do it.

Correction: I just found four more holes in my front tire, without finding the thorns which caused them. Have almost run out of paches. If the thorns continue, I'll have to go back to Victorville. The store didn't have a 20" tire with a presta valve, so I'll have to find another one. This will probably delay me sufficiently that I'll have to rent a car somewhere in the Central Valley in order to get to my destination, Chico, in time for Thanksgiving.

Hopefully, I can make it to Lancaster, where there are several bike stores. That's where Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart came from. Amazing, that great art can emerge from such a cultureless wilderness.

The election is today (Nov 6). My front tire has gone flat overnight. Found three holes. Carefully extracted the remaining thorns from my tire. This means I'll only have one patch left. Saying my prayers.

My prayers worked. I traveled all the way from Adelanto to Palmdale without a single flat tire. The thorns yesterday must have been just bad luck. However, I did take a massive detour, finding the Google route (El Mirage Rd) is dirt (sand) roads and therefore unusable, and choosing Palmdale Rd instead. For the first ten miles, it had a tiny shoulder, and sometimes a huge truck would honk at me to get off the road onto the sandy shoulder, which made me stop. Then there was a section, before and after it became CA highway 138, when the shoulder was wide. Then I ran across roadworks. For ten miles, on my right was a shoulder a few inches wide bounded by a concrete barrier. This was really scary - trucks passing inches from my left shoulder. Eventually the barrier ended, and I passed the motel I'd stayed in previously in a rat-hole called 'Pearblossom'. One of the Google reviews for the motel says

"Well I got this room for 50$ Owner is Asian man who barley speaks english, rude. I noticed cameras everywhere, I would not doubt if the pervert hides them in the room."

but I think that's a bit imaginative. They were very nice when I was there four years ago.

Google also found the one bicycle store in Palmdale, Sport Chalet. They don't have a 20" presta valve tire, but they do have tube repair kits. Currently in the Sherwood Motel, Palmdale. Tomorrow I'll get a repair kit and press on northward and uphill. I should be able to make to Tehachapi (53 miles), God willing.

(The above references to prayers etc. are known as 'hedging' in case Obama doesn't win the election).


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