Slogging up hill after hill

OCOTILLO, Calif. — It’s hard to imagine rushing water, much less a deadly flood, in this God-forsaken speck of a town in the Yuha Desert in the Imperial Valley.

In the Laguna Mountains

In the Laguna Mountains

But on Sept 10-11, 1976, Hurricane Kathleen crossed the peninsula of Baja California and moved into southern California and Arizona as a tropical storm. Rains from Kathleen caused flash flooding and killed at least three people.
Ocotillo, a town of about 300 people and two bars (the Lazy Lizard Saloon and the Old Highway Cafe), is our overnight stop Monday after the second day of our transcontinental bicycle journey. We’re camped at an RV park just off Interstate 8, which was part of the last leg of Monday’s route, a precipitous downhill run of about 12 miles into Ocotillo.
Border fence at Jacumba with Mexico on the other side

Border fence at Jacumba, Calif., with Mexico on the other side

I and a group of riders of similar pace set out from Alpine at about 7:40 Monday morning and rode 62 miles through the Laguna Mountains, crossing the Tecate Divide at an elevation of more than 4,000 feet before plunging down into the Imperial Valley, where the high temperature on Monday was 108 degrees. Tuesday’s ride, relatively short at 40 miles and on flat terrain, will take us to Brawley, near the southern end of the Salton Sea.
Street sign in Santee, Calif.

Street sign in Santee, Calif.

Ocotillo was established in the 1950s as a retirement community. But I can’t imagine why anyone would want to live here. Summertime temperatures regularly reach 120 degrees. One local we met today joked that winter is coming on because the temperature was only 108.
The blazing sun has made for some tough riding the past couple days, particularly with today’s climb of about 50 miles, slogging up hill after hill in the granny gear at speeds of barely 4 miles per hour.
But we all made it. I, in fact, feel better after Monday’s ride than I did after the first day’s ride from San Diego — probably because I paid more attention to hydration, drinking quarts of water and sports drinks.



Filed under Americana, Cycling across America, Journeys

3 responses to “Slogging up hill after hill

  1. Ben

    Looks like quite punishing terrain. Stay hydrated. Love, Ben

  2. Dang!!! 108 degrees!!! It was in the 40s in Denver on Monday, and it snowed in the mountains. Stay hydrated out there.

  3. Roger

    50 miles uphill in that weather! No mean feat no matter what shape you’re in. Just imagine your conditioning when you dive into the Atlantic.

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