Kingman, AZ to Needles, CA
I had two routes to choose from today. The most scenic would be the twisty climb up to Oatman. The other route was by way of Bullhead City, a few miles further. Since I drove the route through Oatman 11 years ago, I decided to try the second route. I'll be retracing my steps from that old trip for the next two days anyway.
All around, today was an easy day. I rode out of Kingman on US 93. I saw a message board that gave me reason for concern--commercial vehicles were not permitted to go over Hoover Dam. That meant all the truck traffic that was headed toward Las Vegas would be following SR 68 along with me. Right away, I climbed a big hill to Coyote Pass. On the way down, I veered onto the ramp to SR 68 west toward Bullhead City. SR 68 was a straight shot through Golden Valley, down a long, gradual hill, then slowly back up again. The road was freshly paved and four lanes wide with broad shoulders. My concerns about truck traffic were unfounded I had plenty of room. After fourteen miles, the road finally curved to the left and went through Union Pass at 3,300 feet. From there, it was a long descent into Bullhead City on the Colorado River. In the next eight miles, I dropped down to 500 feet. That was my lowest elevation since the Louisiana delta.
I considered crossing into Nevada and going down to Needles on the west side of the river. I could have added a state to my list, but I decided 15 miles wasn't enough for me to count. I headed down SR 95 on the Arizona side instead. While SR 68 was a fun ride, SR 95 was not. Traffic was heavy and there were lots of businesses on either side of the road with cars pulling out left and right. After several miles, I laughed at the irony of it. Bullhead City was the kind of town that attracted people from Los Angeles and Phoenix who wanted to escape, and now they had simply recreated the same mess somewhere else.
SR 95 was busy all the way down to Mohave Valley.  There I took a nice, new bridge over the Colorado River to Needles. In town, I scanned the motels on old Route 66, settling on the Best Chalet Inn. It wasn't the greatest place, but it wasn't too bad, and it was under $30. After downloading my e-mail, I went out to a Dairy Queen for a cookies-n-cream Blizzard. It really hit the spot in the 85 degree heat of the afternoon. However, I felt very  uncomfortable being in California, like I didn't belong there. I was especially anxious about the upcoming ride across the Mojave Desert. I had planned to stay in Amboy at Roy's Motel, giving me two 80-mile days. However, there was no answer when I called Roy's, so I had to aim for Ludlow instead, an extra 30 miles. Planning the longest day of my trip in the May heat of the Mojave seemed like a tall order. To top it off, there were virtually no services that could be counted on I would have to carry a full day's food and water. In the desert, that could be a lot of water. No wonder I didn't feel good.
For dinner, I ordered a pizza from Mudshark Pizza and Pasta. It wasn't bad.
When I called my wife, I mentioned that I was nervous about a long ride across the desert. She said I should just come home instead. Gee, thanks for the support.
Totals for the day: 58.06 miles in 4:01:56 for a 14.1 mph average.
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