Day Sixty-Seven

Ludlow, CA to Barstow, CA

Predictably, I was sore this morning. In fact, I woke up and went back to bed several times even after the sun came up. Besides, yesterday's epic ride left only 55 miles or so to ride to Barstow, so I didn't have to get up really early. The last time I went back to bed, I had a dream so weird that I knew I had to get moving when I woke up. There were two beds in my room, and I dreamed that in the middle of the night the clerk at the Chevron station had told some guy that he could sleep in the other bed since I wasn't using it. In the dream it was morning, and this guy was telling me his story of how he ended up there. I don't remember the details. Then my wife showed up, which was rather strange, and she was talking to this guy, too. How bizarre.

I got dressed and rode over to the Chevron station. One of the few amenities offered by the Ludlow Motel was a free drink at the gas station in the morning--coffee, hot chocolate or pop from the fountain. I got a free Coke, and I bought some water and an orange-strawberry-banana juice. While I drank my Coke, I walked around and took pictures of Ludlow. Incidentally, it took considerably  longer to drink the Coke than to see the town.

The first 30 miles of my ride were miserable today, especially the first hour. The road was bumpy and I felt  so sluggish, just going through the motions. My legs were spinning, but without power. Then there was a " Rough Road" sign. Funny, I thought I was already on a rough road. Well, CalTrans gave me a lesson in how rough it could be. " I came all the way across the country to ride on this," I yelled in disgust. There were huge cracks in the pavement. What made them worse was that the pavement curved up on either side of the crack, accentuating every bump. All of my  shouting and cursing didn't make it any better. Only a few hundred yards away was a smooth interstate, but CalTrans wouldn't let me ride on it. It seemed to me that the people who determine that there is a good alternate route nearby (the condition for banning bikes on the interstate) should have to actually ride bicycles on that route. National Trails Highway was the worst road I had seen since US 80 in eastern Mississippi.  The only good thing about it was that it came at the beginning of the day instead of the end. In fact, I was glad I hadn't stayed in Amboy yesterday, or I would have had 60 miles of bad roads in one day instead of 30 miles each day. I stopped to drink some water at the two hour mark. I checked my average speed, and it wasn't so good. " Well," I exclaimed to no one, " The road is crap, the winding is blowing, my legs are sore... and I've got a bad attitude!"

When I got to Newberry Springs, I stopped at the Bagdad Cafe for lunch. This restaurant was featured in the movie Bagdad Cafe, which I had heard of but not seen. There was a town near Amboy called Bagdad, but the movie wasn't filmed there. Plus, this cafe wasn't called the Bagdad Cafe at the time of filming, but they changed the name years later to capitalize on the movie. The video for Steve Earle's biker anthem " The Other Kind" was also filmed at the Bagdad Cafe. I eavesdropped on a few bikers, including a woman who ran  a biker bar in northern California. She was talking about how her car's EGR valve got clogged so she disconnected it, but now the engine was running rich and fouling her spark plugs. " I can handle it, though," she said. " You can't own a Harley for 30 years and not be a mechanic." The burgers on the menu were named for characters in  Bagdad Cafe. I had a fantastic bacon double cheeseburger for lunch, but I forgot who it was named after.

As I straddled my bicycle to leave, I had the words from " The Other Kind" going through my head. It was really a motorcycle song, but I didn't care:

I'm back out on that road again

Turn this beast into the wind

There are those that break and bend

But I'm the other kind

The road west of Newberry Springs was much better, to my butt's relief. I was more than halfway to Barstow, so the rest of the day would be a piece of cake. National Trails Highway still ran parallel to I-40, but not right next to it. I went through tiny Minneola and past Barstow-Daggett Airport. In Daggett, I saw several people with cameras set up to photograph the many BNSF trains coming through town. I spied a place called the Desert Market  on the other side of  the tracks, so I crossed them at the first opportunity and doubled back on the aptly named Santa Fe Street. I had enough water, so I bought a Gatorade. I drank it outside while a man had a heated discussion on his cell phone in the parking lot next door. Next stop, Barstow.

The next town west of Daggett was Nebo, but I wasn't allowed to go there. It was the home of the Barstow Marine Corps Logistics Base, and there was a guarded gate across National Trails Highway. I had to get on I-40 for two miles to the next exit (making a total of 13 miles of interstate ridden on the trip), which landed me on East Main Street. There were plenty of places to stay in Barstow, so I had a hard time choosing. I felt strong and had little trouble climbing the hills in town, so I wasn't in a hurry to collapse in bed like on harder days.  I ended up at the American Inn mostly because it was on the west side of town. I was following my new motto: " An extra mile today is one less mile tomorrow."

I ordered a large pepperoni pizza from Domino's because it was cheaper than a medium, plus it came with bread sticks or cinnamon sticks. Actually, somewhere between Texas (the last time I had ordered Domino's) and California the sticks had changed to " dots," which were like little dinner rolls. I downloaded my e-mail and tried to catch up on the past two days' reports. I wanted to take a day off. However, the forecast suggested that Monday was going to be very windy, so I would be better off riding on Sunday and resting on Monday in Mojave instead.

Totals for the day: 57.35 miles in 4:52:23 for an 11.7 mph average.

Click here to see today's photos.

Copyright 2002-2013 David Johnsen. All rights reserved.