We are writing from Brawley, CA, where we arrived just after noon today following an easy 38-mile ride. More on that in the next post.
It was a day for climbing, as you can see from the profile in the Garmin link at the end of this post.
We rode out from Alpine after a great send off by our hosts at the Alpine fire station. We slept like kings that night. Bob Pfohl from the Viejas fire district rode with us as did GYGIG '07 rider Robert Sigal. Both were great company and awesome sources of local information.
We rode a little over 10 miles into Descantes, where Brad Rushing (our host in Alpine) was waiting to have breakfast with us at the local restaurant. Brad, his father Scott, wife Charly (sp?), and daughter Brenda kept us good company. (Thank you again for breakfast, Scott.) Bob then left us to ride back to Alpine - - he had taken our panniers, and was going to meet us further up the route. Robert remained with us for another hour, and Jay overheard Bob tell him, "push 'em hard" - - basically, once Bob caught back up to us, we'd have our bags again.
Robert (who has been riding the route from San Diego to El Centro since he was 14) accompanied us up two more long cliimbs to just outside of Pine Valley, where he wished us well and gave us the lowdown on road conditions to El Centro (he had just ridden there a week earlier.)
Halfway down that descent, we passed a border patrol station. They were stopping cars coming the other direction. Todd spent some time talking to the border partol agents.
We had more climbing ahead, and thankfully the weather all day was really perfect - - in the high 70s with thin cloud cover. On the last bit of climb into Live Oak Springs, we met up with our first fellow self-contained riders. Kat & Anthony were coming the other way from Jacumba en route to Alpine. They are riding the entire perimeter of the United States - 14,000 miles. Yes. For real. We're not putting ourselves down or anything, but it definitely puts our ride into perspective! They are riding for MS. Please check 'em out at http://biketheborderline.blogspot.com/ and see the photo we'll post later on Facebook.
We were discussing the day's climbing, and Anthony said, "wait 'til you get to New Mexico. Oh. My. God." Jay's new goal is to lose at least 10 pounds before New Mexico. (Kidding. Sort of.)
After stopping for some food at the Golden Acorn Casino (and truck stop), we descended into Boulevard. Bob caught up with us there - - he had spent a little extra time at home to give us a head start, bless him. Of the 68 miles, we rode the most difficult 40 without panniers - a great way to ease into the journey.
We reached Jacumba and had really splendid views of the border fence. It was well under a mile away. Border patrol vehicles passed us constantly, and we saw planes patrolling as well.
The climb out of Jacumba was our last for the day. As we slogged up that last hill, the landscape already started to change. Jay pointed to the left and said, "did you see Galaxy Quest with Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver?" Todd almost immediately replied "GORIGNAK!" We're both pretty sure that movie must have been filmed just off I-8 between Jacumba and Ocotillo.
Our route joined up with I-8, where we knew a long downhill awaited. We'd read many accounts of the Souther Tier route, and some of them mentioned the treacherous downhill with the potential for high crosswinds. We both rode our brakes, but the 6% grade was completely manageable since we had no crosswinds to battle. Jay stopped halfway down (in a safe place) to snap a quick Gorignak landscape photo and felt literally zero wind.
We coasted for 12 miles until exiting onto Highway 98. We saw a sign welcoming us to the Yuha Desert. Welcome indeed - - as Todd stopped to take a photo of the sign, Jay got the first flat tire of the trip. On the rear wheel, of course. A thorough inspection of both tire and tube showed no punctures, but rather that the hole was a small slit on the rim side of the tube. We figure that Jay must have hit a rock on the descent that caused a split in the tube.
After a bit of directional confusion, we located our digs for the night - Jackson's Hideaway RV Park. We were greeted by John Jackson, our host for the night, and another resident of the park. They regaled us with stories and were fantastic hosts. Instead of having to pitch a tent, we were able to sleep in the rec room. We each opted for the recliners rather than our sleeping pads. We highly recommend this place to anyone going cross-country on a bike - - really wonderful hosts.
Thus ended Day 2 - - please see below for the Garmin link,and Facebook for photos!
Click here, then push play:
Garmin Connect - Activity Details for Day 2 Alpine to Ocotillo