February 25, 2023 Day 1 Huntington Beach CA to Twentynine Palms CA

03/26/2023 3:30 PM | Deleted user

February 25, 2023 

Woke up at 4:00 am to a steady rain. It was forecast to rain all day. I quickly got dressed with several layers to do the best I can to stay dry. I even put thick plastic grocery bags over my shoes and under my booties to keep my feet dry. I just cut a small hole in the bottom of the bag to engage my pedal cleat.

At 5:15 am, I departed for the start location at Huntington Beach which was about three miles away from the hotel. The roads were slick, so I took my time and arrived safely. Gary Egorov met me there a few minutes later. Gary the legend, was going to ride the first 50 to 60 miles with me then turn around and head back. 

It was cold and rainy at the parking lot where family and friends gather to see the two of us off. Killer Bee's leader Joseph Cassinerio, called in via Facebook and blessed the ride with a prayer. It was beautiful and heartfelt, and appreciated by all that were present. (Thank you, Joe!)

Gary Egorov and myself at the start.

Unfortunately, due to the darkness and rain, we didn't do the ceremonial dipping of the wheels in the Pacific Ocean. However, with all the rain, the tires were sufficiently wet with Pacific waters.

After the prayer and thanking of all the supporters that were present, Gary and I departed the parking lot and took the Santa Ana River Bikeway for the first leg of the journey. The bikeway runs for about 40 plus miles along the Santa Ana River which kept us out of vehicular traffic until just short of Riverside California. We only had one small mistake on the bikeway, in which we were supposed to cross to the opposite side and ended up riding about a mile on gravel, then having to negotiate a detour to get back on track.

The time on the bikeway went pretty fast despite not being able to draft each other. (The water coming off the tires flew back at least 20 feet.) We soon came upon Anaheim and stopped to take pictures behind Anaheim Stadium. We didn't stop for long though due to the cold. We had to keep moving just to stay warm.

Anaheim Stadium

We finally took our first break a little over 50 miles in. We stopped at Starbucks for a coffee and the manager allowed us to park our dripping bikes in the lobby. Boy, did that make a mess. Gary and I continued a couple of more miles before he had to say goodbye and turn back to Huntington Beach.

Since we started, the course profile was a slight uphill climb towards Riverside. It was gradual but had a few short semi steep segments. Once Gary left, the real climbs began. The first was a climb of about 6 miles with up to 7% gradient. Once I left Riverside, It was a steady push uphill and the temperature dropped quickly. Soon it started to snow. It wasn't enough to accumulate on the ground but it made for cold wet travel and misery was setting in.

My daughter, Sierra, sister, Jennifer, niece, Megan and myself after Riverside.

Once I reached the summit at Banning heading towards the pass that would cross the mountains heading to Palm Springs, the weather started to clear. By the time I reached Banning, the sun was shining and it started to warm up. By now I had travelled about 85 miles and still had 65 more miles to go. In Banning, I had the first of quite a few navigation issues with Komoot. The route was to take me from one frontage road to another while avoiding the freeway which I'm not allowed to ride. Unfortunately the route was to go through the Morongo Indian reservation in which travel is restricted to residents or those with business on the reservation. Fortunately, the guard at the entrance was able to advise me of an alternate route that connected the two frontage roads with a gravel road. I headed to the gravel road which bordered the freeway on one side and a railroad on the other and was inhabited by several homeless encampments. To say the least it was a sketchy scenario. I road as quickly as I  could and got through unscathed to the frontage road to continue the route.

Banning, CA and clearing weather.

About 10 miles later, I came across the next part of the Komoot route that was less than anticipated. It had me climbing over the mountains of the pass on gravel roads of a wind turbine farm. There were several sections that were so steep and loose with sand that I had to walk. This delayed me nearly an hour as I negotiated the route. I finally came through on the other side and reached the Twenty-nine Palms Highway. By now I was 108 miles into the ride with two very long and steep climbs to go before reaching my destination that was still 40 miles away. It was also getting late in the day and finishing by nightfall was getting iffy.

Wind Farm.

I powered my way up the two remaining climbs and made it to Yucca Valley California by dark. However, I was still 20 miles from the finish in Twenty-nine Palms and to make matters worse, my Garmin Varia radar taillight had died. The temperature had also dropped significantly in a matter of a few minutes and I was getting hypothermic due to the sweat I generated on the climbs. 

At this point I felt it was too dangerous to finish the last 20 miles in the dark without a taillight. So I called my wife, who then came to get me in the support vehicle.

Day one finished with 131 miles and 6,043 feet of elevation gain over 10 hours and 15 minutes of saddle time.

It felt so good to have a hot shower and prepare for the next day. Oh, I also had to eat, download and edit the video to then upload to YouTube before getting to sleep. 

Watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/F15fTPpVv0g

Donate Here: https://www.valleychildrens.org/foundation/cycling-across-america

Intended Route: https://www.komoot.com/tour/1006663480?ref=aso&share_token=aCtv7EDaOr6wy7djVKwvQi8txmsHi4mqO5IvGJ3CohF8LeZZeQ

Check out my activity on Strava:https://strava.app.link/P6EaYrDGuyb 

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