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Day 3: Palm Springs, CA to Chiriaco Summit, CA

53 miles - Palm Springs, Indio, Bicycling On Interstate 10, Meeting Richard Davidian - February 22, 2011

Steve I must remind you that I had done no outdoor cycling in the past 5-6 months up to this point. After enduring two day-long bike workouts, my body was sore. Many muscles in my legs were aching. Also, I slept about 8-10 hours the night before. Even before 8 p.m., I began to doze off as I lay on my bed.

Meanwhile, Brian seemed the opposite of me. He had plenty of energy and needed much less sleep. While I was sound asleep, Brian was up for hours, doing things like (generously) retying the tape on my handle bars and updating his blog on the progress of our ride. Clearly Brian, who's a few years older than me, was in better shape that I was.

Anyway, I say all this to set the scene for Day 3. Despite being sore, tired, exhausted, (use a thesaurus and fill in the blank for any word describing "fatigue"), I sprung out of bed with part-anxiety and part-enthusiasm about today's agenda. I didn't shower this morning (I did last night), as seen in the large hairdo, and I captured a picture through the motel mirror of me eating a banana. I ate something healthy and was ready to take the day on!

Palm Springs, California The palm trees across from the motel looked even better with the morning light. Ahhhh blue skies, mountains and palm trees! I'm telling ya ... I could certainly live in Palm Springs! :)
Palm Desert, CA Chevron


We enjoyed a slight descent that made for easy cycling from Palm Springs, through Palm Desert and Indian Wells, and all the way to Indio.

TOP: At a Chevron station in Palm Desert, we took a break after about an hour of riding. Just look at that glorious view of mountains, palm trees and bright blue skies. Sigh!

SECOND: Although I drank a lot of sports drinks, namely Gatorade and Powerade, I also purchased a lot of Arizona products in their 99 cent aluminum cans. Grapeade and the Green Tea are probably my favorite brands. Although I carried and drank water, I found something with flavor that wasn't too sugary hit the spot.

Indio, CA
Indio, California

Near the 25 mile mark, we reached Indio. With downhill riding comes speed, and we were pleased with how we were making good time ... unlike yesterday when we were hit with some tough uphills to start.

By the way, I've always been intrigued by this town's name. I always think of India, the country, but this town has an "O" at the end! Indio. Strange.

Indio, California At one point, we stopped and I captured a photo of those beautiful San Jacinto Mountains.

Because I'm not a California native, I asked Brian: "If there was any doubt, I sense once we leave Indio we are affectively leaving anything that might be considered part of the Los Angeles area, right?" Brian said yes. Our route would enter a new phase soon. No more populated city areas and into the vast and empty desert.

We biked through Coachella toward Interstate 10 ...
Love's Truck Stop

Truck Stop

Certified Scales

... and before entering the Interstate, we stopped at Love's truck stop. This would be our last chance to eat and buy food and drinks before riding another 28 miles. And this would be a much tougher second leg of our day, as we'd be in the wide open and sunny desert and would have quite an ascent to Chiriaco Summit.

As we rested, I captured various photos of the truck stop. I love the third photo. Why? You guessed it! Those enchanting palm trees behind the CAT Certified Scales area. :)

Interstate 10 California

Interstate 10 California

Cycling On Interstate 10

Soon we joined traffic on Interstate 10. Of course, we stayed on the shoulder.

Because this topic is discussed a lot, I'll note that it is indeed lawful to ride bicycles on this portion of Interstate 10. As a general rule in the western states, particularly in rural areas, bikes are allowed on Interstate highways when there is no reasonable alternative route from Point A to Point B.

If you're unsure if cycling on an Interstate highway is lawful in your area, I encourage you to contact law enforcement or the local cycling community.

Interstate 10 California When I saw this humongous road sign, I had to stop. I even took a picture with my cell phone and tweeted it on Twitter. "Phoenix, here I come!" was the caption. :)
Interstae 10 California

San Jacinto Mountains, CA

Brian spent time starting his helmet camera, and so I began ahead of him. Traveling east from Coachella, the road's grade soon becomes an ascent. Adjacent are two photos I took as I looked back.

TOP: Notice the rumble strip. Believe it or not, I actually felt more safe on this highway than I did on busy main avenues in towns like Corona, Beaumont and Palm Springs. With a car's length shoulder, I also had the added assurance that a driver would be alerted by the rumble strip if it came close to me. There is more to say about cycling on an Interstate that I will discuss on tomorrow's ride (Day 4), when we'd bike nearly 70 miles from Chiriaco Summit to Blythe, CA.

SECOND: A nice zoom-in shot of the towering San Jacinto Mountains. The vast desert valley comprising of Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indio and other towns sat at the base.

Interstate 10 California The uphill was grueling. We climbed ... and climbed ... and climbed ...

Surely if you are a cyclist and live in this area, then you know what an excellent workout riding I-10 east of Indio / Coachella is!

Interstate 10 California

Interstate 10 California

TOP: I kept snapping photos of the desert and mountain scenery while on the bike.

SECOND: I think this picture was taken inadvertently, but it's a good one of two trucks passing us. All drivers who passed us on this ride were courteous.

Cactus City Rest Area It's hard to estimate, but I think after about 10 to 12 miles, the worst of the uphill was finally over. It was then we spotted a rest area that was closed ... to vehicular traffic. That's one good thing about bikes; we were able to ride into the rest area to get some shade, sit on a bench and do whatever. :)
I thought this sign describing the three different types of deserts in the western states was interesting. As with any of these images, you can click it to view it at a larger size.
Mecca Twentynine Palms, CA An exit for Mecca and Twentynine Palms.
Chiriaco Summit, CA

Chiriaco Summit, California

Chiriaco Summit

The final five miles were a mild ascent to Chiriaco Summit. Maybe it was adreniline or a "second wind" from being elated to be almost done, but I began to pedal hard and moved quickly. I whizzed past Brian and charged up the hill for the final two miles. My speed and toughness impressed me!

Richard Davidian On the off ramp was a gentleman who was there to greet, support and be a huge help to Brian and me in the next 24 hours.

Richard Davidian

Let me introduce Richard Davidian. I met Richard soon after joining Twitter two years ago. He is avid hiker, mountain climber and outdoorsman with a blog (www.freeoutdoors.com/blog) about hiking safety and backpacking. When Richard, who lives in San Bernadino County (not far), learned that I would be riding through southern California, he stated he would like to help in any way he could.

Richard's Twitter page is: twitter.com/rdavidian.

Richard and Steve

Biking Brian and Richard

It was so good to meet Richard in person. From reading his blog entries and tweets, I knew he would be the type of guy who would be enthusiastic and supportive of my cross-country tour.

As Brian was about to place the bike in the back of Richard's van, I made them pose. Ha ha! Just remember, if you go cycling with me on a long distance tour, you will be photographed frequently! :)

How Richard Helped Us Greatly

Richard helped in numerous ways, but there was one key job he performed that gives him major recogniton. As Brian and I planned our route across California, we faced a dilemna in what our destination would be for Day 3.

As a rule, we stayed in motels each night and did not camp. That meant we had to stay in a town that had lodging. Past Indio, the closest lodging on our route was 90+ miles in Blythe, CA. Of course, today we could have stopped in Indio after cycling only 30 miles, but that would have felt lame. If we did stay in Indio, we could have sucked it up and gone 90 miles on Day 4, but we didn't like the idea of all that mileage on a short February day, plus the steep Chiriaco Summit climb to start.

Thus, we hoped to get a shuttle, and that's where Richard came in. Richard agreed to drive to Chiriaco Summit and transport us back to Palm Springs where we'd all stay the night. Then on the next morning, Richard would drive us back to Chiriaco Summit to begin our ride. His willingness to drive made our Day 4 ride much more manageable. Thank you Richard!

Chiriaco Summit, CA

Chiriaco Family

By the way, there are services at Chiriaco Summit. A gas station, cafe, gift shop, convenience store and post office are some of the facilities. Also, Brian stated that there was some kind of campground without potable water. Thus, a cyclist on a long distance tour could conceivably stay there. I do not know the details about this, but if you are researching this matter, contact the folks at Chiriaco Summit directly. Their website is www.chiriacosummit.com.

Included is a plaque about the Chiriaco family.

Snacks Before transporting us back to Palm Springs, Richard suggested we take our time and do a drive through Joshua Tree National Park. Yippee! I was secretly hoping Richard might make that suggestion, as I knew he is a lover of national parks! ;)

Richard drove, Brian sat in the passenger seat and I sat in the back ... next to a box of goodies, snacks and two Pepsis! Yes, Richard had generously brought various foods from his home and had them ready for us. My goodness, I was so happy! I quickly drank the cold, refreshing 20-ounce Pepsi and gave the other to Brian. Then I ate a Special K protein meal bar, a Reese's peanut butter cup and one of those gooey energy gels by Clif Bar. Soon after, I ate another Special K bar and a few Wheat Thins. Perhaps my no food morals were kicking in!

Adjacent is a photo of the spread of food. As you can see, it was long after I drank the Pepsi. :)

Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Joshua Tree National Park

We drove on the main road through the national park and stopped two times, once at a large cholla field, another at a campground with large rock outcroppings. It was strange ... we saw hardly any joshua trees.

I don't want to sound too critical, but we saw so many more joshua trees in and around the towns of Twentynine Palms, CA and Joshua Tree, CA than in this national park. Odd.

But it didn't matter, it was so good to be hanging out with Richard. And I have much love and admiration for the desert. Western scenery, with its wide open spaces and seemingly wild terrain, is something that always captivates me. I feel at peace here.

Panda Express Eventually we returned to Palm Springs to stay for the night.

For dinner, we ate at Panda Express. I love this place so much!

We all stayed at a low-end motel in Palm Springs, Richard in his own room and Brian and I shared a double.

Later in the evening, I performed my evening ritual of hand washing my cycling shirts and socks in the motel sink and letting them dry somewhere.

ADDENDUM: I invite you to read my book about my first trip in 2008.

Photo Above: Here's a good technology comparison. On the left, is my humble LG Dare cell phone. That was my only piece of technology with me. (I don't count cameras.) On the right was Brian's helmet cam, smart phone, iPad and portable keyboard. During this trip, I did not have Internet access unless I was in front of a computer. I could only update my Twitter or Facebook page with a one-way text message, and was unable to interact with others via replies.

One more very generous thing Brian did for me: He allowed me to use his iPad, so I could reply to people on Twitter and even upload a few pictures on my Facebook page. Thanks again Brian! :)

Like my cycling journal? Let's connect on Facebook ...

All footage from Brian's helmet cam. Sure, it's boring to watch, but it brings back fond memories. :)

The truck stop in Coachella and entering Interstate 10

I ride ahead. Brian catches up to me at 6:30.

36 more minutes of riding. Much of the climb.

Brian's helmet cam faced back as we approached Chiriaco Summit. Pretty desert.

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