We had left Calexico in tatters, rather we left the Carl’s Jr. in tatters. I had never eaten there before because of the owners’ well known racism and anti-semitism.
But ravenously hungry and heat stroking, so I hit the pause button on my principles. And … that was an excellent burger.
It was an 85-mile day that turned into a hundred but the morning was chilly with a few miles of climbing that became a wondrous downhill tailwind well past Ocotillo. Then it started getting hot and the wind shifted and we hit on the brilliant idea of rotating.
Drafting works. Who knew?
But the heat and wind worked, too, and by Calexico we were dead. With only thirty miles to reach our campground we felt good. Outside Calexico there was a food distribution center with at least a hundred cars in line.
I believe in government. I believe that people should get help regardless of need. I believe in healthcare and a safety net for all who want it. I believe in a minimum annual income even if you never work.
More than 2/3 of the cars in that line were new. Some were expensive German sedans. Most were what I would peg at a $500-$600 monthly payment. Which is fine, I suppose. If you are going to get free food, might as well do it in style. What bothered me wasn’t the obviously misplaced priority but rather the obvious concern with status. If you had a used car or paid in full, maybe you would have enough to buy things like … food.
When you bike around all smelly and raggedy, you don’t care so much about status. At the Circle K in Brawley I met Pancho, who was riding a nuked out Kona.
“You ride a lot,” I observed.
“Yeah, my car is busted. But my bike don’t never break.”
“Bikes are reliable.”
“Damn right. And I love to smoke so this keeps my lungs in shape.”
“Yeah, man, I got a trailer I put my lawnmower and trimmer, gas can, everything, it weighs about a hundred fifty pounds but I can go anywhere man and smoke as much I want.”
“You got a spare tube for when you flat?”
“No man, they cost so much now I just patch what I got.”
“This is good for at least one.” I handed him a ten.
“No, man, I’m good, but thanks.”
I put it away. “Well heck man,” he said, “maybe I shoulda taken the money. I handed it to him. “That’s nice of you, man.”
“I got a friend gave me some bills before we left, and he just told me to pass it on.”
We took a picture and kept riding, but missed the turnoff and ended up tacking on another ten miles or so. At Wiest Lake the ranger told us we couldn’t camp, but I had called the Public Works Department the day before and they had given me the green light. The ranger relented due to our pitiful condition and we pitched camp. Turns out we also had a camp cat, which was amazing.
He wanted food but settled for petting.
We were more demanding, requiring food, water, and immediate collapse. Tomorrow is another 85 miles to Blythe, then a rest day. Which we sorely need.