Grit your teeth

Our camp cat was sorry to see us go but we had a big plug of tobacco to chew and getting out early was going to be the key to not choking on the ninety miles of spit.

The night before there had been some excitement in the women’s restroom; Kristie went in to charge the auxiliary battery and came right back, flustered.

“What’s wrong?”

“There’s a guy in there.”

“The women’s room? What’s he doing?”

“Seems to involve his hand.”

“Want me to call 911?”

“No but I think we can make it another day without the battery.”

We started riding and it was bad. Usually those first few miles are the best you are gonna feel the whole day and we both felt like shit. Our legs were fried from the day before, we were still dehydrated, and most of all we didn’t yet have tent fitness.

Tent fitness is what allows you to lie in cramped quarters on the ground zipped up in a baggie and not wake up the next day feeling like you got massaged with a pipe. Note: old people basically never get tent fitness, ergo hotel, RV, or short trips, because by day five in the tent you will be crippled.

Ten miles in, the glow of feeling shitty had degenerated into a crosswind. We started the rotation that would last for about nine hours. In Glamis we had ice cream, Gatorade, and coffee while we interfaced with the dirt bunnies. Glamis is on the ass-end of a massive series of sand dunes, which in turn are magnets for alcohols and the RVs that carry them. The most amazing thing we saw at the alcohols gathering point was a pair of RVs providing IV Hydration Services. Not sure how three bottles of tequila followed by four hours in a dune buggy could dehydrate you, but.

With an ugly sixty miles left on the menu, the wind kicked up just in time for about forty miles of punishing rollers that looked like ocean swells, as soon as you crested one wall there was another, and another, and another. It never got much above 80 but we dried out like rice crackers. At eleven we passed a Border Patrol checkpoint.

“US citizens?”

“Yes, but about to become naturalized dead people. Any chance we could eat our lunch under that overhang and get some water?”

“Of course!” They accommodated us and one of the officers showed us photos of his friend who had ridden cross-country.

“Yeah, he and a high school buddy promised to do it one day, then the buddy got in a car wreck and became a quadriplegic so my friend rigged up a trailer and they did the ride anyway.” The pictures were as moving as the story.

At Palo Verde we were delirious and still had twenty windy miles to go. There was a public concrete shitter with a “Closed for Covid” sign which seemed ambiguous. Next to it was a “No Dumping” sign, which made no sense as you couldn’t really dump if the toilet was locked.

We stopped because the back was shaded and the cool concrete looked inviting, which tells you how fucked over you are when a closed public toilet surrounded by stinking garbage looks like a great snack spot.

By the time we got to Blythe we were annihilated, but our host was a few miles north of town, at the B&B Bait Shop. Andrea ushered us onto the plush lawn, where we met Lucy, Andrea’s rescue goose, and Tonto the Wonder Dog.

Robin, who owns the bait shop, came up. “I ordered you guys a large Domino’s if that’s okay?”

“Of course and thank you!” I reached for my wallet.

“Dinner’s on me. And help yourself to the beer or whatever you want to drink.”

They have been hosting cyclists for free for years. “We just like to do it,” he said. “Where did you come from today?”


His eyebrows arched. “Brawley?”

“Yes, sir.”

“We’ve had countless cyclists come through here over the years. But you’re the first to make that in a day.”

I looked at Kristie. Kristie looked at me. We grinned.


9 thoughts on “Grit your teeth”

  1. Never seen that part of the country. Looks like magnificent desolation! I’ll bet the night sky is pretty, too!

  2. I can’t even imagine doing that on a bike. Do you have any idea how lucky you are to have found someone that would share your psychosis?

      1. I found one similar, so I felt the freedom to speak. Sometimes you walk away from the plane crash.

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