One Last Push

Date: April 11th, 2017

From/To: Barstow, CA/Claremont, CA

Daily Mileage: 90 miles

Total Mileage: 2540 miles

Conditions: Sunshine and headwinds around 8-10 mph.

Make no mistake, I’ll continue on after reaching the Pacific Ocean tomorrow. It’ll be different however, much different. The pressure will be off my back, the worries about making the crossing will suddenly be an accomplishment rather than an objective. I’m sure I’ll find a greater sense of peace and a lesser sense of urgency, I can only imagine for now. I need not rush the time, it’ll be here soon enough.

Today brought resistance in many forms, it did not matter. The wind seemed to find me anywhere I went, pushing me back with all its might, it did not matter. I faced more mountains along the way, their intimidating presence seemingly hundreds of miles away from me, it did not matter. My original route ended up changing several times, sending me backwards at certain points, adding on time and energy loss to an already long distance ride, it did not matter. My legs fired like synchronized pistons, there was nothing that could stop me. I thought back to the first few days of my trek, days that now felt centuries ago. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I can now back then. I didn’t have the right mindset or knowledge of the roads that I do now. It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come from there. Throughout the entirety of this cross country trip I’ve imagined reaching the ocean, down to the finest details: What I’d see, what I’d say, how I’d feel, etc. It’s gotten me through some of my tougher days, many of which I’d considered giving up. I still had to get through today, and that wasn’t as easy as I thought the second to last day would or should be.

FullSizeRender 61
Todays trek from Barstow, CA to Claremont, CA.

I woke up around 7AM, having a quick breakfast before heading out around 8AM. I knew it was a long day but I also wanted to get there. I was shooting for somewhere in San Bernardino, I had no idea where yet. I just needed to find a place within shooting distance of Santa Monica Beach for the following day. When I looked at the route I noticed the bike route differed significantly from the driving route. The bike route would take me down dirt roads, an indisputable NO, something I’ve learned throughout this trip. The driving route would take me on a straight shot via Interstate 15 South, the “technically” illegal option. The rule goes that bikers are not allowed on any interstate roads unless it’s the only way through, in this case I was going to make that argument if I needed, and I did end up needing to. I’ve been riding on the interstate for the last two days and I’ve had no encounters with law enforcement, I even saw highway patrollers drive by me. Today I ran out of luck, but not really. I left Barstow and made it about 20 miles before I heard a loud speaker behind me asking me to stop, it was a police officer. He got out of his car with an odd grin on his face, I wasn’t sure why he was smiling at me but I figured he was playing nice cop. “I know why you’re here” I shouted over the loud roar of cars and trucks flying by. He laughed and asked me why that was, I then explained the law I was breaking and tried to justify why. He didn’t seem to have a problem, but he did tell me to take service roads if they run parallel along the interstate. “You could get arrested, you know.” I was a little shocked he said that but I appreciated the warning. He looked at my I.D., asking if he’d find a criminal record or any outstanding warrants for my arrest. I’ve gotten the “You’re not a drifter are you?” from strangers, but it was a lot more intimidating when a cop asked. I’m not even sure why, I’ve done nothing wrong. “Watch out for the No Pedestrians, Bicycles, or Motorized Bike signs and stay off when you see them.” “Yessir.” I was back on my way as he sped off down the interstate. I took the next ramp off the thruway to check for that sign, of course I saw one. I considered taking the backroads remembering that he said I could get arrested for ignoring it. I looked down the gravel road, turning to dirt soon after. It was heading perpendicular from the thruway as far as my eyes could see. I decided to continue down the interstate, hoping I wouldn’t be stopped again. As I reached a highpoint along the road I saw a black dot on the shoulder about five miles down the road. I was worried it was the highway patroller that just pulled me over. I thought about turning back before it was too late, but I carried on. I got closer and closer to that dot, debating whether it was a broken down car, highway patroller, or something else. I finally got to it and saw to my dismay the words “Highway Patrol” written on the back of the car. Just my luck. I figured he was waiting to see if I’d listened to him and gotten off the interstate, ready to exercise his duties as a highway patrolman if otherwise. I neared the vehicle and got off my bike, rehearsing my explanation. I walked up to the window and saw he was talking on the phone, completely unaware that I was even approaching. I knocked on the window to start to conversation, hoping that would help. “I’m sorry, I saw the sign that said no biking but I couldn’t take the dirt roads back there.” I then told him about my experience in southeastern Colorado. He seemed to understand my argument and decided that he’d let me off. He warned me that his word was just that, and he couldn’t defend me against other patrolmen that may choose to arrest me. I started off relieved by his easygoingness and continued towards San Bernardino. That encounnter had distracted me from the persisting headwinds for a good while, but now I was back to battling the wind and chasing mountains that never seemed to move any closer.

IMG_1844
The mountains I thought I would never cross.
IMG_4916
Upon reaching the Cajon Summit at 4,260 feet. This point started a long awaited descent that will take me all the way to sea level.
IMG_5683
Getting closer to LA.

The first two-thirds of the ride were uphill, but after reaching Cajon Pass, I had a steep, then gradual downhill ride down to Claremont. It was the first real sign that I’m nearing the Pacific, a well needed sign. I made it to Claremont around 3:30PM.

IMG_8592
Once I made my way around the mountains, I took the Pacific Electric Bike Path almost entirely to my hotel. It was a smooth ride through many nice towns and suburbs on the outskirts of San Bernardino.
IMG_2908
Here’s a shot of the mountains I’d biked around today, from the other side. I never throughout I would get here earlier on in the day. It’s not until you’re right along side the mountains that they move fast. For a strong majority of the time they appear never to move closer. That’s something I learned when I was nearing the Rockies. 

I found the only hotel in town. I booked the last room right before another customer came in to ask for availability. After a shower I explored around Claremont Village, a really nice part of town. I found a pizza place to have dinner before heading back to my room to relax for the rest of the night. Tomorrow’s a big day, a long awaited one. I’ll need all the energy I can muster up.

Enjoy The Ride,

-Matt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s