At 5.30 am we started to get ready, wanting to maximise our time riding in the cool. Guess what? Janet’s rear tyre was flat! another slow puncture, a quick reinflate (and deal with the leak later).
Wayne was up and around so goodbyes were said again then we were off in the dim glow of the morning sun (actually using our bike lights for the first time).
The route started through fields of Alfalfa and Cotton all set out in perfect squares (very big squares though), a little bit of zig zagging saw us rejoin the main street through Blythe, stopping on this until turning south on Highway 78 where the well irrigated fields of Alfalfa and Cotton continued.
22 miles later and we arrived in Palo Verde (population 173), only climbing 36 ft ! Here a gas station supplied (I say supplied I mean we purchased) a cool drink. The temperature was still a remarkably low 23°C mainly due to the cloudy skies, the first clouds we have seen in a couple of weeks. Long may it continue.
It was here we met Jim and his amazing car, he was trying to push start it without success, what is amazing was it did actually run.
On we went passing the two possible camping spots, we ignored these and carried on. Very soon we started to encounted ups and downs and lost sight of any water. In the space of a mile the sides of the road began to look like a lunar landscape (or Simon’s allotment), very stoney and limited plant life.
Around this time we lost any real shoulder and the real rollercoaster road started, always going uphill with some steep sections. “A steep road what is this?” our legs said. Here you needed to take care, listening for traffic as some drivers think sounding their car horn then driving past as if you are not there is the correct way to go past a cyclist. With RV drivers the worst (boooooo) and Truck (lorry) drivers the best (horah).
Continuing up through the almost barren land, we climbed around 800 ft to a maximum height of 1000 ft. Passing through an immigration checkpoint (if you ask they have water here as well), as we are very close to the border with Mexico here.
A big bonus for us here was the roadworks, car drivers has to wait a long time to be escorted through a single lane of road, as cyclists we were just waved through and had a nice section almost traffic free. There were some lovely small cacti growing here.
The Imperial Sand Dunes came into view now and very soon the Glamis Beach Store. At 63.5 miles and 2.30 pm we stopped for a well earned cold drink and sandwich (very poor indeed, not recommended, the sandwich that is).
So Janet ever the keen cyclist wanted to continue on to Brawley (we could have camped at Glamis down the wash road just before the railway line) to take full advantage of the low temperature and light winds (there can be massive dust storms here in high winds). So off we went.
The sand dunes themselves were beautiful, not at all like ones next to the sea but real desert ones.
We continued to drop height down to a low of 149 ft below sea level. Then a final very straight road where we rejoined alfalfa farms again and plenty of surface water (irrigation canals). Plus a very dark sky which ,… wait for it gave us rain and we got a little wet! There was even thunder and lightning.
Passing a massive intensive cattle farm which did not look to be a nice place particularly if you are bovine.
At 91 miles a shocking distance for us to cycle in one day I know, we booked in to the Townhouse Inn Brawley. It was nice and clean and quite central surrounded by as many fast food restaurants as your arteries could bear.
Food the sleep occured rapidly.