Friday, November 26, 2010


The Unendearing Motel Patio
Bridge over Devil's Canyon
Old Highway Cafe

11/24/10 Wednesday We could hear the wind outside our room the moment we opened our eyes. It sounded strong enough to snap a kite string. Since our motel hadn't endeared itself to us, we pumped up our tires, loaded the bikes, and walked through the gravel RV lot to the Old Highway Cafe for breakfast. The owner, Ed, told us the wind would mellow out in about 3 hours. Later we learned Ed isn't always right about everything. It took us one hour to bike the first 4 miles. The wind app on the iphone registered 32 mph in a nanosecond. We left Hwy 98 to merge onto Interstate 8 where we encountered 2 high bridges with no shoulders that spanned deep canyons. The wind was so strong that we had to walk our bikes across by hugging the railing. Since leaving Brawley yesterday, which lies slightly below sea level, we found ourselves today in the midst of climbing to an elevation of 3200 ft., before dropping 200 ft to the town of Jacumba (pop 400) where we had booked a room at the Jacumba Hot Springs Spa Lodge. (The word "spa" immediately grabbed Ann's attention) We rode past signs suggesting that cars turn off their air conditioners and several locations providing radiator water. Both were good indicators of the steepness of the mountain. As we gained altitude, the wind gained strength. At 2000 ft, we began feeling some spritzes of cold rain and winds so powerful that we could not stay upright on our bikes, let alone maintain any forward momentum. So we put our heads down and pushed the loaded bicycles until reaching a temporary lull behind a hillside when we would then ride some more. At 3000 ft, the wind became fierce, forcing us to walk almost as much as we were riding. We managed a total of 13 miles in 4 hours before exiting I-8. We saw a huge lot advertising truck tires and a towing service. We pulled in and met Charlie. He came out of his trailer to greet us by shouting over the wind, "You people must be crazy". He offered to drive us the remaining 6 miles to Jacumba as soon as a customer arrived to pick up some tires. As we sat in his shop trying to warm up and get acquainted, a radio weather report, informed us we had been battling winds that reached 55 mph. Thank you Charlie for that short ride! After a hot shower, we hooked up once again with Sue & Ken Yerex. We had last seen this Canadian couple in Wickenburg Az. It was great to see them again and we traded wind horror stories that we have all encountered since entering California. The Jacumba Lodge is an old rambling complex that has a mineral spring which people have utilized for medicinal purposes since the 1920's - much earlier for Native Americans. The Lodge is only 1/4 mile from the gigantic steel fence that separates the U.S. from Mexico. We saw Border Patrol vehicles and helicopters patrolling nearby. We felt comfortable at this old lodge located in this tiny mountain town and were elated to be out of the cold wind. Until today, the strongest headwind we had encountered was in North Dakota when we biked the Northern Tier. Today, the wind that roared down the Jacumba Mountains, headed for the Imperial Valley, certainly trumped our N.D. experience.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Wow! It seems like y'all are really having to work hard to earn that left coast! .

Great photos (the progression of altitude signs was clever), and hair-raising story!