Departure 6:35 a.m.
Arrival: 5:30 p.m.
Weather: Bright blue skies, HOT
Temp in the desert: 110
Temp in El Centro 103, real feel 105
Sleep evaded me the night before we left. Too full of excitement and anxiety. Must have awakened ever 1-2 hours and finally gave into wakefulness at 5:00 a.m.
Breakfast in the parking lot. Lots of good eats--coffee, tea, oatmeal, toasted bagels, fruit, soy milk, etc.
Today promised to be long and challenging what with 126 miles and 7,400 feet of climbing plus the desert heat. The first 20 miles got us out of San Diego; being a Sunday morning we didn't have much competition.
As for the climbing, well first of all, we have no hills in Chicago. But if you travel to Wisconsin to ride the hills, you'll find lots of glacial steep, but VERY short hills. Out here, in the west, hills mean 1-6 miles of slow, steady climbing with a grade of 3-6%. And so it went till lunch at mile 75 at which point we had climbed 6,600 feet and had passed the Tecate Divide whose elevation was 3,890.
After lunch we hopped onto I-8 for a rapid, 10 mile, 6% grade descent with dangerous cross winds and rumble strips along the endge of the road to wake up drivers (and truckers) that they had veered too far to the curb; it rattled our fillings letting us know we had veered too close to the road. Most cyclists love the adrenalin rush of the downhills speed; I'm not a fan of downhills.
There was a much-welcomed rest stop at the bottom of the descent at mile 92 and would be the last we'd see till mile 115. In between 92 and 115 was nothing but a moonscape of lonesome desert. Stopping to cool off was not an option. There were only a few scraggles of desert brush and lots of rocks. I had high hopes for a little AC at the 115 stop, but what was there was an abandoned cafe that had a poch roof and cement floor. Shade and lots of ice brought me back to life for the final 11 miles into El Centro.
A number of folks really struggled with the heat (we have a couple of riders from Alaska and one from England. 110's are not in their world of experiences), but everyone was glad to get day one under our belt.