Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Day #8: The Rim of the World

Today's Route: Big Bear Lake, CA to somewhere-in-the-middle-of-the-desert-five-miles-east-of-Wrightwood, CA (57 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 366

Our stay last night at the Big Bear Lake Travelodge included a continental breakfast, which was to begin at 7 am. Alex and I had the bikes packed up and were waiting outside the motel lobby a few minutes prior. At 7:03 am, a car comes screeching into the parking lot. A woman exits the car and runs to the lobby, frantically unlocking the lobby door. Our continental breakfast was ready about ten minutes later.

As I was milking my Raisin Bran and cream cheesing my bagel, I looked down at the base of the counter and saw a mousetrap. Oh wait, that mouse trap ain't empty!

Very appetizing!

Our ride out of Big Bear Lake this morning was via The Rim of the World Highway.

A most delicious ride!

I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this section of the route! Wide shoulders. A comfortably moderate grade climb. A few rollers for spice. And nothing but spectacular spectacularness for views!

You can see the Rim Road cutting through the mountain to the left.

For all of my desk-bound, work-enslaved friends, open Google Earth. Do it, right now! Search for Big Bear Lake, CA. Find The Rim of the World Highway (aka Route 18) leading out of town towards the west. Then zoom in and follow the road for the next ten miles or so. 'Tis gorgeous, eh?

A view from the Rim Road, with Big Bear Lake far off in the distance.

There have been many "Rock Slide" signs along our route. The fallen rock debris can make navigating through the shoulders a wee bit tricky. The shoulders of the Rim Road were fairly debris-free. The large piles of fallen rock debris on the side of the road suggests that the road has recently been sweeped.

This pile of rock debris is about 10 ft high and 30 ft across.

When we pulled into Crestline, we stopped to ask a gentleman on the side of the road for directions to a grocery store. He pointed to a small market just across the street. The guy, John, mentioned that he was new to town; he had just purchased a property in the area. His primary home is in Tahoe. We mentioned that we'd be biking through Tahoe in early June, and he invited us to come sailing out on his boat. We hadn't even mentioned that Alex is a hardcore sailor and that I like sailing, too. We'll definitely have to reach out to John when we pass through Tahoe.

We flagged down a second guy to ask for directions to a coffee shop with wifi. This gentleman drew us a lovely map of the town. As it turns out, there was a larger grocery store near the coffee shop. Great! Alas, the guy made no mention of the very steep and long downhill that we'd have to descend to get to the heart of the town.

As we rode down the steep hill, I could sense Alex's mood souring. Oh no! It was I who had pushed for the coffee shop and the larger grocery store; Alex would have settled for the smaller market.

We spotted Paradise Mountain Coffee off to the left. We ordered some drinks and did our wifi business. Then we sat outside, put up one of the umbrellas, and had our lunch before continuing on our way.

Our coffee stop in Crestline.

At the coffee shop, a guy about my age pulled out a pack of cigarettes and offered one to me. Then he said, "I bet you don't smoke. You look too healthy." You got that right, kiddo! Nonetheless, I was slightly flattered, as I don't think I've ever before been offered a cig.

After we took care of business in Crestline, we were ready to get back on the toad. The guy who drew us the map gave us the name of a road that would lead us back to our route. He warned us that it was steep, but he also said that it would save us a few miles. Holy mother almighty! He wasn't kidding about the steep part. Alex and I had to get off and push our big rigs up the hill. And it was one of those hills that kept going and going! After each turn, we saw another steep section. I thought Alex was gonna beat the heck outta me!

Eventually we arrived at a ride-friendly grade in the road. We both agreed that the steep sections were worth saving a few miles. Phew, my heck was saved! One thing I learned for certain: touring bikes are made for riding, not for pushing.

Shortly after joining up again with our route, we were stopped by a caravan of emergency vehicles at the side of the road. Apparently a van pulling a trailer of hay had caught on fire.

The van's engine had caught fire.

Passing by the scene was somewhat surreal. We were riding super slowly. The emergency crew was staring at us. And we were staring at them.

Today's ride included a few really steep sections with really tight turns. I'm sure I must have burned through at least half of my brake pads. Heck, I'm somewhat surprised that my brake pads didn't spontaneously combust.

But then we were spit out onto a most glorious road along Silverwood Lake. It was flat. And straight. And slightly downhill. And scenic. Alex was throwing kisses at the road, and it was then that I knew that Alex's sour mood had sweetened.

Tomorrow's ride starts off with more than 4,500 ft of climbing in about 22 miles. So, we decided that we should try and tackle some of that elevation gain this afternoon. We biked about 4.5 of the miles, in a scorching 93 degrees. Wow, we have experienced major temperature swings on this trip!

We spotted a potential stealth camping site off the side of the road. We pulled our bikes behind the desert brush and scouted around a bit until we found two somewhat clear and somewhat flat sections for our tents.

My tent, with a little cactus garden out front.

My shadow, admiring my front yard flowers.

Given that we're stealth camping out in the middle of the desert tonight, it made sense to fill up The Boob so that we had ample water.

The Boob.

This is The Boob's first use on this trip. The Boob, of course, is my MSR 7-liter dromedary. The Boob was given its name by my biking buddy, Andy, on our tour around the Selkirk Mountains three years ago. He thought my dromedary, strapped to the back of my rack, looked like...well...a boob.

A mouse, Rim Road, a souring mood turned sweet, stealthing in the desert, and The Boob. My oh my, what a day!


  1. Your story about the cigarettes reminded me my child hood story. When I was a kid, in holidays when people visit friends, family and cigarettes would be offered as a gesture as if you are offering candy to a kid...And in fact, some kids would even get a few cigarettes. No wonder, there is saying Europe that says "smoke like a turk"... Huhuu something to be proud of :)

    1. Er....stick to being proud of your tulips and your apricots. :)


I would love to hear your comments on this post!