|Ride time (hours)
|Ride time (hours)
Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
In search of breakfast I go back through the gauntlet of slot machines already with customers drinking, smoking, and gambling at 9am. I wonder if these people always do this or if it is just some debauchery that they permit themselves when on vacation. Breakfast is good at any rate, finished way too fast.
I head out of town back to the turnoff for Titus Canyon that I passed yesterday. The road is gravel and sand, in pretty good shape as far as gravel roads go. The ranger at Furnace Creek told me they graded it about a month ago. At times it's hot, at others cool when there are passing clouds overhead.
After crossing a long plain I begin to climb... then bang! the back tube pops. I take the wheel off to find that it's that gash I got in the tire way back in Mexico, it has finally warn all the way through. This tire is toast. I put the folding Dureme that I took off the front last week onto the back. Now I've got no spare other than the one with the gash, this makes getting a new tire fairly urgent if I keep riding unpaved roads. I suspect that the Dureme won't hold up too much longer.
I continue up the climb through the mountains. The dirt turns red, they call this pass "Red Pass", and it tops out at 5,200 feet. Not too difficult but it takes some work. Then the descent starts. It seems like there is more loose gravel on this side, making the downward progress slow and tricky. I drop the bike a few times when I hit the really thick stuff.
A thunderstorm appears above the mountains to the northeast. At first I think I'm going to escape it because I'm riding into a west wind but the air currents upstairs are traveling in a different direction.
The thunderstorm catches up with me in Titus Canyon. Rain at first, then hail. Hail is rather painful on a bicycle so I find a little cave in the wall of a wash to wait it out. It doesn't last too long.
The road gets really narrow towards the end, with the walls of the canyon shooting straight up on either side almost like a slot canyon. A nice ride. Then the canyon spits me right out into Death Valley in dramatic fashion. I can see rain off in the distance on the western side of the valley. I hit pavement a couple of miles later, it's late and I don't see anywhere to camp. I could go north into the wind towards Scotty's Castle but surely that will take forever. I opt to go south towards some scrub trees that I can see from here. 3 miles later I roll the bike off the road to the dunes. A half mile of bouncing and I'm there to set up camp on the leeward side of a big dune.
I fiddle with the stove until it starts running fairly well. I'm burning unleaded that I picked up in Beatty, I'm not paying the exorbitant price they wanted for white gas. The stove is tougher to regulate with gasoline though... I much prefer white gas. Dinner is huge and delicious. After I set about fixing some stuff: the back rack practically rattled itself off today. All the bolts need tightening. I tape up my broken toothbrush (not sure how I managed to break that), then I'm ready for bed.
The wind is ripping again tonight but I don't see any loose sand around. Probably already blew down to the south end of the valley where I stayed the first night. Hopefully I will be spared from a sandstorm.