Chris recently rode Death Valley solo after his friend bailed on the ride. He lives and rides in NYC and is a strong supporter of Terry saddles. Here’s his perspective on his ride through some of the harshest conditions in the world.
Watch out for the desert people…
Desert people? Who are these desert people? Where do they live? Watch out for? Serious advice from unconnected individuals in LA., seemingly well meaning.
I live and ride everyday in Manhattan, I must have seen everything by now.
No advice on what they look like, how to protect yourself, just watch out.We all know it’s fairly straightforward to ride the desert. Make sure you have enough water, sunscreen, food, bars, clothing, tubes.
Check the wind forecast the night before against your route. Bring your extra battery.
Have you noticed that every image that comes in your eyes is new when exploring new places on your bicycle?
You can watch your mind label new things.
Yoga class they are always focused on watching the breath, as it is a barometer of mentally stability in a difficult asana.
Riding isolated areas long distance solo is a meditation.
It gives us an opportunity to observe the mind and naturally allows concentration to rest on the breath. Exactly the Shamata meditation progression, the basic building block of many meditative traditions.
Maybe the new meditation retreats will be long bicycle adventures through isolated sections of the landscape, instead of sitting all day on a cushion in an old cold drafty monastery, I’ll sit on my Terry Century saddle.
Start in Santa Monica, where riders looked like greyhounds, beautiful animals perched and balanced.
City riding in California involves long red lights versus NYC. Plenty of fun pink and blue hair.
I encountered a desert person riding into Barstow. A lone male walking against traffic (no cars to the horizon) who lunged at me while I rode by. His intentions were not friendly. I understood now.
The Mojave scenery is austere, quiet, brightly colored, spacious, and ever changing, even jaw dropping at times.
The mid April air is a pungent bloom of the wildflowers, something people in an 80 mph car probably miss.
Strangely, zero friendly waves from passing cars, perhaps because no one is riding these roads. I’m just a weirdo, all alone in the middle of nowhere. Everything you would expect. Pavement is generally perfect.
The desert starts in Kramer Junction CA. and continues. Wind became important. Traffic disappears. You can hear a car from half a mile away.
Riding towards and into Death Valley from the CA side is visually stunning, invoking both big climbs and incredible descents.
Think spun out for 20 miles. Travel light, stay in motels, and make the big climbs. The views and sense of accomplishment are worth it.
Coming into Death Valley over Towne Pass is a 5000 foot climb at 9 percent. Hundreds of caterpillars and butterflies makes you look like a drunken sailor weaving slowly around the local inhabitants. Summit temp in April is 42 degrees. Eyes forward, it’s 17 miles downhill to Stovepipe Wells from the Summit of Towne pass.
And into Death Valley. Where the temps are 50 degrees warmer than the summits. It’s the only place you can be still shivering while looking at the thermometer saying 90.
Leaving Death Valley is a 3 hour climb from -190 below sea level to 4000 feet above, and a smooth quiet road headed toward Death Valley Junction. The temps drop quickly as you climb, which is a natural air conditioning effect.
As you crest the summit and leave Death Valley you see hundreds of miles in every direction. Snow capped peaks, valley floors, stretching 50 miles across.
The desolate scenery is the prized possession of this ride are the areas close to Death Valley are the place to remember. You are riding without a net.
I ride Terry saddles exclusively, both in NYC (Raven) and on long road rides (Century). They are tested and durable. They are comfortable and designed to keep going when your friends bail on a ride.
Hi Chris! Inspired (to not bail) on the goal for a ride through the desert. The reward is the ‘desolation’ that many are inclined to escape at 80mph, missing the serenity.
I’m on a liberator saddle now and have been eyeing the Century. It’s time has come…
Chris Cady says
Hi Mary, You will be surprised at the amount of wildlife that you can sneak up on in the desert. Be respectful of the no cell service and long distance between water. It’s super different than a day at work