Through the valley of the wind

Day 40: Palm Springs to San Bernardino

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Now today was the quintessential ride, a perfect way to end the tour! Yes, this was my last long ride of this trip, nearly 70 miles, and quite a hoot – descending for dozens of miles from Palm Springs to San Bernardino. The route passes through Redlands, another place in my family legacy where my grandfather served as President of Redlands University. Hey, that street isn’t really named after him, is it? Then I would catch the train down to San Juan Capistrano to spend a couple more days on the beach.

I got a very late start, nearly 10:30, when I’ve typically been up and on the road before 8am. I guess I wanted to tease this out, savor the moment. I found I was taking more care packing my panniers, reflecting on the many days I’d just crammed everything in the bags to rush on down the road. But not today. Slowing it down.

My route from the campground in Desert Hot Springs followed Dillon Road, allowing me time to stop and gawk at the wind farms up close. These are enormous machines. Blades rotating slowly, the turbines are graceful, stately, serene, pivoting to face into the wind. Several oversize trucks passed me carrying huge parts for new turbines. To grasp the scale of the largest turbine, look down to the bottom where there is a short staircase and access door. This is technology I am fully behind, a fine complement to my human powered travel.

The first time I saw wind power I remember being moved to tears: concrete action taken to stave off the threats of global warming and peak oil. More can and must be done, especially in the area of conservation. Cutting back on consumption, driving less, owning less, throwing away less. Another benefit of an extended bicycle tour: I am forced to examine how little I can live with for a very long time. And it isn’t very much: clothing, tent, sleeping bag, cookpot and stove. Bicycle. Me. Yeah, me.

OK, one rant for the day: I ended up riding about 20 miles of freeway to avoid the worst Google Map disaster of the trip, as I mentioned in my post riding up to Joshua Tree. I rode on Johnson Road for the last bit before Banning, and include a couple pictures to show how ridiculous Google is to call this a bicycle route. I’m going to have to write those folks!

A sweet highlight of the day: meeting Thibeau, a cyclist from France just reaching Los Angeles after riding from New York, some 3400 miles. We rode together a short while, then I went off in another Google Map direction, but ran into him later down to road.  So I pedaled with him over to Foothills Drive in San Bernardino to catch a picture with the classic Route 66 road sign. It was a inspiring to make a connection with another international traveler who understands the quest of the bicycle tour. Perhaps we will meet again this weekend in LA, or over in Europe in a year or two!

The last surprise of the day was that the park at Dana Point I intended to camp in was closed for the season. Being very tired, I decided to “bush camp” anyway and then travel further south tomorrow to a San Diego hostel. Another chilly night, but I slept well, deeply satisfied by the day’s ride.

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