Thanksgiving Ride Report – Google, San Diego and Single Digit Windchills

Morning Odometer: 827
Evening Odometer: 1411

I woke up late again. I’m not a morning person. Recently bought a new alarm clock, a “Screaming Meanie”. It sounds at 120db and you have to awkwardly press three buttons to disarm it, a nightmare for a chronic snoozer like me. I managed to snooze for 3 hours. Every ten minutes I would jolt up to the alarm, press the alarm between my thighs while i fumble to disarm the deafening alarm. I’m now convinced that I’m a lost snoozer and nothing will work.

I finally woke up and stumbled around my smoke stained room in my typical “F@#k I’m late” fashion and then exploded when I found that the shower didn’t work. I’m not a clean freak, but the one thing I look forward to after straddling an 10 inch wide seat for 10 hours is a long hot shower. I was too late and frustrated to have it fixed or move to another room. I suited up, packed up, and secured my luggage, all the while fantasizing about how I am going to bitch out the motel manager. I return my key and insist that I be reimbursed a portion of my room’s fee for being given faulty facilities. He didn’t budge. He’s a kind old man and I almost feel bad for laying into him, but I continue because I always back down. That’s what I do. If I get served a Rum and Coke when I asked for a Jack and Coke, I’ll usually rationalize away any action that I should take on the matter. So speaking up, let alone angrily arguing with him was a personal achievement that I was satisfied with.

The bad start to my morning faded away quickly as the reality of where I was going next sunk in. I was on my way to Google’s headquarters. :) I had no idea what to expect and I didn’t know if I would even be allowed get near the place. It was the day after Thanksgiving so the place was a ghost town. I saw about 5 people walking around the whole time I was there. I parked my bike near some Google bikes to get a picture when a security guy on a golf cart rolled up next to me. I expected to be questioned, but was greeted with a friendly “Hello.” As I rode out of the parking lot I saw some other nerds walking around taking pictures and I didn’t feel quite so weird about visiting Google, although I doubt they drove 800 miles to do so.

I was near San Francisco at this point so I got something to eat and took a ride over the Golden Gate bridge. I didn’t stop for picture but took video of the ride.

This is the farthest north I would travel. Around mid afternoon I started heading south along I-5 towards Death Valley. I was dreading hitting the expressway, but after about an hour the skies opened up and felt at ease. It was quite a contrast to the sharp cliffs claustrophobic forests of Big Surr. For hours I straddled and edge with rolling hills to my right and miles of flat land to my left. It wasn’t long before the sun was setting on my right shoulder over the hills and simultaneously the moon rose on my left shoulder over the plains. It was like a cosmic battle over Interstate 5. The moon sucked away the heat from the sun and I realized that this was just the beginning of a very cold night.

I stopped to warm up at a gas station and parked near a group of 15 or so fellow riders. I guzzled down some hot chocolate and stamped feeling back into my feet. After saying my goodbyes to another single serving friend I was on my way. I just had 200 miles to go. Basically a gas tank away, “No problem,” I repeated to reassure myself.

The wind chill was around 30 degrees, not terrible with all my gear, but not pleasant either. Then I started to ascend into some mountains. I had chosen a longer route, but one that would take me around the mountains, but I had caught the edge of them. One thousand foot elevation turned to 5000 and wind chill reached in the single digits. I felt like I could get into some serious trouble with these temperatures. It was around 11pm and I was getting a little fatigued. Speeding only causes more fatigue so I kept to the limit. I started getting numb from the cold, so I started jumping up and down to get the blood flowing. I like to call them “cycle-jacks.” The reality of the moment kicked in eventually and I started laughing hysterically at the image of some nut in the middle of the mountains jumping up and down on his motorcycle at 75mph. After I made it out of the mountains I stopped in the desert to collect myself and do some star gazing. Orion was out again and consumed the night sky. I passed through Red Rock Canyon State Park and the full moon lit up the rocks an amazing ways. The rocks had a hint of blue and purple and the jagged formations casted shadows which were equally mesmerizing. This night’s riding was the longest and coldest I had ever endured but it was one of the most enjoyable times I’ve had on two wheels.

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