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Day 5: Blythe, CA to Quartzsite, AZ

21 miles - Uber Shuttle To Blythe, CA; Cycling on Interstate 10; Quartzsite, AZ - February 13, 2017


A Route Dilemma
When it comes to route planning, I tend to like variation. This logic led me to opt for something different at Scissors Crossing, California, with us riding on the Great Southern Overland Stage Route (S2 County Road) and then traveling on the I-8 corridor to Yuma. As for Day 5, my pre-planned route would require 82 miles on Highway 95 to Quartzsite.

Yuma to Quartzsite

Well, John had been tracking the weather forecast and learned there would be a strong northerly wind for the next three days. That meant we'd have a headwind. This posed a dilemma. I wasn't sure if I had it in me to go 82 miles in a headwind so early in this trip. (As I would frequently experience on this 2017 trip, often I'd make estimates and projections based on my age 30s fitness, instead of my declining mid-40s abilities.) Also, there are no services or lodging between Yuma and Quartzsite to act as "safety towns" should we not make it.

John and I considered the possibility of continuing east on the shoulder of Interstate 8 all the way to Gila Bend, but again, services and lodging are limited, and I wasn't feeling confident about riding once more on large cracks on the shoulder or unmaintained frontage roads. It was at this point that I realized biking to Yuma may have been a mistake. Look at Yuma on a map. One's options for road biking out of town are limited: you either take Highway 95 north or Interstate 8 east. The only other options are to head south or west into Mexico.

So I slept on it. For all my whining about the "pains of getting into shape," all I wanted to do was ride my bike without the worries and hassles of bad roads, no services, or a route that was too long. It was a shame there wasn't a third route -- perhaps something that headed northeast directly towards Phoenix. From past experience, I knew that Blythe, California was a better place to ride; in fact, I had kind of wished we had biked there. From Blythe, Interstate 10 east provides a better riding experience and would take me into Quartzsite, Highway 60, and then Brenda and Salome. So here was the decision: John and I paid an uber driver to shuttle us from Yuma to Blythe. From there, we would begin Day 5 in the late morning and ride a modest 21 miles to Quartzsite.

Yes, I did feel bad. It felt like I was cheating 60 miles. I am a major purist when it comes to biking across America. Dishonesty, cutting corners, or cheating with a vehicle is unacceptable! However, I had to give myself this allowance and chalk it up as a mistake in planning. There were three factors that made me feel somewhat better about this move:

1) If we had planned to ride to Blythe, California in the first place, we could have made it with the same mileage in four days.

2) The distance we "cheated" was all to the north. I gained no distance to the Atlantic Ocean, and in fact, Blythe is a few miles west of Yuma in longitude.

3) My overall route had circuitous spots including an extra 90 miles at Florida Atlantic Coast. There would also be some towns where I'd add miles like when I'd go back and forth across town in search of a suitable motel.

Having said that, upholding my integrity is a serious matter. I swore to myself that this would never happen again, and it didn't.

Breakfast

Photos

My breakfast at Denny's was so delicious. Mmmmm!
Randall in Yuma, AZ Meet Randall, our Uber driver. He was a friendly guy who entertained us with stories about living in Yuma, the hikes in the area, and some of his outdoor adventures in the desert. He said our 104-mile trip was the second largest he has ever done with the ride-share company.

I got a shot of Randall once we arrived into Blythe and had pulled our bikes out of his minivan. He would also follow my trip updates on Facebook, which was an honor. :)

Colorado River

We hoped onto Interstate 8 and soon crossed the Colorado River.

Colorado River in Blythe, CA

Colorado River

Blythe, California

I didn't take any good photos of Blythe, but I have many memories about this town from previous trips.

For this journal, I'll post this video made by a local. It's a rap song about Blythe. Watch it! :)

Arizona State Line We crossed into Arizona again. This time, I didn't make a big deal about it.
Ehrenberg, AZ The desert scenery is just as beautiful in this part of western Arizona. Those are the Dome Rock Mountains in the distance.
Arizona Rest Area I stopped at the same rest area that I did during my 2011 and 2008 trips. I hung around hoping to strike a friendly conversation with another, but as it often happens, when you consciously look for it, it doesn't come. :p)

A "not too shabby" about the park's warning ...

Bicycle on Interstate Highway

No talking in this one; just showing you the Dome Rock Mountains and such ...

Cycling on Interstate 10

Cycling on Interstate 10 was more enjoyable than Interstate 8 in Imperial County. The scenery is better too. The highway offers a relatively easy climb over the Dome Rock Mountains.

Thank you to John for this video. His best one is at the bottom of this page ...

Disabled Van There was a disabled van. I asked if he and his pal needed help, and they said help was already on the way.
Road Memorial

Road Memorial

On the other side of the pass, I spotted a roadside memorial. Sometimes I would stop to investigate.

Usually you don't know the details about what happened, but the memorial makes clear that a daughter is mourning her father's death.

Quartzsite, Arizona Only five miles to Quartzsite. Like I said, this was an easy bike ride.

By the way, anytime I'd see signs like this, it felt like the "road gods" had come down to make a grim statement about the mileage at hand. For forlorn cyclists like me, I would have to bike every single mile to get to those destinations. With Phoenix 133 miles away, you can't let yourself be overwhelmed. You've just got to take it one day at a time, and before you know it, you'll find yourself in that distant city. :)

Bicycle Lane

Quartzsite, Arizona

There didn't seem to be much to photograph in Quartzsite, but I did appreciate the bicycle lane on W. Main Street.
Quartzsite, AZ Travel Center I'm not kidding you. There was NOTHING to take pictures of.

In the evening, I forced myself to photograph something, so why not this travel center? :)

You are welcome to stay connected with me on my author page.

Epic Music

John got footage of me avoiding a frayed tire on Interstate 10. Throw in some YouTube background music and you've got an EPIC cycling video of yours truly. Ha ha!

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