|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.
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.