Pacific Crest Trail
Denis Kertz, ©2009
I got up early and hurried down to the continental breakfast buffet that was included with my room. I thought I would beat the rush but I apparently was part of the rush. It was a good buffet with make-your-own waffles, cereal, and traditional breakfast food. I got my money's worth. By the time I was done there was almost no one around.
I left town shortly after 8:00. My goal for the day was to make
I rode SR160 all the way to
Right before the summit there was a sign for the Mountain
Springs Saloon, which I passed on because it was off the road and a bit of a
climb and I thought there would be something else. I was wrong but that didn't matter much. I began a good descent from the summit and
rode through part of the
The road continued descending all the way to
I was somewhat clueless at this point but turned north on the highway, rode past a large casino and found a little motel that advertised $40 rooms. I was able to get a room on the second floor and was happy with that since I doubted I could do better price wise.
The not so good thing about the motel was it wasn't particularly well located for food options. However, casinos often have food bargains and I had a blue plate special at the nearby casino that included unlimited soup and salad bar so I was satisfied with that.
I packed up and rode the short distance to the Jokers Wild
Casino and had their Hungry Man's special which was a normal breakfast plus 2
pancakes for $6, a good deal. Then I
left town on the
When I resumed riding I took 93 south. This led me right to Boulder Dam which I didn't realize. It was nice to see the dam but very messy traffic wise. There was a lot of traffic and the road was very narrow, often with a guardrail that boxed me in. Going to the dam this wasn't that much of a problem since the road was descending and I could just about keep up with the traffic. Leaving, the road was climbing and I was obviously very slow.
Riding the bicycle really shined for seeing Boulder Dam. Parking for vehicles was at a premium and people had to park wherever they could find a space and then walk to whatever they wanted to see. I could pretty much stop wherever I wanted, check out the whatever, and just start riding again. It was a very definite advantage.
Just after leaving the dam I entered
After the 15 miles of construction, which was to make 93 4-lane all the way, 93 became a 4-lane highway. I initially thought that was good but somebody decided there was no need for a shoulder on a 4-lane highway. Fortunately, most motorists were very careful and eased over to give me room, often moving entirely into the other lane when possible.
When researching this route in advance, I realized that
Kingman at 93 miles was virtually out of the question as a destination unless I
was lucky enough to get a strong tailwind.
There was just too much climbing and too little daylight. My research showed Wilson Beach, Dolan
Springs, and Chloride as possible stopping points. Wilson Beach would have been attractive had I
wanted to make it a relatively short day.
It would also have been very scenic since it was right on the
After a lot of climbing the road became a little roller coaster for a while that gave me some relief.. Then it pretty much flattened out. After passing on Wilson Beach my goal was Chloride. From what I read it seemed to have better services than Dolan Springs and was closer to the road although both were several miles off of US93. Chloride also would make this a hard day at 75 miles but that would make tomorrow an easy day, leaving only about 20 miles to Kingman, and I liked that idea.
At about the 43 mile mark I saw a sign proclaiming a food mart 7 miles in the distance. I was hopeful about this but also worried that this just meant 7 miles to a turnoff and then more distance after that. So I kept a watchful eye ahead to look for signs whether I should be hopeful but the road was not helpful. It either curved or ascended and never gave me a distant view. Finally, in the distance I could see what looked to be a sign which finally gave me some hope there really was something along the road. And there was. I found a mini-mart where I stopped for a 44oz soda. At this point it was pretty warm and I had a headwind too. There was an RV Park right near the mini-mart that was tempting to stop for the day but the campground was just out in the open with nothing recommending it. I did some calculations and figured I could make Chloride by about 6:30 if the road kept its current level. That would be pushing daylight but I liked the idea of making this a hard day to make tomorrow easy so I pushed on. A couple of miles later there was another food mart and I decided to take advantage of that one too. There I had a 32 oz PowerAde and was hopeful its electrolytes would work a miracle.
My GPS has an altimeter page that shows an elevation profile. It consistently showed just a slight ascent and I rode on pretty consistently at 8 mph with the slight ascent and the headwind. I pretty much maintained this pace for 3 hours with just a few short, quick stops. I have to believe that without my two refreshment breaks that I would not have been able to do that. Somehow warm water just doesn't support that kind of effort.
The sun went behind the mountains just before 6:00. I had hoped to have daylight until 6:30 but that wasn't the case. As it gradually got darker I turned on my rear flasher. My panniers also have reflective stripes and it was obvious motorists noticed me since everybody was still giving me a pretty wide berth. Still, this road with its very narrow shoulder and high speed traffic was not the place to be after sundown so I pushed as hard as I could to get to Chloride.
Finally, around 6:30 when it was pretty dark I stopped at a food mart right where I needed to turn east to get to Chloride. I had a cold soda and then I was told by two different people that Chloride was about 4 miles off the road. That was disappointing since I assumed it was only a mile or two. By this time it was totally dark and I put on my headlight and headed out. I was surprised how well my headlight worked but it was totally dark and nothing else was competing with my headlight's light so I could see the road fine.
Chloride is the oldest mining town in
It was a quiet night and I slept well. In the light of the morning I was pretty sure where the office was but I was hesitant to knock on the door of the house. Fortunately, the woman inside saw my bike and came outside to see what I wanted. I told her I wanted to pay for last night and the cost was $10 which was a good deal.
Leaving town I descended 3.5 miles and 400 feet back to the highway. I stopped at the food mart where I stopped last night and discovered it wasn't open and there was no sign indicating when it opened. So I had my cereal breakfast and used the outside seating to make myself comfortable.
I left around 8:00 pedaling into the bright morning
sun. After a few miles US93 developed a
real shoulder, about 6 feet wide and that made cycling the rest of the way
comfortable. It was a fairly easy ride
until I reached the junction with 68.
Then I had to climb
I followed US93 a ways noting there were plenty of motels
and inexpensive ones if I needed to lay over.
When I saw a sign for the historic shopping district I took
The only question was could I get a bicycle shop to pack
up and ship my bike. There were 2 bike
shops but I had corresponded with one via email back in August to inquire about
the feasibility of cycling the Route 66 route to
My biggest concern was whether the bike shop would be open on a Monday. Some bike shops stay open on Sunday and are closed on Monday. This one, Bicycle Outfitters, was closed on Sunday and open on Monday. The owner, Ran, wasn't there but another mechanic was and he said packing and shipping the bike wasn't a problem so I was set. My big issue now was killing time until the 2 am train stop.
I rode back to the coffee shop and figured I would reserve
and pay for my ticket online but the web site wouldn't let me do that because
of the late purchase. So I had to call
Amtrak and deal again, as I had a few years ago in
I killed some more time
including eating at Mr. D’z on Route 66 and then rode back to the bike shop
around 4:00 when the owner, Ran, was there.
I removed my panniers and repacked them to get everything into my large
duffel bag, my two rear panniers strapped together, and one of my front
panniers as carry-on baggage. This took
longer than I expected, about an hour, and Ran offered me a beer which I
accepted. The bike shop didn't close
until 6:00 so I hung around since I had nothing better to do and so I could get
a ride back to the other part of town near the train station. A couple of folks showed up at the bike shop
so there was some conversation to help kill the time. One guy was Matt, who I had actually met at
the coffee shop in the morning but didn't recognize when he showed up in a
different outfit at the bike shop. Matt
was a guide who took customers down the trail at the
After closing up, Ran dropped me off at a Mexican restaurant/bar across from the train station where I had a bite to eat and a couple of margueritas and watched the Monday Night Football, which was a good time killer. Kingman had a train depot but supposedly it was under renovation although it appeared nothing had been done in years. There was also a waiting room on a side street but it didn't open until 10:00. So I left the restaurant a little before 9:00 since it closed at 9:00 and walked a half block to a bar down the street. There I had a beer and typed my notes for the day.
Shortly after 10:00 I walked the half block to the Amtrak waiting room. It was open now but no one else was there and I settled in for the long wait for my 2 am train. Not understanding how this train procedure worked, my big worry was falling asleep and missing the train. But that wasn't a problem. Later other folks started showing up and we eventually had about 10 folks waiting. Then an hour before departure a conductor stopped by to check train tickets. At that time I paid for my ticket.
The train was on time but it seemed to take forever to board. First some new crew members had to board. Then the train had to inch down the track to bring a sleeper car into position for boarding. Then there was another sleeper car that had to be positioned and then finally the coach car. It must have taken 20 minutes to board about 15 people. In any event, the train wasn’t packed and I got assigned a seat all to myself.
I spent the next day and half on the train back to
I spent much of my time, aside from sleeping, in the observation car. It was much lighter and better viewing than the regular seats and I could read there as well.
My original plan was to take the train all the way to
Chicago Union Station and then take a Metra train to
The only problem was I had a little over a mile from the train station to my house. That's an easy walk but not when carrying a large duffel bag and 2 rear panniers strapped together to form a baggage unit. I debated getting a ride but it was a nice day and figured it couldn't be THAT bad. Well, it was. There's just no easy way to carry two sizeable baggage units and walk comfortably. I could only walk about a 100 yards when I had to rest due to the strain on my arms. One of the problems was that just letting the baggage hang by my side caused them to interfere with my walking as they banged against my legs. I eventually discovered I could extend my arms out a bit to keep the bags away from my legs. This was harder on my arms but allowed me to walk faster and make more progress before I had to stop to rest my arms. Eventually I made it home after about a 30 minute walk, which might well have been the hardest part of the trip.
Copyright Denis Kertz, 2009. All rights reserved.