Day 2 Bitterwater Road to KCL Campground

Day 2 was the flattest and shortest day of the trip. It also marked the end of Highway 58 for us and the beginning of lightly traveled roads.Day 2 profileWe were hoping for a big wildflower bloom and a restful day. This is the day that spawned Rule Number One of Bike Touring; “It Takes All Day!” It didn’t matter that Google maps said 32 miles should be about 2 hours and 32 minutes. The First Rule of Bike Touring states, “It Takes All Day!”

Coffee PrepEach of our days started with the kitchen. For me that meant the morning ritual of coffee. I was one of the first up and out so had first crack at coffee. Marty was always there too. “Coffee fix please,” I say. Thanks to Ron’s delivery last night, I had coffee, dark and delicious in the morning. Liz and I made an oatmeal, dried fruit, nut, and seed mix before the trip; each day all we had to do was boil water, cook and eat. We all had our specialties; John had fresh eggs and pancakes, there were dehydrated breakfasts, fruit and snacks. The camp kitchen was a happening place each morning. Hot water, stove space, need a pot for this, got some extra of that, any sugar…

This day started out pretty leisurely. We finally had everything packed and were on the road by 10:00. The colors were remarkable- bright green and depending on the flower, splashed, with yellow, gold, blue, white or purple blossoms.

Day 2 Kyle and Francis

Kyle enjoying the stoker’s seat and the sunshine.

The sun was already high and warm, but there’s no problem with a late-ish start today, because it was a short day, only 32 miles, and flat ones to boot.

The Kammer duo trade bikes for a bit.

Soda Lake Road was beautiful. It was pancake flat, and we had the slightest of tailwinds. Did I mention the wildflowers were wonderful? After a couple of miles on Soda Lake Road we arrived at the CDF station in California Valley- break time, and hopefully time to get some water. All the spigots were labeled non-potable, and our knocks on the office door went unanswered. As we were snacking in the shade of the big trees, the red fire engine rolled up. Perfect!

Day 2 California Valley Pack

Nothing like having a tandem pull the group.

Note the gallon bottle of water on Kyle and Francis’ front rack. Each of us carried as much water as possible. There were precious few places to get any on this route. We stashed about five gallons ahead of time at each campsite, but after the first overnight stop we realized that with 12 people, we didn’t have enough for dinner, breakfast and the next day’s riding. The CDF firemen let us fill all our bottles. We emptied their filtered water reservoir of about seven gallons and headed South on Soda Lake Road. (Thanks CDF. Our tax dollars at work.)

Day 2 MattDaniel

Matt and Daniel give the camera some love.

We had a surprise visit by a convertible BMW with Carl and Bettina. We chatted with them while pedaling. They were kind enough to motor pace me forward so I was able to catch Marty who was leading our group. We met them again at the Soda Lake Overlook where we stopped once again because, well, we could, and there was no rush as the day was short and flat.

Day 2 Visitor's Center

Make your own bike parking places.

At Saturday midday, Painted Rock Education Center was a busy place. Many people were out for the wildflowers; the visitor center tables were all taken, so our lunch was had in a grassy patch. We spent a long time enjoying the food, the shade, and Carl and Bettina who joined us with their own picnic.  (Bonus- they shared not only their company but fresh strawberries and potato chips too. Thanks Carl & Bettina.)

Day 2 Dirt RoadShortly after lunch, we hit the first of the dirt road. There is a 20 mile or so section of dirt with a half mile of pavement as a teaser in the middle on Soda Lake Road. We were concerned early on about how the rainy winter might have affected the road, but it was in great shape. Today’s ride had us on the dirt for only six miles; six miles that were hot, dry and slow going.

KCLOur end point for the day was KCL Campground. It’s an improved BLM campground in the minimalist sense. Pit toilets, camp sites, shade, and no water, but on the Carizzo Plain, this is a lot. We shared KCL with many people from the Bay Area. and a lady named Judy who brought her horse and her mother. We’d hear from the horse a little later.

Day 2 John's House KCLWe took a giant grassy patch in the middle of the camp and made lots of noise setting up camp, enjoying the wine we’ve been schlepping, and finding the perfect spots. There were still a few bottles of beer that Matt had carried, so Courtney approached Judy, the horse lady,  who offered space in her refrigerator to put some chill on it.

Day 2 Post Ride @ KCLTents went up all over, but everyone gravitated toward the shady side of the old stables. The sun had been intense earlier and the cool felt good. The green grass and the shade kept us comfortable while dinner cooked. Pre-dinner, if you weren’t on cooking detail, was the sweet spot time for relaxation. Day 2 KCL Camp circleWe were sitting on Therm-a-rest chairs in deep shade, with wine, and there was also whiskey and tequila along, each making it a wonderful time to be together in the shared experience of pedaling. It might have been nice to have a few more luxuries, but life was pretty sweet.

Day 2 post

Susan, Courtney and Renee enjoy the shade and a little liquid.

About this time we started to notice that Judy’s horse was unhappy about something. But hey, a cranky horse in a remote location is nothing to get your undies in a knot over, right?

Day 2 Dinner Grubbin @ KCLDinner was a wonder of fresh vegetables. There was even a salad. Two days on the road and fresh salad!?! Courtney’s collapsable cooler kept the fresh produce cool, and we were the beneficiaries of a tasty day two meal. And, thanks to being in a real campground we ate at tables instead of on the ground.

In no time the sun dropped behind the ridge and it got dark. Hmmm… It wasn’t supposed to be that late. Maybe it took longer than we thought, and there were a lot of stops, and th edirt road, and….

Oh yeah, The First Rule of Bike Touring is- “It takes all day.”

The evening was topped off by a campfire fueled by scavenged brush and wood, more wine and conversation.

Sleep comes early when you’ve pedaled all day and that’s what happened. Mix some wine, a big dinner, a shot of spirits, add in a tired body and a sunset and you have the recipe for sleep. We all went to bed pretty early. Well, all of us except the horse 60 feet away. All night she was whinnying and neighing. If there ever was a demon possessed horse that was it…






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