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  • Writer's pictureAlana

14. Ludlow to Fenner, CA

Updated: May 6

April 27, 2024

Today I learned that, when a local says, "Yeah, you can ride your bike down that closed road, but you will have to walk around some washed-out bridges," I should ask, "How many washed-out bridges?"

Because hike-a biking around 20 washed-out bridges, which is what happened today, is a decidedly different undertaking than hike-a biking around three or four washed-out bridges, which is what I had imagined would happen.

As a result, I spent about 6 hours alone on a broken road in the middle of the Mojave Desert, not a soul in sight. And it turned out to be its own kind of heaven.

My photos don't do justice to the vastness and beauty of this place. Bright yellow and purple wildflowers jump like gas flames between the shrubs laid out like patchwork. The sky burns bluer for its hugeness. And the clouds are extremely cute, like fluffly little hats for the mountaintops.

For all that, my ass got whooped by all the schlepping in the heat. Rather than push on, I camped behind the only gas station in the 108 mile expanse between Ludlow and Needles.

As if on cue, at 3 am I heard voices outside my tent, just as I had heard footsteps outside my tent at 3 am when I camped at Fort Hunter Liggett in Jolon. Two men with slurred speech kept saying, "Fuck!" to each other.

Worst case scenario, I thought: These are two homeless meth addicts comiing down from a high, and, in their derangement, may rob or maim me.

But after about 15 minutes, I heard motorcycle engines rev and the voices disapper. I figured the men were probably just cursing about the gas prices out here ($9 a gallon) or some broken part on their bikes. Reassured, I fell back to sleep.

In the morning, I crossed paths with several motorcycle clubs returning from a rally in Laughlin. They marveled at the smallness of my saddle, relative to their cushy perches, and the largeness of my plan. Many bade me to be safe in fatherly tones that belied their tough getups.

Out on the road, I started throwing peace signs to all the motorcyclists, who almost always replied in kind. As much as I enjoyed my day wandering alone in the desert, I was happy to be part of a tribe again, even one that is moving in the opposite direction.

Distance: 69.36

Climbing: 1.8 K feet

Totals: 764.9 miles, 28 K feet

Song: "Road Runner" by the Modern Lovers / Joan Jett / M.I.A.


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