(September 18 – written by Dave)
We survived the night in the Bunkhouse Motel. The last Tripadviser review of the hotel was in 2015. I don’t think that I’ll add my own review – I don’t have a lot good to say. As Nancy mentioned yesterday, I’m not sure that they were really open. The whole water situation was odd. I mean, how many motels have you stayed in that have warnings about not drinking the water. And clearly the owner, by simply leaving the warnings posted in rooms and at reception for more than 6 months, was making little effort to fix the real problem. Perhaps this is partly why we were the only guests. Anyway – not every night on a long trip of this nature will be glamorous. Last night ticks the “not glamorous” box!
We ate brekkie at the room. I note that here in part because we kept an eye on the motel restaurant. I’m guessing that we made the right call – the restaurant appeared to be open but no one seemed to stop there while we watched. The locals must have heard about the water.
We knew that we’d be riding uphill most of the morning so the climb from Glenville was no surprise. It was cool this morning – there is a cold front sweeping through the western states of the US right now. We actually checked Accuweather today for the first time in months. We’ve been riding an amazing weather streak of one perfect day after another for some time now. It looks like a small chance of rain on Thursday and some winds today (more on that later), then we are back into the nice weather patterns.
We had some clouds and mist as we rode up through a mixed forest towards Greenhorn Summit. Traffic was very light. In fact had it not been for 5 trucks of forest fighters, 8 trucks of CalTrans (road works) and a handful of tree removal crews, there would have been almost no traffic at all. The climb was long, 15 miles, and fairly steep, average 6% grade, but it felt easier than yesterday, perhaps because of the lower temperatures.
We climbed in short sleeves but stopped at the top to put on warm clothes for the decent. The views of Lake Isabella coming down the hill were impressive. We had some really steep downhills. We had warning signs noting 13% for a short spell and 11% for 5 miles. We burned through a good bit of our brake pads holding the bikes back from going too fast – boy am I glad we have disk brakes, not rim brakes. On a descent like today, we would have had to stop several times and let the brakes/rims cool down or risk a tire blow out. With disk brakes we could ride all the way down with confidence – the only issue being sore hands from braking so much – sore legs on the way up, sore hands on the way down – yup, Greenhorn was a hard pass to come over.
We stopped at the bottom for morning tea. It was so much cooler that we got a hot coffee as one of our drinks – ice tea the other. We only had 9 miles to ride to reach Lake Isabella but the winds at this point were stunningly strong. They were mostly from the south, being head and cross winds. There were a few climbs with cuttings through the hilltops. The wind in the cuttings was so strong it blew us to a standstill several times.
Traffic was heavier and not overly kind in slowing down, or giving us room on a fairly narrow road. At one cutting a car pulled up and slowed behind us. After a minute, I noticed in my mirror that it was a California Highway Patrolman (CHP). He saw how much trouble we were having being blown sideways and slowed down behind us. We pulled over at the next slow car pullout. He pulled over as well. He kindly noted how much trouble we were having and he said that he was going to drive behind us until we safely reached Lake Isabella – wow, what a nice thing to do. He drove 5-15 MPH behind us for 5 miles – holding up cars and waving them to pass only when it was safe. We pulled over where we could but he stayed with us. In Lake Isabella, we pulled over and thanked him. He shook our hands and thanked us for riding so hard. We were pushing to not hold folks up and it was nice of him to notice – even nicer that he played guardian angle. Thank you CHP!
We arrived in Lake Isabella safely, if not a bit shell shocked. What to do but find a cafe and eat. We enjoyed a nice lunch at the Coffee Mill Cafe where we made plans to head out to the Haven RV Park and to stop at the post office to pick up a package that Pete sent to us. The package pickup was a success. The Haven, not so much – it was pretty rough looking and had limited windbreaks. By now, wind gusts were hitting the mid-30s so we called an audible and agreed to get another hotel.
After a quick stop at the Chamber of Commerce for advice, we ended up at the Isabella Motel. It’s not 5 star but you can drink the water so it’s an improvement over last night. As you’ll note in the photo below, Nancy can almost touch both walls simultaneously but we are not complaining. Like last night, it counts as hotel night, regardless of size, water quality, Wi-Fi quality, flat screen or CRT – they all count.
We opened the package from Pete back at the motel and were surprised to find a nice treat from Inge included. It doesn’t take much to make us smile – thanks Inge for the card and chocolate. And to Pete, we have no intention to use your gift (a tourniquet) but are grateful to have it “just in case”. Thanks to both of you!
Winds today have been out of the South/Southwest. This made today’s ride difficult. We head south tomorrow and have some concerns. We are hoping that the storm coming out of the NW will pull the winds back around behind us. Either way, we’ll leave early as we hope to ride 58 miles all the way to Tehachapi. We’ll be checking Accuweather a few times tonight and in the morning for sure.