As many of you will know, one of our members “Cycled End To End” from Lands End to John O’Groats in support of IRC in 2012.
This was an epic adventure undertaken in (mostly) horrible weather conditions!
Now that he has dried out from the very wet summer and fully recovered, Ken plans to do another charity cycle, this time he is going to “Cycle through Death Valley!”
Death Valley National Park is located in the South California Desert in Nevada. This 3.4 million acre park is not only the largest park in the USA, but on this incredible cycling challenge Ken hopes to conquer 420km of Death Valley by bicycle!
He tells us that it is not quite as suicidal as it may sound at first, as he will be cycling in November (only 30° he thinks!) so a complete doddle for all our physically fit IRC members!
The Valley is 130 miles long, between 6 and 13 miles wide and is surrounded by steep mountain ranges.
Update Day 1 – Beatty Junction to Stovepipe Wells via Daylight Pass (4,317ft)
After travelling for 26hrs, I am now so tired this is resembling an IRC exercise! As I got into the van I thought how can I cycle tomorrow? We have still got a 2hr drive to the Motel! After leaving Las Vegas ( where you are greeted with slot machines before you have collected your luggage!) we drove off into the desert night.
After what seemed like 5 minutes we stopped. I thought “Why are we stopping?” I checked my watch and it was over an hour later. So this was a “P” stop at Truck Stop 51. This was an interesting place, it had a candy shop with ET-type memorabilia along with “Bunny” as in Playboy memorabilia and the next building was marked in Neon with “Brothel”. We set off again, as, despite wanting a bed, this type of bed was the last thing on our minds!
Again we seemed to stop after 5 minutes, but when I checked we were at Beatty Junction (our destination). So I had slept for nearly 2 hours! I already felt I could now cycle even after only 2 hours.
This morning despite a noisy night I felt much better, so was up for the cycle. A good American breakfast and we set off for Stovepipe Wells (distance 35 miles) It is hotter than expected but do-able! In the middle of day we had a short steep 1000ft climb. We then had a 4000ft descent! Awesome and getting hotter as we went down! All made it to the village safe but hot!
Expecting a harder and longer day tomorrow !
Update Day 2 – Stovepipe Wells to Panamint Springs via Emigrant Pass (5,318ft).
Just finished the most brutal days cycling in my life! It included a climb that totally eclipses anything I did in Devon and Cornwall. The climb was a continuous 17 miles (and I do mean continuous with no respite or flat bits in the middle). We went up from sea level to 5000ft in searing heat.
I consumed over 10 litres of water (not including the two from my water bottles that I tipped over my head halfway up to stop over heating.
Legs feeling totally knackered now. Hopefully a nights rest will do wonders as we do a similar one tomorrow. Now enjoying a COLD beer as the sun sets over the mountains.
Update Day 3 – Panamint Springs to Furnace Creek
Now completed day 3 of the cycle. Feeling much better after a huge plate of pasta for lunch. Started 4800ft above sea level and we are now at Furnace Creek which is 190ft below sea level. First part of descent was a bit scary but second part good. After lunch the terrain was fairly flat and we broke into about 4 groups with a Tour de France type “peloton” so average speed was high (You keep swapping the leader so you take it in turns to take the wind). Enjoyed the 25 mile run in. Temperature now at Scottish summer level so very do-able. All going to celebrate a good day with a cold beer!
Day 4 is Furnace Creek to Pahrump – It is 62 miles and since we are 190ft below sea level the only way is up! (3000ft in fact). Early bed beckons.
Update Day 4 – Furnace Creek to Pahrump
Another hot 3000ft climb which seemed much easier today (everything is relative!). Furnace Creek to Pahrump today via Devils Hole – a Death Valley National Monument, Zabriskie Point (700ft) and Death Valley Junction (2,037ft). Cycling distance approx. 61 miles / 98km. Good days cycling and feeling up for the final long days cycle back to Las Vegas. The end is in sight!
A tough day with approx. 3,400ft of ascent, but 5,000ft of descent! Cycling distance approx. 56 miles / 90km. Well – the heat up until now was expected. The huge cycling mountain climbs were not! (Glad I did not know about that beforehand!) The wind and the relative coolness today were not expected! ( I say relative coolness for my Scottish friends as it was still considerably hotter than the average summer day in Edinburgh!)
Comms shocking here as it relies on satellite Wi Fi!! Another gruelling climb over the mountain range, I had to fight a few personal demons with legs tired from yesterday. A bit cooler today. Managing ok but this is way harder than END to END. Looking good to complete without needing any medical help (I keep pouring one of my water bottles over my head!).
Update Day 5 – Pahrump to Las Vegas
Death Valley Cycle Challenge Completed!
Pahrump to Las Vegas via Mountain Springs Summit (5,490ft) the highest point of our challenge, and a long descent past Red Rock Canyons. Cycling distance approx. 62 miles / 100km.
All safely cycled back to Las Vegas a few hours ago. Cycling shoes are shot to pieces (heat / 5% humidity / and a complete hammering) but I am feeling OK. Website along with “offline donations” suggest I will make the £3000 target. Time for a cold beer and a long sleep! See you when I get back.