Sunday, December 23, 2007

Stage 2 - California City to Trona

THE ORIGIN OF PEOPLE (Death Valley, California. Shoshoni)
Part 2 - At the edge of the ocean the woman stopped and sat down. She said, "I will lie on my back and swim across, and carry you over." They started across, the woman carrying him. When they had gone a little way, Coyote moved down on her. The woman dumped him off into the water. Coyote had already decided that, if she put him off into the water, he would turn himself into a water skate ("some little long-legged insect that runs on the water"). When she pushed him into the water, he turned into the skate and crossed the ocean. He reached the other side before the woman.

The barren landscape of the Mojave Desert just blends one hour with the next. Other than sage, the deep, well drained alluvium soils appear to support very few native plant species. Miles and miles of nothing provided little cover for my frequent nature breaks. About ten miles north of California City, the route passes the Hyundai-Kia Motors California Proving Ground site. I gave it only a passing thought. But the smooth pavement of multimillion dollar test track seemed completely out of place.

The slight downhill grade into the Fremont Valley eventually turned northeast along the foot of the El Paso Mountains. Here, the Redrock Randsberg Road grinds through the desert highlighting the first of many dry lakes; Koehn Lake, or what’s left of it, hosts a series of salt evaporators in a little town called Saltdale; You’ve got to wonder just how much money there is salt.

Dropping into Fiddler Gulch near the end of the Randsberg climb, I remember thinking that the cool weather was working in my favor. Nestled between the Rand and Lava Mountains, Randsberg was a scene straight out of a Rob Zombie film. Replaying my copy of The Devil’s Rejects in my head, I got out of there as quick as I could. The Thrasher crew was equally uncomfortable until we left Johannesberg and turned north onto the Trona Road.

At the crest of the Summit Range, a girl in a blue skin suit got an impressive bike change from her crew. I was a little startled by the perfectly executed exchange as she railed down the Trona Bump into the Searles Valley. A short time later Jeff Jaguar Martin and Jo Carmichael on their tandem told me the chick in the blue skin suit was the female solo champion from 2004; Jaguar mentioned that trying to keep up with her might be a bad idea. Since I had seen her disappearing act, I agreed and continued to ride my own 508.

Except for seeing the distant Trona Pinnacles in the evening sun, the rest of the ride into Time Station Two was unmemorable. The only thing I recall was a strange looking bike path between Argus and Trona; I thought about moving off the road and onto the path. After closer inspection however, the rock strewn, gravel imbedded and bump infested trail was more of an off road adventure than I was prepared for.

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