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A Bike Trip to Death Valley
Friday, 16 June 2006
Sunday 11 June. Porterville to Reedley

Today's ride was due north along the San Joaquin valley to the west of the Sierras. The previous evening we had found a diner near the hotel in Porterville called the Black Bear Diner. Their motto was" eat like a bear" and their portions were enormous even by American standards. My breakfast was a great bowl of porridge followed by a stack of 3 giant sized thick American pancakes piled with strawberries. I got through three quarters of this and then for first time on one of these trips even I was defeated. Definitely a "Senior moment"

The San Joaquin Valley is part of the central California plains over a 100 miles wide. Our route north was "flat as a pancake" and the roads were dead straight laid out in a grid. To head a little NW as we did it was necessary to take a northern road then a road going west and then a road going north.

We had a good tail wind for a change and rode at a fast pace along roads lined with Orange trees, vineyards or Olive trees. On the eastern horizon the snow-capped peaks of the high Sierras were visible. We rode through Strathblain and then stopped for elevenses at Exeter

We were in a largely Spanish American area and stopped for lunch at a Mexican restaurant.

Most American maps are large scale and light on detail. I had located however from Stanford's in London a California Atlas and brought with me relevant pages. This was invaluable for this area with its numerous roads as there were few route signs, only the name or often the number of the road which was shown on the Atlas. This enabled me to find routes on quieter roads.

We were still on the diverted route due to the closure of the Tioga pass. I wanted to stop for the night west of Fresno to follow a route north towards Yosemite but bypassing Fresno which is a big City. I had not been able to find any motels on the Internet in the area so we stopped at the first decent sized town which was Reedley about 20 miles SE of Fresno and asked in a store for directions to a motel.

One notable thing about American towns such as this is that they are spread out in a grid pattern covering probably 4 times the area of a European town of the same population and with a much less defined centre. We cycled for miles coming into town without seeing anybody walking on the pavement (sidewalk) Everything is laid out for travel by car.

61 miles for the day and 196ft of climbing. My bike Computer/Altimeter was more sensitive than I was as I didn't notice any climbing all day.


remote Posted by Edwin at 5:51 PM BST

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