UPDATE, 22 October 2008

David and Chiva are taking a break from the Tour de Dog but are sure to plan another ride in the near future. A sincere thank you to all of you who helped David and Chiva in countless ways. The Tour de Dog would not be possible without your support. THANK YOU!

View a Photo Documentary of Tour de Dog by Jason Houge

Tour de Dog is past states: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, and New York.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mimicking Mammals in an Inferno

The Tour de Dog collided head on with the first big heat wave of 2008. As Chiva and I crossed the remote mountain ranges of Los Padres National Forest and into the California Valley, we dealt with record triple digit temperatures and few water sources (see temperature on my Suunto wristwatch computer above). In order to survive, we mimicked the behavior of other local mammals (elk, coyotes, mountain lions, bears, and bobcats) and rested near a watering hole during the heat of the day. My Princeton Tec lights (http://www.princetontec.com/) and a nearly full moon provided ample light to bike at night.

I had been highly discouraged from taking the rough dirt path known as High Mountain Road but am happy to say I did. The area is home to abundant wildlife and challenged me like never before. The biggest obstacle was finding water. Creek beds are drying rapidly and a few trickles were all I could find. The approaching fire season has locals rightfully on edge. Most fire lookout posts are remarkably already manned. One thing worth mentioning about this area was the high elk and cattle numbers. This was good to see because it meant the mountain lions would leave us alone.

Sun management was critical, and I did my best to find a shady area from 9:00am until 6:00pm to limit UV exposure and keep Chiva cool. When I was under the sun, I was sure to smother myself with my protective, All Terrain sunscreen (http://www.allterainco.com/).

When we reached Pozo in search of water, Chiva and I were greeted by a friendly rancher named Mark that had heard about the Tour de Dog. He invited me to camp on his ranch, and it was fascinating to listen to him discuss the surrounding terrain as we rehydrated ourselves.

I would like to thank Mark for his hospitality as well as the Penny Bar in McKittrick, CA, (http://www.myspace.com/pennybar) for preparing me an incredible and timely meal.

Special video and audio recordings from this stretch of the Tour de Dog to be posted over the next few days but in the meantime here are a few pictures:

This small shady spot was the best I could find to avoid the unforgiving sun.

Local vegetation with mountains in the background.

The trail up the mountains was for the most part well-groomed. On several occasions I had to push the bike uphill.

Guerilla camping behind a roadside silo. I camped on the silo's west side to avoid the early morning sun.

The sign on the right tried to let me know what I was getting myself into. I warmly welcomed the challenge.

Drying up out here in the desert! Need H2O. Check out the sweat residue.

Mark the rancher and his faithful partner Elly on the deck of his trailer. These two were content to live isolated near Pozo, CA.

The beautiful, manmade Lopez Lake 15 miles outside of San Luis Obispo.

Chiva and me, 100 degree weather, and the open road in the California Valley. Just looking at the landscape makes me thirsty.


Jeremy said...

Hey Dave,
I heard from the in-laws that it was over 100F in those parts, and no kidding! Brave stuff, but at least the scenery looks like good company.

Any luck with some wildlife photography?

Looks like you've got the photos and experiences to write a pretty darn good book after this!
Cheers, keep it up.

Virginia said...

wow!!! AMAZING shot Dave!

tiffany said...

Now I see what you were talking about with biking at night.. it does look completely unforgiving there.. Im glad you are in doors now and enjoying the cool. :-)

It was great talking with you the other day!!