Climbing up out of Kelso Valley on Kelbaker Road and looking back down to to Kelso

Bicycle camping in and around Mojave National Preserve 2006

Day 1: Baker to Kelso Dunes

48.5 miles, 5:06 hrs, 25.6 mph max, 9.4 mph avg

Elevation: 923 to 3800 to 2123 to 2800 to 2500 feet

With my water bottles full again, I leave Kelso Depot and start heading up the hill toward Kelso Dunes. I forgot that this might be slow-going for a while.

Ah... after eight miles of this slow uphill, I finally reach Kelso Dunes Road at 2800 feet

I'm tired and I need some food, even though I don't really feel like eating anything. I'm not sure why I didn't eat something 15 minutes ago while I was at Kelso Depot.

I pull out my maps and realize that Kelso Dunes is 12 miles from Kelso Depot with eight miles of uphill, not eight miles total with four miles of uphill as I had thought.

Oh well, "I will survive," as the song goes. I'm starting to feel a bit nauseous from all of today's mileage in the heat, a sure sign that I'm not quite in shape. It's not summer yet back in San José and I haven't ridden long distances in 80-degree heat yet this year.

Furthermore, I've still not eaten anything since breakfast, and I know better than to try to get away with that on such a long ride.

Kelso Dunes Road is gravelly and a bit slippery, but better than most of the unpaved roads in the area; it only seems a bit difficult today because this is the first day of my trip

I pull over on the side of Kelbaker Road and begrudgingly stuff a couple of handfuls of dried apricots in my mouth, thinking that I won't like them. But, oh, they taste so good. These chewy apricots from Trader Joe's are almost as soft and chewy as the ones made with sulfur dioxide, but they are processed without that undesirable chemical.

Finally, eight miles uphill from Kelso Depot, I reach Kelso Dunes Road at 2800 feet and I turn right. Fortunately, it's all slightly downhill from here onward.

Kelso Dunes Road is a graded dirt road that has a washboard texture in places and a thin a layer of sand on most of its surface.

The road isn't too difficult to ride, but it does require a bit of extra attention in order to avoid skidding in the more slippery segments.

There's no traffic at all on Kelso Dunes Road, so I often ride on the wrong side of the road to avoid the washboard texture, which seems most pronounced on the right side of the road.

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