Highway 127 to Baker, where I'll be riding today, is visible in the distance from Tecopa Hot Springs campground—the little white rectangle in the distance is a truck on that road

Bicycle camping in and around Mojave National Preserve 2006

Day 9: Tecopa Hot Springs to Willow Wash area, Mojave National Preserve

68.9 miles, 6:14 hrs, 29.9 mph max, 11.0 mph avg

Elevation: 1325 feet to 2090 to 420 to 2200

Knowing that I have a 60-mile ride ahead of me today, I force myself to wake up early (6h30) and get a head start on my typically lazy packing up. The first expedient short-cut I can take is to not boil any water for a breakfast meal.

The road out of Tecopa toward Highway 127 is "subject to flooding" like so many roads around here

I've never been on this route before, so I'm excited about exploring. I'm also a little apprehensive about the 54-mile ride to Baker along Highway 127 because it has few shoulders and a fair amount of big-rig traffic.

As soon as the pool building opens at 8h, I'm there taking a quick shower and a quick soak in the hot pool. On the way out, I stop at the campground office to chat with staff and thank them for all their help.

Two guys with southern accents in a big truck are there at the same time as I, also chatting with campground staff. They're surprised when they learn that I intend to ride all the way to Baker today.

They try to be somewhat supportive and cordial, but one of them mentions jokingly that "once I got my driver's license, I ain't had no need for that bicycle [that I used to ride]."

Delicate flowers bloom on the harsh gravel roadside between Tecopa and Highway 127

Judging by his flabbiness, I rapidly conclude that the opposite was true and that he probably had more need for "that bicycle" once he got his driver's license. But that is my opinion and I don't think he needed to hear that, so he didn't.

I feel relieved and lucky that yesterday's wind storm has dissipated. If it were as windy now as it was yesterday, I might be tempted to stay here another day—not necessarily a bad thing, since I like it here.

All packed up, I ride over the hill out of Tecopa Hot Springs on the town's bike lane (a wide shoulder on the road). After a couple of miles, I pass through the little town of Tecopa, and the scenic badlands that separate it from Highway 127. I can still sometimes see the town of Tecopa Hot Springs off in the distance when I look back.

I've reached the junction of Highway 127, about four miles from where I started. So far I've only seen a few cars. But I had better start getting used to traffic again!

I start heading south on Highway 127 toward Baker and traffic is rather light so far. Great! A big rig overtakes me, leaving lots of space.

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