Leaving Brawley, there was an exceptionally strong side wind. There were gusts between 20-40mph but there was a constant wind of at least 15mph. It felt like 15mph headwinds with even stronger side gusts. It was a hard day. It was one of those days where you just put your head down and grind out the remaining miles. Today we would be meeting up with our Australian friend, Graeme, at an RV park at the base of the mountain in Ocotillo.
We all arrived at the RV park at almost the exact same time. We were greeted by the owner, Jackson. He showed us around the park and we ended up in the rec room. He suggested that we camp out indoors tonight because the winds had been blowing hard the past couple of days/nights. Jackson was near certain that our tents would blow away if we camped outdoors, so we camped out inside the rec room. The RV park was practically empty so we essentially had the place to ourselves. After preparing the rec room we grabbed some burritos and a pizza at the local bar before going to bed. Upon arriving I received a few messages from my friends and even a phone call from my mother. Everyone had been warning me of the severe weather up in the San Diego area. This soon became the topic of our dinner conversation. Would we sit out tomorrow’s ride and listen to the National Weather advisory? Or would we ignore all issued warnings? Well let me tell you, I was extremely set on waiting the storm out in Ocotillo.
Taylor, however, well…he wasn’t going to be stopped. He was going up the mountain and nothing was going to stop him. Graeme looked at me and said, “If your mate really goes up tomorrow, you just come up the mountain with me in the truck and we can trail him and stay at all of the local cafes a long the way.” Sounded great to me!
The next morning I woke up early with Taylor and I checked the weather online. The warnings were still posted and Jackson even said it was a smart decision to wait this storm out. There were warnings for the Ocotillo, Jacumba, Pine Valley, Alpine and the entire San Diego area. We would be passing through each of these towns over the next 130 miles. The warning called for mudslides, hail, flash floods and strong wind gusts up to 70mph. There wasn’t a single chance I would be riding in these conditions.
Taylor said that nothing would stop him from finishing by Saturday, March 1st. I told Taylor that we could wait out the storm in Ocotillo and just hang out for a day to let the worst of the storm pass. He wasn’t having anything to do with my plan, got on his bike and road straight up the mountain in probably the worst storm of the entire trip.
Graeme and I cleaned up the campsite and trailed Taylor almost the entire way up the mountain. We always made sure to be within 20 miles of Taylor. If Taylor were to need any assistance we wouldn’t be far behind or in front of him. And, if the conditions got really bad we would at least be close enough to make an emergency rescue. We only had to perform one emergency rescue and that was when the temperatures had dropped about 30 degrees from the base of the mountain. Taylor’s hands were numb from the cold rain but Graeme and I hurried down the mountain and got him a dry water resistant pair of gloves. Graeme and I continued up to the motel where we would be spending the evening. We originally were going to camp but the temperatures were freezing and it was raining. None of us intended to spend our last night camping in the freezing rain so Graeme picked up a pair of rooms at the Pine Valley motel. Thanks Graeme! It sure beat camping out in the elements. Graeme and I knew we had a couple of hours before Taylor would be arriving so we went to our respective rooms and we both took a little nap while Taylor was busy conquering the mountain. Shortly after waking up from my nap, I calculated that Taylor should be arriving within the next 10 minutes. I waited outside for a while and shot a video and sure enough just after I turn off the video I see Taylor coming into the motel.
Taylor was cold and wet! Fortunately we had a warm motel room with a good shower. I knew Taylor would be happy. We all napped for a while longer and woke up around 5:00pm. We were famished and found a nice little restaurant less than a 100 yards from our motel. It was still raining pretty hard on our way to the restaurant. After arriving at the restaurant we saw more weather warnings flashing on the TV screen and coming up on our telephones. I still wanted to wait out the storm but Taylor was pretty confident that the worst was over. He also pointed out that we only had 60 miles left and that all of his friends would be waiting for us at the finish line. We had to finish! There were no other options available. I agreed! We would leave first thing in the morning as soon as there was a break in the rain.