Author Topic: Sierra Cascades; desert heat in July  (Read 1535 times)

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Offline pigasus

Sierra Cascades; desert heat in July
« on: May 25, 2012, 12:07:14 pm »
Should I be concerned about riding solo through the heat in the Southern California section of the Sierra Cascades route in July? It's my nature to say "bahhh, everything will be fine!", but.... heat stroke. What's the word on the desert sections? How far apart are watering holes?

Offline staehpj1

Re: Sierra Cascades; desert heat in July
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2012, 12:27:00 pm »
I found the heat pretty difficult when I was there.  It was an exceptionally hot time for early June.  I think the high was something around 115F.  The year we were there it had been a wet snowy winter and we were there earlier in the year by a month, so YMMV, but we found water frequently most of the time.  I carried a filter and it was nice to get cool water from mountain streams during the day.

There were a few places where you needed to carry extra for a long stretch.  There were even some towns where there was no water to be had unless someone had pity and gave you their bottled water.

Offline pigasus

Re: Sierra Cascades; desert heat in July
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2012, 12:39:42 pm »
How much water per person did you carry during the dry stretches? And about how long were those stretches? I imagine having the route maps in my hand will help, but I'm still waiting on those to get here in the mail. I kind of had my heart set on doing the Sierra Cascades as my first extra-long tour, but I don't want to be dumb about it. I'm sure the Pacific Coast would be a great ride, too.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Sierra Cascades; desert heat in July
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2012, 01:41:36 pm »
How much water per person did you carry during the dry stretches? And about how long were those stretches? I imagine having the route maps in my hand will help, but I'm still waiting on those to get here in the mail. I kind of had my heart set on doing the Sierra Cascades as my first extra-long tour, but I don't want to be dumb about it. I'm sure the Pacific Coast would be a great ride, too.

Water...  I don't think there was ever more than 50 miles or so between water, but in 100+ heat that can be a good bit of water.  I do not recall how much I carried and any one time on the trip, but I don't think it was ever too much more than a gallon.  It may be drier when you are there though.  Also if you are likely to be stuck out overnight carrying more would be prudent.

I personally hated the heat on that trip and we went in the beginning of June.  That said Sequoia and Yosemite were amazing.

Offline sam21fire

Re: Sierra Cascades; desert heat in July
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2012, 11:31:35 pm »
I work in the Barstow area. In July in that area expect daytime temps to exceed 105-110 F, humidity less than 10%, often less than 5%.  Exercising hard ie bike riding for many hours in these conditions means you probably cannot physically consume enough water to prevent significant dehydration unless you are very well acclimated.  The dangerous part is that because it's dry and you're moving your sweat will evaporate very quickly and you won't feel terribly hot...but you'll lose a tremendous amount of fluid.  It's very difficult to drink enough water/fluid at night to replace what you lose during the day.

   I suggest that you start riding before the sun comes fully up, ride until 10 am (temps will be 90+ by then), find some shade until 4 or 5 pm (when it might drop below 90 again) then ride until it's too dark to comfortably ride.  Or you could ride at night and rest during the day.

Offline pigasus

Re: Sierra Cascades; desert heat in July
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2012, 11:41:41 pm »
I appreciate the advice, guys. Sorry I've been too busy the last few days to say so. I'm thinking I'll modify my plans to avoid the July desert. Hopefully I'll be able to ride the route southbound and hit the hottest parts in mid or late September, which would still be quite warm, but not as bad.

Offline MrBent

Re: Sierra Cascades; desert heat in July
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2012, 03:45:41 pm »
Be prepared to bake just as bad in Sept.  It's often a VERY hot month in the Mojave.  You won't get significant cooling until Oct.  Just be prepared to carry lots of water and do the start before dawn and sit out the afternoon if you have to.

Have a blast!

Offline sam21fire

Re: Sierra Cascades; desert heat in July
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2014, 09:53:46 pm »
I agree with MrBrent. I just rode across from Victorville almost to Needles, then north to Las Vegas a few weeks ago and it was in the 90's.  Not too uncomfortable because I'm very acclimated to the dry heat, but even so there were a few stretches where I was climbing at the same speed as the wind and it felt like it was much hotter.

Sam

Offline zzzz

Re: Sierra Cascades; desert heat in July
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2014, 12:27:23 pm »
I just rode most of this route (Canadian border to LA) this last 8/30 - 9/28.

I can't speak to your original question about the heat & water because I think you were referring to the last 250 miles that I missed and because I was fortunate enough to encounter a rare late September cold snap when I came thru SoCal, mornings in the high 40's & highs of 65°±. Although I will say (particulerly in SoCal) there were several stores marked on the map that were closed, do not put yourself in a situation where your well being counts on the next place on the map being there.

But I would like to address a couple of other things. You say this is your first major trip, I have no interest in dissuading you from this route but it is a tough one. All the climbing can feel pretty relentless after awhile and the pavement on a lot of the descents is crap which can make them pretty intimidating. Actually, a lot of the pavement is crap period but it's scarier at 40 mph than it is at 7 mph. Which is to say I hope your competence as a cyclist is very high and your fitness level is high.

The other thing I will bring up, since it sounds like you have some flexibility, is to leave in the spring from the south. As I'm sure you're aware California has been going through a record drought for years now. As you go through it the entire state feels like a tinder box. Short of a very wet winter and spring this year it's likely to still be ready to burn next year. And September is prime forrest fire season. This year for much of August the "Hat Creek" fire was burning, when you go down 89 north of Lassen you will be riding along it's path for miles. In late August and early September there was a big fire just south of Yosemite. There was the huge "King" fire right when I was coming through Tahoe in mid September. You get the idea. I have perhaps never been so lucky in my life as to the way I threaded the needle on missing the effects of these fires. I had some smoke in the afternoon in Sierraville north of Truckee and some smoke in Yosemite when I dropped down into the valley. In both cases in the morning it was gone. You should not count on being so fortunate.

If you can leave in the spring from the south, keep an eye on the snow pack in the southern Sierra's over the winter, I would think Ca DOT has a web site listing when the passes are open and I would leave in mid April if you can. The rivers and creeks will be charged, the waterfalls in Yosemite will be flowing and you'll beat (at least some) of the crowds there and by the time you get north it will have warmed up.

Good Luck,

Pete