Surreal is the only word that came to my mind that adequately describes this place. I had not been back to Death Valley since the 2004 Furnace Creek 508 bike race and what a difference three years make. The last time I was here, it was darker than the ace of spades and the wind was blowing at 40 to 50 miles an hour. There was so much dust in the air you couldn't see anything in front of the car; with the exception of few flying tarantulas now and again. So, this past weekend was such a nice surprise: clear skies, no wind at all, and very cool, pleasant temperatures.
We took the North route out of Furnace Creek and headed over to Stove Pipe Wells. What a nice little Oasis out in the middle of nowhere. We spent a few minutes hydrating, eating some food and yaking about this and that. Frank then led us to a nice "little" climb he kept talking about. Well, this nice little climb turned out to be 7.5 miles long with an average of at least 8% grade. Frank and Mike were brave enough to conquer this bad boy on single speeds. Frank was running a 48/16 and Mike was pushing a 49/18. These guys are my heros!
I think the girls had a good time too. Bobbie caught up with Steph about life lived, and the trials and tribulations of being a teenager while us macho men and Lisa took on the climb at a faster pace. All that climbing was not in vain, however. The bomber downhill back to 260 feet below sea level was as Frank described: a real blast! My hat is off to such great friends for convincing Bobbie and myself to join them.