The wheelchair-accessible outhouse on Kelso Dunes Road

Bicycle camping in and around Mojave National Preserve 2006

Day 2: Kelso Dunes to Mid Hills campground

38.37 miles, 5:03 hrs, 34.3 mph max, 7.5 mph avg

Elevation: 2500 to 2800 to 2123 to 5500 feet

I'm still not completely used to the 10-ton bike yet, even though I rode almost 50 miles yesterday. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm not quite in shape yet.

Kelso Dunes Road heads out toward Kelbaker Road with Providence Mountains in the background

I start riding slowly up Kelso Dunes Road, a subtle gravel uphill for four miles up to Kelbaker Road.

It's slow, but I'm enjoying the views. I have a few muscle aches from yesterday, but nothing painful or uncomfortable.

Parallel to me, maybe half a mile to my right, is the powerline road that goes from this area across the Bristol Mountains to the tiny town of Ludlow, about 25 miles away. I can't see much of the road, but I can see the powerlines and their towers very clearly.

I drift off thinking about it. I want to ride the Bristol Mountains powerline road and have planned to possibly include it in this trip. It's a gravelly road with some hills along the way, so I'd have to be ready to do a fair amount of walking the bike in case the conditions there require it of me.

Kelbaker Road descends eight slow miles from Kelso Dunes Road down to Kelso Depot

There's no water available anywhere between Kelso Depot and Ludlow, so most of that trip would have to be done within a day, and I would have to fill up on water in the morning before setting out. I was hoping I would feel like riding it today, but I'm not in good enough shape just yet. Hopefully later in the trip I'll be able to fit it in?

I keep riding up Kelso Dunes Road toward Kelbaker Road. Two miles up at the half-way mark, I stop briefly at the outhouse at the head of the dunes trail to urinate. This is where day-trip visitors often stop and park. There are a couple of cars parked here. I guess the drivers are all hiking the dunes because I don't see anyone around.

Two more miles of this road's slightly uphill gravel surface and I reach the pavement of Kelbaker Road. Now I have eight miles ahead of me and I'll drop 700 feet in those eight miles back down to Kelso Depot. Most of the elevation loss will be during the first few miles.

"Lunch room" sign at Kelso Depot

Free rides are especially fun when you earn them. Even though it's mostly not very steep, I do have the wind behind me, so I arrive at Kelso Depot really quickly.

Kelso Depot visitor centre again! There are more people around this place than I would expect. Then again, it is Friday, the beginning of a weekend, which is when people travel most.

Perhaps many of them are just visiting the park for a day, using this road as a short-cut to points south of here. I know if I were driving out here in the middle of nowhere and came across this imposing train depot, I'd definitely want to stop in.

New plaza at Kelso Depot, with the Depot on the left and the old post office across the Kelso-Cima Road on the right

The 10-ton bike inevitably attracts attention parked outside. I chat with a few visitors who are going in and out of the Depot. One guy looks at me and chuckles, saying, "That's one heck of a personal freedom machine you've got there!" He and his partner are on a car camping trip and we exchange talk about different spots we've visited, or hope to visit.

I speak to another couple who mentions that they passed another bicycle a while ago on the Kelso Dunes Road. They were hiking on the dunes earlier this morning. I laugh and told them that the bicyclist was most likely me, on my way to get here, since I didn't see any other bicycles while I was in that area.

They're surprised that I got here so fast because I'm on a bicycle, and I remind them it was all downhill for me. However, I assure them that I am more often than not a slow-moving vehicle and it will probably take me longer than they expect to make it up to Mid Hills campground later today!

I step into Kelso Depot and cheerfully say "hello" to staff again as if I'm the new guy who just moved in on the block yesterday.

I ask if I can fill up my water bottles again from the utility closet downstairs, which they're happy to oblige.

I take a quick tourist walk through the Depot again, even though I did this yesterday. Great place!

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