Kelso-Cima Road rises slowly

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 have about 25 miles ahead of me now, and this gentle uphill 14-mile stretch to Cedar Canyon Road will be the easiest part. Kelso-Cima Road is a paved two-lane road with no shoulder and is a lot like Kelbaker Road, except that it has a little more traffic.

I turn around and look back at the now-distant Kelso Dunes, where I camped last night

Kelso-Cima Road runs alongside the train tracks to my right and a long train passes by. The views of the Providence Mountains and the Mid Hills further on is quite nice, but the train tracks are raised a little and they block the wide expanse somewhat.

To my left is wide-open space with the Marl Mountains 10 miles or so off in the distance. The wind seems to be behind me here too, so the slow uphill doesn't feel taxing at all, yet. But I've ridden this route before, so I'm not about to delude myself into thinking that it's going to be easy riding for the entire day!

After a while, I find myself higher above the valley of creosote bushes and the view across to the Marl Mountains keeps getting better. The sure sign that I'm truly gaining elevation is that Joshua trees are starting to appear scattered throughout the landscape. They don't usually grow at the lower desert elevations.

The 10-ton bike takes a break on Kelso-Cima Road at the junction of Cedar Canyon Road; today's destination, Mid Hills campground, is somewhere on top of those mountains in the background

Though the Kelso-Cima Road grade isn't steep, it's considered steep for trains. And it does seem to go on forever after a while. The midday sun has gotten quite warm and I'm sweating a fair amount again. I'm getting closer to the top of Kelso-Cima Road and pull off onto a track-maintenance road to sit on a rock, enjoy the views and take a water and energy-bar break. No rattlesnakes here.

I gaze at the mountains to my right. I try to imagine the location of Mid Hills campground up on the top somewhere. I've been there twice, but from this vantage point I'm not exactly sure where it is. Anyhow, I'm headed up there, so I'll find out before the day is over.

Back on the road, after another mile or two, I reach the junction of Cedar Canyon Road to my right—my turn-off. I take another short break here at 3800 feet.

To my left, the old Mojave Road presents itself as two tire tracks heading independently across the creosote-bush-covered valley toward the Marl Mountains. It goes downhill a bit and then rises up as it approaches the mountains. Marl Springs is over there, and I've thought of somehow trying to ride to that spot.

The old Mojave Road wiggles across the valley and up toward the Marl Mountains from the junction of Kelso-Cima Road and Cedar Canyon Road

From here, the Mojave Road looks quite sandy, but I could probably ride the downhill part across the valley easily enough. I'm guessing that I'd have to walk up most of the uphill parts beyond that though. It might be worth the extra time and effort, just to experience the remote Marl Springs area over there. I've read numerous reports on the internet by people who have driven four-wheel-drive vehicles on that route and really enjoyed it over there.

I stop lusting and dreaming. That's not today's route. Right now, I need to turn right on the paved Cedar Canyon Road here. Now.

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