Excelsior Mine Road rises slowly but surely around the back of the Kingston Range

Bicycle camping in and around Mojave National Preserve 2006

Day 7: Cima Dome to Tecopa Hot Springs via Excelsior Mine Road

66.5 miles, 5:29 hrs, 28.0 mph max, 12.1 mph avg

Elevation: 5000 feet to 3300 to 5100 to 1325

Back on Excelsior Mine Road, I continue upward toward Tecopa Pass. The road is getting a wee bit steeper, but nothing difficult.

Excelsior Mine Road winds around the north side of the Kingston Range and keeps climbing slowly

After a while, the road turns toward the left (west). I'm getting a bit slower, and dramatic views of valleys and mountains keep changing slowly and make this climb really interesting. There's no traffic, hardly any noise except for the sound of me pedalling, and no sign of other human beings anywhere.

I reach another of those moments when it's time to pause and look around to see how much I've risen since leaving the Kingston Wash area. Of course, these moments are always accompanied by much water-drinking.

As I look ahead, it's hard to tell from here where the summit of the road might be. I know it winds a bit more, but I haven't studied maps of this area as well as those of Mojave National Preserve.

Excelsior Mine Road keeps climbing slowly

I see a distant road straight ahead of me that appears to go vertically up the side of a mountain—I sure hope that isn't this road. I doubt I'd be able to ride up that on the 10-ton bike, especially if it's dirt rather than pavement.

I keep pedalling and as I slowly get closer, I'm relieved to see that the steep road is not my road! Instead, my Excelsior Mine Road, still paved keeps winding around.

I find myself heading south again, back in the direction from which I came, heading directly toward mountains. I would probably be concerned about this, but I remember seeing this on a map.

Still curious where the summit is, I'm mesmerized by the views on all sides. Bright sun shining through some large clouds creates striking lighting effects on the rocky mountain formations that surround me.

A large open area at the base of a mountain to my left is sprinkled with flowering yucca-type plants, probably "our lord's candle." I planted one of these in my backyard in San José for the fun of it and am not really expecting it grow. At least it hasn't died yet after two years!

Pavement running out on Excelsior Mine Road

Cranking along more slowly than ever, I'm getting really close to the mountains in front of me. The road will wind around a corner somewhere, making a westward right turn, but it's odd that I can't see yet where that will be.

The old worn-out pavement on this road crumbles and comes to an end. Now it's a gravel road and this is mountain biking—road biking no longer. I'm still not at the summit, but I must be close.

I'm just barely able to ride on the gravel road with its uphill grade, but I'm managing to continue.

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