Bike Odyssey
North America 2004

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Journal for 23-Apr-2004 : Fresno

Left late so as not to disappoint the AAA people in my search for a map of Fresno. It only took 5km of cycling to reach the edge of town, and another 7km to get beyond the housing estates.

Lots of California Highway Patrol Cars (Black & Whites) and local Sheriff's cars passed us early. They were heading out to the county Sheriff's huge training facility, next to the even larger county correctional facility.

Lots of flat riding across the irrigation planes through crops of stone fruit and vicious dogs.

Met Phil, a local bike racer at the tiny town of Traver. He gave us excellent suggestions on the next bit of our route, not all of the advice was listened too (more fool us).

We promptly made a wrong turn, got delayed by a massive UP freight train, and
ended up at the 99 freeway rest areas. Very popular, and we stayed for lunch under (another) huge eucalyptus tree while I plotted a new course. Over a bridge that no longer exists as it turned out, so a lengthy backtrack was required. The fact we rode 115ks to cover less 60km as the crow flies was not entirely the fault of Mr Pythagoras.

Cycled through the towns Kingsburg (where we saw something I haven't seen in America to date: a nice town park), Selma and then onto the back roads to Fresno. Not exactly quiet back roads. Just narrow.

The back roads lead us for two hours across the panes, dodging trucks and Buick's the whole way. And then we reached the outskirts of Fresno. The outer suburbs look very nice, but all have high fences with a single entrance making them enclaves of civilisation in a world of motorised Chaos.

Like a lot of America our route changed from great to terrible in the space of a block. One minute we're riding safely away from the throngs in a wide smooth bike lane. The next, the road is ultra narrow, ultra busy and ultra dangerous. We followed a bike route for a short while, until it took us two blocks off in the reverse direction and then disappeared.

And then we reached the slums, where the only thing that seems maintained are the bars on the windows and doors. Just 20kms of this until we passed a whole line of damaged and dilapidated structures claiming to be motels. We found the newest, most expensive (still cheap) and barricaded our door.

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