Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lynn LePge's Folsom to Placerville 5/23 (wifi finally)

The magic of this ride powered me into the early evening here in Placerville, CA. It began for me at a little before 6 when I awakened in Folsom. I went into the kitchen and Lynn LePage (at left), the recreation manager for the city of Folsom, was busy preparing a morning breakfast for me and my ride. There was oatmeal and hard boiled eggs. and even six or so different toast options ready for me to try, along with a pile of cut up fruit and several different bottles of juice.

As he exhorted me to fill up, we overviewed the ride ahead for me yet again and 50 minutes later we were off. He got on his Mountain bike with no more than a small water bottle and wearing a t-shirt, baggie shorts and tennis shoes. From there a profound lesson in politics and area history began for almost the whole rest of the way. But not before Will Kempton , a friend of Lynn's and the #1 man at Cal Trans who I had met the day before in Sacramento, slowed his car down to say hi, near the small town of Rescue, maybe 10 miles into the ride. He was on his way to play golf.

And indeed, Lynn is well connected. And indeed I was actually making real the ride I have dreamed about for 6 years. I was pedaling my way over the Sierras! Of which I pedaled all but less than a 100 feet of today! If I was more familiar with the new rack Peter Wagner made for me, the two, short 14 % grades that came out of nowhere to knock me off might have been doable. 

While it was hard on the bike, and did make the riding more labored, the old rack mount did seem not to bother my hill climbing. In fact the weight of the bars as they slung back and forth did seem to create a momentum that I lost when we improved my gear carrying abilities.. But how well the original design that got me on the road would have played out on those two short ascents that beat me, will always remain a welcome mystery. I'm loving the way the bike rides now!!

We covered the 35 miles in about 4 hours. And I was in Placerville well before noon. We stopped at a place called the Cozmic Cafe where they have a great vibe and Wifi. Even though he had a long ride back home ahead of him, Lynn went to the Farmers Market across the street and returned with a pile of fruit for me. And he then came back from inside the Cafe with the two iced teas he bought and the two muffins they wanted me to have. With a table full of food we sat down for the next few hours and watched the Placerville world go by as we also talked with some of those who walked past..

No discussion of this amazing today could ever be complete without telling your about some of the things I remember that Lynn told me. Because I was working so hard, I couldn’t take my hands off the bars to record them, so here is a partial list

- Folsom used to be called Granite City
- The Folsom power plant, the first long distance power plant, was formed by the Livermore brothers from whom the Contra Costa County city takes its name. It was from this spot also that the mammoth Pacific Gas and Electric, PG&E, began.
- Folsom prison began as a way for the power plant people to get cheap labor to build the dam that would drive its turbines
- The Olympic pool that Lynn championed for his city, was passed by one council but almost went down in flames with a new one until Andy Morin got involved. The success Andy enjoyed here then got him interested in Folsom politics.
- Lynn grew up in Folsom and graduated from Sac State
- During his 23 year career as the Folsom Recreation manager the city has grown from 2 parks to 28, including a world class sports complex
- Lynn even knew why his city went from 7 to 70 thousand people, most of whom came during the Folsom building boom of the 80’s. A second little heralded gold rush took place during that time. The city contracted with developers who offered to create homes and schools on land that could be cleared by crushing the giant rock mounds that covered it and using that for fill. Well, what is little known, is that while doing so, they utilized a process that extricated the gold that was still inside the rocks and boulders. And word has it that they did quite well in so doing.

As a postscript, as Lynn and I talked and got to know each other, it made me happy to know that he knew he was blessed to have such a great wife, Jenna, and three high achieving, student athlete teen age boys. Lynn learned to appreciate at a very young age. Born with a deformed left hand, he spent enough of his youth in hospitals surrounded by kids with problems far worse than his to feel grateful for just the miracle of life. So much so that he gives no power to limits. While getting Folsom its 50 meter pool is a more recent example, in high school and junior college he shot well enough with both his bad hand and his good hand to make him a varsity level basketball player starter who also cranked top grades. And if he has his way, it won’t be long before the rail right of way that Folsom bought all the way to Placervillve will soon become a recreation highway that will grow to connect Lake Tahoe with Placerville, Folsom and Sacramento as per what Lynn sees in his crystal ball.

Nor was Lynn finished when he left at 3Pm to ride home. Before he did, he went down to the Historical Society down the street and told the docent there that I was in town. Marilyn Ferguson got on the phone right away and called the newspaper and Mayor. Being a holiday weekend, no one was home. But this 78-year-old powerhouse took care of me in grand style as I will show you in my next report…………

THX 4 all of u!!

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