Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Over the Sierras into Tahoe

The riding work of Sunday and Monday left me with little energy or really any ability to document a lot of what took place. While it was good that I chose US 50 in the interest of getting some traction for my efforts, because it was a holiday weekend, the incessant car herds made it very hard for me to take either of my hands off the bars a lot of the time. After I left Alder Creek campground along 50 with a 6AM start, my hands were so cold, I couldn't feel them. So trying to get on the road before the cars  did not work either.

It did get me over a pretty large ascent into the small town of Strawberry before I then took on 7500-foot Echo Summit. Both passes required a tremendous amount of effort. I pretended like I was doing a gym workout where I would push for 40 or so minutes and then start looking for a turnout where I could stop and rest.

When one coming up and was ready for a rest, I stopped where these widened spots in the road began Then I  walked me and my bike to their top most end and sat down. I drank water and ate an energy bar or two as I caught my breath. Ten, sometimes fifteen minutes later, I would use the turnout to remount, as I could not do so on the uphill, and ride to where  I had gotten off and turned around back up the hill for more.

In all, on each long 6% grade, I must have made five or six stops during the day. I also used these stops to take photos and talk ideas into my recorder. of which i realized that not a lot needs to be done to make US 50 bike worthy indeed.

Before I climbed Echo, I stopped in the tiny town of Strawberry and talked to Jim, the proprietor of its only store. He said his business is down by a third due to the downturn in the economy and that what scares him is all the people paying for three and four dollar items with credit cards. He said he sees one or two bike riders a week here and yet I am sure he would more than happily welcome all the bike riders that would come his way if the biking were better on this stretch. In fact, there are a lot of little hotels and other purveyors who would be much benefited with more such bike traffic!

From Echo Summit, I looked down on the south end of the Lake Tahoe valley as I rolled down a fast downhill that went down forever. In doing so,  I took the whole lane and prayed as I powered along with my legs crossed in front of the steer tube. Holiday cars were backed up coming from Tahoe as I scorched past them. And I was moving as I thought a bout all the people and reasons I needed for this descent to have no errors.

The uphill traffic was no doubt astounded but I did not dare to let myself be distracted by looking. I couldn't help but notice the grey rock wall adjacent to them. or in other words, how to get a bike lane in there was a big hmm. But I did make it to the bottom safe, sound and relieved. as well as grateful to all of you for your prayers and support.

Soon I made contact with Chuck Harrison, an employee of Lynn LePage's back in Folsom. Chuck, an 86 TransCon vet, was at the beach but told me to come to his cabin whenever I was ready. He had wifi and power that I could use! However since he was five miles away, I decided to work on-line at a deli until later in the afternoon. However their wif went down after a few hours and I headed up S. Lake Tahoe Blvd to his house.

I got there without my precious computer though and had to go back. This required an anxious ten-mile detour that must have made me famous as I traveled back and forth on what is also US 50, the Lincoln Highway. It was also a mistake that did not leave me much time to visit with Chuck............

The next day I rode to Carson City over yet another pass made worse by some huge climbing around the lake. More on that next blog.........

THX 4 all of U!!

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