First of all, I stopped riding at noon today on US 50. Second of all I am on US 50. Why this is notable is because I had fully planned to be either on or at the base of Mormon Immigrant Pass today at this time but I am here at a campground right on the old Lincoln Hwy where just as I was developing this thought, Greg from the campground next to me just walked up and handed me a plate full of salmon covered crackers. He invited me to dinner at his and Liz’s camp site later when they eat and then he excused himself so I could get back to this!!
He had earlier come over to ask me about my bike। Whereupon I found out he is a classical guitarist from Sacramento. They are up here next to the fast flowing American River for a couple of days doing some r&r.
Coming back to 50 and here and the importance of why all this is so, let me begin by telling you about the pass I have elected not too ride। It became clear to me when I left this AM and had ridden for well over an hour and had made little progresss and had been forced off the bike by a few uphill surprises that surprised me as I entered a couple of turns, that I was going to have to return to the formula that worked for me in 1986.
Then, I pedaled a 13 foot long rig that weighed in at over 150 pounds। I quickly realized that the roads cyclists like to train on or use for recreation were not going to work for me if I WAS going to stay on the public speaking schedule I had set up with the National Head Injury Foundation, if I was going to spend my day going up and up and up down over all the hills that our US Hwy System graded so that you went either up or down for a long period of time at per cent grade that was manageable and did not destroy me or the bike. When I crossed over Hwy 50, I remembered all this.
Where I got on, I also saw a delicious shoulder and a smooth road surface। The turf from I had just left offered neither, so I left the 6 years I had built up for Mormon Immigrant Pass behind , all in one left turn. And as I rode I continued to rationalize. The Mormon ascent I had had in my mind was not on a bike that was loaded down with gear but the sporty, lively machine that the Eagle is , was when it is not asked to carry all the stuff I have on it॥
I began to realize that even though I wrote about Mormon Immigrant and the soon ahead Loneliest Highway that I had researched for my book, I had visualized a journey that would be a supported one। That said I am going to take Steve Stevens sage advice and pedal I-80 across Nevada and am now headed for Lake Tahoe where as a bonus I might be joined for a while by Ron Bishop’s cycle zealot daughter, Camille. I also already hear back from Mike Damon and I can stay in Reno on Tuesday and will also get to meet Reno Mayor Bob Cashell on Wednesday.
My camera and voice recorder also returned on US 50। I had been working so hard on all the hilly roads that parralleled it that I could barely take my hands off the bars long enough to do anything more that keep the front wheel going straight॥ And besides, there is not a lot of difference from being hit by a car going 45 on a winding road than there is in being hit by one traveling at highway speed. And at least on the fast roads there are far greater sight lines for the cars to see you….
Even though the riding conditions were much improved once I hit what was once the first coast to coast highway in the US, I did have to call I a day at noon। Being a holidday weekend, the number of cars passing grew and grew until I chose a noisy river over noisy cars. I also want to be fresh and alert for the 8000 foot pass that separates me from Lake Tahoe.
In the case of Marilyn and Sue last night and even this morning, the wow is just more than I can adequately describe। Before I knocked off on her outside deck, Marilyn washed my clothes as her high energy daughter, a talented wildlife artist, who was about my age, was busy cooking me a delicious and huge mountain of spaghetti। And before Sue did that, she had gone to the store and bought back a bag of groceries based on the kinds of things I had told her I like to eat!! That both surprised and astounded me.
And if that was not enough, there was more। She got up at 4 AM the next morning and cut a fresh supply of the business cards Ron Bishop had created for me on her paper cutter. Artistic wonder that she is, she painted the white letters that had fallen off my butt pack and handlebar bag. The handelbar bag that I use to carry my Camelbak had holes in it that were getting bigger and bigger॥ She sewed them It together.
As I was packing things they kept giving me things. From matches to bungie cords, I could not believe how much they wanted me to do well. Marilyn, the docent for the Placerville History museum from whom I learned a lot, even told me from where he city got its name. Placer, is a type of gold, a gold that is found by washing it away from the other sediments within which it is mixed.
She also told me that the beautiful two story house that she, Sue and her friendly husband Wesley live in was built not long after the discovery of gold in 1849 । Marilyn and her husband who has since passed on, bought this dwelling in 1964 at a time when US 50 below her was almost a quiet road that they could usually walk across into town with hardly a problem॥ Now there is a signal and a pedestrian overpass under construction.
The hills got bigger and the shoulder became less consistent…
… More soon॥
THX 4 all of U!!