Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Placerville Love Continues and Big Change in ride 5/24

¸A couple of pretty big developments took place today after I left the love Marilyn Ferguson and her daughter Sue Hayes blessed this ride with. I will tell U about that in a bit. But before I do I gotta tell you about big change that took place and why.

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 progress and had been forced off the bike by a few uphill surprises that fooled 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। On that ride, 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. In 1986, I would not have reached the 40 million people that I did if I had spent my days going up and down over hills. You see, roads in the US Hwy System are graded which means that you either go up or go down for long periods of time at a manageable per cent grade that does not destroy you or your bike. When I encountered Hwy 50, I remembered all this. 
It was then that I saw a delicious shoulder and a smooth road surface। The roads I had just been on had poor surfaces, little room for me at their edges and undulated sometimes ferociously.  In an instant, I left the six years of mental training 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 intended for a bike that was loaded down with gear but the sporty, lively machine that the Eagle would have been if a sag support had been carrying all my stuff.

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 heard 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 paralleled 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 a greater chance of being hit by a car going 45 on a winding road where there is no shoulder than there is in being hit by one traveling 65 on a US Highway. Federal roads were built with sight lines that give cars more reaction time once they do 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, the Lincoln Highway (described in  "How America Can Bike and Grow Rich, the National Bicycle Greenway in Action"), I did have to call it a day at noon। Being a holiday 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, Echo Summit, 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 went to sleep 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 brought 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. I use it to carry my Camelbak, but it had holes in it that were getting bigger and bigger. She sewed it back 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 not far from here 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 a quiet road that they could usually walk across into town with hardly a problem॥ Now it is a fast, four-lane mountain highway with a signal and a pedestrian overpass under construction.

Upon leaving the wonder of Placervile behind, the hills got bigger and the shoulder became less consistent…

More soon!

THX 4 all of U!!

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