Neil and Mel's Big Adventure

Adventure Tunes

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mel's Insight

Picutres are "Smelly Mel's" outhouse near Placerville, Hostel in Sacramento, and Chuck and Linda in Sacramento. "We had a phenomenal ride from Fallon. After about twenty miles of our good old riding through the sagebrush lands of Nevada, the good stuff began happening at Silver Springs. We started on a road with good pavement and a nice wide shoulder and the wind shifted to a tail wind. We learned later that bikers don't get a tail wind on that stretch from there into Carson City only about 1 out of every hundred days. It probably was a result of the Santa Ana winds they are also experiencing in So Cal. We just flew, not only downhill, but uphill. Usually bikers fight a head wind all the way into Carson City. With our luck, maybe we should have played the slot machines. But what also happened was something really wonderful. We stopped at a bike ship in the center of Carson and met some great guys running that shop. While Neil was getting a new mirror and a tire replaced on his recumbent, I talked with Mickey at the counter. I asked him where guys going cross country usually camp in town. He said there were a couple of people who liked to host people like us gratis. My kind of talk. He called a couple and left a message that I would be calling in a bit to see if they would like to put up two old geezers at their place for a night. I called after a bit and they said come on over. So we spent a most delightful night with this great couple, Barbara and Pete. I've got on tape what Pete said about why they do this. A number of years ago, he sold a business before they were married and spent five years traveling on his bike on four continents. Many people hosted him (sometimes for months at a time). What a story! He is returning the favor, plus it enriches their lives to hear the stories of our journey. They served us a gourmet dinner and a great pancake breakfast before sending us on our way. Unforgettable. Pete and Barbara seemed to think we could just pop over Carson Pass (they call it a bump) the next day. Neil and I knew better. We now watch out for the expectations about our riding strength by any fellow bike rider who refers to big passes as bumps. We got as far that day as Hope Valley. There were some dangerous no-shoulder stretches for about two miles prior to Hope Valley where we just walked our bikes (not because it was steep), but for safety. I don't know how the Carson riders can safely ride that stretch. But we didn't see any others doing it, but plenty sure told us they did. We had a nice rest in the old town of Genoa (Mormon Station) before heading up toward the pass. In Hope Valley, we got off on a short dirt road and found a spot to bed down in the forest before darkness set in. It got down close to freezing that night, but it could have been worse as there was a slight cloud cover. The next morning we climbed up to Carson Pass. It's only 8,500 feet high, but we had a 4,000 foot climb up that east side from Carson City. That's why it was nice for us to only go up to Hope Valley from which we were able to start that next morning for the 11-mile ride the rest of the way over the top. Only it wasn't really the top because on the west side of the descent are a couple more "bumps" including one that took us back up to 8,000 feet. So we renamed it "False Carson Pass." Our definition of a pass is something that you only go up once and then down once--not up, then down, then up up up, then down. Carson Pass redefined our definition of what a pass should be. So we worked our tails off that day. We only got as far as about 32 miles short of Placerville. So once again we found a place to bed down in the forest. All the official forest service camps up there are closed already so we just look around for a likely spot and bed down. We found a nice one that was in a logging area and overlooked San Joaquin Valley. A beautiful sunset finished that day. The next day was Sunday and the woods in El Dorado NF were very quiet. It was almost church-like. Neil said, "Feels almost like church." My thoughts indeed. We moved from woods into the wine-tasting country of the Sierra foothills. It was mostly meandering through back country roads with big oaks shading the road on either side. There were a couple of quick drops down to the Consumnes River and then the mandatory difficult climbs back up, but then we moved into some beautiful rides through shady glens in a mostly downhill run to Placerville where we shacked up in a motel on the east end of that historic town. And I think that takes us to where I finished (or started the earlier e-mail). Now it's time to head back to our digs about a mile from this library to rest up for the ride to San Francisco tomorrow. That will be quite something for this old whitebeard to ponder for years to come. There has been so much that has happened that I think I forgot to also mention another event of yesterday. As we neared Sacramento, on that magical ride on that wonderful American River bike trail, I called Chuck and Linda Boice, who live there, and who had invited us to stay with them on our journey. It was a sixty mile day for us and we just couldn't do the added journey down to where they live--ten miles south of the city. Ten miles is easy in a car (almost nothing), but to two old men at the end of the day, ten extra miles is very hard. I did want to see them, as Linda is my old neighbor from my childhood in Claremont and Chuck and I became good friends during their year of missionary service where I work in the LDS Church History Library. So they graciously said they would come to where we were bedding down (in an 1885 Victorian Italianate 3-story mansion hostel) just next to the city hall in downtown Sacramento. That is a story in itself. We got to make our own beds with sheets they gave us at registration. I have slept in hostels before (once in an unconverted horse barn) so I knew the drill, but this was new to Neil. He thought the other guys would murder us in our sleep when we set up our world-class snoring, so he finagled us a dorm room for ourselves. That prevented a mass murder last night in Sacramento. Anyway, Linda and Chuck treated us to a wonderful night out with them and dinner at Fat City on the historic old Sacramento river front. It was just a beautiful day. So many memories. So many wonderful people. Tomorrow we'll be heading for the city of love and we're feeling the love big time."Mel

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