Saturday, July 9, 2011: Kirkwood to Placerville, CA (68 miles)
Today was a great ride! Almost 70 miles most of it downhill from 8500 feet to roughly 2000 feet. Got out pretty late. Didn’t set my alarm but still got up a 630. Dilly-dallied for a while and didn’t actually leave until almost 11!
The Sierras rock! People are always asking me where was the nicest part of the ride. Now I know — the Sierras, hands down! The Trees, rivers, lakes, granite and amazing dramatic vistas; and the smell — the Sierras just smell like a pine-coney Christmas all the way down!
About halfway down I turned off of 88 (which although beautiful has a significant amount of traffic) onto Omo Ranch Road. Awesome! No cars, no people — just complete solitude and silence as I wound my way down through old growth forest. (Here the pine smell was intense.)
Had a bit of a road closure scare. Tree and power lines were down. Fire department and CHP let me walk my bike around it and I was on my way.
I had left so late that I thought I might need to do some night riding to get into Placerville. I made pretty good time and was in way before sunset.
Davis . . . then SF. Almost . . .
Friday, July 8th, 2011: Carson City, NV to Kirkwood, CA (54 miles)
Today I entered California and made my final climb of the trip — over the Sierra Nevadas.
I took it pretty leisurely. Until the last 9 miles up over Carson Pass there were stores and cafes placed at nice intervals where I could stop, top off my water, have some coffee, or just sit and chill for a bit.
The Sierras are awesome! I’ve been up here so many times whether skiing, fishing, backpacking, or just driving through. In many ways they are more scenic than the Rockies. Seems like there are more lakes and rivers; not as dry I guess as parts of the Rockies.
The climb had parts of it that were insanely steep — especially, the last mile and a half. It was a long sweeping turn going over the peak that you could see coming from a mile below. It looked steep and it was!
From the top it was an easy 6 mile coast down to the ski resort, Kirkwood, where I have skied before many years ago. I was expecting more of a ski town with lodging, pubs, restaurants, etc. Unfortunately, there’s not much of a town and there was nowhere to get any food. Worse though was that there were NO rooms! They were 100% booked because of a huge 5,000 rider bike ride this weekend called the California Alp Death Ride! (http://www.deathride.com/) I lucked out though and got a bed in the Rockstar Hostel and was fed by some of the riders.
Rest of the ride to SF should be relatively easy compared to the past few weeks. I’ll be going from about 7500 feet to sea level with no major climbs, just some pesky little hills.
Thursday, July 7, 2011: Fallon to Carson City, NV (66 miles)
Today absolutely confirmed what I already knew: Anyone who rides east to west is a fucking idiot!
Non stop howling winds all day long from the moment I left my hotel in the morning. It was possibly the most miserable day I had of cycling ever! Wind like that just saps the energy and life out of you. It kills the spirit and sucks out any morale that might remain. I’ve already been feeling bored the last few days. At this point it is the destination and NOT the journey!
It could have been much worse though. At least I didn’t get those winds on one of the “long” Nevada days in the middle of nowhere. Today I was back in civilization — towns and gas stations spaced at civilized intervals so I didn’t need to carry water or food. They also made for nice short distance goals to motivate me to keep going little by little. Also, had a pretty decent shoulder to ride on without rumble strips. Still, at one point the wind was so bad I was standing in my lowest gear — going downhill!
As I was getting closer I came across a little farmers market that was kinda nice. Some locally grown peaches and apricots lifted my spirits. Guy who ran the stand was from NY and lived down in the Village in the 70′s.
Finally, got into Carson City by almost 6 after 12 hours of riding. Had just enough time to get bike store to buy new mirror to replace my cracked one. I gave my extra little eyeglass mirror to a girl who was freaking out riding on roads without a shoulder. The day after I gave it to her mine cracked!
Wednesday, July 6, 2011: Middlegate to Fallon, NV (50 miles)
Yes . . . I know . . . I know ! I am the undisputed “worst blogger” EVER in the history of blogging!
Today wasn’t a bad ride. I was a bit antsy though and just wanted to get “here” wherever “here” is. Today it happens to be Fallon, NV. I’m back in civilization. McD’s, BK, Taco Bell, Walmart, etc blah blah blah. There’s casinos here too and a little bit nicer hotels than the dumps I’ve stayed in the last few days.
Highlights of today’s ride were: huge sand dunes called Sand Mountain. Lot’s of ATV’s and other high-volume-gasoline-powered entertainment vehicles jumping around. Also, rode across huge salt lake. But the coolest thing today were the fighter jets and B17 bombers! Fallon is home to the Naval Air Station; “Top Gun”. Apparently it was moved here from Miramar a few years back so as I was riding I was watching jet after jet take off and maneuver above me. Also, went past theB17 bombing range where they practice bombing!
Before I forget: Nevada roads kinda suck! Most of them have “rumble strips” that force cyclists to ride in the main lane. Every time I try to get over and out of the way of traffic I run over these things that gets my teeth chattering and every bone in my body vibrating. Not sure its so great for my bike either.
Ran into another rider today going East. He was really an old kook! Must have been 70+! No helmet — just a floppy fishing hat! No fancy bike shoes and clip-ins or anything like that — just sneakers! No panniers or GPS and just a couple of bottles of water! Said he’s been riding these roads since ’69. He was riding from Reno to Salt lake and seemed to know the roads pretty well.
Tomorrow I’ll try to get to Genoa, NV; about 75 miles. That’s about as close as I can get before big climb over the Sierras on Friday.
I’ll try to recap previous days and post some pix below . . .
Thursday, June 16, 2011: Ridgeway to Telluride (43 miles)
Brutal! Absolutely brutal! Climb over the Dallas Divide (8950 feet) was slow but not really difficult — a little bit over 10 miles to the top. The ride down the other side was a pretty easy coast for about 15 miles but the headwinds really slowed me down.
The brutal part? Placerville to Telluride! About 16 miles uphill with some very steep sections. I took a lot of breaks on the way up. I rode all the way into town and took the Gondola up the lodge where I was staying which I think will cut off 2 uphill miles in the morning. There’s a big music festival here this weekend so the town is rocking.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011: Montrose to Ridgeway (29 miles)
My legs were really feeling it today! I am so glad that I was not trying to get to Telluride! This would have been a very easy cruise last year but it took a lot out of me this year. Pretty uneventful ride and gained about 1,000 feet in elevation. Some great scenery. I stopped briefly at Ridgeway State Park. Stayed at a pretty funky hostel: the Adobe Inn. It’s billed as a hostel and cantina. I was the only one staying there but the cantina did get hopping in the evening.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011: Montrose, CO
It’s been about 10 months since I rolled into Montrose, CO last year. I thought I’d be in better shape this year than last but that just didn’t happen. Oh well.
I took the bike in for a check-up and to get my shifters replaced that had gotten banged up last year. Wheels also needed to be “trued” a bit. I repacked and got rid of a lot of extra crap that I didn’t need last year and doubt that I will need this summer either. Picked up a warmer layer though for the cold Rockie mornings. Also, picked up a 100 oz Camelbak for some of those long stretches in Nevada with no food or water that I’ve been warned about.
I’ve been pretty apprehensive about this summer’s ride. I’m starting out in the Rockies with some serious elevations and climbs. I have not done much prep for this the past year and am pretty out of shape — 5 pounds heavier than when I started last year. I am worried about some of the longer days coming up. Originally, I wanted to ride to Telluride on Day 1 which is about 65 miles and would require a very long steep ascent over the Dallas Divide (10,000+ feet from Montrose @ 6,000 feet). I decided to scrap that plan and go about half way to Ridgeway. This decision has had an instant calming affect on me as I don’t need to stress about getting to Telluride. I can ease back into this with two relatively short days.
Gonna pack up and get going now . . .