…and I’m back. Determined to finish off this ruddy blog. We left the awesome host of Rick Gunn in the mid afternoon after posing for a group shot. It takes a while to assemble as a group, but I think it’s worth the sacrifice of being able to go that few miles further. The saying holds true, it’s not how quick you get there, it’s how you get there that counts. Unless you’re in an ambulance.
The first challenge of the day, after waking up, was the final major ascent of America. A long hill which I naturally fell behind on. The group are a fine bunch of people and still wait for me at the top before we descend into the depths of Eldorado Forest. We were advised of a nice little spot at the bottom of the descent, Chris and Steven located a great little area next to a river and in the shade of the pine trees.
We snacked on lunch, Tim and Kat went off for a little “walk”, and I fixed a puncture which had exposed itself. Luckily for me it was a slow one, things would have been a lot worse had it rapidly deflated coming down the hill. The next few hours of riding were in glorious weather, on smooth roads, and over undulating hills that meandered through the luscious forests. It was pretty spectacular.
Chris and Steven had arranged to stay at a house in Pollock Pines, so that veered off into the mountains to go and find their warm shower. The rest of us were heading for Placerville which was another hour or so up the road. We made arrangements to meet up in the morning – we were sticking together for a bit longer which was great.
Somehow, I found myself at the head of the group with Joe. We enjoyed the open road and pushed each other to go faster, taking it in turns to slipstream each other. We may or may not have noticed the sign for the freeway and the no cycles sign, but we “missed” the exit. For touring bikes our pace was really quick, it wasn’t often we would hit these speeds. We stopped at the exit for Placerville east, and we waited for Han, Tim and Kat. They didn’t appear after 20 minutes. We got slightly worried at this point as they weren’t answering their phones or appearing over the hill. Finally, Joe managed to get through and found out they were safely at the park.
It turned out someone had called the cops on a bunch of nefarious cyclists who were riding the shoulder of a freeway. Tut tut. They men in blue caught up to Han, Tim and Kat at the back, and they escorted them off the freeway. They didn’t realise that we were up ahead, and so we were none the wiser. Only a ticking off was issued, and all the clean criminal records are still in tact.
Joe and myself made our way though Placerville and up the last short steep hill to the sumptuous accommodation – a baseball field. It was still light as we were reunited. We all cooked and found our own spots to sleep for the night. Tunnels in the playground were used, and I made use of yet another dugout. A night in an open sleeping bag ahead of me; thank the flying spaghetti monster that there aren’t a million midges and mosquitos around this part of the world.
Guess how today started out… Ten points and a pat on the back if you said “With a puncture”. At least we hadn’t set off yet. Thankfully, this meant I wasn’t slowing anyone down. In fact, it was turning out to be quite a late start, we hadn’t even decided where our end destination would be tonight.
There were rumours that we were trying to hit the small town of Pollock Pines, a mere 75mile ride away – albeit laced with a few mountainous sections. The highest pass we would have to cross today is Spooner Summit at a modest 7146ft above sea level. Continue reading
I awoke today with the sound of synthetic rubber balls flying off metal bats. Instinct told me it was best to vacate the baseball dugout, especially since it was Little League day. The group got our stuff together and after a bit of researching, Tim had managed to score us a night at a house in Carson City!
We followed Tim and his trusted Google Maps to get us back on the right path. Unfortunately Google Maps couldn’t do anything to help the puncture I got 15 minutes into the ride. At this point I am losing count of the number of punctures I’ve had recently, but it’s starting to royally piss me off. Han stayed behind and helped me check my tyre. We then raced to catch up with the others who were waiting in Silver Springs. Continue reading
Today started off pretty slow, but we weren’t rushing anywhere in the heat. Instead the day started off with awesome renditions of a couple of songs from the resident guitarist Paul Smith. This was a great way to start the day and put us all in a great mood for the ride.
Thankfully once we got going (at about midday) the heat had stabilised and was teetering on the right side of bearable. Today was going to be pretty tough, but then again, I expected nothing less from the harsh Nevada desert. Continue reading
The morning in Austin started out hot enough to make me vacate my tent by 9. To say it was hot is a massive understatement, hiding in the shade was the only thing keeping me from melting. There was a pool next to the site but it was fenced off and it was too much like hard work to climb it.
As a group, we sat around the picnic table and decided to plan out the next few days in advance. This was to try and find some Warm Showers and give them some advance notice. One of the few downsides to riding in a group is that people are less likely to put you up for the simple fact that it becomes too much of a burden. We finally had about three days planned out. Joe said the exact same thing I was thinking; this was the most planning I’d ever done this trip. Continue reading
Another day, another puncture. It’s a good job I have lots of patches, I feel as though I’m a puncture repair expert now. I do check every part of the tyre when I’m repairing the puncture, it’s not a reoccurring problem; it’s a new thorn or piece of metal. Every, single, fricking, time. It’s getting to the point where I’m getting impatient with the bike. Maybe it’s someone close by, this has only started happening since I’ve been riding with the group. I shall keep my eye out for any saboteurs.
The town of Eureka was compact but well equipped, not explicitly for cyclists though (no bike shops). The gas stations air pump broke as I was pumping up my front tyre. That meant I had to hand pump the rear tyre, something which I dread doing. It takes about 15 minutes of frantic pumping and I can only manage to squeeze about 60PSI into it. Ideally that figure needs to be closer to 80 to make the ride a little easier, especially with the impending hills later today. Continue reading