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.
The <insert collective noun> of tourers, now seven strong, set off to conquer the last of the mountains just before lunchtime. It is a bizarre (but equally awesome) feeling to be finally sharing this experience with a group of fantastic, like-minded people. After riding solo for so long it really is invigorating to have friendly company and jovial banter.
As we started to climb the 3 or 4 mile ascent my chain came off and jammed in between the frame. My gears had seemingly slipped out of alignment and as I tried to go lower than first gear, the bike essentially laughed at me. I was a few metres behind the gang and they didn’t notice as I stopped to fix it. Unfortunately it wasn’t a quick fix, I couldn’t get to the rear set of cogs to unjam the chain. I had to unload all the bags off my bike, angrily poke, prod and pull random parts and then finally reload. By this point, everyone was out of sight and it wasn’t for another 30 mins until I caught them up. They were taking a Jolly Rancher break.
The Lincoln Highway was proving to be a worthy opponent, but we kept chipping away at it. The higher we got, the more spectacular the views became. Not stopping for ten minutes at every vantage point to take a picture takes a lot of restraint. Therefore, most of the pictures you see are taken whilst on the bike. I think it’s a skill in itself, especially when you’re trying to frame the photo, doing 35mph downhill and holding the heavy bike steady with one hand. Some people would just call me stupid, but I see myself as being dedicated to the cause.
More climbing ensued and those that were up at the front kindly waited at the summit, we had conquered these little molehills and so began our descent towards Lake Tahoe. The breathtaking views of the lake were nearly nullified by the idiocy of a woman driver who got caught in two minds at a merging junction. Stopping right in front of Steven instead of merging, meant that he had to slam his breaks on and swerve to avoid hitting the car. In the process he came off the bike but thankfully only his pride was bruised and his bike was still in one piece.
We stumbled across Zephyr Cove, a beautiful location, making the perfect excuse for an impromptu meal stop. It was at this point I told the guys that I’ll be finding a place to stay in Tahoe tonight, this place was just to gorgeous to not spend a few hours here. Tim did some magic, and scored us an evening in a cabin staying at a Warm Showers host. That meant we could take it easy, chill out, and enjoy the stunning scenery. Overpriced beer was even bought from the tourist bar.
We rolled out of Zephyr Cove, happy in the knowledge that we had stumbled upon such an idyllic place. We were also super psyched that we all had a place to stay for the night, and it wasn’t too far away. Stephen and Chris headed off a little bit before so that they could go and buy some food for tonight (I told you they were awesome, didn’t I.) Riding through Tahoe also brought up a milestone for us all. We were crossing into California!!! The last state, the home stretch, the finale.
The evening ahead was very special indeed. Probably one of my most memorable events so far. The tacos cooked up were delicious, and after stuffing our faces we were treated to a presentation by our host Rick Gunn, AKA Soulcycler. An inspirational human who has cycled all over the world capturing emotions, documenting beauty and chronicling the struggles of life for many people who are less fortunate than us. His slideshow and stories had us all in awe, and left us with plenty to talk and think about. The night in the log cabin was bliss.