GRR 2009

Susanville to Taylorsville

Facing the Wall
Mile 516.8 to Mile 576.5

GRR course mark

GRR outbound course mark

I was up with the alarm, dressed, packed, and back up the street to Susanville control by 4:30. There were still a few riders hanging around when I arrived, though as I suspected, most who had spent the night left already.

I left my drop bag and went searching for a large breakfast. The volunteers looked exhausted. Everyone, in fact, looked exhausted. I’m sure I didn’t look any better. I couldn’t find anything substantial for breakfast. I’m not sure if I missed the rush or if there wasn’t much to begin with. I grabbed the last half bowl of cereal I could find and ate some fruit. There was plenty of dinner left over from the night before, but cold spaghetti didn’t sound so good. So I ate what I could, hoping it’d be enough.

I had a text from Rick: “This is the part we designed the bike for; the bike will take care of you; trust the bike.” I replied that I knew that, and that it was taking care of me. Probably a weird exchange to anyone else. But we got it.

It was around 4:45am or so. Some light in the eastern sky, but not enough to read by once I got outside. So I read my cue sheet under the lights inside the control and memorized the first couple of turns. Then I got back on my bike and started to navigate my way back to Janesville. It wasn’t very difficult, especially if I kept my eyes out for the route markers painted on the road. These aren’t always easy to find, and sometimes they are closer to the turn than others. Times like this – when you’re tired, the light is changing, and you really don ‘t know the country – it’s very easy to second-guess your choices. As it turns out, I followed the course perfectly. But I did stop a few times, wondering if I would have to retrace my route.

A word about route markings here. All of the advanced materials for this ride warned that there would be no course markings because we couldn’t get permission to paint on the pavement. I know it’s always a problem for organized rides, as they have to negotiate with each local authority. Then one day on a weekday ride, I found out that Larry Burdick and Dan Barcellos (two regular Davis Bike Club weekday riders) were planning to take two days to paint the route. I asked Larry how they managed to get permission. I never did get an answer. Larry doesn’t always do things by the books.  (Here is another example of road markings at Grasshopper from Lois Springsteen.)

I slowly worked my way south to Janesville. Not only because I wasn’t sure of the way, but also because I knew the toughest climb of the course was just ahead. I wanted to be warmed up, but not worn out in the least, before I climbed back over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Janesville Grade is one of those roads that just has no reason to exist. The Eastern Sierra is a wall with very few cracks for passes. Janesville Grade might lead to a pass, but it’s really hard to tell. The overall grade has a relatively easy average incline of 8%, which isn’t too bad. But a good part of that is 12-15%, and it tops out in one section at 19%. All told, the steepest part climbs 2300 feet in five miles. Not the worst in the world, but let’s face it: it’s a steep fucking hill. Especially coming at around Mile 525 of a 750-mile ride.

My plan was to take it easy, walk if necessary, but in any case, save some energy for the remaining 200 miles of the ride. I stopped at the bottom to get things in order. I had full bottles ready to drink, ate a granola bar of some type, and put in the iPod hoping to distract myself from how long it would take to climb. The sun was peeking over the hills to the east now. It was a beautiful morning. Really, I couldn’t have asked for better conditions.  (Here are a few pictures of Janeseville Grade from Jun Sato.)

While I was stopped, three people passed me and headed up the hill. I didn’t want to chase them, but they would be good indicators by which I could measure my progress. I took one last look at the hills to the east and the rising sun. Finally, there was nothing to do but to do it.

Things started out well enough, Nice tunes, nice morning. The first hill was steep, but I could see that it would level a little about 100 yards up. The riders ahead stayed ahead, and I just kept it in low, monitoring my breathing, looking at the houses (which all seemed to be labeled as ranches for some reason), and enjoying the warming sun.

As the grade steepened, I started to think about walking. (For those of you who understand these things, I had a triple chainring and was turning a 30 – 27 combination). Further up, I saw two riders walking. It turned out to be the two guys I had crossed paths with on the way from Adin the previous evening. I decided to watch them, and if they were walking faster than I could ride, I would walk. I steadily gained on them, so I kept on pedaling.

Soon after, I passed one of the three riders who passed me at the bottom of the hill. For the first time, I noticed he was on a fixed gear bike. (A fixed gear bike has one speed, not thirty as mine does. Also, a fixed gear bike doesn’t allow coasting; if the rear wheel is turning, so are the pedals.) He had tennis shoes on his aero bars in case he had to walk, but he was chugging up the grade fine so far.

A little further up, the grade steepened to its worst pitch. I was going around 3mph now, even when I was standing on the pedals. The bike felt more like a Stair Master as I mashed the pedals down to keep going. I didn’t really feel strong enough to keep pushing as hard as I needed to in order to go fast enough to keep my balance, so I thought again about walking. Just then, a second rider who had passed me at the bottom of the hill started walking, and I gained on him. Better to ride and get this over with sooner, I thought.

Then, a really stupid thought entered my head. I knew that once this was over and I was back riding with my regular weekday group, they would ask three questions about the ride: Did you finish?; What was your time?; and Did you have to walk up Janesville Grade? And there was something about knowing that would be a question that made me resist getting off the bike. So when I couldn’t keep the speed up to balance any longer, I started zig-zagging across the road. Back and forth, back and forth, keeping the pedals turning. I was able to sit and pedal which made my rate of climb more sustainable. I noticed that I was still pulling ahead of the walkers, so I guessed this wasn’t a completely stupid thing to do.

After a time, I got past the steepest part and back down to the under-12% grade where I could pedal in a straight line. I was thinking about making it up the grade in this heavy-ass steel bike, and thinking that Rick was correct again. The gearing for the bike was perfect: any higher gearing and I wouldn’t have made it; any lower and it would have been wasted capacity. The bike was taking care of me.

I’m not exactly sure how long it took me to get to the top of the grade. Over an hour, certainly, to ride those 9 miles. Maybe two hours. But it really didn’t matter at the time. The point was that I made it, that I wasn’t exhausted, and that Boulder Creek control was somewhere not far ahead.  Or so I thought.

Once over the top, I noticed two things.

The first was that it was really, really cold. Like low-30s cold. I rode it out as long as I could, then stopped in a patch of sun to put on whatever clothes I could. One by one, all the riders I saw ended up doing the same. Except the fixed gear rider. He passed me while I was stopped and rode the entire way in a jersey and shorts. Incredible. At the rest stop further up, another rider complained about the lack of trash on the road. In cold weather, riders will stick something under their vest – a newspaper, bag, anything available – to block the wind and keep them warmer. He found himself cursing the fact that there weren’t more litterbugs in the area.

The second thing I noticed, and which became more apparent and frustrating with time, was that Boulder Creek was quite a way farther from the summit than I thought. Fifteen fucking miles or something. This turned into one of those nosebleed sections like the road from Janesville to Susanville. Just another long stretch designed to grind riders down. I would like to talk about how beautiful the stretch was, how the pavement was white from the granite used to make it, how Antelope Lake appeared glistening through the trees in the clear alpine air, etc. But I really didn’t care. It was just that much more scenery keeping me away from a rest and some food, and it just pissed me off.

By the time I arrived at Boulder Creek, I was bordering on bonking again. The climb, the elevation, and the lack of a decent breakfast all threatened to take me down. Boulder Creek was a water stop, not a full-fledged rest area, so there was not a great deal of food here. I foraged whatever I could. I remember eating a banana and a lot of Wheat Thins. Jim Skeen was still working the stop, still awake, and outwardly apologetic about not being quite all there.  (Here is a picture of Jim and me from Peter Norris.)  He said a stream of riders had come in through the night, and neither he nor Peter, the other volunteer, ever got more than 20 minutes of sleep. I stood in the sun to get warm, then wrapped up in a blanket and sat for a while to get warmer.

After a while, Jim nudged me along, saying he hated to say it, but I had better get going before it got too hot further down the road. He was right, so I moved on. I was really looking forward to the next stretch anyway. I remembered struggling up Indian Creek Canyon Tuesday morning. Now it was Thursday morning, a bit earlier in the day maybe, but if the road was steep coming up, it must be steep going down.

Wrong. I had to pedal most of the way down the road. Now I was really getting angry. It wasn’t until the last couple of miles of this nine-mile canyon that I was able to coast and get some real speed. And even then, there were little rocks on the road here and there that had slid down, so I had to be careful. The end result was not a very restful ride down from the mountain.

Sign on the Genessee Store

Sign on the Genessee Store

The road past Genessee and along the rim of Indian Valley was rolling, as I had recalled. But I had even less energy today than I did on the way up. I rode up the small hills very slowly, and down the other sides not much faster. It wasn’t an annoying road, but I could tell I was in bad shape. I took my time, tried to relax, and limped rather gratefully into Taylorsville. It was now about 10:40am. I had already been riding for 6 hours. I needed a break.

Taylorsville ended up being an oasis, a paradise in an unexpected place. John Hess was still there, still smiling and as helpful as ever. Lorna Belden was in the galley, still cooking breakfasts to order. And Milt Blackmun was running around refilling supplies, checking people in, and doing whatever else needed to be done to take care of the riders. John was ready to make espresso, but I asked him to wait. I needed to eat and rest first. So I had a fine breakfast of pancakes and eggs and fruit, then I lay down for 30 minutes or so, and got up and had another breakfast, this time with french toast. I talked with John for a while, getting updates on other riders, news . . . just little things. Then slowly restocked and double checked and rested some more. And then I was treated to another demitasse of double espresso. It felt so elegant at the time. So refined compared to my ragged state which was anything but refined right then.

It’s times like this, when others care for you when you have no real right to expect it, that are so moving. I didn’t know how to express how grateful I was, how cared for I felt. I was really touched. And I’m sure fatigue had something to do with it, but it was all I could do not to cry. Not that that would have been so bad. But it’s like throwing up. It might be expected under the circumstances, but can be kind of awkward for everyone to deal with.

Next: Taylorsville to Oroville

Posted by Scott Alumbaugh in GRR 2009, 0 comments

Adin to Susanville

This Can’t Be the Same Route
Mile 449.3 – Mile 516.8

Even as I left Adin, I knew I wasn’t all there. I rode very, very slowly, so as not to get too far if I needed to turn around. Wind was light and swirling: it felt hot when it was behind me, and cooling when it came around in front. It was getting toward evening and the colors were softening again. But I wasn’t really appreciating them. I was focused on the road, on my breathing, my balance. My hold on clarity and focus. My ability, in short, not to hurt myself.

I remembered freezing along this road from the night before. I remembered there was a long downhill run into Adin, and that I would have to climb back out. After a while, I felt stronger, more secure. I got into an uphill rhythm and just kept the pedals turning. I passed two other riders after a while. As I passed, I looked over and said, “I want you behind me so you can get help if you see me off the side of the road.” One of the guys answered by saying, “If they find one body over there, they’ll find all three of us.”

After an hour or so, with no pass in sight, I started to wonder what the hell was going on. I was slow, but not that slow. But the hill kept rising, and rising. I reached a couple of false summits, which offered short breaks, but no real respite.

Finally, around sunset, I reached the top. I took a break and ate a little bit. I got off the bike and laid it down. I was hot and sweaty from the long ascent. I figured out it was 20 miles from Adin. The ride coordinator, Dan Shadoan, had nicknamed this Joe Goldrush Summit. Just then, I wasn’t amused.

There was no one around, and I wanted to cool down a little faster. So I pulled down my shorts and turned my butt into the breeze to cool off. I probably would have bent over to express how I felt, but it was too difficult. Besides, just thinking about mooning the summit made me feel a little better.

Eventually, I heard a car approaching. I pulled up my shorts, mounted up, and started rolling down the hill. Instantly, I got cold. Remembering the cold from the night before, I pulled over right away and put my vest on. I started rolling again, and I still got cold. So I stopped and put my arm warmers and leg warmers on. The two riders I had passed now passed me. A truck came by, then turned around and came back to make sure I was okay. I must have looked pretty pathetic sitting on the side of the highway struggling to get the warmers over my shoes. I thanked him for his kindness and assured him I was okay.

After a brief downhill, we were back in rolling high desert. I passed the riders again, a little overheated now with all my clothes. I tried calculating the distance to Grasshopper water stop by the mileage on the signposts. Happily, I was a couple of miles off and got there sooner than I expected. (Here is a good shot of the Grasshopper water stop from Don Bennett.) Lois and Bill and the crew were still there, still as cheery and helpful as the night before. Bill informed me that I had moved up quite a bit in the standings, though I have no idea how that could have happened. I had the best instant oatmeal I’ve ever had, along with other snacks. I stayed a while to chat and rest, but was itchy to move on. I still wanted to get to Susanville by midnight.  (Here is a picture of a mileage post at Grasshopper, courtesy of Joseph Maurer.) So it was back on the road again, this time with Eagle Lake on my right. (Here is a good shot of Eagle Lake from Don Bennett, and another from Jun Sato.)

At the rest stop, I had disagreed with the other riders about how much climbing we had on the way back. I thought it was less than they did. But then again, I was surprised by the 20-mile climb to Joe Goldrush Summit. It’s strange how you can ride the same road in one 24-hour period and barely remember any of its details. In any case, they were right. The sun had set and it was getting dark now. It was a hell of a climb back up to the top of the pass. Along the way I started hearing noises. At one point, I thought I heard a very faint call for help, far off over the ridge to my left. I looked but couldn’t see any roads heading in that direction. I thought I heard whispers, but I couldn’t make out any words. I pedaled harder.

Over time, I made it to the summit. A sign announced a very long 6% grade, though I forget the distance now. It was glorious. The road was wide, smooth, and empty. I turned the light on high, tucked in, and let gravity do the rest. I was well-dressed, so I didn’t shiver all the way down. If I wasn’t so tired I probably would have sung. After the descent, I had another open stretch of desert to cross to get to the bottom of Antelope Grade.

As I started my ascent, I noticed something for the first time. I watched my headlight swing wildly left and right. I know handlebars move back and forth a little while riding, especially if you’re pressing hard on the pedals. But this was far more than a little back and forth. I took it as another sign of my fatigue. At the same time, even though the light was swinging all over the road, the bike was moving absolutely straight. These swings, which would send my carbon road bike all over the place, weren’t enough to set this bike off course. Rick and I had talked a lot about stability in the design of the bike. We knew that stability would be more important as I got more tired. We spent a lot of time discussing design theory and massaging values for measurements like trail, drop, and chainstay length. Often, the numbers we played with seemed insignificantly small to me: usually a matter of millimeters. He told me they made a huge difference. I was seeing here what he meant in a way I could never see on paper.

There were bikes ahead, so I set about reeling them in as a way to stay awake. Once I got to the top, I knew the descent would be fast and curvy, but wide and smooth. I set the light on high again and rolled. I was closer to the other bikes now and knew I would pass. My light has a feature that makes it blink when you have it on the highest setting and try to make it go higher. I wasn’t sure it was on high, so I pushed it. The light blinked. I think the cyclist in front of me took that as a signal I wanted to pass. I didn’t mean it that way, but it worked really well. He pulled over and I flew past. So I tried it again on the second rider. Worked great. I was dropping into Susanville fast, and I just couldn’t get there fast enough.

I made it to the control by 11:30. That meant I could eat longer, take a longer shower, get everything ready that night so in the morning I could just get up and go. It meant I could sleep a little longer. Things were looking up for the last day.

All told, it was 27 hours from the time I left Susanville the day before until I checked back in. I had planned on 20 hours. I seriously underestimated the difficulty of the course and overestimated my ability to keep a pace over hilly ground. Happily, my 20-hour scenario had given me a 12-hour break in Susanville. I still had a little over 5 hours left.

While I ate at the control, I talked for a while with the president of the San Francisco Randonneurs. On the outbound leg, the night before, we were both leaving Susanville at about the same time. He’d asked if we could ride together. I agreed, but told him I had a few things left to do before I left. That reminded him that he needed to make a call. He told me to go ahead, and I told him I’d ride slowly for a while. I remember looking back and seeing bike lights coming up Antelope Grade, but they never caught me. This evening, I came to find out that he’d started out last night, only to decide he was done and turn back to Susanville. Instead of riding, he was volunteering at the Susanville control to help other riders. It was nice to see such dedication.

I filled up on pasta and headed back down the street to the hotel. Just like Adin, I figured everyone would leave around 4am again, so I planned to get out at 5 and miss the rush. I got everything ready, showered, and got into bed as soon as I could. I set the clock for 4am. That would give me three hours sleep. There is a school of thought that says you should break up your sleep into 90-minute segments because that is the “normal” human sleep cycle. I haven’t tested the theory extensively, but I tried to adhere to it anyway. I was hoping for four and a half hours here, but an early start seemed more important. So three it was.

Next: Susanville to Taylorsville

Posted by Scott Alumbaugh in GRR 2009, 0 comments

Adin to Davis Creek to Adin

The Paradox of Momentum
Mile 321.8 to Mile 449.3

Alturas Control

Alturas Control

I rode out of Adin control at 4:50am. The sky was light, though the sun wasn’t up yet. And it was still cold. I was glad I had all of my clothes on.

Immediately out of Adin, the road began to climb. Eventually, it would top Adin Pass (elevation 5173′). Not a huge climb, but enough of a wake up call. I could see tail lights ahead of me. I caught and passed a couple. Others, including a group of six or so, pulled away. More riders appeared occasionally on the other side of the highway, headed home. I thought this would be dispiriting to see others so far ahead. Instead, I was too lost in my own ride to worry about anyone else’s.

After a quick, steep downhill, I was back in high desert. Open country with no protection from the sun or the wind. There was a light headwind, and for the moment, the rising sun was feeling very welcome. I turned off Highway 139 – the same road I had been on since Susanville – in Canby, and started heading east toward Alturas on Highway 299. There were more ranches now, and some farms. This was wide open, rolling country under a huge blue sky.  (Here is a good picture of the country from Don Bennett.)

At some point in this stretch, I had a moment I had anticipated earlier, but had forgotten about. It was a moment of presence, for lack of a better word. A Be Here Now-ness that I usually lack when riding. I knew, roughly where I was geographically. I knew I was miles from anything familiar, that it would take days of riding to get back to any part of my day-to-day life. And in that brief moment, I felt very alone, very separate. For the first time on the ride, I felt like I had come a really far distance. That finally, I had stepped out of my normal place in the world, as it were. I have had moments like this before – driving the Yucatan in the early ’90s, sailing off the Baja coast, traveling in the Japan Alps. And they always make me pause for a moment and appreciate the ability to be lost, but not lost. To be away from what I know, but comfortable where I am. This was one of the reasons I wanted to do this ride, to experience that separation from the normal. Moments like that can carry you along for quite a few miles on a bike.

After some more riding, I reached Alturas. For some reason, maybe the nearness of the turn-around point, I didn’t feel like staying any longer than I had to. I checked in, restocked, and moved on. The final 20 miles to the turn-around were nice enough. The road was slightly uphill, the wind in my face, but the end was near. We were on Highway 395 now, following the North Fork of the Pit River. Road cuts exposed interesting formations, which I noted, and which I wished I could read. As it was, I just wanted to move on. Not long before the turn-around, I saw Paul Guttenberg headed the other way: same helmet, jacket, and riding style, though he was alone now. He gave a friendly shout and wave, and that was the last I saw of him on the entire ride.

Davis Creek Mercantile

Davis Creek Mercantile

I reached the turn-around point in Davis Creek at 9:35am. It was warm now, but remembering my chill the night before, I stayed fully dressed. Besides, the sun was strong. A little sun protection seemed like a good idea. Dan and Sharon Cucinatta ran the checkpoint. It was at the Davis Creek Mercantile, which seemed to be one of few businesses in the area. It was a friendly place. We were on the side patio with picnic benches and umbrellas. Really, it would have been easy to spend a few hours there watching riders come in and go out. A perfect place for a BBQ and a beer.

But by now I was starting to feel time pressure. I was about 3 hours behind my schedule, and if I wanted to get sleep in Susanville that night, I had to get going. I ended up staying only about 35 minutes. Dan and Sharon were going to be there a few more hours, until the control closed at 3pm, then head to Oregon to join other bike club members on a week-long bike tour centered around Corvalis. That seemed so civilized right then, so much more sane than riding 370-odd miles back to Davis.

Don't Burn the Man

Don’t Burn the Man

At this point, I had seen the entire course. There wasn’t anything in the next 20 miles back to Alturas to surprise me, and I was feeling good, if a little pressured. So, for the first time, I set up my iPod so I could ride with some music and maybe check out a little, mentally, while I rode.

As I started to pedal, Little Martha by The Allman Brothers came on. The wind was behind me now, and the road bent slightly down. This was a really sweet moment. A Spaulding Grey Perfect Moment from Swimming to Cambodia. I stepped on the pedals and was soon cruising steadily over 20mph. I got down into the drops, got my rhythm, and just powered down the road. Every song seemed better than the last. I had forgotten what I had loaded, so it was a constant surprise.

I passed a slower rider. He jumped up and caught on to my wheel. After a while, I slowed so he could pull a while. He declined, so I sped up again. When the road rose a little, he dropped back. The nice thing to do would have been to wait for him. But I was feeling good, not charitable. I wasn’t willing to use up my strength to help him. I knew god would punish me for that, but another song came on and away I went. I found out later that that rider was on something like his twelfth 1200k ride. He finished 30 minutes behind me. So much for needing my help.

Back in Alturas, I found I didn’t want to rest. People in the upstairs area, where the food was, were watching the Tour de France. That seemed so incongruous to me. I don’t know, like drinking a Slurpee in a snow storm, you know? I happened to run into two other riders from earlier. I saw Jonathan Gray, on his recumbent. He had yet to get to the turnaround. He was in good spirits, though he was getting further back at each control point. I had thought he was far ahead of me; he assured me he was not. I also ran into Edward Robinson, who had helped me limp into Susanville. I apologized for losing him there, and thanked him again for his help. He was heading out, about 30 minutes or so in front of me, so I knew I’d see him again.

Main Street Coffee

Main Street Coffee

I packed up quickly again to get going. I had planned to eat breakfast in Alturas, but was worried about the time I had lost. On the way back out of town, I was with a group of a half dozen riders. It was really tempting to stay with them. But I had promised myself I’d stop in Alturas.

In the end, I did stop long enough to grab an espresso and talk to a couple of folks about the ride. I praised the local drivers who, more than anywhere else so far, went out of their way to give riders room. The owner said thank you, and noted with a smile that people in that part of the world just aren’t in too big of a hurry to get anywhere.

Back on 299 to Canby. Headwinds slowed me down. Small hills wore me out. And long stretches of the road were cracked all the way across with deep, wide fissures every 20 feet or so. They were rim-bending deep, so I had to be careful not to hit one head on. Even still, every one was jarring. Even after I got through this section, I kept a lookout for a rogue crack. After a while, I settled back into the rhythm of the road. The iPod helped me keep a strange sort of detachedness from the scene, tamping down my desire not to be there any longer. I just wanted to be done.

Then, for some reason (the double espresso?) I was flooded with thoughts. I thought I should record them, because I knew I wouldn’t remember them, and they seemed so profound at the time. Of course, I forgot all but a few.

One, I remember, was the Paradox of Momentum. It’s completely the wrong concept, but the title stuck in my head. It refers to the fact that momentum is key to enjoying cycling. The ability to build up speed, to rest, and the need riders feel to preserve momentum because it is so much easier to go from, say, 10 to 15 mph than from 0 to 5. Preserving momentum leads to bad decisions, like running stop signs. And out here, it leads to passing by miles and miles of beautiful country – areas that are beautiful in a way that I can’t describe – without being willing to stop for two minutes even just to take a picture.

Cycling along at somewhere around 15 to 20mph is a perfect speed to see so much. But the desire to keep that speed prevents us – me – from really enjoying it. I referred to that earlier as a type of schizophrenia. Then I realized that long-distance cycling engendered an internal bodily war. Rather than working together, all the parts of my body were fighting for attention. My butt hurt if I sat for too long. When I stood up to give it a break, my legs complained. My arms were tired from leaning forward on them. But if I sat up and rode with no hands, my abdomen would complain about having to work to keep me balanced. For miles, it was a constant struggle to find equilibrium, some place where, if no part was at peace, at least it wasn’t painful.

Then I started to reflect on the Gold Rush Randonnée as a goal. More specifically, I started cataloguing the cost, in money and human terms, of this little 90-hour jaunt. To prepare, I had been riding specific rides tailored to get myself ready. Riding at night, in rain. Riding longer distances when able. I tried to get most of that in while my son was in school or in after-school care, but some of the burden fell on my wife, Lisa. I thought about the hours I spent not working, losing income, and what that might add up to. Then I thought about the fact that I was riding a brand new bike, a bike built by my friend Rick just for this ride. How many hours had that taken him alone (planning, designing, building) and us together? How much did just the parts to build the bike come to? How much gear did I have to buy to make this ride? I had a new, lighter helmet because I was worried about head and neck fatigue. I had new shoes, new pedals . . . in fact I had purchased everything I was wearing in the past few months specifically with an eye toward this ride.

And all of this suddenly made me feel very selfish. I was embarrassed that I had focused so much of the last six months on me and my need to complete this ride. I wondered what better good I could accomplish if I redirected all of this energy to something useful, something meaningful. Something more than this narcissistic aggrandizement of some unspecified, inarticulated need.

Having a lot of time to think is not always good for me.

I finally reached Canby, turned south on Highway 329, and headed back up Adin Pass. This side of the pass was steeper than the other. I was hot, but I didn’t want to stop to strip down, so I just unzipped my vest, my jersey, and my wool.

I remembered the long, gradual uphill from that morning, and looked forward to a nice descent back to Adin. I was robbed. A southerly wind had kicked up, and instead of cruising downhill, I had to work my way down. That really pissed me off. What the fuck? I yelled. How is that fair? I sometimes take acts of nature personally.

It was hot now, and I was tired. I thought about the three climbs on the way back to Susanville, and even though it was only 70 miles, I knew I’d need to rest at Adin. So I ate a little bit, took off all my hot clothes, and lay down on a cot to take a 90-minute rest. And this is the one time I didn’t really take good care of myself. Sometime before that 90 minutes was up, I woke up shivering. I tried to control it but couldn’t. My entire body shook. I got up slowly and went outside to sit in the sun. At the time, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. One rider thought it was salt depletion, so I took some tablets and drank V8. In retrospect, I think I had made a simple mistake, and was angry with myself that I didn’t see it. I was sweating from wearing too many clothes when I arrived. So I took them off and lay down, wet, in a cool room with a breeze. Had I pulled a blanket over myself, I would have been fine. I was upset that I didn’t take better care of my body here.

In my original plan, I had expected to be back in Susanville by 4pm Wednesday. It was now 5pm, and I still had 70 miles to go. I dressed, packed all of my warm gear (knowing I would need it again that night), and got set. Like the night before when I left Susanville, I moved slowly, deliberately, checking in to make sure I was okay to ride.

It was getting close to closing time for Adin control, and the volunteers were a little more relaxed now. They were lounging outside, enjoying the afternoon. A few local children who had volunteered all day were playing in the yard.  (Here’s a picture of the kids’ bikes and some of the riders’ from Jun Sato.)  It was another lovely, simple, quiet scene that would have been nice to stay and enjoy. But I made up my mind that I needed to make Susanville by midnight, so I got ready to leave.

I found Jennifer “J Lo” Wilson , a rider whom I had met on our San Juan Islands tour, to thank for her help. Jennifer and her husband, Bruce, are an incredible tandem team. They are strong up hills, and absolutely fearless downhill. I wouldn’t keep up with them even if I could. J Lo gave me a fierce bear hug, a really deep, caring embrace, and sent me on my way.

Next: Adin to Susanville

Posted by Scott Alumbaugh in GRR 2009, 0 comments