Riding the ACA Western Express Bike Route, 6-12-17.
Disappointing miles? Oh hells yeah! But then again, this is hard climbing and the bikes are as fully loaded as they can be. I am trying not to be too hard on myself. When I looked at Crazy Guy on a Bike and saw the daily totals people were getting in the Sierras, they were often close to 35. Well, we are climbing the Sierras and we got just over 35 today, so I guess we are normal. Sort of.
Leaving Folsom was a farce. A comedy of errors. We ended up in a cheap motel last night after a long stint at Starbucks. It was getting dark and we passed a combination self storage place and motel and we were intregued. The State Park campsite was still a few miles away and the hotel was really only 25 bucks more than the campsite, so for that money we took the hot water and the bed. There was a television too. I don’t live with one, so I really only encounter it when I am in lodgings. I had one for six months last year at Mount Vernon, but I literally never switched the channel from CNN and MSNBC to anything else. I had forgotten that Sunday night CNN gave up on news and instead devoted the whole time to Anthony Bourdain, who, though once interesting and still personally credible, has nevertheless become a TV parody of himself. “Hey–I am edgy, and I am in this hip edgy place that is not one you would have thought of, but turns out to be more hip and edgy than you would imagine. Whoa! Here is my friend (insert regionally appropriate name here), he/she is a great artist/musician/collector of something hip/architect/culture hero. Let’s eat! Oh man, (named person) your friend is an amazing chef! Now THIS is good! Such fresh ingredients,” aaaaand wrap. Pack up the cameras and back on the plane to the next amazing place. Bourdain in a can. Instead, we saw an ad for an old music collection and I spent the remaining waking moments trying to reconcile Clarance Frogman Henry and Bowser for Rami.
But despite a fitful night’s sleep haunted by images of cheesy 1950s revival culture heroes (does Anthony Bourdain know Bowser? He must have gone into the restaurant business by now, he can serve Clarance Frogman Henry legs a la Francaises–such fresh ingedients!), I was still up and ready to roll by 7 or so. Not so Captain Snooze. By the time I finally got him moving we had to do all the morning stuff as well as stop by a mail place to ship home my Revelate Tangle top tube bag. Ok–I love this bag. It is very well constructed, cleverly designed, and makes great use of otherwise dead space on the bike frame. But the way I have my LHT set up means that the Tangle presents a problem. I am using downtube shifters–bar ends always bang into my knees and I like having a Sprint Tech rear view mirror on the end of my drop bars. I have very nice Dura Ace shifters on the bike and they are greater–but the Tangle fills in the spaces where I need to grab the shifter. Previous tours have been on largely flat terrain and so shifting was less of an issue. But here–Jimminy–I am shifting more than a 24 hour factory frantically meeting an order, or an eighteenth-century maker of specialized nightwear–primarily shifts. The point is that I really need a quick, easy, and precise grip on the Dura Aces. In fact, I am pretty sure that this was the source of the problems I had shifting as we set out. So, thanks to REI, I have swapped out the Tangle for the Ortlieb Ultimate Handlebar Box. I know I am sacrificing some aero here, but I think my 7 mph climbing speed can withstand the drag. The box is proving great–although its setup instructions were a bit challenging. Ortlieb is so international that they are beyond written language, and instructions come in a cross between heiroglifics and kabuki theatre. YouTube videos helped though–but it did take a few tries to get right.
Thus, it made sense to mail home the Tangle and we did. A few other tiny errands, an abandoned phone that required a panicked back track, and a calming stint at yet another Starbucks and we were off by about noon. Not a start to be proud of, but once we were in gear we quickly escaped from Folsom, and were on the golden prarie. Most of the ride had a nice wide shoulder and the cars were no issue. The climbing started right away though and it did not let up. In fact, it became more and more constant as we headed east. The shoulders went away right when Latrobe Rd got all squirrelly, but cars’ fears for their own safety worked in our favor on the corners. We took few breaks and just pushed on at an ever decreasing rate of speed. No question–this is hard riding. We made the town of Plymouth by 4:30 and I at least felt every foot of altitude we had gained. We were in a bind. There really is nothing along the path we are following and it is at least 25 miles between towns–and even those are not much to hang the name “town” on. Do we stay or do we go? As Mick Jones might have asked–he is Jewish by the way.
Plymouth has a pleasant little cafe on the Main Street where we rested and schemed. Friendly locals tried to scare us with local info: big cats are on the prowl thanks to the fires, it is snowing in Kirkwood, the roads are horrible, Godzilla had attacked Carson City, there is an outbreak of plague at Fiddletown (real name, not one they made up for me). Ok–not all of that was told to us. But we were tired and it was getting late–and indeed there was no logical destination ahead of us–so we landed at Plymouth for the night, bringing my international Plymouth total to four. But the real crisis no one mentioned was that the RV park has NO TENT CAMPING. I mean–really? It is just grass! who builds a camping park and does have sites for tents?? Don’t answer that–I have already spoken to that genius. On top of that, hotels here start at $130 a night. Thank you Wine Tourism for making it impossible to afford a room. Next thing you know, Anthony Bourdain will show up to meet the local ballet impresario or artisan blacksmith and have a really hip meal–such fresh ingredients. Once that happens even a packet of oatmeal will be 30 bucks. Thanks Anthony! Thanks Wine! Thanks Locally Sourced Olive Oil! Thanks Popeye!
Anyway, we are resoureseful and secured quarters in a great undisclosed location for the night. Tomorrow should be an earlier start and let’s hope for twice the miles–but I will settled for less if it comes to it.