No Name Tour: Day 48 – Over the Top

My stay with Warmshowers hosts Joan and Greg could not have been more relaxing or not enjoyable.

Greg, Joan,and Ellie

They both assured me that the big climb from Carson City to Lake Tahoe was something I could handle easily. Thx fully they were right.

I kept plugging along, thinking this climb is going to get tougher but it never did. I came over the top and, at Greg’s suggestion, stopped before getting to close to the lake for an amazing view. Seeing the snow covered mountains reflected in the deep blue water was a Wow moment.

Once I arrived at the lakeshore things got much busier. Car traffic was terrible and a real shock to me. Also the road undulated up and down so much that I had a hard time finding a pedaling rhythm.

There was no sign indicating I had left Nevada and entered California. I could tell by the fact that the big casino hotels were replaced by casual eateries.

I had second breakfast at IHOP, a mediocre meal but necessary to gurl my engine over the mountain.

After leaving the lake the route followed the Upper Truckee River. It left the highway and followed a windy, bumpy parallel road that became very steep. I walked the steepest bits then got on the bike and powered my way back to the highway. Climbing over my second summit was hard but I got it done.

A fun descent took me to an intersection where I had considered camping but I was feeling strong so I decided to tackle 8,500+ foot Carson Pass.

This went fine for about six miles then the shoulder of the road disappeared. It was about this time that I started feeling lightheaded. It was unsafe to wobble all over the road so I walked the last half mile.

At the summit I talked with a woman who had passed me on the way up in her Trek Domane. Then a father and son came walking out of the woods carrying skiing gear. They confirmed for me that people ski year round on this mountain. At the summit, the road crossed the Pacific Coast Trail. A through hiker was lying on a bench. His tales of hiking the trail blew me away. I thought my trip was hard but his included using an ice axe to get over Mt. Whitney!

After chatting I rolled down the western side of the pass thinking of food and lodging. I passed up a lodge at Caples Lake and continued down hill to Kirkwood. There I met Dan and Spencer, two guys who install road signs all over California. The lodge was closed so Spencer called a number on the front door. They wanted $180 for a room in a town that was practically deserted. No thanks.

In short order we found out that Caples Lake was the only place around at a moderate price. Dan and Spencer hoisted The Mule into the bed of their big pick up truck and gave me a lift back up to Caples.

After getting cleaned up we headed out for dinner and beers at the Kirkwood Inn. Everything seemed overpriced but the portions turned out to be huge.

We ate and drank until sated then headed back to the lodge where Spenser started a fire in a pit next to the lake. I went to bed tired but satisfied with having completed the last big climbs of the trip.

Lots more pix on Instagram

Miles today: 64.5

Tour miles: 2,779

Top speed: 35.1 mph

No Name Tour: Day 47 – A Capital Day

After a late motel breakfast I was back on US 50 heading west. Where have I heard that before?

From Fallon to Carson City the road has increasing traffic. For the first third of the day it had paved shoulders that were entirely consumed by rather deep rumble strips. I’d me riding along and hear or see in my mirror a large vehicle about to turn me into road kill. I’d bail onto the rumble strips hoping not to dislodge and dental work. I suppose if you had kidney stones this kind of road sledding could be useful but for me it was literally a headache.

During this portion of the ride the headwind gods were still asleep. And the road trended slightly downhill. I missed a blatantly obvious turn and had to backtrack a mile. But I didn’t care.

I had emptied my two water bladders so The Mule was just cruising along. It was noticeably easier to handle too.

Another wonderful feature of the day was the existence of gas station convenience stores and restaurants along the way. I stopped at 28 miles for Gatorade and a Klondike bar. And to use the rest room. Gas station convenience stores make America great.

Sadly, my late morning snack must have woken the headwind gods and the rest of day featured an invisible hand on my chest.

A few more miles after the break I met Anna, an eastbound rider bound for Virginia. She’s from New Zealand. She’s going about 40 miles per day and didn’t seem the least bit fazed by the first tenth of her journey. We agreed on one thing: Nevada has mastered the mushroom cheeseburger.

I had to climb three hills, all gradual and well under 5,000 feet. No worries.

A casino had a deal on a cheeseburger basket. This made for a convenient lunch stop, my first lunch not on the shoulder of the road in ages. Be thankful for the little things, people!

Into busy Carson City, the state capital. Excitement! Thrills! Not! Just more commercial sprawl.

Anna told me where to find a bike shop. The Bike Smith folks replaced my brake pads and only charged me for parts. It’s their way of supporting bike tourists. Sadly the brake pads cost $95 per pair.

Just kidding.

Now that my bike can stop like a champ, I went to the grocery store where I didn’t hit a single parked car or shopping cart. I did manage to buy food for tomorrow and wine for my Warmshowers hosts tonight.

I am staying with Joan and Greg in their guest cottage. Their house and cottage are cute beyond compare. They love hosting bike tourists.

I am off to help with dinner. Help meaning I drink some wine while Joan cooks.

Tomorrow I climb over a rather intimidating 7,000 foot mountain to South Lake Tahoe. How far I go depends on my legs and the availability of camping. It’s also my last day in Nevada.

And before I forget, there’s big news. Last night I decided not to continue to Portland. I am climbed out. Instead I will go over Carson Pass to Sacramento and finish this crazy tour in San Francisco. Many thanks to Jessie and Mike for offering to put me up in The City and to Marie who suggested flying home out of Oakland next week.

Miles today: 66.5

Tour miles: 2,714.5

Top speed: 25.1 mph