No Name Tour: Day 50 – Gems in the Breakdown Lane

Way back in Missouri I met Rob and Fay on their way from Santa Monica to Chicago on Route 66z we hit it off and they invited me to stay at their place if I’d decided to finish my ride in Sacramento or San Francisco.

As things worked out, I ended up riding through Sacramento. Despite the fact that I arrived a day early and that they had plans for the night, they opened their home to me. Before they left for a night out at the football (soccer) pitch, they left me with a warm pasta casserole, instructions to eat or drink anything else to my liking, a huge TV, and a swimming pool.

I never made it to the pool because one of their comfy chairs knocked me out. I woke up 90 minutes later totally disoriented. Before and after my slumber I drank about six pints of cold, cold water from the fridge. (94 miles of riding makes for a powerful thirst.

We chatted a bit after they came home and again over the breakfast they made me. Then thru gave me a rolling escort back up to the Western Express Route. We then rode the fantastic bike trail along the American River into Old Town Sacramento, and ultimately over the Tower Bridge into West Sacramento. It was about 27 miles in all. What terrific hosts!

I continued heading west on the causeway over farm fields along I-80.

Then after a few miles of suburban roads I entered Davis. I remember coming to Davis in 1979 and marveling at how the community embraced cycling. Today, as I was taking a left turn a white SUV pulled up along my right hand side. I had missed the fact that the left turn had two lanes. The driver Roth window open started yammering at me to learn the rules of the road. She could have said something constructive like “You need to be in the right lane”, but she chose to be an asshole.

So I chose to tell her to fuck off.

This happened as we were moving in traffic.

After she passed me, I signaled and moved over. Oddly the driver behind Miss Bossypants had no trouble comprehending my maneuver.

There was a criterium going on in town. I saw it as an impediment between me and lunch.

A couple of passers by chatted with me, apologized for the driver’s rudeness, and explained how to get to a good restaurant along the race course. This being a holiday the placed was packed. Many of the tables had whiny kids. The line go order food was out the door. I left.

After another five miles I spotted a Subway and hoovered a foot long.

The trail west of Davis was designed for me; it was riddled with bumps from tree roots. Where’s my axe when I need it?

Soon I was back on two lane country roads they actually went up and down a bit. Show me what you got, Yolo County.

Not much.

I rolled through orchards if fruit trees, past farm fields, and along a Putah Creek.

Near Winters the creek was filled with families having fun with tubes and other water toys.

I stopped in Winters for GatorAde and an Its It, which is the closest food you can get to Meth.

From Winters I did more easy climbing and rode past Vacaville, known mostly for its hospital for the criminally insane. I didn’t have to deal with any loonies running loose but I did see a wild turkey run across the road in front of me.

Could it be that the turkey was a human escapee and that something in god water is making me go mad?

From Vacaville it was a short spin to Fairfield. The afternoon heat and 75 miles of riding convinced me to find a motel. And do I did.

I pulled a Joe Walsh and washed everything I own except my shoes in the bathroom sink. Tomorrow’s 2-hour ride to the ferry terminal in Vallejo could be a tad moist.

Total miles: 75.5

Tour miles: 2,948

Top speed: 26.1 mph

More pix on Instagram

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

No Name Tour: Day 14 – Dixie Chicks Kind of Ride

Today was challenging. For the first time in a while we had headwinds. Not especially strong ones but enough to keep our speed down. Mark and Corey has oatmeal in their hotel room. I opted to dine at Eureka’s finest breakfast establishment.

A western omelet with burnt hash browns and burnt toast and weak coffee. A bargain at a third the price.

I hit the road and decided to not fight the wind. So I poked along the road through the Flint Hills at 9 mph. The clouds were low but not threatening. A light mist and temperatures in the 60s made it perfect riding weather despite the winds.

There’s a lot of flint around these parts

Obligatory Cow Photo

At Rosalia the convenience store was no longer there. So it was on to Cassoday The hills were no longer flinty but the spaces were wide open. Green everywhere. Simpsons’s clouds in the sky.

At a restaurant in Cassoday I caught up to Mark and Corey. They were finishing second breakfast and Mark was bemoaning his bad case of SBS, Sore Butt Syndrome.

As we left, store dog Maisie came to say goodbye.

Maisie

Off they rode with me well behind. There would be no services of any sort for the next 40 miles. The wind did us a favor by dying down. I didn’t see Mark and Corey until I caught them taking a roadside rest about halfway to Newton.

They took off while I snarfed some peanuts. Then I gave slow pursuit.

20 miles later I rolled into Newton. I found the town’s bike shop and bought a red blinks light for The Mule. Then I rode around the block to the Voth’s house. Orvin greeted me and his from John lifted The Mule up the wrap around porch’s steps. Janet greeted us inside.

The three of them fed us, let us do laundry, and told us stories.

Tomorrow we go off route for free housing at a church in Hutcheson. The TransAm has many, many more free lodging options than the last two routes I used in 2017 and 2018.

Miles today: 75.5

Total miles: 903

Any Road Tour: Day 28 – Bury me not on the lone prairie

It turns out that Terri, my Warmshowers hostess, is my sister from another mother. She’s crazy about Brandi Carlile and loves everything bagels. We talked about the former last night and I had the latter for breakfast in her kitchen this morning. I lingered a long time, first chatting with Terri then with Drew, Scott, and Poppy.

I rolled out well after 8 and headed to the post office to mail back some maps.

Then I ride across the Red River of the North into Fargo. I was expecting a run down place with weathered buildings but I was pleasantly surprised. All the old buildings look like new. Flower baskets hang from street light poles. Trees and greenery abound. I even got stuck waiting for s couple of trains on my meander.

I am embarrassed that I didn’t recognize that the colorful bike racks below spell “Fargo” in ASL.

I headed south out of town with a nice tailwind and turned west near Horace. Drew told me that the big crops around here are barley (for beer) and sugar beets.

This is what I saw for the rest of the day.

I met Tim on the side of the road outside Kindred. He’s riding the Northern Tier in chunks because he’s otherwise busy running a couple of businesses in Sandpoint Idaho. He gave me lots of information about the roads out his way and invited me to stay at his place in Hope Idaho later in my tour.

Tim and I talked for a half hour. I rode into Kindred and had a noontime breakfast at the cafe he recommended.

The high plains are known for their abandoned buildings. This one caught my eye from the highway so I rode down a dirt road to get a better look.

The route took me straight west for miles and miles. The wind was pushing me along at 14 miles per hour.

Along the side of the road I saw a wild turkey just hanging out. Wildlife is random out here.

At Enderlin I stopped for a late lunch. The cafe was also a thrift shop. I had a hot roast beef sandwich that filled my tummy.

After my meal I stocked up on water and food at a gas station convenience store. My maps said there were limited services for the next 78 miles. (Mostly this meant there were no toilets.) I arrived at Little Yellowstone Park, a roadside state-run campground, around 4:30. It was clean and empty. I decided that I’d do something a little crazy. I was going to run the deck of the rest of those 78 miles!

First I had to climb a big hill in my granny gear. On the way up I startled a doe and she dashed from the tall grass along the side of the road. Ten yards later I spotted a fawn nestled in the grass checking me out.

Five miles later I came upon Emily and Jay who were riding Bruce Gordon bicycles from Bend Oregon to Boston. (Crazyguyonabike.com/doc/bend2boston)

We talked for 20 minutes or so before parting. They had stayed the night before at the Honey Pot in Gackle. That was my destination. I expected to get there no later than 10.

Then the winds died. No tailwind. I just rode and admired the sound of the noisy critters on the prairie. Just before sunset they get LOUD. The birds made R2D2 sounds. There was one in particular with an orange head and splashed of white on its shoulders that stood out both visually and aurally.

Each time I stopped I was engulfed by swarms of mosquitoes. These and other flying bugs would get caught in the sunscreen and hair on my arms and legs . Emily had talked about ticks so I was clearing off the bugs constantly. Their distraction was slowing me to 9 miles per hour. I finally put on my sunsleeves and a hat for sanity sake.

The sun set to the north peeking through overcast skies.

Now it was dark. I toyed with the idea of riding without lights. The heavy truck traffic from the workaday world had ended and I was all but alone. I’d turn my lights on whenever I heard a car coming from behind or saw headlights up ahead. The headlights seemed to take forever to get to me.

After a while I just left my lights on. My ability to sense my environment was now confined to the white circle of my headlight beam. I could have been anywhere for all I could tell. Now and then I’d see a farmhouse’s lights in the far distance but that was all.

I was eating constantly but I was slowing down. I was riding uphill but could only tell when my pedaling became labored.

Then came the rain. It was light but added to the lunacy of the whole affair.

At one point I nearly ran over an owl who was sitting in the road admiring his dinner.

This was getting weirder by the mile. Because of the rolling terrain I didn’t see Gackle until the last half mile into town.

I arrived at the Honey Pot just after midnight. I woke up Martin, a Swiss cyclist bound for Seattle. He returned the favor by waking me in the morning.

Happy trails Martin.

Earlier in the day I learned that Tom Gjelten of NPR had begun a 70th birthday ride from the Oregon coast to Massachusetts. Around our house, Tom is known as Jake’s stepdad. Jake and our son went to high school together. I hope to see him in a couple of weeks.

Total mileage: 136.5 (smashing my personal record of 118)

Tour mileage: 2,092.5