Friday, August 21

The Lasts: Our Final Days (or was it Daze?)

Did I mention Kevin caught up midway through Nevada? Kevin and I had rode together from the end of Missouri to the east edge of the Rockies, before I broke away to try to make a wedding and he ran into bike difficulties. So there we were, three San Diegans and two Indiana...ians... in Carson City, Nevada. Fresh out of the desert, and on the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. California was a mere 25 miles away, and according to our map, we had one final pass to ascend, before a long 100 mile downhill, taking us from 10,000ft to sea level (not super steep of course, though it had it's parts). We weren't sure when we would part ways, though we knew it would be soon as the San Diegans were shooting for an August 3rd arrival and I an August 2nd.
After a breezy 25 miles, we made it to the California boarder. A little less than significant, we broke to take pictures and cherish the moment of our arrival to the final state.
That last climb was killer. Though we had climbs through Nevada (those elusive mountain ranges always on the horizon), our final climb seemed to never end. Usually, when we were making our ascent, the distance between each rider seemed to widen. Different riders would prefer to take each climb differently - sometimes you really want to go after it; others, you've got other things to focus on than racing up a mountain. This particular climb, I was in an I'm going to beat you Mountain kind of mood, attacking it mildly hard. Jordan was in a similar mindset as well, ahead of me by a number of turns in fact. Mike and Jeremy were riding behind a couple turns, probably in dialogue, and Kevin was in his own place behind all of us.
I remember seeing the final summit, seeing Jordan off his bike eating his prized Wheat Thins and Honey combination. He flexed and I pedaled harder towards the top, shaking my head with a serious look on my face, grinning all the while. The trip wasn't over, but dammit the mountains were about to be. And then I was there, silently standing next to Jordan, treating myself to his snacks.
Triumph at the final summit.
Cars whizzed past, their drivers unaware of what was happening, while we encouraged the others to the summit. After a few minutes of hootin' and hollarin', we returned to our saddles and began the descent. On the way down the views from the Sierra Nevadas were not as spectacular as the Colorado and Utah views. It seemed a low visibility had been caused by a smog which had come east from the furthest West Coast cities. Still, it was nonetheless spectacular.

One of my favorite roads on the entire ride was on this downhill out of the Sierras - Omo Ranch Road. Carless, curvy, downhill, heaven. To the sides, the road was lined with Cedar trees, tall and skinny allowing one to see far into the woods before the trunks formed a wall blocking the view. We practically flew, we were going so fast. Taking the turns at top speeds, someone behind me began to laugh and shout for my attention loudly. Apparently when I turned at higher speeds, my trailer would slide out and was pretty humorous to see from behind. I then perfected the stunt, whipping my handlebar quickly causing the trailer to Tokyo drift, as we called it, side to side, warning the others not to make me mad as I now had a weapon. That night, we camped in Omo Ranch, beside an elementary school of which the PrinciPAL frequently allowed cyclists to stay.
The next morning, August 1st, we rode out of Omo Ranch and into Placerville. We stopped there for a bit of food, and when Mike, Jordan, and Jeremy all stopped for a visit of the local bike shop, Kevin and I kept riding. It was pretty uneventful, our goodbyes, as we figured we'd run into each other further down the road, as had always happened when someone wanted to stop for one reason or another. However this time, the San Diegans never caught up. We knew we couldn't finish together beforehand, but I think we all thought we'd at least share a ceremonial goodbye. Instead, it turned into a phone call later that evening, us explaining we had to keep riding, them that they had stumbled upon a BBQ back in Sacramento and were going out for beers. Lucky bastards.
Kevin and I got into Winters, CA that night, our last night on the road. As we searched for a place to grab dinner, we ran into a couple, Pierre and Marsha, who not only pointed out a great Mexican Tienda, but also invited us to spend our last night in their backyard. Taking them up on both, we met them on the street again after dinner to follow them back to their house. Along the walk back, we learned Pierre and Marsha were avid cyclists, having toured a number of times themselves, which translated to Kevin and I having incredible hosts who understood the ups and downs of touring. Once at their place, Pierre and Marsha whipped up some fresh peaches and Ice Cream, allowed us to shower, do laundry, check e-mails, and told us stories from their touring days.
We retired in their back garden, and though it took a while for me to fall asleep, it wasn't long before I was waking to the sight of sun above my head. The Last Day was upon us.

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