I have been riding my bike for many years and have put many miles on my bike and endured many hills along the way, including many centuries, two double centuries, and two trips down the CA coast, but I have never done anything like I did these past 2 days. I rode my bike up the side of a mountain.
My Newfound Appreciation for Snow
The scenery from Placerville changed quickly as we headed into the Tahoe area. The trees, the air, the incline, the view, and the snow. At 3,800 feet I had my first snow sighting. At 5,000 feet the ground was covered. I found kneeling in the snow during my rest stops gave my knees some much-needed relief from the constant pounding they endured all day.
Bear River RV Park – Gasoline for Display Only
On Thursday, we stopped after 61 miles and at 6,500 feet. We found an RV park just outside of Kirkwood down by a lake. It was beautiful, but the restaurant was closed when we arrived at 6pm, there was no cell phone reception or Internet connection, and it was freezing cold.
The next morning, the general store opened for about 5 minutes to sell coffee. When we inquired about buying gasoline from the pump outside, we got the line of the day from the man running the store:
“Sure, I have gasoline, but I can’t sell it to you because I don’t know how much to charge you.” (What!?!?) “You’ll have to drive 15 minutes in the opposite direction to buy it from the store at Hams Station.” (What!?!?)
So Justin went in search of gas as I started the rest of the climb up the mountain to Carson Pass.
On the way up the mountain, I met Terry and Jim, two guys on bikes headed to West Virginia to (1) say they’ve done it, and (2) raise money for The Crudem Foundation that supports Hospital Sacre Coeur in Haiti. (Jim is an opthamologist and goes to Haiti regularly to provide medical care.) Terry and Jim are in crazy cycling shape. They skipped up the mountain right past me. Their goal is to ride to WV in 40 days – that’s about 100 miles a day! Their friend Joe is driving their support wagon with beds and supplies – Joe thinks they’re nuts too!
I was not fast and I relied heavily upon my granny-gear (sorry to be so uncool, Cliff), but I just kept pedaling. The grade fluctuated between 5% and 7% with many 9 and 10% grades and sometimes 13%! I started to dislike any downhill because I knew I would just have to climb back up again to reach the peak.
When I finally made it to the top on Friday, the sky was bluer than I have ever seen it. The air was crisp and the scenery amazing. I found the elevation sign and knelt in the snow, astounded. I had just scaled my first mountain.
On the way down the other side of the mountain, we stopped in Hope Valley and met the most delightful woman, Leesa Lopazanski, the owner of Hope Valley Café. We instantly connected over lunch. When we told her about the documentary and our search for people who love their jobs, she said, “What job?” We knew instantly we had to interview her. Leesa’s kindness and generosity made our day. She treated us to a delicious lunch, her fresh baked cookies, a chai tea latte (which surpassed Starbucks!), and rich conversation. Clearly her food is her gift to the world, but so is Leesa – she is walking joy and moxie!
Miles for Thurs: 61.29
Miles for Fri: 72.18
Total mileage: 355.14
Total ascent: 12, 264 feet (every foot I climb gets counted, so the downhills just mean more uphills to climb)
Elevation reached: 8,574
Total interviews for the documentary: 12
Interesting animal sightings: 2 vultures snacking on a road kill deer
Road kill count: 36
Destination on Thurs: Bear River Reservoir, CA (just outside of Kirkwood)
Destination on Fri: Carson City, NV
Destination Day 7: Stage Coach, NV (after we hit the Wal-mart in Carson City!)