Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The 16th.

I woke up still feeling some stiffness in my left ankle. The tendon was sore, certainly from over use. I would find it difficult to transition from seated to standing pedalling, which was necessary to do since my tush was more than a little sore from so many hours on the bike. It hurt to sit and pedal, and it to stand and pedal. Still miles to go.

Before I could leave, my new friend Vera slipped me a boiled egg to supplement the sardines and granola bar I'd had for breakfast. I rolled out of the camp ground around 9:30 AM.

The road continued to climb but not as steep. I dealt with the ankle by pedaling my lowest gear up the inclines and coasting down hills standing on my right-pedal. Eleven miles later (2 hours riding), I came to the intersection of hwy 32 and 89. At least now I knew where I was on the map.

Turning north the road was not especially challenging, but I still had to dig deep to keep going. My ankle hurt. My butt hurt. I was hungry and low on energy. So many times I wanted to just stop, get off the bike, park it, and wait for Armageddon. But getting back on became more difficult each time I took a break. And there was nothing out there. Very little shade and barely a shoulder on the road. And no sign of Armageddon.

Right after hurricane Katrina, my sister sent me a card with a quote from Winston Churchill: "When you're going through hell, keep going." A long stop at the side of the road would have felt good to my sore parts, but what then? Without food I would find it more and more difficult to get going again.

Eight miles later my persistence paid off in the form of the Child's Meadow Resort. I was so hungry I couldn't decide between breakfast or lunch on the menu, and in a weak moment almost ordered both. The camp store was light on traveling food but I did the best I could. Refueled and restocked I hit the road again.

A photo from Mineral Summit: What Will looks like when he's suffering (pretty much the same dopey look as normal!).


Ten miles later I was in Mineral buying ice cream at the general store. The clerk said it was not entirely downhill to Red Bluff, but nearly. The elevation at Mineral is 5000 feet, and 42 miles away Red Bluff is 300 feet. My ankle continued to be a bother but I pulled in to Red Bluff around 6 PM.

So this will be the end of this bicycle tour. I'll take a day off to recover a bit, then ride 36 miles to Redding to catch an Amtrak to Tacoma. Next time I'll pick a route that has more towns and reasons to stop, and maybe fewer hills. I want to keep going but I think my ankle needs more than a day to recover fully. The temperature in Red Bluff is in the upper 80s and as much fun as more riding sounds like, I think I will pass on the rest of the California mountains for now.

the route:

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Ankles are not pretty to begin with...

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