3 am. Awake. Check weather app. 55 degrees and no wind. Perfect riding conditions. Drink excellent supercarb shake and eat a cliff bar for 3:30 am breakfast. Off I go. OK, so riding in the dark at 4am sounds crazy, but I was worried about the wind that was forecast for today, straight out of the north. I actually had a good ride in the dark. No cars to speak of until 6 am, around 5 the moisture in the atmosphere lifted and I could see the stars, the Big Dipper right in front of me and the North Star about 1:00 on my right. I was starting my ride on Road 99W, which was the historic route 99 before I-5. The road started off pretty crappy, but with no cars I could pick the most crack free riding line.
I got into Arbuckle at 6 am, but the town had not yet worked up, I even beat the Daily Grind coffee shop by 30 minutes. I had to go on to Williams for coffee and breakfast. I could see the billboards on I-5 and one kept repeating – Granzella’s in Williams. They are the Anderson’s Split Pea Soup of Williams, except Italian. I was hungry, so I got tri-tip and eggs. I left there some time after 7:30. I had covered 38 miles before 7 am breakfast and was feeling pretty good. Halfway to Orland, the stop for the day.
Then the wind hit in Maxwell about 8:30. Flag snapping, birds flying like drunken sailors wind, right in my face. The road pointed 30 miles straight into that wind. My speed was knocked down to about 10 mph, and I had to work for it, crouched down in the drops, light gear and just keep on pedaling. It took me 4 hours to travel 30 miles. I kept having to take breaks about every 20 minutes. Still, I made my destination around 12:30. The beautiful Orland Inn motel situated in an anemic shopping center anchored by a Dollar Tree and a Grocery Outlet. I just relaxed all afternoon and washed my riding clothes. It was in the mid 80’s outside.
On a fun note, I heard good music in the restaurants. Granzella’s was playing early 60’s tunes exclusively, and the mexican restaurant where I ate lunch was playing Cuban jazz. “Very good to dance to”, said the waitress.
I don’t have much to say about the scenery. Half of it was in the dark, The other half I was keeping my head down as much as possible. Some cool signage along the way: ‘Welcome to Glen County, Where we Honor Veterans’, ‘Duck Plucking’, ‘Glen County, Where 4H is a Family Affair’, ‘No God, No Hope, Know God, Know Hope,’ The last was spray painted on an abandoned building next to a decrepit motel that probably had its heyday when historic 99 was not yet historic.
Update: By 6:00pm it had cooled off enough to walk the 3/4 mile to ‘downtown’ Orland for dinner, The top restaurant on Yelp was the Farwood Bar and Grill. To get there I had to walk through a large corner lot with gravel and weeds, go past the defunct Bucke’s Seed and grain buildings, past the new sign that said ‘Proud History, Bright Future’, to a one block long Main Street. After all that dismal news, I had a great meal in a great room with a very interesting bartender. I may be staying in budget motels with clean sheets, but I have been eating well.
Tonight I had the steak salad, medium rare tender grilled steak over a large salad with caramelized onions, heirloom cherry tomatoes and other goodies with a balsamic vinaigrette. Sierra Nevada DIPA to drink. I sat at the bar, watched the Giants game and talked with Cody the bartender. They have a crazy new beer dispensing system that was shown on Shark Tank – the bottom beer tap. Glass fills from the bottom using a magnet system. No spillage, He also turned me on to a Lagunitas special beer release: The Waldos’ Special. I have a bottle to share with my buddy in Redding. Strong stuff. So… two new beer experiences in one shot.We talked about Orland in a very positive way, which gave me a new appreciation for the place. Honestly, I wonder if this area is slowly dying. Aside from the corporate scale at factories down by Williams, I am seeing a lot of rusting sheet metal and fading or flaking signs on mid-sized industrial buildings. Williams is getting a new Starbucks that will open Fall this year. Is that a sign of progress? Here in Orland at the Main Street crossing a brand new Mitsubishi motors showroom is being built. Across the street is a new NAPA auto parts. So is the new enough to replace the old?
On another thought…Cody is a Dodgers fan and will go see them at PAC Bell. Trip time to get to the stadium? He says he can make it in 3 hours driving fast. IT TOOK ME TWO LONG DAYS TO GET HERE!! Oh well, I’m seeing California slowly. Tomorrow, the wind is supposed to be less, but I am taking no chances. Early to bed, early to rise. This fox is gonna beat ‘ol Man Wind. I plan to be in Redding by 10 am.