Ride to Portland Day 4
Rest day in Redding
Felt nice to sleep in till 7:15. Busy day today. Aaron has an 8:00 dentist appointment and an 11:00 massage. Did I mention he is trying out early retirement too? 25 years as a trial defense lawyer, a life of arguing with people. Then 1 1/2 years ago severe chest pains and two stints to open a totally blocked blood vessel in his heart. Doctor told him of the five indicators of heart disease, he had one: stress from his job. Re-evaluation time, retirement, less stress, increased happiness. I have caught him at a good time. Speaking of heart disease, my Big John’s Redneck Benny breakfast plate just showed up.
At home I eat a small bowl of homemade granola for breakfast EVERY morning. On this trip I figure I can eat whatever I want, but I think this is definitely pushing the limit too far. Once in a lifetime experiences comes in many shapes and forms. Country music on, a functioning, running model train mounted from the ceiling circling the room….and I am the only male in the room not sporting a mustache. Aaron is a hard core democrat. He is clean shaven. Do all the men in this room already recognize me as an out of town, Bay Area liberal? I haven’t shaved this trip yet, but I don’t think my stubble provides enough camouflage.
This afternoon I am helping Aaron move a dead Jeep. He is going to tow it behind his truck While I sit in the Jeep holding the steering wheel to keep the tires straight.
Then we are going to DRIVE to Weed with my bike IN THE CAR. Back in the Caltrain on the first morning of this trip, the fellow cyclist sitting next to me said, ‘We bike for fun. Have a great time on your trip.” Once I decided weeks ago that I was going to take the Amtrak train from Klamath Falls to Eugene to shorten the trip by 170 miles and 3 days, the Iron Man-esque idea of I will ride the whole 700 miles disappeared. I have already achieved my feeling of cyclist awesomeness with my 3 day performance to get here.
The Redding to Klamath Falls leg of the trip – stage 2 for me – has always vexed me. The direct route requires riding on I-5, which is legal but probably suicidal. I called a local bike shop here and they told me there is a bridge over the lake at one point with no should to speak of and semis in the right lane. There is one yellow-green sign at the start of the bridge that says ‘Share the road’, the shoulder is literally one foot wide and full of road gravel and debris. No way!!! Burney to Klamath Falls straight included about 85 miles of nothingness between Burney Falls Campground and McLeod on hwy 97. Too isolated for a single rider in many peoples’ opinion (including my wife’s), plus the entire ride day would be 120 miles. Definitely too Iron Man-esque. I had settled on Redding-Burney-Weed-Klamath Falls, which would take 3 days after today’s rest day. But then another option occurred to me as I alluded to above. Just get a ride across Shasta lake and all would be well – 2 days of riding, 120 miles, 8700 feet of elevation skipped. “We do this for fun. Enjoy your ride.’ The mantra took hold. This adjustment of the route would give me more time to cruise the Willamette valley. Rain is forecast for the 3 days I will be riding from Eugene to McMinnville on my adjusted itinerary. Good thing I mailed my rain gear to Aaron so I would have to carry it only for the Oregon leg of the trip.
I’m up in Weed now at the Townhouse motel, the dull roar of I-5 permeating the walls. My sheets are clean. The I Love Weed t-shirt store is across the street. I am happy to have gotten a lift here. The Siskiyous are quite rugged. It would have been a rough, sunny, hot time riding here for two days. The car ride took one hour. Today was a day of chores for Aaron, lots of driving around. We crossed the Sacramento River 6 times going from the east side to the west side of town, back and forth. One way to see a city.
The Jeep was a rusted, broken down 1944 US Army Jeep that Aaron has owned for decades. Sitting in that Jeep crossing Redding was a bit Disneyland Indiana Jones ride and Hop On Hop Off city tourist bus, the ones that look like London double deckers with the roof chopped off. The ride was thrilling (without the fake poison darts) while I was completely just along for the ride, and scenic as I just watched everything passing by, unencumbered with the need to drive.
Tomorrow is a straight 70 mile stretch of road that quickly becomes high desert – another ecosystem change on this trip. I checked on Google street view and the road has a rumble strip at the white line and a good sized shoulder. I’m hoping the shoulder is not too rough, and I will have a nice space between me and the traffic. 4 to 5 hours riding time on 97 to reach Klamath Falls. What little wind there will be will be coming from the southeast, I am riding in a northeasterly direction, so I might get a little push. That would be welcome. Think good thoughts, think good thoughts.