And it begins... Part I of the Ride
So, I started riding my bike from my house in Tahoe to my house in La Ventana in Baja, Mexico. It was very fitting to start my ride with two of my best friends, Allie Donovan and Emily Turner. We took off on our rode bikes around Lake Tahoe and over Luther pass. On the other side of Luther pass we parted ways and I continued by myself until I hit the 100-mile mark. My son Tilen picked me up there and we drove to Bridgeport where we had a great evening by the fire on Glen Poulsen and Uli Maybach’s property- thank you Glen and Uli for hosting such an amazing Burning Lamb event! It was great to see everyone.
The next morning Tilen dropped my friend Matt MacLean and I back to where I finished the night before. We rode a hellish 44 miles climbing 3000 feet to Sweetwater Summit and rode into strong gusty winds that literally knocked me off my bike a couple of times. Thank you Matt for pulling the way. I’d still be out there if I rode alone. From Bridgeport, Patrick and I rode to Lee Vining and met up with Jim and my dear and crazy funny friend and Baja neighbor, Kari Castle. We reluctantly started climbing Tioga Pass. Patrick did a great job pulling the way up front. Strong gusts did not help an already challenging climb. At one point the gusts were so strong that Jim and I had to get off our bikes to walk. I was literally pushed backwards. How demoralizing but we made it to the top. Jana met us at the gate to Yosemite and from there we parted ways. It was emotional. Kari and Patrick rode back to Lee Vining, Jim drove Jana and Bixby back to their car down there and I continued to Tanaya Lake. The ride was beautiful and riding downhill felt rewarding. Jim caught up with me and we drove to find a camp spot which is not easy in Yosemite. We found it just before dark and had a great dinner by the fire. We washed it down with beer and couple of shots of tequila. The next morning, which was Monday, we said a tearful goodbye and I rode off with tears in my eyes not wanting to look back at Jim. This is the longest we will be apart since we started dating more then fifteen years ago.
Yosemite valley was beautiful but I couldn’t wait to get out and away from all the traffic. The 3661-foot climb out of the valley was hellish. After 50 miles on my bike that weighs more then half of my bodyweight, I made it to Fish Camp at the South End of Yosemite entrance just as it was getting dark. I found White Wolf Lodge and although it was way over my budget, decided to stay there. It was dark and cloudy. In the morning I woke to pouring rain. Trust your intuition!
I took time to regroup and repack and deal with taxes and business emails. Although I had a late start at 1 pm, I rode another 40 miles on beautiful quiet country roads by Bass Lake and was rewarded by some smooth long downhills but payed for them climbing back out of the valleys to gain 2536 feet all in all. Made it to town of New Auberry in the dark and stumbled into a tavern to a well-rewarded cold beer and gobble down the best mushroom burger. Listening to country music and watching the local people gathering for the only entertainment in town to play pool and drink beer was priceless.
So, I am on my own now. Riding whenever I want to, at my own speed, as far as I can go. I am loving it- my butt and my legs not so much. My knee hurts like hell and my right quad is cramping due to nerve damage. I try to ignore it as much as I can. But my mind and my heart are opening up to the freedom of the hills around me. I inhale sweet air infused with pine, manzanita, and earth after the rain. The views from the top are exhilarating and the downhills are a hoot. My “Beast” is performing beautifully. It feels as solid as it is nimble. It is my friend and my trusty companion for a long road ahead. I will take good care of it and keep the chain oiled so it stays faithful to me.
I am off to the next unknown territory.
“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves “ said Sir Edmund Hillary