Thursday, June 27, 2013

Beverages of choice

Well, logging is still going on in the northern Sierras. They're using Highway 36 to get the logs to the mill at Chester. The mill has a corporate account at the Shell station in Westwood. The clerk tells us about all the paperwork that's involved when a trucker comes in. Something tells me it's worthwhile, though.

No petrol for us, just ice and snacks and a rest. Still plenty hot. On the menu is Red Bull, mesquite BBQ potato chips, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The sandwich has 150 miles on it today. It's been marinating all day in the back of my Camelbak and needs eating.

"There's a seating area out back" I tell Bill. "Really?" he says, starting toward the north side of the building. In reality it's an enormous, disorganized mountain of old tires. Presumably when the trucks are done with them they go back there to retire. Decent seating, but aesthetically it needs a little something. A little Martha Stewart action.

Between us we know pretty much nothing about the road from here to Quincy. Bill has the turns; that's important. I rode the east side of Lake Almanor once, fifteen years ago. All I remember is, shady and beautiful. No idea whether it's flat.

On the way to the lake we pass through old Westwood. A former mill town in the process of becoming a summer getaway. Westwood figured out how to reuse the mill site, then wrote down what they learned to help other towns do the same thing. Oddly, the local owner of the mill, the Red River Lumber Company bought the rights to the Paul Bunyan story and Westwood is embracing Paul Bunyan as its mascot, even as the town reinvents itself. The town centennial is next weekend, July 4. A pretty big deal!

We're reading the poster in the window of the store, which closed a few minutes ago. That's a problem because Bill's legs have decided to cramp mightily in protest of many hot miles. First aid needed right now. The store owner is still up front. Thank goodness she opens the door.

"Spicy Hot V-8?"? She waves to the shelf against the wall. I buy two; down the hatch.

Another stroke of luck: it's a good descent to the lake, then gently rolling along the shore. Which is indeed shady and beautiful. Thanks to the Red Bull we make good time to Canyondam, a tiny community at the dam on the Feather River. Another descent to Greenville. Over 1500 feet of elevation lost since Westwood. Bill's legs get to recover. I am euphoric.

Greenville has a real store that is still open and has cold Gatorade. The clerk asks if we're part of that bike ride. Kind of, we say. We worked it in Alturas. On our way to Quincy tonight. Why are we doing this? Um, don't know why!

Then Bill asks how far it is to Quincy and collects 3 different answers: 29 miles, 27 miles, 21 miles. The road signs all seem to have a different opinion, too. If you're a local in a car it doesn't matter. My computer says 164-point-something and to us it matters a great deal. The sun is low and we're ready to be done. On goes the rear blinkie.

As we crest a little bump I begin to recognize this valley from a brevet 10 years ago; it's Indian Valley. Very beautiful. Here the GRR riders took a back road toward Taylorsville. We descend more and more into the Feather River Canyon. We're descending so much that Bill puts on the brakes and stops in a pull out. There's a cyclist heading up the canyon toward us. We flag him down to make sure this is right!

It's Stu, a former mountain bike racer from Quincy. On the way to his girlfriend's place in Taylorsville. He tells us we're on the right track, gives us the low-down on the road ahead, and some tips for tomorrow.

Would love to stay and chat but y'know, miles to go before we sleep.

A couple of miles down where Indian Creek meets the Feather River there is a chance to cross and head upriver to Quincy. That is what we do; a 10-mile climb that takes every bit of daylight. In the process we pass the Keddie Wye without even seeing it.

On the left, the Gold Pan Lodge in Quincy we definitely do see. And when it's not necessary to resort to Safeway for dinner because Pizza Factory on Main Street leaves the light on past closing (there are still customers eating, after all), we are so all over that.

With a half vegetarian, half BBQ chicken pizza, the day ends with a pint of Great Basin Ichthyosaur “Icky” IPA. An IPA for a 300K!

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