Sunday, June 23, 2013

Long day into night

Four miles slightly downhill with a tailwind to Highway 139. Canby to the right, 27 miles. Alturas 45. So says the sign.

I do not backtrack and head uphill into the wind to Tionesta. To that sweet little place with the cabins and store. That would have been the right thing. Instead I'm strangely committed to reaching Alturas. It just seems like what I have to do at this point. As if the National Weather Service has a perfect track record on the timing and severity of storms. As if this were some kind of organized cycling event. And as if I knew the way.

Canby is where we tack east and take advantage of the wind. That much I remember from the map. The road to Alturas looks like a bent arm, with Canby at the elbow. Another 27 miles of struggle.

On this stretch I learn a few things:
  • The highway looks flat on a map. Yet for 10 miles it rolls over the top of every little hill. Damn.
  • 13 mph is not fast enough.
  • Six years later, the scene of a huge wildfire still looks clear-cut.
  • Semis use this road to get to Susanville.
  • Hay is a mainstay of the local economy.
  • At dusk in late June a whole lot of small insects are going crazy. It's Burning Man for bugs...
  • You can breathe through your nose for only so long.
  • It gets dark at Canby, where nothing is open at this hour. 
  • Correction: the Canby Hotel looks like it might be a brothel.
  • Highway 299 has a nice shoulder, then halfway to Alturas the shoulder disappears.
  • Semis use Highway 299 as well. About every 90 seconds, a vehicle passes.
  • A reflective triangle, Solas blinkie, and Edelux lamp make you plenty visible. The cars and trucks leave plenty of room as they pass.
  • Bring at least one reflective leg band on a bike tour, even if you don't plan to be out after dark. A leg band can always fit somewhere.
  • Three miles with no shoulder in the dark can make you question everything.

I was so proud of making all my turns today. It would have been time well-spent though, to check the course of the GRR. There's no need to take 299 from Canby. County Road 60, Centerville Road, is the smart alternate.

The Super8 in Alturas leaves the light on for me. Which in a community with a rampant meth problem, is saying a lot. The night clerk is a burly guy with a laptop.

If I had stayed in Tionesta and finished the ride Monday morning, I would have missed a late-night chat with the clerk at the Shell station. The only food in town after, say 9pm. Dinner is a homemade chicken wrap with ranch dressing. An apple, a Coke, and the last of the Fritos from lunch. Totally respectable for mini-mart fare. Close encounters with jerky, lurching, itchy meth users, free of charge. This is where they congregate.

These last 45 miles were a lesson in decision making; loss aversion, ordering, reference points, framing. It's all there.

The odometer reads 173.3 miles. Feeling a little silly for pushing this far, I take a bath and sleep very well. The rain that was supposed to arrive at 11pm, the storm on the way - it holds off until 10 the next morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment