Saturday, June 6, 2015

Betrayal for Mercey


In Paicines, the market/taqueria/liquor store is trying hard to be hip enough to make fun of how small it really is. It's the center of the universe, or at least this junction, where we turn onto Panoche Road.

It's also mile 91. After a seriously tough morning, Jim wants to sit down here and have a break. Me too. The ride from Gilroy was exposed and busy. I'm after several things: quiet, cold liquid, cool shade. Basic things.
We sit outside the store with a big bottle of cold Gatorade and a big bag of Fritos and a big bag of ice for the Camelbak. My feet stop expanding against the bike shoes and compressing the nerves. Really, the only thing missing is quiet. 

Traffic streams past on the highway between Hollister and Pinnacles. Loud motorcycles and trucks, in constant motion. It's high season for road trips.

We unfold the map on the picnic table and look at the last stretch of road. The last 30-odd miles of the day. It's the Krebs bicycle map, which shows things cyclists are interested in. Like hills and water and places to eat.

Jim's pretty sure I didn't tell him about a pass between us and Panoche. I'm pretty sure I did. Anyway, there is one. We're both surprised at how high - nearly 2200'. Jim's altimeter says we're at 500 here in Paicines. So that's something...

According to the expression on his face, more than that is needed. I say look, it's one carat, one carat, one carat. Not a huge deal. There will be a fire station, then the pass. Mercey Hot Springs is off the edge of the map. Mr. Krebs knew we'd be heading there so he was kind enough to note the total mileage from Paicines: 36.5. Jim nearly falls off the splintery picnic bench.

Immediately I feel bad for leading him here, with the promise of a hot springs. It probably sounded like a mini-vacation, what was in the email. There definitely was a line encouraging him to bring his ukelele. Also something about books (plural) for me to read. These long hard rides just eat the flesh off our days. It will be dinner time before we get there.

The truth is, I don't remember much about this part from the first time I was here. Things look a lot different when you're comfortable. It was earlier in the year, earlier in the day, way less wear and tear on the legs.

And the dirt, the dirt this morning was tough, slow going. Our legs are covered in dust. Well, to be accurate there are layers: sunscreen, sweat, dust.

Two years have brought something else: work stress. Was that a different human being, who actually rode for fun?

Nothing can be done about it now. To get this project started again, I say "It's a real 200K". That's ~127 miles with no "almost" in front of it. The implication is, there will be suffering. There will be pride and bragging rights, too.

It's a truce. With full Camelbaks we head off in silence toward that huge, beautiful thunder cloud, waiting.

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