Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

Wrestling The Bear

There are days out on the road you would just as soon forget.  Today, while unforgettable, is one I'd rather not have gone through.  I don't think outside of having to ride over Soldier Summit in Utah in a blizzard back in May of 2008, I've ever had a more miserable day on the bike in my life.   Aside from the sunshine leaving Bend this morning and heading past the Sister's and Mt. Bachelor, and the final 80 miles from Redding, CA to Chico, CA, I was for the most part wrestling with a bear.   Hence no pictures, no humorous observations from the road or the people I met.  I just pushed through the day and wished it would end.
I say that because my body feels like it's been fighting all day -- and it was.  Fighting the weather, both rain and a perpetual 35 mph southerly head-wind that I was riding into or across for the entire day.  It's kinda like slamming into a wall -- the bike is going along at 55-60mph into a wind coming back at you at 35mph.  Rather than cut through the air, you are pushing it and it's pushing back, and so you fight with the bike and the road to stay in position and battle your way forward.  Throw into that either a light rain that stings as it's blowing into you, or a heavy downpour that is akin to going through a car wash, and you have one miserable day.  I added it up -- 365 miles today, of that 320 were into the wind, and 85 were in a light rain, while 45 were in a heavy rain.  All that muscling of the bike was like wrestling a 700 pound bear.

I found myself screaming back at the wind -- unable to hear myself because over the roar of the bike and the rushing of the wind -- cussing the road, other drivers (people who ride with me in my car know this is not unusual), and myself for pushing forward.  I had opportunities to stop -- in Klamath Falls and in Weed, CA, but I didn't.  I'm glad I didn't too.  At the rate I'm going I won't make Austin, and I may not make the Bay area!  How bad was it?  Well I'll spare the details -- if I told you my Mother's hair would turn a shade of white that would be blinding.  I rarely HATE being on the bike -- but today I did.  

I think outside of the two day blizzard in Utah in May of 2008 between Vernal and Salt Lake, I've never wanted to get off the road as much as I did today.  And it just didn't quit -- mile after mile of wind and rain.  The worst was coming down I-5 (bad enough to be on a freeway, but in bad weather to boot!) between Weed, CA and Redding, CA.  Normally this is a gorgeous ride -- down past Mt. Shasta, and Lake Shasta, winding through the forest along the Sacramento River.  Today it was 45 miles of riding through a car wash.  It was so bad that the light rain earlier in the day North of Klamath Falls that I'd been cursing at was something to be thankful for when coming down from Weed.  Funny how perspective changes under certain circumstances.  When the rain would lighten up some I'd say to myself -- this isn't so bad you can do this!  About half way down the mountain I saw a sign for an Exxon station off the next exit and because my glasses were full of water I decided to maybe wait it out a bit there.  If Alfred Hitchcock could have found another location for the movie Psycho, this would be a good candidate.  An ancient log structure that was a truck stop before the freeway was built, and now almost abandoned.  Old pumps without the credit card activation slot, and no one in the lot, and one guy inside who was watching TV.  I dried off a bit and hurried back on the road.  Under other circumstances it would have been an interesting old road relic I might have liked -- today it was creepy.

The storm finally let up just outside Redding at the bottom of the grade down from Shasta, and I toyed with the idea of staying there, but it was warm and sunny and I thought I'd push on to Chico.  Now I'm achy and sore and ready for bed.  Not much more I can say except I'm glad it's over and tomorrow looks much much better.

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