Friday, June 15, 2012
Vision Quest: The final day
Climb: 793 ft.
Total miles for tour: 508
As the opening photo suggests, we awake to some hard frost, low 20's F., one of the coldest of the tour. As always, I have problems processing the fact that the ride is down to its last day. We try to get moving, but the cold slows us down. The day begins innocently enough, flat, smooth fun, a lure to get us into the jaws of the trap we can't even see. In Ravendale, just down the road, we find, of all things, an actual phone booth. With the advent of cell phones, these are already quaint anachronisms. I slip into the booth to change into my super hero outfit and find the phone mangled a bit--someone has tried to pry it open such that I can see some inner workings--but amazingly, I get a ring dial tone! Hmmm...that "dial" word is quite the throwback, too. Unlike my young companions, I have actually used phones with rotary dials. What will my companions look on thirty years hence? Richard and Kevin will be on tour and find a dusty, discarded old cell phone on the side of the road. Richard: "Damn, remember when we used to use these?" Kevin: "Yo, but the brain implants are so much better these days. Can you imagine having to pull that junk out of your pocket and punch in numbers? Still, kind of cute little gadget, huh?"
A moderate climb takes us out of the basin we've been working since yesterday afternoon. Back into pinyon pine and juniper again, I look for a place to camp as I'd originally been planning. Not far below the summit as we begin the last significant drop of the tour, we pass a National Forest Service road on the left, a sign indicated a campground. Excellent. If we ever come this way again, we'll load up with water in Ravendale then up and over the pass to this road.
I savor the easy miles at speed, the country opening wider and wider. In a move impossible on a different kind of bike, I unhook my cleats and cross my legs, full-on lounge style. Sometimes it's all about the bike. We make steady work across a treeless plain below the pass and finally make a big right hook, the westward turn that will take us back to Susanville. We eat lunch at a small market and take Johnsonville Rd. for the final stretch. Post lunch, as we've encountered repeatedly on this tour, the ass-whuppin' begins. Absolutely, terribly fierce winds come blasting out of the west and beat, beat, beat us to a staggering pulp. We fight and fight and fight for 5 mph progress into the fangs of this headwind. For a while, I try ear plugs to dampen the raging noise in my ears. It's just brutal. Under windless or light breezes, we could easily average 15 mph here, but if wishes were wind direction, all tours would have tailwinds. We knuckle down and soldier on. We do have a few compensations:
We're unsure as to how far the end really is even though we know we're getting closer. After one turn, however, I see "Susanville, 2 1/2 Miles". So that's it. Even at it's worse, we've only got another half hour of this torture. What I had expected to be a quiet road has actually had heavy traffic over the last few miles. Not one but two major prisons seem to have let out a big shift of employees. Truck after truck after truck motors by, mocking our crawling speed. At least they give us plenty of room. To our delight and relief, however, the RV storage place is closer than the 2 1/2 miles, so almost before we know it, we spot the business and know, at last, that our struggles have ended. This tour is in the can.