UP AND DOWN AND BACK AGAIN
This was my third 4-day tour before moving on to 7-dayers. This was even better planned than previous tours but that didn't stop other circumstances from the intended narrative. Once again I rented vans to shuttle folks from Redlands to the shores of Lake Tahoe. Unlike the 2nd tour, Santa Cruz, very few people had done any of my previous tours so expectations were different and some needed some lessons. Right from the start things got off track, a rider asked to be picked up along our route north which seemed doable till the "along" part became a 70-mile detour. All during this time, another rider was working the other cats up getting them to drink lots of water because we are going 'to altitude". The slogan "you can never drink too much water" soon had an alternative, "you can never pee enough". The normal 8-hour trek turn into the start of "Gilligan's Island", a nearly 14 hour ordeal. When we hit Sacramento, I put the quabosh on any further stops and informed the passengers that they would need to start looking for containers or diapers. We rolled into our rental house at 10PM just enough time to go over the next day's ride.
The next morning was a fairly simple route, circumnavigate the big blue water thing. It was a longish day but we told folks the van would pick riders up at South Lake Tahoe after lunch, so enjoy the time. The group, being rather diverse in ability, soon started to spread as expected. As we got to the north end, which is some of the best road conditions along the water, I heard a siren and had the notion that it was one of our riders. I told the group I was in that I wanted to go back and verify where everyone else was. And sure enough, my tours had its first casualty. Cindy had crossed wheels with her boyfriend resulting in a broken collarbone, ending her and his trip before it really got started. THey rolled her into the ambulance and the rest of continued on after wishing her the best. The rest of the ride to South Lake Tahoe was for the most uneventful and pleasant. After the lunch some of us continued on the western shore heading north. There are some amazing views here but you better be able to handle lots a motorhomes passing yo, though at times they were helpful when they stopped in traffic to take pictures. People are truly oblivious at times, but for us it gave us a clear road ahead for a bit. I got back to the house, retrieved the strays at the south end and make dinner.
That night was a lot of typical chatter about past riding experiences and tall tales. Some folks had done the Death Ride of which some of the course was slated for the next day. This would play an important part the following day in retrieving a stray rider. Just remeber Monitor Pass. So next morning said good bye to last beds for the next 2 nights and off we went. I was driving the it wasn't a long ride, 65-miles, but 6000', THe easiest thing was there were just 2 turns, 2 TURNS. A left which I was sitting with the van to tell them, then a right to Carson Pass of which was a "T". So go left where the sign says Carson or not left to Nevada. As the group split I decided I should head to camp so the early birds have there stuff as it was quite a bit cooler up here. I got camp all ready and thought some should be here by now. Normally, the drivers take a break and do something but I decided to get back in the van on a hunch as see that things were ok. I drove and drove, not seeing a soul. Started looking in earlier campgrounds. Nothing. Finally I find my two slowest riders coming. They never saw anyone. "What?!". There was only one turn and I told them multiple times to turn right to Carson. They couldn't have. They DID!. I drove pass the turn off and headed down to ALpine village near the Nevada border, where I found, well most of them. There were 4 still unaccounted for. At this point I let my frustration be known mainly because the van ws low on gas and now I'm running around looking for lost sheep. I had the second van stuff the lost souls for the trek back up to camp. Meanwhile, I raced across the Nevada border thinking where the HELL do they think they're going. WELCOME TO NEVADA. You'd think someone would scratch their head at that sign. NO they kept going. I finally got them, jumped on their backs about turning wrong. Apparently the first person was confused and the rest just followed even thinking that it was wrong. Queue head banging on wall sound effect. Now you would think from here we were all good. But NO. There was onNOt ly 3 of my 4. And she was not in front of them. THere was only one place she could be. MONITOR PASS. Turned around, back up and heading to Markleeville where there was a gas station, $7.50/gallon and pumped at a rate of a 8 oz a minute (I could spit more). Standing there holding that pump I felt the budget being sucked into it to burn. Off we went where we found a couple of other cyclists that confirmed her whereabouts. There she was, well on her way to the 395. The suspicion I had was soon confirmed. "Why did you turn off the main road back there?", "I over heard someone say something about Monitor Pass". Exactly what I said. Now if I could get them to listen to what I say as well as what they over hear, we would be golden.
Finally got back to camp where I cooled off and so did the temperature. Jackets came out and folks huddled around the fire before the dash to the tents. The cold was still there in the morning and we had a long descent to add to the trials. There was a lot of shivering going on but we made it to Arnold where things were quite warmer. The next 35 miles are some of my fondest ever ridden. The road to Murphy's was littered with short, steep pitches on rough roads that harbored little traffic if any. It did prove to be too much for most and the vans soon filled as many just wanted to get to lunch and not think about the bike any more. The group found lunch and I watched the vans before heading over to Angel's Camp. Despite all the sore legs and sore attitudes, sitting around the campfire tends to burn all the misery away and replace it with laughter and grit.
One more day, rolling hills to our final obstacle, Old Priest Grade. This was to be part of the first tour put was under construction, so this would be the make up. Stats: 2.4 miles, 1600' gain and 12.9% average grade (max 35%!). SICK. Only a few attempted the challenge and were worse for it. Kidding. THe rest cheered the riders at the top of the grade and after the obligatory picture, we loaded once again to have lunch in the old western town of Coulterville. Ate. Drank. And ent home. AHHHH! This tour would be the last for a few years as I got sucked into the life of an advocate. This one also took a bit out of me personally as a few folks seemed to be miffed a bit. I find it hard to relate too as this is a co op adventure and you paying for just the cost of it. There is relatively nothing left afterwards. Oh well. Time for a break.