Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Sierras Part 4

Day 4 (Wednesday) we arrived in Truckee around 5:30 and landed at the first bike shop on the route. Zeke went in to talk to the mechanic and I went next door to get some drinks and pickles.

I came back and the mechanic had Zeke’s bike taken apart and was explaining to me what exactly had been causing the squeaking noise that Zeke thought “wasn’t a big deal”. Turns out it was a very big deal. The steerer tube had a line worn about halfway through it, caused by an incorrectly installed lower bearing.

The mechanic said he would need to research a new fork, and wouldn’t be able to do it until the next day (Thursday). The part wouldn’t arrive until Friday earliest.

The tricky part was that we were supposed to be meeting Zeke’s next riding buddy near Quincy, I can’t remember the name of the campground, on Thursday.

Zeke was really bummed out about the delay.

We checked into the historic Truckee Hotel and made some phone calls to figure out logistics. Truckee wasn’t a bad place to stay, there are plenty of restaurants and hiking paths nearby.

We got a good nights sleep, had breakfast the next day and popped by the bike shop a couple of times. The mechanics were researching a replacement fork, but they weren’t having a lot of luck finding a good one for touring. I appreciate the work they did, but I wish the shop had communicated with us a little more about their interest and/or limitations in helping us. They are a mostly mountain bike shop, with mostly rentals, and in the end I really felt like we were bothering them. Who knows maybe they were short handed, or not invested. It was a little uncomfortable. I brought them pizza and beer to say thanks. Anyway, I feel lucky that we have the LBS that we do in SF, let’s just leave it at that.

In the end, Zeke’s Aba (dad) ended up finding a Surly Karate Monkey fork and he had it shipped to arrive Friday morning. I took a bus at noon on Friday to Sac and missed meeting Bill and Jaye (the next riding buddies). Also missed Zeke’s excitement at getting his bike fixed at noon. I’m sure they continued on as far as possible so that Zeke could have continuity on his ride. They were scheduled to hang out at Lassen Volcanic Park a couple of days as well.

I took Amtrak Capital Corridor from Sac to Richmond, it was super easy to roll the bike on board the train. I really loved it. I feel like I'm still processing everything that happened. Trying to get back into meditating and having some loving kindness towards myself. Also, this week has been full of Apparel Arts (starting on necklines), Dr Sketchy’s (drew Roma Mafia), etc.

Major Takeaways from this Tour:

• Packing light is still the way to go. Two front bags + tent/sleeping pad strapped to the back rack is such a rocking setup.
• Per Jesse Mullan, "The Sierras have had millions of years to work on their game, and this was your first try"
• Altitude and heat are no joke
• Now I understand why riders go and train in the mountains, they make you stronger
• It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun AKA adventure is never fun while you are having it
• I’ll be processing this for a long time, I think I’m different.

That line is not supposed to be there. Grateful that Zeke did not have an accident.

The historic Truckee hotel, since 1890s. Feels like Deadwood.

Capital Corridor is easy peasy!

Taught Zeke about side eye.

Collected a Tuolmne meadows pin, a Lake Tahoe pin and still have Eeyor in a Winnie the Pooh suit.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sierras Tour Part 3

Markleeville was great, I had a delicious breakfast burrito with extra crispy bacon, plenty of coffee and wifi to catch up with the internoodle (TM Miss Sheldra).

Several Death Riders came by to chat us up while we sat outside on the veranda. The sun also came to visit. And I got cranky. That’s one of the things that I knew about myself, but really experienced on this trip. I HATE the heat. I know the trick of pouring water over my head, we did that in the South of France while drawrrring in the heat. I know the trick of a soaked hankie tied around my neck. I soaked myself over and over on this tour. But this is one of the reasons that I don’t want to live where I grew up (the South). I melt. Like a bad ass chocolate chip cookie, I MELT.

So I was getting hot waiting on the check, then my spirits started going south. We hit up the grocery and decided to head up 89 to Woodfords, then see how we were doing. Of course Zeke wanted to do Luther Pass, it was pretty much all he could talk about. So there we were again. Negotiating.

It was slow going on 89 for me. It was hot. I needed some shade. A rider came up and told us in our shady spot that we were almost at the last little summit before Woodfords, so we continued on. There is a store in Woodfords. There we ate two grilled cheese, 4 pickles, a V8 and filled our bottles.

I guess in my mind Luther Pass was somewhere waaaay past Woodfords. I found out soon enough that Woodfords is the base of the pass. We took a couple of shady stops on the way to Hope Vally RV resort, and stopped for the night. GREAT DECISION.

Hope Valley was a gem. We stopped first at the little store/restaurant/pie shop. This is where we met Leesa, who filled us full of lemonade, cookies, pie a la mode and oh yeah I got a beer for the campsite. Then we met Eric, who gave us the best site in the space.

What a gorgeous place! We had beautiful golden light, and the breeze was making the tree leaves flicker all over the place. Huge white rocks, a swimming hole, with rock walls surrounding. The place has great facilities as well. There’s even a fantastic restaurant 500ft down the road where we had a really nice dinner. We ate well that day, met some wonderful people and it was relaxing.

Day 3 Monitor —> Hope Valley RV resort
Day 4 Hope Valley —>Truckee

We set off early on Day 4. Zeke wanted to make it all the way to Truckee. He assured me that after Luther Pass, it was just bumps in the road, no serious elevations. Luther Pass was pretty, though we were on HWY 88/89 with a lot of fast moving traffic for a while. I don’t like that. It’s unnerving and stressful.

I should mention that if we had gone as far as Zeke wanted to go the night before, we would have pushed on to Tahoe, to stay in Emerald Bay.

Instead at the end of Luther Pass (89/89), we had second breakfast. Zeke chose well, he ordered huevos rancheros and there were cripsy chips and avocado and all sorts of goodness on the plate. I believe we were at the Meyers Downtown Cafe. The server was from Tennessee, he loved being outdoors, his sons were both world class skiers. He took very good care of us.

Day 4 was the day of bike paths. We had a path to Tahoe, then on and off paths from Tahoe to Truckee.

Zeke was right in that the elevation was mostly just sort of bumpish. Though again we hit the bumps at the hottest part of the day, up and over Emerald Bay, to Meeks Bay, then along to my favorite part the Truckee river bike path. We saw people rafting down the river all afternoon and it looked glorious. Oh almost forgot the best part of the day, popping my feet into Lake Tahoe!!

It was about a 70 mile day to Truckee. The last 10 miles or so we had a nice wide shoulder on 89, so we cranked it. The next part of the story involves a mechanical. All I can say is that I’m grateful that the mechanical did not cause a major accident.

Between Markleeville and Woodfords.

Delicious pie.

The maker of the pies, Leesa!

Hope Valley

Hope Valley

Last pass: DONE

Hot feet in cold Tahoe.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sierras Tour Part 2

I've been back home since Friday and I'm very self reflective at the moment. One part of me wants to quit everything and go lose myself in adventure. I have about 6 books right now on various bike tours and other adventures. Willie Weir, Matt Biers Ariel, Cheryl Strayed, Alastair Humphries.

To be honest I'm also feeling negative, like my experience was a failure, rather than accomplished. This is a familiar feeling. One that I've had since I was a kid. My therapist and I talk about something called a nourishment barrier, where a person doesn't let good things in. Usually because bad followed good, and an early mistrust of the good things was formed.

I don't know if that's what is going on, or if I'm just regulating my emotions. If I start to do a comparison of myself to other riders, or even other folks who recount their experiences online, I find myself very self critical. I don't want folks to feel sorry for me, or for people to tell me to feel differently, I just want to note that this is how it is for me. Right now it's like this.

Having put that out there, I think I can talk about Day 2, Monitor Pass. We were approaching from the Topaz side, and it's 9 miles at an average 6.5% grade. Most of the portion between mile 2 and mile 6 was 8%.

The first couple of miles were fine, overcast, pretty even, I adjusted to the constant climbing and we were doing ok. Then the sun came out and we were exposed and the grade was HARD and there were vast distances between us and anything. We were moving at a slow pace, stopping every half mile. I was tired, hot, ready to give up.

Mile 4 I started looking for cars that I could hitchhike. It was not successful. Though a truck with a camper did stop with the intent to give me a ride to the top, turned out they were overheating and he ended up turning around to go down and find another way. He was super nice and gave us water, in the end we decided to camp nearby overnight.

We found a scamp site that had obviously been used before. It looked like the trees had been cleared for logging or something, and there was even a porta potty out on the road nearby. It was a good site near a creek, the bad part was the bugs. Evil biting flies and bad mosquitoes. I set up my tent hidden behind a tree so that I could get inside it as soon as possible.

Then I put on long sleeves and bottoms so that I could ride down the hill and make some calls where last I had cell service. I felt desperate sitting on the side of the road in what felt like the middle of nowhere. Writing this feels overly dramatic. I just want to say thanks to everyone who listened and offered to help when I called.

That scamp site was pretty sweet. Cool. Quiet. The next morning, we rode at a steady pace up a much cooler Monitor, with even a little rain. It was great to reach the summit.

We enjoyed the 'screaming descent' (quote from a Death Rider at the summit) and ate a ton of good food at second breakfast in Markleeville at Ali's Cafe.

Day 3: Monitor mile 4ish ---> to be continued

The vast.

Mile 7 or 8

V is for Victory.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sierras Tour Part 1

I don't know where to begin with this one. I really did not know what I was getting into committing to riding from Yosemite to Chester at Lake Almanor. Last year with Zeke was very reasonable riding, this year I knew it would be a lot of climbing, and I was anxious about it, but I really had no idea what I was getting into. Maybe that's good. Maybe I wouldn't have done it if I actually knew in advance what would be asked of me mentally and physically.

I was debating about doing a day by day recap from my postings on Facebook or an overall reflection of the tour. I'm still not sure what this is going to turn out to be.

Let me just say this tour was the hardest thing that I have every done. Ever. The first day I was on the phone with Bill, the Gerweins and texting with friends saying I wasn't sure if I could do it. Granted, we did two really hard passes that day. 1000 ft of the Tioga and stupid stupid hot stupid Conway Summit. At the end of the day, I think I had sun stroke or heat stroke, my face was puffy, my forehead was hot. I was completely freaked and exhausted.

Zeke really wanted to do two passes on day two: Devil's Gate and Monitor. Actually, he REALLY wanted to leave Bridgeport on day 1 and get over Devil's Gate (which would have been 3 passes on DAY ONE). I told him I knew that I could do one pass the next day, but I wasn't sure about two. I didn't sign up for the Death Ride after all...

We stayed at Bridgeport in a hotel the first night. We went over Devil's Gate in the morning, which was a very reasonable low grade with beautiful scenery. We went by the Walker River, which was beautiful. We stopped at a grocery store in Walker, but we should have stopped for a decent second breakfast. That was a mistake. It then it started to heat up and services were few between Coleville, Topaz and Monitor Pass.

I was irritated at the few options between Bridgeport (HW 395) and Monitor (89). We got to Monitor Pass too early to call it a day, so I felt like I had no choice other than to give it a shot. I even called my mother before we started, maybe this was an omen of what was to come. It seemed like our pattern was to hit these passes at the hottest part of the day. We filled up our bottles at the Firestation then started up Monitor... to be continued.

Devile's Gate Pass

Walker River

All there is in Topaz, CA...

Sunday Day 1: Tuolmne Meadows, Yosemite --->Bridgeport
Monday Day 2: Bridgeport ---> 4 miles into Monitor Pass

Friday, July 04, 2014

Against the Stream/Dharma Punx SF Center

I posted this on Facebook last week, but thought it was important enough to fire up the blog machine again!

For the last 5 years or so, my family has been struggling with my Dad's dementia. I don't even know where to begin to describe what this is like. Some of you may have heard details or snippets of phone calls. It's a very challenging form of acceptance, where the person is close enough to themselves that you can sometimes be in denial that this is happening to their brain. And then other times it's right in your face.

There are a lot of complications, craving for wishing things were different, letting go. Crisis happens, decisions have to be made, people get hurt emotionally and the dementia in my Dad even got physically frustrated with my Mom.

A lot of shit has gone down. My parents separated into different apartments in the same facility in South Carolina. Some shit went down during and right after AIDS/LifeCycle last year. So fucking stressful. I've cried a lot of tears. I've been angry and I've made emergency calls to my therapist. I've tried not to unload it on friends and family. It can be isolating. It's too much for a lot of people. It's too much for me sometimes. Having said all that, I try to look at things with the lens of gratitude.

So anyway, I needed something to help. Many roads ended up leading me to Friday night meditation at Against the Stream/Dharma Punx. I read the books. Downloaded some podcasts first from Diana Winston at UCLA , then I found the Against the Stream podcasts on iTunes, then I found more teachers whom I really like and that has expanded into a daily practice.

My partner is heavily involved in teaching at his workplace, and has gotten involved in the teacher training at AGT. We sit together M-F for 30 minutes a day.

Practice has taught me mindfulness, gratitude, generosity, patience, phrases like 'I love you, I forgive you, I forgive myself'. It's taught me that things will change. Anger and sadness will pass. Everything is going to be ok.

That's a lot.

Anyhoo, that's a fraction of why this new San Francisco center is so important to me. I want it to be successful. It's accessible and inclusive, it provides community (which is so important in this world), and meditation practice is life changing for real.

If you have a couple of extra dollars to share, please contribute. Here's the info on the Indie Go Go campaign: