Saturday, June 10, 2006

Over & out/ Chilcoot

This morning we left our campsite in Sierra City and rode 61miles (4 hours, 30 minutes) We climbed for 13 miles to Yuba pass (elev. 6700 ft), then enjoyed coasting 30mph for 7 miles down the east side of the mountains. After a lunch break in Sierraville (I ate a big Caesar salad), we went to soak for an hour at a wonderful hot spring just a mile from town. Highway 49 has been a fantastic and scenic route through the sierras. I took quite a few photographs today, and still there were many things I wish I had caught with my camera. The Sierras are awesome. It was a real pleasure to ride a bicycle through the forest, then emerge onto the immense high plain below Yuba pass.

Highway 49 has been great, and the climbs are not too steep.

I didn't really get off the bike at all until I reached the pass, I just managed to snap some pictures on the fly while riding. The first one I took (which I'm not posting) was super blurry, of a sign for the Pacific Crest Trail, which I hope to through-hike someday. This trail makes its way from Mexico to Canada following the crestlines of the most spectacular mountain ranges of the pacific coast.

Next comes the pay-off.

A scenic vista point half-way down.

I stopped at the junction of the 49 and 84 for a minute and met three guys from Colombia on motorcycles. They said they were en route from Miami to Alaska, and had plans to ride all the way back to NY afterwards. They were super friendly and spoke very little english. I was impressed with this strange structure by the side of the road. (I'm told it may be for curing or drying lumber)

Out onto the high plain, the last 30 miles of highway 49 before it dead-ends into the 70.

Outside of Sierraville (where we stopped for a nice mexican lunch break) we hit the Sierra Hot Springs. Inside this dome is a very hot pool (their map lists it at 105-110 degrees) with two cold plunges and a big redwood deck on the back. Thanks to our friends back in Nevada City, our visit was comped by the kind folks running the facilities at the spring. This was a very relaxing and refreshing break after climbing over the pass this morning.

Back on the road, some nice long flat stretches with the wind at my back. Fun to ride fast and feel strong.

A bunch of cool rustic ranch equipment and buildings out here.

Another great old train overpass.

This leg of the ride was marvelous, except for one new thing that scared the shit out of me. Cars passing each other on a two lane road with very little shoulder, right at the moment when they both pass you. I didn't see this coming until the last second. I was traveling at about 18 mph when a white sedan (which I estimate was passing around 75 mph) shot past me with no more than a foot of breathing space. That's a combined speed upwards of 90 mph. I actually yelled involuntarily I was so startled.

A cool ranch out in the middle of nowhere.

A cemetary out in the high desert plain (this whole plateau sits right around 5000 feet elevation)

Beautiful scenery at every turn. I reached the 70 moments after an accident occured at the intersection with the 49. No one was hurt, but the pickup truck involved had the rear axle ripped almost completely off.

Greg and Boo rode out to meet us after establishing camp above Chilcoot at the Frenchman Lake Recreation Area.


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