Memorial Day Mingle – Day 3

2014_memorial_day_mingle-1328Ibuprofen is a God send. Michael suggested I take some to help reduce the inflammation from the bug bite. It worked like none other! While I wasn’t quite normal, things were looking a lot better. We were originally slated to take US-50 down to Ice House Road to Wentworth Springs Road. A number of us were gun shy as US-50 is a major traffic corridor on a holiday weekend with only two lanes.

A number of us were conflicted as to the route home. There was strong support for CA-4, ala Ebbetts Pass as well as some people who wanted to take I-80 home to have a longer afternoon in the Bay Area. We decided to split the groups as there was a competent ride leader in each of the groups.

Ebbetts Pass and I have always had a love-hate relationship with one another. Whenever I’ve traditionally crossed Ebbetts Pass the weather has been bad but I know many people love this pass. Since it was preseason I was expecting a fair amount of gravel and crap along the road.

Leaving South Lake Tahoe, the weather was actually great. Temperatures were in the low 60s at 6000 feet. We bounced over Luther Pass and traffic was almost nonexistent. As riders we were in paradise! We reorganized the group as we started climbing Ebbetts Pass to allow the faster riders to go ahead. I wanted to take my time and was in no hurry to get to the top.

The write up the eastern side of Ebbetts Pass is super steep with lots of tight turns. I was back in the Sierras though. This is the part of the world I deeply missed while I was in Australia. It was refreshing to be connected to the area I missed so much. We casually met a local rider back in South Lake Tahoe who was out having fun for the day. We crossed paths with her again at the top of Ebbetts Pass. She offered to take a photograph of the group and all of us instantly obliged!

2014_memorial_day_mingle-1321

I wanted to take some more photos of the group but was struggling to find a backdrop that worked as well as the one from yesterday. The section of CA-4 we were on didn’t have a great view that was out of the direct sunlight. This area was a little straighter than yesterday’s, but I think it still works.

Once CA-4 returns to a full two lanes, it’s a truly great ride down to the Sacramento Valley. The pavement is great and the turns you have a predictable but engaging cadence. We stopped at Giant Burger in Arnold for lunch. Much like everyplace else along the highway, they were swamped! I will say though, chicken fingers and sweet potato fries did this body good!

We rode together down to Angels Camp and then the rest of the group headed to Stockton while I was headed. I wanted some time to ride alone as well as to say hello to John in Sacramento. He was having a small get together of friends and I wanted to stop by as I was somewhat in the area.

I truly enjoyed riding in groups and alone for very different reasons. It hit me that leading a group is an intense responsibility. When leading, you’re always on. It’s great to be able to lead and execute a ride and give that enjoyment back to your community. Riding alone restores me as it’s just me, the bike, and the pavement. Sometimes that solitude can be freeing as well as confining but at the current moment it was freeing.

As I rolled into Sacramento the heat of the day was peaking. It was great to see John after a few months overseas. Good friendships can always pick up regardless of time and distance as the connection remains alive. Good things seem to be going on for both of us in the context of change. After a few bottles of water, it was time to hit the road and head west.

Interstate 80 on a holiday weekend is a force to be reckoned with. Living in San Jose afforded me the option of choosing Interstate 80 or Interstate 5 out of Sacramento. Now I just had to ride Interstate 80 all the way down to the end. Traffic was horrific. There’s no way around it. It’s 1,000,000° and I’m stuck on a freeway with automobiles belching out all kinds of hydrocarbons.

I met up with John and Armin right outside of the Bay Area. I had expected them to be a good distance ahead of me but it turned out they had a fair amount of traffic getting into Sacramento as well. As we approached San Francisco, the winds picked up in need for an interesting approach into the city. In Georgia, they don’t have wind like this so John was having fun on his bike getting tossed around a bit.

I’m looking forward to the next adventure. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later. 🙂

Route:

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