Day 1

Another new week . . . must be time for another new adventure. Part of the Tuesday riding sub group of the mbbt is on the road AGAIN! Greg had just returned from Europe, TommyH had just returned fro Hawaii, BillyB had just returned from climbing Mt Rainier, Rick had just returned from France (three days before) and TommyG had just returned from Verona . . . (Wisconsin).

We met O’dark thirty at Kelly’s BP for the ride to Milwaukee . . .

. . . but not before BillyB makes a stop at Dunkin Donuts for his first breakfast of the day . . .

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. . .some of the crew almost wet their pants as we rode past the Packers stadium in Milwaukee. . .

Once we got to Mitchell Aeroport the gang did what came natural to them . . .

9:30AM Greg and BillyB had a hamburger . . .

. . . TommyH checked his financials . . .

BillyB had a second breakfast . . .

and the other two headed for the bar. Never to early to have a beer in Milwaukee . . . plus we are on holiday!

Here are MaryJane and Mary heading to Seattle. MaryJane had just moved to Sun Prairie and loved it!! and Mary, on the right, lives  in Fitchburg and had gone to school with TommyG. He had a crush on her in high school!

We did experience a few transportation problems along the way . . .  our plane had sort of a hard landing at LAX . . .

You can see below how the jet engine became a little ‘out of round’ from contact with the ground.

After experiencing the bumpy ride to Europe, AND the issue at LAX, I was ready for anything they could throw at us as I napped the flight away . . .

There are fire issues in the Lake Tahoe area and we could see the King fire as we descended into Reno.

Ends up the smoke plume was blowing right towards our condo.

One more transportation issue. As you can see my yellow bag in the trailer its upside down . . .why? to hide the damage that had been done at LAX!

OUCH! The top was damaged by the dragging of it behind a trailer or it being caught on a conveyor until it just about burned up resulted in some quick negotiations with SW airlines, their agreeing to buy me a new back, a trip to the REI store 1 mile away and them cutting me a check for reimbursement!

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Here is the gang waiting for me . . .

Like a lot of towns built on the false economy of gambling, Reno has it’s share of homeless of those downtrodden from chasing the American dream of gambling and getting something for nothing . . .

homeless

. . . including this poor soul lying in the door of the airport. His pleas for a little spare change touched our hearts and we too him to the Great Basin Brew pub for dinner.

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New bag . . . good to go!

Gee .  . . do we have enough gear?

After dinner it was time to head to Truckee . . .and towards the nuclear plume that would swallow our condo  . . .

Oh . . . and we are already missing our honeys!

As we drove up the road to our condo, in our headlights we could see what looked like snowflakes beginning to fall. Wrong time of year . . . it was ash from the King fire blowing into the road. BillyB and I both having retied from the fire business may be pressed into service to help save the day!!

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Good thing we brought our turnout gear!!!

Greg had come through again with his great talent for picking fine digs for our stay in Reno . . .

. . .our living room . . .

. . . full kitchen . . .

. . .Rick’s room . . .

TommyH’s room . . .

Greg’s master suite . . .

with ensuite bath!

The G and the B were in the Reno version of the Moab ‘submarine’!

We drifted off to the smell of wood smoke!!!!

Day 2

Most slept well last night except for me . . . up at 3:00am and finally got out of bed wide awake at 4:00AM. Quiet time to journal, with coffee and chocolate chip cookies.

TommyH decided to try a new hairstyle for the ride. Here he waits for the mousse to dry on his Mohawk.

Amazing what things look like in the day time!

Here is the water protections system BillyB and used to protect the dwelling last night. It didn’t burn down!!!! You can see some of the accumulated ash on the deck.

Once everyone was up it was time to head into to town for breakfast. Here is the ‘outdoor’ post office that serves the local community. Must be a chore keeping it snow free in the winter!

. . . and speaking of heading into town . . . not the easiest thing to find in all the smoke!

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Of course  . . . that didn’t stop us from finding the local restaurant.

Let the coffee flow!

Corned beef hash . . .

BillyB’s breakfast include the watermelon!

We stopped at The Back Country Outdoors shop where we had shipped our bikes and picked them up. Once back at the condo it was time for a little assembly and out for a 20 mile shakedown ride.

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Try not to breathe!!!!!

This was a funny little shopping area we road by on the way out of town. Truckee meat market with Scraps, a dog deli right next door. Fun!!!

Ahhhhhhhhh . . . yeah!!!

We road out of town and around Donner Lake where there was a large memorial to the survivors of the winters of 1846 and 1846, when the pioneers traveling west had to overwinter because of deep snow.. The twenty two foot snow fall was the same height as the base of this monument.

The G’s ride . . .

We are thinking of getting one of these for the mbbt gang. Could use it at our cap City ride break we have at Lake Waubesa.

Everyone had a great shake down ride EXCEPT BillyB who had three or four mechanical problems and two flat ties. Including one where is tire below up the moment the mechanic put it up on the bike stand!

It turned out there was a thick blanket of smoke on the whole ride today and most of us experienced some discomfort breathing and to our throats. Adventure Cycling is monitoring the progress of the fire and may change the route if necessary.

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The King Fire is burning in steep terrain in the South Fork of the American River Canyon and Silver Creek Canyon, north of the community of Pollock Pines. The fire nearly tripled in size making a run to the northeast yesterday of over 10 miles up the Rubicon Canyon towards Hell Hole Reservoir. Spot fires were observed up to 3 miles ahead of the fire front and have moved into Placer County. California Interagency Incident Management Team 5 is in Unified Command with CAL FIRE, Eldorado National Forest, and the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.  

Go here to learn about the fire.

Soon it was time to head back, including the three mile climb back up the hill to our condo! A well deserved beer and cookie break ensued. We will be dining in tonight and half the group headed into town with the van for a shopping trip.

Oh . . . and they came home with provisions!!!

TommyH was on the veggie station . . .

. . . BillyB was on the salad station . . .

oh,  . . . .and the G had special presentation on the appetizers!!!!

Greg was our quality control officer keeping the fire extinguisher handy!!!

The boys were taking orders . . . medium rare, please . . . grilled to perfection!!!!

Let’s eat!!!

Yum . . . another glass of vino and time to turn in for the night. Tomorrow we ascend Donner pass!!!

Day 3

It was hard to believe after what we ate last night we could ever be hungry again, but 5:30am rolled around we were all up drinking coffee and eating the last of the chocolate chip cookies AND trying to figure where we would go to eat. We decided on Marty’s, a local eatery owned by Marty, who was a Chef for George H. Bush in Maine. We were there when the café opened at 8:00am and had a hearty Republican breakfast!!!! So hearty . . .  we needed to stroll around town a bit to help with digestion. The fire and smoke had driven everyone onto town and here was a family of locals parading down the promenade. Truckee is know mostly for skiing in the winter and many winter articles were starting to appear in the local stores. Today we would be climbing to Donner’s Pas, something not for the faint of heart. Even though we had a filling breakfast we bought this whole tray of popcorn covered with chocolate and caramel for a snack  up the mountain. Most of it was gone before we even left town!!!! 71 Yesterday we had passed through Donner State Park and tried to find a scenic shot. A little ‘foggy’ yesterday because of the smoke. 70 During the night the wind had shifted a little and blown most of the smoke out of Truckee. MUCH nicer this morning! Our route up to Donner Pass. Photos never do justice to grade and elevation. The red line is part of our approximate route . . . . . . up, up and up . . . time to take a breather as we climb up above Donner Lake and the State Park. Yippee . . . we summit! . . .and had a quick ride down to town. You can see the four boys on the road in the middle of the photo. BEAUTIFUL weather!!!! Believe it or not it was time for lunch . . . BillyB started with his favorite ‘recovery’ drink! He needed it because we still had the 10-12% grade rode back to the condo . . . . 4 miles of it!!!

A quick shower, some laundry and a few snacks prepared by the G and we were on the road to Squaw Valley for some sightseeing. We had hope to ride the gondola to the top and have dinner. But alas. . . in the summer the tram stops at 5:00pm  AND it was $39 to ride the tram to the top. What to do . . . ? 72 How about make friends with some of the locals from the Hard Rock Café who were selling t-shirts. Billy was so impressed when they told him he had such  BIG shoulders, he bought one for Marci, his wife!!! As you may notice the sizing might run a little small though. The ones the girls have on seem a little ‘tight’ !!

It was time to head out for dinner in downtown Truckee. TommyH, Greg and Rick went to Morey’s, a fine dining place establishment strategically positioned in the middle of Truckee social scene. The B and G went to a family pizza parlor with lots of screaming children playing Pacman. When they finished they walked towards our very well positioned outdoor corner dining table where we had dined and watched Truckee’s finest pass by on Friday night. Greg bought a final round for the gang and Ann Marie was nice enough to let a couple of non-diners join us and soon there were drinks al around. A great way to spend our last night at the condo in Truckee. Tomorrow night we start the ‘official’ bike trip part of the adventure. Sweet dreams!!!

Day 4

After a night on the town, everyone slept in until 6:30am. The B had scoped out the Wagon Trail Restaurant for breakfast that featured half price breakfast before 7:30am. By 7:18am we were seated and meeting our server, Chevon. She quickly recognized the ‘big tipper’ potential of our senior group and took off her glasses, let down he shoulder length hair and asked who the biggest topper was. Of course we all pointed to TommyH who received the special attention!  . . . and it was a great breakfast too!

We got a dozen of these to go . . .

Chevon joins us . . .

. . . lets her hair down, takes off her glasses . . .

. . . and says Hi  to TommyH.

Greg tries to make a new friend too . . .

A few stops in town for provisioning and it was back to the condo to rest, pack up and get ready for our move to Donner State park our overnight for the first day of the ride.

Believe it or not there was a Badger game on this morning we all had to watch and believe it or not the beer started flowing at 9:30AM. We couldn’t take it with us so . . . bottoms up. After all we are on holiday!

We are camping overnight at the Donner Pass State Park. After several loads of transferring our gear we were set up.

Kelly, one of the six staff on the ride, made the rounds and offered chocolate chip cookies!

Before dinner we had an introductory meeting regarding the ride details and tomorrow’s route . . .

While we were meeting, Kathy and here husband Jack were busy preparing dinner .

88. . which we all heartily took part in devouring!!!!

Jack and Kathy’s dog, Pumpkin, travels on tour with them too. The three have catered over 105 Adventure Cycling tours!!

A few more beers and it was lights out. Tomorrow we leave quite early to avoid conflicting on route with 2,500 trianthloners!!!

Day 5

Everyone had quite a restless night. The temps was fine but the constant roar of the interstate AND the 101 trains that run through Truckee with two engines pulling an  2 pushing kept us up.

We needed to leave camp by 7:30am this morning to avoid mixing it up with the triathlon folks, but it ended up being canceled due to the smoke issues. Bad for the lungs . . . didn’t stop us from riding though!

BIllyB last to wake up . . . last to pack up.

But . . he and the G were the FIRST in the chow line!

To keep the tour ‘green’ everyone had to bring their own plates and silverware and do your own dishes, a three stage process.. Happy riders!

Oh yeah . . . we had to do a little clean up. We are already known as the ‘Boys from Wisconsin  who like to drink ‘adult beverages’.

Riding out of town was similar to what we had encountered riding on Thursday before the win blew he smoke our of town. It’s BACK!!!

We reached Lake Tahoe which seems to be low?

We encountered many Triathlon riders who rode even though the official event was cancelled. PLEASE, don’t mix up these mbbt members posing on the winners podium at Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Olympics, with the triathlon riders!

Time for  espresso and gelato!

Billy makes a new friend . . .

. . . he was ready to put it in his bag and take it home!

Today was only about 42 miles and we got to the rest stop at mile twenty. LOTS of goodies. My favorite . . .figs with Nutella and cream cheese!

The miles later after TWO BIG climbs we were at Inspiration Point . . . couldn’t see the lake, and time for lunch.

It was raining so the mbbt gang took shelter under a rock outcropping.

wizardNot much of a view of Wizard Is. Wonder what the smoke is doing to our lungs!

Then it was time to head down the mountain.

This was an interesting item I had not send before. The sign on the log was advertising a blood bank need for a serviceman and the notes to the left were from those who had donated blood.

Kelly Green, one of the guides, had left her rain coat in the van this morning so had to improvise. It worked!

Tommy G got as unpacked as he could get be before having a Foster’s 23 oz.

Day 6

Everyone slept well in camp last night . . very quite. The g went to bed early and the rest of us had a campfire.

Coffee at 6:30am . . .breakfast at 7:00am and we were on the road by 8:00am. 63 miles today with two big climbs totaling 6,500ft!!!!

So . . .we exited the campground and went 200 ft. where BillyB and TommyH headed to the local espresso shop!!!

BillyB had the BIG hostess cupcake from the middle row!! He is ready for the climbs now.

Luther Pass was the first climb was with over 3,500 ft. of climbing . . . so of course there was a rest stop!

This stop included Starbucks coffee. In the afternoon on the Monitor climb it was served as iced coffee . . .nice!

We finally reached the summit and it was still quite chilly. The sun was not high enough to warm us up yet.

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Then it was all downhill . . .

A 5 mile roll down to the highway . . .bonzaii!!!

We saw this happy coyote out in the field who froze as we drove by.

Today we were spending a good part of the day riding through national forest land.

We reached Markleyville where we had the lunch stop set up at a local store. Refreshed . . . it was on to the Monitor Pass Climb.

Great sandwiches and goodies . . .and shade. It was now 86 degrees. Get out the sun screen.

But not before Bill made another friend.

On the way up to Monitor. It was a long 4,500ft climb up to the top. At every turn one expected a short flat stretch. There were no flat stretches . . . it was a nine mile uphill climb!

Our gang got separated and all reached the top at different times. But finally there was the monument . . .

climbssOur two big climbs for the day.

. . . and only a quarter mile away was Kelly Green with the last rest stop of the day, including iced coffee!!!

Then . . . this is what you like to see. Downhill non stop!

After the nine mile downhill there was a 15 mile flat ride to the Walker Motel in Walker, CA our home for the night.

Here was an interesting memorial to 3 forest fire fighters from Walker who died in a forest fire. FD’s from all over the state had sent a t-shirt for the memorial.

This chap was heading out of town and up over Monitor Pass. Not sure he will make it before sundown!

Tonight we are staying at the local motel . . .

. . . where the camping conditions were REALLY tight . . .

Everybody eventually arrived in camp and used one of the 5 motel rooms that had been rented to shower and clean up. Gary held the usual 5:30am map meeting.

6:00pm and it was time for dinner.

Grilled salmon, potatoes, three kinds of salad and cookies!!  Oh yeah and many beers as the gang had a great time talking to Jorge, our motel owner!!! We seemed to have turned Room 6 into the mbbt clubhouse.

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Soon it was time for lights out . . . watch where you step!

Day 7

Lots of truck traffic last night so most slept intermittently. 6:30am coffee and 7:00am breakfast, a quick pack up and we were on the road by 8:00am. Lots of climbing today and we would have two passes to ride over. Clear sky, mild temps and not much wind made of another perfect riding day.

During breakfast, Rufus, the camp puppy, had been making the rounds looking for chow when he made a move to the edge of camp . . .

and looked like he was going to pee on rider Johns backpack. There was a loud crescendo of “No” as he lifted his leg. Ended up he went on the bush which we found out was his favorite place!

For some reason our host, Jorge, has a the SS Minnow from the Gilligan’s Island TV series parked here in the middle of the desert. Just happened there was a reunion going on of the remaining original cast members’. I’ll leave it to you to figure which person is which TV character. And I’ll give you a clue: Marcia, the blonde in the middle, is the professor! Leave your choices in the Comments section below!

The morning didn’t start out so good for BillyB as he continues to have mechanical problems. Three miles out of camp he another flat . . .

. . .which was caused by a hole in the tire he had bought from the G. Here TommyH uses the old ‘dollar bill trick’ to cover the hole. We convinced BillyB that using the $5 bill he wanted to use would not insure any fewer future problems than the $1 bill. The patch held for  the day and he bought a new tire from Don the mechanic, once we got to the camp site in Lee Veining. The G reclaimed the tire, is taking it home to resell on EBay.

Strange monoliths growing out of the side of this mountain. PLENTY of time to look around as we begin our first climb for of day.

Just near the top Gary was set up with all the goodies one needed to continue on . . .

Shorty after rest stop was the top of the first summit. It was going to be a long day. The sun and heat were already VERY intense. Riding up the climbs at 4-5 miles per hour, for hours on end, really leaves one exposed to the elements.

Nice valley riding after the descent.

I found a friend along the way to ride along. Reminds me of my Gold Wing days . . .

. . .and this reminds me of my TransAm ride six years ago when Connie Cannondale and I spent 3 months crossing the good old US of A.

After lunch it was a LONG SLOG up the to the next pass. Most people during the day experienced LOTS of rear end problems. One couldn’t stay comfortable in the saddle. Switching from side  to side didn’t seem to help either. Most thought it was because of the long hours in the same position with no stopping or ability  to really stand in the pedals. The constant 6-9% grade on today’s climb’s probably was also using a different muscle group . . . but finally we neared the top, saw this sign and knew it was almost over.

Is that a desert/dessert oasis in the distance? . . . no just the ACA rest stop.  Yippee!

Last summit of the day.

Josie and Elon are from Marin County. Elon was on this ride three years ago and was a great source for info about the ride ahead. Josie is a nurse and it was a comfort to know she was along as well as an emergency room physician.  To date, no one has needed either of their services.  Although . . . one of the guides Ruth did have wasp in her mouth today and had some issues finding help on the road.

Heading down to Mono Lake . . .

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. . . where right around the corner on we got our first view. Takes your breath away!

There was a great visitor center explaining the natural history of the lake.

. . . including the formation of the ‘tufa’ structures.  The lake is three times saltier than the ocean and birds actually have trouble swimming in it because their feet continually float up!

Our ride from Bridgeport to New Veining.

Once in camp, and cleaned up, the trick was to find some shade to stay cool from the intense sun . . .

. . . here is the camp ‘think tank’ where all the problems of the world were solved. In 30 minutes!!!!

A lot more room today, compared to last night for Kathy and Jack,  to whip up tonight’s meal of chicken curry. BIG HIT!

Home sweet home for two nights as this is our layover day. FIRST green grass we have seen for days. Feels good on the feet.

At tonight’s map meeting Greg laid out all the options for tomorrow, Kayaking, a van trip to Yosemite, camping, coffee shopping, hiking . . . or just chilling and resting the rear end and legs!

Day 8

Great sleeping last night on a luxurious lawn of thick grass. Yes, they do water a lot. Even better sleeping for TommyH and Greg who rented a premo room for the two nights.

Today is the rest day with lots of opportunities for adventure. Some hiked, some biked, some tried to kayak, some rested and most just let their bones rest for a day.

Back where us commoners were staying, here is BillyB waiting for the camp coffee service to arrived? Never happened!

Our campground has a lot of these. BIG! They have everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink. We found that in meeting these out on the road, they don’t cut you a lot of slack especially when there is no shoulder. Makes for scary biking.

Our campground has an accommodation for everyone. Including this special doggy area with fake hydrant and a doggy drinking fountain.

Us commoners headed over to TommyH and Gregs’ room to use their WIFI and AC. NICE!

Even though we had a full breakfast in camp, we headed over to the Latte Da Coffee Café for more fortification and a planning session for today’s activities.

Sort of says it all!

248The boys out on the trail around Mono Lake.

Kayaking ended up being a no go because of the forecasted Red Flag Alert that meant winds as high as 45mph. No boats allowed on the water with that kind of forecast. BUT . . . there was an emergency rescue effort by the mbbt rescue team under the direction of Captain Greg to retrieve our lawyer friend from Chicago, Kevin, when he had a mechanical bike failure. Greg got a little TOO close to shore to pick up Kevin. It’s sort of dry out here!

We also had time to walk around town and take in the ‘World Famous’ Upside Down house!

Even the sign was upside down . . .

. . . and here it is.

Meanwhile, back at camp Captain Jack was getting tonight’s pork chops grilling with his special sauce!

Soon it was time to get in line and FILL UP THE PLATE . . . again. Green salad, orzo salad, grilled veggies, peanut tofu curry and PORK CHOPS! Chocolate pudding for dessert. YUM!

BillyB thought he was at the Wisconsin State Fair eating a ‘pork chop on a stick’!

249aYour scribe hard at work!

Back the road tomorrow. Lights out!!!!