Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 4 - Auburn, CA to Truckee, CA

Today started far too early. As Sean the british roommate would say, "It was bloody early." We awoke at 4:45 AM to load the vans at 5 and ride across the street to Denny's for breakfast at 5:15. I really didn't get enough sleep. I went to bed at a decent hour, but tossed and turned for about two more hours. Getting back to the previous evening, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with four old friends now living in the Orangevale / Folsom area. They drove up to Auburn to join me for dinner. My former pastor, Don Roberts, and his wife, Nannette, as well as long-time family friends, Paul & Michelle Darilek, now pastor at East Valley Church in Orangevale. We had a great time reconnecting and hearing all about life and ministry in the Central Valley as well as what I've been up to for the past ten years. Obviously, I shared all about the bike trip so far, but we talked about plenty more and concluded with a good prayer for the rest of the trip and for my family back home. So, I was probably still geared up after meeting friends and didn't get much sleep. So, today started far too early.

After breakfast, I pedaled with Steve from Florida. As a flat-lander from Altamonte Springs, FL, he had no experience climbing the 8000 ft in front of us today. I really enjoyed riding with him, taking it easy and pulling up the initial climbs. A bit later, Jack from PA got on board and the three of us rode for the first 32 miles. Our route took us on quiet county roads paralleling I-80 for most of the way. We spotted a deer around 2000 ft. elevation. The day was getting warmer, having started in the mid-50s, it was in the 70s by mid-morning. Steve sweats a lot. He reminds me of one of my cycling friends back in Bothell. You'd think there was a faucet under his helmet! Conversation was good and we continued to climb into some beautiful scenery overlooking valleys and along roads lined with bright purple flowers.

Our first SAG stop was at mile 25.9 and we arrived there at about 9:30 AM. After filling up on peanut butter sandwiches and fig newtons, we refilled our water bottles and continued our quest. We linked up with Leigh from Seattle and Hans from Switzerland and the five of us had to stop around nearly every corner for another breathtaking view or photo op. Leigh had spotted a rusted out Model A sitting in the woods. I jumped off the bike, handed her my camera and climbed inside for another unique photo.

We crossed a series of railroad tracks and even had a train roll past us, blaring its horn. What a view that engineer has rolling through these mountains and forests. Hey, we have that same view! We continued winding up and around these wooded roads and reached our intersection with Interstate 80. We would now get onto the shoulder of I-80 and ride about 9 miles to exit 156 where we had to regroup with other riders and be escorted through a construction zone. The ride along I-80 wasn't too unbearable. The traffic is swift with semi-trucks and passenger cars, but the shoulder was wide and the grade wasn't ever worse than 5%. We had been climbing sections that were between 9 and 13%, so this was in some ways a break.

I decided to put on some music on my iPhone (no earbuds allowed) and tried to listen to my cycling playlist (a mix of worship, CCM, and 80s tunes) while I climbed. Between semi-trucks, I could catch a few seconds of music. I passed signs for 4000 ft. and 5000 ft. elevation and then the highway flattened a bit until we reached our exit. We pulled out, met about 10 other riders, rested for a half-hour, I got some ice cream, and then we walked our bikes up the on-ramp with our construction escort until we could safely ride down I-80.

Our next exit brought us into the absolutely most beautiful section of cycling I've ever experienced. We were on Hampshire Ruck Road which becomes Donner Pass Road. We were following the S. Yuba River for several miles and at every turn was another visual feast of God's creation saying stop here! Look at this! I spent most of this section just praising God for His beauty and relishing in His creation all around me. Take a minute and look at the photos linked at the bottom. I took a lot!

At Donner Pass Road, I reached 6000 ft. of elevation and began to feel hungry. Hmmmm. If you know the history of the Donner Party who traveled through here 150 years ago, you'll know why. But rather than eat a fellow cyclist, I decided to pull out the Kendall Mint Cake my british roommate had given to me delivered straight from London. It's the original Clif Bar and was carried to the top of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary himself (well, not THIS one.) It's like a sugary block of minty sugar. It pepped me up and gave me minty fresh breath, too!

There was more climbing to do as I neared 6500 ft. and then crossed I-80 and pulled into our final SAG stop of the day. I was feeling the high altitude a bit. Made another PB&J, ate a whole orange, and loaded up on all I could. We had 3 or 4 more miles of climbing to reach the summit at 7200 ft. and then a crazy descent down to Donner Lake and into Truckee.

At the top of the pass, I spotted a sign for the Pacific Crest Trail. Grabbed a photo and emailed it to my hiker friend, Matt. He's been on a lot of the PCT, but probably not here. Met two other riders at the pass, put on more clothes for the descent, and then took off. I was fairly conservative on this descent. Some of the riders go "full-tilt-boogie" but I decided to brake, watch the corners, and live to tell about it. My mom will be glad to read this.

At the bottom, we rode along Donner Lake after stopping for some more construction, and then rode into Truckee. The Old Town section of Truckee is another unusual downtown area replete with historical buildings, old storefronts, and hotels. We turned the corner, climbed one more short hill and found our hotel. I found the hot tub. And then I found dinner. Wow. I don't think I've experienced a more beautiful day of cycling. For most, this was an unusually hard day. It was a challenge for me, but I felt great through all of it. It was an effort, but an enjoyable one and not the suffer-fest that others are complaining about tonight.

Tomorrow, we ride south out of town and flank the northwest shore of Lake Tahoe. It promises to be incredibly scenic. We'll cross our first stateline and enter Nevada. We'll spend the night in Sparks, just east of Reno. I'm sure there will be cyclists gambling, but I'll probably read a book. Or, write one. Thanks for reading. Thanks for praying. And thanks for all the posts I got through the day. I'm truly entertained by each and every comment, text, or email. And I read them all. God bless and see you in Nevada!

For 130 more photos from today, visit:

For more about the Ride for Impact, visit:

Dist: 76.26
Time: 7:09:23
Avg: 10.6
Cumulative Miles: 278
Elev Gain: 8225 ft.
Max Elev: 7053 ft.
Avg Climb: 3%
Max Climb: 14%


Kristin said...

Nice post today, Bob. Loved all the photos! I'm proud of you - just think how much stronger you're getting! See if you can check out part of my Death Ride route when you're in Tahoe today!

Heath and Karen Orr said...

I love reading your posts, Bob. I personally can't believe you have the energy to write as much as you do at the end of everyday, but I'm happy to read all the details. I'm sure it is amazing! Stay safe and go, Bob, go!