Baker to Ely - The woman who sat on the toilet too long (and other odd American tales) - CycleBlaze

July 10, 2014

Baker to Ely

High on Sacramento pass: longer but easier than we expected
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SACRAMENTO PASS - Sacramenno as they pronounce it here - started straight out of Baker. It was longer and easier than I'd expected. Jacob was saying the other night that it was tough, but that must have been from the other side and, for him, at the end of a long day in the wilderness.

Sure, it went on and on. It must have taken a couple of hours. But other than being plagued by flies for half an hour, it passed with no more exhaustion than you'd hope.

Halfway down the descent, an abattoir had made the most of antlers
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We bowled down the way that Jacob climbed, stopping at the abattoir on the left where the owners, not sure what else to do with all the deer antlers they had amassed, had turned them into an interesting, impressive but grisly arch.

Detail of the antler arch
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I remembered the map showed a bar at a place called Majors Junction, which was supposed so far as I was concerned to pop up at the foot of the descent. But life doesn't turn out as you thought. I'd forgotten that the road would run through a valley, a rising hill straight into a gale. Great news for the gracefully turning white turbines of the wind farm but not for me. Because at that point the great green ogre picked me out and began beating my shoulders with his hammer.

If you wonder why cyclists refer to the bonk when the equation of distance, speed and food goes awry, that's where the giant beats you down with slow bonks of his hammer. Others call it the knock, for the same reason. Pellos, the French cycling cartoonist of the 1960s, made the image more visual as he portrayed the suffering of the Tour de France.

Over the hills and far away
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Farming the wind
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The ogre struck with a vengeance. The road turned to the right, changing a headwind to one from the left. But at the same time it steepened and the distant buildings that included the bar remained painfully distant.

The long and winding road
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Adventure Cycling says the place is just a bar. I don't know why. It sells simple meals, has two bedrooms and an RV park, "and we'll let cyclists or anyone else pitch a tent on the patio for five bucks," said the growling, slow-talking man behind the bar.

He'd been there for six weeks, he said, and seemed never to have stopped renovating the place.

"I work for the new owners," he said. "We've been working on it ever since."

I raised an eyebrow.

"Previous barman, he was here for three years. And I don't think he cleaned anything in all that time." He shrugged his shoulders and smiled with wry acceptance.

The rain fell as we left and we completed the climb, going up as the temperature came down. The ogre had been defied, though, and in mid-afternoon we rode into Ely, named after a cathedral city in eastern England, near Cambridge, which once poked out of the shallow sea that swept in and out and left wriggling eels with every receding tide.

Today's ride: 103 km (64 miles)
Total: 5,195 km (3,226 miles)

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