A Gauge 1 Climb (or, how I thought I was gonna blow a lung)…Calistoga to Lower Lk

So I awoke just before the sound of a jack hammer did it for me.  I kind of felt bad for anyone who truly wanted to sleep in.  I got everything packed up and took my bags down the stairs, they are heavy enough without adding them to the bike for this tricky decent.

I joined others in the dining room for a great continental breakfast.  This is where I met Dan and Debbie.  Neither of them was overly pleased with our wake-up alarm this morning, but several cups of coffee and good conversation started the morning off right.  They were my second set of couples who had been together for quite a few years and were happy with each other…hmm, maybe I’m starting to see a trend.

Before starting out I had some calls to make.  It has become apparent that this type of touring is requiring my second set of panniers. so I called Rosa and asked her to raid the storage unit and send them up along with another Freeload rack.  My next call was to Cycle Monkey.  I asked them to send all my gear to me instead of all the way back to Vegas.  I should mention that I asked both of them to forward my gear to general delivery at Gridley, CA.

The next call was to Competitive Cyclist in SLC.  I bought the bike from them.  I explained that the XL frame wasn’t big enough and they agreed to send out an XXL.

With all this settled I started on my way.

Ya gotta love pigs…

I found the turnout for Ida Baker Rd and started up a very narrow thin line of pavement.  I passed by Peter Michael winery, one of my favorite white wines (along with Patz & Hall, Pahlmyer, Flowers, and Paul Hobbs).  Here’s a view…

The beginnings of Ida Baker Rd

From the beginning the road climbed and I hate to say it, but it wasn’t long before I was off the bike and pushing it up…and up, and up.  It quickly became obvious that the was going to be a climb of epic proportions.  The next photo shows Mt. St. Helena and apparently the road runs just below it.

This is the bark of the Madrone tree.














When does this friggin’ thing end…I stop at every patch of shade on the road, lean over my bike and hope my heart doesn’t explode. This continues on for hours…literally.  But God is it a beautiful view.

Vineyards on the mountainsides.

I had a nice worker come by and give me about a half a gallon of water and then about an hour later I forestry worker stopped by and asked if I was okay and had enough water.  Gosh do you suppose it’s that obvious that I’m way outta my league here?  Then he tells me that he’s impressed I’m on the same route that the pro athletes use to train for riding the Alps….the flippin’ Alps!!

I finally make it to the top although it’s a false plateau…there’s still a little climb before I begin my descent.  Marshall had told me to expect the pavement to turn to dirt.  It really wasn’t too bad, but I was still glad to hook back up to Hwy 29.  I continued my ride to Middletown where I found a nice little Mexican cafe.  A big bowl of chicken soup later and I was back on the road.

I got to the beginning of another moderate climb and decided to call my host.  Debbie answered and told me I was about three miles away from their house.  I have to admit I was hoping she’d offer to come get me….I was spent.

I’m not sure how long those three hours took to complete, but it had to be a hell of a long time!  Just as I pulled in Marty was getting on his bike to try to find me.  I told him how I had come and he was dumbfounded.  He knew all about Ida Baker Rd.  He rides it now and again as part of his training regime.  Marty is 52 and is…..well, a friggin’ stud.  He races mountain bikes and his competitive spirit shows through.  He’s a great inspiration where I hope to be in a year.

His daughter Michaela was cooking us dinner.  Vegetarian spaghetti (banana squash used for the pasta) and vegetable salad.  We had great conversation which continued on when Debbie arrived after a long day at work.

Debbie and Marty…sorry Michaela your picture wasn’t any good!

Not long after I crashed out on the pull-out couch…damn I was tired.

1 Comment

  1. Dan and Debbie from the Inn…Jackhammer and a ton of coffee here;-)
    Great Blog we are really enjoying the information and keep up the great work.
    Thanks for the compliment and yes…Happy for many years more so as each day has something new.
    Hope the new bike is perfect for you.

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