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May 21, 2014
Valley Springs: Movin' right along

Our route today!

She says…

Movin' right along in search of good times and good news,
With good friends you can't lose,
This could become a habit!

Opportunity knocks once let's reach out and grab it (yeah!),
Together we'll nab it,
We'll hitchhike, bus or yellow cab it!
(Cab it?)

Movin' right along.
Footloose and fancy-free.
Getting there is half the fun; come share it with me.

Moving right along (doog-a-doon doog-a-doon).
We'll learn to share the load.
We don't need a map to keep this show on the road.
(Hey, that song is sounding better Fozzie.)

Movin' right along,
We've found a life on the highway.
And your way is my way,
So trust my navigation.

When Cameron and Joss were just little guys, this was our family theme song whenever we hit the road for some fun adventure. Today, this song played over and over in my head as we rode from Mokulumne Hill to Valley Springs. Today we were footloose and fancy free, we were sharing the load and we knew where we were going.

Our day started out with an outstanding continental breakfast at the Hotel Leger along with the continuation of the conversation we had with Fritz and Joan (fellow travelers, though not on bikes). Today happens to be Russell’s 55th birthday, and taking the morning slowly was a perfect start. It was with mixed feelings when at 10:30 we left behind room 13 and headed out to the road.

Gail with new friends at the Hotel Leger in Mokelumne Hill.
On the left: Doralee, our host. She and her husband David bought the Hotel Leger almost a year ago (and were featured in “Hotel Impossible”).
On the right: Joan from Discovery Bay. She and her husband Fritz are itinerant ukulele musicians, up in Gold Country on a short vacation.

Our first challenge was an almost immediate uphill slog walking the heavy bike out of town. We are learning to share the load. Though truth be told, Russell pushes faster than I can keep up; so like yesterday I kinda sorta lagged behind just a bit.

But once we got to the top, we had a good long run of wonderful easy riding. Except for the one point where a car coming up behind us decided he could beat the truck coming the other way and just about caused a head-on collision. Our plan had been to go all the way to the next stop by staying on Highway 26, but that event caused us to make a last-second decision and turn right onto Paloma Road (we don’t need a map to keep this show on the road). We were so thrilled that we seemed to be the only vehicle on the road, and fully enjoyed the back country. At one point I checked the speedometer, and we were flying along at 30 mph. I should never, ever check that thing because I then freak out and beg Russell to slow down.

We are getting stronger and can get over hills that a week ago I stressed and worried about. Tomorrow is a 20-mile day; and today after we shuttled the cars, we looked at alternate routes and nixed both of them. Even with my massive new muscles, some hills we just aren’t ready for.

Right now I am so glad I said “Yes” to this trip. I am so glad I listened when Russell said, “Getting there is half the fun; come share it with me.”

The 10th Green Inn, on the golf course at Valley Springs

He says…

The birthday boy, plugging away at his blog

I am 55 today! Five years ago (that would be my 50th birthday), I had walked 160 miles from our mountain home back to the Bay Area.

For my 55th, I really wanted to do another adventure. Should I do the same walk again? Do it in the other direction? Ride an electric scooter instead? Ride a bicycle instead?

The bicycle idea was particularly appealing because I might be able to convince Gail to go with me. When I broached the subject and we got past the “Are you nuts?” part of the conversation, she actually considered it. The trouble was, she hadn’t been on a bicycle in more than 30 years. I made a revised offer of a tandem bicycle (a bicycle built for two). She was open to investigating the possibility.

Renting a tandem for two weeks would cost about $500. The rental place told me that for that length of time, I should just buy a bike. In March, I found a used one on Craigslist asking $400.

The story is that the previous owner bought the tandem to ride with his wife. On their first outing, he was surprised how difficult it was to pedal. He looked back and saw that his wife was not pedaling at all; she had her feet up and was enjoying the scenery. He decided to sell the bike.

Gail and I went down to check it out and take a test drive. It was definitely a lower-end bike – a Caddy Up – but it was in good shape. Gail’s biggest complaint was that the seat was very uncomfortable. There was no way she was going to sit on that for two weeks and 160 miles.

Our next step was to research better seats. It turns out that those soft, cushy gel seats are horrible for a long-term ride; you end up bearing weight on parts of your body that are not meant to bear weight. Instead, you want a harder seat with narrow contact points.

Gail’s biggest problem was that a normal saddle horn was painful to ride on. After more research, we found “The Seat,” a specialized bike saddle with no horn. We bought one for Gail to try out on a solo bike.

Gail spent the next week practicing, and fell in love with “The Seat.” In fact, she was so enamored that she changed her mind and suggested that we ride solo bikes. (In the meantime, the poor tandem seller was patiently waiting for us to make up our minds.) In the end, we agreed that the tandem offered a considerable advantage for a two-week ride: the ability to talk to each other. We went back and bought the Caddy-Up for $300.

We were now committed. Since then we have never looked back, and Gail has applied herself 100 percent to training and preparing for this trip.

During my 50th birthday walk, I kept wishing that Gail was there to share all of the great sights and experiences I had. Gail's best 55th birthday present to me was consenting to accompany me on my latest wacky adventure!

Russell’s birthday dinner: all-you-can-eat Mongolian barbecue at “Asian Fusion!”

Total distance: 22.74 miles
Distance traveled today: 13.98 miles
Time spent riding: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Average speed: 11.1 mph (includes walking the bike up hills)
Maximum speed: 29.7 mph

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