Day 2 - Bothe-Napa Valley State Park to Williams

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April 16, 2002 ( ~ 78 miles)

This was a glorious day for me (Amy). I will describe it in detail.

Throughout my adult cycling life, Ryan has always been one tiny step ahead of me. And he has not been gracious about it. He calls me slow and exaggerates incidents where I may or may not have bonked. Some people might gently offer advice and encouragement, but not Ryan. He makes putt-putt-putting noises and mocks my somewhat conservative descending style.

This was not one of the days that Ryan claimed would be "short and easy." We were worried about it because it was long and there was really no good place to quit early. We had some tea and pastries at our campground and then headed up to what I think is the top of the Napa Valley. We very shortly had some more pastries.

Then we started going up a pretty serious climb [for two out of shape cyclists]. We were again on Highway 29. Way before our trip my friend Henry had told me not to go this route, and to go over towards Lake Bariessa instead. But I forgot. Henry's problem with the road is that there's no shoulder and a lot of traffic. Which is true but my problem was that it is really steep and goes on forever.

I took the lead as we ascended and just plugged along in my lowest gear thinking, "I'm just going to plug along in my lowest gear and not let Ryan pressure me to go faster." So after a half a mile or so I turned around to let Ryan know that I was going to stop and take off my jacket. But there was no Ryan. I figured he must have stopped earlier to take off his jacket. But after a few minutes there he was wearing his jacket. He mumbled something about the road and how he was just going to "pace himself." We set off, and in a little while Ryan was gone again. Now I understood that I was dusting Ryan, and it was a wonderful feeling. Later he made some feeble excuses. He said my slightly longer daily commute had given me an edge, that my bike was lighter, etc. Bottom line, however, was that Ryan was way more out of shape then me and I dropped his butt.

I am gloating about this now, but at the time we had a long day ahead of us, nay, a long trip ahead of us, so I feigned sympathy for his weak condition. When we finally got to the top, Ryan zoomed down the descent and left me far behind, but whatever! He always does that and everybody knows it's cooler to dust someone on an uphill rather then a downhill.

Once we descended, we were in some kind of higher elevation valley and the riding was pretty nice, but cold. We stopped in Middletown and had some excellent omelets. The waitress was very nice. I told her we were going to Williams in the Central Valley and I asked her if there were any big climbs on the way there. She was like, "No, there's a couple steep grades, but it's mostly all downhill." We learned on our trip that car drivers have no idea what the roads they drive on are like.

So I was anticipating some easy riding, but as we headed for Clearlake, it just felt like we were creeping along on a slight but persistent incline. It started getting late in the day. But the time we got to Clearlake it was 2:00 and I was getting hungry yet again, so we got sandwiches to go.

As we rode away from Clearlake the weather was seriously looking stormy. We put plastic bags on our seats and road up what I thought was probably the last "steep grade" till we made it to that all-downhill part of the ride.

The hills just went on and on. I have never been in that area before. I don't know what those hills were. I guess you might call them foothills. They were dry and didn't have any big trees on them.

As we ate our sandwiches beside a rock quarry it started raining. We squealed and jumped on our bikes, I don't know why.

After a while of these weird hills, Ryan started to get tired and discouraged. I was still feeling good from my morning victory. We stopped a lot for snacks and this is when I first started to think that Ryan had brought too much stuff. He had several pounds of dried fruit and he seemed to have a lot of Cliff Bars too. (Later I would learn that he brought a whole case of Cliff Bars, because, "It's cheaper to buy them that way.") We stopped at a turnoff for a snack and a minivan pulled in too. This guy got out and was totally barfing. Very unappetizing. But it goes to show that the road was very twisty for folks going more then 2 miles an hour.

The rain never developed into anything more then sprinkles, and finally we reached the top of something, cause we started to descend. There were suddenly picturesque pastures and a rainbow. But Ryan was way grumpy by this time, so I tried to hustle us along. It was probably 5:00 by this time and we still had like 20 miles to go.

Now the riding was finally easy and we got to Williams at about 6:00. Ryan was virtually bonking as we road through a residential neighborhood. We passed two little boys on BMX bikes that started asking us all kinds of questions about what we were doing. They were going to be in a bike race and they wanted to know if we would be there. We talked to them for a while about bikes and camping and where San Francisco is. [They wanted to come with us!]

I would have paid kind of a lot for a motel room by then, but actually the I-5 seemed to have spawned an excellent market for cheap motels. We went down this street of motels, each one getting cheaper as the street went on. Ryan is still tormented by the possibility that we might have found a cheaper motel if we had gone a little farther. We ate a huge dinner at a strange restaurant (Granzella's) catering to people driving the freeway. Then we went right to bed.