The rest of the ride from Big Bear to Tahoe was all very nice with some spectacular scenery on the doorstep of LA, but pretty uneventful in the whole scheme of things. Speaking of on the doorstep of LA these mountains are about an hours drive from LA but there’s hardly anyone in them. Maybe it was the shit weather, maybe they had a better offer, or maybe I just got lucky. But I’m not complaining since I pretty much had the high roads to myself.
Oh but I did get to see my first and only rattle snake. I’m not sure sleeping in the road is that conducive to a long life though so it got a hurry along.
I also got to see a heap of Pacific Crest Trail walkers since I crisscrossed their route for a few days. This meant I also got to hook into their supply network which made resupplies really easy and quite social.
Due to a issue with one of my tyres not holding air I had to divert to Bakersfield to find a bike shop. Bakersfield is surrounded by some pretty intensive cropping lands, and the odd feed lot and diary farm. Seeing the dairy farm certainly made me question our ethics around farming. Being use to seeing cows wondering around lush grassy paddocks I was a bit shocked to see thousands of cows standing around in muddy holding pens waiting for some feed to be put over the fence or into the troughs. They certainly weren’t happy cows. Another interesting crop was a paddock of hemp. At first I thought it was cannabis (it’s legal over here) and wondered about the lack of security but the large signs quickly told me otherwise. But I don’t think reading was a strong point of the trailer trash guy that was digging up one of the plants and throwing it in the back of his pickup. I’m thinking he was going to be mighty disappointed.
The snow was definitely a limiting factor and affected where I could go. It also meant there was more climbing, which never seemed to end, as I hoped over the ridges that run toward the coast from the high Sierra’s.
At the end of a long slow low km day I was wondering what was going on so put the route into the map and was surprised to see I’d done 5333mt of climbing over 147km. No wonder I was a bit tired. It turns out the last 10 days of riding had 40620mt of climbing over 1286km. I guess that just means it was great TD training.
Then there were the early starts and after dark finishes. Bear avoidance became secondary to staying warm as I got into camp at 10pm in the rain and cooked in the tent. Maybe not best practice in bear country…but I’m told black bears are pretty friendly in these parts, more like cute puppies really.
The last night on the road was interesting to say the least. I had to get near a pass if I wanted to get to Tahoe the following day. The pass was 2620mt and I figured I’d be able to find a good snow free camp at about 2100mt, putting me 40km from the pass and in reach of Tahoe. How wrong was I. As soon as I hit the snow line it became thick with everything that hadn’t been plowed buried under a foot or two of snow. I should have known after seeing cars loaded up with skis and snowmobiles coming down the road. So there was no option but to camp in the snow, no good comes from camping in the snow and there was definitely sleep lost to cold. A wet sleeping bag didn’t help any.
But next day the sun was out, the scenery was fantastic and I made it to Tahoe.
Near Carson Pass
Once again I was being taken in by Jim and Alenka, who we last saw in La Ventana, Baja. As I was nearing their place Alenka drives past and is surprised to see me. She pulls the car over and as I pull up the first things she says is, “you’re so skinny”. Followed by, “we need to fatten you up.” Not long after that there’s a promises of a steak dinner…and it was a massive steak, absolute bliss. Little did she know I’d still be there two weeks later…
Time in Tahoe was spent eating, eating some more and a little riding. But the best part of Tahoe was catching up with those we met last year on the Continental Divide and trying to convince them all to come to NZ. This whole journey has been about the people and seeing these friends again just confirmed that for me.
Lake Tahoe at its best
But while making my way to Banff the hospitality didn’t stop. Connie, who we met for an hour on a ferry in Mexico arranged for her friend, Karen, to look after me in Calgary. Karen was amazing, taking in a complete stranger and making sure I left with my conviction in the good of humanity well and truly cemented.
It’s time for the Tour Divide now. That’s one ride that’s going to be less about the people and more about how much the body and soul can take before it breaks.
Setup for the TD
So we’ll see how it goes and see you on the other side.
Big Bear Lake to Tahoe