Tuesday, Downieville to Mineral
First things first. On Monday night, when Fred and I arrived in Downieville, a man with whiskers down to his knees came out and looked at the bikes. “I used to have a couple of those,” he said through tobacco stained teeth. “I might have a few parts laying ‘round still. Come back tomorrow morning early and see.”
Tuesday, well, Fred knows what’s important. First he shared coffee with all the campers. Then he oversaw the wrenching. Finally we rode into Downieville and Fred went into the gas station to find out what parts might have shown up. The original old guy was gone, but he’d left a young relative to negotiate for him. He’d shown up with a magneto complete with a timing gear and the nut to run the tachometer as well as an almost pristine rocker box. After examining the parts, Fred decided to buy them. But how were we going to carry them?
Penny and Bill in Matt’s bright blue truck were designated as the chase truck today. The couple loved taking on such an important role in the ride, but they didn’t know what they were getting into when they accepted the box with the newly purchased parts and fell into place directly behind us.
Today was a beautiful route with rolling hills, lots of twisties, incredible scenic views, acres of burnt forest and miles of dirt passages.
We stopped in Portola for a meal. Here, the chef listened to the police radio as she cooked. Local news such as an unconscious body on Main Street was announced to all the customers.
Soon after this, the route led us onto a dirt road, and not just packed dirt, but washboard with big rocks. The only way I know to survive such terrain is to go slow and relaxed. However my mind still raced and worried about every possible turn off. Was I going the right way? It was fabulous to see the rocks indicating that the route would now return to some very rough pavement and a little embarrassing to see a number of riders waiting for me.
Around a corner and there was Kim with the dreaded orange tape on her bike. She’d ridden out a flat tire and if that wasn’t enough, she got to experience what riding behind her husband felt like. Bet there’s going to be some improvement in seating for the kids next year!
We stopped to swim and at a great grocery store in Taylorville. This shop had great food and made a good coffee shake.
However somewhere outside of Taylorville, Don Turner found a patch of sand and went down. He was only wearing a t-shirt and so scraped up his right arm pretty good. He’d been riding with Frank Forster and Frank set up some rocks, so no one else would hit this treacherous sand.
In case the one stretch of dirt road was not enough of a challenge, Jeff led me down two more dirt roads. He’s determined to make me a better rider but it made for a long day.
Mineral was like an oasis with camping, a restaurant, hotel and the liveliest bar all in walking distance. It even had a wide porch with rocking chairs.