Tour04 Day 10 - Stockton to Jackson, CA

Pretty, dry, hot, and windy riding at the eastern edge of the big valley

It was quite a shock to go from riding down the Pacific coast to riding inland in California. In 50 miles the temperatures goes up 25 degrees, the land becomes brown rather than (irrigated) green, and the road is, in the valley, flat instead of hilly. Moreover, that lovely tailwind becomes a headwind or crosswind as I head north and east toward Carson City. The culture also changed, becoming a lot less bike friendly. I only rode four hours today, because I started riding at noon, but heat and the climb out of the big valley into the foothills wiped me out to the point where I had to stop in Jackson or fall off my bike.

Heading east from Stockton

My friend gave me a ride all the way out to Stockton, so I could avoid urban riding. We left Alameda about 10:30 and had lunch together at a restaurant on 88 just east of Stockton, then I rode on east. When I got ready to ride, I discovered that I had left my sports glasses back in Alameda. Rather than ask my friend to drive an extra 140 miles, I rode on using my regular glasses. The main loss is the ability of the sports glasses to keep wind and dust out of my eyes, but I need them more in the winter when they keep my eyeballs from being damaged by the cold. My regular glasses are shatterproof and UV absorbers, so they will protect my eyes. I'll just have to see if dryness and/or dust are a significant problem.

I rode east from Stockton on a road with moderate to heavy traffic, including a lot of big trucks. The wind was from the north, so <grin>, the road turned north, lost its shoulder, and stayed pretty much that way for ten miles. Traffic was bunched behind the bigger, and slower, trucks, so it was bursty. Usually, the burst from in my lane were out of sync with the bursts in the oncoming traffic, so the lack of a shoulder wasn't much of a problem. However, when the bursts coincided, I had several large trucks pass me less than two feet away at highway speeds. This is California, not Oregon, so very few drivers seem to even consider the safety of bicyclists. I don't think I had more than one or two vehicles - and I was passed by many hundreds of vehicles - slow down or wait for a better opportunity to pass.

Climbing into the wind on a section with no shoulder

The road headed north for most of the 40 miles I rode today. As it approached the foothills the wind lessened and shifted to the east. That was bad because the long climb that occupied the last hour of my riding today, had a gentle tailwind. I got VERY hot riding uphill at about the same speed as that gentle tailwind. The shoulders were adequate to very good for most of the last 23 miles. That made riding a lot more pleasant, although wind blasts from big trucks going in the opposite direction, especially semis carrying hay bales, were were very unpleasant. Riding uphill into a head/cross wind, I had three semis carrying hay bales almost stop me in my tracks with their wind blasts.

Climbing into the foothills

I started out near sea level today and ended up above 1500 feet. Most of that climb was in one long hill that I climbed during the peak of the days heat. Because it was so hot and I had that !#$!$! gentle tailwind, I climbed slowly to try to keep from overheating. I didn't succeed.

There was no shade, except when I stopped, for 99 % of my riding today. I stopped at burger joint in one of the few towns that had any services, and I stopped under a tree near the road to snack again in the rolling hills before the big hill started. That second stop cost me quite a bit of time picking burrs out of my socks and my pants, but it was necessary just to get out of the sun and cool down for a bit.

My third stop was in the middle of the big hill where I spotted shade on the shoulder on the other side of the road. I waited for a gap in the traffic, then crossed the road and stopped my bike in the shade. It felt great to be facing into that gentle wind and to be out of the sun, but I quickly realized that I was danger of passing out if I stood there too long. I passed out in similar circumstances on a hill in Colorado in 1989, and I didn't want to do that again! I got back across the road and cranked on up the hill.

After the experience of almost passing out, I knew I needed to stop ASAP. At the top the hill there were some businesses and a mile two later I spotted a good place to eat. I locked my bike to a bench outside and almost staggered into the restaurant.

The waitress looked at me with concern and brought me a large glass of ice water with my coffee. After three cups of coffee, three large glasses of ice water, and a good meal, I felt reasonably normal, but quite tired. Before I left the restaurant, I asked about motels. I knew there were some in Jackson, but I hadn't seen a motel since I left Stockton. There are three mom and pop motels in this area, which is actually about two miles before Jackson. They all looked OK, but the first one had no vacancy and the second had no vehicles, so I stopped at the third. It is very nice, reasonable, and the lady running it was most helpful about my ride tomorrow.

She actually likes bicyclists, something that seems to be abnormal for this area. I haven't felt many good vibes on this ride or when I stopped at the burger joint. Drivers were not really bad, but I had more "get off of my road" type horn blowing and yelling today that I have experienced for several years. In the small town, the locals were noticeably unfriendly. Maybe I've just been spoiled by riding down the coast (and I certainly have been spoiled by riding in Europe) but this is also a major bike route, and she was the only one to react positively to the fact that I was on a bike all afternoon. To be fair, one of those yells may have been supportive, but the tone of the other yellers and the horn blowing, certainly wasn't

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