Haven't been all the way up here since 2008! The air was a bit cold, but it was still a nice climb. This time my bike had the custom cassette on it, so I didn't have to do any switchbacking, and I took fewer rest stops. Hooray for "granny gear"!
During each ride, there is always at least one especially cool moment, during which I can say, "this makes the whole ride totally worthwhile." This time, there were two moments.
- While pedaling to the top of the highest bend in Calaveras road, the sun oozed out from the clouds directly behind me, low on the horizon, and warmed my back at the same time it bathed the whole road around me in a brilliant yellow glow. I rode on in silence, enjoying this ethereal lighting, and then somewhere way down the hillside in the darkened valley, a cow began mooing very aggressively. I yelled, "QUIET, COW! I'M HAVING A MOMENT HERE!" The cow went quiet.
- On the way back down the steepest hillside, I was leaning on my brakes and moving slowly. I passed around a bend and saw a collection of very large birds arranged on the fenceposts at the roadside. Another bird was down in the road, and as I drew near it took startled flight and dropped what appeared to be a ground squirrel out of its claws and into the ditch. I slid slowly up to the birds and halted, and finally got a good look at their heads - withered-looking and bright red with beady eyes. I can't remember the last time I'd been closer than six feet to a colony of vultures. Before I could sneak the camera out of my bag, a car came roaring up the road and they all took flight.
- Getting a nice big hug from Pit Crew La!
- Getting a nice big hug from my new friend Erica!