Yesterday was the day of the false flat. We climbed forever but didn’t gain much elevation. Today was the day of the false summit. The big climb of the day never seemed to end because it would continually go up a bit then down a bit less, go up some more, then down a bit less.
Before we climbed the endless false summits, our first order of business was to enjoy a large breakfast at JJ’s Cafe in Old Station. Carrie struggled yesterday, so we agreed that she would require a boost today to cover the 70 miles we planned to ride. The boost came in the form of scrambled eggs, toast, hash browns, and most importantly, bacon. It’s widely known that Carrie thrives on bacon. Her strongest days on the bike have always started with bacon.
After our tasty meal we visited a lava tube just north of town. In these parts rivers of lava used to flow. When the lava eventually drained away it left a subway-sized tunnel in the ground. We walked into the cave as far as the natural light from the entrance allowed. Our wimpy headlamps couldn’t illuminate enough for us to walk it’s full 1/3 mile length, which is fine because caves are creepy, and we were the only people there, which made the total abyss before us that much scarier.
About 30 miles down the road from the cave was Burney McArthur State Park and it’s main attraction Burney Falls. This was easily the best waterfall I’d seen since our trip in Iceland. Burney Falls is unique because the whole 120-foot cliffside leaks waterfalls. That’s on top of the two or three main falls from the creek above. Signs state that 100 million gallons of water tumble off the falls every day all year long, even when the creek above has run dry in the summer.
After visiting Burney Falls it was time to ride about 40 more miles to our Campground just south of McCloud. To get there we had to climb to Dead Horse Summit. This was the climb of a million false summits. It started off fair enough. We had a very wide shoulder and the grade was steep enough to make us feel like we were accomplishing something. However as we got closer to the top the shoulder disappeared and the false summits began.
Drivers were easily going over 70 mph. There’s nothing more unnerving than a 2-ton vehicle whizzing by you at Mach 1. Most drivers did a good job of giving us room when they passed. Only a few times did we feel the need to hop onto the gravel shoulder. We reserved those times for passing logging trucks.
If I never see another logging truck again I’ll die a happy cyclist. In fact, if I never set tire on Highway 89 again, I’ll be doubly happy. The risk to reward ratio is too low to make the riding here worth it. Once we reach Mt. Shasta we won’t have to ride on Highway 89 again. Here’s hoping the highways further north have nice shoulders and little traffic, especially commercial traffic.