DAY 17: September 11, 2011 (Sunday)
Topaz Lake, Nevada to Bridgeport, California: 44 miles (656 thus far)
Word back in the real world spread that today the United States was going to experience the wrath of religious terrorists … good thing I live in a alternative primal reality as a trike phantom, and am nowhere near where any deranged minds might consider taking revenge upon this self-proclaimed Christian nation. What will the day bring? Who knows, but it will be all trike related to me. Wake-up call at 6:00 AM, poorly stocked continental breakfast … water wasn’t even hot enough to fully saturate my Quaker Quick Oats. Partly cloudy made for fast comfortable riding. Re-entered California about a half mile south of Topaz Lake Inn. Radar sign indicated my speed at a whopping 08 miles per hour. Started up mighty Sierra Nevada grade after passing through tiny towns of Coleville and Walker. Uphill, with primarily mid-range gears, with occasional lows. Clouds began to increase as day progressed and my elevation kept climbing up to the 7,519 foot Devil’s Gate Pass. The higher I went, the denser and darker the thunderheads became. Very close lightning strikes spooked me out every once in a while, and I wondered if my happy-face flag antenna might draw in a big one (what a story that would have made). Lightning did set this forest on fire too, and I was amazed to see helicopter after helicopter flying right over my helmeted head with big suspended water reservoirs hanging from them, and scooping water out of a nearby lake to drop on the flames. The grade up to Devil’s Gate is about 27 miles long, and the rain finally began anew about 7 miles from the top. By the time I reached the Devil’s domain, I was soaked again, even though I had put on my Sequel rain jacket and rain gloves. I didn’t put on the rain pants, hoping it would stop, but stopping was not in the plans that day. It just got heavier and heavier. On the downside of the pass, it was fast coasting at speeds up to 50 miles per hour, but of course, with no effort needed to propel myself forward, I began getting chilled in my wet clothing. I figured I could hold out until I reached beautiful Bridgeport, California, and with traffic feeling sorry for me, the cars remained a respectable distance as they passed so I didn’t get splattered by the tire spray. This shoulder is sometimes nonexistent, and at one point, it closed out and the rumble strips went right into the dirt, so at speed I crossed the rumble strips to get out into the lane of traffic. Due to my speed on wet pavement, the Q instantly went sideways about 20-25 degrees off my line of travel, which very quickly got my attention, so I did as 1970s comedian Bill Cosby advised in his album “Why Is There Air”, and turned in the direction of the skid, which just as abruptly straightened me out once again. Whew, that was a close one! Very cold now, early stages of hypothermia, but I can see Bridgeport down below. I wanted to ride to Lee Vining today, another 26 miles that would have been doable if sunny and dry, but considering my condition and the weather, it would have been foolish, so I pulled into the Silver Maple Inn (where I vacationed with my mom a few years back) and got a room at 3:30 in the afternoon – a very short day. The young female receptionist didn’t know what to think of this drenched and mumbling triker, but I laid out some cash before her and secured a warm room in nothing flat. I stretched out my clothes on chairs in front of a heater to dry them, ate some dinner from my panniers, watched some television, and noticed the sun returning just prior to sunset out my window, where the trike stayed as it dried out under the overhang. No terrorist attacks according to CCN and Fox.