We LOOOOVE the Art of Survival Century. It's scenic, carried out on low-traffic roads, close enough that we can get there in a day, offers cheap camping with great facilities, and the people are super-nice and accommodating.
We did it up in Red Pearl Racing style, showing up on Friday afternoon in the team van and hanging out under the checkered flag while Bill grilled tri-tip. Sports fans, as it so happens there's not much better the night before a race than grilled tri tip sandwiches made with freshly grilled naan. Unless it was that, with strawberries and dark chocolate for dessert.
Saturday morning saw a skiff of ice on the table - enough to make me extra-wary when I was deploying the Aero Press to make the morning's coffee. The ONLY tricky thing about the ride this year was doing the calculus between time and temperature. Leave earlier, you've got to dress warmer (and haul that stuff along with you). Leave later, and it's going to get hot, and they might run out of the rhubarb custard dessert at the finish line. I conceded long-fingered gloves and we got going as early as we could - a little after 7AM.
The route is very nice. Many of the early miles are spent on two stretches called "Hill Road". In those parts, "Hill Road" is the road that takes you around the hills, so it's not as bad as it sounds. We took a quick stop in Olene, then on to Malin ("Muh-LINN') via a beautiful climb(ish) sequence. From Malin, back into California, and to a rest stop at one of the Japanese internment camps, where US citizens were taken during WWII if they had Japanese ancestors. Pretty tough to think about.
From there- off to Captain Jack's Stronghold, where the Modoc Indians holed up for a year or so before being extinguished (literally - they were rounded up and sent to Oklahoma). Another tough chapter of local history. I'm really glad that the locals are up for talking about it.
After Captain Jack's, off to the Lava Beds, which features a pretty nice climb up into the National Monument area. The Park Service worked closely with the event organizers, which was super-cool.
After the event, we had a great meal featuring local potatoes (the lava soil makes for really good bakers!) and - yes!!! - rhubarb custard pie, complete with cookie crust. And we ran into Pete - the dude who had the nerve to...pass us last year. (And he was more than happy to admit the same thing - "She did WHAAAAT????" when we passed him back....of course we had to let him go at the end, but -fun, nonetheless). Turns out that he's also a 508 vet (Gummy Bear/Smokey Bear/Kitten). So there were at least SIX 508 totems represented out of a ridership of 200, out in the middle of nowhere - if you count R.O.U.S., which of course I do.
Saturday saw Bill re-deployed to the grill. Ribs, sweet corn, strawberries, and we stopped at the store for ice cream. Heck yeah! We've got a century to ride tomorrow, after all!!
The Sunday ride was as nice as Saturday, though a bit windier. Here's where we went:
The loop out of Bonanza to Langell Valley was quite nice, but - if you do it, it's important to know that there are NO SERVICES. There's a church in Lorella, and we were there on Sunday morning, so there were people around, but other that that I didn't see much going on.
When we got back to Bonanza it was time for a lunch stop - sandwich and fritos for Bill, sandwich and strawberry shortcake ice cream bar for Sandy.
Between Bonanza and Dairy lies "Bliss", and that's where we were headed...
The only part of the ride I didn't love was the section on 140. We actually ditched it off early and hit Crystal Springs Road just before Olene. That gave us a few feet more climbing but traffic was starting to build on 140.
We followed the Art of Survival route backwards from there, and were rewarded with some pretty sweet tailwinds on the way in to Merrill and on the last stretch coming into Tulelake.
Back to camp, shower, and - leftovers for dinner. I'm not one to complain about leftover tri-tip. Bill shaved the last of the dark chocolate over ginormous bowls of ice cream, and we turned in early, with visions of pancakes dancing in our heads....
Up early and back to Malin on Monday - a pancake-flat ride to get....pancakes! The VFW does a very nice Memorial Day breakfast. This year our good luck held again and we got to sit with some local folks who told us some more about the history of the area. After we'd had pancakes and eggs and sausage and all the juice and coffee we could hold, I bought a poppy and we rolled home, broke camp, and made the long drive home.
Happy Memorial Day!!!