David: We woke at 6.30 and had breakfast with ML. Her hospitality has been astounding and we have really got to know and like her so much over the past 24 hours, as well as liking her lovely dogs Buddy and Shane.
However a cycling trip means cycling so we got on the road early. ML did mention that it hardly ever rains between June and September in Ashland. Well she actually said until 1 September so we can hardly blame her annoying the rain gods for a deluge on 23 September. It started misty and with a slight drizzle as we left Ashland.
The road took us over I5 and then up the old Siskiyou Highway. The traffic uses I5 and so it was very quiet. We had a climb of about 2000 feet up to Siskiyou, but the heavens opened. It was wet, wet and more wet. However we climbed well – aided by a day off and feeling strong. We were both tempted to stop for a rest but that would have involved getting wet at the side of the road, and so we pressed on.
There was a fantastic hotel at the top which was, as ML had predicted, “bike friendly”. We stripped off, they lit the fire and warmed up and dried clothes as we consumed a fantastic breakfast. Then it was back with the rain gear, including our brand new overshoes (excellent buy from yesterday) and into the rain again.
We climbed another 500 feet to the top at 4,500 feet and then had a glorious descent towards I5. The landscape changed at the top of the hill, with us descending into an arid area (still slighlty raining and yes there is a contradiction there). Then we had 8 dry miles downhill on the shoulders of I5. It was all over in a flash as we rode at between 30 and 40 mph, and the shoulder was wide and smooth. After a mile on I5 we passed into California. This means we have cycled the length of both Washington and Oregon States and are now in the final and largest state on our route. We took photos at the border but did not need our passports!
The route took us off the Interstate after 8 miles and onto a quiet road through a one-horse town called Hornbrook (actually there were several horses in the fields but nothing else seemed to be alive).
As we rode out of Hornbrook we got our first glimpses of Mount Shasta, although it was hard to tell the snow covered mountain from the white clouds to begin with. This volcanic mountain rises 10,000 feet about the surrounding planes. It is the type of cone shaped mountain a child would draw. As we went through the afternoon we got closer to the mountain and it got bigger and bigger in our sight.
Lunch was hot chocolate and a pastry at a fairly uninspiring “deli” in Montague. This is hunting country and the walls were plastered with pictures of white men (and it was all white men) with guns and a variety of dead animals, mostly deer. There were also a few specimens on the walls keeping watch over proceedings and adverts for hunting type stuff. We are getting used to this but it is very ingrained in the culture here.
This area feels so different to Oregan. It is more arid, has fewer trees and so we can see the scenery, but overall is less green and is mainly rolling pasture with mountains at the side of the valleys. It feels like one large rain shadow. But the open space was really welcome after days of only seeing trees.
After lunch we ambled across to Grenada and then worked our way up the Weed/Mount Shasta valley. Bernie’s gears were not 100% well but it was beyond my ability to fix them, so she struggled on (it clicked and grinded but was otherwise OK) and we will get it fixed tomorrow.
It was now late afternoon and we decided to stay in Weed rather than press on to Mount Shasta. I just could not believe that there was a place in California called Weed – but there was. It turned out that the name was perhaps the best thing about Weed. It was a large truckstop on I5, but we found a campsite that served our purposes. I cooked chili and rice and then we ambled to McDonalds (where we are now) for hot chocolate, internet and a place out of the rain. We could not see the brooding mountain presence but knew that Mount Shastia was overlooking us at all times.
So a good day overall which started wet and then was just showers. We did over 75 miles and had 5000 feet of climbing, and yet are not totally comatosed (although my quads certainly know they have had an outing) so we must be getting a tad fitter and stronger. The forecast is better for tomorrow.