As we assembled in the Mosquito Lot the riders buzzed with nervous tension. By 3:04 RG was already complaining about the late start. Our rumored seventh rider excused himself, so no hobo fo no sho fro. Cappy was unflappable. He alternated between coach, cheerleader, good dad and bad cop to cajole the crew, who dreaded the mountain bike on asphalt miles. To make everything right, he snuck in a bit of dirt and wildflowers right from the lot.
The 49 stretch was completed without delay, disappointing those eager to begin the hobo'n.
Finally reaching the trailhead, who was waiting with snacks and delicious drinks? Unknown Local!
What's more he had his mountain bike and maintained our race pace all the way out through the first climb of the SF River trail. Apparently, he has been doing some secret recovering.
On the rolling fire road section before the final descent to Salmon Falls, I came into a corner a little overheated. I chose to abandon ship and rolled through the aromatic herbs that lined the trail. Unscratched, I got ready to ride only to discover that my rear wheel had a kink. Councilman rode on, to inform the front that I was dealing with a mechy. B and Xt helped with the repair. Having learned from watching Chief Trailside Mechanic NoHandle, I grabbed the rim and, with the assistance of a second person to brace the wheel, shoved my foot against the warp.
Then Xt settled in and adjusted the spokes. Some time later, the wheel turned true enough to clear the frame and we rolled down to the Salmon Falls TH. We joined our team, who were slumped against the retaining wall, waiting in the shade. From across the parking lot they could see how badly my wheel wiggled. So, the wheel came back off, more rim bending and nipple wrenching, and then the wheel was good for another fifty miles.
After a quick spin on Salmon Falls, we jumped onto a side road and then more single track. I heard the names Sweet Water and New York Creek. The trails were heavy with poison oak and wind fall.
We hopscotched between dirt and road all the way in to El Dorado Hills. The town didn't know what to do with us. Most looked away, trying to ignore what they couldn't comprehend. The BMX kids give us a holler.
We pitched camp outside of the nugget at sunset. Spread on our table was one and a half pizzas, a hearty salad, a bunch of bananas, a sixer of Black Butte, a fourer of Old Rasputin, gatorades, a jug of water, and two breakfast sandwiches. All ate and drank until stuffed. The left overs were packed for later consumption. Suffice to say no food would be left in any packs by the time the ride concluded.
Councilman used a little local knowledge to get us off Latrobe but not take Cap'n's extended dirt tour. At this point the Ride Producer noticed that we were a tad behind schedule. We took to the tracks with gusto.
The ballast riding was jouncy, and the track side trails were little better, some were worse. After untold miles, Cappy announced that we had passed an important stop. We turned around and rode the South side of the tracks, instead of the north side as we had come. Then we noticed lights and a sign inviting us to beer. We welcomed a sit on comfy chairs before a crackling fire, as our host uncapped beer after beer.
Nobody wanted to leave. The night was warm and lush grass invited slumber. Somehow we managed to motivate, and shortly we were back on familiar trails. Placerville was dark as we rolled through. The Liar's Bench hadn't served last call, but none stopped. I feared if I got off my bike then I wouldn't be able to get back on it and pedal home. Though B did generously offer to let me stay at Newb's.