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since 6/4/99

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Wednesday, July 24, 2002: Stage 4

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Neil is sore today. When asked what hurts he says, "Everything! I can't understand it, I thought I only hurt my shoulder." Jeff starts singing "Grandpa got hit by a reindeer. . ."

Today we load the bikes onto the Explorer and head out of town about 25 miles to the Sierra Valley. The roads there are not conducive to bikes. We have about 60 miles planned.

We park at the side of the road and unload. The route is more or less counterclockwise around the valley. The roads are flat and long. We have a slight headwind. Things far away look close. It takes what seems like 20 minutes to get a red warning sign up ahead. Jeff yells out, "Car up!" Five minutes later the car passes. There is very little traffic.

We stop twice so that Neil can get off and stretch out. He's doing really well for a guy who went over the bars at 35 mph.

The flat plain ringed by mountains looks mostly deserted. We pass an occasional ranch or small house. Small groups of cattle graze in the scrub. A few places have self driven irrigation sprayers that travel in 300 yard circles. The sun is intense, the sky a deep blue and the only clouds are in the distance behind the mountains.

We turn onto the final 15 mile stretch of road. The wind has shifted and now it's in our faces. It's all we can do to maintain 16 or 17 mph. At the end of the road is an intersection called Sattley. The Sattley Store and Post office sits at the corner. We stop for Gatorade and a little recovery. As we pass through the wood screen door we step back into time 60 years. The pot belly stove and chimney are the most interesting engineering feats I have ever seen. The post office is next door in the same building. That's a step back 100 years.

A left turn and four more miles we're back to the Explorer. Neil is OK but wasted. We are too.

Showers and the Trattoria where Chrissy works for a fine Italian dinner. We taped the Tour, so we can watch it and skip through the 45 minutes of the three commercials they show.

Tommorrow we're gonna find out what it's like to climb.

Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Transfer


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