Sierra Cascades Day 3: Graeagle to Mineral

“I was up above it, now I’m down in it.”
–Nine Inch Nails, Down In It

We departed Graeagle- on a sweet sweet downhill- and pointed the bike toward Quincy. Highway 89 was quiet in the early hours, which was helpful to our tour-tired bodies.

At Quincy, Felkerino was tempted to stop at a restaurant that stated it served Espresso, Mexican, American, and Chinese food, but I refused to unclip for such a dubious combination. We stopped at the ample local grocery instead.

Between Quincy and Greenville

After Quincy the road wound us around and around the hills. Sight lines were limited, and we had no shoulder most of the way. Big trucks rolled by at regular intervals, and while everyone gave us space, quarters were tight.

This portion of the route kept bringing an old Nine Inch Nails song into my head. The song- Down In It- is in my interpretation about a person who was riding high on life (“Kind of like a cloud I was up way up in the sky”), but fell on bad times (“I used to want it all. I used to be somebody.”). 

So it was for us on this segment. The road itself was picturesque, cutting through the mountains, passing over railroad tracks and gurgling creeks, but the traffic, both car and semi trailer-wise, was a gritty combo that brought me down.

Time out for wrenching

As landscapes go, this part of the ride was a winner, but the road here is not set up for cars and bikes to comingle. This could be said of many roads, I suppose, but the lack of sightlines and shoulder meant that we had to focus much of our attention on traffic and couldn’t lose ourselves in the scenery.

We stopped in Greenville for lunch, and soon after leaving town we encountered a couple of touring cyclists from Michigan who were riding Portland to Sacramento. We all stopped and conversed across the highway at each other, and then went our separate ways.

Our terrain mellowed and we made good time. Of course, after our first day, everything over 10 miles per hour I consider good time. 

Shade break. Not making good time here

Morgan Summit loomed in the distance, and suddenly we were climbing it. We moved our wheels up the mountain, in and out of shady sections. 

Morgan Summit

We gave back the elevation we gained on the final climb and then some as we bombed into Mineral to overnight at 101 miles. 

Next stop, Lassen Volcanic National Park.

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