Sierra Cascades Day 5: Burney to Mt. Shasta
Every day I sleep a full seven or eight hours, but each day that passes our cumulative miles make themselves known throughout my body. We’ve achieved true touring pace, I tell myself.
A bowl of oatmeal and we’re on the back road out of Burney. Yay, we don’t have to deal with that no-shoulder rise or any logging trucks. We exchange it for a quiet ride, gravel, and a side helping of washboard. My teeth rattle against each other, but remain intact and I’m glad to be away from the highway.
Fifteen miles into our day we connect with Highway 89, Mt. Shasta bound. A flagger stops traffic a few miles up the road, and we wheel to the front of the line to see what’s up.
Construction is always a Wild Card for bike tourers. During our years of touring, Felkerino and I have ridden through construction after all cars pass through. We have had to ride in the back of the convoy leader’s pickup truck. We have also been permitted to ride on by ourselves while the workers stopped traffic at both ends.
Occasionally, bikes freak out construction crews, but generally we’ve found that they will adapt their traffic patterns so we flow right on through without any drama. I used to fear construction, but now I am more curious than anything to see how we will pass the area.
Today the crew gave the go-ahead for us to ride through on the left side of the road while the line of cars coming from the other side also rode in their left lane. The whole thing was counter-intuitive, but went seamlessly. Since most of the segment was uphill, it was helpful to ride through at our own pace. And our pace was perfect because just as we completed the segment, cars rolled up behind us.
We let the cars by and continued on the mostly quiet highway. After completing our ascent, the road took a bend and the distinctive snow-capped Mt. Shasta appeared in the distance, beckoning. Without any clouds, our view of its profile was completely clear.
We took another side road to spend more miles off the main road and arrived in McCloud at around mile 35. Someone at the coffee and outdoors shop recommended we take a long cut to escape the highway for our descent into Mt. Shasta.
It sounded like a good idea to us, even though we discovered that this long cut added five miles and 400 feet of climbing. Felkerino suggested this detour was gratuitous, but I said that on a bike tour all of the riding is gratuitous. Might as well see something interesting.
The approach to Mt. Shasta on this empty road was almost a holy experience. Okay, that’s overstating it a pinch, but not by much. This mountain is like a sentry, and to approach its snowy magnificence on a quiet road made even more quiet by climbing high was something I won’t soon forget.
I’ll also not soon forget the ripping downhill on the forest road into town- like being shot out of a cannon. I shouted to Felkerino that when we teed into town I was going to fly off the bike, do some aerials, and stick the landing.
We did tee into town, but I’ll have to save the aerials for another day. 65 miles and change.