I have brought out the solar panel again in an attempt at making friends with Al Gore.
As we pored over the map, it became clear that we needn’t retrace the 7km back to the main highway – there is a nice road that cuts directly over to the top of the valley. It’s only about 25km long. Easy.
Retroactive rule for shortcuts: If the GPS maps around a shortcut despite all efforts to direct the route, be suspicious. Especially if the road doesn’t appear on the GPS map at all.
After a comfortable few kilometers, we hit the turnoff. Within 50 yards, it went from pavement to gravel. Hmmm. Oh, well – that should limit the traffic. And, for a gravel road, it’s solid.
Unfortunately, this road had a lot in common with a stereotypical “golddigger”, i.e. well-maintained at first but develops “potholes” and “riffles” and “sand” from “lazy graders” at about the point you can’t easily turn back. On second thought, perhaps I should rethink that simile.
After about 30 minutes of cycling, it became more and more important to treat every downhill with kid gloves given the beating both my bike and myself were taking from the ripples in the road and the potholes. If not noticed in time, I was shaken like an overly-separated can of paint. This would be immediately followed by a quick check of the spokes, which surely had to be broken, and a silent promise to go slower. The Geriatrike fared better with its shorter (and consequently tougher) spokes. I fell behind a little.
That did not last long. The dirt track began to climb. Hmmm, we thought. Interesting. It didn’t look like any significant climb on the map.
Soon enough, we had to face facts: This was not going to be a jolly little Sunday pedal by the beach. This was going to be a grinding climb on dirt, soft sand, and frequent irregular holes.
Not only that, but there seemed to be something wrong with the Geriatrike motor. It was working on pavement, but somewhere along the dirt road a quick twist of the throttle resulted in no power whatsoever. This meant winching speed again.
I would bike ahead in small sections of hill and wait to make sure that Mom and Dad made it up. After all, this is a new machine and there were occasional cars along.
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