Gold Rush Century Felix Wong

Through the hills of Ione and Jackson in California, everything seemed to go wrong for Ken Loo and I in the 1995 Gold Rush Century. In a nutshell:

  • While waiting for Ken at the first rest stop, I broke a cleat. And no bike shop carries Sampsons.
  • Turns out Ken accidentally passed up the first rest stop and had to turn back. Now this wouldn’t be a a problem, but he had to go back up a steep hill to do so. How steep? Well it was a 5-minute descent, and a 20-minute ascent.
  • A hostess at the first rest stop drove me in her Dodge Caravan to Jackson Sports, the local bike shop, and one of the employees cheerfully lent me some pedals with toe-clips and straps for nothing but the understanding that I would return them after the ride. (And yes I did.) What a great shop; I wholeheartedly recommend it. It is located in Jackson City.
  • Having lost 2 hours because of the broken cleat and Ken getting lost, I ask the someone in a SAG wagon for a shortcut to the finish, as I need to get back home by 5:30p. He gives us perfect instructions, but starts us out going south rather than north.
  • Ken gets a flat on his new Cannondale. We can’t figure out how to use his new mini-pump. No problem, here’s my Superinflate CO2 Cartridge System–I’ve had 100% success with it in the past. Oh oh, not this time. Apparently I haven’t used it for so long that the valve rusted out. Back to the bike shop.
  • We go up/down/up/down Mokullemne Hill. There is a reason why this town has “hill” in its name.
  • Ken has no clue where we are. No problem, just follow me.
  • How come we are in San Andreas now? Hmmm, I don’t remember seeing this city on the map.
  • Ken loses all faith in me.
  • We ask a lady on the street for directions to get back to Ione, the start/finish of the ride. Heh, just 30 miles back the way we just came from. It occurs to us that we had gotten 20 miles off course.
  • Back up Moke Hill.
  • Ken is exhausted and, despite showing him a map in a roadside phone book, he does not entirely trust me when I say “only 15 miles to go.I think.” The new plan is that he would stay at a Taco Bell in Jackson City, and I would find Ione by myself and fetch the car.
  • I do find Hwy 88 and Hwy 132 with no problem. And it was only 13 miles from the Taco Bell. I get there in 40 minutes, and it takes me another 20 to drive back to Jackson.
  • Ken is waiting for me in the parking lot. He got me a Congo watch–a tribute to the movie that was a flop that summer. Er, thanks.

In sum, it was quite a memorable adventure. Now if I can only convince Ken.

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San Andreas sign, 1995 Gold Rush CenturyKen Loo, hill, 1995 Gold Rush CenturyKen Loo, red Cannndale 2.8, Taco Bell, Jackson City

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