Featured photo for Gold Rush Century

Gold Rush Century

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. To recap:

  • 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? That it was a five-minute descent and a 20-minute ascent should give you some idea.
  • 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 with 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 two hours because of the broken cleat and Ken getting lost, I asked the someone in a SAG wagon for a shortcut to the finish, as I needed to get back home by 5:30 p.m. He gave us perfect instructions, but started us out going south rather than north.
  • Ken got a flat on his new Cannondale. We couldn’t figure out how to use his new mini-pump so we tried using my Superinflate CO2 Cartridge System which I’ve had 100% success with. Except for this time. I hadn’t used it for so long that the valve rusted out. Back to the bike shop.
  • We went up/down/up/down Mokulemne Hill. There was a reason why this town has “hill” in its name.
  • Ken had no clue where we are. No problem, just follow me.
  • How come we were in San Andreas now? I didn’t remember seeing this city on the map.
  • We asked 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. We had gotten 20 miles off course.
  • Back up Moke Hill.
  • I found a map in a roadside phone book, but Ken was exhausted and he didn’t trust me when I said, “only 15 miles to go… I think.” So we came up with a new plan: he would stay at a Taco Bell in Jackson City, and I would find Ione by myself and fetch the car.
  • I found Hwy 88 and Hwy 132 with no problem. And it was only 13 miles from the Taco Bell. I got there in 40 minutes, and it took me another 20 to drive back to Jackson.
  • Ken was waiting for me in the parking lot. He got me a Congo watch—a tribute to the movie that was a flop that summer. Thanks.

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

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