Eating my way through Ashland

August 1, 2019

I woke up before 7 and had breakfast with Jeff, Sharon, and a bunch of the PCT hikers at the Mazama restaurant. Everyone was so sweet and it felt like a family gathering. I understand now what it feels to have a trail family, even after just one night with these lovely people.

We said our goodbyes and I took off on the bike alone. I had 30 miles of downhill. The weather was perfect and I couldn’t stop smiling. I passed by the ghostly town of Prospect and cycled up a tiny road to the town of Butte Falls, about 23 miles away. The road was getting hot, the hills were steep, and I was feeling discouraged. I stopped at Medco Pond, a very unofficial campground, for a snack and to hide away in the shade for a little bit. Eventually, I forced myself to pedal into the heat. The heat wilted me like a leaf of spinach and I had to keep stopping in the shade. Pickup trucks didn’t give me too much room on that road and rolled coal at me several times. I went off route and took a break at Butte Falls, a tiny logging town in the middle of nowhere. Some old men at the cafe were giving me a playful hard time and I couldn’t help but giggle. I ate a slice of pie and didn’t really have an appetite for the fried chicken and French fries I ordered. Eventually, the cafe closed and I moved outside, wanting to wait out the heat longer. The mayor of the town took a seat and we talked for a while about my trip and this town. She left me with kind wishes and I biked to Willow Lake.

Willow Lake has a very laid back vibe and a gorgeous view of Mt. McLoughlin. I thought I was going to keep cycling after a stop here, but my legs turned to lead and I was tired to the bone. It was obvious I wasn’t breaking past 65 miles on the bike today, so I pitched my tent. It was still early, and I had time to massage my sore quads and stretch by body. I went to bed early, set on waking up well before the heat.

August 2, 2019

The morning started with endless uphill and my body ached. I struggled up the steeps all morning. I ran into an 18-year-old kid and his dog riding the Sierra Cascades going north. I was pretty impressed that this kid hauled the husky up large passes in his bob trailer.

The large hill eased off into rolling hills when I took a turn onto a small forest service road. Another turn lead me to the climb for Dead Indian Memorial pass. My body ached at the thought of even more climbing, but I pushed through to the summit anyway. My reward was a super steep, beautiful downhill for 15 miles into Ashland. I couldn’t stop smiling and cheering. I zoomed past golden hills and endless forests, and it felt amazing gliding down with no effort. The views were so beautiful!

I pedaled into Ashland on a bike path, and it felt like the town was welcoming me with open arms. I stopped at a corner to figure out lunch, and ended up meeting a bike shop owner who gave me a great recommendation. After lunch, I stopped by his shop to get my the lower limit on my derailleur checked out, and then by the coffee shop for pastries. I was so stoked to be in a hippie town with amazing food and coffee again! Riding into towns like Ashland is always such a treat after being in the woods for a while.

I biked around town and met a PCT hiker, Tadpole. We were walking over to grab more food, and an old man stopped me in the street to chat about my tour and offer to buy me lunch. I ate a big salad with Tadpole and we exchanged stories, then I made my way to the Warmshowers house I was staying at.

Mark, my Warmshowers host, greeted me in the driveway and showed me the guest room. I had a shower then dinner on the back porch with him and his wife, Judy. We drank wine and talked until their bed time, and I made my way downtown to find some nightlife.

Fun has a knack of finding me, and I stumbled upon a silent disco in a park. A silent disco is a disco where people wear headsets instead of listening to amplified music. I looked around and there were fire spinners (LEDs, not flames), hula hoopers, and even a guy dancing in a tree. I laughed at how ridiculous this was and loved that people were just being themselves and having a good time.

August 3, 2019

Mark greeted me in the morning with an amazing cup of pour over coffee and I picked tomatoes from the garden with Judy. I walked to the Saturday market, taking my time to stop by a fruiting blackberry bush for a snack. My fingers were stained purple by the time I got to the market, and I picked up a few more baskets of berries on top of that. I ate a croissant, probably the best I’ve ever had, and watched a musician sing cover songs. Sitting on that cobble wall, I was completely content with Ashland and myself.

I walked over to Case, a local coffee shop, and was delighted to find they had nitro cold brew. I sipped on a glass and wrote for a few hours. Another stop for lunch at the local co-op, and I attempted to go grocery shopping. By attempted, I mean that I kept on putting food in then taking it out of my basket. Everything looked tasty, I was trying not to accumulate too much food weight for the next several days of cycling.

I went back to Picadilly Cycles to buy a new bike saddle. I’d been suffering from some gnarly saddle sore since week one, and these guys sold me a bike seat actually based off my sit bone width.

Back at the house, Judy started cooking polenta and garlicky tomatoes for a dinner party. Two other couple came over, all cyclists, and soon I was drinking wine with a bunch of sassy retired folks. It was a delightful night!

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