The smoke gets in your eyes

I had a rough night last night even though, or because I found a secluded spot in a closed forest. I’m in Plumas County now and there are some big ass plumas of smoke billowing all ’round from the fires.

Many people have been telling me about the smoke and the fires. Smoke inhalation is bad for you. I know this for a fact because I’ve been riding through it for about five hundred miles now and it has so impaired me that I shaved half an hour off that 21-mile climb.

The fires have also been dangerous. I didn’t die in any of them or get hurt, but other people have, ergo I will, too. Best solution is to stay home and do nothing except couch intervals with the alcohols.

But last night I managed to go to sleep despite the fires and smoke. Then about midnight I got up to pee and when I turned around I saw the lights and heard the engine of a pick-them- up-truck. It was on a dirt road not far from my S’mores Gang hideout, and the driver saw my light off in the woods. I killed it immediately but the damage was done.

He was going to alert the USFS or sheriff and then there would be a nighttimr manhunt with dogs to find the lawbreaker. I huddled in my tent. After an hour I dozed off.

I awoke with a terrified shock as I heard a giant pair of boots come crunching up the hill. This sheriff meant business. I opened my eyes looking for his flashlight beam to begin playing off my tent, but nothing except the giant crunching getting closer and closer.

No light. No sound of voices. Huge crunching. It was either the biggest sheriff on record or a bear. Whatever sweating I was doing before quadrupled. If you ever want to know true fear just curl up in a tiny tent on a pitch black night in a dense forest in bear country.

Suddenly I was hoping like hell that was the sheriff.

The crunching stopped; I figured it was ten or fifteen yards away. I shivered and shook, thinking about the headlines: “Lawless Lawyer Biker Eaten By Bear.” After two minutes passed masquerading as two hours, the crunching resumed and moved away.

The next morning I needed no help getting up and getting the hell out.

The ride was a speedy 25 miles downhill and tailwind except for the last five miles. This part of Plumas County along Indian Creek and the Feather River is stunning. Coming around a bend I surprised a Bald Eagle that flew up from the bank less than twenty yards away. I was stunned at the size and proximity of this massive bird.

The day was glorious and clear. I’d been invited to lawn camp at the home of Andy and Michelle in Quincy; what they forgot to mention was the sumptuous feast they had prepared, including squash, kale, tomatoes, carrots, and beets from their garden, along with a feast of grilled beef that Andy made for dinner.

I checked the sky for the fires that were raging just over the mountains as I reached the outskirts of Quincy.

Those were mountains I’d be crossing shortly.


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Eggs are a bike bivouacker’s best friend.
Cutting the cheese.
Lake Amanor Dam.
Greenville, closed at 8:30 AM.
Blue sky mixed with fire smoke.
Here comes the sun!
Gorgeous reflection on Indian Creek.
Highway view of Indian Creek.
Andy and Michelle’s.
Time for a little snack!
Head of the fire across from Quincy.
Head of the cookie tray across from my plate.

3 thoughts on “The smoke gets in your eyes”

  1. Bear or Sheriff? Anyway got your adrenaline kickstarted! I know you are on a roll (pun intended) but particles in the lungs can seriously mess you up later on. Probably not what you want to hear but, you don’t want to turn out like me.

    1. Well, I’ve gotten lots of discouragement, whereas outside on the road things have been challenging and wonderful. So I remind myself that although diverse opinions are healthy, it’s important to forge ahead when conditions get tough. Anyone can quit. If I wanted security I’d be someone else. Life happens on the risk edge of forward momentum.

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