Day 2. Friday, June 4. Grant Park to Frank Raines Park along CA 130. 39 miles.

Said goodbye to Gretchen, who had to run to an appointment in Monterey and left early.

I started the day's ride around 9:30 (took me a while to make everything fit in the trailer duffel bag -- did I mention that I have too much stuff?) after a cup of strong coffee and a couple of packets of oatmeal with raisins. This wasn't too much of a breakfast, but I had forgotten to think about breakfast food the day before (one of the things that I've re-learned since!)

The first 12 miles of the day were a climb up to 4213 foot high Mount Hamilton. I quickly ran out of fuel (oatmeal doesn't have very many calories), and started eating sports gel, a disgusting paste that has about 110 calories per two tablespoons. This got me almost to the top, but I "bonked" -- my blood sugar went very low -- a mile or so from the summit. I thought I was going to pass out for that last mile. I rested every few minutes.

Only about ten cars passed me all day. All were polite and waited till they could pass me safely (this could be because I tended to weave about while climbing, due to the load on the front of my bike).

Finally I reached the top, where the Lick Observatory is located. I stumbled into the front door. As I passed the gift shop, the woman who runs the shop was coming out the door.

"Do you want to see the telescope?" she asked me.

"No, I need some food first." I said weakly.

She directed me to the vending machines, where I bought several sugar-filled treats, including oatmeal cookies, a Power Bar, and a Balance Bar. I washed down the cookies and Power Bar with a Coke (a real one, of course). I chatted with the gift shop lady while I ate. Soon I was feeling somewhat human.

She told me about her new recumbent trike -- a Dragonflyer -- and about her husband's two recumbents, including a Greenspeed trike. She also told me that Mt. Hamilton Road has 377 turns between San Jose and the observatory. It was built as a first class stage road, so its grades were limited to about 8 percent.

Finally, I went in to see the 36 inch refractor telescope (there is also a 120 inch and several others up there). It was built in 1877 and is still being used nightly. The floor around the scope raises so that the eyepiece is reachable without a ladder.

I asked her to take a couple of pictures of me on my bike.

Leaving the observatory, there are several miles of steep downhill that gave me my first chance to test high-speed handling on my bike. I tried to keep my speed below 35 mph because with the bags on the front of the bike, any sudden move would cause the bike to go out of control. There were a number of tight switchbacks that required a good turning radius to negotiate. The other problem I was having is that the brakes heat up the rim to the point where you can't touch them any more. This raises the air pressure in the tubes and tires, as well as softening the rubber. The combination can blow tires off rims, or cause blowouts.

And my sugary treats were causing me to fall asleep. Somehow I didn't think that falling asleep on a twitchy bike at 35 mph on roads that drop off to steep cliffs (with no guardrails, of course) would be a good idea. So I stopped and took a short nap.

About 18 miles past the observatory is "the junction" of San Antonio Valley road with Del Puerto Canyon Road. This has a little bar and grill, where I finally stopped (at 4 PM!) to get a hamburger and fries. The clientele here was a far cry from Silicon Valley yuppies. Three ranchers were drinking and playing dice at the bar. Their weathered faces reflected a life lived outdoors. I reminded myself to use sunblock.

Some more rolling hills greeted me after the junction, with some more steep downhills just before Frank Raines Park. As I was enjoying the last downhill before the park, the rear end of my bike started sliding from side to side as if it was on ice. I decelerated without crashing, then removed my trailer and turned my bike on its side to examine the cause of the flat tire. When I saw that the puncture was along the inside -- along the rim tape -- I decided to remove the wheel completely and figure out what was happening.

I discovered that the increase in pressure due to rim heating (from braking) had caused the tube to force the cloth rim strip (which normally serves to protect the fragile tube from the sharp spoke ends and holes in the rim) down into the spoke holes, exposing the rim's sharp edges. These edges had caused punctures in four places. Pulling out my patch kits, I patched all four, and used gaffers' tape to cover the sharp bits of the rim. I was back on the road in a few minutes.

By the time I found the park, my body was telling me that it didn't want to do any more work. My thigh ligaments and muscles were so sore from climbing that I could barely walk, and my knees were swelling, despite my eating ibuprofen all day.

I went to the only campsite with someone in it and met Rob and Kathy, who had been there a couple of weeks. They had a trailer and a pickup truck, as well as a couple of dogs that they'd found. One dog was deaf but understood hand signals, and the other was a puppy of indeterminate breed.

Rob is a 35 year old Californian, brought up in the hills, who has spent his entire working life working outdoors because that's where he wants to be. He's worked construction and logging, has banded raccoons for science, maintained parks, and generally stayed close to his beloved mountains. But he likes to travel, so has lived in most of the Western mountains. He'd also spent a year in jail in Arizona for possession of a joint, a pipe, and a pair of nunchucks under the car seat (which made the drug stuff a felony). He told me that I'd be overwhelmed by Yosemite despite all the people there. He's studied cooking, does carving and rock collecting, and loves to talk. I got the impression that they were happy to have company. After I'd had a hot shower (!), they made dinner (which was good because all I had was rice, sundried tomatoes, beef jerky, and dried mushrooms), which included a pork roast coated with mustard and done over a wood fire, and some excellent beans. We shared a glass of wine, then he drove me in his pickup truck up the fire road to the top of the hill. We walked around in the dark, talking and hoping to see some wildlife.

I regretted that I didn't get a picture of Rob and Kathy. One of my resolutions for this trip was to get more pictures of people and less of my bike and landscapes. But I didn't want to get into a discussion of my tech gadgetry with them, because I thought that it would seem ostentatious. After all, they were living roughly the same life as me without all the gadgets (not counting their trailer or truck, of course).

Sleep came very easily.