On the 130th anniversary, I recreated part of the journey of the first person to cycle around the world on a bicycle. Taking it one day at a time. View the archive.

The bear necessities

By Stuart Lowe on

The next morning I headed out of town in the rain. The rain was to continue all day without much let-up. On leaving Rocklin you find yourself in the foothills and on your slow climb up to the mountains. On Taylor road I spotted a combination bike/coffee shop. I didn't need anything for my bike but mid-morning refreshment for the rider was in order. Inside I met Frank Nute; a local man whose family had lived in the area for years. In fact the road was apparently named after Frank's grandfather. Frank also said that his family geneology went back to King Canute. It constantly amazes me how far back in their family histories Americans can go. Most Brits are hard pressed to go back to the 19th century. The coffee shop was a fairly recent addition and seemed to be attracting a good amount of local custom. I really liked the bike-themed decorations.

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Frank - descendent of King Canute

Following some directions from Frank I headed on up to Auburn. Just before Auburn the bike lane suddenly ends with freeway (I-80) as the only direction to go. I spent a few minutes wondering if I'd gone wrong but after being passed unhindered by a highway patrol car and working out that a bike in a yellow diamond was a warning to motorists, rather that a prohibition sign, I gingerly joined the freeway shoulder. As I went around the corner I saw a sign saying bikes were prohibited and my heart sank. However, just behind it was a sign saying bikes must take the next exit. I did take the exit as it went into historic Auburn. That was my first, but not last time on a freeway.

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In Auburn I had a rather smaller crepe for lunch than I'd imagined from the price. That'll teach me for going to a fancy looking cafe. After I found the Auburn Museum where I spent a good hour or so chatting to the lady who worked (or volunteered) there and looking at the exhibits. One asked "what has happened to the American hat?" and had various suggestions from visitors next to it.

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Who killed the American hat? It wasn't me.

Onwards from Auburn I knew I had to reach Colfax before it got dark. I was getting more concerned about bears and cougars as the woods surrounded me. My sister had told me that if you sang loudly on the trail the bears tended to keep out of your way. I knew that my singing probably would be enough to ward off a bear. Being a Yorkshireman wearing a Yorkshire Grand Depart top, I loudly sang "On Ilkla Moor Bah't 'At" and immediately felt better. I mentioned it on Twitter and a couple of minutes later my friend Chris asked if I took requests. He suggested the Bare Necessities. I sang it for the next 10 miles (and actually quite a lot during the rest of the trip).

It was still raining though and my bottom half and feet were wet. As I got higher the temperature was dropping and my feet became more and more of concern. The approach to Colfax seemed to consist of a sudden very steep uphill and over the freeway. I more or less stumbled into the motel and as soon as I'd paid and filled in the registration card I rushed to a warm shower where I spent at least 20 minutes warming up. California may be in drought but the skies had been showering me all day so I didn't feel guilty about using the precious water. Plus parts of my feet had gone purple and that isn't a good sign.

Five minutes after the shower I was concerned to find my torso and upper legs look as though I'd been rolling around in a nettle patch. A quick self-diagnosis online (never wise) suggested it was hives and therefore could be treated over the counter the next day. I'd just have to put up with the itching for the night.

I had some very welcome fish and chips and peanut butter shake at the Colfax Max diner and made good use of their wifi as the motel's wifi wasn't working.