Tuesday, June 30, 2009

and we thought the Sierra's were pretty!

Sitting here now in Boulder, Utah. We've had a great couple of days! Sorry, no ability to upload pictures this time, but Tony will be sure to email some of his best from the past few days from his blackberry.

We left Cedar City around 7AM and after making a quick left onto rt. 14, we were greeted by a sign that said something to the likes of "8% grades next 15 miles. No semi's allowed". That sign wasn't kidding. Over about 20 miles, we climbed over 4,500 feet up to Cedar Brinks national monument. The hill was long and steep, and we made it to the top around 2:30. The climb was worth it, though. We were greeted with some pretty incredible views of Cedar Brinks, which is sort of a mini version of Bryce Canyon. We were able to see forever in the distance!

That afternoon, we had a 30 mile downhill to Panguich, Utah where we grabbed some quick dinner before heading another 23 miles to Bryce Canyon for our day off. We were all exhausted and although Ruby's campground was hopping, we all slept soundly for over 10 hours. It felt great considering we have been getting up at 5 most mornings in an attempt to beat the heat of the afternoon.

Our day off in Bryce was wonderful. The boys decided that it would be a good idea to get some exercise on our day off, and took off on a short (but steep) hike...but they were greeted with some incredible views of the canyon. Katherine took advantage of the day off and decided that a guided tour of all the vista points was the way to go. Ross has visited Zion National Park before, which is just south of Bryce. Tony, Katherine and Ross have never seen anything like the canyon before. The different shades of reds and browns were just incredible. The hoodoos, or stone statues that are formed by erosion tower out of the base of the canyon and often take the liking of famous things in history. Katherine's favorite was the hoodoo shaped like Queen Elizabeth (she swears it really looks like her!) After our day of tourism, we came back to do some bike maintenance. Ross's rear tire had begun to wear through, so we had to do some tire swapping between bikes. We also repaired some tubes, as we've still been getting quite a few flat tires!

This morning, we left Bryce around 8 for a 77 mile ride to Boulder. The first part of the ride was relatively uneventful, but by 1pm, it was really hot (about 100 degrees). The air was dry, but it was still pretty hot! As the afternoon wore on, some clouds developed, which helped quite a bit with the heat. We had one pretty incredible climb today. We dipped way down into a twisty canyon, and were amazed to be surrounded by red cliffs on all sides and to have an actual river (complete with lush trees) flowing next to the road. The ascent out of the canyon, though, was pretty intense. When we reached the top, we looked back to see a sign that said "14% grade next 4 miles"....it really was as steep as it sounds. Once out of the canyon, we again had an incredible view. It is amazing for kids who grew up on the east coast to be able to see for hundreds of miles in all directions.

We rolled into Boulder around 6:30 PM (quite a long day). Boulder is a great little farming community that primarily exists during the summer (with a whopping population of about 200). We walked into the mini-mart in town, and Darren and Catherine recommended that we stop by Josh and Jill's house down the street because they might be willing to put us up for the night. When we stopped by their little farm house, Jill was outside gardening. She was more than happy to have us stay for the night. Next, we headed to the Burr Trail Grill for very yummy cheeseburgers. We we're pretty sure that we were eating a cow that earlier that day had roamed the fields across the street from the restaurant. We've all showered and are now sitting around a campfire with Josh and Jill. It turns out that Josh actually rode from Palm Springs on a bike to Boulder, and once he arrived, decided that he didn't want to leave. It's great to talk to someone who has done a long cycling trip in the past and knows what we're going through. We're so grateful to have a place to stay and to have made some friends!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

We made it through Nevada


So, we've made it to Cedar City, Utah. We're staying with a nice family (the Dalton's) who we found on www.warmshowers.org, a website designed to help touring cyclists find a place to stay along their route.

Since we left Fallon, Nevada, we have had only intermittent cell phone service, and haven't had access to a computer to do a real update to the blog. So, I'll start from way back (I'll also include pictures starting with the Sierra's)

Here are a few shots of our day near Carson Pass in the Sierra's. It was absolutely stunning, and after spending almost a week in the desert, we've begun to miss the views!

So, after leaving Fallon, the last few days have gone as following:
1) Fallon-Austin
2) Austin-Eureka
3) Eureka-Ely
4) Ely-Baker
5) Baker-Milford, Utah
6) Milford-Cedar City

Leaving Fallon, we got up at 12 AM for a 1AM departure. One of our tires went flat during the night, so departure time was delayed until about 1:30. We were all decked out in reflective gear, and we all had flashing lights on our bikes. We hopped on highway 50, known as the loneliest highway in America. They weren't kidding. We stayed on this road throughout all of Nevada (until about 10 miles outside of Baker). This road takes you through the middle of absolute nowhere in Nevada. There are even signs to prove it:

Sorry the picture is sideways:

The 112 mile proved to be very difficult. We would like to make it known, that contrary to popular beleif (and by popular beleif we include ourselves) just because Nevada is a desert, it is NOT flat. In fact, there are over 350 mountain ranges in Nevada running from north to south. From east of the Sierra's until about halfway through Utah is known as the 'basin and range', meaning that there are a a ton of north-south running mountain ranges with enormous valleys between them.

By daybreak, we were already pretty tired (from lack of sleep and from the miles). By 8am, we had reached middlegate, a "town" which consisted of a gas station/diner, and a motel that was run out of a mobile home. We stopped for some much needed fuel and water, and set off of the rest of the ride. We were met with some pretty nasty headwinds in the afternoon, and this slowed us down considerably. It is pretty tough to ride on tired legs when the wind is strong enough to stop you from riding downhill. We finally made it to Austin at about 7:45 PM, and the local restaurant was nice enough to stay open past 8 to feed some very hungry bike riders. At the restaurant, we ran into Greg and Addison, who would become our friends for the next several days. They were on a tour across Nevada from their hometown of Reno to Great Basin National Park, outside of Baker. That night, we camped behind the Austin Baptist Church, which was also an RV park complete with showers and outlets for charging phones and cameras!

The next day's ride to Eureka was not nearly as tough in terms of miles and climbs, and we made it to town by 4:30, where the Sundown Lodge was kind enough to donate a room to us for the night. We again met up with Greg and Addison for dinner, but this time we went for Chinese food instead of Burgers. Even though the ride was not necessarily as difficult, it was certainly lonely.

Views like this were what we saw for days:

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After another ride to Ely through more desert with very similar views and no places to stop for water, we again met up with Greg and Addison for some drinks. It was great to get to know them a bit and look forward to spending our evenings with them. From Ely, we parted ways and they headed towards Great Basin National Park to meet up with their families. We hope the rest of their vacation was fun!

From Ely, we headed to Baker, where we experienced a pretty nasty wind storm in the morning. From the looks of it, it was actually a rain storm, because rain was pouring down around us....but we never got wet. Apparently this is a common phenomenon in Nevada because it is so dry. It will often rain when it storms, but it evaporates before it hits the ground. Needless to say, the wind turned a pretty easy day in terms of miles into a pretty difficult day because the it was blowing so hard in the morning. Tired, we rolled into Baker, where we came upon the Jack Silver motel. They said that they did not have any rooms available, but that they would be willing to let us sleep in the gift shop to keep us out of the rain. We were very grateful to have a roof over our heads on a windy, stormy night! We also ate at the lectrolux cafe, run by the same man who owns the Jack Silver, and we were treated to some very yummy burritos.

Yesterday, we crossed the Utah border (YAY!)....

and we rode a very long 83 miles to Milford, Utah. We were very excited to leave the driest state in the country, only to find that it was possible for it to get drier. At one point, all plant life disappeared, and we were completely surrounded by sand (as we had imagined that all of the desert would be). We were also greeted again with very nasty winds. Thunderstorms were forecasted, and although a storm never directly passed over us, we still had two major wind storms.

you can see some of the ominous clouds in the distance here:

Under normal conditions, the 83 miles with 2 climbs would have been pretty tough, but it was even tougher with the wind. We did not arrive in Milford until nearly 7pm, and we were pooped. The Oak Tree Inn saved the day though...they donated two rooms to us! This meant that we each had our own bed, which was a very nice treat. After eating at Penny's diner, we showered and all slept very well.

Today, instead of headwinds, we finally had tailwinds! We left Milford after visiting the grocery store at 9AM, and made it to Cedar City by 3, even though we did have one 1500 foot climb. It's amazing to see how a change in the winds can change our average speed. We're excited to be staying with the Daltons. They are cooking chicken for us for dinner, and we can't wait for a home cooked meal. In fact, we're eating in about 10 minutes.

We're hoping for the best in terms of wind for tomorrow, when we will climb to Bryce Canyon National Park for a much needed day off. We're excited to do a day hike in park, which is rumored to be pretty beautiful. We will be camping for the next few days, and probably won't have access to computers.

Stay tuned for our next update!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Loneliest Highway

Yesterday we finished a grueling 115 mile ride from Fallon to Austin Nevada. Today we finished our ride in Eureka Nevada after a 71 mile ride. More details to follow when we have internet access.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

desert winds

We left Carson City this morning at about 7:45 for our 63 mile trek to Fallon, Nevada. We made it in record time thanks to a hefty tailwind (easily 30mph). By 1:30 pm, we arrived at Jerry's, a great local diner. We then made our way to the Ponce household, a very generous family who is hosting us for the night. We are very grateful for a place to rest up before tomorrow, which will be our longest day yet. We plan to leave around 1am to start our 115 mile day to Austin, Nevada. We've already got our flashlights strapped on to our bikes and our reflective vests ready to go. Between Fallon and Austin, we will encounter only 1 town where we will fill up on water. Along this route, we will also climb over 2,500 feet. We are a bit nervous for such a tough day, but are confident that we will make it. Here's to hoping that the wind will be at our backs tomorrow! Last year's team made it easily by 4pm the next day, so we should be fine. We will likely be camping for the next few nights and probably won't have access to the internet for blog updates. If we have cell phone service, Tony will update briefly via his blackberry.

Also, we promise pictures will be coming soon! Katherine seems to have misplaced her USB cord for her camera, which was the source of pictures for the blog. When we next see an electronics store, we will pick one up.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

We made it to Nevada!

We last left you in beautiful Davis, California with the Wilkes. We haven't had access to a computer since then--we've been in the beautiful Sierra's! We are currently sitting in the public library in Carson City, Nevada on our first (and much needed) day off. Unfortunately, we won't be able to upload any pictures today because this is a public computer, but we will as soon as we can!

A recap of the past few days:

Loaded up with supplies, including very yummy almond butter and banana sandwiches on bagels, we left Davis and set off for Placerville, California. The first 20 miles of the trek towards Sacramento was a flat, easy ride. Ross and Tony managed to get a bit ahead of Drew and Katherine, and while waiting for them, just happened to come upon a real live taco truck. They felt that even though it was 10 A.M., they could not resist said tacos. Word on the street was that they are the best tacos they have ever eaten.

After passing into Sacramento, we immediately hopped on to the American River Bike Trail, which took us for 30 miles through downtown Sacramento towards Folsom, Ca. The bike trail was great! It had water fountains and flush toilets strategically placed along the route, which was great when we needed a quick break. It was also nice to ride on paved bike trail away from traffic. We managed to stop along the river at a very nice park for lunch. Katherine read on a picnic table while the boys attempted to go swimming in the American River. However, the boys quickly returned and said that the water was way too cold to swim in.

After arriving in Folsom, we turned off the bike trail to head up to Placerville. The foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s appeared immediately after exiting the bike trail. We managed to get about halfway between Folsom and Placerville when we ran in to a nice cyclist who was out for a ride on his road bike. We asked him what he thought the rest of our ride would be like to Placerville, and he said something along the lines of ‘a few long shallow hills, followed by a bit of a push at the end’. This was great to hear, because at this point, we had already gone about 60 miles. We should have known, however, that because this man was a California native, that his definition of a hill was a bit different than ours. The long shallow hills were actually quite steep, and the ‘push at the end’ required us to walk our bikes up the hill because our legs were so tired.
We made it to Placerville at the end of an 80+ mile day, and we were absolutely pooped. After asking at a few motels, we had a room donated to us at the National 9 Motel. We were so grateful to be sleeping in a bed that night.

The next morning, we slept in a bit, because we knew we would be tired. We also had to stock up on some supplies, which required us to wait around until 9 for the local bike shop and grocery store to open. We stopped for breakfast at the Waffle House, and none of the riders were able to finish their meals. It was certainly a good thing that we had some shopping to do to allow ourselves to digest before riding!

Our goal was to make it to Cook's Station at the end of the day, at an elevation of about 5,000 ft. We knew that we would have some serious climbing, but we were excited that we only had a 30 mile day ahead of us. We started off in earnest, only to be amazed at how long and steep some of the hills could be. Downhills used to be something that we anticipated as a break, but on this day, they only meant that we would have to go back up again. This was by far the hardest day for all of the riders so far. It is possible that we were just exhausted from the day before, but for some reason, every climb was a battle. Even still, it was pretty cool to see the terrain change before our eyes as we started to ascend.

We finally made it to Cook's Station, completely exhausted. On our map, it was listed as a place with a small grocery store, a restaurant, a gas station, and a campsite. It turns out that Cook's Station was not actually a town, but one building. It was the grocery store (which sold about 7 items), a gas station, a restaurant and a campground, all in one! The best part about it, though, was that there was a shower in the basement. Well fed (from the restaurant) and showered, we camped in the backyard. Apparently, a bear visited the trash dumpster pretty close to us that night, but we were all so exhausted that we did not hear it. One of the permanent RV campers at Cook's Station told us about it the next morning. It's a good thing it didn't bother us!

The next day was another large climbing day for us. Our initial goal was to make it all the way to Carson City, but we soon realized that this was a very unrealistic goal (it would have been another 80 mile day, but this time with over 4,000 feet of vertical gain). We settled instead for Kirkwood, which in the Winter is a hopping ski resort about 6 miles from Carson Pass, at about 7,000 feet. In the summer though, it turns out that there is not much going on. Our map again indicated that there was a grocery store, a hotel, a gas station, and a campground. It failed to mention, however, that these places were only open in the Winter when the area was full of skiers. We were certainly hoping for a hotel, but we were very happy to learn that the campground was open, and that we would have a place to stay.

This being said, all we had left in terms of food was a box of pasta and powdered sauce, 1/4 a can of peanut butter, and a few granola bars. It's a good thing we thought ahead to carry an extra meal with us for a stiuation like this. We were a bit nervous about not having enough for breakfast and snacks for the climb through Carson Pass the next morning, but we figured that we would be okay until we could get to the next general store, about 9 miles from the top of the pass. Very fortunately, we met Kevin and Steve, who were RV camping in the campsite next to ours. They were in the area to take part in the great fishing in nearby Silver Lake. Before we went to bed, they offered to cook us eggs, bacon and hash browns in the morning to give us energy for our ride. We are convinced that Kevin makes some of the best hashbrowns we have ever had. We could not have been more greatful for breakfast on a day that we didn't have a good meal with us! Thanks guys!

After a short 6 mile climb to the top of Carson Pass (about 8,500 feet) we started downhill to see some pretty incredible views. It is somewhat difficult to describe snow capped mountains and alpine lakes in words, so we will just have to post pictures the next time that we have access to a computer that will allow us to do so. Apparently, we're a lucky crowd. Until the day before we arrived, it has rained nearly every day. We brought the good weather (and the good views) with us when we came to the Sierra's

After a fast 45 miles downhill, we passed over the Nevada Border and made it to Carson City. We are staying in the Mill Hotel, and have spent this morning stocking up on groceries and bike supplies for the desert we will encounter tomorrow. In the morning, we will take off for Fallon, Nv, about 60 miles east of where we are now.

More to come soon (hopefully with pictures!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hardest day yet

Day 4:
End: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=38.7336,-120.7745&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1
Miles: 82
Average speed: 11mph
Max speed: 48mph
Elevation change: +2000 feet with many more hills

Monday, June 15, 2009

And the people you meet.

Right now, it is 7:34pm at the Wilkes family home and we are living the life, but before we get to that we will do a recap of the goings on since Aunt Susies.

After leaving Aunt Susie's house with a full stomach of cookout food, chips, salsa, and guac, we made our way from Senoma to Napa. Wine country was absolutely beautiful, but Napa had other great surprises in store... Inn'n'out Burgers!!! After filling our stomachs and getting some more supplies we headed towards the campsite which was less than a mile up the road. Good thing, since the burgers did not make the greatest cycling food. They were delicious though. No regrets. The lady at the Skyline RV Park cut us a deal and gave us a key to use the showers, a right that is reserved normally for RV owners. After cleaning ourselves up and setting up camp we headed to bed to get up early for the hard day that was ahead of us.In the morning, none of us were looking forward to the hard climbs that were ahead of us, but we ate our breakfast and headed out. About 6 miles up the road, right before the hills were to start, we met two schoolteachers named John and Doug who were riding their recumbent bicycles. They asked us where we were headed, and when we told them Davis, they seemed flabbergasted that we would attempt to go the way we were planning and guided us out of town on another route that would bypass the mountains and remain relatively flat. This added a lot of miles to our day, but we were thankful for the help. At the edge of Napa, we said our fairwells to John and Doug and headed toward Davis.

On route, we ran into a young lady named Alena who was on her way to Oregon to meet up with some friends where she was going to have cross country bike ride. She was on her way to Davis tonight as well, and had absolutely no idea how to get there. We told her to tag along, and four became five. Right after we picked up Alena we had some major technical difficulties again. Ross' rear rack fell off. Once we had solved the rack problem, we broke the valve off of his tube while trying to put more air in the tire. Later on in the day, we realized that Ross' bike troubles had unbalanced his tires and his brakes were rubbing, so we had to work on that as well. Later on we met a gentleman named Wayne who was from England and was biking across the country as well to raise money for two different charities. Once he got to New York he was going to fly out to Spain, through France, and into his homeland. You can read more about his epic adventure at http://www.thecharityride.com/. Wayne was also rather lost, and he asked to tag along into Davis. He was on his way into Sacramento. After biking with us and Alena for a while he decided that he would be quicker on his own and sped off. In Davis we ran into him again asking for directions.
Once we got to the Wilkes residence we were welcomed with open arms by Dr. Mike Wilkes, his wife Maggie, and their daughter Abbie. They had a spread of delicious appetizers that we demolished. Salmon, cheese, crackers, chips, salsa, and guac. Needless to say, we laid waste to it. We then took a dip in their beautiful pool and had an amazing dinner of grilled chicken, pasta, salad, and Beer. It was great, and much needed after the long day. The Wilkes also let us use their laundry and internet. They have been incredibly generous and have given us a great place to relax at the end of the day. Right now we are going to go do some bicycle surgery and probably head to bed rather early. Peace.
Total Miles: 73, Average speed:13mph

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wine country

Day 1:
30 miles with lots of mechanical delays
Start: San Fran
End: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=38.0196,-122.7343&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Day 2:
51 miles, average speed 12mph, max speed 39 mph
End: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=38.2774,-122.2507&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Also, to find more pictures, not on the blog. Check out our Picasa account. http://picasaweb.google.com/coasttocoast09

Wine Country!

So...we're sitting here at Ross' Aunt Susie and Uncle Albert's house in Sonoma, Ca. Wine country is beautiful!

Here is a recap of the past 2 days:
Our flight left Boston at 6AM yesterday. The 6.5 hour flight was long, but Ross and Katherine managed to sleep 9/10 of the way to SF (Drew and Tony didn't sleep a wink). After a short ride on the Bart and a cab ride, we arrived at City Cycles, where we had shipped our bikes the week earlier. There were still a few adjustments to be made on the bikes, and we had to transfer all of our luggage into our panniers to carry on the bikes. At this point, we were also famished. We were told to visit "Marina Subs" on Steiner street across from the bike shop while last minute adjustments were made to our bikes. Little did we know that this famous sub shop was staffed by one man making sandwiches, and one man watching him make sandwiches. Getting lunch therefore took much longer than we had anticipated. That being said, we can say that the enormous turkey and avacado subs were worth the wait. They were especially worth the wait at 6pm, when we were still on the road and hadn't eaten since lunch.

Here we are, about to depart from City Cycles:

At the bike shop, Alissa Maglaty, a SF local (and hero) met us to lead us out of the city. She led us over the beautiful golden gate bridge and through the suburbs primarily on bike paths and back roads, for which we were very grateful. Unfortunately, we didn't get on the road until almost 2:30 after all was said and done at the bike shop, so didn't have much time to enjoy the scenery. Our original plan was to stay with Ross's aunt and uncle in Sonoma, but we soon realized that this was not going to be possible because we had gotten such a late start. After climbing White's hill, which felt suspiciously like a mountain, we decided that it would be better for us to veer off course and find a place to camp than attempt to make it to Sonoma. It was a wise choice. We ended up staying at the Samuel P. Taylor state park, a redwood forest outside of Lagunitas, Ca. We wouldn't have been able to make it without Alissa's superb navigation skills...so thank you Alissa!

Before we headed to our campsite, we went into the Lagunitas General store to buy groceries, and ran into Robert and Linda, two of the nicest people we could have imagined meeting on a bike trip such as ours. They immediately took interest in our cause, and offered to carry our groceries to our campsite for us. They also said they would return with firewood for us to make a campfire, and some eggs from their chickens. We met them at our campsite about 30 minutes later, and Robert built us a barn burner of a campfire for the evening, and left us some yummy eggs that we enjoyed this morning for breakfast. Thank you Robert and Linda!!

Here is robert, making us a fire!

We got on the road at about 8:30 this morning because we all had some minor adjustments to make to our bikes after our first day of riding. Ross' pannier's have decided that they don't much like to stay on the back of his bike, so we had to make quite a few stops early on to strap them back on. I think we finally managed a system with zip ties that should hold for some time (as long as the roads don't get too bumpy!) Aside from these minor mishaps this morning, we have had a fairly uneventful day. There were a few large climbs, but we were always rewarded with some great downhills. Tony clocked in at a max speed of 39MPH. We're going to try valiantly to beat Russ's record of 50mph from last year.

We got our first flat tire today...Tony fixed it in record time.

We all decided that the highlight of the ride was the cherry stand we came across about 10 miles outside of sonoma. Katherine had never eaten a white cherry, and was amazed how sweet they tasted even though they looked so unripe. They also provided a great 'kick' for the last bit of the ride. The four of us then proceeded to have a discussion about why fructose is such a great source of energy (because it doesn't require transporters to get into cells). We may be on a cross country bike ride, but we are all medical students at heart.

This is what drew us towards the delicious cherries:

So, here we sit now in beautiful 80 degree sun around the pool eating burgers with Albert and Susie. Thanks for lunch! We are slowly regaining energy, and will ride about 10-15 miles tonight to Napa, where we will camp. Tomorrow, we will head towards Davis and will encounter Cardiac Hill. We'll let you know how that goes.

ps: Drew is our navigation expert. He loves his maps!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Big tree or little dudes

In the Samuel P Taylor state park in Lagunitas, CA. Redwoods everywhere.
Ross Bickford

Growing pains

After a long night and day we have reached our first camp. More to come tomorrow.