Wednesday, July 29, 2009

soaking wet!

So, we finally feel like we're back close to home! We crossed over into Pennsylvania yesterday, and we're now about 5 days from home sweet home. We've heard stories about how wet this summer has been, but we haven't experienced it until today...and it rained A LOT.

Here's a recap of the past few days
Columbus-Masillon, Ohio
Masillon-Mercer, Pa

We left Columbus after a great day off with Drew's friend Claire. Although most of western Ohio was relatively flat, we were surprised at how fast the both the hills and the number of trees picked up outside of Columbus. We rode through a beautiful (and very hilly!) stretch of forest between Mt. Vernon and Loudenville around lunchtime, and then the rest of the afternoon rode through rolling hills and farmland.

Yesterday, we left Masillon and again rode through some hills on our way toward Pennsylvania. We were disappointed once again to cross a state border without a sign welcoming us. Katherine even asked in a local diner in Sharon, Pa if she had missed the sign, but was told that the route we took did not have a sign at the border. We arrived in Mercer around 5pm. The Mercer motel was kind enough to donate a room, for which we were very grateful. This motel also happened to be located around the corner from the town pizza restaurant, complete with Tuesday night happy hour specials. The special? 50% off any large 2 topping pzza. We each ordered our own large pizza, and were treated to a very large dinner (and breakfast).

After eating our pizza this morning, we set off toward Marienville. Even though we rode away at 6:45 AM, we made it only about 5 miles before the drizzles started. It rained lightly off and on until about 10 AM, when it started to pour. The hard rain didn't let up all afternoon, and it's still going at 7:30! We were watching the news tonight, and there are areas of Eastern Pennsylvania and New York state that have gotten over 6 inches of rain today. What a soaker! We're just thankful to be staying in a room donated by the Microtel Inn and Suites in Marienville, out of the rain. We've all showered and warmed up, and we've dried our clothes for tomorrow. The forecast looks pretty good for tomorrow (high 70's and sunny), but we'll likely get some more rain on Friday. We were hoping that we would bring good weather with us as we moved east, but it looks like our luck might be wearing thin.

Hopefully we'll be able to get in another post or two before the end of the trip. We can't believe it's coming to an end already!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

a day off in Columbus

After a great visit with Drew's parents, we left Terre Haute for a pretty ride to Greenfield, Indiana. That morning, we rode through some pretty dense fog, which was somewhat nervewracking in terms of our visibility to cars, but was beautiful. We rode through an area of cornfields scattered with farmhouses that had an eerie shadow cast over them by the rising sun and the moisture in the air. We attempted to take pictures, but they didn't really capture the light very well. By 8:30 or so, the fog had blown off, and the rest of our day was beautiful and sunny. In the early afternoon, we rode right through downtown Indianapolis. It was cool to see another city, and notice the unique aspects of each of the cities we have ridden through.

The next morning, we set off toward Columbus, where we are currently visiting Drew's friend from college, Claire. Our initial goal was to split the 150 miles in to two 75 mile days, but we had a great wind at our tail, and we had ridden nearly 50 miles by 11am. So, we decided to push on and head, crossing the Ohio border, and finish in Springfield, Ohio instead. The final mileage for the day was nearly 115, which was a long day even though it was relatively flat with good winds.

It's a good thing that we pushed on towards Springfield, because we woke up yesterday morning with only 45 miles ahead of us to Columbus! Also, there were strong storms in the forecast for the afternoon. When we first woke up, there were some pretty crazy thunder storms rolling through, but they had passed by the time we finished breakfast. Aside from a strong crosswind, we didn't see many other signs of a storm, so we set on our way. We made good time to Columbus, and we rode into town around noon. We managed to avoid rain all morning until about 3/4 a mile away from Claire's house, when we were hit with some really hard rain. We were soaked in seconds! Even still, we were glad to be done so early in the day with a full day and a half ahead of us to relax.

Yesterday afternoon and today have been a great time to relax. We all went to see Food, Inc. with Claire and her roomate, and spent the evening relaxing. This morning, we cooked a feast of a breakfast and explored a bit of Columbus while looking for a bike shop. We went to an ice cream shop with really exotic flavors (like salty caramel, goat cheese and cherries, thai chili, cucumber honeydew ceyenne, berry and burgundy, sweet corn and rasberry). We tried them all...they sound bizarre, but were really yummy! This evening, we will head over to the 'ribs and jazz festival' that is taking place in Columbus.

We're working out our route for the rest of the trip. We're a bit south of last year's crew, but we will try to meet up with their route to avoid the Appalacians in Pennsylvania. Right now, our estimated date to arrive in Farmington is somewhere around August 4th or 5th! We're all getting antsy to see family and friends again!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We're back in the eastern time zone!

We've made it to Terre Haute, Indiana, and we are very much enjoying a visit from Drew's parents. They have treated us to a stay in a nice hotel, and we have just returned from a chinese buffet dinner. We are all pretty stuffed!

Since we left Leawood, our days have gone as follows:
Leawood, Kansas-Tipton, Missouri
Hermann-St. Louis
St. Louis-Altamont, Illinois
Altamont-Terre Haute, Indiana

It was sad to leave the Douglas family in Leawood, but we set off bright and early for a 110 mile day to Tipton. We crossed into Missouri only a mile from their house, and had a nice ride through the rolling hills. We again ran in to some technical issues, and throughout the day, managed to accumulate 9 flat tires. We reached Sedalia around 3:30, only to find the both of the bike shops in town were closed on a Saturday (even though their hours posted online and on their doors said that they were open). Regardless, we got lucky, because Walmart happened to have in stock the exact tubes that we needed for our bikes. We stocked up on tubes and some patch kits, and continued on our way to Tipton. In Tipton, we were having trouble finding a place to stay, because the town was incredibly small. Someone suggested that we ride down to the ambulance base and ask them if we might be able to camp on their lawn. As Katherine was standing outisde the door, a nice older couple saw her looking concerned and stopped to ask if she was OK. After she explained the problems we were having, the Koechner's were kind enough to invite us back to their house to spend the night (and take a warm shower!). An interesting note: while we were standing in the kitchen, we noticed a picture of the four main characters of the movie Anchorman taped to the refrigerator. When we asked about the picture, we learned that "Champ" (real name David Koechner), was their son! That night, Drew slept in the treehouse, and was very excited to be sleeping in a treehouse that Champ had played in as a child.

Our next day, after passing through the state capitol (Jefferson City), we hopped on the Katy Trail. This trail is an old converted railroad bed that has been turned into a bike path. It runs from Clinton-St. Charles, Missouri--most of the state! We were excited to be on the trail because it was pancake flat. Missouri is actually quite steep. Although the hills are short, the roads are not cut into the hills as they are out west, and can be pretty tiring. Even though it was flat, the unpaved terrain slowed us down a bit because there was more resistance against our tires. The scenery on the trail was beautiful. It was pretty cool to ride through areas that were actually dim because the vegetation fromthe trees cast so much shade. We rode though some small abandoned towns, through lots of cornfields, along the Missouri river for quite some time, and by a couple of tall cliffs. We also saw some pretty interesting birds (but we couldn't identify any of them). That night, we camped in the town park in Hermann, a small town on the Missouri river.

The next morning, we set off for St. Louis. Our goal in the morning was to make it to the arch, take lots of great pictures, and cross the border into Illinois for the night. We spent a good majority of the day enjoying the Katy Trail again, and then got off before St. Charles to head for the city. Boy, the roads through cities are confusing! Our plan was to take a route through the city that turned out to be a major 4 lane divided highway, and we quickly realized that this was not going to work. After asking for directions about 14 times, we finally headed in the direction of the arch. By the time we reached the city, it was nearly 6pm. Because it had gotten so late, we decided to stay in St. Louis, and then cross the Mississipi in the morning. We stayed in the 'Hampton Inn Under the Arch". Despite the name, the hotel was not in fact under the arch (but it was pretty close!)

The next morning, we hit the arch right away, and were amazed at how tall it actually was. It's the 'gateway to the west', but we thought of it as the gateway to the east. We then crossed over the Mississipi River, which was not as wide as we thought it would be, and headed into Illinois. Unfortunately, there was no sign on the bridge to let us know that we had crossed state lines! The rest of the day consisted of a pretty flat ride to Altamont. We were slowed a bit by a strong crosswind, but we were just thankful that it was not directly in our faces.

This morning, we woke up to a ripping headwind, and were disappointed that we were going to be riding with the wind blowing at us all day. We were excited that we would be seeing Drew's parent's though! Even with the wind, we managed to make great time this morning with Tony breaking wind for our pelaton. Our original plan was to make it to Brazil, a fairly small town in Indiana. After riding this morning though, we decided to cut some miles and make up for them tomorrow, when the wind was forecasted to be more mild. We decided to stay in Terre Haute instead. Around 12, Drew's parents drove by honking at us, and we stopped to say hello. They took all of our gear from us, which made the rest of the day much easier! I think we have all forgotten what it is really like to ride a bike without four heavy panniers strapped on. This afternoon, the wind slowed a bit, but it began to pour on us. As it turns out, it's not all that unpleasant to ride in the rain. It keeps you cool, and once you're wet, it doesn't really matter if you continue to get wet. It's possible that we were also just happy that the wind had slowed some. We again crossed a state line without seeing a sign (we're not sure if we missed it, or if it just wasn't there!). We also crossed time zones again--we're officially on eastern time again! For some reason, this feels like a really huge landmark for us. We're just over 2 weeks from home now, and we're all excited to see family and friends. We're glad to be spending the evening with the Cathers. We had a lot of fun at dinner, and now we will just relax until we head to bed. Unfortunately, they will be taking off in the morning to head home. It's been a short visit, but great to see them!

Tomorrow, we will attempt to make it through Indianapolis to find a place to stay. Apparently, there is a huge NASCAR race taking place, so it might be a bit hairy trying to find a place to stay near the city tomorrow night. We'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Colorful Colorado

Chilling at the border

Dr. Pepper

Dr. Pepper - the cause and solution to all of life's problems


Eastern Kansas

We've finally made it to our next day off. We went from July 6th-July 17th without taking a day off, which was a bit much for us. We are currently in Leawood, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. We are staying with the Douglas Family, old friend's of Katherine's family. They have been so kind to us, and we have had a great time relaxing in Leawood.

Here is a recap of the last few days:
Scott City-La Crosse
Lindsborg-Osage City
Osage City-Leawood

We left Scott City bright and early, and had a relatively uneventful day to La Crosse, aside from some headwinds at the end of the day when our legs had begun to tire out. In Lacrosse, we stayed in a room donated by the Green Acres Inn. That night, some pretty big storms came through, so we were very thankful to be staying inside. With those storms came some pretty incredible heat and humidity.

Our next day, we again left by 6 in hopes of beating the heat. By 9am, it had already turned out to be a scorcher, and the winds picked up pretty early. Even still, we made it to Lindborg by 3:30 or so. As it turns out, Lindsborg is the 'little sweden' of America, complete with an annual festival dedicated to its Swedish heritage. When we arrived, the Viking motel (in tune with the Scandanavian theme) donated two rooms to us! We were so thankful to each have a bed to ourselves. The owner of the motel couldn't have been nicer. Because the town is so small, he has donated a room to the past 3 years of riders as well, and was able to show us a binder full of interesting articles about people who had stayed in the hotel. In the binder was a press release about Ben Ristau and Jeremiah Tracey's trip (the first annual Coast to Coast for a cure)! He was really excited to be help out another crew. He even called down to the local family restaurant, spoke with the owner, and she then donated dinner to us. We've decided that people in Kansas, as a rule, are pretty nice.

We woke up again bright and early, ready to start a 115 mile day, only to find that there was a severe thunderstorm warning for the area. The wind was blowing like crazy! We decided to go back to bed, and woke up again around 7:15 to find that the storm had passed. We were on the road around 8, and were stopped again around 10:30 to wait for another round of storms to pass. In all, we estimate that we lost around 4 hours. We also learned on this day that eastern Kansas is not actually flat. The 'Flint Hills', as they're known, are actually fairly 'bouncy'. The scenery was beautiful, and we enjoyed the expances of farmland and farm animals. Tony has a pretty impressive cow impression, and spoke to the cows on several occasions. Sometimes, when he moo'd, he would scare the cows away, and sometimes they would run towards him. Apparently, he doesn't know what he's saying when he speaks cow. We rolled into Osage City around 8, completely exhausted. We were excited about the prospect of finding a place to stay, only to find out that Osage City was not actually much of a city, and did not have a motel. We walked into the local convenience store to ask for suggestions, and the clerk (Amber) was kind enough to have us camp in her lawn. Unfortunately, she did not get off of work until 10:30, long after we would have been asleep. We set up camp and had a very hot, sticky night inside of the tents.

We woke up around 6 the next morning to head to Leawood. Our ride was very pretty in the increasingly large rolling hills, and we had a ripping tailwind behind us. By 3, we were in the area surrounding Leawood and Kansas city. However, the roads here are very confusing, and are known to have multiple names (not all of which are listed). They also frequently end and then begin again 1/2 mile away. Needless to say, it took us until about 5 to find the Douglas' house. When we made it, we were very relieved! They have been so kind to us, and we are so thankful for their hospitality (and very very full bellies).

Tomorrow morning, we will cross the Missouri border (only about 2 miles from where we are now), and then make our way towards St. Louis on the Katy Trail, an old railroad bed turned bike bath. This will take us all the way though Missouri in 3 or 4 days.

We'll write soon (and there are pictures coming, promise!)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Flatlands

So, we've made it to Kansas! We're all so excited to finally be riding on some flats.

Here's a recap of the past few days:
When we last left you, we were going to attempt a pretty long day to Fowler, Colorado. We left the KOA bright and early for a fairly long, gradual climb (about 3,000 feet), which we completed around 11 AM. For the rest of the afternoon, we coasted downhill to Pueblo, Co. As we coasted though, losing over 4,000 feet, the temperature began to rise exponentially. By the time we rolled into Pueblo around 3:30PM, the bank read 104 degrees on its thermometer. Our original plan was to stop quickly by a bike shop to pick up supplies and head on our way for the last 37 (flat as a pancake) miles to Fowler. However, we stopped in a gas station to cool down, and after some slushies, we decided that it would be much better to wake up super early and get the extra miles under our belt in the cooler weather. We spent the night in a motel, with our alarm set for 4:30AM so that we could get an early start. Little did we know what the next day would hold for us.

Our alarms went off and we packed up our panniers only to discover that Katherine had a tire that had gone flat overnight (she had had 2 flats on the same tire the day before, and we were beginning to get a bit suspicious about the integrity of the tire itself). We figured that we would try one more tube inside of that tire before completely giving up on the tire. So, about 30 minutes behind schedule, we started off for our 112 mile day. We were coasting along at about 16MPH for over an hour, and were really proud of our progress when Katherine's tire went completely flat again. So, we stopped to change it---but, as we soon found out, our handheld pump was completely broken (keep in mind that it had worked an hour earlier to blow up the first flat). So, at 7:3o on a Saturday morning, we were stranded about 20 miles outside of Pueblo in the middle of a field. Fortunately, a very nice woman drove by and saw that we looked concerned and offered to give Tony and Katherine a ride to Walmart to purchase another pump. The mission was successful, and after purchasing a pump, as well as some CO2 cartridges as a backup, they were able to get a ride back from someone in the parking lot who just happened to be heading for the middle of nowhere (quite like us). The rest of the day towards Eads was relatively uneventful. It was brutally hot in the late afternoon, and we managed to pick up quite a headwind for the last 20 miles. Even still, we rolled into town around 6PM. The Traveler's Lodge in Eads was kind enough to donate a room to us for the evening. We were especially grateful for this room because it appeared that a pretty huge storm was rolling through. A woman in the local gas station told us that there was a flash flood and tornado warning out for the county. Fortunately, not much came of the storm aside from pretty crazy winds and some lightning.

Today, we woke up at 5AM for a 105 mile day. We were out the door and riding by 6, when it was still pretty cool outside. The heat picked up quickly though, and by 9AM, we were already scorching. We stopped about every 10 miles for a quick 'breather', and about every 20 miles at gas stations for water fill ups. We made great time again, and rode into Scott City, Kansas at about 4PM (which was really 3PM for us, because we gained an hour when we came into Kansas). We were pretty pleased that we didn't run into any technical difficulties today, because it would have been quite unpleasant to bake on the side of the road while attempting to fix a bike. The scenery in Kansas is....lots of wide open space. Most of the wheat has already been harvested, so we can see for miles and miles around us in any direction as we ride. As we approached Scott City, we began to see some corn fields (the green was a welcome sight!). Apparently, we are entering 'feedlot country', where cows are raised for beef. I'm sure this will be an adventure for our noses tomorrow! The Best Western has donated a room to us for the night. It's currently about 7:30 here, and still 98 degrees outside, so we are very happy to be inside.

Tomorrow, we will wake up at 5 again, and we will be treated to a full breakfast at the Best Western. We hope to be on the road by 6:15 again, in order to beat the heat (it's supposed to be even hotter tomorrow--and we're forecasted to have headwinds). Our goal tomorrow is La Crosse, Kansas, about 95 miles or so from here. We'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Luxury Kamping

We're sitting here at a KOA (Kampground of America) in Cotopaxi, Colorado. The campground is right on the Arkansas river, and we even have internet access! The campsite is complete with a pool, mini golf course, horseshoe pit, showers and laundry.

The last few days have gone as follows:

We left Telluride around 9AM for a beautiful ride down through the mountains. Last year's crew made it to Montrose, but thanks to a VERY hefty tailwind, we made it there by 3. We decided to push on a bit more in order to make the climb over Monarch Pass a bit easier (we were able to rig our route so that this huge climb was early in the morning). We also feared the winds might change on us and we wanted to get as many miles as possible under our belt with the conditions. In Montrose, we met up with Ed, a touring cyclist who has ridden across the country 5 times! This is his sixth. He was packed useful information, and it was nice to have another rider along with us for the afternoon. We all arrived in Cimarron around 7pm, thoroughly pooped after a 90+ mile day. Cimarron wasn't much of a town, but more of a gas station/general store/restaurant/campground similar to Cook's Station in the Sierra's. We were all famished and managed to each put back a cheeseburger and a large slice of homemade pie. Tony was so hungry that he drank and entire half gallon of whole milk while we waited for dinner. He says that he will do anything these days to make sure that he consumes enough calories! He calculated that this was a very cheap source of said calories: 1080 for $2.89. This has become a game between Tony and Drew. Each time we head into a gas station, they compete to see who can find the cheapest calories.

The next morning, we set off early, knowing that we had a climb in the morning, and wanted to get it out of the way before it warmed up too much. We made it to the top by 10, and were very excited to know that the rest of our 70 mile day was pretty much flat (with an uphill so slight that it was difficult to notice). Again, we had a great tailwind that propelled us towards Sargents, a town at the base of Monarch Pass. Again, this town was nothing more than the Tomichi Creek Trading Post, complete with all services mentioned above. We camped last night in Sargets at about 8,500 feet. We had no idea how cold it could get! We woke up this morning to find that it dropped below freezing last night. The grass was covered in frost, and all of our clothes that we had left to air out were frozen and crispy. As soon as the sun rose over the mountains, however, it warmed up significantly, and we were able to shed our hats and gloves.

We set out this morning to head over Monarch Pass, at an elevation of 11,312. We climbed over 3,000 feet in 10 miles to reach the top. Even still, it did not seem like the worst hill we had climbed. We're still not sure if this was due to the fact that it was the first thing we did this morning, or if it was actually less steep than some of our other climbs. We made it to the top by 10:45, and were pleasantly surprised to find a tourist stop at the top, where we all grabbed some needed snacks. We headed downhill for the rest of the day to Cotopaxi, where we arrived around 3PM. We could have pushed another 21 miles to the next town, but it involved at 1,500 foot climb. Our legs were pretty shot after this morning, so we decided that it would be best to rest up for some long days that we have coming up ahead of us. Today, Tony attempted to turn Drew on to his milk trick, and bought a gallon for the two of them to split. Drew is waiting on a stomach ache to decided if he likes the idea.

Tomorrow, we are going to shoot to make it about 30 miles past Pueblo to Fowler. This would be a 110 mile day, but aside from a climb and a downhill in the morning, it would be primarily flat. We'll see how the winds treat us before we make a decision. If we are able to do this, it would make our next day to Eads much easier (it would be 125 miles otherwise).

We'll keep you posted as we have internet access!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Telluride, Colorado

We're sitting here in the public library in Telluride, Colorado! This town is absolutely beautiful. We are surrounded on all sides by lush green mountains. One of them even has an enormous waterfall facing town!

After we last wrote, we went to Kulani's extended family's house for a barbeque. He made us some of the yummiest beef brisket we have ever had, as well as a very delicious salad! After eating our fill, we headed back to our motel for a great night's sleep. We headed off the next morning excited that we had a 1,000 foot climb, followed by relatively flat terrain for nearly 60 miles to Dolores, Colorado. Our elevation map fooled us, however, because while we did not change elevation we rode up and down and up and down some very rolling hills. Drew affectionately referred to them as 'bouncy'. Even still, it was a nice break from the steep Utah mountains! Also, we came through some very pretty and expansive farmland, which we imagine is similar to what we might see next week as we head towards Kansas.

In Dolores, we had burgers at the Hollywood bar, a true local experience. After a night of camping at the local RV park in this very small mountain town, we set off for an awesome day towards Telluride. The first 1o miles were completely flat (it really was!), and we rode along the fast flowing Dolores river. The river kept the temperature down, and it was so nice to finally be surrounded by trees and water again. We slowly started uphill, but the grade was so shallow that it was sometimes even hard to notice that we were going uphill, aside from the fact that our speeds were very low. We call them 'false flats'. Our energy remained high throughout the day, partially due to the terrain, and partially due to the beautiful views we saw as we rounded every turn. Our final push up Lizard's Head pass was supposed to be quite a bit steeper, but it turned out to be nothing compared to some of the hills we came over in Utah. It was great to get to the top and actually feel like we still had some more energy left in our legs! At this point, we are also feeling like we are in much better shape than when we left San Francisco 3 weeks ago. I think yesterday would have been unimaginable had we not spent the last 3 weeks climbing mountains on our bikes!

We arrived in Telluride around 4pm last night, and we are enjoying our day off! We stayed in a motel last night, and treated ourselves to some very delicious mexican food in town. Today, we transferred our gear to a town campsite where we will be staying tonight and then set off for our various adventures. We have a bunch of bike maintenance planned for the afternoon, including replacing some of our tires that have begun to wear through the tread after over 1,300 miles of riding (can you believe it?). Next weekend when we take our next day off, we will be just under 1/2 way done with our trip. Sometimes we feel like it is flying by, and other times we feel like our long days will just never end. Either way, I think we will all look back fondly at the challenges we are facing.

Friday, July 3, 2009

inching east!

The past few days in Utah have gone as follows:

Boulder-Hanksville (84 miles)
Hanksville-Hite (55 miles)
Hite-Blanding (80 miles)

Leaving Boulder, we immediately climbed quite a bit up the "hogback" to a beautiful summit. We had views for hundreds of miles around, including all of the colorful canyons in the area. As we descended, we came through a neat birch forest, and were greeted by some open range cows who just happened to be enjoying themselves in the middle of the road. After snapping some pictures, we continued on our very long descent towards Hanksville. We traveled through Capitol Reef National Monument (those were some pretty cool looking rocks!), as well as through the base of a canyon. Red stone walls hundreds of feet high surrounded both sides of the road as we snaked for 30 flat miles through the canyon. It was pretty cool to be down there!

After leaving the canyon, we hit some very dry desert. Also, the temperature shot up immensely as we left the canyon. We were dragging along, just wishing Hanksville would suddenly appear before our eyes when a silver Honda with CT plates came speeding towards us in the other direction. We noticed that there was someone hanging out of each window of the car screaming. We've had some pretty interesting reactions to riding in certain places, so we didn't immediately realize who these people were...they were friends from our med school class on a cross-country drive out to Seattle! We had discussed meeting up, but didn't think it would work out because we had lost cell phone service pretty early that day. A big thanks to Aaron Soufer, Matt Larson, Elizabeth Artrip and Jeff Thorne for going out of their way to visit us! What a pleasant surprise to be able to hang out on the side of the road in middle of the desert with some other people we know!

When we rolled into Hanksville, the temperature was 104. Enough to scorch us.

The next day (a relatively easy day to Hite) was made easier by some significant cloud cover that kept the temperatures down. Again, another pretty ride through some more canyons, including Glen National Monument. We arrived in Hite around 2pm to find that this 'recreation area' was nothing more than a small gas station and a ranger station. We quickly decided that it would be best to leave in the middle of the night for our 80 mile uphill ride to Blanding to keep us out of the heat. So, we sat inside of the gas station until they closed at 5, and treated ourselves to some microwave burritos and ice creamWe then attempted to lie in the shade of the ranger station to get some sleep before our big day. We're not really sure how it happened, but as the evening wore on, it became hotter and hotter and hotter and hotter. It was nearly impossible to stay asleep! Even still, we managed to arise around midnight for a 1am departure for Blanding.

The ride today was pretty tough. We had a long 50 mile uphill, which, although it was not particularly steep, did allow us to gain about 3,000 feet in elevation. We reached the summit around 10 AM and had some 'brunch' of peanut butter sandwiches. As we were eating, a group of 3 local cyclists rode by and took interest in our cause. They have invited us for a barbeque tonight, which we are all very excited about! We are currently in the Blanding public library, waiting out a squall that is passing by. Apparently they normally don't last long and we should see blue sky again soon!

We pass into Colorado tomorrow. Tony has declared that even though Utah is steep, it is his favorite state. Katherine agrees that the views are like nothing you could ever imagine back east. Ross and Drew have yet to weigh in on the matter. We'll get back to you after Colorado, which is likely to be a contender in the race for favorite state so far.