Archive for the ‘California’ Category

Day 1, leaving San Francisco

Monday, August 24th, 2009

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After a quick bacon & eggs breakfast at Steve & Cathy’s we headed down to the ferry terminal to catch the first ferry to Vallejo. We were running short on time so we didn’t get a chance for a group photo & sparkling cider toast before we had to board the ferry. Thanks to Steve, Cathy, Mike & Maggie for taking care of us and helping us get on our way. We decided to be ambitious on our first day and set west sacramento as our destination for the day.

About 10 miles out of Vallejo we ran into a couple from London who were tranaming east to west and were just about to complete their journey. They started they’re journey in Yorktown in late May. Harry & Celia had some good advice for us about the terrain we’d be facing ahead.

As we moved inland the terrain was amazing, reminiscent of the set of There will be blood. Gradually the landscape changed as we moved into more fertile valleys dotted we farms and orchards.

Due to not getting a super early start, a couple wrong turns, and an ambitious goal we ended up getting to our campsite after the sun had gone down. Sarah shattered her previous one day mileage record of 55 miles as we put in over 80 today. Exhausted and sore she is already passed out. Tomorrow we start to climb, as we begin to make our way into the foothills of the Sierras.

Day 2, West Sacramento, Tired of climbing already

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

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We tried to get an early start this morning, but we didn’t actually get on the road until 9:45am. But, that’s ok, today was supposed to be a shorter ride, and there was a lovely bike path from Sacramento all the way to Folsom and we knocked out the first 30 miles pretty easily. There was a great bike shop in Folsom, Bicycles Plus, they helped Mike convert the valve on our tire pump, they gave us cold water, a water bottle and t-shirts, and we didn’t even buy anything! We did underestimate the distance into Folsom a bit, so it was 2pm by the time we stopped for lunch and we ended up gorging ourselves on pasta (and salad – that’s for my mom). We learned that gorging yourself is never a good idea, especially not before a 20 mile climb. I had a lot of trouble with this – it was hot and steep, and I wasn’t sure that I could make it. But, I did, and we rolled into our hotel in Placerville at 7:22pm. Tomorrow the real climbing begins, but today we knocked out another 70 miles.
– Sarah

Update: Placerville’s nickname is hangtown, apparently due to the frequent hangings in the mid 1800’s. This probably had something to do with the gold rush since Sutter’s mill is just 5-10 miles to the northwest.

Day 3, When a mountain is not a mole hill

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

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Day 3 would turn out to be our hardest day yet. Getting our earliest start, we preceded to climb out of Placerville, only to decend about 5 miles later and re-start our climb. The towns got smaller and the services became more sparse. For lunch we stumbled across the Fair Play hardware store, which happened to have a small assortment of groceries and sandwiches. The proprietor was very friendly and mentioned that he had started to stock more bike friendly goods as he’d seen several groups of riders pass through this summer. Apparently a couple and their two teenage children had passed through on their way to Maine, in the early summer. The Sierra’s were still experiencing snow fall at the time. We hope they made it and will search for documentation of their exploits when we have time. Also there is a solo rider several days ahead of us making the same route to Yorktown, but it’s highly unlikely we’ll catch up with him.

The heat in the lower/mid Sierra’s really go to us, and caused us to make frequent stops to rehydrate. The climbs generally consisted of a 2-4 mile stretches, with an occasional flattening out at the top, followed by a mile decent. One of the more scenic areas we passed through was Eldorado National Forest. Filled with large pines and low lying juniper, we got a constant waft of piney juniper through a good portion of the day. Our day ended at Bear Reservoir Campsite, about 47 miles out of Placerville. Unfortunately 2 miles off route, all downhill. Next time maybe we’ll bite the bullet and camp off the roadside to skip the additional climbing and mileage.


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Day 4, Don’t get cocky kid, we’re not out of this yet

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

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Today would be our final ascent of the Sierra’s. 25 miles to Carson Pass (el. 8,573 ft), from there on another 50 miles (mostly downhill) to Carson City. There were a couple fearsome climbs during the first half of the day, the worst just before Kirkwood and the approach to Carson Pass. On a whole, they did not wear on us like the climbing of day 3, perhaps because we are getting our legs, or the climbs were more steady. Over the last 2 days we have become very familiar with our granny gear. For those who are not bike geeks, the granny gear is the smallest chain ring (in the front) of a 3 ring crankset. It’s definitely slow going in the granny gear, but it’s the only way to make these climbs if you’re on loaded bikes and not a bike stud.

We finally reached Carson Pass around 3:30. The question was could we make it to Andrea and Jose’s in Dayton for a good bed, hot shower, home cooked dinner, and cold beer by the end of the day. Another biker resting at the pass gave us some encouraging words, and assured us we could make it without pedaling, as it was all downhill from there. We knocked out the first 15 miles of our descent in a flash, as we flew down the mountain well over 25 mph. As it started to flatten out we did have to pedal a little, but were still making good time as we crossed into Nevada. The wind started to turn against us, the shadows started to grow long, and our legs were turning to rubber. We compromised and met Jose in Carson in front of the Golden Nugget casino, with his truck and got a ride the last 10 miles to Dayton. No regrets on skipping the 10 miles from Carson City to Dayton, it’s not a particularly pretty stretched, and it gave us extra hour of visiting with Andrea, Jose, and the kids, without being completely comatose at the end of the day. Total mileage today 76 miles, one mountain range down, two to go. Day 5 is a rest day of cleaning up and prepping for our ride across the desert.


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