Saturday, May 31, 2008

Eureka to Ely

Our first day without a cloud in the sky and some super assistance at the same time. Since Bill is ending the trip at the Nevada border, he asked some good friends, Peter and Susan to pick him up. However, they were enthused about providing some support to the trip and so they came two days early. Today they loaded up Bill's Honda with all our gear and we made the 78 mile trip unloaded. Below is John from San Francisco with Belinda, Pete and Susan after the car was loaded with 16 panniers, the dog cart, the dog, and all the camping gear. Later in the day, Pete and Susan showed up with a gourmet lunch much to our surprise and delight.

Early in the ride we spotted this pronghorn antelope quite close to the road. We've also seen some deer in the past couple of days.

In todays ride we crossed four passes. The last and highest was Robinson Pass. after that it was a long down hill finish in Ely. Tomorrow Pete and Susan will sag our gear one more time to Baker. From Baker we enter Utah and will not have internet access for three or four days. We will not be able to post but we will be thinking of all our friends and family. To those who have been making comments here we thank you. We have enjoyed this connection with you all very much. Keep those comments coming.

To John's Mom, your son is a very fine young man. We are enjoying his company on our ride very much. You can be very proud of him.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Austin to Eureka

Wednesday we took a rest day in Austin and it rained nearly all day. It was a fairly lazy day, but we did walk out to an old "castle" which was a three story stone building built by a man named Stokes as a vacation house. It reminded us of the tower houses of Ireland. On Thursday we rode out of Austin, and you can see in the picture below some of the switch backs on the climb out of town.
Thursday's ride was short but steep. We climbed three passes in 25 miles. We stopped and camped at a place called Hickison Summit. We had time in the afternoon to take a short hike to view pictographs on rock formations near by. On Thursday the sky was quite dramatic and we kept looking back at the Toiyabe Mountains covered in clouds and snow. While the weather has been challenging, we have been awed by its affect on the landscape.
Today, Friday, we had an easy day of 45 miles with sunshine and high clouds on the way to Eureka. The landscape is getting drier and the Devil's Gate reminded of us of Utah. Our young friend, John from San Francisco (headed for NY), has tentatively decided to stay with us until we cross the Rocky Mountains. Tomorrow we head for Ely with clear weather.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Middlegate to Austin

The picture below was the morning scene in Middlegate. We ate a very hearty breakfast at Middlegate Station and packed up. When we left it was sunny with some clouds and about 63 degrees temp. These conditions were not to last.

Soon a large thunderhead sailed overhead going our direction. The rain began and the temperature dropped to 40, and then the hail began to fall. The hail stones approached a half inch in diameter. Large enough to sting and make us glad we had helmets on. It hailed for about a half hour, covering the road and the surrounding desert. After that T-storm passed we had intermittent rain for the rest of the day. We climbed New Pass, a ten mile long grind. Then we dropped a couple hundred feet and ascended another pass, after which we had a glorious ten mile descent.
Afer this long downhill we faced the climb to Austin, but not before Belinda had a flat tire. As it was getting late Bill and John rode ahead to town to secure us motel rooms. Dave and Belinda fixed the flat tire but as we prepared to set out Dave discovered that his rear tire had gone flat. We were fixing that when a woman touring on a Vespa motor scooter stopped to ask if everything was ok. We told her it was and as she was going to stay in Austin we asked that if she saw our friends to tell them we had a second flat and not to worry. Well, at last we were able to get back on the road. We had not gone very far when the angel on the Vespa showed up again this time without her baggage. She had talked to Bill and John, we had rooms, and she took as many of our panniers as she could to lighten our load for the steep climb into town. Our road angel is named Starr. She is from South Carolina. She has toured all the way to California and is now on her way home. After we got established in our room, we all went out to dinner for a very nice evening.

Last, I just want to say that our motel, the Mountain Motel in Austin is very friendly to cyclists and pets. There accomodations are very nice and at a reasonable price.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fallon to Middlegate

Rain clouds continued to welcome us each morning. On the way out of Fallon, John from San Francisco caught us and we continued to pass each other's paths the whole day. We made good time across the salt flats east of Fallon with 25 miles in 2 hours before the first climb. We had watched the rain moving away from us until then, but our luck had run out. As a light shower started we put on all the rain gear. The higher we climbed up Salt Springs Pass the harder the rain came down and at the top we were drenched. The long descent brought us to large valley with another salt flat entirely covered in water. We were wet and cold and decided to press on to Middlegate to spend the night. Middlegate is part saloon, restaurant, motel, store, gas station and local hangout. When we inquired about the cost of a room for the night, one of the locals sensing our cold and wet condition said it was $ 1,000 per night and the rest of the locals all chuckled. After putting only $ 35 down on the bar, we had a room and changed out of our wet clothes.
We had several discussions about our trip with locals and other people passing through Middlegate. One local said we better be prepared for snow and we could see he was right when the sun came out and clouds cleared. The Shoshone Mountains ahead were covered with snow.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Carson City to Fallon

Today was a longer ride, 65 miles, but the terrain wasn't bad, a few hills but over all a net loss in elevation. We had a little rain early but the cool temps were very conducive to bicycling and the sky seemed to be clearing towards the end of the day. Hwy. 50 out of Carson City is not the loneliest road. There are new developments (and traffic) for many miles. It wasn't until the intersection with Alt. 50 to Fernley that we began to get an idea what the true Hwy. 50 will be like. Err..well.. lonely. In Fallon, we met a young man from S.F. who is riding to a teaching job in Ohio. We were happy to have dinner with him and afterwards we were able to do a service in kind for all the help we've received along the way. John had a broken spoke and Dave had the tools to fix it. John is a very nice young man and we will meet him again in the morning for breakfast. We don't expect to see him after that as he has a deadline and is traveling quite a bit faster than we are.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

To Carson City

Well today we rode to Carson City. It was a fairly easy ride, mostly downhill with some rolling terrain. A few miles from Carson City, a red Explorer pulled over on the opposite side of the road with horn honking. To our suprise, it was some old friends that all three of us have worked with. Sue and Terry worked with us at Dole. Terry and her husband have retired to Fernley, NV and Sue has bought a house there in advance of her impending retirement also. We were to visit them over the long weekend but our tardiness getting over the mountains has made it impossible. Sue and Terry read our most recent post and figured out where we would be. It was really great to get to see them after all! After our visit the four of us continued into Carson City and checked into a motel. In his room Bill discovered that his rear wheel had a broken spoke. It was already a quarter to five and we had to act fast. Belinda called a bike shop and got the owner to agree to stay untill Bill got there with his wheel, meanwhile Bill (with his wheel) jumped in a cab to get him to the bike shop. Well, wheel repaired and we are ready to roll again tomorrow. Every day a little adventure, a little drama, and a lot of fun! Tomorrow we will ride to Fallon and surpass the 400 mile mark.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Over the Sierra

At dawn on Thursday, we were awakened by wind and snow falling on the tent. We got up and lit a fire, made coffee, and decided to see if conditions would improve. However, the winds grew stronger and the snow flurries grew more frequent and the temperature dropped. We were low on food and needed to get to Kirkwood. We went to the campground host and explained our situation. Jim Wagner offered all the assistance any bicycle tourist could expect; we used his phone to find accomodations in Kirkwood and he ferried all our gear (3 bicycles, 12 panniers, 1 dog cart, 3 people and 1 dog) the 5 miles over the Carson Spur into Kirkwood. This was critical due the winds on the ridges being in excess of 50 miles per hour.

Here is Jim, Belinda and Jack after we unloaded. In Kirkwood, we moved into very fancy digs in a condo in a tower at the bottom of the ski slopes. We recovered from the cold and watched the snow fall all day. The weather forecast indicated improving conditions and less wind on Friday. So, this morning we packed up and headed down to the Kirkwood Inn for breakfast. Our waitress had come over the Pass and told us it was snowing, but not sticking. So after a hearty breakfast, we started for the Pass. At first the snow was light, then as we climbed it grew wetter and was sticking to the ground underneath aspen trees just leafing out. At the summit we paused for pictures and then started our descent.

As we descended, the snow intensified becoming the wet heavy flakes so well known in the Sierras. We descended rapidly and got wet and cold. After only 17 miles, we stopped at Sorenson's, a well known mountain inn, to dry off, spend the night and wait until conditions improved. We had crossed the Sierra's in a snowstorm and were 10 miles from Nevada.

Into the Sierra Nevada

Sorry to have gone these days without a post. We have not had a connection till today, and the connection is weak not allowing us to post pictures now. We will add some later with a better connection. Tuesday we rode from Placerville to Omo Ranch in the foothills. We rode over several ridges making the riding very challenging. Two events towards the end of the ride made it very notable. As we were taking break a fellow tourist rode up and we began to exchange information (visit, gab). He is Phil from San Francisco and is heading to Virginia. He is traveling very light and fast as he has only two months for his adventure. As we were talking to Phil, a man pulled up in a pickup and asks where we were going. After we explained our various agendas, he explained that he (Rusty) was the principal at a very small school just ahead at Omo Ranch and offered us the opportunity to camp on the lawn of the school, just check with the custodian, John. Well we were wondering were we would spend the night so Rusty made our decision easy. When we got to the school we were welcomed and shown all the amenities, bathrooms and a full kitchen. Here is Phil with all the bikes on the lawn. We pitched our tents and made dinner and had wonderful philosophical exchanges with Phil. We are grateful for the wonderful hospitality. On Wednesday morning, we left the school rested and refreshed for the challenging day ahead. The challenge was to climb 4400 ft. to Silver Lake just below Carson Pass. We rode out of Omo Ranch and road seemed to be much better graded than the day before. We climbed more rapidly and were soon at the junction with State Highway 88 that would take us over Carson Pass. Hour after hour we climbed and the end never seemed in sight. After 6 hours in the saddle we finally began the descent to Silver Lake. Quickly we descended and found the campground. We set up in a beautiful site, had dinner and turned in quickly due to our fatigue and the dropping temperature. Thursday dawned with unexpected conditions!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sacramento to Placerville

Placerville Railroad Grade
The temperatures had abated somewhat when we rolled out this morning. The first part of the ride was delightful along the American River Parkway which is a 27 mile bikepath from downtown Sacramento to Folsom. The water was calm and a slight cool breeze refreshed us. Then the climbing began when we turned onto Green Valley Road; we struggled as the temperatures rose on a roadway with no shade. We had a long lunch break at a cemetary at Bass Lake Road and Jack heartily enjoyed the deep shade and cool grass. We continued climbing and descending for most of the afternoon along the old Green Valley Road in the shade. However, at the end we had to walk up an incredible grade into Placerville. We headed into Placerville and came to a detour that was going in the wrong direction. A fellow cyclist came up to us and we flagged him down and asked for directions around the detour. He told us to descend to an old gravel roadbed which was the former railroad grade into Placerville. He said it was the shortest and easiest way to get to Main St. The railroad grade was wonderful and we got to town in short order. We're at 2000 ft. and climb to 3500 ft. tomorrow. High clouds signal cooler weather tomorrow. Onward we ride!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Rest Days In Sacramento

We are taking a couple of much needed rest days at Bill's house. Jack is in heaven in Bill's yard with a tennis ball to play with and chase. Saturday was a very lazy rest day. Then in the evening we went to dinner with Pete and Susan (the kind friends who will pick up Bill on the other side of Nevada) and our old friend Joel. Today is a make and mend day as we get ready to head into the foothills of the Sierra tomorrow. We will be all packed tonight as we want an early departure tomorrow. We face 2000 feet of climbing to Placerville so we hope to get as much as possible done before the heat really gets going. Dave and Bill have been poring over the maps and have figured out the best way to get to Carson Pass.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Vacaville to Sacramento

Yesterday we rode past Lake Solano early on our longest day yet. It was 68.5 miles to Bill's house. Due to the heat we got an early start. We had a very nice ride through the aptly named Pleasant Valley. Then out into the Central Valley for our first flat (mostly) day. The wind was not bad and we made good time to Davis. Every day folks have asked us about our trip and we have met many nice people. In Davis a woman who made the trip last year gave us some good tips. One was to eat at the Electro Lux Cafe in Baker, Nevada. Not to be missed she said. On the American River Bike Path, fatigue had set in and in a moment of sightseeing Belinda ran into the back of the dog cart and fell over. She is unhurt but a little sore. The dog cart did not fair so well, the impact broke a frame tube. We were able to continue with the application of a stick, baling wire, and duct tape (don't leave home without it). We called Bill, and he came down to the bike path to escort us to his house. We were so tired I don't think we could have found our way without his guidance. We will take a rest day (or two) here. Cumulative trip miles 245 and we're just getting the rhythm of the road. Here is Belinda on Tower Bridge at the crossing of the Sacramento River.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

San Francisco to Vacaville

Today the best description is HOT! 100+ degrees!! Add headwinds and hills. We struggled. We fell short of the campground we had planned to stay at by 15 miles. We ended up in Vacaville at 6 pm. Under these conditions we are happy to be in the air conditioning with a pool outside our door. Did that dip in the pool feel good!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

San Francisco

Well... What a day! The weather was beautiful, but the hills were formidable. We walked (pushed) our bikes up part of two hills, Devils Slide and Skyline Drive. Their names say it all. The views were fantastic! That made all the hard work worth it. We took a break at Ocean Beach and Dave struck up a conversation with a local bike rider (also named Dave, a professional musician)who was the nicest, kindest fellow. We enquired about the route, he looked at our maps, and said that we didn't want to go that way. Dave said follow me, and lead us (at loaded touring bike speed even though he was on a racing thoroughbred) to Crissy Field by the most gentle and scenic route through Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. It was one of those random acts of kindness that seem to happen to touring bicyclists and Dave will always be remembered fondly. We traversed the beautiful environs from Crissy Field to our hotel near Fisherman's wharf and checked in. Then came the challenge of getting two bikes, the trailer and Jack into a second floor room via elevator. We were lucky that the the elevator could accomodate a fully loaded touring bike and it only took four trips to get settled in our room. At the complimentary wine and beer happy hour Jack wanted to meet everyone. He was admired by quite a few of our fellow guests who knew and appreciated Jack Russell Terriers. Onto Sacramento, our next major destination via ferry to Vallejo.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay

What a morning! Full of sunshine and windless, we headed out of Santa Cruz and up the coast on Highway 1. The surfers were out in abundance at each of the major surf spots. We pulled off at Ano Nuevo for lunch and could hear the elephant seals barking at the beach 1/2 mile away. After lunch we faced the inevitable when traveling north along the Pacific coast, a headwind. However, we are well acquainted with headwinds in the Salinas Valley and were not overwhelmed. Then came the climbs and the road went straight up, no turns, and no moderation of the grade. When it was all over we had 11 climbs and 53.6 miles under our belts. Into Half Moon Bay we wobbled, but soon recovered after showers, super burritos and beer. Tomorrow, Devil's slide and San Francisco.

Monday, May 12, 2008

First Day On the Road

We got away about 40 minutes later than planned.. not too bad. The day was clear but cool. Perfect for cycling. Once we got out of the Salinas Valley the wind was not a factor. We ate lunch on the banks of the Pajaro River, which had a lot of water in it, more than we expected this time of year. We had a surprise in Aptos. From a passing car there was some yelling and waving, the car pulled over ahead of us and it was our friends Ola Faus, her daughter Jessica, and Jessica's boyfriend. They just happened by at that time and Jessica recognized us by Belinda's pigtails. Well that was some fun. We continued on into Santa Cruz where we stayed with Dave's cousin Donna and her husband Rob. Donna is the historian in Dave's family so it is always interesting to visit with her. She and Rob are very gracious hosts, their hospitality made the perfect close to our first day on the road.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Well... tomorrow we leave, we depart, we become nomads for a big piece of the year. Let the good times roll...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Arroyo Seco Shakedown Cruise

Monday morning, April 28, Belinda and Jack are
ready to start out on our shakedown tour to
Arroyo Seco. It was a beautiful, cool but sunny
morning. We wanted to try out all our stuff, and
practice touring a little. A flurry of last minute
packing convinced us we needed a list. Out on the road we just flew along. A strong tail wind sent us spinning down River Road. We stopped and ate lunch under an oak at Hillside Vineyard. The wind blew us up Arroyo Seco Road. Once we were inside the canyon mouth the climbing got more serious and the day was getting warm. It was here we learned just how hard pulling the trailer
up hill would be. We stopped at Noggle's Place, the last store before the campground, and bought some beer. It sure tasted good! We hiked up Arroyo Seco Gorge Rd. on Tuesday. It was very pretty as everything is still green. The river still has a lot of water running that's just too cold for swimming yet. The ride home was NOT like our Monday ride. Wednesday the wind was in our face all the way home. It was so strong that often we had to peddle going down hill. Well... we made it home, had a good time, and learned a few things. Friday we were off to REI one last time.