Wednesday, July 22, 2009

San Francisco, CA

Bike across the country - check! We finished it off today with a short 39 mile ride. The route was actually more rural than expected if you ignore the fact that it paralleled I-80 for awhile. There was even a final climb of about 400' over the last ridge line before Vallejo on San Pablo Bay. The weather was sunny inland but cool with a brisk 20mph wind off the Pacific. I think it was actually the strongest true headwind of the entire trip so we were fortunate in the wind department. From there it was an hour ferry ride to the San Francisco Ferry terminal, and a six mile ride along The Embarcadero to Marina Drive to Fort Point at the Golden Gate Bridge and the end of the ride.

For those who like to keep numbers like me, here are a few trip numbers; 3834 miles, 60 elapsed days, 52 riding days (4 rest days, 4 schedule adjustment days), 74 mile per day average, 40 mph fastest descent speed.

I will need more time to reflect on the trip but I can say there is no better way to experience the magnitude and diversity of the country than at bicycle speed. I highly recommend it to anyone. There were certainly some challenging and trying moments but overall the ride went very well from all aspects. As I have written before, going east to west through the middle of the country has proven to be a good decision, and riding supported is a great advantage that made the ride that much more enjoyable. We appreciate all of the positive comments about the photographs and we will work on sharing more and our stories when we return to Rochester.

I would like to thank Sally my partner and SAG driver for all of her help and support, it was a team effort all of the way. And we are still on speaking terms. Thanks to our daughter Elizabeth for getting us started on the right foot with the jerseys and making the effort to meet us at the end of the ride today. And thanks to all of you who followed the blog, made comments, and helped us celebrate our anniversary, with special thanks to those who contributed to Journeys of Solutions in support of the ride.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fairfield, CA

The ride today continued 10 miles on the American River Bike Path to Old Town Sacramento. It being Sunday, it was quite crowded with other cyclists. The path is in a greenway such that you would not know you were riding through a city. Old Town is a restoration of historic store fronts with lots of tourist kinds of businesses, and there is a working steam locomotive. After going through West Sacramento on surface streets, the route connected with another bike path that abutted right up against I-80 on a miles long causeway across a marshy area. That led to the city of Davis and my third flat tire of the trip, one of the dreaded goathead thorns finally. Davis is known as a very bike friendly city and so it was back onto another 10 mile bike path. Outside of Davis the route entered an extensive agricultural area with fields of tomatoes, and orchards of various un-identifiable fruits, probably avocados and peaches. We had lunch in the small farming town of Winters, where Sally visited the local farmers' market. The last 20 miles of the 66 mile ride were in a word hot, probably the single hottest 20 miles of the trip. The motel pool in Fairfield was very welcoming. Tomorrow will be another schedule adjustment day (no biking) as we expect to finish the ride on Tuesday with about 40 miles or so left to ride.
We would like to wish Dave and Ruth Happy Anniversary as they celebrate their 40th year of marriage.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sacramento, CA

We are back on-line after our trip to Yosemite and a couple of motels that did not have their networks set up properly. Read down through the last four posts to see what we have been up to.

The ride today covered 65 miles as we made our way down through the foothills to Sacramento. It's hot here - close to 100. It is extremely dry, more so than anywhere we have traveled so far. The route started to make its way into the suburbs and more traffic as we approached the valley. The last 20 miles followed the American River on the Jedediah Smith Memorial Bikeway. There were a large number of people beating the heat on a variety of rafts floating down the river, and a number of bikers and others using the bike path. They must be more used to the heat than we are. We had another little adventure last night at the B&B as they lost power and it did not come back on until after Bob left for the day. His breakfast was not quite up to B&B standards as he ate whatever left over food we had in the truck. We did get more breakfast in Placerville. This is in the middle of the 1840's gold rush region.

7/17 - Fair Play, CA

This morning, July 17th, it was back on the bike for a 66 mile ride to Fair Play, CA where we are staying in a B&B Winery. The first 15 miles was the climb over Carson Pass at 8500’, the way through the Sierra’s. This was the last major climb for the trip, and was fairly moderate. The remaining miles followed CA Route 88 down through the mountains and then foothills on a long descent with a few ups with moderate traffic. There is a forest fire to the north and the smoke was evident. The last 20 miles were a very pleasant ride along local roads (Omo Ranch) with very little traffic. The only down side was the hot temperatures in the high 90’s. While Bob waited at the road, Sally checked out the B&B, and the elderly gentleman across the road came out to make sure all was well. They invited us in for a cold drink and chat. We described our trip and now they know the reason they see so many bikers is they are on the bike route. A fellow B&Ber is British, and on his way east around the world, having just come from very cold New Zealand. He suffered from heat stroke yesterday, and will have his hands full going up Carson Pass tomorrow, loaded with 50 kilos of stuff. He’s been on the road 18 months. The United States is his last leg. He had many stories about going through Central Asia especially. We have seen very few bikers, again, except in Woodfords. It is a popular spot to park to ride along the foothills towards Carson City, or up and back down 2 different passes, one being Carson Pass. By the way, Sally was hiking there this morning among the wild flowers, finally, and found it tremendously easier going than yesterday’s hike.

7/14-716 – Yosemite Park

We continued our mini-vacation from the ride with our visit to Yosemite Park. The first stop was an early morning visit to the White Wolf Camp Ground off of the Tioga Road to secure a camp site for two nights. We then decided to visit the Hetch Hetchy Canyon. It has a dam that has created a large reservoir to supply San Francisco with water. Built in the early 20th century after the San Francisco fire, it was controversial since the original canyon was said to be equal to or better than Yosemite Valley in beauty. We had a nice five mile hike to Wapoma Falls along the lake shore. The falls were running with plenty of water. We next drove over to Yosemite Valley. As expected it was crowded but the shuttle bus system helps. Since it was late in the day we limited our visit to the valley floor. On a late day hike to Yosemite Falls we caught a glimpse of a bear climbing out of the stream. As we learned, the park is full of them.

We started the next day with a short hike to Tuolumne Grove of Sequoia trees. They are the largest living things on earth by mass and date back to the era of dinosaurs. They only grow in a few specialized climate zones. At the park gas station at Crane Flat we saw a sow bear with two cubs grazing just off the road. We then returned to Yosemite Valley and hiked up to Vernal Falls with the crowds. It is amazing the lack of preparation some people have to take what is a moderately hard hike in hot weather. And it was hot, high 90’s in the valley floor. Our camp was at 8000’ so much cooler. After returning to camp we had a nice dinner at an adjacent tent camp lodge. This night’s quiet was interrupted by the cries of “bear in camp”. Every 15 minutes or so, from a different part of the campground, we could hear people yelling and banging to chase the persistent bear. It came sniffing past our campsite a couple of times but just passed on through as we had placed all of our food in the provided bear proof containers. The next morning we broke camp and headed for Tuolumne Meadows (9000’?) for a hike up to Elizabeth Lake. The lake was situated in a high meadow surrounded by the ridge line. We then drove back toward Woodfords, the town where we had stopped riding, to prepare for resuming the ride after this little vacation.

7/13 – Woodfords, CA

We crossed over into the final state of California on a short ride of 29 miles. With only 220 miles left to San Francisco we will be off on holiday the next three days. Today we drove down the eastern side of the Sierras and visited Mono Lake. This area is still in the Great Basin so the lake has been formed because it receives water from five streams coming out of the mountains but has no outlet. As a result it is salty and has a very unique ecosystem. It is an important layover spot for the Pacific Flyway of migrating birds. In the 40’s LA started diverting water and so the lake level has dropped 45 feet. In the 80’s and 90’s there were many law suits to reverse the situation and a compromise was reached to raise the level significantly. Tonight we are staying in June Lake, a small local resort area that has a ski area and in the summer trout fishing in numerous lakes and streams nearby.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lake Tahoe, NV

We spent a nice day driving the circumference of Lake Tahoe. We had a nice hike along the lake shore in a state park. We visited the Squaw Valley Ski Resort, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics, only a few of you will remember that, and watched the hundreds of people floating down the Truckee River, the only outlet of Lake Tahoe. Did you know that Lake Tahoe geologically is a basin like all of the others we have been crossing? It has no outlet to the Pacific. It just happened to fill up with water. Tomorrow will be a short ride day as we slow down the pace. We will then be going to visit Yosemite Park since neither one of us has ever been there. Since we will likely camp, the next post may be delayed for a couple of days. But stay with us our faithful readers since you won't want to miss the exciting conclusion of the ride as we cross California starting later in the week.