Day 16 - To Hell You Ride!

I woke up in Dolores excited to tackle one of the bigger climbs of my trip - the Lizard's Head.  Peaking at over 10,000 feet, I set aside an entire day for it and planned to stay the night in Telluride, CO - just slightly off route, and not too far from the summit.  More on Telluride later.

The early morning was great.  Rolling hills took me all the way to Rico, a small mountain town with an old-school saloon feel, but filled with great little coffee shops and places to eat.  I stopped at a General Store for a coffee and some banana/peanut butter/honey tortillas that have become a staple of my diet. 

 

The view across the street from my park bench picnic.  The entire town looked like this.  Rico was one of the cooler locales I had encountered this trip, right up there with Winters, CA and Dolores, CO.

The view across the street from my park bench picnic.  The entire town looked like this.  Rico was one of the cooler locales I had encountered this trip, right up there with Winters, CA and Dolores, CO.

However, I couldn't permit myself too much exploration time in Rico - the summit called to me!  Fuelled up and ready to go, I launched back into the climb.  Surprisingly, it wasn't as arduous as I had thought.  Upon looking at the map again, the topography showed that it was quite a shallow ascent.  Looks like this would be an easy-ish day!

I arrived in Telluride early and went to go meet Max, my host for the evening.  Max works at one of the local bike shops and has a great place in town. 

 

The view of the mountains from Max's living room...not the most inspired photo, maybe I should have gone out onto the porch?  What can I say - even after a light mileage day, I was tired.

The view of the mountains from Max's living room...not the most inspired photo, maybe I should have gone out onto the porch?  What can I say - even after a light mileage day, I was tired.

Telluride apparently used to be a bit of a pit.  Miners would come on in (on rudimentary skis), from all over the surrounding area to frequent saloons, gambling halls, and...less savoury establishments (ie whorehouses).  I'm not sure which came first, the name Telluride, or the joke, "To Hell You Ride", but the pronunciation is the same.

Nowadays, Telluride is a skiing town (no miners seeking hookers), a centre for film festivals, and apparently a go to escape destination for celebrities like Tom Cruise and Oprah (or so I hear).  

After exploring the town, I returned to Max's place, and to his basement, where tinkering with the bike began.  A mechanic himself, and a former transamerican tour-cyclist (and current tourer in general), Max had lots of little knick knacks lying around.  Apparently it is his custom to send cyclists that stay with him off with a couple of these, and I was no exception! 

I left with a replacement drink-bottle holster, which I have filled with a tennis ball tube now home to my heavier tools.  Gotta keep that weight low on the bike!  He also had a small seat bag that needed a home under my butt, and now houses my spare tubes.  Hallelujah, more room for food!! 

Now for some nicer shots of the mountains, from my journey over the Lizard's Head: 

 

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Day 15 - Dolores, CO: the Foot of the Rockies

Colorado, at last!  Gotta love a new state day.  I'm glad that I made it in good time, given that I'm operating with a shorter chain.  Thankfully my end-of-day destination has a bike shop.

 

This is a joke, right?

This is a joke, right?

Given that I'm writing this a couple days later, I can't say that I remember much of my inauspicious entrance to Colorado.  I remember the wind, but what else is new.  There was a lot of farmlands...again, what else is new?

Really, the highlight of the day was when I pulled into Dolores, and beelined it for the bike shop: Lizardhead Cyclery.  Nicholas, the owner/mechanic, went straight to work replacing my chain.  He then outdid himself by doing a quick once over on my bike and tightening the (many) loose bits.  The piece-de-resistance was his innovative insertion of old tires into my handlebars, under the grip tape.  I had been experiencing some numbness in my pinkies as my hands were too big for the handlebars as they were.  Speaking a couple days ahead of Day 15, those bits of extra padding helped a whole lot.  Thanks again, Nicholas! ( https://www.facebook.com/lizardhead.cyclery.9)

Everyone in town was raving about the warm winds that would push me up to the Lizard's Head Pass (10,000ft) the next day, apparently a function of the land warming up during the day and creating a wind that rises up the mountain.  I was really excited to experience it!

 

 

Day 14 - How Bland Blanding Became the Best Town Ever

Day 13 was pretty much the polar opposite of Day 14.  I pulled into Hanksville at the end of Day 13 after a hard day's ride (136k), but still got there early and had no problems along the way.

I was faced with two stretches of "no services" ahead of me.  50 miles to a small rest stop in the middle of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and another 74 after that.  The plan was originally to stop overnight at that rest station, but that didn't last long.  I don't particularly love those no services stretches, so I decided to get it out of the way.  All 198kms. 

The morning 80 km ride was easy.  Pretty much all downhill, with the sun still low in the sky, I made the rest stop by 11.  Good thing I decided not to stay there overnight - the food selection was not quite as I was led to believe.  I had hot pockets for lunch...I should have just opened a packet of my Ramen supply. 

I got out of there quickly enough.  The afternoon ride (118k) was predictably more difficult.  I had a 3000ft climb to escape the park and return to civilization.  After that easy morning, I was very ready for it.

Despite the length of the ride, and the intensity of the climb, I must say, I was having a great time with it.  There wasn't much wind to speak of (my worst enemy) and the park was particularly beautiful.  Supplied by the Colorado River, green things had sprouted all over the red earth.  In the background, over the tops of the higher red mesas, you could see snow capped mountains and a blue sky, fitted nicely with little puffy clouds.  Quite stunning. 


Along my ascent, I met Jodiah.  Jodiah was heading west, and pulled over to chat with me for 20 minutes or so.  I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the kid.  He had no route, no end goal, no destination in mind.  He was just out touring.  His travels seemed to have taken him on a criss-cross circuit of the national parks, often doubling back on himself.  I admire the guy - I could never just GO like that.  I need the finish line to strive for, some goal in mind.

The only hiccup during my ride out of the park was my stop at the Visitor's Centre near the park's border.  One of the only sources of water in the area, it was a planned water refueling stop for me.  I only wish someone had told me that the road to the visitor's centre was a 4 mile detour off route!  AHHH!!  Oh well - had to be done.

30 miles from the visitor's centre to Blanding.  Full water bottles, full belly - let's ride.  Time passed, and I found myself passing a sign advertising the city limits within 3 miles.  Yay!  Food!  Sleep!  I was pretty beat at this point, and was enjoying coasting into town.  But really, what better way to end a day's ride than to rip into town at a healthy pace?  Thus, I shifted into a slightly higher gear, and....PING!  ZIP!  KAPOW!  BATMAN SOUNDS!   My chain exploded under my feet, sending one link spiralling off into the shrubs on the side of the road.  Within 3 miles of town.  After a 124 mile ride...what luck.

Within minutes, however, Mitch roared by on his motorcycle, and promptly turned around.  He went to get his pickup truck, and hauled my sorry but to his son's motel - Cliff's Palace (25$, super clean, and very much exactly what I was looking for).  Mitch then introduced me to Bob, a local cyclist and car mechanic/restorer.  Apparently the local cycling community is huge!  Of course, I pull into town on the very day most are away at a triathalon...thankfully Bob was still in town.  No spare chain links were to be had, so we just shortened my chain.  Looks like I'll be my big gears for a while. 

How long, you may ask?  Well, by the looks of things, the closest bike shop is 3 days ride away. 

Did I mention that I snapped a second water bottle holster today?  How, I don't know.  Maybe it got jealous of all the attention the chain was getting. 

 

Picture near the Hite Recreation Area.  Imagine this for an almost continuous 124 miles.  

Picture near the Hite Recreation Area.  Imagine this for an almost continuous 124 miles.  

Day 12 - Boulder Mountain, Red Canyons

Good Morning America!  I must say, a little granola in your belly after a good night of rest does wonders for your energy levels.

I started my day off with a 3000 foot climb, so I certainly would need all the hutzh-pah I could muster.  Boulder Mountain (I think it was called) was actually one of the more enjoyable climbs that I've had so far.  The 3000 feet rose before me along a winding 24 km road that had a nice little gradient to it.   

 

Great little climb deserves a vanity shot.

Great little climb deserves a vanity shot.

After that, it was mostly downhill, through 2 national parks.  Becoming very well used to the variety of America's RVs was informative, but I was more interested in the great red landscape that I was winding through.

 

The standard vista for today.

The standard vista for today.

Day 11 - Israeli and American Cyclists.

I left not-so-tropical Tropic a little later than I would have liked, but was happy that I spent some time that morning rearranging my panniers.  It is funny how on a trip like this you become a little obsessed with organization and accessibility of items.  Not to mention weight distribution.  I'm definitely not anal retentive like that usually... *cough* *cough*

Enter The Grand Staircase, National Monument.  Why is it a staircase?  My route is just this flat road between these rock walls?  Oh, I go up the walls?  Ah...staircase.  The climb, however, was an enjoyable one, and led me to 2 Israeli cyclists.

Jacob and his daughter were also doing a bit of a cycle (Jacob started in Virginia), and were heading west.  A nice little chat later, and Jacob left me with an extra lip balm!  Thank you, mouthed my chapped and burnt lips.  (Sorry mom, no pics of the nice Israelis...camera out of order, remember?)   I don't think he was using it anyway - Jacob was wearing more clothes than a Canadian in winter - including what appeared to be a balaclava!  For reference, I was sweating in bike shorts and a t shirt.

Fast forwarding through my lunch break in Escalante, and let me take you to the Hogback.  According to my map, the Hogback is, "the highlight (or terror) on this section."  "It is a 3-mile stretch of narrow two-lane road along a ridge spine with no shoulders or guardrails and has drops on both sides.  Ride carefully and defensively."  Yes, sir!

Quivering in my clips after that experience, I came to Boulder, Utah.  I stopped at a convenience store, hoping that they would sell blankets that would make my sleep a little warmer.  After complementing me on my backside (really, and quite eloquently, I might add), Cindy the storekeeper told me that there was a couple who had also done a transamerican journey by bicycle, and that they had instructed her to send all bikers their way! 

Enter Scott and Chris.  Heroes!  I'm sitting now in the little cabin they put out back of their place to house grandchildren and cyclists.  It has a bed.  *shivers with comfort* 

Scott and Chris were fantastic.  They shared stories of their travels, and were such a help - thanks you two!  Mom: again, no pics...I know, I know...the memories.  Well, I doubt I will ever forget their generosity.  Plus, I offered them both a place to stay should they ever make it to Toronto (which apparently they might - they travel a lot). 

Today (Day 12): to Hanksville!  Or Caineville.  Or somewhere I feel like stopping. 

Day 10 - Cedar Mountain

After my little afternoon's break, this day's challenge was to climb Cedar Mountain, which ran about 10,500 feet.

Not very long into the ride (which was basically a long, gradual uphill over 29kms to the summit), as the Mule and I were on the long and dusty road, all of a sudden, there shined a shiny demon!  In the middle of the road!  And he said, "You have to stop, there is construction ahead". 

Drat.  I can't resort to eating construction.  By the way - beef jerky is delicious.  I heartily recommend that you all buy 1,000 packs right now and eat them immediately.  Thankfully, it was early in the morning, and there was no danger of being overly delayed by this demon/construction worker. 

The summit (almost 4 hours into my day), was fantastic.  The views were incredible.  It was surreal to be biking along next to foot tall snowbanks and look out onto Utah and seeing dry canyons and hills. 

Unfortunately, no pictures are available at the moment, as my camera battery decided to go on Day 11.  I'll use my phone in the meantime to take pics.  Hopefully I can get the camera back up and running. 

I finished the day in Tropic, Utah.  It wasn't as warm as the name advertised.  However, I made it through the night camped in a little RV Park and was ready to begin Day 11. 

Days 8 & 9 - Utah and Veganism

 

Let's play a guessing game: Nevada or Utah?

Let's play a guessing game: Nevada or Utah?

On the 12th I left Ely, NV, and spent my last hours on US Hwy 50.  I thought, at the time, that that would be the end of lonely, open stretches of road.  I was prepared, at the time, to label US 50 "The Crone" - dry, inhospitable, lonely, but still beautiful in its own way.

 

So long, Crone.  Perhaps our paths will cross again some day.

So long, Crone.  Perhaps our paths will cross again some day.

 

Ah, Utah!  How I have looked forward to a change of scenery!

Ah, Utah!  How I have looked forward to a change of scenery!

I made my last stop in NV in great time (Baker, NV).  I was faced with the opportunity again to either have an extremely short day's ride, or push on, through an 83 mile stretch of open desert.  I had plenty of time to make this long (though admittedly difficult ride).

Let's do it!  I was fully prepared to make this (Day 8), my longest day yet, at between 140-150 miles.  Throw in five 1000+ foot climbs, and I was glad that I had stocked up on snacks and water. 

I was then introduced to the new Crone.  Perhaps US 50's spinster sister.  I saw fewer cars on my 80+ ride through the western part of Utah than I ever did in NV.  The flats were longer and flatter, the hills longer and hillier. 

But still, I was making tremendous time, stopping every 20k or so for water and snacks, and to stretch out my legs. 

That is, until I met the devil's herd.  Frankly, I have no idea where I was when I ran into these Satanic bovines, but I do know that I was still quite far from my destination - Milford, Utah.

The herd stretched for at least a mile in either direction, and were particularly concentrated on the road in front of me.  Two calves and two cows stared blankly at me as they blocked my path. 

I inched forward.  "Moooo", threatened the mother.  "Moo", I said, trying to convince her to move off the road.  "MOOOO!!", screamed the mother, as I tried to inch around her.  She moved as if to charge. 

Ok, I thought.  I have time.  I'll wait them out.  After all, a road has no grass, has nothing to interest a cow.  They'll leave soon.  Nope.

I think I waited for those damn cows to move for at least an hour.  I would bet on more.  I might go vegan.  I hate cows. 

After that hold-up, it was late.  The sun was setting.  In fact, by the time I pulled into Milford, it had set.  Thankfully, right on the town's border was the Oak Tree Inn and Penny's 24 hour diner.  The noms ensued to a degree never before seen, then the sleeps did. 

Fast forward 12 hours, and I was back on the bike for Day 9.  A short ride, I promised myself.  And it was (phew).  I'm sitting now in Cedar City, Utah, at the base of Cedar Mountain, which I'll put off climbing until tomorrow.  For today, pizza and icing my knee. 

I've decided, instead of going vegan, I'm going to eat every cow on the planet.  Look out, you horrible beasts. 

 

Day 7 - The Great Basin

I am now well and truly in the Great Basin of Nevada.  The scenery, if I looked up long enough to take it in before I got an eyefull of wind, is the same mile to mile.  Hills, about 500 to 1000 feet high, separated by 20 km stretches of open flats.

The wind was strong today, mostly a crossing head, making for slow going.  I've bedded down in Ely, NV.  Hopefully the scenery is a little more interesting tomorrow, and I don't get snowed on again.   

Day 6 - A Bold Move.

I woke up in Cold Springs, and I must say, I was somewhat miffed.  Only 109km yesterday?  Come on!  We can do better, Mule (this is what I'm calling my bike, by the way).

I had originally planned on striking out of Austin, NV, a 80km journey without any services to speak of on the way.  Let's start with that. 

I was fortunate enough to have a tailwind for a good part of the morning, and made Austin in good time, pulling in around 12 noon (I, again, didn't get the earliest start from Cold Springs - I pulled out of there around 8-8:15am). 

I met 2 British cyclists heading in the opposite direction on the way into the small mountain town.  They had started in Florida and were taking the wind right in the teeth this morning.  Good luck to them!  They might make an appearance in the comments section with their own blog - check it out! 

Scarfing down a gas-station sandwich, I decided that the 80km to Austin was an insufficient use of my day.  However, I was faced with a problem.  The next town on my route was 114kms away.  Through the desert.  Without services along the way.  Eureka! (That's the name of the city). 

Let's go. 

I definitely don't regret the decision.  I'm here now.  But goodness me was it tough.  Mostly flat, and mostly fast, I made short work of the first 75kms.  Then came the trouble, and by trouble, I mean wind. 

Nevada, to me, is now the windy state.  Headwinds, tailwinds, crosswinds.  Passing wind and sucking wind.  Wind every which way. 

Some 40km from my goal, a vicious cross-wind developed.  It was sharp, cold, and carried with it a cloud of dust.  I leaned about 10 degrees into it for the remainder of my ride. 

Despite the hardship, things (my bike, my legs, and my spirits) stayed in good shape for about 30kms.  I attribute this to a strict hydration/snack/leg stretching regimen.  Every 15kms, get off the bike, have a handful or two of peanuts/almonds etc., drink some water, then hop back on.  Halfway between breaks, I was sure to gulp down water as well.  This was a very effective strategy. 

But it really only took my 100/114kms into my afternoon.  Then it started to snow.  When I first saw the little I'm-a-unique-little-snowflake-devils, I thought I was experiencing a mirage.  But then I realized that I am currently above 7000 ft, at that snow might not be that weird after all. 

The wind, the snow, and the 180kms already behind me today began to take their toll.  I creeped and crawled into Eureka, NV, found the nearest grocery, gnashed down some Ramen and carrots, and here I am.  9:30 pm after a long day.  Good night moon.  Good night legs.  Good night wind-burnt face.  Good night Internet.  Good night.  I'm going to bed. 

Day 5 - Welcome to the Desert

Day 5 was a short ride.  I left Fallon's RV park late (about 8:30), and stopped in town at Jerry's Restaurant for breakfast.  Great food.  Very 'MURCA.

The ride was 109kms through the desert, with a couple short climbs.  It got hot.  New lesson: drink more water.  Make your water drinking habits ridiculous.  Definitely not a lesson I learned on Day 5, despite having brought about 5.5L into the desert with me. 

Other than taking in a lesson on how dehydrated the desert can make you (whether it is hot out or cold), the ride was scenic and fast.  I reached Cold Springs Station before 2pm, despite my very lazy start to the day.  I decided to stay there the night and use the free time I had to plan parts of my journey to come. 

The Station itself was quite a funny place to hang out.  It seemed to have at least 4 owners, and everyone else there seemed to act as if they owned the place too.  Did I mention that it was the only source of food and water for 65 miles in either direction?  Maybe there was something in that water that made the patrons/owners extra vociferous, but I learned a lot about the state of Nevada politics that night. 

The main image I snapped after stepping out of my tent in the early evening, right after setting things up.  Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera around to take pictures of the Station itself.  It really buys into the Pony Express Trail mentality. 

The Pony Express: I have been, and for the next few days will be, travelling along US Hwy 50 - dubbed by Life Magazine in 1986 as "The Loneliest Road in America", and not to be tackled save by those with great survival skills.   It was originally a mail route braved by young men on fast horses, delivering across dangerous territory.  Google it.

Though the route still is challenging, I think Life's warning has lost its edge.

 

One of those middle-of-the-desert shots.  This is one of many (hundreds?) of "historic markers" that are along the side of US Hwy 50.

One of those middle-of-the-desert shots.  This is one of many (hundreds?) of "historic markers" that are along the side of US Hwy 50.

What does your office look like?

What does your office look like?

 

Day 4 - Cup O' Noodles and Nevada.

First order of business, repair my broken derailleur chain.  I had the use of only my granniest gears.  On the plus side, the next couple kms of my ride were downhill.  On the other hand, the nearest bike shop was in Carson City.  That's 46kms out from Woodfords, for the curious.  It was a long morning.

Fortunately, the ride was spectacular.  Ranches everywhere, surrounded by mountains, cactii, and tumbleweed.  Very picturesque Nevada. 

Upon reaching Carson City, I sought out The Bike Smith (900 Carson St North, if I recall).  The mechanic there was amazing, and repaired the derailleur chain for free!  Apparently they get many touring cyclists like me coming through, and love to help out.  After buying a replacement tube, and stopping at a diner called Adele's (do not recommend...very old cat lady feel to it, but good service), I was on my way. 

The goal for the day?  Fallon, NV.  I whipped through Dayton, Stagecoach, and Silver Springs before pulling into the Fallon RV Park, about 9k out from the city proper.  A good stop, and a great chance for me to try out my little pot/stove combo!  A couple minutes of boiling water and I was eating cups of noodles flavoured (somewhat dubiously) with chicken, and tucked into my tent.

Word to the wise - Nevada gets cold.  This is a lesson I would learn over and over through the next couple days, but still comes as a surprise.  It hasn't been the heat of the state that has got to me (though it can get hot), but rather the cold at nights.  And the wind!  Can it ever blow!  More on the wind on Day 6. 

Day 3 - Carson Pass

Jay sent me off with a bellyfull of scrambled eggs and advice to aim for Cooks Station as campsite for the night.  Sorry Jay, but the Mule En Rouge and I have to haul a little bit more than that.  I stopped for snacks at Cooks Station and pressed on.

Begin the day of mechanical failures.  From Cooks Station, it was a grueling 6 hour, 55km climb over the peak of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, through Carson Pass, at 8600 feet (look for the video of me about 1000 feet from the pass, hopefully I can get posted to YouTube from here).  

To begin my equipment woes, one of my waterbottle holsters snapped.  I think one of the bolts holding it to my front fork had come loose and had worn through the metal.  I gave up on the holster, and didn't cry over the lost grams. 

 

I'm beginning to take issue with some of the products I left Toronto with...

I'm beginning to take issue with some of the products I left Toronto with...

When I reached the peak, I realized my first tube had been punctured.  Bound to happen, and provided me with a good excuse to break and rest my poor little legs.  

After the peak, I was exhausted.  I tucked into my drop bars and sought the first warm bed.  I was fortunate to find the Woodfords Inn, in Woodfords, CA (http://woodfordsinn.com).   I highly recommend the place to any poor cyclist climbing the Sierra Nevada.  The owner was extremely nice, and even drove me to a local diner to get dinner.  

 

Unfortunately, just as a pulled into the parking lot, my front derailleur chain popped out, seemingly related to the pulley system leading to the front derailleur.  A third equipment woe in one day...well, I was too tired to deal with it that night.

 

 

 

All my griping about these breakages and the monstruous climb shouldn't mask the fact that it was a beautiful ride.  I passed through a variety of vistas en route - the El Dorado forest was particularly striking.  Very reminiscent of Northern Ontario Forests.

 

 

Early on in the ride.

Early on in the ride.

 

Near the peak.

Near the peak.

All in all, and looking back (from when I'm writing this, the 10th), Day 3 was one of my tougher days, both because of the climb and the equipment trouble.  However, I have a feeling as though I have passed through the crucible, and may now proceed into the desert.

Day 2 - The Climb and the Hail.

I woke up on the outskirts of Sacramento, and scampered away from my spooky campsite very early in the morning.  No way did I want to stay there!

Thankfully, Folsom, CA, was much more hospitable.  I sat down at the Sutter Creek Grill (It's almost like the place was made for me!) and ordered about 2 people's worth of food.  And what do you know, some nice lady decided to pick up my bill!  The waitress wouldn't tell me who, so I couldn't thank her in person, but I suspect it was the couple I had been talking to about my trip earlier.  Thanks Folsomites!! 

Folsom might have been the last town remotely close to sea-level that I will pass through until Kansas.  Hello mountains, goodbye legs.

The rest of this entry I will keep short.

I at lunch at Placerville, CA.  Got caught in a hail storm - where did that come from?  Even caught the locals unawares.  Couldn't make my intended night destination (Cooks Station), and ended up in Fair Play, CA. 

Fair Play was surrounded by vineyards, and would have been quite nice if it hadn't been late and me without a defined sleeping location.  Thankfully, the good people of California and their generosity was seen again.  I stayed the night with some locals (Jay, Mike, and Tyra - thanks guys!) and even got breakfast on the morning of Day 3. 

A note on Cooks Station - I reached that on Day 3, but would highly recommend it as a campground, even though I didn't stay there myself.  The people running the joint were very friendly, and let you camp out back (for a small fee, as expected).  They then send you off in the morning with some turkey sandwiches.  Sounds like it would have been fantastic!  I'm happier to have spent the night at Jay's though, even though it was slightly off route. 

That wasn't really short, was it.

Day 1 - May 5th

"One ticket to Vallejo please.  What do you mean I missed the ferry?"  
Not the best start.  Thankfully, it only set me back one hour.  Another hour of ferry riding and I began by leg fueled adventure.

Solano County was awesome.  I highly recommend the small towns there - Winters and Davis (not as small) were both very cool little stopping points.  My first stop of the trip though, was at a small general store.  I picked up some nuts and berries (good fuel) and lounged by their beach to snack.  

 

Yes, I did say a beach!  Morgan's General Store, I believe the place was called.

Yes, I did say a beach!  Morgan's General Store, I believe the place was called.


And I made a lunch friend!  Hi Jager.

And I made a lunch friend!  Hi Jager.

The rest of the day was somewhat uneventful, and some 170kms complete, I found a little nook to camp.  Do NOT ask me where.

 

Can you see my tent?  I sure hope not.

Can you see my tent?  I sure hope not.

All in all, it was a beautiful ride on a nice day, through great country, culminating in a somewhat spooky campsite and a cold dinner.  Note to self, be better at planning (I'm writing this on Day 4...only marginally better at planning...maybe).

 

Ride #1

"And lo, on the first day we saw that the journey giveth, and the journey taketh away." 

About 15kms into my 20km test ride - my first ever loaded ride on the bike, I should add - I saw a miracle.  My left front brake grew wings and flew away.  A sight such as hasn't been seen in a millenia. 

Casualty #1: Front left brake.

Lesson Learned #1: Trust no one (Especially not bike mechanics who forget to tighten brakes). 

The Days Before

I leave for San Francisco tomorrow morning, early.  Rowing time early.  That means being packed today.

Unfortunately, I am slightly apprehensive about my level of preparedness.  Walking around today in the 7 degree Celsius rain made me reconsider some of the clothing I'll be bringing.  Or better stated, some of the clothing I won't be bringing.  Thankfully I'll have 4 days in San Francisco to sort out the details.

I'll have to figure out food and water there.  The common pre-race refrain of "dump your water" keeps playing in my head.  DId you know that a gallon of water is just over 8 pounds?  I must confess I had never really thought about it.  I'm usually on top of the water, not lugging it over the Rocky Mountains.  I will be taking several gallons of water. 

   At least I'll have my mojo to help me along.  Welcome aboard, Hulk.

 

At least I'll have my mojo to help me along.  Welcome aboard, Hulk.

This forms the majority of the items that I'll be bringing with me.  Not shown is one pannier, my off-cycle shoes (sperries, what else) and very likely another set of longsleeve tights/top.  Also not shown is my water/food set up.  That will follow when I arrive in SF.

This forms the majority of the items that I'll be bringing with me.  Not shown is one pannier, my off-cycle shoes (sperries, what else) and very likely another set of longsleeve tights/top.  Also not shown is my water/food set up.  That will follow when I arrive in SF.