Today’s unexpected climbing and headwinds coming off the ocean made for a tough second-to-last ride! We took long breaks for McDonald’s and slurpees, changed more than a few flats, and cranked into town late in the afternoon. This evening, however, has been pretty remarkable. We had the opportunity to drive twenty minutes to Google Headquarters for dinner–32 of us making our best attempt to blend in with the nerdiness and absurdity that is Google. The place is utterly insane. Everything I heard about it was true, and then some. I made the most of my time in the cafeteria, downing a huge burrito, chips & salsa, a massive cheeseburger, french fries, and a hearty plate of Indian food. I figured it’d be the only chance I’d ever have to dine amongst the world’s smartest people….!
Tomorrow is the day we’ve all been waiting for. Since October or earlier, it’s the day that’s been in my mind. After tomorrow, I’ll be able to say that I rode my bike across the country. We just finished up our final family meeting and handed out superlatives to everyone in the group (for those wondering, Tim is our MVD: Most Valuable Diabetic). Now people are on the floor looking at pictures from the summer.
This is the end…
Distance: 59.61 miles
Average Speed: 14.7 mph
Sorry for the lack of activity on here–wifi has been scarce lately and my laziness, well…..hasn’t. Tonight we’re in Brentwood, CA and only two days away from Santa Cruz. For the past three days, we’ve been riding through the valley–past sunflower harvests, vineyards, and orchards. These final five days are easy–flat and short. But they’re fleeting at the same time. I want to hit the coast, but it’s hard to believe it’s about over. For the next two rides, I’ll be relishing every moment in the saddle. I’ll appreciate every pace line, every descent, and every rider more than usual.
It matters to me / Took a long time to get here
If it would have been easy / I would not have cared
With the sun on my shoulder / And the wind on my back
I will never grow older / At least not in my mind
-My Morning Jacket
Distance: 60.65 miles
Average Speed: 18.5 mph
Oh, and tomorrow we’re eating dinner at Google!! Can’t wait…
Some stats from our ride through Lassen National Park:
The ride was 72 miles total, but we climbed for the first 56. All in all, we ascended over 6,300 ft, reaching the summit at 8,500 ft above sea level. Remember that little mountain called Independence Pass in Aspen? Lassen made that look like a speed bump.
Today goes down as my favorite ride of the summer. The climb, while demanding and never-ending, brought us new sights around every corner. Lakes, snowbanks, waterfalls–you name it. Every pedal stroke brought us closer to the top of a positively epic volcano. After hanging out at the summit for a while–throwing snowballs and soaking in the reward of the previous 56 miles–we descended 3,500 ft into the town of Mineral, where I write from this evening. It’s so strange to think about how, in May, I sat on my deck in Charlottesville researching Lassen National Park. And now I’m here. And I rode my bike here. And it all happened so fast.
Tomorrow we close out this tough 9 day stretch of riding! We’ll be cruising to Chico, where we build on Saturday. And then, one week from tonight the thirty-two of us will be on the beach in Santa Cruz…..
Distance: 72.54 miles
Elevation Gain: 6,315 ft
Average speed: 13.4 mph
Today we got a fantastic feel for Northern California, riding through Modoc National Forest and McArthur Burney Falls Saint Park. We endured some tough climbs, but an ensuing descent always rewarded us on the other side! Craig, Chuck, and I decided that we wanted to attain a 20 mph average for the day, so we high-tailed it out of Alturas and arrived in Cassel four hours and twenty minutes later. One of our coldest mornings yet (39 degrees!), it took a while to warm up to the road, but once we did, the weather felt amazing. So far, I’m absolutely loving California—everything about it has topped Idaho and Oregon.
Tomorrow, our legs will face a huge test as we climb 6,000 ft up to Lassen National Park. There’s talk about a possible hike up to the volcano, so we’ll see if that pans out or not. It should be a tough day no matter what.
Distance: 87.78 miles
Average Speed: 20.2 mph
Wow, what a milestone. This morning we crossed our final state line of the trip! At mile 15, the 32 of us congregated at the California state sign and celebrated. When I look at a map it’s tough to comprehend–we’ve ridden our bikes here! The sense of accomplishment that each one of us feels is unmistakable. We’ve worked hard to get here, and we’ll work even harder over the next 8 rides to finish this thing. Laying eyes on the big blue sign with the words “Welcome to California” greeting us marks a feeling I’ll not soon forget. I feel like this point has been so idealized–so far away–all summer. But today it’s here, it’s real, and it’s inexplicable.
“I’d like to rest my heavy head tonight on a bed of California stars
I’d like to lay my weary bones tonight on a bed of California stars”
I’ll post pictures when I can!!
Since leaving Ontario three days ago, we now rest on the verge of crossing into California! Our Oregon experience has taken us down hot highways and through small towns. Last night, we slept in Wagontire. The current population: 1. That’s right, just one grumpy man overseeing an abandoned café and RV park—and he’s been there for the better part of 80 years! We’ll miss you, Marty.
On our way into Burns, we split up into four teams and organized a day-long scavenger hunt. Borrowing a few ideas from CUS, some of the tasks included milking a cow, driving a semi, flying a plane, and fording a river with your bike above your head. In a desperate effort, I rode 3 miles out of the way to the Burns Municipal Airport and waited for an hour to talk to some pilots—who promptly rejected my request to ride in their plane. The nerve………
With only nine riding days left, Santa Cruz finally feels tangible. Yet at the same time, it seems like we’re still light years away. As I grow more and more anxious to reach the coast, the rides become longer. Although my body is pleading me to stop abusing it, it’s more of a mental game than anything at this point. But nine rides is nothing, right??