Archive for October 2009

 
 

October 28th, 2009

Day 55 – Reno, NV to Portola, CA

Miles ridden – 52

Approx total miles biked – 2695

Day to end party – 20

10/24/2009 Sometime the night before, we decided that we would not concern ourselves with how far we’d get after we left Reno.  To be completely honest, we didn’t even want to leave Reno.  We were 16 miles away from the California border though, so with that in mind we prepared to leave.  We ate a large breakfast at the Sierra Grand and left our lovely hotel rooms.

While riding the elevator down, Sara noticed her front tire was flat.  At 11am, we all thought this was sort of a ridiculous way to start the day, but no worries, we’d just do what we had to do and then ride as far as we could for the day.  After a stop at the bike shop for some more tubes and patch kits (we weren’t taking any chances these days) we finally started out a little after noon.  We had 82 miles to Quincy, our original goal for the day, and 50 miles to Portola – our new more manageable goal.  With about 5 hours of daylight left of the day, we were ready to attack the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

After our stint in Nevada, we’d toughened up a bit so facing a days worth of climbing didn’t phase us, but we still hadn’t learned out lesson about Google walking directions.  We took the old highway 395 north out of Reno until we reached on of our favorite signs, “pavement ends.”  The option to turn around and get on 395 was there but after 5 days on Interstate 80, we figured a little off-roading might be nice. Two miles of steep ups and downs on a gravel road later, we rolled into a place appropriately called Bordertown and had lunch.  We all ordered chicken salad sandwiches – except Caroline, who in a strange turn of events order a deep fried meat and cheese conconction called a Monte Christo – and were a little surprised when 3 tuna sandwiches came out.  We didn’t want to make a big deal about it but we called the waitress over to point out the mistake all the same.  She grabbed a spoon, took a bite out of Tracy’s sandwich and confirmed it, the order was wrong.  We were pretty surprised at that move but she was pretty happy.  She gave the cook a hard time about the mishap and said that we had made her night.  Then she left the restaurant, her shift ending midmeal.  It was a very strange lunch, but considering it was our last meal in Nevada it was perfect?

The rest of the ride sort of flew by.  We climbed a small pass, road through a beautiful meadow and then started climbing again up to Portola.  It was about this time that the mountains turned from Sagebrush Brown to Evergreen Green.  It was amazing, like entering a new world.

Portola is a very cute town.  Rolling in, we saw cute cafes and a bar called Jimmy’s Roadhouse, which we decided was our best bet for figuring out where to stay for the night (we saw one motel, and we were told there was a campsite 8 miles up the hill but we were out of daylight and sick of paying for motels, so we set out to find a place to camp).  The bar was pretty great, some good local beer on special – Firestone – and some awesome nachos with fresh guacamole.  We chatted with some of the locals and met a man named Robert who leaved a few blocks away and offered us floor space and a shower.  Exactly what we needed!  Especially with the 115 mile day ahead of us…

Riding to Portola, CA

Riding to Portola, CA

October 27th, 2009

Day 54 – Fernley to Reno, NV

Miles biked – 35

Approx total miles biked – 2643

Days until party in Seattle – 21

10/23/2009  Reno was never on our map when we were planning this trip, we had this idea that it was not a town we wanted to stop in.  Instead, we were going to stay in Fernley and then circumnavigate the big city and stay in Stead the next day.  The twig however, had other plans.

We woke up at The Lazy Inn in Fernley and walked over to the Wigwam diner for a big breakfast.  We had lots of eggs and coffee and then hopped back on i80 for our last hurrah into Sparks, Reno’s sister city and home to our first brewery stop in a week: The Great Basin Brewery.   We had been emailing with their general manager Tom and set up a tour and a lunch stop before going on to Stead, where we’d arranged our first warmshowers.org stop.  It sounded like a great day in comparison to the many lonely nights before, but Tom mentioned something that ended up making it even better: the first annual CanFest at the Grand Sierra Hotel and Casino in Reno.  In attendance would be some old favorites – Oskar Blues and New Belgium, along with some beers that we’d been hoping to try, like Reno’s own Buckbean, and some California brews like 21 Amendment and Anderson Valley, and a beer we missed along the way, Minneapolis’ Surly Brewing Company.  It was pretty much going to be the awesomest beer event since the Great American Beer Festival (at least for us… although we did miss the GABF this year… so i suppose it was the awesomest beer event of our trip).   After a few emails to our friend Allison at the Brewers Association we found our way on to the guest list for the event and decided that if we were going to spend the night trying canned beer we would not be biking to Stead so we called up the Grand Sierra can got very reasonable rooms for the night.  Might as well do one more night in a hotel while we were still in Nevada, especially if it was cheaper than our last motel and much nicer!

Our new plan in action, we got a great tour of Great Basin, including the opportunity to help brew a little beer!  We helped mash in their latest pilsner, which was much harder than we expected.  It was like trying to stir a bowl of hot oatmeal the size of a small apartment with a little green kayak paddle.   After that, we learned a little bit more about their brewing process, including all the local ingredients that they integrate into their brews.  They also do a lot of experimentation with their beer.  Tom told us “that’s why we are in this industry, to try to new things.”  So true, so true.  Their experiments have lead to some great beer, and their brew pub has some great food to boot.  No wonder they are selling so much of there beer that they have to contract out their most popular beers to keep up with demand!

After the tour, we went for a short ride with Brian, our new friend from Warmshowers.com.  Since we’d decided to bipass Stead, we didn’t get to take a longer ride with him but he did give us some great tips about the Feather River Canyon, which we’d be riding very soon and took us by a local bike shop so that we could restock on tubes after our 15+ flats on I80 in the last week.  It was great to be back in civilization!

Saying goodbye to Brian, we made our way over to the Grand Sierra.  What a beautiful hotel!  After showering up we went down to the theatre where they were staging CanFest.  It was a great event.  We tried all the beers we’d never had, including a very cool Coconut Porter from Maui Brewing Company to which we added some chocolate ice cream thus creating a mini beer float.   Delicious!  We also made friends with a few of the brewers.  Ryan from Great Basin was there and Colin from Buckbean (the hosts of the evening) showed us the full size airplane behind the current on the acre size stage.   We met a ton of different people, from beer drinkers to beer reporters to beer distributors and felt like we’d made the right decision and we’re in just the right place at the right time.

After Canfest, we explored the casino and ended up on the dance floor along side some very impressive line dancers.  Who knows why we wanted to avoid Reno, it was one of the funnest nights of the trip!

Great Basin Brewing

Great Basin Brewing

Bike and Brew with Paul Gatza of the Brewers Assoc at CanFest Reno

Bike and Brew with Paul Gatza of the Brewers Assoc at CanFest Reno

October 27th, 2009

Day 53 – Rye Patch to Fernley, NV

miles biked – 85

approx TOTAL miles biked – 2608

days until our end party in seattle – 22

10/22/2009  Waking up in Rye Patch was nice.  We hadn’t camped in a while and though we’d been dreading waking up cold in our tents, it actually wasn’t that cold.  Our plan was to pack up and head over to the nearby truck stop and make our oatmeal and have some coffee.  But just before biking away from the campsite we were stopped by a friendly couple in a nearby RV (Paddy and Marilyn) who offered us coffee and hot chocolate before we left.  Never ones to turn down coffee, we chatted with them for a bit before heading out.  It was pretty neat to hear their stories from the road, they camped when they were younger, then graduated to a trailer and now the RV, but they just kept traveling and like us, they were at Rye Patch for the first time.  We would have stayed all day but we had over 80 miles in front of us so we got to making our oatmeal and then starting riding.

Twenty-one miles and less than one hour in, we were ecstatic that we were making such great time – right up until Caroline got the first flat of the day.  She did a great job though and got that sucker changed in 24 minutes.  Then it was back on the road for 2 miles into Lovelock (yes, Kaley – lock your love! hehe), the only town on our route for the day.  We hit up the Safeway for lunch fixins and snacks and then road some more.  The terrain was pretty flat (some long, low grade hills to keep things interesting) and we had what MAY have even been a tail wind, so we continued to make good time.  We stopped for lunch at a rest stop around mile 48 and made sandwiches.  According to signs, we were about to ride the “40 Mile Dessert”, a part of the California Emigration Trail that was apparently a very dangerous section, in 1850 or so 1000 people died trying to get through it.  We had some very large turkey sandwiches and Craisins in our bellies though, so we figured we’d be ok.

About another 10 miles down the road, Tracy had the second flat of the day.  This one caused by a Goathead (a plant that is known to cause a large number of flat tires – not as many as those stupid pieces of truck tire tread though as far as we could tell).   Tracy may have set a new record for tire changing, with an impressive 14 minutes before we were back on the road.

At 85 miles, we rode into Fernley, pretty much spent for the day.  We had a very good meal at the Black Bear Diner (burgers and sandwiches) and then checked into the Lazy Inn because they were the cheapest place in town and they had the much need laundry option.  It wasn’t the most exciting night of the trip, and we were a bit bummed to spend ANOTHER night in a motel but we had crossed the Nevada desert, made in back into civilization, and we were going to a brewery the next day! What more could a bike and brewer ask for?

Crossing Nevada

Crossing Nevada

October 27th, 2009

Day 52 – New Record – Battle Mountain to Rye Patch, NV

miles biked – 105

10/21/2009 The one good thing about staying in a motel (besides beds and hot showers and music videos and internet access and power) is free breakfast.  At the Big Chief Motel we had our fill of cereal, oatmeal, fruit, coffee and pastries and then got started at a very reasonable – though later than we were hoping – 7:45am.  The reason for the early start was that we were going to try to break our own record of 102.5 and ride 103 miles to Rye Patch, the only campsite in Nevada (as far as we could tell).

It was a cold morning in Battle Mountain, even bundled with 4-5 layers of clothing, pedaling was hard.  We started to wish for hills just to warm up, but we had 20 miles of flat as a pancake before we got to anything interesting and then we had a decent 5 mile climb towards Winnemucca, our 50-mile lunch stop midpoint.  We did excellent time there, arrived before noon and quickly sat down to lunch at the 4th Street Cafe (after smelling the fresh baked cookies from the street).

After lunch things quickly took a turn for the intriguing as we were approach by a group of nomadic Christian bikers who were in town for a few days waiting for some mail (one of them had broken a tent pole).  It was like meeting an alternate version of ourselves, people who travelled by bike with tons of stuff, only they didn’t drink and they’d been on the rode for 16 years.  They we really nice and had that look of being quite at peace with the world. We could have chatted with them for a quite a while, but after a half an hour we had to say goodbye and get back on the road.  It was interesting though, we’d only stopped there for a few minutes to get food because we had to bike another 50 miles but they had been camping there at the local park for a few days (which to them that was a short stay).  Also, you won’t find any photos of them in our Flickr as they politely declined being in a photo.

The rest of the day went by quickly.  We rode another 55 miles, making up songs along the way while Tracy played the harmonica and then we set up camp in the very scenic Rye Patch campground that cost only $1 per biker.  There was what looked like a great bar right up the road from the campground but once we set up camp and made our chili and couscous dinner we were done for the night.  We had a beer (the best option at the truck stop – Budweiser American Lager – oh dear) and a hot chocolate and hit the hay.

Rye Patch - Nevada's only campground

October 26th, 2009

Day 51 – As funny as a Clif Bar at altitude – Elko to Battle Mountain, NV

miles biked – 75

10/20/2009 Refreshed after a fun night in Elko, we hit the road for a long day of riding.  We were told by our friend Michelle that after Carlin there would be one big hill, then some rollers and then flat the last 20 miles to Battle Mountain (we wanted to make it to Winnamucca but our stop in Elko left us behind half a day).  We road the 30 or so miles to Carlin without a hitch.  It was mostly flat and there was some epic scenery heading into town with some huge jutting cliffs sandstone.  We rolled into Carlin for second breakfast and ended up at the one restaurant in town – Chin’s Chinese.

After Chin’s, the ride was pretty uneventful. Tracy and Caroline climbed the hill after Carlin using a little rhyming singing/rap game to pass the time. Caroline almost fell over laughing so hard at the obvious hilarity rhyming with “clif bar”. (??)  We rolled into Battle Mountain just before sunset and had dinner at the local diner. We chatted up as many people as we could but didn’t find a backyard to camp in. We were told the park was an ok spot, but it was below freezing that night so we checked into another motel and got a warm nights rest for the century ride ahead.

As a side note, we did meet a truck driver at a coffee shop who let us know that all the truckers on I-80 have been following our progress as we made our way across the state. Somehow this made us feel better, knowing all those drivers were keeping an eye on us. After that, every time someone honked we knew they were talking about us on their radios!

Riding on I-80 in Nevada

Riding on I-80 in Nevada

Flat tire

Flat tire

More riding in Nevada

More riding in Nevada

October 26th, 2009

Day 50 – Drinking with Miners – Wells to Elko, NV

miles biked – 50

10/ 19/2009 Waking up in Wells, after learning that Nevada is actually the most mountainous state in the US after Alaska (now they tell us), we prepared for a 100 mile day to Carlin.  We were told that there weren’t going to be any more big hills until after Carlin so we were going to go for it.  However, we desperately needed to stop at a bike shop. We all needed extra tubes (after the i80 flats we’d gotten), Anders’ bike had a nasty shake on the headset after being shipped, and Caroline had worn her brake pads down to the bone.  There was only one bike shop on our entire 500 mile stretch of i80 – in Elko, Nevada – so we had to take care of these things before heading out into the really desolate areas.  The 50 miles into Elko were a breeze and we were excited to be on schedule. But when we pulled into the bike shop parking lot there was a sign on the door: Will open today at 4:30pm.  …Too bad for our schedule.

Not wanting to be reckless (and watching storm clouds roll in) we decided we’d have to just stay in Elko and go bowling! We ate the biggest lunch of Mexican food ever, checked into the Roadside Motel and showered up.  While we were getting settled we decided that this whole motel thing was starting to get a little silly, so Tracy went onto warmshowers.com Had we check just a little bit earlier, we would have seen that there was a biker in Elko who could have put us up for the night!  Shame on us for not trying harder to find a free place, but we were already settled in our motel, so we arranged to meet up with her for a drink at the much talked about Stray Dog Pub.

To our chagrin, the bowling alley didn’t have lanes open (the leagues had taken over) but we did go to the Stray Dog and have some great beers (they had Ruby Mountain, Fat Tire and Great Basin’s Ichthyosaur on tap).  At the bar we met a bunch of Australian gold miners, including one who was an avid homebrewer. It was a nice half day and Michele (our warmshowers connection) had some great biking tips for us for the upcoming days.  Just what we needed!

Getting bikes fixed in Wells

Getting bikes fixed in Wells

Drinks at Stray Dog with Michelle

Drinks at Stray Dog with Michelle

October 24th, 2009

Day 49 – Nevada Has Mountains – Wendover to Wells NV

miles biked – 60

10/18/2009 Day 49 was a funny day.  Not funny haha, more like funny unexpected, but funny all the same.  We woke up at the Golden Nugget in Wendover after our long day biking through the salt flats of Utah and figured “we have 60 miles to do for the day, we don’t have to start early, we should be able to do that in under 4 hours.”  So we had ourselves a leisurely breakfast in the atrium of the hotel and then spent 45 minutes or so changing the last flats of the previous day in the parking lot.  When we finally started riding it was almost noon.  But we only had 60 miles to ride, so no problem.

On the freeway onramp, Caroline got the first flat of the day.  It was kind of hilarious how fast it happened.  And then Anders started feeling some knee pain and had to stop for a bit to let the Advil kick in.   And then got a flat.  Caroline and Tracy went ahead, and started up a rather large hill.  At the top, it had an elevation marker – Silverstone Pass 5640 feet.  Umm…. wasn’t Nevada going to be flat?

For the rest of the day, Anders and Sara were about a half hour behind Caroline and Tracy but were in regular texting contact.   Down from Silverstone, we figured that mountain was a fluke.  And then we hit another rather large hill (some might call it a mountain.  Some might call it the Pequots).  That one took around an hour to climb.  This was starting to get ridiculous.  We had another 30 miles to go and we had about 2 hours of daylight left.  Luckily, there was only on more hill, Independence Pass and then a beautiful 8 mile decent at sunset into Wells, Nevada.  Caroline and Tracy, with their half our lead, found us an inexpensive motel with laundry, right next to a diner, so we washed up, ate and crashed.    In the end, it all worked out, as it always does.  But it was not the day we were expecting.

Caroline gets a flat

Caroline gets a flat

October 21st, 2009

Day 48 – Bike and Brew Goes Big Time – Grantsville UT to West Wendover NV

Miles Biked – 97

5am in the choir room at Grantsville High we woke up and packed up so that we could leave with the night security guard who’s shift ended at 5:30am.  We was surprisingly easy to get up that early given the situation (except maybe for Caroline, who had no idea why everyone was moving around so in the middle of the night – she’d fallen asleep before we heard the news about our early wake up call) and given our 90 mile ride planned for the day, somewhat necessarily.  The only problem: the sun didn’t rise until 7:15am.

We spent the next few hours in the gas station cafe area, made our instant oatmeal, had some coffee and willed the sun to rise as fast as it could.  7:30am we started our ride, figuring it would be a flat 90 miles to the Nevada border and the Utah gambling haven of West Wendover Nevada.  We’d probably get there by 3:30pm.  Even if things went really slow.

At 9am (ish) we learned for the gazillionth time not to trust google maps when our walking directions side road turned in to a rocky dirt road up a large hill with no way to get on the main road because of a barbed wire fence.  Our little cyclocross was time consuming, but we figured we were fine, given our early start and we saw some great views.  Plus, from there, we had a service road we could take that would go right along i80 for about 30 miles, so we could still avoid the highway for a bit.  However, 7 miles down, we found that the service road turned into some dusty tracks in the middle of the desert.  Darn you again google walking directions!    This time, we had to find a away across the barbed wire, so we walked through the dried salty mud until we found a suitable crossing point.  We unloaded our bikes and climbed across.  It was 10:30am and we’d gone abou, but it was fine, because we had gotten an early start and still had plenty of time.  By this point we gave in to the fact that we’d be spending the next 500 miles on i80 through Nevada, but once we got going we realized it really wasn’t that bad.  It is a major freeway, but there’s a huge shoulder – wide enough for us to ride 2 by 2 and the traffic was pretty sporadic – mostly large trucks that were happy to put a lane of space between us and them.  We got going at a pretty good pace for an hour or so until we lost Tracy for a minute.  Turns out she got a flat.  Bummer.  She caught up quick though, just in time to get another flat.  For real.  Changed again, we road for a while longer until Anders got a flat.  At this point, Tracy and Caroline had taken the lead but we still had phone service so Sara and Anders stayed behind and fixed his bike and got back on the road slightly behind.  They almost caught up right before the rest stop 10 miles outside of Wendover when Anders got another flat.  This was starting to get a little strange.  Turns out the girls didn’t mind waiting at the rest stop though – they were on the set of a music video being filmed at the salt flats state park there!  When Sara and Anders arrived, they too got to munch at the catering table, and couldn’t help but think that the twig at had lead them to the free food just in time.

Riding the last few miles to Wendover, everyone’s tires held air, they were fed and ready to gamble!  After a little research at the casinos, we checked into the Golden Nugget.  We had some 2 for 1 buffet, Anders played some cards, the girls tried some slots and then we all went to bed, tired but happy.

Bike and Brew crosses Utah

Bike and Brew crosses Utah

Cyclocross!

Cyclocross!

Over the fence

Over the fence

The Tree of Utah... thats right

The Tree of Utah... that's right

Photo Shoot on the Salt Flats

Photo Shoot on the Salt Flats

And were in NEVADA!

And we're in NEVADA!

October 21st, 2009

Day 47 – Dragging ourselves away from SLC – Salt Lake to Grantsville UT

Miles Biked – 47

10/16/2009 After being in the SLC area for almost a week, it was hard to drag ourselves away.  Our first day out was supposed to be a short ride though, so we figured we could squeeze in one more fun activity before we went on – Where the Wild Things Are.  We’d been talking about this movie since before we left New York, so the chance to see it on opening day at noon could not be passed up.  Plus, the movies in Salt Lake were only $5.50.  Totally within our budget.

We all loved the movie, it was much more though provoking than your average kids book turned movie, and the monsters were amazingly developed characters (no spoilers, sorry).  After we got out we finally got our stuff together and left Leo and Aubrey’s lovely apartment to bike to Grantsville, a town just outside of SLC where we had no where to stay and knew nothing about.  The only reason were were even staying there was because we had originally planned to bike all the way to Wendover out of SLC but on second go round decided that 120 miles was a long day. Plus, we wanted to see the movie:)

The ride was pretty uneventful.  It was longer than expected, we were thinking about 38 but then to avoid highways it was closer to 50.  We did a brief stint on a very busy i80, but got off as quick as we could.  We did get to see the lake though, which was huge.  If we were able to stay longer, a ride out to Antelope Island would have been awesome.

We arrived in Grantsville just as the sun was setting and pulled in to the first gas station we saw.  Lucky for us, it was homecoming night for the local high school and everyone in town was going to the Grantsville Cowboys big game.  It would be the perfect entertainment for the night, plus there was a chance we’d find someone with a lawn we could camp in.  We grabbed dinner at Jen’s Drive In, a little burger shack we’d read about in a local paper, and road over to the highschool. (We did get a tip from the cashier that there were a few abandoned houses we could camp behind, which was really nice of her to mention and sounded like a great back up plan.  The only hitch was the pack of alley cats… hmmmm…)

Rolling up to the school, we were greeting almost immediately by Betsy, the vice principal who told us that we would be her guests for the night!  She got us into the game for free, told us we could go grab some free grub at the concession stand and we were welcome to camp out next to the school and take showers in the locker room.  All she asked for in return was for us to agree that the people of Grantsville were “pretty nice”.  Most definitely!

We had a great time at the game (Anders, Sara and Tracy’s first), we met the homecoming queen and had some hot chocolate.  It wasn’t that hot, but nice all the same.  Then we took our showers in the girls locker room, which we thought we had to ourselves until Anders had a funny run in with some cheerleaders, and then we went to bed in the choir room (they told us we could sleep there instead of camping, the only catch was that we had to leave by 5:30am).  We were a little sad that we missed the Stomp after the game, but we just couldn’t stay up passed our 9pm bedtime.  Maybe there will be another high school dance we can go to somewhere else…

Climbing with Aubrey in SLC

Climbing with Aubrey in SLC

Grantsville, UT Homecoming

Grantsville, UT Homecoming

Homecoming Queen

Homecoming Queen

Fairy Princess Anders

Fairy Princess Anders

October 19th, 2009

Day 46 – Day off in SLC

10/15/2009  Three becomes four.  Anders is back. He rejoined us at Leo’s apartment around midnight. First and foremost, Leo and Aubrey have been such generous hosts. They have truly opened their home to us.  On top of that, Leo picked Anders up from the airport, and then drove out to his parents home to transfer Anders’ bike and luggage back to the apartment, while the four of us were able to enjoy a day off in the city.  We are so grateful and bewildered by their extreme kindness. What wonderful friends!

Just as glorious was the weather for our day off. The sun was shining and the sky was a perfect blue. In the morning we all tromped over to a nearby café to get revved for the day. From there we walked over to the movie theatre, located in a big outdoor shopping complex.  The girls went to see Whip It, while “Anders meandered” (ha!).  Whip It was great. After the movie we all went our separate ways—Anders and Sara had a reunion date of exploring the sights, Tracy went climbing at the Front, and Caroline went for a long run.

After meeting back up at Leo and Aubrey’s, we showered and then headed out for dinner at Squatter’s Pub and Brewery. Again, it was great meal. On the route home we stopped in for a couple of drinks at the much talked about Beerhive Pub. They had a great selection, and we all enjoyed sitting back and reacquainting ourselves with the dynamics of a four person brew crew.  Alarmingly, we were out until 11:15pm- party animals! It was swift to sleep. The next day brought the beginning of the long haul across the Nevada flats. (I am using the term flats in a very optimistic fashion…we’ve been in the mountains for a while now!)

Caroline

SLC

SLC

Anders and Sara

Anders and Sara

Squatters

Squatters

We 3 Sixpoint!

We <3 Sixpoint!