Day 46 (110+ mi.) Crashing In To The Final Desination: SAN FRANCISCO!

  • 1 bicycle
  • 9 states
  • 2,500+ miles (averaging 100+ the last six days)
  • 46 days (minus 3.5 rest days)
  • 5 flats
  • 2 new tires
  • 2 falls
  • 100+ chasing dogs (most in Kentucky)
  • $10,000 raised for the Saint Luke Foundation for Haiti (ALMOST THERE!)

photo 1The journey from Columbus, Ohio to San Francisco ended just before sunset on Friday, September 14.  And much like everyday before, the finish did not go as expected.  After long and solitary days for the previous five days, biking from before the sun rose until the sun set, I was sure I would have an emotional breakdown the moment I saw the Golden Gate Bridge.  According to the Adventure Cycling Association route the journey ends with a ferry ride from Vallajo to San Francisco.  I left early in the day and had what looked to be a downhill and flat ride for my final 70 miles, so I began the day eager to enjoy the ride.

photo 2The journey began on the east side of Sacramento on a bike path toward the western side of the city.  The path was hilly and winding, but quite scenic.  I even passed a doe, a fawn, and over a dozen turkeys.  Quite surprising for such an urban area.   Once the trail ended I was then supposed to hop on another trail that would take me through Davis.  However, I got a bit turned around and could not find the new trail.  Lucky for me the first person that I asked for directions was Larry Robinson, a local bike enthusiast, “WarmShowers” host, and impromptu tour guide of Old Town Sacramento.  Immediately after I asked where I could find the trailhead, Larry split ways from his biking buddy, gave me a quick tour of the Old Town, and guided me to the trail .  Thank you Larry!!!

The ride in to Davis, apparently the bicycle capital of the United States and the first home to bike lanes in the country, was quite flat and through farmland.  At one point I looked up and saw what I thought to be the Golden Gate Bridge and began to get choked up, actually shedding a few tears.  A few miles up the road I cursed the large telephone pole that tricked me in to wasting my bank of happy-tears.  Apparently I was still quite far from the bridge and my final destination.

In Davis I stopped at Raja’s Tandoor, an Indian buffet, for lunch.  When the owner asked how I was doing I exclaimed, “Couldn’t be better!  Perhaps the best day of my life!”  He was a bit surprised with my response and even more surprised when I explained to him what I had been doing, and that I was raising money for St. Luke’s.  He immediately donated $10!  If you ever go through Davis check this place out!  Not only great people, but the food was amazing and healthy!

The following 30 miles was through endless fields of fruit trees on fairly empty back-country roads.  It was quite relaxing, but I was ready to turn the corner and be on the ferry.  However, the corner never came.  Once the fruit farms ended I was then in some smaller towns with very busy roads, and somehow lost my way (even with the map AND the help of Google Maps).  After what seemed to be a couple of hours trying to find my way back on track, and a few climbs of a couple hundred feet, I found what I thought was the bike path to the ferry.  At this point I had been out of water for some time, but I was thankful to close to the finish and with only 30 minutes until the last ferry was leaving for the city.  Or at lest I thought I was close to the finish.

I climbed what seemed to be two of the steepest hills in to what seemed to be the strongest headwind of the trip (I am sure it was not even close to being the steepest, but it was quite unexpected since the elevation map showed only down hill and flat riding for the day).  Once the trail ended I was in the middle of a car dealership surrounded by chain restaurants.  This was not at all what the map was showing and the final ferry had left for the day.  I thought I was never going to make it to San Francisco.

After a mild breakdown I went to a corner store, chugged four Vitamin Waters, refilled my waterbottles, and made my way on some busy side streets toward the marina from where the ferry departs.  There I would find a bus that could take me in to the city.  I was almost there, only a few miles away!

photo 3Now I was even seeing signs on the side of the road for the marina.  Only two miles left and one big downhill to the waterfront!  For the first time on the trip I decided to bomb (go full speed) down the final decent.  With the way the afternoon was going I should have known better.  Once I reached top speed my front wheel began to shake.  I looked down and it was too late, I was going over the handlebars.  Apparently a city worker had been trimming a tree and had yet to clean up the mess.  At the end of the mess was a large branch, the one the finished me off.  A bit bloody and bruised (luckily that was all!) and now with my only broken spoke of the trip, I kindly asked the man trimming the tree why he had not yet cleared the branches from the bike lane.  He seemed very disinterested even though I mentioned that he almost killed me.  After about an hour of sitting and regrouping the branches were still in the bike lane.  A frustrating end to the journey but I was only two miles to the finish!

I arrived at the bus terminal and only had to wait for a few minutes until the bus arrived.  I was immediately greeted with an explanation that I could not board the bus because I was bleeding.  My explanation of biking across the country, my life flashing before my eyes only an hour earlier, and being within grasp of my final destination had no effect on the kind lady.  However, she did wait patiently while I removed bandages from my backpack and covered my scrapes.  I was on my way!

photo 4Only one more transfer, from the bus to the BART (subway), and I would be in San Francisco . . . the journey would be complete.  Easy enough!  At least that’s what I thought (there seems to be a theme for the day).  When I arrived at the Embarcadero stop I eagerly rolled Hope off the subway car, and through the exit . . . . well, halfway through the exit.  Literally feet away from being welcomed by Christy and Marlo-The-Dog my bicycle became locked as a result of not moving through the exit quickly enough.  This may not be a photo of the front tire in the Pacific, but it is a photo of the front tire only inches from freedom in the city of San Francisco.  Good enough for now!

The evening did not end with the emotional tears that I expected, but I was relieved to have arrived.  Christy, Marlo, and I sat on the dock where I would have arrived on the ferry had all gone according to planned. I guess the quote I began the trip with sums up the day, as well as the past 46 days, “Anything easy ain’t worth a damn!”

I want to give a massive thank you to my family, friends and even strangers have supported me and St. Luke’s over the past two months!  This has been an amazing and life changing experience.   Although the journey may be complete there is work still to be done.  The primary reason I began this journey was to raise awareness about the severity of unmet basic human needs in Haiti and to raise $50,000 by the end of the year for the Saint Luke Foundation for Haiti.  Although only 20% of these funds have been raised I am confident that this goal will be reached. Please continue to support St. Luke’s by donating and spreading the word, and over the next few months I will continue to blog about fundraising efforts and perhaps some tell some tale of my cycling adventures!

Once again, a big thank you to everyone for their love and support!

Until next time . . .

Day 45 (125 mi.) The Final Decent 

My 2nd to last day began under the stars at 3:30am. The temperature at 8,500 ft. was  a bit too cold for comfort so I started prepping Hope, packed   hammock from between two trees just off the road, and waited for enough sunlight to get moving. I pushed off at 5:50am.   

The first hour consisted of a 1,000 feet of climbimg but I welcomed it because my body was still shivering from the evening chill. I then began descending on the main road through the park, however there were still some climbs, the was winding, and there was enough traffic to make me uneasy. At just below 7,000 feet I stopped in Cooks Station for breakfast. The hashbrowns, omelet, toast, and most important the service was all made this one of the best dining experiences of the trip. As I was wrapping up the waitress asked how I was getting down the mountain. She then suggested I take a nicer, less busy, safer, faster route. I was sold!

  Her suggestion was a highlight of the trip. My ride down Ohlm’s Ranch Road was a decent with a car passing only every 15 minutes, no climbs, beautiful big pine trees, and I even saw some deer and a bobcat.  Once the road turned to rolling hills the vineyards began. I lost track but there were well over 30. 

  

Also, perhaps the most American thing happened, this . . . 

Before I made the final push to Sacramento I made a pitstop at a winery. As I walked up I was greeted by Leah and Tom from Napa. They told me that they come to this area for their wine because it is much more welcoming and not as pretentious. They they invited me to share some of their wine with them and even sent me on my way with some cookies!  It was a great welcoming to the other side of Carson Pass. 

The better part of the afternoon I made my way to northeast Sacramento on busy roads with little to no shoulder.By 7pm I had made it to my final resting place on my final night before the big finish, the home of my good friends Eileen (from graduate school) and Joe (her husband), as well as their beautiful 9 month old daughter. 

The evening ended with us catching up over burgers and beer.  It was hard to believe that my journey was  24 hours from being complete. 

Until tomorrow . . .

Day 44 (104 mi.) California!

Backtracking a bit, 250 miles prior to Carson City in Eureka, Nick noticed my tire was shredded and about to blow. We replaced it with the tire with the bead in it and hoped for the best. It was 250 miles to the next bike shop and I was hoping to get close but thinking the worst. 

On The third day and 20 miles outside of Carson the tire gave.  I worked on it for awhile but it was probably going to blow the new tube, so when a bearded gentleman pulled over and asked if I needed a ride to the shop I quickly accepted. Within an hour my bike was good to go thanks to Jimmy and the good folks at The Bike Smith.  From there I set off for the next state. 

  
Once I got to the sign there was nobody there to take a picture. I flagged down the first car and as it turns out he was a firefighter. He was relieved to hear that all I needed was a picture. 

 Once I made it to the first town I almost called it a day but after some foodand rest I realized I had three hours to make it over the last summit so I kept moving. 

   
  A couple hours later I made it to the top and became overwhelmed with emotion. All of the summits were behind me. 
5 miles later I was at camp.
 
Until tomorrow . . .

Day 43 (112 mi.) The Loneliest Road Gets Lonelier

So after I split off from the guys on Monday night I thought they may catch up but it looks like I will be doing the rest of the ride solo. They were great traveling buddies and I could not have gotten this far without Nick’s help, but I’m ready to get to the finish. 

Tuesday morning I woke up at the Baptist church campground to a gospel-bluegrass cover of I’m Proud To Be An American at 4:30am, followed by another two hours of similar music coming from the RV. 

   On the way out of town I stopped to bid farewell to Jane and to take her up on her offer of a muffin and coffee. I also met Chipawa the dog. 
  

Pulling out of Austin I also chatted with Mike and told him a bit about what I was doing. About 20 miles down the road he flagged me down for a photo. Made for a great start to the day. 
  

Then the wind started. 25 mph gusts hitting me from all directions. Even massive dust devils all around. 
  

And the final summit to before Carson Pass, the last one. 

 

I got in to Fallon just before sunset and ate at a Chinese restaurant where I ordered two full meals and soup. When I told the waitress I was making my way to California she bought me my meal!  Thank you Christain!!!

Then on my way to the campsite a guy in a truck recognized me from 60 miles back and bought me a beer!  

Rough day of biking but some great people!

Until tomorrow  . . .

Day 42 (110 mi.) Eureka! And An Evening Arrival To Austin

 The morning began with a 40+ ride to the town that made shouting EUREKA famous.  

The heat and wind were strong so we took an extended break in town. 
  

  

Although it was getting late and another 68 miles to the next town I decided to not stay at the primitive camp site with Michael and Nick. Rather push on the extra 30 miles. 
 

Just after sunset I reached the second and final summit before Austin.  

I arrived in town around 10pm and was welcomed by two employees of the Lincoln Motel, Jane and Alex. Alex pointed me in the direction of the campsite at the Baptist Church and Jane invited me to a glass of wine and potato chips. She  even told me to drop by on my way out in the morning so she could send me off with a muffin and coffee.  Their hospitality and the conversation was a great way to finish the evening. 

Until tomorrow . . .

Day 41 (101 mi.) The Loneliest Road In America, Route 50

Sunday began the long journey across Nevada on Route 50, known as the loneliest road in America. And for good reaso   Only a few cars go by every hour and there is lots of space in between towns!   
   
 During the 101 mile ride from Baker there was only one place to stop excluding the large town of Ely.

  The sunset just after 8pm and we continued riding for another to Illipan Resevoir where there was free BLM camping. The stars were bright and the coyotes were howling in the distance as I fell asleep after a long and hard day.  
Until tomorrow . . .

Day 39 (57 mi.) Easy Ride To Milford, Utah

 A late start to the day due to a morning shower but the rubber hit the road at 2pm.  The first 25 miles was mostly through Bureau of Land Management terroritory apparently uphill but rode like a flat.   
  About 30 miles in we hit the summit and then had a downhill all the way to Milford.   
  The last 15 in to town was on a nicely paved back road that had a very slight decline. Without even pedaling I was hitting a comfortable 20mph.  
Just as we arrived at our campsite a storm started to blow in. I took cover at a Subway to grab some dinner and wait it out. 

  
As the storm ended I caught a glimpse of another double rainbow, the second of the trip. I was hoping it was a sign of good things to come. And apparently it was!  On the ride back I was preparing for another cold and wet night when I heard a voice ask if I was biking across country. When I looked up I saw a couple sitting on their front porch. They then invited me to stay at their place for the evening. I promptly called the other two and they arrived soon after. 

  
The house is beautiful.  Renee and Scott explained that it is a historic landmark built in the late 1800s     and is the oldest adobe brick building in Utah that is still standing. It was apparently a bed and breakfast and once housed Butch Cassidy. Also   Scott’s grandfather used to run with Butch and was a sheriff in western Utah. The only aspect of our stay that is more impressive than the home is the hospitality of our hosts. Next month they plan on opening their home as a B&B  I’m sure it will be quite successful! 

Until tomorrow . . .

  

Day 38 (56 mi.) 5,000 Feet Climbing & Cedar City

The day started with a climb to almost 11,000 feet from Panguitch. Half way up there was a great view ofLake Panguitch.    
We also took a break for lunch and there wee dozens of hummingbirds. I have never seen that many in one place before. 

 The arrival at the top was less than exciting. Not even a sign to let is know we had made it. 

  
At the beginning of the decent there was a great view of a canyon.   
And then there was the final decent. Mostly 8% grade and lots of break pumping.   
Until tomorrow . . .

Day 37 (71 mi.) Bryce Canyon & A Panguitch Meal

We pushed off from Escalante  Wednesday morning  around 9am and began the first of two long accents. There was also a headwind but I am getting much more used to climbs and wind so the morning was not too rough for me.  

After a couple of hours I reached the summit overlooking the last surveyed bit of land in the lower 48 states.   
  The decent was another steep and fast one but they are becoming much less stressful. Also, passed a field of sheep which reminded me a bit of home.  
  Another decent just before Cannonville and out stop for lunch at what was once again the only place to eat, a convenience store  we have come to call this choose your own adventure junk-lunch. 
  We then made our way up another climb to the entrance of Bryce Canyon, locked up our bikes and took a detour via bus to check out the canyon   
  
  We wrapped up at the canyon around 7pm and had another 20 miles to Panguitch, our stop for the night. Lucky for us there was a nice trail running along side the road to our right and dried out riverbed to the left. 
  We made our final decent just as the sun was setting and with a view of the climb for Thursday (the last big climb until the final climb before the Pacific Ocean). 

The day ended with a dream come true, an all-you-can-eat soup and salad buffet!  Veggies were just what I needed (and the waitress even got my meal for me!)!  Don’t gimme no bologna, no ham and cheese, I want a Panguitch Meal! 

Until tomorrow . . .