Great day today!
63 miles done and arrived in Fallon at 12.20 - giving me plenty of time to chill, let my legs rejuvenate and also get to know the town.
My knees were aching a little towards the end. Don't think they are used to pedalling that fast for longer than 20 minutes. I only stopped once at the side of the road briefly to eat a few calories.
10 minutes after arriving I was sat in a steakhouse waiting for them to bring out the largest sirloin they had.
I have joined the 'loneliest road in America' which wasn't that lonely! It was pretty much dead straight the whole way with not much variation in landscape. (Highway 50-plenty more of that to come)
I loved it because I was flying. I was managing to hit 20/25mph most of the way without pushing too hard. At one point I hit 39mph (on a downhill) beats the 5mph average I have been achieving recently.
It felt good seeing the miles tick off so quickly. It could easily have been the most depressing and loneliest road in America had I been riding into the wind but that wasn't the case.
I set out at 8am in the rain and didn't have high hopes for the day looking at the weather.
It was a perfect ride though, no rain after the first hour, cool temperatures, overcast so no sun killing me, and barely any wind against me.
Very little to note on the journey. Not sure why all these butch pickup drivers all seemed to stop at the Bunny Ranch at the side of the highway! Maybe they wanted to buy a nice pet for their kids?!!!
Tomorrow, as is the trend, things get even more desolate. I'm going to middlegate station featured on man v food. May attempt the 'giant burger' if I have worked up enough appetite.
Today, for the first time i woke up and didn't want to get on the road. I looked out of my window at 6.30 and to my amazement it was raining, grey and looked cold.
Instead of leaving at 7 as planned I held back until 8.30 in the hope the rain would ease.
First thing i did after setting off was stop for breakfast in a diner over the road. Phew.
The owner of the inn I stayed in explained he met his friends for coffee every morning and always rolled dice to decide who paid. So when I arrived there were about 10 of them rolling the dice to find out who would be getting their wallet out.
When they finished their attention turned to me.
We discussed my mission and they all agreed I was (mad and) going to struggle to find accommodation after I hit Fallon, with long long (100 mile) stretches without motels/hotels and lots of climbing. This stressed me a little.
One of them told me "if it don't eat hay or petrol I don't ride it". I was going to ask if he was married to a horse but thought better of it.
Fallon was 90 ish miles ahead of me or 1.5 days riding at my current fitness levels.
I decided to do the half days riding today and stop in Carson city with a full day, 60 miles, to reach Fallon tomorrow.
Hopefully the weather improves because its heavy rain and storms right now.
I have tried to organised myself in Carson. I have had a shake down of my belongings and posted what I (now realise I) don't need ahead to my sister in NY. I have gotten rid of approx 20/25% of my weight.
I brought along too many clothes to wear when off the bike. I don't care about having options anymore. I need to make things easier on myself and try and get over the Rockies.
I have also spent some productive time calling ahead and there are a few accommodation options lined up for the next 4/5 days after Fallon which is a relief.
Conversation I had yesterday with owner of woodford inn as he drove me to find some food - we passed another fully loaded cyclist with all the gear/bags similar to mine - it actually could have been me;
Me - another touring cyclist!
WI - yeah he's staying at the inn too.
Me - really, where's he riding to?
WI - well I'm not sure, he's mentally challenged. He'll be back later.
No new pictures today but here's a couple of from hungry Bear Forrest from yesterday.
These are the elevation maps lined up together showing the whole 1500 mile journey along the Western Express through the Sierras and the Rockies!
My current location is marked with a spanner ;)
I have completed what looks like the biggest and longest climb but it took 2 days.
The dozens and dozens of other climbs do seem steeper but smaller.
I will have finished the top row by the end of tomorrow but still have so much to do.
The scariest part is that there can be 100 miles between places to sleep from the 2nd row down. It certainly looks daunting laid out like this.
I really wasn't looking forward to today because of all the climbing. It's true it was relentless but the grade generally didn't get as steep/high as I had feared which helped.
I was still in the lowest gear most of the way though.
The first section after leaving the amazing 7up ranch, and Fair Play was desolate. I was travelling on a really quiet section. The open tree lined roads suddenly closed in on me and I was moving through what felt like thick forest with not a huge amount of sky visible as had previously been the norm.
It's the first time I have actually worried about becoming bear food. And worry I did. I have always struggled with paranoia and at this point I was excelling. No cars and the only noise I could hear was snapping of twigs occasionally in the trees around me. There probably wasn't a bear close all day but that didn't stop me crapping myself. Give me a honey badger in Wiltshire any day ;). I was mainly riding doing deep manly coughs a grunting and whistling to make my presence known to any predators. Must have looked like a right tool.
I (firstly) rode 46 miles uphill all the way until I reached kirkwood.
Total climb was 7,500 feet with about 2,000 ft worth of drops.
It was generally a really nice ride but halfway through I moved onto highway 88 which got busy at times but the views towards the top were great.
I planned to stay in a place called rockstar lodge in kirkwood. I had looked it up on the Internet but had no reception all day so couldn't call ahead. My phone signal literally flickered back on when I hit kirkwood. I called the number to get directions and a bloke answered the phone and said the place had shut down.
Bollocks. Is there anywhere else round here? No. Bollocks, thanks.
This was a major pain in the backside literally. My mood had been good all day but the final 5 miles had become very difficult, light was fading a little, it was also getting cold and my legs/knees were starting to really tighten up.
I was really looking forward to getting off the bike and chilling. After a bit (lot) of cursing, and telling kirkwood what a dump it was I worked out my only option was a lot more riding - to climb the final 900-1000 feet over 5 miles to Carsons pass!!!
Once at Carsons pass the 20 mile down hill stretch commenced meaning there really wasn't any more need to pedal.
I travelled 16 miles downhill continuously until I reached woodford. It was good fun but bloody freezing once you start going at speed and not pedalling.
Even on this section I noticed the landscape change a bit. It had just rained before I travelled down this last bit and the smell of the trees/plants was intense!
I finally reached the woodford inn. The owners here again are extremely friendly and helpful. Mr woodford inn insisted on driving me to the shop so I could buy some food. The shop was closed so he again insisted on driving me to the next town to see if I could get a sandwich takeaway. Again closed so he brought me back to the inn. His daughter gave me some burritos and he gave me a beer. I tried to give them money but they wouldn't take it!!
I will be wholeheartedly recommending this place to any travellers I see coming in the other direction. I have some business cards ready to give out. I asked if they treat all their customers like this and they said absolutely yes. Great business.
I have taken millions of photos but they can look very samey. Here are just a few of the good ones though.
0 miles today. A day of rest, consisting of short walks and doing pretty much nothing. The only wifi is in the local pub and i have no phone reception so I'm cut off which is really nice.
I have my own veranda and an amazing setting staying with a very nice family in 1 of theirs semi detached chalet rooms. They are not officially open for business yet (I'm the only person there) but they welcomed me with open arms as they could see I was running out of options for places to stay after a hard day. Been very nice sitting and talking to them. Nice people.
I made a mistake yesterday by confusing Carsons pass and Carson city. I assumed they were the same place but they are not. Anyway, this means that as long as my legs can take it I may be able to complete the climbing and reach Carsons pass at 8,500ft tomorrow. If not i will get very close, maybe kirkwood.
Once at Carson pass it's pretty much 20 miles downhill riding then 25 ish fairly flat miles to reach Carson city.
A completely different days riding today.
Started early again with a lot of traffic.
I left Folsom riding past prison road, which led to Folsom prison (that my dad informs me was) made famous by Jonny Cash.
It was busy with all the rush hour traffic but at least there was a decent shoulder that I could fit into. Still anything but relaxing.
Made it to Placerville at 9.30 ish for a food stop. From here the climbing really began and it was hard. The highest temperature on my GPS hit 35.5C. I was going uphill slowly and sweating buckets. I was having to stop regularly just to cool myself down in some shade, pouring my water supplies over my head.
People are very friendly and are always very happy to top up my bottles though.
The riding got tougher as the scenery got more stunning. I was travelling some beautiful roads, with big drop offs and huge trees lining the valleys, still backed by clear blue skies.
Been lucky with the weather in 1 respect but it hasn't made riding any easier
I travelled 47 miles today which isn't a big day in terms of mileage. It was a big day in terms of climbing though. 5,000 + ft climbed but still I end the day only at about 2,500/3,000 ft elevation. There were a lot of downhill stretches to counter the uphills. I was always smiling flying the downhill stretches but with majorly gritted teeth - I knew it was just undoing my hard work and creating more hard work commencing....... immediately!
My time from home to home today was 9 hours and 45 minutes. I guess about 7 to 7.5 hours of that was time on the saddle. I had about 8 stops but they were all brief.
I have made it as far as a place called 'fair play' which seems to be (fitting and) wholly made up of vineyards, wine tasting places, a pub, and beautiful rolling hills. Decided to give myself a day off tomorrow to get to know the place a bit better.
Aside from the obvious attraction fair play holds, my knees and legs were giving me signs they needed a rest. My right knee was squeaking as I turned the pedal and my left hamstring felt like it was ready to snap .
Hopefully day after tomorrow I will be in good condition to attempt the fairly steep climb to Carson city. Its 94 miles according to google though so it might be 2 more days continuous climbing. Will be Between 5-6,000 ft uphill and hopefully fewer of those annoying downhill stretches ;)
I'm pleased to report that it's live deer 12, dead deer 0. In fact just as I was writing this from the friendly pub I watched 2 deer cross the road just outside (and took a picture). Could have been 10-2 but they did well and made it.
Unfortunately racoons, skunk, snake, squirrels, mice and something else are all letting themselves down.
I'm taking pictures on my phone but they don't do this place justice.
Started early again in beautiful sunshine setting of from Davis. Legs felt pretty good bearing in mind yesterday was the furthest I have ever ridden in 1 day.
I have managed about 53 miles today. 6 of those were a waste of time as I took a wrong turn and went down a road that slowly deteriorated into a dirt track and then came to a dead end at an impassable river, e.g. More than 6 cm's deep. (It was actually a big river)
After that slight hitch/detour I hit Sacramento and had a 2nd breakfast at 9 ish. The route i took transported me into a part of town that could have been a set for an old western film. All it was missing were some cowboys and a sheriff. Photos below.
The route from Sacramento to Fulsom was almost entirely a smooth 2 lane bike path that weaved and dipped for about 30 miles along the route of the 'American river'. I'm not sure if that is the actual name. Possibly in fact nobody has been bothered enough to give it a name. It was a good old American river though and very picturesque.
The path had A few spots of shade, plenty of water points and picnic spots. A very relaxing section without a car in sight.
Temperatures went as high as 34.5C! Roasting hot!
Tomorrow is predicted to be hotter although with any luck I will be climbing altitude and cooling a little.
I thought long and hard about pushing on to the next town/place to sleep. Placerville is about another 25 miles though, and the climbing starts from now. That would have put me on a 75 mile day. All the advice I have been given was to not push myself too hard at the beginning though, so, off to the pub I go.
(The real hard riding starts tomorrow though so as tempting as a few beers in this sun is - its not going to happen)
Amazing first days riding but very tough. Woke up at 6am to try and catch the earliest ferry over to Vallejo.
Before boarding I went to pier 39 to see the sea lion colony that have made it their home. Nice being down there at that time because it was just me and the lions! I went past it on a boat 2 days prior and it was packed with tourists.
Met my first touring cyclist buddy today. Mason, who made me look organised! First time he rode his bike was this morning, he is camping as opposed to paying for accommodation but he has no tent! Just a large tarp! Nutter. He is riding to Colorado to start a new job supervising white water rafters! I suppose this makes him less of a cycle tourist and more of a cycle commuter with a small matter of 1500 mile commute.
We worked well together and kind of spurred each other on. He was good at going up hills. I was good at going down hills. He was good at getting going after a stop. I was good at stopping etc.
We ended up riding together until Davis where I threw in the towel (body started going into shock ;). He has carried on. 68 miles and an hour ferry ride is more than enough for me on my first day.
We were riding into a lot of strong wind today and it was between 26 and 30 C all day. I still haven't seen 1 cloud since I arrived in the US. Nice, but today I needed some shade. Used almost an entire bottle of sun screen!
Scenery was mainly beautiful rolling hills. Not a huge amount of wildlife seen. 1 deer (alive), 1 snake (dead), no bears!
Tomorrow, if my legs haven't fallen off or shrivelled up, I have about 30-40 miles of fairly flat riding before the climbing begins.
Carsons pass which peaks at 8573 ft which is reached after about 60-70 miles of steady climbing.
I keep re checking my route map in the hope that the last paragraph is absolute rubbish........... Nope, Checked it quite a few times now, and looks like I haven't made a mistake. Sh#t!!
Finished the day off with a couple of beers at a local fete/ farmers market which had some bands, entertainment and food stalls.