About Lea's Foundation

In 1998, Lea Michele Economos, a young woman who died of leukemia at the age of 28, made a dying wish to her parents that others would not face the hardships she encountered by finding a cure for this disease. Her family started this charity to carry on that wish. Today, Lea’s Foundation takes an active role in finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma and to better the lives of people living with these diseases. At the UCONN Health Center, the Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders sponsors research in this field. A new program covers the cost of bone-marrow testing to help recruit life-saving transplants for patients. Also, annual scholarships are given to children with leukemia who are planning to attend nursery school. For more information on other projects carried out by Lea’s Foundation, please visit their website at www.LeasFoundation.org.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Day 18: The Night Riders (Hite, UT to Blanding, UT - 80 miles)

Since we were planning to wake up at 1am to avoid the heat, we attempted to get to sleep early.  We found a bush the provided a little shade and pitched our tent below it.  It is amazing how rare shade is. Some days there will literally be no shade for 50 miles. 

The bush ended up blocking the very little wind there was, so after an hour of just sweating a lot, we moved up to the sidewalk outside the park rangers office with the MIT students. 

Although it doesn't look it, this set up was more comfortable.  Once the sun went down at 9, the temperature dropped from the hundreds to the high 80s. This finally made sleeping somewhat possible. I slept in just my bike shorts on the mat, and woke up very frequently drenched in sweat.  At one point I woke up and was so thirsty I drank 1.8 liters of water. In total I slept for about two hours, and Dan got an hour. 

Our new MIT friend Claire woke me up at 1am and gave me a mocha ice coffee.  It really was instant coffee made the night before mixed with hot chocolate mix that had been sitting out overnight.  At the time it tasted amazing. 

We packed up our things and launched off into the night at 2am. Eight of us rode in a tight pack, each bike with a front light and blinking red tail light.  Surprisingly night riding on hardly any sleep wasn't miserable. The MIT riders let Dan and I ditch some of our gear in their support van which was awesome. 

We climbed 3000 feet over 50 miles in the darkness.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy it. 

After three hours of darkness, we could see some light peeking over the horizon.  Watching the sunrise was amazing. The pictures do a terrible job showing how beautiful this trip is. 

After a huge 10 mile descent, we made a nice shaded climb through a rocky mountain.

It is nice when the roads go through blasted out mountains so we don't have to ride over them. I was singing the Indiana Jones theme song through this pass. 

Riding with the MIT students has been really nice. Since it was Sunday morning, all the Mormons were at church and literally no one was on the road. I rode side by side with a few of our new friends and had some great conversations.  It doesn't take long to realize how intelligent these people are. 

Here is Dan, Claire, and I. Thanks to Titiaan for the awesome picture. I didn't even know he was taking it. 

For the last hour or so of the day the temperature reached 98 degrees.  Overall, the night riding was nice, but we were exhausted after 80 miles. Dan and I got a cheap motel and passed out right when we walked in the door for 4 hours.  It felt great to have a bed in an air conditioned room after three nights of camping in the very hot weather.  

Tomorrow we are planning to head into Dolores, Colorado.  We are very excited to get into another state. We plan to wake up at 3am and be on the road for 4.  

Day 17: Hot Hot Hite (Hanksville, UT to Hite, UT - 51 miles)

Our night was a bit less restful than we had anticipated due to our mosquito friends. Our tent put up a valiant effort, but the few mosquitoes that snuck in managed to do their damage. We woke up feeling less than refreshed and hit the road to Hite. The ride was a short 51 miles, so we were looking forward to an early arrival.

The scenery keeps getting more beautiful as we make our way east. The roads weave in and out of the rocks, creating a very cool riding experience.

The short ride was a nice break from our usual daily mileage, but the heat rolled in quickly. By the time we got to Hite, the temps were hitting 100+ degrees. We met up with the MIT riders at the convenience store at Hite and sat in there for the afternoon. Our convenience store food choices are becoming quite creative. Pork sandwiches and Bowl Appetit meals hit the spot. After getting kicked out at closing time we set up our stuff in the shade near the ranger office. I did some reading from previous coast to coast blogs and read about waking up to hit the road at 2:00 AM to avoid the heat. We're planning on doing that for our 80 mile journey to Blanding, our last stop in Utah. We all wanted to stick together during the night ride, so the MIT crew offered to carry our bags for the morning. With the next day's adventure planned out and our sleeping mats sprawled all over the visitor center sidewalk, we attempted to get a few hours of shut eye before the twilight wake up.

Day 16: The Mormons are taking over the government (Calf Creek Campground to Hanksville, UT - 98 miles)

We woke up at 5:30 in our tent at Calf Creek. After saying goodbye to the Mormon girls we needed to climb out of the camp ground which was in a valley between steep cliffs. Our day started with riding over the Hog's Back, which is a 4 miles climb at 14%. This was by far the steepest climb we have done on the trip.  In addition, the edge of the road drops off to the valley hundreds of feet below.  I was a little nervous, but luckily there were no cars on the road because it was so early.  

After the steep climb, we rode into Boulder where we got the best breakfast of our trip so far at the Devil's Backbone.  After I was halfway done with my order of pancakes and apple sausage, I asked the waiter for another order.   We also got almond butter and apple bacon sandwiches made to go so we could eat lunch on the road. 

We then began a 20 mile climb up 3,000 feet.  We were literally getting cheered all the way up the hill.  There was a relay race run going 196 miles to Zion National Park.  Groups of 6-12 team up and rotate running through the day and night to Zion.  The team members who aren't running usually park their RV or can on the side of the road and cheer for everyone.  We passed probably fifty runners going down the hill and heard many more cheers and cow bells ringing from the resting runners on the side of the road.  Some people came out and sprayed us with water bottles as we rode by. It made climbing the hill a lot easier. 
 Here is the view from the top of the hill.  A few hours earlier we were way down in the valley below.  It's kind of hard to see. 
We then passed through Capital Reef National Park.  The pictures don't even come close to showing how awesome this place was. We were literally surrounded in all directions by views like this. We rode downhill for about 15 miles surrounded by huge red rock mountains. 
I don't even know how stuff like this is formed. 
These cliffs were huge!

And some funky white mountains with really weird shapes.  

Here is Dan ripping up a hill at the end of the day.  
We were pretty tired riding into Hanksville after a long day of 98 miles.  We set our tent up at a camp site which didn't compare to Calf Creek. It is pretty much a patch of grass next to a restaurant.  We are camping with a group of MIT students who are riding across the country teaching math and science classes to kids across the country.  It is nice meeting other riders going in the same direction and riding together for a few days. 

Tonight Dan and I were planning to get a beer at the restaurant while we wrote the blog. We were informed that in Utah you need to order food to get beer at restaurants. It is very difficult to get liquor permits in Utah.  I don't think I've seen one liquor store.  This was a big contrast to Nevada, where drive through liquor stores were the norm. Also, beer can't be over 3.2 percent!  All the big beer companies make separate Utah batches in order to sell it here in Utah.  During the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, they made an exception to the rule, particularly after an International Olympic Comittee member complained.  

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes of the trip.  Dan and I were talking to a old cowboy in Middlegate, Nevada who was one of the 17 people who lived in the town with nothing around for 60 miles.  I asked him if he had ever been to Salt Lake City and if so was it nice.  His response was, "I drank, they don't", and then he sipped his coffee with whiskey at 7am.  

Everyone we meet from Utah is Mormon.  I learned yesterday that in the Mormon church, the church you go to is assigned based on geographical location, like school systems.  I thought that was interesting.  

Tomorrow we plan to head to Hite Recreation Center, with the MIT students.  

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Day 15: Canyons (Panguitch, UT to Calf Creek Campground - 84 miles)

After cleaning out the continental breakfast at our motel, we cruised off to Bryce Canyon. We first passed through Red Canyon, which was really fun to ride through. Tunnels were carved out of the rock formations and our path curved through the amazing red rocks.

After a few more miles, we coasted down a hill, overlooking Bryce Canyon.

Our route continued to wind through the amazing scenery and eventually dumped us into Escalante, where we stopped for lunch #2. Circle D Eatery served up delicious burgers from local cattle. The cheesy jalapeƱo buns were out of this world. While we were there we met another coast to coast duo- a guy our age and his grandfather. He's actually from Simsbury, which was a cool coincidence. Major props to him for fulfilling the bucket list item.

From there, we headed to our destination at Calf Creek, which is a campground in between the canyons. It felt great to take a bath in the natural creek water, and it was surprisingly cool at the site despite the 99 degree temps on the road. Here's a shot from our tent:

There was a Mormon church group at the site next to us, and we went over to chat for a bit. They offered us some delicious pulled pork and potatoes, which was much appreciated. One of the girls made us promise to send her a letter once we return so she knows we made it home alive. If you're reading this, hi!

We hit the hay early for an early wake up, so we could tackle the Hog's Back first thing in the morning. The famed hill boasts 4 miles of 14% grades (uphill for us), with narrow shoulders and drop offs on either sides. Should be fun!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Day 14: Cedar Breaks (Cedar City, UT to Panguitch, UT - 64 miles)

Our morning started off with an awesome breakfast at Great Harvest Bread Co. Their bread is made on-site daily, and their Trek Bars were the best road snacks we've had so far. Plus, their sandwiches came with oatmeal raisin cookies. Who doesn't like starting off the morning with oatmeal raisin cookies? From there we began the climb up to 10,350 feet to Cedar Breaks. Unlike the climbs in Nevada, the road up to the Breaks was full of things to look at, besides road kill and bullet holes in the road signs. 

The climb was slow and steep, but we're used to it at this point. Low gears, water breaks, and convenience store food are the keys to climbing. After the 27 miles up, we anxiously got off our bikes and went out to the observation area.

The views were the best we've seen since Lake Tahoe. We spent some time up there looking around, talked to some nice people, and ate lunch. From there, we cruised down to Panguitch, which our tired legs appreciated. Coming into town, we spotted an Arby's, which we couldn't pass up. The cashier kindly called her manager, and ended up giving us complimentary meals. I haven't had Arby's roast beef in years, and man was it good. Horsey sauce is the bomb, too. Our original plan was to stop at Subway for a second dinner, but the large fries and stacks on stacks of roast beef filled us up more than we expected. We're resting up now, and looking forward to heading up to Bryce Canyon tomorrow for some more great sites. Oh, and no flats today!

Day 13: The Flat Fiasco (Milford, UT to Cedar City, UT - 54 miles*)

Today was an abnormal day. After much discussion we decided to head straight south to Cedar City. The north blowing wind yesterday made our trip much more difficult than normal. On flats we trudged at 8 mph, compared to our normal 16 mph. We knew the wind was going to be blowing straight at us all day, but our other only option was to head into the town of Beaver and take a dirt road through the mountains.  

We felt good in the morning. The wind wasn't too bad and we quickly went 14 miles south to the town of Minersville. Dan and I stopped at the post office and sent some unnecessary supplies home.  I now only have one of each article of clothing, except three pairs of socks. We usually wash them with hot water at night. About once or twice a week, if we stay at someone's house, we can do laundry, which is a real treat.   We have come to the realization that we will always smell and were ok with it.  I think Dan still uses deodorant, but I have forfeited the battle versus body odor.  Our hair has permanent helmet indentations that a shower can't get rid of. Our tan lines look bad and our facial hair looks worse. 

Things got bad coming out of Minersville. I got a flat tire half way up a mountain. Like normal, we changed the tube and went on our way.  50 feet down the road I was bouncing I'm my seat more than normal and realized my tire was once again low. I put on my last spare tube and as we were mounting the wheel to the bike we were startled when a blast of air hit our faces.  The tire blew out. 

We then put a patch on the previous tire and went on our way. All that took about an hour on the side of the road. Dan noticed a few hundred feet down the road that my tire was looking low again. We thought the patch didn't work so we put a new patch on. We were optimistic when I made it a mile down the road, but them ten minutes later, my tire was low again. That was four flat tires if you couldn't keep track. 

We thought it was a slow leak, and with no extra tubes, our genius idea was to refill the tire every 3 miles. We had 25 miles to go into Cedar City. 

The plan was working although it seemed that it was leaking faster and faster. After 5 miles or so, I couldn't go a mile without refilling the tire. Dan and I thought that if we could keep doing this for ten more miles, then I could walk the bike ten miles into town. Luckily we knew there was a bike shop in town so I could buy a new tire and tubes. 

As we were standing on the side of the road looking desperate, a red truck with a racing dirt bike in the back slowed down and stopped next to us. Inside was Devin, who just graduated high school, and his little brother Trevor. Devin asked if we needed help. Dan and I both said "Yes!"  

The truck bed didn't look like it could hold much more so I put my bike in and got a ride into town.  Dan courageously continued riding because his bike couldn't fit, and we planed to meet up later. 

Devin was on his was to a dirt bike race in California. They seemed like really cool kids. They dropped me off at Bike Route, where Bobby, a pre-med student at Southern Utah University, got me everything I needed.  He let me use a room in the back to do all the work myself so he only charged for supplies.  Turns out I had three "stickers", which are little thorns, sticking through my tire which was causing all the flats. I couldn't even see them but Bobby said they are common in southern Utah. I got a new tire, new tubes, more CO2 cartridges, and new shoe cleats for Dan and I. I then got two dinners for myself at Sonny's BBQ and met up with Dan a few miles away at the house we are staying at. 

Turns out Dan had a really rough day. The wind picked up and was blowing in his face the entire time. He even ran out of water so he resorted to knocking on a door to ask for some. Looking back at it, it probably wasn't a good idea to split up. 

*In all, Dan did 54 miles and I did 30. It sounds like the part I skipped today was the hardest though. 

Tomorrow we plan to head to Panguitch, passing Cedar Breaks on the way.  We are really excited to be in southern Utah. So far it has been beautiful. 

Sorry we didn't take any pictures today. As you can see it was a crazy day. 

I did snap this one picture of Adrian, who lives at the home were staying at. She sat outside the room like that for 20 minutes and read us her novel of 11 chapters titled, School Story. It is about a girl who is given control of a classroom because her teacher is leaving for half a month. She decides to escape school and take the class on a field trip to Russia.  It was a really good story. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Day 12: Earth, Wind, and Fire (and Water) (Nevada/Utah Border to Milford, UT - 85 miles)

Our day started off pretty early so we could complete the 85 mile journey to Milford by mid-afternoon. We knew the route had a couple of climbs, so we wanted to get some rest after arriving. The first 8 miles came with a straight-on headwind, which we handled fine, seeing as it was still early. After we turned to head southeast into Utah, we were greeted with a flat tire and a steady wind in our faces, with 30-40 mph gusts. Not deterred, we trudged along, feeling like we were pushing up some of our favorite Nevada passes. We became especially creative in our alternative options: making a sail out of our tent, turning around and detouring through central Utah, or even camping on the side of the road, but we knew our best option was to stay the course and chug along to Milford. We passed some motorcyclists on the side of the road and talked to them for a few minutes, as they pointed out the storm clouds moving in overhead were looking pretty nasty. At this point, we just wanted to make it to Milford in one piece without our muscles taking a vacation or the skies opening up. As the miles and hours passed, we climbed up the typical 5 mile long hills and coasted down the backsides, while counting down the miles until our last descent into Milford. The skies finally opened up, but to our surprise, we were treated to a short, refreshing mist that actually came at a good time, during our last climb. The climb took a little over an hour, but after we crested the top, we coasted down into Milford with high spirits, elated that we had made it through the day. 

Looking behind us, the skies began clearing and we caught some beautiful views of the sky.

The kind people at the Oak Tree Inn donated us a room for the night, which has a jacuzzi and an awesome diner. After walking down to Subway for dinner #1, we could feel our stomachs craved real food after the endless slew of trail mix and granola bars all day, so we hit up the diner for dinner #2. Some of life's simple pleasures, such as cell phone service, clean sheets, and breakfast for dinner, really make us excited nowadays. Unfortunately, it looks like the wind is going to be pretty strong tomorrow too, but we only have a 53 mile stretch to Cedar City. Regardless, we'll be taking it slow.

Oh, and the fire part. We need to watch out for forest fires in Colorado. That could make things interesting.

Day 11: On the Border (Ely, NV to Nevada/Utah Border - 65 miles)

Today was a much better day than yesterday, both physically and mentally. Our comfortable motel room provided us with a great night's rest, and the continental breakfast fueled our start. The day consisted of our two last climbs in Nevada, but the state wouldn't let us out easily. The first took us to over 7,700 feet, and after a nice downhill cruise, we climbed again to over 7,100 feet.

Coming down the other side of Sacramento Pass, we were treated to some incredible views of Great Basin National Park.
With the two climbs behind us and the scenery becoming more appealing, we enjoyed a nice 18 or so mile descent into Utah.

We cruised in during the early afternoon and ended up getting a good deal on a motel room. Looking forward to another filling dinner, we headed into the convenience store, which also serves as a casino/bar/restaurant (which should have been a red flag in itself). Let's just say our frito and peanut butter tortillas would've been a better decision. Now we're resting up for our trek into the Utah landscapes, which will take us into Colorado in a few days. The lady at the convenience store said we have our work cut out for us in Utah...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day 10: Ups and Downs (Eureka, NV to Ely, NV - 77 miles)

I said I'd let you know about Eureka being the friendliest town on the loneliest road, and I'm happy to report that we weren't disappointed. Last night at Sloppy Joe's for dinner, the owner picked up the tab after hearing about our ride (great place, by the way). This morning, we went to the Pony Expresso Deli for breakfast with the Mercy coast to coast riders (the group we wrote about in Middlegate), which opened its doors early just for us. If there's one thing I really enjoyed about Nevada, it was the people. Everyone we've met seems to love living out here, away from everything, doing as they please. They are a self sufficient, genuine crew, with kind hearts. The riding through Nevada, however, started to play mind games with us.

The Nevada landscape can best be described as corduroy-like. The hills come one after another on route 50, throughout the state. Unlike the hills in California, the Nevada hills are long- miles of uphill, miles of downhill. While cranking uphill in the midday heat, we frequently question our sanity, dream of swimming pools and beaches, and think of creative ways keep our route as short as possible. On the long downhills, with cool winds and effortless riding, our plans become ambitious- let's go see all the national parks we can, add on to our daily itinerary, ride faster, etc. 

On the upside, Pat and I made a new snack (patent pending). BBQ fritos and peanut butter, wrapped in a flour tortilla. Don't knock it til you try it.

The highest peak for us so far, before coming into Ely.

Train tunnel just outside of Ely.

It's been a mentally draining few days through Nevada, but tomorrow is our last push to the Utah border. The Main Motel graciously donated a room for the night, and Rack's Bar and Grill gave us a great deal on dinner.

We're looking forward to be leaving Nevada, but we're glad we came through and met the great people we did. After the ups and downs of route 50, we're excited to see Utah, and then we're on to Colorado.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Day 9: Nice Swim (Austin, NV to Eureka, NV - 70 miles)

We began the day in Austin, which was a really interesting town. Back in the late 1800's thousands of people lived there, now, however, the population is 192. The graduating high school class this year was 4 people, which is on the higher side. The Pony Express, which was a mail service going from Missouri to California on horseback, ran through the town in 1860 to 1861. Here is an old Pony Express ad. Dan and I fit the young, skinny, and wiry part. 

We started the day with a steep three mile climb to Austin Summit. At 7484 feet, this was the highest we have been so far. When we got to the top we were stopped by two police officers for 15 minutes because an oversized load was coming up the mountain on the other side. I was very happy to take a break. 

We then continued through the hilly desert of Nevada. The ride was more mentally tough today than physically. The scenery doesn't change much, so after an hour of hard pedaling it looks like we are in the same place we were when we started. Although, we did see another pack of wild horses today, which was once again awesome. 

We arrived in Eureka around 4:30 and met up with the other cross country bikers we met in Middlegate at the Eureka local swimming pool. Dan and I hopped right in in our cycling shorts. Cooling off after a long day of riding felt great. 

All these small towns on the loneliest road in America have had very friendly people who love to tell their stories. Unfortunately, the towns are so spread out that Dan and I are both getting sick of Nevada. Being in town is nice, but the 70 miles between is pretty boring. 

Tonight we are camping in a backyard with the other coast to coast riders. Tomorrow we will head to Ely, which has three mountains ranges in between. Hopefully we will be in Salt Lake City by the middle of next week. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day 8: Dollar Bills (Middlegate, NV to Austin, NV - 64 miles)

We went back into the Middlegate watering hole for some breakfast, which was especially filling...not necessarily a good thing for a day of cycling. After eating, we made our contribution to the restaurant ceiling, which was filled with dollar bills from travelers passing through the town.

A few people who live in Middlegate talked to us about the town and the restaurant, which was a really cool place. If you're ever traveling through Nevada on route 50, be sure to check it out. We then packed up our stuff and said our goodbyes to the other coast to coast riders at the campsite. Props to the two kids in the front for spending 6 weeks of their summer riding in the support van. Best of luck the riders if you're reading this!

The road to Austin was a lot tougher than we had anticipated. We're not sure if it was the hills or the monotony of the landscape (or my breakfast), but it was mentally and physically draining. 

Making the trip from Fallon to Austin would have been a real killer workout, so we're glad we made the long day yesterday instead of today. We made it into Austin around 4:00, got some food, and crashed in a cheap motel room. There's not a whole lot else to write about- never ending roads and mountains made up our views for the day. Tomorrow we're heading to Eureka, which is supposedly The Friendliest Town on the Loneliest Road. We'll let you know.

Day 7: Loose Nipples (Carson City, NV to Middlegate, NV - 109 miles)

After leaving Flynn's place in Carson City, we made our way onto Highway 50 to trek through Nevada. Our plan was to stop in Fallon for lunch, and then to camp in Middlegate, which is about halfway to Austin. The tough part about 50 is that there are only a few towns along the way throughout Nevada, so our stops need to be more planned out than before. We first stopped to get some snacks at a convenience store before leaving Carson City, and we both thought it was pretty funny that there were slot machines inside (I didn't want to take a picture and get dirty looks from the locals).

The majority of 50 is, well, lonely. Between Carson City and Fallon, the views really didn't change much.

We did spot some wild horses, though, which was pretty sweet.

The other things that caught our attention were some fighter jets flying over the Naval Air Station. Too bad we couldn't hitch a ride with them through Nevada in a couple of minutes.

We stopped in Fallon to grab some Subway, and a generous woman named Julie offered to pay for our lunch when she heard we were raising money for leukemia. Thanks, Julie! After lunch we started to leave town, when Pat noticed his rear wheel seemed to be wobbling. It didn't look noticeable, so we headed onward to Middlegate, another 48 miles away.

As we were riding down 50, Pat's rear wheel really started shaking. Great place to be stranded. We wouldn't be able to bike with the wheel as it was, and we had no way of replacing it in the middle of the road. The problem? The nipples on the spokes were so loose that the spokes weren't supporting the wheel, causing it to bend. We decided to call Sue from Truckee, since we thought she might know some people from bike stores in Fallon or Austin who could help us out. Unfortunately, there is only one bike store in Austin with a number online, and it was disconnected. Sue did offer to drive out the following day with a new wheel, if we were in a pinch. Luckily, it didn't come to that. Sue has been great to us these past few days, though, and we can't thank her enough. Pat called the guy who fixed up his bike back home, and he walked Pat through a quick way to true a wheel. It worked for the time being, and we made it the rest of the way to Middlegate in one piece.

Middlegate is a really unique place. Situated in literally the middle of nowhere, it's a town with a population of 17, with a bar and camping area. We had probably the most delicious burgers we've ever eaten, and met some other cross country cyclists. One of the riders, Greg, is a dentist in Illinois, and it was nice talking with him for a bit. Another one of the riders used to work in a bike shop, so he helped Pat true his wheel so that we can safely ride it the rest of the way. It was great meeting another coast to coast crew, and we hope they have a great trip on to DC.

All in all, today was a big day of riding. Not the most exciting, but we covered a lot of ground and had some interesting happenings. Hopefully tomorrow brings another fun day.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day 6: Lake Tahoe (Truckee, CA to Carson City, NV - 53 miles)

Our original plan was to spend the day exploring Lake Tahoe and then ride into Reno. However, early in the morning as Pat was sleeping, Dan was strategically mapping our route and thought it would be better if we went to Carson City instead of Reno. Sue made as a great breakfast and even drove us down to the center of Truckee so we didn't haven to re-ride the five mile road to Sue's house. Thanks again Sue!

We rode down route 89 for 13 miles into Tahoe City. Route 89 ran next to the Truckee River which was very nice although there was such a nasty headwind that it was even difficult riding downhill. 

After a short morning ride we finally reached the destination we climbed 7000 feet to see, Lake Tahoe. We were both amazed at how massive it is. The lake, which sits over a mile above sea level, is completely surrounded by mountains. It was weird seeing people sunbathing on the beaches with the snow capped mountains in the background.

We rode for about 25 miles all along the north shore of the lake. It was definitely the most scenic 25 miles of the trip so far. We stopped every few miles just because the views were so spectacular. 

The "Welcome to Nevada" sign took us by surprise. The state line runs right through the center of the lake. Here is Pat in an interesting pose at the state line. The building behind him is the first of many casinos we passed.

Next we climbed up to 7146 feet to Spooner Summit which is in the Tahoe Forest. We then begun the most massive decent of our trip so far. Here is the view from the top.

For almost 30 minutes we whizzed down the steep 12 mile road, pumping our brakes the entire way, into Carson City. We dropped altitude so quickly my ears popped. 

Tonight we are staying with Flynn, who we found on Warm Showers. He said in the past 2 years he has had over 100 people stay at his place from the website! He made us a great sausage, onion, and pepper dinner. 

Tomorrow we plan to begin tackling Nevada on Route 50, the loneliest road in the US. There is a 112 mile stretch from Fallon to Austin with nothing in between but a small convenience store in Middlegate. The goal for tomorrow is to ride 109 miles to the convenience store and camp behind it, which we already got permission to do. We probably won't have Internet tomorrow to blog but we plan to be in Austin on Thursday. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Day 5: Keep on Truck(ee)in' (Colfax, CA to Truckee, CA - 63 miles)

We got rolling after a quick stop to a grocery store to pick up some breakfast stuff and to stock up for the day. Initially, our plan was to head up to Cisco Grove Campground, which was 36 miles away and about 4000 feet of elevation gain. We got moving on historic highway 40 and then had to cross onto I-80 for about 15 miles. The elevation gain was gradual but steady, and we both felt the slow burn as we made our way to Cisco Grove. We made great time and stopped at a gas station right near the campground to grab some lunch. At the time, something told me a monster beef and bean burrito would be great for refueling, and Pat reached a similar conclusion with a Hot Pocket. After devouring meals we probably will never eat again, we realized we could probably make the hike into Truckee by the end of the day, skipping Cisco Grove. We decided to go for it, committing to another 1200 feet of elevation up to Donner Summit.

By the time we hit the road again, the brilliant lunch decisions weren't quite agreeing with us, but we kept moving. The hills kept coming, but we kept a steady pace and chipped away at them. Our best decision of the trip so far has been to keep truckin' to Truckee. The views along Donner Pass Rd kept getting better as we climbed.

Once we got to Donner Summit, we had an incredible descent down into Truckee, overlooking Donner Lake.

The rest of the way through Truckee was relatively flat and downhill, which our quads appreciated from the morning hill work. We stopped to get a couple things for our bikes, and then headed to Sue's home, whom offered to let us stay the night. She made us a wonderful salmon dinner and talked bikes with us for a while. As with our past hosts, Sue was extremely generous for letting us crash, and we greatly appreciate her hospitality. To quote my favorite track coach, none other than Pete Gillen, "today was awesome, awesome, awesome." We climbed over 5,000 feet and saw some great views of the Sierras. We're now a day ahead of schedule, so tomorrow we'll cruise around Lake Tahoe for a bit before heading down into Reno, NV. Can't wait to see Tahoe. We'll make sure to get some good pictures.

Day 4: welcome2colfax (Sacramento, CA to Colfax, CA - 68 miles)

Sharing a queen size bed was a treat compared to our little tent. When we woke up, Ken was already preparing a fantastic breakfast with eggs, bacon, cereal and fresh fruit. After eating most of the food in the Carlson's house, Dan realized he had another flat tire. It delayed us a bit but we were on our way before 10. 

We rode the American River Trail for 30 miles from Sacramento to Folsom. It was flat, pretty, and our legs felt really good. Along the trail, many bikers saw our fully loaded bike bags and questioned where we are going. Responding "Connecticut" is always fun. 

After lunch in Folsom, we headed up the hills to Auburn. On the way Pat got his first flat tire. There was a piece of glass lodged through his tire into his tube. We replaced the tube and planned to replace the tire at on of Auburns three bike shops, which was five miles away.  It turns out that everything in Auburn is closed on Sunday. His tire still has a hole in it.

We rode from Auburn to Colfax on back roads running parallel with I-80. The ride was very hilly but the roads were very nice. As we were riding through the woodsy forest, we saw the first fox and the 6th deer of our trip. Also, our tally for spotting roadkill probably reached triple digits.  So far I have only directly run over a three. Here is a picture of Dan riding down one of the hills. 
Sorry it is blurry, he was riding pretty fast. 

The last 20 miles into Colfax were the hardest of the trip (Pat's opinion). Marathon Man Dan was flying up the hills even though we did over 200 miles in the past three days. If Colfax happened to be five miles farther, Pat doesn't think he would have made it (he's just being a baby though). 

We got a deal at a motel and grabbed dinner at a burger place across the street. 

Dan got the healthiest meal on the menu: turkey club with a side salad. 

Pat rewarded himself with the most unhealthy meal on the menu, The Biker Burger: Three 1/3 lbs burgers with bacon between and fries.

Tomorrow we begin our climb of the Sierra Nevada. Hopefully we will make it to Cisco Grove Campground for another night of camping.