Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day #24: Resting in Heaven

Today's Route: Rest Day at Yosemite National Park (7 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 941

It was well past 10pm last night when we returned from Glacier Point. For the last 23 nights, our bedtime has been 7pm -- maybe 8pm, if we're pushing it. And so Alex and I were exhausted last night. I slept in until 7am this morning, which felt amazing!

Today was a rest day for us. We spent the day casually relaxing in the valley.

Alex and I headed over to Curry Village in the morning. We sat out on the porch, in rocking chairs, with the warm sun on our legs as we enjoyed the only free wifi we've been able to find in the park.

Enjoying the wifi.

While we were doing our wifi thing, Alex pointed out a Facebook post. The post was about Maslow's hierarchy for current day people. At the base of the hierarchy was "wifi." So. Very. True.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day #23: Valley Girl

Today's Route: Wawona Campground in Yosemite National Park to North Pines Campground in Yosemite National Park (30 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 934

Today is the day we ride into Yosemite Valley!

We had a 2,000 ft climb out of the Wawona Campground. But after that, it was all downhill into the valley. And then once we were in the valley, it was all flat riding!

On our downhill, we rode through a tunnel that was 0.8 miles long. When we emerged from the tunnel, there was an outlook off to the side of the road. From that outlook, we could see the valley for the first time! Although there was a river flowing down in the valley, the trees looked like an even more magnificent river flowing through the valley.

At the lookout -- our first glimpse of Yosemite Valley.

Day #22: Family Away From Family

Today's Route: Fish Camp, CA to Wawona Campground in Yosemite National Park (10 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 904

We spent last night with Alex's friend's family at their lovely cabin in the town of Fish Camp, just south of Yosemite. It was great to have a break from camping. And it was even greater to be around a bunch of wonderful people who seemed like family.

After we left the cabin, we met up with Randy at the Tenaya Lodge, in Fish Camp. While the lodge is absolutely gorgeous, I didn't exactly feel comfortable at the lodge. Having been on the road for three weeks now, the extravagance of the lodge seemed over-the-top. With rooms costing $371 a night, I was reminded of how differently I value money. Having the freedom to spend time the way I want is so much more important to me than occasional fancy vacations that do nothing but temporarily numb the dullness of being caught-up in the work-to-consume lifestyle.

At $3 a pop, these must be very special Clif Bars.

It was a few short miles of riding before we entered Yosemite National Park. I'm so excited to be here!

Day #21: The Soundtracks of My Mind

Today's Route: Forks Campground (10 miles N of North Fork, CA) to Fish Camp, CA (17 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 894

I've experienced a dilemma the last few nights as I've laid in my tent at night, with the mesh netting open to the vast, star-speckled darkness.

You see, I'm a stomach sleeper. And so the only way I can fall asleep is laying on my stomach. By laying on my stomach, however, I am unable to admire the night sky. And if I turn over onto my back to enjoy the stars, then I can't fall asleep. What's a girl to do?

As I laid in my tent last night, rolling from my back, to my stomach, and than back to my back again, I heard, "Lucky! Come to daddy!" This was repeated over-and-over again. Just as it had been repeated over-and-over again for the prior few hours. It was a soundbite stuck on repeat. It was as if the CD from which the soundtrack was playing was deeply scratched.

In the key of C, the first syllable of "Lucky" would be a B and the second syllable would be a G. Sing that. Over-and-over-and-over again.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day #20: Lifelong Friends

Today's Route: Smalley Campground (6 miles S of North Fork, CA) to Forks Campground (10 miles N of North Fork, CA) (17 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 877

One of the great joys of bike touring is that when you wake up in the morning, you can't possibly imagine what might happen during the course of the day. Today provides a perfect example.

The day started like any other. Get up. Pack up. Have breakfast. Hit the road. Continue to move the pedals round'n'round until the odometer tells you that you have reached your destination.

We have plans to meet up with some people tomorrow, and we're a little further along our route than we thought we'd be. So, we knew that today would be a low mileage day.

We rode a few miles into the town of North Fork, where we camped out for a few hours at Slim's Koffee Shak.

The adorable Slim's Koffee Shak, in North Fork, CA.

We arrived around 8:30am and ordered some coffee beverages. We plugged in our devices to recharge them, while we took care of some wifi business. We reviewed our route for the next few days. Around 9:30am, Alex and I asked each other if it was too early for lunch. We both agreed that it wasn't too early, and so lunch we had.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Day #19: A Small & Middle Chainring Kind-of-Day

Today's Route: Piedra, CA to Smalley Campground (6 miles south of North Fork, CA) (46 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 860

Here you have it, ladies and gentlemen. A side-of-the-road snake fatality.

A side-of-the-road snake fatality.

I have yet to see any live snakes thus far on this trip (thank the god almighty), but I have seen a number of dead snakes on the side of the road. All previous dead snake sightings have been at the most inopportune time for a photo, either on the roadside of a steep ascent or a steep descent. But this snake sighting was on fairly level ground, so it was worthy of stopping for a photo.

Although there is a good amount of blood pooled around this snake's head (suggesting the thing is actually dead), I had fears of the thing coming back to life.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Day #18: Downpours & Thunderstorms

Today's Route: Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia National Park to Piedra, CA (73 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 814

I didn't sleep well last night. Even with all the layers I was wearing, I couldn't stop shivering. The mixture of dampness and freezing temperatures made for a miserable night.

We awoke to cool, but clear skies. It was a very different experience riding through the park under blue skies -- well, most cloudy skies with patches of blue.

Riding through Sequoia National Park.

For many of the roads we've been riding, particularly those that ascend, we can more-or-less make out where the road leads. This helps give us an idea of the steepness of any climbs as well as the direction we'll be traveling (which, for example, can be important for determining whether wind will be at your head or your tail).

Day #17: Some Giant Sequoias and A Riding Buddy

Today's Route: Buckeye Flat Campground in Sequoia National Park to Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia National Park (16 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 741

Randy came over to say hello as we were packing up our things this morning. Photo op!

Me, Alex, and Randy.

Alex and I rolled out of camp as Randy was working on packing up his things.

Our ride started out comfortably cool, but dry. We had about 3,500 ft of climbing to get into the heart of the Sequoia National Park. We were wowed by our increase in elevation when we pulled off at a vista point and saw the squiggly road we had climbed off in the distance.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day #16: Let the Parade Begin

Today's Route: Horse Creek Campground (6 Miles SE of Three Rivers, CA) to Buckeye Flat Campground in Sequoia National Park (20 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 725

Continuing where we left off with yesterday's post...

I indeed fell asleep dreaming of those two cowboys, with their tight cowboy butts and their burly cowboy biceps. In my dream, they were wearing only their cowboy hats and their cowboy boots. But I'll spare you the rest of the details.

As for Mister Critter, he managed to crawl a few inches from his hole before he rolled over and definitely called it quits. Rigor mortis had set in.

He's really dead now.

It had been a few days since we had been around a wifi connection, and we couldn't manage to let our faithful blog readers go one more day without a post. So we went in search of Anne Lang's Emporium, in the town of Three Rivers, in hopes of satisfying our wifi needs.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day #15: Cowboys & Mister Critter

Today's Route: Redwood Meadow Campground (22 miles SE of Camp Nelson, CA) to Horse Creek Campground (6 miles SE of Three Rivers, CA) (80 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 705

It was super-duper chilly when we awoke this morning.

All bundled up, but still smiling,

Fortunately, we had about 1,000 ft of climbing right out of camp to get our blood flowing. Whereas on yesterday's toasty afternoon climb, we were grateful for the shady spots along the road, on this morning's chilly climb, we were grateful for the sunny spots.

Day #14: One Hundred Giants

Today's Route: Lake Isabella, CA to Redwood Meadow Campground (22 miles SE of Camp Nelson, CA) (48 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 625

After yesterday's rest day, I was curious how my legs would perform today. I was a little bummed to find that my riding was pretty sluggish heading out of town.

After a few miles, I looked down and noticed that my rear tire was flat. Alex and I pulled over to repair the flat.

Repairing the flat.

This is the first flat I've had on this set of tires. The tires are Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, and I'm pretty darn impressed with them. The were new before I started my 3,000+ mile cross-country trip last summer. I considered replacing them before this trip, but an inspection of the tires suggested they still had some good life in them.

Day #13: A Rest Day

Today's Route: A rest day in Lake Isabella, CA (3 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 577

Today is our rest day in Lake Isabella. Despite our best intentions to stay off the bikes today, we added three miles to our odometers running errands around town.

One of the reasons we're resting today is because Alex legs have been feeling more and more tired each day; he feels as though his fitness isn't improving.

I beg to differ. For one, there's no way in hell we could have biked 65 miles yesterday and climbed 5,000 feet in elevation without having had eleven days of biking behind us. Furthermore, Alex's previously awesome calves are becoming more and more chiseled with each mile. Case in point:

Alex's calves.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day #12: Salty Goodness

Today's Route: Tehachapi, CA to Lake Isabella, CA (65 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 574

When we left Tehachapi this morning, the moon was still shining in the sky. What a beautiful view to start the day!

The morning sky over the Tehachapi Mountains.

And the wind turbines were still turning. I just learned today that the Tehacaphi-Mohave area is one of the world's largest producers of wind-generated power. No surprise there! In addition to wind turbines, we've also seen lots of solar panels on our ride. Southern California makes the energy-efficient girl in me quite happy.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Day #11: Record Breaking Heat

Today's Route: Palmdale, CA to Tehachapi, CA (43 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 509

Yesterday, we were plagued by crazy ass winds. Today we were plagued by record breaking heat and dry conditions.

Fortunately, we had an amazing stretch of flat riding for the first 26 miles. It was great to have these miles behind us by 9 am. But as soon as the little hand on the clock hit 9, it became unbearably hot. And just in time for our ten mile climb! At one point in the ride this morning, Alex's bike computer registered 100 degrees.

Yesterday I was hoping the wind would go away. And today I was hoping the wind would pick up a bit to offer a refreshing breeze from the stifling heat.

In the distance, we could see a forest of wind turbines.

A forest of turbines.

Day #10: Crazy Ass Winds

Today's Route: Chilao Campground, CA to Palmdale, CA (58 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 466

Let's begin today's blog post with some crazy ass dirty feet. These filthy hooves belong to Ruthy, a PCT backpacker who we met today while we were refilling our water bottles at the Mill Creek Fire Station.

Ruthy's filthy feet.

I was so intrigued by Ruthy's feet, that I couldn't resist asking for a photo.

(For the record, no one has yet asked me for a photo of my sweat-stained biking shirt. Nor has anyone asked to capture my three-days-without-a-shower stink in a repulsive scratch'n'sniff sticker. But I've only been on the road for ten days now. So, I'm not yet quite ripe enough to be flattered in such a manner.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Day #9: Ascending & Descending, Rinsing & Repeating

Today's Route: Somewhere-in-the-middle-of-the-desert-five-miles-east-of-Wrightwood, CA to Chilao Campground, CA (42 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 408

My froggie toes have made their first appearance on this trip!

Long live the froggie toes!

What a strange, strange night stealthing in the desert last night!

First, there was the mid-night pee. Greatly fearing the nocturnal sidewinders, I experienced the quickest pee ever! I exited my tent, did my thing, and then reentered my tent all within 45 seconds. And that wasn't even using the Shenis!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Day #8: The Rim of the World

Today's Route: Big Bear Lake, CA to somewhere-in-the-middle-of-the-desert-five-miles-east-of-Wrightwood, CA (57 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 366

Our stay last night at the Big Bear Lake Travelodge included a continental breakfast, which was to begin at 7 am. Alex and I had the bikes packed up and were waiting outside the motel lobby a few minutes prior. At 7:03 am, a car comes screeching into the parking lot. A woman exits the car and runs to the lobby, frantically unlocking the lobby door. Our continental breakfast was ready about ten minutes later.

As I was milking my Raisin Bran and cream cheesing my bagel, I looked down at the base of the counter and saw a mousetrap. Oh wait, that mouse trap ain't empty!

Very appetizing!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Day #7: Riding with My Mom

Today's Route: Barton Flats, CA to Big Bear Lake, CA (31 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 309

Happy Mother's Day to my Mommy!

Happy Mother's Day!

While my Mom may not physically be riding along on the Sierra-Cascades ride, she is definitely riding along in the form of a skirt.

Day #6: A Most Enjoyable Climb

Today's Route: Yucaipa, CA to Barton Flats, CA (24 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 278

Knowing that we had an 11-mile, 3,000+ ft climb this morning out of Yucaipa, we decided to get an earlier than usual start. We rolled out of Tim and Nan's place around 6:45am. The fog was so thick that it was leaving little water droplets on our panniers and sunglasses.

I absolutely loved the climb today. The climb was gradual, there was a wide shoulder, and the views were gorgeous for the entire ride. Of course, it helps that I'm feeling stronger every day -- the hills are becoming less and less intimidating.

There's one thing for sure -- this route is not for cyclists who are allergic to hills. Fortunately, I have no such allergies. I love tossing the bike into an easy gear and slowly riding to the top.

A beautiful view from today's climb.

Day #5: A Lovely Visit to Yucaipa

Today's Route: Idyllwild, CA to Yucaipa, CA (53 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 254

I asked Jeremy, our Warm Showers host from last night, why it was that I might have heard of Idyllwild. Jeremy asked if I've ever seen the "Ride the Divide" movie. Have I ever seen "Ride the Divide"? What a silly question! Of course I've seen that movie. I've seen million times! In fact, that movie gets credit for being a big part of why I want to ride The Great Divide.

As it turns out, Mary Metcalf-Collier, the female racer who is featured in "Ride the Divide," lives in Idyllwild. She and her husband own The Hub Cyclery in town. In addition to running the bike shop, they also offer bike tours in the surrounding area.

We stopped off to see the bike shop. Unfortunately, the shop didn't open for a few hours.

In front of The Hub Cyclery.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Day #4: Popsicle Fantasies

Today's Route: Lake Henshaw, CA to Idyllwild, CA (70 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 201

Before we left Monty's, we snapped a photo of our beautiful mugs, for prosperity's sake.

Me, Monty, and Alex.

Twelve miles into our ride, we stopped to visit the Warner Springs Community Resource Center. This is where the Pacific Crest Trail backpackers check-in and get ahold of Monty, if needed. There were lots of backpacks outside, and we were wondering how many of them would spend the next night with Monty.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Day #3: Stream of Consciousness

Today's Route: Pine Valley, CA to Lake Henshaw, CA (51 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 131 miles

Remember the sidewinder from She Shot the Sidewinder? Well, Jill sent some photos and stats abut the snake.

The dead sidewinder.

Look, there really is blood coming out
of the little booger's mouth!

Jill estimates that the sidewinder was just shy of four feet. And that doesn't include the three inches of rattles that Jill had removed. Jill counted ten rattles on Mr. Sidewinder's tail, suggesting that the snake had a good ten years of life before Jill showed him who was boss!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Day #2: Kicked Arses

Today's Route: Jamul, CA to Pine Valley, CA (51 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 81

Simply put: Today's ride kicked our arses.

Let's start at the beginning of the day, with breakfast.

Munching down on some hearty oatmeal.

Day #1: And We're Off

Today's Route: San Diego, CA to Jamul, CA (28 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 28 miles

I slept on the couch at Alex's house last night to make for an easier early morning departure. We woke just before 4am in order to make it in time for our 6:10am flight from Seattle to San Diego.

Alex decided to check his bags at the airport. As his bags weighed less than 50 pounds, we figured we might as well milk the 50-pound checked baggage weight limit for all it was worth. So, I added my tent, sleeping bag, and a few other small items to Alex's checked baggage.

We ran around Sunday evening looking for a box big enough for our gear, yet small enough to fit within the airline's checked baggage limits. We settled on some banana boxes and crafted this gorgeous check-in masterpiece.

Our checked baggage.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

She Shot the Sidewinder

Meet Jill. Jill was my Warm Showers host for two nights at the end of my Pacific Coast tour in 2012.
Me & Jill.

Jill is a rock solid awesome woman. She phoned me a few times during my trip to make sure that all was well. When I got to her place, we shared some amazing conversation. And then right before she dropped me off at the airport, we took her kayaks out onto the Pacific Ocean. I had an absolute blast hanging out with Jill. I wish she and I lived closer.

Jill gave me some great advice. She said, "When you get back to the 'real world,' don't forget the feelings you have experienced on your trip." I took Jill's advice to heart; I didn't let my feelings get buried underneath the day-to-day doldrums of reality -- namely: get up, go to work, rinse-and-repeat. Nope, I'm reliving those great trip feelings over and over and over again.

Friday, May 2, 2014

On the Bike & Off the Grid

Lookie what arrived!

The much-anticipated delivery!

I had been anticipating the arrival of this box for just over a month. For most women, this sort of anticipation might accompany the arrival of a new outfit. Or perhaps a new pair of shoes. Or a new handbag.

But nope, that's not the case for this Pedaling Princess. This box contained...
...<drumroll please>...