Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Such Great Heights

Biking through the sierras has it's ups and downs, literally.  We were nearing the highest point in our trip, slowly but surely.  Neva and I had climbed 1800 ft in elevation and then rolled  back down to Lee Vining, just a stones throw from the beginning of the ominous Tioga Pass, which is considered the back way into Yosemite, and summits at about 10,000 ft in elevation.  I decided to bike by to scope out what we might be in for the following day.

As I was turning around, Tony, Tony and Chris, who had seen Neva and I voraciously take to a late lunch at the market down the road, stopped to see if we wanted a ride up the pass.  They were no stranger to the rigors of Tioga.  The San Francisco locals try to frequent the area at least a couple times a year.  They informed me that the multiple lakes around the area, the variety of wild fish, and the option to fish remotely in the high elevations, defines the area as a "fisherman's paradise".  Chris even was able to take home the much sought after golden trout.

We decided to take the offer and join our new friends at their campsite on top of Tioga.  Neva and I were grateful for the ride up Tioga as we saw a cyclist on a double decker bike struggling at a snail's pace to make it up the pass, with nothing more than a backpack.  I saw a shadow of myself pulling 130 pounds of weight up the steep grade.  How my calves might burn, how my back might ache, and how my forearms might shake trying to keep the load steady while going uphill, I was indeed grateful at that point. As we continued to climb up steep grades, we saw confident men dressed in all black with helmets on, fly passed us on skateboards, gaining speed at an atrocious pace.  We cringed slightly remembering the fallen rocks in the road that are a typical occurrence on steep mountain passes.  We attempted a warning wave, but they were gone in the blink of an eye.

It was pretty cold at the top.  Eighteen inches of snow was in the forecast for the following week.  The guys extended their van to us for shelter that evening so we wouldn't have to pitch our tent.  It was early to bed, early to rise that day.  The low temperatures and strong winds rocking our shelter, and whistling through the trees made sure of light sleep and an ambitious start.

Chris started up the fire while father/son crew organized breakfast and loaded up the van.  I was quite impressed with Tony's (senior) ability to pack the van with enough camp gear and fishing gear for three grown men on a long weekend fishing trip, with the addition of a bike and trailer and two extra passengers.  As a bicycling tourer, I can definitely appreciate the skill of compact packing.

It was time to go.  Tony dropped us at a gas station where we would have a nice decent down to the village.  Upon saying good bye, I noticed Neva's doggie "Buppy" was missing.  Upon further contemplation, I believe it was possibly thrown outside of the cabin on our way to inspect Tioga pass.  It was a sad day knowing that this dog that had accompanied Neva to four countries, through 6 states, and on three bike tours is now on his own.  Neva had taken to a stuffed cow in the van that belonged to Tony's (junior) mom.  They extended the cow as a parting gift, and headed toward San Francisco.

I looked ahead of us.  We had exchanged a large climb for a large decent.  It will be a good day, possibly with an unusually high number of bug consumption.  Rest in peace Buppy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Daily Grind

Neva and I have been traveling for a good long  bit now, and we have met so many wonderful people.  I think about them daily, and the lovely community that has developed for us down the Sierra Cascades in California.

I wanted to get a quick blog up today, which I will try to update regularly which will have the date and location of where we are at so we can be followed down the map.

Here goes, pictures are coming soon.

Sep 16, 17, 18 - Austin, TX - ACL
Sep 19 - Leave Denton, TX on greyhound
Sep 20 - Flagstaff, AZ
Sep 21 - San Francisco, CA
Sep 22 - San Francisco, CA
Sep 23 - Vacaville, CA
Sep 24 - Davis, CA
Sep 25 - Folsom, CA
Sep 26 - Placerville/Sly Park, CA
Sep 27 - Placerville/Sly Park, CA
Sep 28 - Markleeville, CA
Sep 29 - Walker, CA
Sep 30 - Bridgeport, CA
Oct 1 - Tioga Pass/Yosemite, CA
Oct 2 - Wawona, CA
Oct 3 - Bass Lake, CA
Oct 4 - Auberry, CA
Oct 5 - Auberry, CA
Oct 6 - Toll house Road/Pine Flat Lake, CA
Oct 7 - Prather, CA
Oct 8 - Grant Grove, CA
Oct 9 - Grant Grove, CA
Oct 10 - Ash Mountain/Giant Forest, CA
Oct 11 - Lemon Cove, CA
Oct 12 - Springville, CA
Oct 13 - Johnsondale, along Kern river, CA
Oct 14 - Kernville, CA
Oct 15 - passed Bodfish, CA
Oct 16 - Tehachapi, CA
Oct 17 - Lancaster, CA
Oct 18 - Monte Cristo campsite/Tujunga, CA
Oct 19 - Buckhorn campsite, CA
Oct 20 - Big Pines, CA
Oct 21 - Crestline, CA
Oct 22 - Victorville, CA
Oct 23 - Big Bear Lake, CA
Oct 24 - Yucaipa, CA
Oct 25 - Yucaipa, CA
Oct 26 - Oak Grove, CA
Oct 27 - Julian, CA
Oct 28 - Pine Valley, CA - ENDED ROUTE
Oct 29 to Nov 1 - El Centro, CA
Nov 2 - Los Angeles, CA

Friday, October 7, 2011

Weather, It will Happen

The clouds are marinating over the horizon, immanent snow threatens the higher elevations.  Thunder whispers the possibility of precipitation in the distance.  The sun attempts to peak through the heavy blanket, with no success, leaving Bass Lake and the surrounding areas, including a tiny bicycle and trailer, in a large shadow.  It is almost silent, except for the symphony of different lake birds, and a construction truck, every now and then.  The stillness is almost palpable.  There is no wind today.  Every acorn and pine needle stay in place, and the trees stand, statuesque and strong with their evergreen presence.
View of the clouds when leaving Bass Lake
We have been running from the weather, going up and down in elevation, and back up again, hoping to escape the aforementioned forecast of snow above 7000 ft.  If we head far enough south, we may even escape the storm altogether, but I don't think my legs have it in me.  My rain coat is on, and my rain pants are within arms reach, for the anticipation of what is sure to come.
Neva eating a warm breakfast on one of the colder days
I don't mind weather so much.  It is fun to coast over miles of different terrain to see the golden grasses cover the land like a cozy afgan, and to climb up to almost 10,000 feet and see the land change into a forest of evergreens, so thick, you can barely see 3 feet through them, and the surrounding mountains linger in the background like slate colored top hats speckled with bits of green and white.
View from the top - the view coming down from Tioga Pass, roughly 10,000 ft in elevation
We stopped in at Slim's Koffee Shop in North Fork for a midday rest.  Scott, the owner, stood proudly in front of his delicious line up of teas, all chosen with meticulous care, and kept in large mason jars on a special shelf.  The locals who frequent Slim's came in the door one by one, and Scott would welcome them in by name with a big smile, and ready to whip up another delectable drink. 
Scott making some green tea
 I heard a 'ding' among the hustle and bustle of a popular small town coffee shop.  Our green tea had been steeped to perfection, and was brought to our table, along with a small piece of pistachio biscotti for a flavor accompaniment.  I sat and sipped my tea, taking in the ambiance.  With local art lining the red walls, the thick smell of warm coffees and teas wafting through the air, and the song "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes playing softly in the background, I almost didn't want to leave.  Neither did Neva, as she had befriended a local 3 year old with a glittery gold top and blonde hair.  We had to get going though, back to the crisp air that was so thick with moisture, you could almost pluck out a cloud like cotton candy and chew on it. 
Neva pondering life...or just digesting for a minute, either way, it won't last long
 In the evening, we stayed in the town of Auberry.  Taken in by a lovely church, the Auberry Seventh-day Adventist Church.  There were warm smiles, story exchange, and Neva's favorite, a full playground in back.  We ended up staying at a little hotel above a coffee shop just a few miles from the church.
I awoke in the middle of the night, and walked passed the window to hear the soothing sound of rain, pattering loudly over the entire landscape.  The rain continued to come in a steady stream, with no signs of slowing.  In the morning, we biked back to the church, decked out in rain gear, amidst the pouring rain.  Quick, cool breaths accompanied each pedal stroke, and a smile was frozen in place as my gloves and shoes slowly gathered water.
View from my room in Auberry - the rain had stopped temporarily
We spent the first part of the day with the children, talking about our adventure, and decided to take the day off to spend (sleep) in the lovely little town of Auberry.  I will talk about the hospitality we found in Auberry another day.
We continued our journey the following day, and the rain decided to follow us yet again, along with a visit from multiple flat tires.  The continued stopping gave me quite a chill, and we stopped for the night with a generous couple, Dave and Cheri who let us sleep in their motor home.
Dave, Neva, and Mini
Maybe we will be able to ride tomorrow, and we will see what weather we will be graced with then.  Soon, we will be climbing into the Sequoias, a 5000 ft climb in elevation from where we are now.  Shorts or pants, rain gear or sun screen?  We shall see.

My trip down memory lane

I've come a long way, literally, since my first tour.  As I was perusing through some of my old blogs, I figured you guys could join in on my journey.

Being employed at the Bike Shop Hub definitely propelled my interest in adventure cycling.  Little stars were in my eyes, and cogs of fun were turning in my head as I walked down the aisles of gear, stacked to the roof in the tiny garage from which the business started.

I decided to go on my first tour in the summer of 2008, planning to leave for a week long jaunt up the Pacific coast, via Route 1.  As I was preparing for my tour, I decided it might be helpful to log my preparation.  I broke it up into three parts, Destination, Training, and Packing up
In September, we went on our annual work trip to Interbike in Las Vegas.  The day after we got back, I was enjoying my post Bikram yoga bike ride in the crisp Flagstaff morning when...BAM!  I got doored.  The day after that, my co-worker Jeff broke his collar bone when his front pannier snags on a safety cone.

After a metal plate, 3 screws, physical therapy, and an expensive pair of Salsa carbon fiber handlebars, my mostly mended bone was ready to brave the November bike tour up the PCH.  Here is the gist of Going There, Heading Back, and Riding with a Burley Nomad Trailer.
Once the rush of being on tour wore off, and the reality of the rat race sank in, I decided to get some more commuter specific gear since I commuted quite a bit between work and school.  Then, the unexpected...

In March of 2009, I found out that I was with child.  I knew that my biking habits might change, but I was determined to share my hobby with my little one.  The entire time I was pregnant, I was mentally preparing myself for traveling by bike with my baby.  Being that I was a first time mom, there were lots of fears that I had to face, and concerns I had to settle before I could think of putting her in a trailer.  After 41 weeks or so of contemplation, I decided that I would be ready whenever she was

The day finally came when I was able to ride to work with Neva for the first time.  I went super slowly on a bike designated path, and both of us were hooked.  She looked so cute all bundled up, and she would drift off to sleep as soon as the wheels started turning.  I was asked to guest blog on the Bike Shop Girl Blog and wrote about my Evolution from a biking girl to a biking mom.

I proceeded to commute around Flagstaff with Neva, weather permitting.  Spring was usually the time we'd pull out the bicycle, and take her around town.  I also was able to get back into touring, and did a short weekend tour of the White Rim Trail with my buddy Cass and James.  As all good things must come to an end, and we continue to evolve and grow, Neva and I decided to move onward and upward from Flagstaff with a heart full of love, and a head full of memories.  Here is a post that my boss wrote, referencing one of my last days in Flagstaff
The last post I did for the Bike Shop Hub was on their blog Commute By Bike.  I did a review on a pannier made out of all recycled material called the Donkey Boxx.  I miss you guys at the hub, and all of my friends in Flagstaff.  Thanks for helping shape the Megan of today with 8 years of Flagstaff fun.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Need a little help from our friends

Now that I have braved through the toughest terrain on my journey, thanks to lots of new friends and wonderful hospitality, my riding legs are stronger, and my writing cap is on.

However, I could use a little help with design, colors in different browsers, and things like that, since I am definitely not super website savvy.  Neva might be a little more computer literate than me...
So, I am open to suggestions and constructive criticism to improve my blog for better visuals and easy navigation.  Thanks everyone!