The Route So Far - Google Maps


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Why?

We are doing this ride to raise money for Research Autism. We are aiming to raise £20,000.
We are supporting Research Autism because my cousin Jamie is severely affected by the disease, and I have seen its effects not only on him but on the whole family." He is 13yrs old, but cannot yet talk.
Just take a moment to imagine not being able to talk.
Imagine understanding everything going on around you, but not being able to comment.
Imagine having to be dressed every morning in clothes you don't choose, and then hurting your parents as you try to tell them you wanted the blue shirt today.
Imagine being swamped by having to hear everything that everyone is saying around you, and not being able to listen to just one thing at once. Jamie loves being in a swimming pool, just floating, legs held motionless by the weight of the water, while he keeps his ears underwater to just relax, hearing nothing.
He understands everything - he appears to have a photographic memory - but can’t get his thoughts out.
Frustration leads to despair, and anger, which is just one of the many things that his family has to deal with.
He has extremely specific eating requirements and requires round the clock supervision. Jamie is at the severe end of the autistic spectrum, but given that one in 100 people suffer from the disease (with varying severity), and that everyone has some autistic traits, it is shocking that so little is known about it'.
Click here to support our cause and donate to Research Autism.
Read the "Meet Jamie" post - the only post in February, for more information about Jamie, and a poem - painstakingly slow for Jamie to type, but ultimately incredible.

Photo Video - New York to St Louis

June 27, 2010

COMPLETE. THE END.

 

The Golden Gate Bridge, shrouded in mist, and one of the numerous signs we ignored to cycle into the freezing cold pacific.

Day 64 - Sacramento to SAN FRANCISCO. 110 miles, 2 burgers FINISH! 6292.9KMS





Maybe its because we know we won't have to cycle at all once we are done, maybe its because the air at sea level is easier to breathe than the air at 4000ft (we have been above 4000ft for the last month) or maybe its because we are so damn fit, but we smashed out 95 miles to get to the ferry terminal at Vallejo by 13.30. 150kms in 8 hours including breaks.

We left Sacramento at the absurd hour of 5.30am. To do this we woke up at the even more absurd hour of 4.30am. Thank you so much to Sherri for waking up when we did, and making breakfast, we couldn't have got here without it. Also thank you for bicycling with us to the bike path, getting lost 200m from the house we were staying at is an unpleasant but surprisingly common happening for us.

We were smashing our personal bests all day today, from 20 miles (32K) by 7am, 43 miles (69k) by 9am, 67 by 11, to 95 miles (150k) by 1.30pm. When we left Sacramento, we were aiming to catch the 4pm ferry, but we started so fast that we realized by 10 that we could just scrape the 2pm ferry - the ferry was only every 2 hours.

We stopped only three times in 8 hours, cycling at an average of 22kph for 7 hours. The second time we stopped, we picked up a footlong sub from subway for us to eat on the ferry, there was no time to eat it before. The countryside we cruised through was fantastic - the Napa valley - world famous for its wine, contained not only vineyards but also many colourful ornamental flowers. We saw more flowers in the napa and neighbouring valleys than we have on the whole trip. Great scenery, and plenty of other cyclists out enjoying the sun this weekend - we saw (another new record) 3 tandems!

The weather was awesome, until we got to San Francisco. Apparently San Francisco is always around 10 Celsius colder than the other side of the bay, and so it was - the fog was down over the golden gate bridge, so our first view of this iconic landmark was towers getting lost in the clouds. It was freezing on the bridge, the wind roared through the pillars, and the fog soaked our tired bodies. But it was awesome. I was so excited to be done, that it didn't matter what the weather was like, just that we had finished. Last year, doing more than 6000 kms on a bicycle seemed inconceivable, and now it's done, I'm still in disbelief - what I do know though, is that we have come a long way, seen a myriad of things: from the normal to the nuts - that I will remember for the rest of my life.

But now back to reality, ish... It is Gay Pride Weekend here in San Francisco, and there is a parade to watch - apparently not much normal, way too many nuts on show. We will enjoy San Francisco until Tuesday when we fly back to New York, having found a spot to box up our bikes somewhere between the sightseeing.
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We are FINISHED

Yes thats right-64 days, 3878 miles and two tired legs but we have finished our epic journey.

Yesterday i had trouble sleeping, finding it hard to suppress my excitement of what was to come the next day. After just two hours sleep we woke at 4:30, so we could complete the final 95 miles to Vallejo, before 4:30, where we would take the ferry over to San Fran. Leaving from just east of Sacramento. We were set on our way with a great set of directions prepared for us by cherri.

Setting out at 5:30, we cycled with the sun rising on our backs, whilst on a fantastic bike path-a perfect start to our last day. We covered 30 miles by 8am and 43 by 9am, so we were making cracking progress. We realised that we could. if we cycled hard, could make the 2pm ferry over to San Fran, which would be much better than the 4:30 one as it would quite simply give us more time in San Fran. We cycled really hard and managed to make the 2pm ferry, cycling 97 miles in 7 hours of riding and doing it over a period of 8 hours.....thats fast!

Arriving in Frisco, we cycled round the bay towards the pacific and the Golden Gate bridge. The geography in frisco, is fascinating not only its infamous topography, but also the weather. It is 10 degrees colder than just across the bay in Vallejo, and it is also vulnerable to fog, so as we arrived at the bridge, it was cold and very much covered by the wet fog. Nevertheless we did come great photos and wandered out ont the bridge. Afterwards we headed round towards Golden gate park, so we could complete our adventure and reached the sea. As we got there we renaged on cycling into the sea, until we had had food. So we ate a lavish meal (cost us $80, each burger was $25!!!)

Into the sea we went, the cold sea, filmed by two rather confused and amused tourists, got very cold and wet, but finally completed our adventure in style!! Our contact who we were meant to be staying with, texted saying we could come when we finished work at 11pm, not idea after a 100 mile day and having just cycled into the cold sea. As we were sitting there, trying to sort out a place to stay for the night, a young couple approached us, Claire and Jay who had done a little cycle touring themselves, kindly offered us a place to stay. So we pitched up at their flat, and indulged in a some beers and chatted away with them into the night. Eventually i crashed, and was asleep. Turned out to be a really nice end to our final day.

This morning we woke early to watch the England game, and as i write this it is 3-1 to the enemy and we have been robbed of a goal...oh dear. Lets hope the rest of the day will be better as we go out and explore the city.

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5 miles to go.

Very excited - 95 miles done today, by 13.30, having left at 5.30, now on the ferry across to San Francisco. Golden gate bridge 5 miles away.

If there is neither a tidal wave nor a hurricane, we have done it!

June 26, 2010

Sacramento, Yosemite - The Penultimate day!

Day 61 – Kirkwood, CA to Sacramento, CA 101 miles, 5 burgers, 2 waves SIX THOUSAND KILOMETRES!

Day 62 – “Rest Day” – Yosemite National Park – walked 10 miles up 1000ft, 2 burgers

Day 63 – “Rest Day” – Yosemite National Park – 1 burger

The cold woke me up this morning, but kept me in bed slightly longer than planned. I got up at 5.50 to take the cover off the tent and start packing up, and it was only then that I realized that we had camped 3 metres from a massive pile of snow. Definitely a first for both of us! Neither of us can wait to get to proper beds, and a nice lie in. Although camping is great, we were both very happy last night in the knowledge that this was our last night in a tent for quite a while.

We were on our bikes by 6.28 – 38 mins between get up and go, we are getting better – but it has taken 61 days! We cycled 25 miles by 9am, and had a big breakfast at Ham Station – the first breakfast place we came to. The first bit was tough – with a lot of uphill, despite having already past the highest point we’ll reach for the rest of the trip. Although from the start of the day at 7100ft to the end of the day at 30ft, our average speed was slower than it would have been on the flat: the hills down were steep, but very twisty so we had to go slow downhill, and then there were extremely steep, short, sharp uphill’s to contend with. We also had to contend with 0 degrees at the start of the day and 30 degrees in the middle of the day, with a very sudden change between the two. After possibly our last McDonalds for lunch in Placerville – having covered 70 miles to get there, we headed out on the last 30 miles, and were lucky to be helped by a passing cyclist to point us in the right direction to the bike path. We have come out of one hazard – lack of services – and back into the original hazards: getting lost and traffic.

I worked out that we have had 3 roads 96, 56 and lots of 50 for more than half of the last 2000 miles, since Jefferson City in Missouri, so it was a shock today to have to do so many turns (more turns in one hour today than the last month). There were more road changes today than we have done in the last month. It’s an odd feeling and we may have to resort to listing name changes again (like we did in the beginning).

We got to Sacramento to the Brown’s house, and were posed with the question: Shower, Cold drink, or Swimming pool… not many questions I prefer, and the best thing to hear after 8 hours of cycling. The answer of course is all 3, so we duly accepted first the drink, then the pool, and finally the shower.

That evening we started chatting and worked out that we could and should go to check out Yosemite national park. So, plans were changed rapidly, and early the next morning Peter and his daughter Katya, and Alex and I set out to the park. It is a very long way away, so we had to go out overnight to make the most of it. We thought we were done with camping, but the next evening found us back in our tent, camped on the side of the road just out of the park.

Yosemite is a great place, but so big and varied that to fully appreciate it, at least a week is needed. As it was, we had 1 and a half days, and we were too tired to really go at it. We still had a good time, and saw some amazing things. Thank you to Peter for giving us the opportunity to go.

Tomorrow we are up at 4.15 for our last day! We aim to catch the 4.30pm ferry 95 miles away, and then cycle to the Golden Gate bridge, before cruising down the beach into the freezing cold sea. We are sure our jubilation at having completed this will keep us warm against the pacific’s icy tendrils.

June 24, 2010

Detour

Today we had the intention of riding roughly 100 miles, so we could reach just east of Sacramento, where we were due to stay with some family friends of Williams. The night was a cold one, but comforted by the knowledge that it would be amongst our last in a tent. To put it into perspective we pitched our tent, which we discovered this morning was surrounded by snow.


We started our big decent. But soon discovered that it was not just down, but a decent followed by a slightly smaller ascent. This set the tone for the rat of the day really. If we cycle the same distance on the flat we would have averaged a higher speed. The temperature change was rapid, and quickly i went from wearing 5 layers, to wearing just a vest. A temperature range of 30 from the start of the day to the end, would be about right.


The days total miles was just over 100 and we finally reached our destination at around 7:30, where we were warmly welcomed by Sherri and Peter. They have kindly offered to take us to Yosemite for a 2 day trip, so although missing out on 2 days in San Fran we will get a chance to see the infamous trees of Yosemite. We wee going to arrive tomorrow but we will probably arrive on Saturday now.

June 22nd- Into California

Yesterday was a fantastic. We had, by our standards, a big lie in till 7:30!! We sourced out a company offering para sailing near by, but they told us, to our absolute dismay, that they were only flying on Wednesdays...However our hopes were dashed only for a brief moment as we were sent in the direction of South Lake Tahoe, where we would almost certainly find the illustrious sport of para sailing.

We ventured forth 10 miles round the vast lake, crossing the Nevada/California divide in the process. We reached south lake Tahoe and booked ourselves onto the next available 'flight'. What can i say- para sailing was phenomenal- Soaring like a bird above the clear blue waters, created a ethereal haze of wonder and beauty, encapsulating us in a sense of sheer freedom.

Getting back on our bikes, much later than expected, we climbed and climbed. Eventually up to carson pass 8500ft, which we approached like a prowling cat. We savoured the moment, as we knew in the next 200 miles we would descend over 8000ft to san fran, without having to climb back up again. We went about another 6 miles or so where we stopped for the night near the small town of kirkwood. There we indulged on the lavish beef stew. Whilst in the bar, a couple of other x-America bikers approached us, and in turn we ended up stealth camping with them on a very secluded side road. Despite the icy breath of mother nature upon us we threw down the tent and dived in.

17 States

Day 60 - Lake Tahoe, NV to Kirkwood, CA, 40 miles, 2 waves, NEW STATE: CALIFORNIA - Totals: 5962 kms, 120 Waves, 17 States

Today we reached our final state; California, and it didn't disappoint. The hills were among the top ten toughest, but top three for beauty. First though, an explanation as to why we "only" did 40 miles today.

We had a lie in this morning - we were aiming to do some parasailing, but the office only opened at 9, so we had to wait until then before making a move. Unfortunately, when we got there at 9, it was only to be told that there was no parasailing today - so we did what we have always done when a decision needs to be made - ate. In this case, it was all-you-can-eat pancakes from the Zephyr Cove Resort's Lodge. Alex ate 4, I ate 6 - and we both felt like we had done well from the deal, the pancakes were huge!

Stuffed to the core with Pancakes, we decided parasailing was still a good idea, so we cycled 8 miles around the lake in the direction we were meant to be going - towards South Lake Tahoe. By this time, it was 11.30, and turning into a nice warm day. We got booked onto the next available parasailing outing, which wasn't until one o clock, so we killed time (not something we have had a chance to do for two months) by chucking a tennis ball around on the beach of the lake. Bearing in mind that when you see snow, swimming is not clever, we took a little dip, but didn't last long - although it was a warm day, the lake was not far from freezing.

We then headed off on the boat, and were launched off into the sky hanging from a kite, being towed by a boat. It was awesome. The view from 800ft above the water and the snowy mountains was fantastic, and hanging so high above the water was nerveracking enough to get the adrenaline going. We took alot of pictures, and once we have caught up on the writing, we will put those up.

After our flight, we had lunch - making an error in judgement of food consumption for the first time this trip. We have got so used to ordering the biggest and cheapest meal on the menu, that we forgot we weren't very hungry - I spent 2 hours forcing the whole dish down, and Alex gave up on it. We left Tahoe after 3 with our favourite aim - get as far as we can before dark. We had two high passes to go over - we started at 6200ft at Lake Tahoe, got to Luther's pass at 7700ft after some hard work and a lot of roadworks making things interesting. Then we headed down for a short time before heading up to Carson's pass (8500ft) - from where we thought we could coast to the coast.

The nice thing about the passes was the beauty. Although cycling uphill is not pleasant, this trip was made bearable by the scenery. All the nearby mountains are covered in snow, and the white reflected the sunset, while the green pine forests provided some contrast.

It was exciting to reach California, something we have been looking forward to doing for a long time - but we weren't expecting it to be this cold - isn't summer meant to have started?! There is more snow here than there is on the Rocky's, and the night was freezing - we camped with 4 other cross country cyclists less than 10 ft from a 3ft deep portion of snow (they were going the other way - I will show their blog later).

I am going to bed now, I will post the next day's (today's) blog tomorrow. We got to Sacramento after 101 miles of cycling from Kirkwood, and are staying with the Brown's. We have changed plans completely, instead of pushing on and finishing tomorrow, we are taking a large side trip to Yosemite, and will finish on Saturday.

We would love to hear what we should spent our time doing in San Francisco if you have any tips.

June 22, 2010

Tahoe!

Yesterday we left early having camped at a beautiful spot by a National park lake. Our ACA maps dont actually take us near lake tahoe but we have been told by many that it is worth going the extra miles and going to see the tahoe, described by one as the 'most beautiful spot in America'. So our plan was to get to do 38 miles to carson city and decide from there, perhaps go into a bike shop and ask advice from some fellow cyclists.

Upon our arrival into Carson city, we had a early lunch, whilst taking advantage of the Wifi and trying to sort out places to stay in San Francisco. Visiting the bike shop was great, as they not only gave us solid advice on going up to lake Tahoe, but also we lubed our chains(both our bikes have started making funny noises). Going up to the lake, we worked out is only about 6 miles further than the ACA route, so we thought why not!

It was a bit of a climb, ascending 2200 ft in 6 miles, to get over the basin into the Tahoe area, but it was sure worth it. The lake is huge and very stunning. It is said the water is so clear at some spots, you can see 67 ft down into the water. There are some other fascinating stats. which after reading them i quickly forgot, nonetheless, it is a fantastic place.

We found a touristy spot by the lake about 15 miles down, where there was a campsite and the usual other water sports facilities provided, eg water skiing, sailing etc. So this morning we are going to pursue the possibility of para sailing which would be awesome! We camped for vast expense last night, after a very expensive meal, but that is the price you pay(liturally) when you come to the busy tourist spots. Today we will have a bit of fun on the lake, and then will do 50 miles or so to near the top of Carson's pass(8500ft), which would leave us with two fairly big days to san fran, but then we are done!!!

THE END IS NEARING!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Lake Tahoe, NV

Day 59 - Silver Springs to Lake Tahoe, 60 miles, 4 burgers, 4 waves - Totals: 5888kms, 127 burgers, 118 waves

We set off early to evade the camp fees at Lahontan Reservoir, and just managed - we left the park at 7.05, having packed up and cycled a mile, and were lucky; the tired ranger who had got in 5 minutes earlier, didn't hear us wizz passt.

We cycled fast 8 miles to the first town to get some food to tide us by the 35 miles to Carson City and Lunch. Carson City is the capital of Nevada, and is markedly different to the rest of Nevada - there are trees! It is going to be interesting adjusting back to city cycling, we are far too relaxed at the moment.

We left Carson City at 3.30 - having been there for four hours, but we needed it. Emails to attend to, and final plans to sort out. I am sorry if I haven't replied, things will be hectic for the next couple of days.

From Carson City, at 4700ft, it was uphill for 10 miles to 7100ft, before dropping 700ft to the level of the lake. Lake Tahoe is on the national leaderboard's for deepest lake, largest lakes and lake at highest elevation - no mean feat - if this blog has told you nothing over the last 2 months, one thing to take away is that America is huge!

We will try and go parasailing tomorrow morning, taking in some of Lake Tahoe's beauty, before cycling as far as we can in the rest of the day, arriving in Sacramento on Wednesday, and finishing on Thursday. We both can't wait to cycle into the sea!

Silver Springs, NV

Day 58 - Middlegate station to Silver Springs - 80 miles, total 5789kms

A day that starts with Pancakes, eggs and bacon is a good day. We were done with our breakfast by7.30, but hung around until 8.30 slowly packingup. We were thinking today about how this felt like a relaxed late start - whereas in the first three weeks, 8.30 was our earliest start by quite a way.

We were headed to Fallon for lunch - 50 miles away and our last long stretch with no services in between. Although it was mostly the same as the rest of Nevada (up and down, dry with spindly, wiry plants and salt plains) we did see a couple of more interesting things: sand mountain - a massive sand dune covered in quad bikes cruising up and down, and also a couple of the target area's for the "Top Gun" fighter pilots. Then we cruised through a large salt pan, where people have written their names into the barren landscape by rearranging rocks.

Along the way we passed a whole bunch (about 25) of people, cycling supported to Washington DC, but they didn't stop to chat - they cruised past us in long lines on fancy road bikes. We did talk to a random couple of other cross country cyclists, one old man cycling home to minnesota having retired from work and having finished with San Francisco, and another guy who had quit his job and was seeing america from the relative comfort of a recumbent bicycle.

In Fallon, we relaxed in Taco Bell for a couple of hours - great place - as much as it takes to fill us up, in Taco Bell it costs only $5, including a refillable soda. We moved on just before 4, after slaloming through Safeway's car park to find some more suncream - the heat in Utah meant that we finished our second bottle.

We took it easy and reached Silver springs at 6, after a long chat with Will Macdonald, another cyclist, 5 days in to his cross-country mission. I will remember Will for his comment on my Icebreaker cycling shirt: "Awesome, Icebreaker! (dramatic pause) - proof that man was meant to enslave sheep!" We had good pizza and pasta and then headed to a campsite by the Lahontan reservoir.

June 20, 2010

The sport of 'shoe hurling'

We decided to rest today, instead to doing a short day of 50 miles to fallon. Having a rest day today means that we have 5 days riding left consisting of an average of just 74 miles a day to reach frisco on the 24th. Having a few big days has made or task for the next 5 days that much easier.

Last night we actually rode past one of the few highlights of highway 50, that being the 'shoe tree'. There are very few trees in Nevada(in the whole state less than 3 or 4 by my reckoning), so to come across on which has thousands of old shoes thrown upon it makes it even more of a spectacle. As it was dark we completely missed it, so rode back to see the tree and throw some shoes up the tree(as one does). After at least an hour of shoe throwing we returned and had a nice relaxing afternoon, sorting out the next few days, and trying to sort out where we will stay in San Fran. We will do about 80-100 miles tomorrow, depending on how feel. We are now on the 'home stretch'! only 370 miles to go.

The 'Big one'

Day 56. Total miles 3456. Days miles: 112.

Yesterday was a LONG day, 112 miles in total, just over 9 hours of riding. The previous day, we had covered 101 miles so followinf that another big day and we would be rewarded with a rest day. We had camped 20 miles west of Eureka, and it was a cold night. So much so that i woke up several times and eventually had to put on my raincoat, which as you can imagine is not that comfortable to sleep in. It has become apparent that even after hotter days, due to the lack of cloud cover, the nights are cool if not cold in Nevada.

We set off quite early at around 7:30 covered 30 miles or so, and soon ran into a rather strange cyclist coming the other way. Most of the people we ride past are 'normal', this one was not. Anyway after a brief as possible encounter with 'Mr Strange' we bumped into couple riding. We talked for quite a while and the gave us great advice on minor detours we should take, including a route to lake Tahoe. They said we should certainly go out of our way to visit it. After a lengthy session of banter about the soccer world cup, sorry i have become Americanised-i mean the 'football world cup', and an interesting observation that we looked thirty years old, we forged on slightly behind schedule. I think that the long hair and the beard makes me look slightly older. However, being a true 'cycle tourer' i will not cut my hair or shave until i return, it adds to the persona that all cycle tourers are hardened men. Anyway we arrived into Austin at around 3, and had only covered 48 miles, so over 60 miles to go after a very late lunch. At Austin we chatted with the gas station attendant, who claimed to be best mates with the top gear crew who had passed through the little town the previous year. His stories of the drunken Jeremy Clarkson were amusing even if the validity of them were questionable.

By the time we left Austin it was 4pm at least, so we could tell it was going to be a long one, but we put our heads down and forged on. I have, after 50 odd days of riding, eventually acquired some saddle sores. In addition my cycling shorts are on their last legs, so are falling apart in all the wrong places, creating a constant rubbing. This slowed my process somewhat, as had to adopt for a large stretch of the afternoon, a 'standing riding' position.....bit tiring on the already lethargic muscles. Nevertheless we pulled into Middlegate, about 50 miles west of Fallon, at about 9pm, finishing our ride in the dark. To our relief there was a bar, so we indulged in two huge burgers and a couple of beers a piece. The bar which also doubled as a bar/motel/restaurant/camping ground/pool house/meeting place of local drunks, had a shack which they offered us for $10. The shack had a couple of bunks and a shower house next door. We snapped up the offer quick, as a night out of the clod and off the hard floor of a tent, is always a welcome relief. Even though when i pulled back the blankets from the bad a rather large Caterpillar scuttled away, it provided a great nights sleep.
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Rest Day, Shoe Tree

 

Alex throwing some shoes!

Day 57 - Rest Day 9, 3 burgers, total 123 burgers

We had a think in the morning and decided that it would be nicer to stay here (Middlegate station, NV) than ride 50 miles to find somewhere in the town of Fallon - with cheap beds, food, water and wifi plus beautiful scenery and nice people, it was a no-brainer.

We visited the Shoe tree - a large tree with thousands of shoes thrown into it by passing travellers - it looks ridiculous, photo's to come - but if you can't wait - search "Shoe Tree, Nevada" in google images. It now has a few more shoes in it - although we didn't have our own shoes to throw, there were hundred's of shoes at the bottom which had been displaced by storms over the years, and we had a good time throwing shoes for a while. Definitely a thing to set up in England, not sure it would work in Kenya. I broke my flip-flop jumping down to collect some shoes, but there is no better place to break a flip-flop! I had a choice of colours and of style in my size, so I acquired some more.

We spent the rest of the day eating, drinking and trying to catch up on emails, I also tried to book my flight from San Francisco to New York. We have 5 days of cycling left - 370 miles, almost the same as London to Edinburgh.

Not sure where we'll end up tomorrow - but it will be between 25 miles and 50 miles east of Fallon - between 75 miles and 100miles away. We'll find out when we are on our way - the wind is misbehaving as I write, but hopefully it will finish its quota of blowing tonight.

One thing I forgot to write about is that we are near the Top Gun training centre - Alex saw some jets flying through the valley's - They use Nevada's deserted valley's to hone their skills. Apparently they often pop up in helicopters to have a burger with the locals here.
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New Record - Longest Day


 

To me, this cow looks scared - as I was saying earlier - it often gets shot at.
We camped in an awesome spot by the side of the road.

Day 56 - Side of the Road to Middlegate Station, NV - 13 waves, 3 burgers, 112 miles - Totals 114 waves, 120 burgers, 5658kms LONGEST DAY!

I got up early because the sun was up, and getting up was the quickest way off the really cold ground - nights in Nevada are cold, however warm the day is. Alex did not quite take this approach and stayed snug in his sleeping for quite a while longer, until he needed to go to the loo so badly that he had to get up. I call this a lie-in, but still, we were both up by 6.30. Alex did quite a funny dance looking for a loo spot and ended up having to duck under a fence to find suitable cover.

We left by 7.40, after a relaxing breakfast - eating our few remaining provisions - I had bread and honey, a couple of pop-tarts and a cob of caramel popcorn! These are some of the cheap things that have been our staples when calories are needed (always - the number of pop-tarts must be almost more than the number of burgers). We cruised the first 2 hours at 25kph, until we met a couple of seasoned tourer's from San Francisco heading across country. We chatted to this husband and wife team for quite a while and they gave us a bunch of tips about which places to go for the rest of our trip. She has managed to get herself on our all-time worst guesses board - up there with me being from Belgium and Alex being 35, by guessing we were both 30! Well done wherever you are, and good luck with the rest of your trip.

This was a long chat, and soon after we met another cyclist who confirmed our hypothesis that while most of the people who cycle long-distances are in fact normal and nice, 3 in 10 are just really odd. "USA guy" as we have christened him - was definitely out there: the first 2 minutes of meeting him, he said nothing but USA - and we worked out after some time that he was making a reference to the draw with England in the World Cup. I don't know where he was going.
We pushed on up a steep hill and then over the top of a couple of big hills - our last real ones in Nevada, getting to Austin at 1.30. We had an expensive but nice burger for lunch, and then posted some posters from Bryce Canyon back to New York - to stop them getting wet along the rest of the way (they barely survived the attack of the sprinklers).

The last 60 miles we had to do fast - it was 60 miles to get food, and although we could have stopped and camped anywhere - we wanted supper, so we kept going. The first bit was slow going, a long long hill, and then another, meant we had 45 miles to do in 3 hours of light. We managed, but only just - getting in to Middlegate station at 20 to 9 after 112 miles - it was dark enough that we missed seeing the Shoe Tree - a local landmark right by the road.

We had great burgers and beer, and then splashed out $5 for the "shack"; a bunkhouse that sheltered us from the wind and the cold - too much camping recently and we had earned it after 212 miles in the last two days. We also get beds! A luxury - even if my feet are about a foot off the end.
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June 17th-The 'loneliest Road in America'

On the 17th, having reneged on going any further than 28 miles to Ely the previous day, we set out for a big day. Our aim was to cover 78 miles to Eureka(no services between), and then try and do at least another 20 miles and camp in on the side of the road. The day started poorly as my phone, which also act as our alarm, somehow keeps resetting itself to eastern time so instead of waking us at 5, woke me at 2 and then at 3. After overusing the snooze function, i decided to turn off the phone, confused that it was 6:30 but still not light! Anyway we did wake up properly at about 6 to a glorious day, not too hot, not too cold. Despite the alarm fiasco we were fresh after spending the night in a Motel, so were all ready for a big day.

On the way to Eureka we went over 4 passes, all but one over 7000 ft, but although it sounds like a lot of climbing, they go up very gradually, creating situations when you are confused whether you are going up or down! Two points about highway 50- one is that it is all the same, no variety, and really quite boring. Two although dubbed in the 1980's as 'the loneliest road in America', it is not in fact that quite. There is far more traffic than a lot of the stretches we had in Utah and even parts of eastern Colorado.

In the morning we ran into 2 more Trans Am cyclists. Passing cyclists is becoming a more regular occurrence, every day now we bump into at least 3 people, most of them going the whole way across. Both the guys, Kevin and John, were riding for breast cancer. It is always a nice break to stop and talk with the other cyclists, exchanging advice and so on. They were both also keeping a blog, Kevin-www.3781miles.org and John http://www.cycleforgailsangels.com/.

We reached Eureka at about 3:30, having no real trouble with the 78 miles, actually enjoying the passes(especially because of the humorous names), such as 'pancake summit' and 'Little Antelope summit'. We enjoyed a big lunch in Eureka and stocked up on bits- supper, snacks and of course water. It was another decent stretch of 68 miles with no services until Austin. carrying water is not such a problem as it was in Utah, as it is simply just that much colder. Instead of drinking a litre an hour, we are drinking about half that in Nevada. We though that it would be unbearably hot, but in the nights and mornings it is cold, not more than 10 degrees Celsius, and in the middle of the day not more than 25 degrees. From Austin we did another 23 miles, stopping and setting up camp at around ten to eight, We were riding as the sun set, creating an stunning orange sky. For me it was one of those moments that makes the hard days worth it: No cars, no people, no Wifi, just us and the sunset.



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June 19, 2010

101 miles from Nowhere to Nowhere

 

This photo pretty much sums up Nevada - big basin's with not much in them at all - the sign warning of cows come every 60 miles or so, and they always have at least 3 bulletholes - no wonder the cow looks scared (see picture to come of cow in detail.) Each basin is at least 30 miles from Crest to Crest - usually more like 50.

Day 55 counting again but not actually sure on days?? Ely, NV to a spot by the side of the road 23 miles west of Eureka. 8 waves, 2 burgers, 101 miles - totals: 117 burgers, 101 waves, 5478 kms

We set off early, but not as early as we had planned. After a relaxing day of only 27 miles the day before, we were aiming for a hundred today. We had stocked up the day before in a big market and so set off soon after waking up. The donuts you can get at some of these markets are awesome.

I am enjoying Nevada - the hills look really steep from far, but are in fact really gradual. We are munching through the miles, despite a day of only 27, we have done 302 miles in the last 4 days - thats roughly what we covered on our tour of England, in a week. We will probably try and do another hundred tomorrow.

I am sure I have mentioned before that we are cycling "the wrong way" - conventional wisdom says the wind goes west to east, and most cyclists are wise to this. But, one of the best things about cycling "the wrong way" across country, is that you meet everyone going the other way - whereas they only meet the very few lunatics going the wrong way - and a few people who are going either very slow or very fast. We on the other hand, meet them all. We have seen 4 people a day for the last few days - all interesting people on their own little mission.

Kevin is cycling for breast cancer because he lost his mum to it, and we will remember him, because he gave us pink wristbands with his blog address: www.3781miles.org and "NEVER GIVE UP" - his mum's favourite phrase stamped on it.
John is also cycling for breast cancer and is now going with Kevin - they are similar ages and left SF on the same day, but didn't know! Blog: www.cycleforgailsangels.com

An interesting thing about Kevin and John is that they were both cycling with only front panniers and a tent on the back - John sent back probably 25kgs only after seeing Kevin's novel set up.

We met another guy on a shorter trip - from SF to Pueblo, as well as Tyler, cycling the from SF to New York, in the same length of time as us and the same route, just the opposite direction. He was in college, and raising money for the Haiti Relief fund - search "Here to Haiti" on facebook, or click here for the page.

We dived off the road at 10 to 8, giving us 40 mins more light (the time change means it gets dark earlier) we put up our tent, took some sunset photo's, and ate some of the food we had brought with us - asleep by 9.15.
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Will put details tomorrow

101 miles yesterday, 112 miles today = very tired - will put more up tomorrow - for now, bedtime.

June 17, 2010

Nevada - Mountains, Wind, Cold, and nothing.

Day 52 - Majors Junction, NV to Ely, NV 27 miles, 8 waves, 3 burgers Total 5300kms

We were planning on another 30 miles today, but from Ely we have another long stretch with nothing - 78 miles with no services. After a look at the weather forecast, we decided against riding further - it is no fun to camp when it's -2C, windy and raining. Instead we'll take a break and do a longer day tomorrow, when the wind dies down abit.

We took off Alex's cassette (the gear thing on the back) this morning, moved the bungy cord (which had somehow got extremely stuck), and put it all back together, in about 5 minutes - we are getting good at fixing bikes.

The wind is tough to ride against - to put it into perspective: yesterday Alex and I set new top speeds of 54mph, down a 5 mile hill at 6% gradient. Today, we had another 5 mile hill at 6% gradient, but despite pedalling hard, neither of us got above 25mph. The difference - the wind. It is depressing to go down a steep hill using so much energy yet going so slowly. Winds of over 30 mph are happening today - scheduled to go down tomorrow luckily.
Yesterday we woke early and set out on our 60 miles we had left to do of the '84 miles with no services'. Nevada as we have been told by the numerous passing cyclists, consists of many huge valleys, 11 passes in total i think. The climbs are gradual, but long, as with the decents. We did 3 passes yesterday and did over 94 miles, so a really long day...eigt and a half hours riding. We stopped in centeral junction for the night, and did 28 mies this morning to Ely. We now have a 78 mile stretch with no services!
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Camping on Rock

Day 51 - Ranch in Wah-Wah Valley, UT - Majors Junction, NV 95 miles, 2 burgers, 19 waves, NEW STATE Nevada, Totals: 5257kms, 112 burgers, 85 waves, 16 states NEW TOP SPEED: 54.4MPH Alex, 86KPH Me.

We left the ranch by eight this morning, having dried out as much of our kit as possible after the attack of the sprinklers. We cycled 7 miles uphill in the first hour, then 20 miles downhill the second hour. The up and downs look severe from a distance, yet they are really gradual - the only thing severe is the distance - the average valley is 30 miles, 10 up 10 down and 10 in between.

We made good time, partly because there was no reason to stop - we still had 57 miles to go before we could get more water and food. After several ups and downs we were flying along, slightly downhill with the wind behind us, when we met John, the first person we have met while we were cycling with the wind. It was good to meet him - his blog is: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/7076

We had lunch in baker at the end of the 84 mile stretch with no services having set our watches back another hour - we are now 8 hours ahead of England. After lunch we set out on a 63 mile stretch of nothing, taking minimal food and water because we thought we could get some at Major's Junction where our maps said there was a campsite and a bar. We cruised the first bit, with the wind helping us along - so much so in fact that down our last hill of the day we both set new top speeds, Alex sneaking out of my slipstream to set an even higher one.

But, at the bottom of the hill, we turned left straight in to the full force of the wind and struggled for an hour against the wind, going 5 miles. Luckily we didn't continue south for long, but we worn out from that stretch (and the other 80 miles that day) so we got into the only place in Majors Junction at 8.30 New time - sun had gone down. The good news was the had water and beer, the bad news was no food.

Tomorrow we will go to Ely early on, and then probably another 30 miles, taking a relative rest day - much needed with this offensive wind. Both of us are craving a car trip uphill and against the wind as well as a nice bowl of crunchy nut clusters and strawberry's for breakfast.

After beer in Major's Junction, finding a place to sleep was much easier - it was all gravel, but we were so tired we didn't care and set the tent up on the only concrete available - lying in it really quickly because it was windy and we couldn't put pegs in. In the confusion of setting up, Alex got his bungy cord wrapped around the inside of the cassette so we will have to take that off in the morning.

June 16, 2010

FIVE THOUSAND KILOMETRES

Day 50 - Cedar City to Ranch in Wah-Wah Valley - 81 miles, 6 waves, 2 burgers FIVE THOUSAND KILOMETRES! - Total 5091kms, 66 waves, 110 burgers

When we were planning this trip, we wrote down a few things which sounded epic for the top of the blog: we would face huge temperature changes; 0- 30Celsius, and cycle 5000kms. Expectations have been exceeded on all those counts. We have faced temperatures from -2 to 45Celsius, and have cycled 5000 kms with 1000kms still to go. Anyway...

Today we had a lie in until 8, when we dominated the motels breakfast and cleared up before heading to find a bike shop. Cedar City is our last bike shop for nearly 500 miles - we don't want to get stuck in between - but it was also the first bike shop we have been to when we don't actually have a real problem. Despite our bikes lacking urgent problems, we bought a new rear tire each - the wheel had been worn down so much at the back that it was square not round (when I say "real" problem, I mean a problem that stops us cycling). I also bought a set of brake pads as a spare, I am nearly through my second set.

We left Cedar City late, at 12, but still managed 81 miles in the day. We met Jeff, Kevin and a Kiwi cyclist along the way, having nice chats about things to come in both directions. We knew we would have fun with Jeff and Kevin - as we cycled towards them, mad waves were exchanged. We stopped beside a car that was also stopped: a pole - concreted into the ground, off the road and extremely immobile had "jumped up and hit the wing mirror".

We embarked on our longest stretch with no services today (84 miles), and should finish it tomorrow. Stocking up in Milford with micro-wave meals and plenty of water, we headed out into nothing. The landscape has changed yet again, to long rolling valleys with mountains either side. I think that this landscape will continue almost all the way through Nevada to California. Pictures to come.

We camped in a massive valley, in a ranch which provided an oasis of action among a sea of nothing. It was getting late when we crested Frisco Summit, but we didn't stop along the way down - it was just so much fun cruising down the hill. This meant that we quickly left the large vegetation of the hill and ended up in the plain at the bottom with nowhere to hide behind. We spotted the only grove of tree's in 20 miles and headed towards it only to find a ranch underneath. But, by this time it was too dark to set up camp somewhere else, so we asked nicely and were given a really green manicured lawn to camp on outside their house. The lawn was so green for such an otherwise deserted area, we should have asked why. It was so comfy that we only awoke some time in the middle of the night to what sounded like a huge rainstorm. It turns out the kind farmer forgot to turn off the sprinkler system, much of our kit got a drenching, and our tent was tested yet again.

Finishing with a challenge: Guess what type of birds were making a loud noise and strolling around the yard of the ranch?!

Cedar City, UT

 

Alex and I shivering after hot chocolate and pancakes halfway up Cedar Mountain - plenty of layers on.

Day 49 - Gas station on junction of 14 and 89 to Cedar City, 40 miles, 5 waves, Total 60 waves, 4964kms

A short day, 40 miles - the catch being it was over a big mountain. The other catch was it was very cold at 7000ft when we started, so it was even colder at 10,000ft when we got to the top. We stopped halfway up the hill and munched a warming hot chocolate and some pancakes, before watching the end of the Formula 1.
We got to the top, put on even more layers and then bombed it down the hill to Cedar City and our first Pizza Hut since Kansas. $10 and 16 inches of pizza each later, we cruised down the strip of motels and booked in - our third night that we have paid for since Pueblo.

After a shower and a rest, we set off to the cinema - taking a slightly longer route than necessary but getting to Shrek 4 in 3D in just enough time.

Then back to the motel to watch Forrest Gump and sleep. A great time, some great movies and a great rest. Tomorrow will be a long day - it is 54 miles to Milford, and then we embark on our longest stretch with no services, 84 miles between Milford and Baker. We will camp somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
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June 14, 2010

1-1 between Will and I

After a great days rest in bryce canyon, yesterday turned a bit sower. It has been amazing how the temperature has shifted so dramatically. Less that a week ago we were battling against the raging heat, yesterday morning we awoke to the bitter cold, after a night of rain. We set out into the rain, which was reminiscent of our trip in England. Battling through the rain and cold we covered 35 miles in the morning, but then disaster! I am now even with Will. I had left my iPhone plugged in at the campsite 30 odd miles back. So leaving Will in a gas station, i began my adventure back to the campsite. I managed to hitch a lift fairly easily back to Bryce, just by simply asking a couple at the gas station. They happened to be heading straight back to the canyon, so that worked out quite nicely. I collected my phone and began the 'harder stretch' back to the gas station. I walked about a mile back up to the intersection, all the while trying to catch a lift. Two guys from Moldova eventually picked me up and took me 15 miles of the stretch. Then however their car broke down about 6 times, the rain was affecting the car battery. Anyway they eventually got it going but had to leave me whilst they headed home. So yet again i stuck out my thumb and waited. By this time it was raining hard and it was SO COLD! I was only with my rain jacket, still in my cycling shorts. After a hour of no joy, i was soaked and very cold. enough was enough so i started walking to a motel nearby, perhaps even book into a room for the night as it was getting late as well. Luckily a woman kindly picked me up. She was not even going in my direction, but obviously took pity on me as i set shivering in her car, and took me over 20 miles out of her way back to the gas station. All in all i would describe my journey, which took me over 4 and a half hours, 'absolute crap'. As Will sat in the gas station all that time we got a offer to stay the night by someone who worked at the gas station, Carroll. Carroll was so kind to invite us into her home, and it was great meeting and chatting with her and her husband Mike.

This morning we only set out to do 40 miles, to Cedar city. The day started with a 25 mile gradual climb, which took us to over 10000 ft. It was very cold. We did 7 miles and then ducked into a cafe for a hot chocolate. It felt like we were skiing and had nipped into a slope side restaurant for a break, rather than cycling in Mid June in one of the hottest states in America. After that we put on lots of layers and finished off the last 20 miles or so up to the top. We thought we waved good by to the snow when we left Colorado, but no, there was an abundance of snow at the top(a couple of snowballs were thrown, to mark the occasion). A quick decent into cedar city, was followed by a large pizza and a we booked into a motel for the night. We used the unusual free time and went to watch a film, 'shreck'. We have had two half rest days so tomorrow we will try and hammer out a big day, only after we visit our last bike shop for the next 400 miles.

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June 13, 2010

Hitchhiking

 

Alex complete with birthday balloon's on yet another endless vista

Day 48 - Ruby's Inn - Gas Station on junction of 14 and 86. - 38 miles - 2 waves, 2 burgers: Totals - 55 waves, 108 burgers

In the gas station, I stayed in the same place for a longer time than I have for over 2 months. Alex's hitchhiking escapades were epic, but he got back in the end. We waited in the Gas Station until Carol had finished work, and followed her husband Mike to their house nearby. After a long chat about politics, guns and war - Mike is retired Special Forces - we hit the floor and were asleep instantly.

The result of this short day is that we have two half rest days - it is only 40 miles tomorrow to Cedar City, although we do have to go over a 10,000ft pass, with more snow a likelihood. We need to break in Cedar City to wait for the bike shop to open on Monday - this will be our last bike shop for 480 miles and we need to buy new brake pads and tires if we are to cross Nevada safely.

We will miss out on Zion national park, which is a shame but not a disaster - the rocks will still be there when we come back another time and it wouldn't be so special in 5 degrees wearing all the clothes we have with us.
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Snow!

I am sitting in a cozy cafe and gas station waiting for Alex. He has left his phone 38 miles back where we camped. Luckily his phone is safe, and he is on the way back to get it as I write.

The bad news is that it is very cold and raining, and as well as making for miserable riding, it means that there is a snowstorm on the 10,000ft pass that we are meant to be crossing now. It looks like it could take until tomorrow noon before we can go over it.

The good news is that the attendant in the gas station has done a long distance cycling trip, and knows how this feels so has offered us a place to stay tonight.

June 12, 2010

REST DAY - Number 8 - Bryce Canyon

 

You never know what you'll see by the side of the road - one of the joys of being on a bicycle is that you can stop to have a look at crazy things like toilets in the shade of rocks, 15 metres from the road.

Pulling a cheeky one to avoid an outrageous camping fee by hoping that the camping people have so many people staying that they don't realise we are staying an extra night, we are having a great rest day. We started late this morning, a hard earned lie in till 8.30, before a casual breakfast. We said goodbye to Carl, Sierra and Max - our friendly camping neighbours for the last two nights and generous donor's of a great meal last night.

We then bought tickets to enter Bryce Canyon and, by using the free shuttle buses they provide to prevent traffic in the park, explored it thoroughly. We went to all the main viewpoints, and I took a 3 mile walk into the abyss among the hoodoo's that are typical of Bryce Canyon - Alex chose to preserve the rest day and shuttled back to the campsite. Bryce Canyon is not actually a Canyon - more an amphitheatre of Geology in action - 200 nights a year below freezing mean that frost shattering has eroded the rocks from above, so all that remains is a forest of hoodoo's (towers of rock). I extended the walk by quite a way, taking every little animal track off the main trail (too much of a highway for my liking). It was awesome - another must-see on an American adventure.

We are working on laundry, have caught up on our blog, and will try and respond to your emails - recently too much pedaling, not enough rest and no battery in the computer, means that we have not replied to your emails (although we did read them) - sorry to be slow.

Time to sample the Campground's Hot-Tub!
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Windy!

 

If the wind howls more often like it did today, this rock will be blown off its precarious perch.

Day 46 - Calf Creek Campground to Bryce Canyon (Ruby's Inn), 70 miles, bad head winds. 7 waves Totals - 52 waves, 4826 kms

We set off quite early, it was amazing how early the campsite emptied; we were among the late leavers at 7. We cycled up for a while to Escalante for breakfast, with some photo's along the way taken by Carl, who we had met in Calf Creek. After a great breakfast, we headed into the wind for 30 miles, taking nearly 5 hours to get to Cannonville. The wind was so angry it was howling like Kevin Pietersen does when the hairdresser gets it wrong. But though the going has been slower the last couple of days, we have met a whole lot of interesting people, and many more cyclists - some great, some odd, and some crazy!

The going from Cannonville was much easier, despite a 2000ft hill to climb - climbing hills is easier than fighting the wind - at least when you are working hard up a hill, you get a nice downhill afterwards - with the wind, a headwind doesn't mean you'll get a headwind to compensate. The worst thing with the wind is that you are expecting to be going so much faster, and its those expectations which take their toll - both mentally and physically.

When we reached the top of the hill, we found Ruby's Inn and the campground, as well as Carl and his family (from Calf Creek). The campgrounds were expensive, so we shared a site, and they then very kindly took us out to dinner, after a short trip to Sunset point in the park above Bryce Canyon. At dinner we dominated an "all you can eat" buffet, our first for many thousands of miles. We will have a rest day tomorrow, before heading southwest towards Cedar City and hopefully Zion National Park.
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One long hill and a waterfall

 


Day 45 - Torrey to Calf Creek Campground, 50 miles, 4 more burgers, 6 hours riding, 12 more waves - totals 106 burgers, 45 waves, 4708kms

We battled for hours to get up Boulder Mountain, taking 3 hours of riding, but 5 hours in total - any excuse to stop, we stopped. We had some great chats with several cyclists and some motorcyclists from England at a viewpoint. It took us such a long time to get up because the wind wasn't being helpful, and we were just too tired. We have gone since Pueblo without a rest day. This hill reminded us that its not possible to go that far for that long. Your mind thinks you can, but the legs say stop.

Once over the top, at 4.15 having started the day at 10.15, we stopped in the little town of Boulder, for lunch/supper - a huge burger each, for a huge price. After relaxing in the restaurant for a couple of hours, we set off again, aiming for a campground 13 miles away and mostly downhill. After about 8 miles, you come to a section call the Hogback. Our maps describe it as either the Terror or Highlight of the route; a thin section of road with sheer 1000ft drops either side, and no guardrails or shoulders - "Ride Carefully and Defensively". When you combine this with the steepest gradient we have faced in Utah: 14% downhill, some hairpin bends along the ridge and 50 mile winds, you get an epic 4 miles. It was AWESOME. When I come back to America, I will make sure I come back to the Hogback, and if you go, you should too. It is pretty hectic even in a van! They call it the Miracle highway - and you can understand why, it is impossible to imagine how it was built.

Calf creek campground was underneath the Hogback, a noisy but nice campground in the gorge. It is amazing how the energy comes back as soon as you get off your bike - we had seen pictures of a waterfall accessible from Calf Creek in some of the postcards we've seen, so we thought we had to go have a swim. It was also the only shower in 15 miles. This meant quickly popping up our tent, and then going 3 miles to the waterfall and 3 miles back, apparently a 3-4 hour hike, in the last remaining hour of daylight. I took off, running along in my flipflops, while Alex walked steadfastly in his riding shoes (we sent our trainers back in St Louis). I got there at 8.30, and had a great dip and took some pictures. Then I started on the long run back. A little way back I got in amongst a herd of deer and stopped dead still because they hadn't moved. I watched them for 5 minutes, until suddenly they all took flight, and Alex appeared! I had sent a message back with the only other person on the trail to tell him to go back - after 20 minutes of running, I was still a mile away, and I knew we might regret this little escapade after about mile 30 of 80 the next day. But he had carrried on, so we turned back and went for another dip, before finally heading to back to bed in the dark. Luckily Alex had his headtorch, and the stars were bright, so we got back safely at 10, and went straight to sleep.
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Tired

The past couple of days no blog, due to a lack of time/wifi/computer power.

On the 9th, we left from Torey with the aim of getting to tropic or Cannonville, which was roughly about 100 miles away. Would have been a long day, but that would have left us only a very short day to Bryce canyon, where we would take a rest day. It turned out as just one of those days which didn't go to plan. We had a tough 15 mile climb to start the day, which was just really tough. Not necessarily because of the gradient but we were just so tired mentally and physically, as this was our 8 day on the trot, without a proper break. It took us over 4 hours to get to the top. However, this was also due to the fact we me lots of interesting people on the way up. The first lot f people was a group of Brits, fulfilling their 'American dream' of cruising around the USA on Harley's. We had a great time chatting with them, and then 1 mile up the road we ran into two girls coming the other way, Lulu and Sue, so we exchanged advice and stories for quite a while. Another half a mile and we ran into yet another cyclist, Jeff, so more banter ensued.

After we finally reached the top, we scooted down the hill and reached Boulder at around 3:30(only 38 miles from where we had started). We had been recommended to go to a special grill restaurant in Boulder, but it was closed, so we ended up in a really nice grill house just down the road. We ended up spending over 3 hours there. Whilst there i drank over 3 litres of coke, just indicating how dehydrated i was without knowing(they refused to fill up my glass eventually) We realised how tired we were, so reneged on our initial plans to go so far that day, so we decided to do another 13 miles or so to a recommended campsite. At the campsite there was a great waterfall 3 miles away, which can only be reached by foot. The waterfall was great, and although we got back at around 10:15, it was so worth it.

Yesterday, the 10th, we set off from the campsite with just over 65 miles to do in the day. We started with a 6 mile climb of 6-8%, the hard way to warm up! We stopped for breakfast and then set out on a 17 mile climb. We were only going up around 1500 ft, so a really gentle climb, but against the wind this was really tough! The wind was so strong, one of the worst we have had. I think we covered the 17 miles in around two and a half hours. Battling against the wind is like Gordan Brown-Very dull and frustrating. We finally reached Bryce canyon and camped with a kind family who we befriended the night before at the previous campsite. They also kindly took us out to dinner.... Then straight to bed!

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June 9, 2010

Birthday boy


Yesterday was indeed my birthday. We had the longest of lie ins till 8am, where upon we were awoken by the heat of the sun, piercing through the shell of the tent. We only intended to have a relaxed day, cycling just 50 miles to Torey. After a birthday brunch and a extended skype calls to parents, we finally set off at around 2. Will have been kind enough to source out some balloons, from god knows where. so they accompanied me on the back of the bike, adding a little more resistance, but nonetheless very festive.

Our aim was to get to a little visitors center/kiosk locate in the 'Capitol Reef' national park, 38 miles away, where we could stock up on water and try their 'famous pies'. They closed at five, and as we had set off so late we arrived there about 10 minutes late! However the visitors center remained open till 6, and happened to have a spare pie from the kiosk lying around, so we munch on the birthday pie.

After a little rest we only had 11 miles to cover to reach Torey, but we started our big hill climb, which today will take us up to 9500ft. There were some tough sections, it was so hot and for some reason this section of Utah is host to 'super Mosquito's'. They attack throughout the day, and it seems can fly over 16mph, whilst there is a headwind. As a result whilst cycling we are constantly being bitten. On my right arm along i have over 20 bites! Not nice. Anyway we arrived in Torey around 8 and settled down at a nice campsite.

Tomorrow we will cover over 80 miles, which will take us close to Bryce canyon.
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An Interesting Birthday

Day 44 - 50 Miles, Alex 1 year older, 4 more burgers - A CENTURY OF BURGERS! 5 more waves - Total 102 burgers - 4628 kms - 33 waves

Hanksville, UT - Torrey, UT

I'm sure that Alex will remember this Birthday for a long time. We took it easy leaving Hanksville at 2, after meeting many cyclists in Blondies, a great milkshake and burger place, perfect for aching legs. We got 10% off for each of the three meals we had there - thanks to Alex's Birthday.

Cycling was hot, but not as bad as yesterday, and it was interesting to see how our bodies have adapted - heat that would kill most of the old people in Britain and reduce the rest to a standstill, barely had us fazed. We cruised halfway up a big hill from Hanksville to Torrey, stopping often to take photo's of the beautiful scenery through Capitol Reef National Park, as well as a couple of other more interesting things - One of Alex's birthday balloons, happily riding along beside him, ended up tied on a flagpole, after we had had a great free pie from the fruitas historic district (clearly a district historic for fruit). **

Battery about to die so I will put this quickly up now - we are going over 9,500ft and then down past Escalante and Boulder, stopping near Bryce Canyon, where we will take a day off.

** Added later - One observation I have about America is that it is too big and too varied to be a country; but wherever we go, the names of things remain obvious. Having a country this big with only one language means that the names of all things are limited by the number of words in existence, when they aren't using the grid system - numbered streets in squares. Most towns have streets named after states, and most creeks are named after animals.

June 8, 2010

Sweat, Blood and HOT HOT HOT

Day 43 - 104 miles - to Hanksville, UT - total - 98 burgers, 4547kms - 1020miles to go!

New Challenge - $1 for every driver that spontaneously waves at us. Backdated 3 days - previous days totals: 8, 5, and 15. Total:28
- To add a new challenge, or add money to an existing challenge, just email me.

The day with 15 waves was out of a total of 24 cars - yesterday - mostly feeling sorry for us struggling on in the heat!

We were on our bikes by 6, heading the last 2 miles up a massive hill having camped by the side of the road the night before. Then, 40 miles mostly downhill to the only services in 50 miles any direction. We relaxed there a little bit (there was air con in the very limited shop), and put up blogs, before taking off again.

We rode from 11.30 till 2, when we stopped and lay down in the shade for 3 hours. Now this didn't bring us much relief - it was 43C in the sun, and a shade under 40C in the shade... Small mercies though, and I slept soundly for two hours.

At 5 we set off again on the last 35 miles to Hanksville. We covered the miles very quickly, despite large uphill stretches and 40 degree heat until 7.45 that evening, when it cooled down a bit. We arrived in Hanksville 10 mins later and went straight to Blondies, for a milkshake and a burger.

That it was HOT, I am sure you will have worked out, and that we were sweating you will have no doubt, but where was the blood from?! We both had nosebleeds, caused by the extreme heat - one of the bodies more extreme reactions to cool you down. Alex's was ok, and then I had a really bad one, by which time we had run out of tissues. I was leaning over on the side of the road, blood pouring off my face, and luckily looked so bad that the first car to pass stopped immediately, and pulled out a wad of tissues, asking if I had crashed. The tissues stemmed the flow, and the kind stranger then offered water, which I asked him to take to Alex instead and to say what had happened. He was 2 miles further on up the road, with not much water left.

When we arrived in Hanksville, we met Alex and Evan, two cyclists travelling the other way, raising money for cancer - www.willwemakeitacross.blogspot.com. We had a burger with them before going to the campground and managing to get a free place to stay with Showers, wifi, and electrics. They carried on eastwards this morning, and we will head westwards shortly. I have just been on a full tour of hanksville, searching for Balloons for Alex's birthday - eventually after seeing the 4 shops, I went to the post office, to ask if she might know anyone who would know where to find balloons. After 7 phone calls, we found the one, and Alex now has some balloons, and happy birthday ribbon, to tie to the back of his bike!

Time to head out - above 34C already - going to Caineville for lunch, before visiting Capitol Reef National Park. But first, just one more milkshake!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX!!!

We cycled 104 miles yesterday through temperatures around 110F or 40 Celsius. Definitely time for a rest, and to celebrate Alex's birthday. Click "nice one" or comment to wish Alex a happy birthday and a great days rest.

June 7, 2010

Utah!

Total miles-2704, Days miles: 74

Again we had another really eary start, a contrast to this time one month ago! We set off at 6:40, in an attempt to avoid the worst of the heat, as it now really starting to get hot. I think that it got up to over 40 degrees during the hottest art of the day. Having done 45 miles, crossing the state border into Utah, we stopped in Blanding. In blanding we had a early lunch and then went and lay in the shade for about 2 hours, during the middle of the day. It was one of the few opportunities we have had just to chill out and do nothing-no planning, no thinking! so that was a really nice. Also a woman who had just come the way we were going, named Helen, came over whilst we were sitting there, and gave us loads of useful tips, like where to sto pfor water and the good places to eat.

Reluctantly we set off into the tremendous heat, with the aim of going as far as we could in the evening. As there were no services for the 75 miles, we really stocked up on supplies. Water was the main concern on a long stretch like this. We both carries about 7-8 litres of liquid, plus a whole load of food for the evening and morning. we managed only another 30 miles, mainly as we were going uphill most of the way. We stopped at around 8:45, not before the sun set, blanketing the surrounding landscape in a brilliant shade of orange, which was spectacular. We camped just of the side of the road in the bushes, and munched our cold microwave dinners. Piece of advice- dont ever get chicken and rice with gravy microwave meal and eat it cold...it tastes like dog food.

Tomorrow we will try and get to Hanksville, which is 100 miles away, so we have set the alarm for 4:45, so we can get in as many miles as we can before the heat sets in.

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UTAH! Hot, Beautiful.

 


Day 41 - New top speed! - 76.9kph

Day 42 - 77 miles, New Top Speed - 77.5kph, New state UTAH! Dove Creeks, CO to a secluded clearing 30 miles west of Blanding 10 metres north of HWY 95.

Alarms at 5.30 - we finally hit the road at 6.47am, still tired, we went to bed late after food and laundry. It got hot - into the high 30's, by 8.45, so we will try and leave even earlier tomorrow - alarm at 4.40. We cruised straight on through the first town, stopping only to top up water, munching toast and honey along the way. When we got to Blanding though, everything was closed - Sunday's really are a day of Rest in Utah. Luckily, a chinese restaurant had been employed to feed the National Guard, and they let us in too. The supermarket was also open, so we stocked up with huge amounts of food to tide us through the next 74 miles. We left with heavier bikes than we have ever had - I had 8 litres of water, and a kilogram of food. We eat alot, and drink a litre an hour, so the extra baggage is completely necessary. This meant that uphills were alot slower, 9kgs makes a huge amount of difference, and downhills were faster - but far more precarious, all the weight is on the back so it swings a bit. Nonetheless, the hills of Utah are steep, and I hit a new top speed.

Utah is a desert, harsh soils, serious heat but is stunning despite it all. The rock formations are awesome and widespread, and the sunset was fantastic.

We have begun estivation (hiding from the heat of the day) and slept under a park bench in blanding from 12.30 to 4. We will find a canyon to do the same tomorrow. This means we have to ride early and late, which means adjusting our sleep patterns to suit.
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June 6, 2010

A break has caused an end to the trip

Come so far, but now unfortunately a breakage has caused a end to the trip. But don't worry its only the end of the trip for my camera!We are both still intact. An unfortunate incident at 10200 ft, with the camera set up precariously on a back of an RV. A very kind American, who felt guilty about the accident, actually gave me his camera as a replacement. Shame, but the photos are the important thing not the camera, so not all bad. Better the camera than the bike or us!

On the cycling side of things we had a great day, covering over 96 miles, and in the process leaving the Rockies behind us. This morning we woke at 6 and checked out the hot air balloon festival in Telluride. 15 or so Balloons set of just after sunrise, which along with the sun hitting the peaks of the mountains, created a awesome sight. Our only real challenge of the morning was to climb 'Lizards Head Pass' which is at 10220 ft. This was a far easier climb than the one we had a few days ago, Monarch pass, which was at 11200 ft. We made the job much easier for ourselves by doing a good chunk of the climb yesterday evening.

At the top we met a road cyclist, who told us that he had cycled x-america 3 times. Once is enough for me i think! In the last week or so, we have passed quite a few tourers, like us. Through beautiful Colorado, it is no surprise it is a common route for all tourers.

From the top of the pass we descended 3000ft and covered 48 miles in just over 2 and a half hours, which took us into the town of Dolares, where we lunched and rested for quite a while. After lunch we decided to do a further 36 miles, which would take us to the town of Dove creek, which is just short of the Utah border. It was amazing, leaving Dolores it felt as though we were back into kansas. Rolling hills and hot. We left the mountains behind so quickly. A real shame to be out of the Rockies, but we are told that Utah is something to really look forward to.

Tomorrow we will begin a stretch of 75 miles with no services, so it will be our first real test of carrying all we need for a day or so. I can confidently say we will not have a Wifi connection tomorrow night!

Day 41 - Out of the Mountains

 


Telluride, CO - Dove Creek, CO - 1 more burger, 99 miles, totals: 96 burgers, 4259kms

Today we cashed in some of our elevation gains, travelling the first 100kms in 3hrs 55mins by lunchtime, having watched 10 hot air balloons take off early this morning in Telluride. The first 10 miles were uphill, going over 10,200ft at Lizards Head Pass, before going downhill all the way to Dolores at 6,950ft. It was hot - over 33 Celsius, but the wind didn't cause any problems so we made good time.

We worked out that it must be a Saturday from the number of other bicyclist's we saw on the road today - we would otherwise have little idea of the day of the week without asking someone.

We go into Utah tomorrow, into the desert. 74 miles with no services is not straightforward - we will have to pack at least 7 litres of water each, and take plenty of food. It is also too hot to ride for much of the day, so we are limited to very early morning, and late evening to cover a lot of miles. The other issue is that we are likely to get stung by the small and random service station at the other end - with no competition within 50 miles, it is sure to have outrageous prices.

Unfortunately, while taking our photograph with some kind RV tourists at the top of Lizard's Head Pass, Alex's camera met it's demise. A fall while turned on is never good for a camera, and for his camera it was the end. But, we still have mine and the people whose RV it fell off gave us their spare camera, which means we'll still be able to capture most of the stunning views that we are lucky enough to see.

We are staying in a motel tonight, a nice change from sleeping bags, and a much needed chance to do some laundry and use the internet for slightly longer than normal.
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