My Route, More or Less (Red line, but starting in NY)

My Route, More or Less (Red line, but starting in NY)

Make a Difference

I'm pedaling for many reasons, the most important of which is to raise awareness and funds for Pedals For Progress. P4P is a non-profit that collects used bicycles and sewing machines in the US and donates them to poor people overseas. P4P combines my love of bicycling with my growing concern for those deprived of life's most basic necessities - sparked by a visit to the slums of Kibera in June '09 (pictures). P4P improves mobility and economic options for destitute people, opening pathways to greater dignity and opportunity.

Please make a donation, if you can (please write "TSQ2USQ" in the '...honor of' field). Remember, a bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses. :)

My Game Plan

I'm following portions or all of three routes mapped out by the Adventure Cycling Association: the Atlantic, TransAm, & Western Express. I'll cycle through thirteen states: NY, NJ, PA, MD, VA, KY, IL, MO, KS, CO, UT, NV & CA! I'm leaving on 4/17/10, and expect to return to New Jersey by mid June - back to my family, friends, & neighbors. I plan on cycling 5 - 6 hours per day, 6 days/week, usually starting in the early AM. My laptop and phone will allow me to work remotely most days, but I won't pass up opportunities to smell the roses along the way!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Days 50 - 54

Approximate Track: Google Maps

Day 52 | July 17, 2011. Davis, CA to Union Square, San Francisco, CA - 55 miles. I finish this journey grateful for the support of friends and family, pleased to have raised over $7,000 in donations and pledges to Pedal for Progress, and absolutely delighted to be done! After pedaling ~4,200 miles, do I have something profound to say? The best I can do is paraphrase a recent New Yorker article: what began as an escape, ended as a pursuit.

Day 51 | July 16, 2011. Placerville, CA to Davis, CA - 74 miles. Davis, a bicycle friendly college town, is awesome. Purchased fresh fruit and an apple tart at the farmer's market. Stayed in nearby Dixon and enjoyed an excellent dinner at La Cocina Mexican restaurant. 

Day 50 | July 15, 2011. California / Nevada border (Fredricksburg, CA?) to Placerville, CA - ~92 miles. For fear of cold morning weather, we started later today: 6:30 AM. The climb to Carson Pass, elevation 8,650 ft, started immediately. It wasn't nearly as exhilarating as climbing the Rockies, mostly because the monotony of the previous days' riding wasn't as severe as Kansas's corn and cattle. Route 88's lack of a shoulder and fast moving traffic made for a stressful ride, until turning onto the road to Omo Ranch, which wound through towering Redwoods and was lightly traveled. We finished the day with an excellent meal and beers at Cozmic Cafe, the only cafe I know of with a gold mine in back of the restaurant. Literally, the rear wall of the cafe is a mine entrance. 

Please donate to Pedals for Progress:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Days 43 - 49

Day 49 | July 14, 2011. Genoa, NV. Pronounced Gen-o-ah, not Gen-o-wah. We're staying at the lovely and surprisingly affordable Genoa Country Inn. All was quite and peaceful last night. Morning reminded me how noisy such settings can be, with lawnmowers, weed wackers, and straight piped motorcycles. Tonight: Genoa Parlor, dating back to 1853 and marketed as the oldest "thirst parlor" in Nevada. 

Day 48 | July 13, 2011. Fallon, NV to Genoa, NV and the California border! - 91 miles, including a few miles of backtracking outside of Carson City. 4,000 miles behind me, ~200 to go! 

Day 47 | July 12, 2011. Austin, NV to Fallon, NV - ~110 miles. So this is what I expected NV to look like: desert seemingly devoid of life. Hard baked soil. Sand dunes. "Dust hazard" warning signs every so many miles. A harsh and uninviting landscape along Route 50, which Life Magazine characterized as the Loneliest Road in America, requiring "survival skills" to drive it. Needless to say, I was grateful for sag support; more so for the warm companionship than for food and water, though.

Day 46 | July 11, 2011. Outside of Eureka, NV to Austin, NV - ~95 miles. So Ely is seedy, and Eureka, quaint. Austin too. All three are solidly within a large mining region. Ely did indeed have more services than Eureka, but the older portion of town consists of 3rd rate casinos, cheap motels, and empty storefronts. The newer area was largely the same, plus fast food chains, minus the empty shops. There are many mobile home parks in these parts, with one in Ely boasting views of a magnificent valley.

With a restored "opera house" and other interesting historic buildings, Eureka seemed worthy of stopping to explore, but not at 6 AM. Outside of Eureka the temperature dropped into what felt like the 30s. I took shelter in the car for about an hour until the sun rose and warmed things up. The difference between high and low temperatures in this part of NV routinely spans 40+ degrees. I knew low temperatures would be in the 40s, but somehow I just couldn't bring myself to pack gloves for a July cycling trip through the desert. Mistake.

Austin's peak of economic activity is a distant memory; the silver ran out more than 125 years ago. The town is charming, though. We stayed in a kitchy motel, the Cozy Mountain Inn. It seemed to me a cross between a trailer park and a Four Seasons Hotel. It had the look of the former, but the bed was reminiscent of the latter. The town is filled with lovely old, weathered buildings, and boasts at least five bars. The most interesting is the International, dripping with history, its walls witness to countless stories of interesting, and not so interesting, characters. Not bad for a town of about 340 people.

Day 45 | July 10, 2011. Baker, NV to somewhere outside of Eureka, NV - ~109 miles. We chose to stay in Ely, a substantially larger town than tiny Eureka, with more restaurant options, and a grocery store. Mexican food for dinner...again. We were both pleased that La Fiesta offered cholesterol free refried beans, and disturbed to learn they're typically prepared in lard.

Day 44 | July 9, 2011. Baker, NV. No cycling today. Instead, we set up camp within the Great Basin National Park and went for a hike. We suspected we may have become lost, but then came across the high mountain valley we were searching for, a bucolic stream running through it. We followed the small stream down the mountain as it joined with others until we reached our camp site, completing a trail loop, and within earshot of what had become the more substantial and vigorously flowing Baker Creek. 

Day 43 | July 8, 2011. Delta, UT to Baker, NV - 97 miles. We left early to beat the heat, as usual, around 2:00 AM. Check out this image from Google Street View, capturing a huge dump truck being passed. One of the few engines of economic vitality in the areas through which we've been traveling is mining: gold, silver, copper, & molybdenum. There are lithium deposits here too, though they are not yet, I believe, being extracted. The Google image doesn't do justice to the beauty of Snake Valley, where Baker lies at the foot of Wheeler Mountain. The view from the eastern entry to the valley, just beyond Kings Canyon, is awesome: a seemingly endless road, disappearing into a blue-green valley carpeted in sage and nestled against green, snow capped mountains. 

Catherine and I checked into the Silver Jack Inn, a reasonably charming, shabby little hotel. It's cafe featured excellent beer, good food, and sometimes friendly service. We explored Lehman Cave, which was interesting enough somewhat unremarkable in part due to extensive destruction by humans, and a recent National Geographic article on a gargantuan cave in Vietnam. The discovery of the Lehman cave sold tickets and promised spelunkers, "If you can break it, you can take it." As a consequence, thousands of stalactites were taken home as souvenirs. We ended the days activities with a short hike. While I rested atop a sprigs of pine, Catherine discovered beautiful Teresa Lake; she retrieved me so we could both enjoy its beauty.

Please donate to Pedals for Progress:

Days 40, 41 & 42

Day 42 | July 7, 2011. Salina, UT to Delta, UT - 71 miles.

Day 41 | July 6, 2011. Green River, UT to Salina, UT - 109 miles.

Day 40 | July 5, 2011. Grand Junction, CO to Green River, UT - 97 miles.

Segment 4 has begun. I arrived in Grand Junction on July 4. Catherine drove out from San Francisco and met me at the airport. I'm delight to have her company, especially on the desolate roads of UT and NV.

The cycling's been so much easier than I expected, due entirely to Catherine's support, riding along with me in a Chevy loaded w/ food and cold water. The weather's been dry and, owing to our 2:30 AM daily departures, temperatures in the 60s and 70s. It heats up to the 90s in the afternoon. The distances between services is routinely 50 or more miles - 109 miles between Green River and Salina. I've only had one flat so far, the result of road gravel. My bike, christened "USQ", is holding up well. So am I.
Tomorrow we'll clear UT, with plans to stay in Baker, NV. We may linger there for a day, taking in Great Basin National Park.

I'm looking forward to reaching San Francisco, and see Christina, Elliot, Heather and her charming children, and hopefully Vijay and Pat. 630 miles to go...

Moab! October, 2010

Headed home tomorrow after a five or so days mountain biking in Moab, UT. Expect to be back to finish up my journey no later than Spring '11.

Please donate to Pedals for Progress: