We have happily spent the past two days basking in the Napa Valley sun kicking it with Andrew’s good friend Reid and his wife Linda. As we’ve opted to end BikeForBrady in San Francisco, its odd not waking at 5 AM, folding up the tent, and pushing the pedals. We don’t miss it quite yet; but we will.

Our first glimpse of San Francisco bay. Certainly deserved a picture.

Our final riding day was from Tracy to San Francisco. 50 miles but it felt more like 150. Uphill, against the wind, traffic, all that stuff that make us love to hop on the bike. But we eventually crested the final climb into Castro Valley and had a wonderful view of the Bay Area…

Getting across SF Bay from the East is not easy. We had to take BART, the SF subway, under they Bay and into the city. Anna happily enjoying a few pedal free miles!

We shouldered our bikes out of the train station and into the San Francisco sun and breeze. It was too neat biking around the city and just letting the PACIFIC breeze and smell wash over us. We eventually crashed at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge and just enjoyed the impossibility of going anymore westward.

Celebration: Clam Chowder in a breadbowl at Fisherman’s Wharf.

After a few restful hours, we biked our way across the Golden Gate to have dinner closer to Napa. Andrew’s dear friend Reid and his wife Linda live in Napa and are generously hosting us for a few days. They came to pick us up…

A WONDERFUL reunion.

After 8.5 weeks of being on the road, we have racked up a bit more than miles. Friendships, memories, and thicker skin just to name a few. Here are a few stats from our trip that we found interesting…

Total Mileage: 3899

By bike: 3794

By car: 35

By ferry: 48

By train: 22

Total days on the road: 60

Nights camping: 34

Nights as guests in peoples’ homes: 20

Nights in a motel: 6

Rest days: 10

Pedal To Possibilities enjoying a ride on the creekwalk!

Jars of peanut butter consumed (mostly by Andrew): 18 Crunchy, 1 Creamy

Cans of chicken/tuna (mostly by Anna): 63

Tony and Enrique enjoying a ride with Pedal To Possibilities

Number of styrofoam cups used: 4 for Andrew, 2 for Anna

Books read: 4 for Andrew, 3 for Anna

The Brady Faith Center just began their summer camp providing a space and activities for many of Syracuse’s southside youth during the summer.

Number of punctures: 2 for Andrew, 0 for Anna

New tires: 1 for Anna

Heaviest bike weight: 105 pounds for Andrew, 80 pounds for Anna (168 mile stretch in Nevada with no services)

Longest Day: Ely, Nevada to Tonopah, Nevada (135 miles)

Shortest Day: Cleveland, Ohio to Oberlin, Ohio (35 miles)

Enrique and a new woman who had not ridden a bike in 20 years. She was crying with happiness upon finishing the the ride with Pedal To Possibilities.

Highest Pass: Guanella Pass in Georgetown, Colorado (11,669 feet)

Windiest: Kearney, Nebraska (steady 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph) (We only went 30 miles in six hours…)

New and old faces!

The following are rather subjective…

Andrew’s staple food: Oatmeal and peanut butter

Anna’s staple food: Dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate

Favorite Diner: The Cross Country Cafe (Groveland, California)

Favorite Restaurant: Mia and Grace Bistro Cafe for Anna (Muskegon, Michigan), Amicas for Andrew (Salida, Colorado)

Smile.

Scariest moment: 17 miles of riding in the pitch black with heavy traffic and no shoulder to Wellington, Utah for Anna. 20 miles of highway no shoulder riding in Iowa for Andrew.

Most challenging moment: Guanella Pass for Anna. Getting Anna out of grocery stores for Andrew.

Coldest: Camping in Fennville, Michigan for Anna. The stretch from Fennville, Michigan to Muskegon, Michigan for Andrew.

Hottest: Stoneham, Colorado for Anna (95 degrees). Border, Nevada for Andrew (112 degrees)

Hungriest: Coincides with scariest moment for Anna. Every grocery store for Andrew.

Fullest: Post diner in middle of Illinois for Anna (almost lost it all…). The all-you-can-eat buffet dinner at the Sedgwick Inn for Andrew in Sedgwick, Colorado.

We have so many so many people to thank…

Preride: Bob and Sue Schuh: Inspiration from their 1984 trip across the country.

Rochester Community Bikes: Hooking Anna up with a bike.

Mello Velo Bicycle Shop: Giving Andrew space to put his bike together.

Mitch Tiegel: Gear and support.

The Brady Faith Center: Very generous gift that paid for a few hotel nights!

Our parents: Permission and support. Love you guys.

Rochester, New York: David Schuh: Hosting us, great conversation, and kicking our butts in wii cycling.

Buffalo, New York: Andrew Dearing and family: Hosting us, ice cream, conversation, and movie night!

Jamestown, New York: Carm and Fran Lunetta: Hosting us, FEEDING us, and showing us a whole lot of love.

Brooklyn Heights, Ohio: Tim Clymer: Hosting us, some great quesadillas and ice cream cake!

Oberlin, Ohio: Hosting us, crashing graduation weekend, great conversation.

Fenneville, Michigan: Laundrymat employee for showing us some love and for some great dining advice.

Muskegon, Michigan: The tourist infomation employee battling to find us the cheapest hotel possible!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Corey The Bicycle Fixer Bike Shop: Lots of honeyshots and great route advice.

Eagle/Muckwonago, Wisconsin: Gail and Al: Amazing friendship and connection. Cannot express thanks through short blog post…

Chicago, Illinois: Brian and Alina: Hosting us, showing us an amazing time in Chicago, and some much needed love and care.

Newton, Iowa: Dennis: Tour of racetrack, dinner, then hosting us. Introducing Anna to Buddy Holly!

Casey, Iowa: Allowing us to avoid the rain and crash in the community center.

Omaha, Nebraska: James Flannery: Hosting us, showing us a great time in Omaha, and wonderful connection from home.

Lincoln, Nebraska: Cheruth and Kevin: Hosting us, great conversation, and welcoming us into their home and work. A wonderful experience we won’t forget soon.

Ogalalla, Nebraska: Incredibly friendly library staff.

Sedgwick, Colorado: Fellow bike tourers for company and ice cream sandwiches!

Stoneham, Colorado: Restaurant staff letting us set up camp in their back yard.

Fort Collings, Colorado: Chairs and Alan: Welcoming us to their home and buying us groceries (the instant coffee was a LIFE SAVER)

Ron: Spontaneous hosting, dinner, conversation.

Boulder, Colorado: Ron’s friend letting us camp in his yard. A great home base to get to know Boulder.

Georgetown, Colorado: Cupcake baker hooking us up with free cupcakes.

Gunnison, Colorado: Anne and Gerald: Letting us set up camp in their yard, showers, and route advice. Inspiration too!

Ridgway, Colorado: Wyndham: Hosting us on a whim and providing us with great conversation and inspiration.

Ourray, Colorado: Aillen and Jane and husbands: Breakfast, conversation, letting us store our bikes at their place while we hiked, and just a lot of love.

Telluride, Colorado: Norm: Hosting us and showing a WONDERFUL 4th of July.

Cynda: hooking up Anna with a wonderful spa experience.

Paradox, Colorado: Teachers at small school letting us fill up our waters and showing us some much needed sympathy!

Price, Utah: Trish and Betty at the local diner: Some love, ice water, and just a great breakfast experience (much needed for our hard day ahead…)

Border, Nevada: Clay, William, and Malcolm: Showing us a heck of a time in Border.

Tonopah, Nevada: Teresa and Fracesca: Picking us up when we were in dire straights. Dinner and just showing us a whole lot of love. Hope your trip to Oregon was great!

Benton, California: Motorcyclists hooking us up with pie, ice cream, and great conversation.

Groveland, California: Staff at Cross Country Diner.

San Francisco, California: Reid and Linda hooking us up with a wonderful finish line!

We are sorry if we forgot anyone, but a sincere Thank You to everyone who made this trip possible, memorable, and simply amazing. Much love.

In two days we are off to Santa Barbara to spend a few days with Anna’s family. Then off to San Diego for a day or two to be with Andrew’s family. Anna is then meeting her parents and they are driving back to Syracuse making a nice family trip out of it. Andrew is biking to Nogales, Mexico to visit friends and then taking a bus back to Syracuse for a family reunion in mid-August.

Thank you everyone for following our trip. You all kept us honest with picture taking, journaling, and just making this trip more memorable. Please stay posted on the goings on at the Brady Faith Center. They are always doing wonderful things and could always use support and participation! This has been an amazing experience and we are happy to have been able to share at least a little bit of it with you all.

Much love, Anna and Andrew

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California Love

July 22, 2012

After coming out of the bathroom at a gas station in Benton, CA a biker (motorcycle) asked me, “Is that you?” while pointing to my loaded bicycle. I replied with a triumphant yup and he smiled (almost laughing) saying, “I saw those bikes and thought those are probably some badass (…a few more modifiers) , seven foot tall German dudes…a skinny girl and her boyfriend are the last people I expected.”

Not German, but I definitely felt 7 foot tall and then some knowing that Andrew and I made it to California. Did we really just bike across the country?! HECK YES.

 After a long, exciting, and eventful expedition through the Nevada’s desert that culminated with a storm and a road side pickup, Andrew and I were very eager for a rest day. After a delightful evening with Theresa and Francesca, we spent the following morning exploring Tonopah, catching up with family, and relaxing. Andrew actually took an afternoon nap.  Those who know Andrew and know his never waste a minute tude towards life can appreciate this. I did.

The next morning we woke up, had breakfast, and biked for about 40 miles with the winds at our back until we came across an abandoned town where we stopped for lunch. From there we started our climb that eventually ended at Montgomery Pass (elevation 8500 feet). Montgomery Pass was our bridge between California and Nevada, but instead of a huge “ Welcome to California, all of that long, monotonous climbing up the pass had paid off, you rock Anna and Andrew” sign,  we were met by some heavy head winds. Go Figure. We eventually made  it to a gas station in Benton, CA. We left our bikes outside while we freshened up inside the gas station. We had dinner outside and spent some time chatting with our biker friend and his friends. Really nice people who offered us some great encouragement about the roads ahead of us. “If you can bike through California, you can bike through anything” was the last nugget of wisdom that they left us.

 

Bikers who treated us to pie and ice cream.

Important wisdom of the road: When people say that “it’s all down hill from here” understand that it’s never ALL down hill from anywhere.

 We were up early the next morning and had breakfast in the woman’s public restroom. Before you judge, understand that it was cold and the bathroom was spacious and heated. In my mind I thought we’ve made it to California and now it’s just smooth sailing through the coast. If I stopped to think about my geographical surroundings, I would not be surprised by the crazy climbs that awaited me that morning. The first twenty miles out of Benton were all pretty much all uphill, and the remaining 30 miles were super windy. It was a glorious mix of Iowa, Nebraska, and Colorado all over again. BUT we made it to Lee Vinings where we feasted on Ben and Jerry’s and read books.

Yosemite! At 6:30am we hit the Whoa Nellie Deli [pay due credit to Rick's collegue in photo] at the base of Tioga Pass for breakfast. Awesome breakfast and great spirits we were ready to bike our final pass.  Twelve mile climb. Intense, but you know what? No trepidation for this girl, in fact, the climb felt awesome! That climb was a testament to our progress throughout the trip. Both of us feel much stronger and I no longer tread the passes because I am confident about my physical abilities.

Halfway up Tioga looking back.

Halfway up Tioga looking up. Gulp…

Up Tioga. Boom!

It was time to put my money where my mouth was at because after our twelve mile climb we had another seventy miles of biking up and down through Yosemite National Park and on through to Groveland, CA. I mean we had A LOT of big hills, and ninety miles of up and down up and down can really get to ya, BUT we made it! “We always do,” says Andrew.

Beginning the “descent”

And then huffing and puffing up…

View from Olmstead Point of Yosemite Valley.

Favorite.

Once we got to Groveland, Andrew knew that only a hug could suffice in that moment…and then some food (he knows me well). We had dinner at a cool local restaurant called the Iron Gate and then polished off two pints of  Ben and Jerry’s before hitting the sack.

Our second to last campsite. A real winner.

The next morning we woke up and had the best breakfast to date at the best diner to date, Cross Country Cafe. I can still taste the homemade bisquits and gravy and fluffy blueberry pancakes as I type up this entry.

I went with biscuits and gravy, blueberry pancakes, and eggs over easy. Andrew had his staple: three eggs sunnyside up, hashbrowns, and wheat toast with a near jar of peanut butter.

Groveland sees a lot of tourists because of Yosemite. Throughout the years the cafe has collected currency from the different tourists from around the world that have stopped by. Carroll, the owner, showed Andrew and I their collection…

The wonderful staff: Carroll, Dave, trainee (she was very nice), and Alice.

Their outstanding service and warm hospitality kept me in great spirits all morning as we made our way to Oakdale, CA for lunch and finished off in Tracy for the day.

Much love, Anna

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Night Riding in Nevada

July 14, 2012

Hola Nevada!

Heel clicking our way into Nevada

Our penultimate state

Anna and I arrived into Nevada a couple of days ago. While I am sure there is plenty of neat things to do in Nevada, we have been eager to make our way through the state. We’ve been warned on many an occasion of the heat, lack of services, and mononity of the state by several bike tourers. Our family has also shared their concern too; which is nice!

We met a group of five tourers making their way from San Francisco to New York in Delta, Utah. It was our final stop in Utah and they gave us some sobering news and important advice concerning biking through the Silver State.

First and foremost: water. Anna and I have added a good fifteen pounds of water to our bikes in preparation for the heat.

Secondly, lack of services. There have been stretches of 170 miles of nothing. No water, food, gas… anything really. This road was something else. It is a little disheartening to ride for three hours, turn around and see the same spot where you were three hours ago…

So Anna and I decided to begin our riding early. Real early. We have been rising at about 130 AM. Having a quick snack, and then pounding out the miles in the dark until about 1130 AM. Any riding after that is very difficult given the heat. Our first night riding experience was a trip. We had one head light and one tail light. I rode in front with the head light and Anna tagged close behind with the tail light. We have since bought more lights and have gotten used to riding in the dark… Not too much fun though.

The result of early early mornings. I am taking a quick nap at our breakfast stop…

We have put in almost 3500 miles so far and Anna’s back tire shows the wear.

Thankfully we’ve carried a spare from Syracuse and she is riding smooth again.

We arrived to Nevada in the town of Border. There is little more in Border than a truckstop that we planned to spend the afternoon and night at. It was pushing 110 degrees and thankfully a group of local fellas invited us for a swim at a local lake. It felt too good and gave us something to do… They were too much fun and a great welcome to Nevada…

We have entered Nevada riding route 6, and we’ll leave Nevada riding route 6. However, route 6 placed a close second in Life’s Magazines Loneliest Road in America challenge. There was a stretch between Ely and Tonopah, 168 miles, of no services. Nada. Anna and I looked at the weather and it looked promising so we decided to try all of it in a day…

135.67 our final mileage of the day… Not quite 168. I’ll explain…

Stopping at the top of Currant Pass for breakfast #2. We were all smiles and looking forward to the 120 miles that lay ahead. Probably the 5 hour energy shot that Anna took and the three cups of coffee I took for breakfast #1 had something to do with it…

Route 6 lunch stop baby.

With 35 miles before we arrived to Tonopah, trouble was brewing. We had been racing these clouds for a few hours as we made our way up a just stupidly long pass. When we finally hit the top we were dismayed to see just as menacing clouds directly in front of us. But we put on our rain gear and mounted up. Needless to say, ten minutes later, it was like we had taken a shower. We still had 35 miles to go and were in sorry shape. With nothing but fields to our left and right, it promised to be a miserable final 3 hours. We kept riding with our thumbs out…

Our prayers were answered. After about twenty minutes or riding through the slog, Trish and her daughter Francesca drove by us. They swung back around, threw on their hazard lights and made room in their rental car. They are doing a family trip from Colorado to Oregon. We threw the bags in the car, I strapped the bikes to the roof with bungee cords, and Anna and I, literally sopping wet, hopped in for the final 35 miles. I don’t think I can adequately articulate how kind these two women were. They asked nothing more than that we pass on the favor. Upon reaching Tonopah we checked into the same hotel and they even bought us dinner. Anna and I were speechless as we constantly looked at each other shaking our heads slowly and smiling. People are incredible and the actions showed by Trish and her daughter are wonderful examples.

Anna and I are spending the day here in Tonopah and then crossing the border to California tomorrow. We are swinging through Yosemite and then headed to San Fransisco for a bit. Then the plan is to bike down the coast to Santa Barbra.

My Mom just completed the Alzheimer Association Memory Ride. A bike ride for a cure to end alzheimer. So happy for her and it sounds like she had a blast!

Thank you so much to Trish and her daughter Francesca. I sincerely hope that the rest of your trip is wonderful. You are both shining inspirations. Also, two other people who helped us out like crazy and showed us a wonderful time in Lincoln, Nebraska was Cheruth and her husband Kevin. They were the goat farmers who hosted us. As I look back on our trip, our time at Shadow Brook Farm was one of my fondest memories. If you feel so inclined, please contribute to their Kickstarter. But quick! Only nine days to go! They are doing great things and it would be wonderful to see them take their farm to the next step!

Much love, Andrew

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We arrived at Moab, the heart of Red Rock Canyon County.  The city is surrounded by breathtaking sites and several national parks…

Canyonlands: 337,598 acres

Arches: 76,960 acres

Dead Horse: 5,300 acres

Normally people would take Jeep tours or group excurssions or maybe drive through the scenic byways. Andrew and I opted to use our trusty mode of transportation; the bicycle… Epic Fail. We decided to tour Arches… We biked 13 miles up and down to Delicate Arches, are supposedly beautiful hike. However, we realized that we did not have enough water. Had lunch. Turned around. And biked bak to the visitor’s center. We kicked it there for an hour, enjoying the air condiditoning of the lobby.

Still optimistic about viewing parks via bike…

Before we realized that dehydration was a possibility, we had a nice ride through the park.

Biking through Arches

Andrew balancing at Balancing Rock

Before we took off from Moab we met some wonderful people… As usual.

Miguel and Silvia are brother and sister from Spain enjoying the mountain and road bike scene in Moab

The sole Russian resident of Moab, Utah. Energetic and fun, makes fantastic goat cheese, and was very surprised to meet another Russian speaking person. It lit up my morning and excited my taste buds!

We then biked our way to a campsite down the road. We had a quick dinner and a gas sation and planned on sitting tight until dark and setting up our tent behind the gas station. No go. An employee at teh gas station was more than on to us and asked us every so nicely, “It is getting dark, do you guys have a place to stay tonight?” Instead of telling him, “yes, right behind your store,” we chickened out and hit the road. Luckyily we didn’t have to go too far…

Our campsite post-expulsion.

Back to our dilemma… One day left, there was no reasonable way that Andrew and I could see the two other parks (and the majority of Arches that we missed). So we decided on the next best thing….

Skydiving!

After some brief  instruction and a corny video, Andrew and I found ourselves at 10,000 feet overlooking 300,000 acres of land. Within 20 minutes we were able to see the two other parks and most of Arches, and even Moab Valley (albeit from very, very far away).

Chilling in the hangar before takeoff

Super excited as we prepare to takeoff. Cannot believe we are actually jumping out a of a plane…

Andrew didn’t seem half as phased, but don’t let his demeanor fool you. I heard him screaming like a little kid as he jumped out!

Moab Valley from the plane

Certificates to mark a once in a lifetime opportunity. So so cool!

We woke up, jumped out of a plane, and then carried on West. We had a hot thirty mile stretch of highway riding (no other option) to Green River where we took an extended lunch break/nap before pedaling another 60 miles… There have been tough parts on this trip, whether it be the endless hills of Iowa, or the wind of Nebraska, or the passes of Colorado, but those 60 miles took the cake. We began the slog at 430PM and did not pull into our planned destination until 1130PM. Yikes. I never thought that the neon green and yellow Subway light would be the equivalent to the light at the end of the tunnel, but believe when I tell you, I was never more excited to see those lights in my life-period.

Our new lunches. Why had we not thought of this before? Lunch break before the 60 mile slog.

The one and only picture taken. We were still in semi-good spirits, with a little water, and not super hungry. Things took a turn for the worst several miles later…

This morning we took off from Wellington, Utah after a really really nice sleep in a truck stop parking lot. Yea, we were tired. We made our way to Price and stopped at a really cute diner with the slogan, “Where the locals eat.” And they eat there for good reason.

We had a fantastic breakfast to fuel us for the 15 mile climb out of Price Canyon.

Today enroute to Salem, Utah we hit 3,000 miles.

3,000 miles baby! And still strong and smiling!

It’s been one heck of a trip, definitely more testing in the past couple of days, but really loving and looking forward to all the miles to come. Well, kind of. I’m not super stoked about the Nevada Desert, BUT we’ll keep you posted as things progress. Who knows, maybe Nevada will surprise us; it wouldn’t be the first time on this trip.

Much love,

Anna

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After 14 simply great days, Anna and I left the Rockies and the great state of Colorado and crossed into Utah. However, before we called it quits in Colorado, we enjoyed a great 4th of July and a picturesque final day in the Centennial State.

As Anna mentioned, we decided to kick it in Telluride for the 4th.

They certainly did it right. They kicked off the parade with four fighter jets that flew into the box canyon and out the other side. It was really impressive.

Then it was pretty typical firetrucks and floats. Until…

This brave couple got married during the parade!

The aftermath of the post-parade BBQ. Anna and I did work.

Telluride is a cute little ski town that absolutely blows up during the 4th and ski season. However, the rest of the year I guess it is on the quiet side. I guess we showed up at the right time.

We were at a local bar on the 3rd and a marching band that was playing in the parade the following day made themselves very much at home. It was a lot of fun

There is a free gondola service from Telluride, 1800 feet up to the top of Telluride Mountain, then back down the other side to “Mountain Village,” a cute but super touristy mall/townish thing. Mix Sound Of Music and the New Jersey Boardwalk and you have Mountain Village.

Anna and I stayed with Norm, a fella we met in Ridgway. Norm is an amazing man who showed us a really good time in Telluride. Very happy to have gotten to know him.

Norm also happens to have probably the only lemon tree in Telluride and probably Colorado. Anna was stoked.

Leaving Telluride was tough. The conversations and friendship we developed with Norm made it real hard to pedal up and out of the cute town… Thank you Norm for making our 4th something special. When we did finally find the rythm of riding again we were rewarded with a (for the most part) beautiful day of riding to Paradox, Colorado, our final stop in Colorado.

Looking out over Telluride one last time…

We ran into this fella at breakfast. He is from Korea and he flew to LA and is on his way to NYC. Go get em!

However Colorado didn’t exactly let us leave easily. We switch backed a good four miles towards the Utah border.

Boom! Anna making quick work of the climb

And finally descending into Paradox Valley. Our final night in Colorado.

We woke up outside of the Paradox Community Center (they graciously let us camp there and use their water) and headed for Utah…

Hola Utah!

We naievly thought that as soon as we left Colorado the climbing would stop. Instead Utah welcomed us with 3.5 miles of 9% grade switch backs. Living the dream…

Utah is state number 10. Maybe we can rack up as many states as license plates on this jeep?

Anna and I are in Moab now. Tomorrow we are going to spend the day in Arches National Park and then carry on across the state. We’ve already picked up extra water bottles, refilled on sunscreen, and bought enough trail mix to kill a horse. It is going to be fun…

I chatted with Kevin, the director at The Brady Faith Center. He told me a quick story about a woman who had not ridden a bike in twenty years. She showed up to Pedal To Possibilities with a friend and was crying out of fear of riding the 8 miles. But she took it slow and people stuck with her. When she arrived back to Brady after an accident free ride, she was crying with happiness. I miss you all dearly and sincerly hope that the 4th of July BBQ was a blast. Look forward to hearing from you all soon.

Much love, Andrew

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After spending a delightful evening in Salida, CO, Andrew and I picked up a few items at the grocery store the next morning and made our way to a gas station about 10 miles west where we had breakfast. We really value gas stations with tables; it beats sitting on stoops or against the store walls. Sometimes we have the luxury of sitting on a bench, but a bench doesn’t beat a table. All of that to say: tables rock.

In Salida we had dinner at a neat little restaurant called Amica’s. Along with a delicious meal, Andrew and I spent some time rerouting our trip based on suggestions from an assortment of people we talked with along the way… we’re headed to Utah instead of Arizona! This also changed our route through Colorado, but insofar the changes have been great!

At breakfast I had to mentally prepare myself for the upcoming pass in lieu of my experience with the first pass. The Guenella Pass was a twelve mile assent.  This is no place to lament about physical and mental burn out, so in short it was a demoralizing pass… but we made it! Nonetheless, anytime Andrew tells me we have another pass coming up (normally means biking uphill for a long time), I have to fight back feelings of trepidation. Mentally prepared, we set out to Monarch Pass. Although difficult, I felt much better climbing up this pass and even better once we finally made it up to the summit. From the summit we maybe had to pedal a total of five times during an 18 mile stretch of downhill into the town of Sergeants where we stopped for lunch. Get this. We had lunch inside a small convenience store/café and the guy working there went to the same school as Andrew, not only that, but they were in the same first grade class!

We made it to the top of Monarch pass: awesome feeling.

Flat # 2…and it was because of a staple of all things.

First grade classmates, Andrew and Jeff reunited 19ish years later in Sergeants, Colorado. Crazy. (but really cool!) Actually in the same first grade class in Syracuse, NY!

On our way down from the Monarch Pass

Lunch was exciting. Twenty more miles and we were in Gunnison. Those were a monotonous 20 miles, so I was stoked when we ran into another tourist in the village. Bryan is biking from California to Maine. He just graduated college and heading off to Rwanda in September as a volunteer for the Peace Corps. We invited him to have dinner together and afterwards we went out for ice cream. At the parlor we met a man who competed and recently finished in the Tour the Divide race; he biked from Canada to New Mexico in 18 days. Crazy! Anyway, he and his wife invited the three of us to pitch our tents in their yard. We gladly accepted their generous offer. Along with a hot shower, they gave us really helpful bike route advice. Many thanks!

long, windy, and monotonous road to Gunnison

Andrew, me, and our fellow tourist, Bryan. Really glad we ran  into him!

We were up real early the next morning because we wanted to get to Ridgeway, which is about 95 miles from Gunnison. It was a very scenic route to Ridgway; breathtaking really. We camped at the Orvis Hot Springs, and man oh man did we enjoy ourselves. It was a really nice way to cap off a long day of riding.

wonderful and relaxing

The next morning we biked a short miles to Ouray where we wanted to have breakfast and do a short hike in this scenic little town. I had a particular diner in mind, so when we got there I asked a woman if she could direct us to the diner. She told me where it was, but insisted that we come over to her house for breakfast. Awesome, right?? We accepted her offer and had an experience that no diner could beat. Really grateful for her gracious offer and delicious breakfast! Fueled and in good spirits, Andrew and I went on a delightful 4 mile perimeter hike around Ouray before heading back to Ridgeway where we stayed with a guy who we met at the hot springs a day earlier.

Before pulling into Ouray, CO

Breakfast at Alleen’s. Really great company, super nice people, and just a wonderful experience and a great start to the day. 

Our breakfast company…

Gorgeous perimeter hike

perimeter hike continued….

We stopped at a local chocolate shop before heading back to Ridgeway. (delicious)

From Ridgeway we had a long climb to Telluride, but we made it to this beautiful town and really looking forward to spending the fourth of July here.

YES! Another summit under our belts. I’m growing to love these summit signs because they mean that we have some sort of downhill stretch to look forward to.

Today we arrive in Telluride, CO and staying with a guy named Norm who we met in Ridgeway. When we told Norm that we’re spending the fourth of July in Telluride (his home town), he enthusiastically invited us to stay at his place and we enthusiastically accepted his invite. He left the door open, towels, and a few notes for us when we arrived. Really awesome!

looking forward to spending the fourth of July in yet another little gem of a town in Colorado!

We’ll update ya’ll once we make it to Utah.

Much love,

Anna

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After a few days kicking it in the Front Range (the Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, and any other area in East of the Rockies area), we dove/crawled/inched our way up and into the Rockies. But we certainly enjoyed our time at a only mile high altitude…

We said goodbye to Alan, Charis, Gregory, and William after a wonderful night at their place. You all will be missed!

Gregory and William made us some really sweet goodbye cards. They are stowed safely in our waterproof panniers. Word on the street is that Gregory rode a two wheeler for the first time the other day. Champ!

As we departed Alan and Charis’ house in Fort Collins, the temperature had already reached 95. Anna and I opted to spend the afternoon in Fort Collins and then put in about twenty miles when it cooled down. But we ended up staying another night. I am glad we did…

While Anna and I were enjoying Fort Collins we ran into Ron. Ron, an avid cyclist in Fort Collins offered up his home for us that evening. An amazing man, we spent the evening chatting route advice, trading stories, and just enjoying Ron’s company. Andale Ron!

Ron invited us to an Overland Mountain Bike Club meeting that he is a member of. The club is sponsored by New Belgium Brewery which just so happens to be at Fort Collins. The meeting was actually held right at the brewery. The club is doing some wonderful things and it was neat to be there. Plus… free beer and pizza.

Anna nor I are real beer drinkers. But when it is free and at one of the neatest companies in Colorado…

Anna and I left Fort Collins for Boulder the following morning mighty early to beat the heat. Ron had called a friend in Boulder who let us set up camp in his yard. He lived a stones throw from University of Colorado Boulder and Pearl Street, one of the neatest streets in Colorado.

When Anna and I arrived to Boulder, we were stopped by Taj, an employee at Community Cycles. He encouraged us to swing by the shop, put our bikes on the stands if needed and just chat bikes. It was a great intro to Boulder.

While our bikes are holding up beautifully, I did swing by for some route advice and to see if I could steal some somebody’s itunes. Community Cycles had it all: advice, itunes, and smiles. Thanks fellas.

While in Boulder we made a pit-stop at Celestial Seasonings. Their factory is right outside of the city. Anna is a big tea drinker and before I found coffee, I was too.

While waiting for the tour we were able to try any one of the dozens of teas they offered. The tour was neat, highlighted by the peppermint room. A sealed storage room with only the peppermint tea. It was like taking a bath in menthol…

We also scored a wonderful meal at one of the many hole-in-the-wall places in Boulder. Anna and I do appreciate healthy eating but I have found that our side salads with low fat dressing are now being replaced by french fries and ketchup. Fine by me I suppose!

That night one could see the smoke from one of the dozens of fires that have found the dry lands of Colorado. It looked a bit like a volcano and it covered the city in smoke. However, when we woke up the next morning it was crystal clear but Anna and I could see fires burning on the hillsides as we pedaled out at 430 AM.

After a nice breakfast in Golden, Colorado “Gateway to The Rockies” we mounted up and headed West once more. Albeit much slower…

Our first day in The Rockies was not too brutal. We had a couple big climbs, but no passes. While tough, it was a nice intro.

When Anna and I eat dinner we begin the meal with the high and low of the day. This was WITHOUT A DOUBT the low of my day. For nine miles we had to ride Interstate 70, the main highway through Colorado. It was miserable and I was so thankful that we both got off of it alive.

We ended the day in the gorgeous town of Georgetown, Colorado.

A “gem of a store” as Anna would call it. This neat place was the oldest continual store in Georgetown.

Our campsite out of the rain.

Now, the following day was a real gut-check. We had three different passes. Number one was the Guanella Pass at just under 12,000 feet. It hit us right out of the gate and didn’t let up until 12 miles later….

The view of Georgetown maybe 1/34th of the way up Guanella Pass.

Boom!

It was a haul, but we made it to the top. Those smiles are not forced. I promise.

The ride down was much more enjoyable; until we reached the unpaved section which lasted for about 3 miles. But it was a good first pass. Yea…

The next two passes were easier. The Kenosha Pass which weighs in at 9,997 feet dropped us into a beautiful valley.

Despite the rain, this vista after Kenosha Pass may be my favorite of the trip so far.

Finally, we ended the day with the Red Hill Pass. At 9,993 feet it was comparable to Kenosha. Upon reaching the top Anna was prompted to shout, “I am a Red Hill Warrior!” That you are Anna.We finished up the day cruising into Fairplay, Colorado.

Today has been nothing short of beautiful.

We only had one pass, Trout Creek Pass, which we boomed through, dicho hecho.

I am writing this from the wonderful library in Salida, Colorado in the Arkansas River Valley, which is unfortunate because today was all downhill… Thank you all so very much for reading. I would especially like to say hello to everyone at the Samaritan Center, guests, staff, and volunteers. I miss you all dearly.

We will update you soon as we make out way to the Four Corners, Grand Canyon, and beyond…

Much love, Andrew

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Living The Dream

June 25, 2012

Andrew and I wished farewell to Nebraska and crossed into Colorado. State number nine. However before we headed into The Centennial State, Nebraska gifted us with a bit more fun.

Ogallala Beach: Probably one of the prettiest campsites that we’ve stayed at thus far

We woke up  at Ogallala beach to our invisible nemeses (the wind), fierce and rowdy, reminding us of everything that we had to look forward to that day. Getting out of the campsite was tough, and although the winds didn’t turn in our favor, the day definitely did when we met six (!) other tourists on our way to Sedgwick, Colorado. As we were pulling out of Brule, small town right before the Colorado state line, we spotted a bike tourist and enthusiastically stopped to visit.

The other six tourists… what are the chances!?

Andy is traveling with his friend, Patrick, from San Fransisco to NYC. They started walking , but then decided that bikes were more efficient. Good life choice. As the four of us were chatting, four other riders pulled up. Rachel, Jessica, Alyssa, and Sean  actually camped in Ogallala the same night as us but fate had its own agenda. The quartet started in Chicago and is biking to San Fransisco. We continued to ride westward with the quartet until Julesberg, had lunch, and parted ways briefly…
Andrew and I continued to Sedgwick. Sedgwick is a dusty little farm town that has a population of no more than 100 people out of which we probably only saw 15. There are two operating facilities: the Sedgwick Inn and the Sedgwick bar. The Sedgwick Inn was recommended to us by another tourist who was coming from Colorado. He told us that it’s really random, but really great and really cheap. He wasn’t kidding! It’s literally a furnished (in an old Victorian style may I add) oasis in the midst of a bunch of run down buildings. We had a fabulous stay.

Andrew and I hit 2000 miles right before we pulled into Colorado. Sweet!

Colorado!

Our companions for two days… too much fun. They’re on their way to Denver right now. Best of luck to you guys!!

How random. How wonderful!

The Sedgwick Inn was hosting a small wedding rehearsal dinner the night we had stayed so Andrew and I got in on some really good food and met some of the locals from near by towns. Ha, again, what are the odds?

Andrew and Anna meet small town Colorado.

After a delightful breakfast in the morning, we continued westward. On our way we spontaneously met up with the quartet that stayed the preceding night in Julesberg. Colorado isn’t big enough for us bike tourists!  It was really neat how that worked out. We biked together until Sterling and then said our goodbyes; they’re off to Denver while we made our way to Fort Collins.

Our last break together with the quartet before we parted paths for sure this time

Beautiful sight.

Where as  Iowa and Nebraska serenaded the two of us with winds, Colorado gifted us with heat. VERY HOT.

Can you feel the heat??? We did!

We arrived at another random little town (Andrew said that we easily made up 1/8 of the population) to duck from the hellish heat. Trust me, we weren’t smiling when we first pulled in there. However, it turned out to be a great night.

View from Stoneham, Colorado. Lucked out with another beautiful camp site.

The next morning we were off to Fort Collins, Colorado. En route we got our first glimpse of the Rockies: we were stoked!

After a long 60 miles of biking we finally found a place to stop for breakfast…

…and we made up for every mile!

The Rockies!

We made it to Fort Collins where we are staying with Andrew’s relatives. Awesome family that has graciously opened up their home to us. They have two wonderful little boys, Gregory and William, who have been a joy for us, and no doubt a joy and a blessing for their parents, Chairs and Allen. We had an awesome and relaxing evening and I even got to enjoy Star Wars for the first time. So glad to share such a profound experience with my two new little friends. Precious.

Tomorrow we are off to Boulder and beyond. Thanks for reading and take care all.

Much love, Anna

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The Cornhusker State

June 21, 2012

WHAT a state. Nebraska presented Anna and I with everything a bike tourer would need. Few climbs, great scenery, good food, and beautiful people – period. We spent a nice rest day in Omaha with my buddy James. James is getting ready to teach high school at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. A heck of a guy, James is going to be a wonderful model for his students. On our rest day Anna and I meandered around Omaha visiting the city’s farmer’s market (more on that soon) and taking advantage of the College World Series.

At the ballpark in Omaha. We caught the Kent State vs. Arkansas game. Arkansas beat em pretty bad and I am afraid our rep from New York, Stony Brook, was eliminated pretty early. Great weekend to be in Omaha though. Super lively… Arkansas fans are good fun.

At the Omaha Farmers Market we swung by a goat cheese stand. A sucker for free samples, we were on the prowl. Anna, a big cheese fan, eyed a really neat looking stand put together by the Shadow Brook Farm in Lincoln, Nebraska. As Anna tested the cheese we chatted with Cheruth and she kindly offered us a tour of the farm and a bed and shower for the following night. We were all there.

The Shadow Brook Farm is doing great things. Run by Cheruth and her husband Kevin, they specialize in goat cheese and goat milk. Their passion and their clear love of the land, the goats, their employees, and their lives is inspiring.

Despite only 70 miles from Omaha to Lincoln, Anna and I were introduced to the “Wind of Nebraska.” Anna and I became close friends with the wind… Arriving at Shadow Brook was very nice.

We spent the evening cooking together and then spent the better part of the night chatting. We didn’t make it to bed until 2 AM, which is mighty late for those of us who have a 9 PM bedtime. But Kevin and Cheruth were so easy to chat with the hours slipped by as we talked about the farm, our trip, and just a mess of other wonderful topics.

Next morning before we took off Anna and I took a little tour of the farm. Cute cute goats.

Pigs.

To get Anna’s goat milk fix, Cheruth sent us down to the milking barn. All the goats are milked and then the milk is put into the giant vat behind Anna. She was on cloud nine…

Leaving Shadow Brook was tough. No, that is an understatement. It was very tough. Kevin and Cheruth have created an incredible thing. Please, if you are a cheese fan, a milk fan, or just appreciate people who REALLY hooked up Anna and I, please support Shadow Brook. They have big plans for their farm in the near future and we will be sure to keep you all posted about their progress.

Back to the road. The long route 34 and 30 have been our homes across Nebraska.

Anna and I usually take breakfast and lunch at gas stations and convenience stores. Our loaded bikes usually get a few questions but here in Nebraska we get a whole lot more than questions…

In Seward, Nebraska Pam and Dean became our GPS, Google, and Zagats all in one. They were eager to share route advice, camping info, and food suggestions. Dean also is the head of EMTs in Nebraska and was very insistent that if we had any problem, to call and he would get an ambulance to us right away. We were tempted to call the next day when we hit those 40 MPH headwinds…

Also in Seward we met Jack. Jack is the town Santa Clause. Really. He gifted us two winning lotto tickets. Right before we pushed off he came HAULING around the corner in his huge pickup truck. “I just won $15 on a $2 ticket! Go buy yourself something sweet!”

Something Sweet: Anna’s Reuben Sandwich in North Platte, Nebraska.

Something Sweet: My carrot cake and ice cream.

What one starts to value while traveling across the country on a bike changes drastically from the first hundred miles to the preceding thousands. We have found the direction of the wind is either our best friend or worst enemy. We value roads with wide shoulders, big trucks heading in the same direction as us (their wind pushes us a bit), shaded park benches, lonely laundry mats, and friendly libraries.

Anna and I have also become pros at gas stations. Important stuff: table within view of the bikes, free hot water, plenty of condiments, cold water from the soda fountain, and an updated daily paper. Taking over for lunch…

The vast majority of Nebraska is quite flat. Which is nice if there is no wind. But if there is any wind it feels like a hurricane. Day three in Nebraska left us with 40 MPH headwinds. Literally. We averaged 6 MPH over the course of 30 miles as we slogged along in our baby gears. It was without a doubt the most testing parting of the trip. But we trooped it out and as always, we arrived. Living the dream!

However our final day in Nebraska blessed us with no wind. Anna and I could ride in the big ring averaging over 15 MPH as we cruised!

Our 95 mile ride from Kearney to North Platte was the first time we began to see the famous sand hills of Nebraska and the Dakotas. They are gorgeous and simply look like a picture. “They look fake” I commented to Anna.

Route 30 runs parallel to train tracks clear across Nebraska. We often got toots as they passed by. Scared the heck out of me sometimes…

We ran into Tory as he makes his way to participate in RAGBRAI. RAGBRAI is a huge ride across Iowa that gets upwards of 10,000 people. There are your roadies in race kits and five thousand dollar bikes, fellas doing it on mountain bikes, unicycles, and I guess last year there was a guy who wheeled a 20 foot cross on roller blades. Anna and I were stopped constantly in Iowa asking if we were training for RAGBRAI. Anyway, Troy offered us some wonderful route advice and plenty of stuff to look forward to in Colorado.

One of the neatest posters I have seen so far. Hung up in a corner store in Brady, Nebraska.

I miss the Brady Faith Center dearly – period.

Anna and I were considering riding to Wyoming and then cutting down into Colorado but I think we are opting to head south into Colorado from Ogallala, Nebraska. Ma, Dad, Petr, and Irina, you will all be happy to hear that we heeded the advice of farmers and opted to avoid the fires that I guess are doing some mighty damage in the Fort Collins, Colorado area. And from the words of a farmer in Hersey, Nebraska, “There is nothing in Cheyenne but tumbleweed, jackrabbits, and fires.” I am sure there is more, but nevertheless, vamos a Colorado!

Much love, Andrew

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Iowa is Not Flat

June 16, 2012

Iowa

Population: cows

Typography: HILLS.

Weather: Devil’s wind.

Based on our latest entries, it would be easy to deduce that biking cross country is a jolly occasion comprised of good food, boat rides, big cities, and incredible hospitality. While all of that is very true, it would be a gross fallacy if we let you think that sunny skies and good people is the extent of our cross country experience.  Iowa has been a state of ups and downs; typographically, physically and emotionally.

We left Wheatland, but didn’t get far because I realized that I forgot my cell phone, turned around, escape from the headwinds. After retrieving my phone we turned westward, towards the stubborn and unceasing winds. Stopped to chat with a man who was running from coast to coast with short shorts and a baby carriage, at least that’s what it looked like from the distance. We stopped to exchange a little bit about our experiences and offer any kind of wisdom that we had gleaned from our coastal treks. It’s fun to track what becomes “topical” when traveling: road shoulders (or lack thereof) and head winds dominated the conversation.

Seth has been on the road for 72 day, is averaging about 30 miles a day (running!), and according to his blog he only took two rest days… quote Andrew, “This guy is an animal!” Best of luck to you, Seth! Follow his blog here: http://www.sethwolpin.com/2012/06/finding-my-way-out-of-iowa.html

Andrew had to turn around to retrieve our map from Seth…Onward to Tipton!

What followed was probably the lowest part of this trip for me. Andrew mentioned that water towers became beacons of hope for us, well at that point mail boxes started to look like water towers because I wanted so badly to see anything other than the hills and the corn fields that consumed my field of sight. And the winds. That day were biking against 30 mph winds gusts, which was both mentally and physically exhausting. The particular stretch from Wheatland to Tipton was only 25 miles, but it felt like all 100 miles that we biked the day earlier. Needless to say I was very happy when we finally made it to Tipton.

I was so happy to see that tower!

After lunch in Tipton, we were headed to Morse, and based on what we saw in some of the other towns that we passed Andrew stopped to make sure that they had a grocery store or restaurant or just “life” in that town.. The woman kindly fought back a chuckle and told Andrew that they have one VFW that serves a meal once a week so we should bike to the next town over. We did and we made it to West Branch (Herbert Hoover’s stomping grounds).

Sitting in front of Herbert Hoover’s house.

The Herbert Hoover Museum.

We parked our bikes and walked through a gorgeous park in West Branch.

Next morning we biked to Iowa City. With the winds at our backs, it was like we were on a whole different trip. Winds really do make a huge difference.

We stopped to have a fantastic breakfast at the Hamburg Inn, local hole in the wall diner frequented by locals and celebrities alike (Bill Clinton and Kurt Vonnegut to name a few).

Eggs Florentine: YUM. Delicious breakfast fueled us for the morning trek.

Our lunch break in Brooklyn: flag central.

On the way to Tipton, we crossed paths with three tourists from Arizona. Jordan, Sam, and Mike are biking from Washington to Boston and raising money for Charity Water and an organization that sends care packages to troops in Afghanistan. It was a lot of fun to bump into fellow tourists. Seemed like a group fun group of guys and wishing them all the best on their trip! You can follow their trip at http://mikeandjordanadventure.wordpress.com/

All hills to Newton, but what else is new? Love you, Iowa. The people of  Newton made up for the uphill struggle. Turns out we were only a mile or so away from the Iowa Speedway where they were testing cars for the big Indie Car race next weekend. We pulled up and were met by two really nice security guards: Dennis and Steve. After telling them a little about our trip, Dennis offered to give us a VIP tour of the track. Cool, huh? We thought so!

Iowa Speedway: super impressive!

You see Andrew down there?? Yeah, it’s that big.

Denni in the flesh! We were too lucky to have met him. He’s a man that goes a hundred miles a minute with many interesting stories to share. He loves the track almost as much as he loves Buddy Holly and the Crickets (He’ s a HUGE fan).

Dennis turned on his hazard lights as we followed him to the restaurant from the race track. Priceless.

Dennis then invited us to dinner at the Newton Family Restaurant. When we walked into the restaurant Andrew turned around and asked Dennis, “It’s Wednesday, right?” because the restaurant was packed out as if it was the weekend. After trying the food we understood why: absolute gem! After dinner, Dennis graciously invited us to spend the night in his home. Too awesome.

Dennis and the restaurant owner….great guys!

Dennis showing us his Buddy Holly collection…. it’s no joke.

Newton’s Law: what goes up must come down (hah, really it’s quite funny in light of our experience). After a wonderful night in Newton, we had another miserable ride to Casey, Iowa: hills, winds, and to spice things up a bit, a four mile stretch of gravel roads. BUT..we made it!

Andrew got a kick out of this..

Well Andrew had done a phenomenal job with navigation…up until this point. Nice job, Christopher Columbus. Four miles of rock, gravel, heat, and dust…needless to say these were not pristine biking conditions.

A Casey townie told us we could duck the rain and sleep in the community storage warehouse (not exactly sure what it was) …can’t beat Midwest hospitality!

Thunderstorm, winds, and hills aside we finally crossed over into Nebraska. Arrivederci, hill country and hello flatland Nebraska!

More tourists on our way to Nebraska. These two started their trek in Philly and headed to San Fransisco. Best of luck! Despite heading i the same direction, these two ended up taking a different route leaving Andrew to inquire, “Do they know something we don’t know?” My guess was they knew about all the climbs you have to go through to get to Nebraska! Although the downhills were a lot of fun.

After 88 miles we made it to Omaha! YES.

We’re staying with a friend of Andrew’s, James. They went to school together in Le Moyne. James is taking classes at Creighton University and was still able to find time to graciously accommodate the both of us. Much thanks, James! We are taking a rest day before continuing our trek westward. Andale!

Again, many thanks to everyone that we have encountered thus far. Talk to you soon.

Much love,

Anna

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