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.


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

Support Bike For Brady


2 Responses to “California Love”

  1. Jim Robinson said

    OUTSTANDING!!! You two have done it!! Real mountain animals!! Very proud of both of you.

  2. Sue Schuh said

    in tears here – sad that it’s over, soooo proud that you did it!! Can’t wait to see you both….

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