Into San Francisco, California!

IMG_0990We stopped at a restaurant to refuel and I was met by Carmen. She told us how she was so moved by our mission to Bike the US for MS that she handed me a donation and a hug. This occurs often as MS affects so many people and their family and friends are taken back by strangers who would ride their bikes across this country to help them.

IMG_0989The photo to the right  is from Carson City, Nevada which was the last city we visited until we moved to our final state. We couldn’t believe this sunset as it appeared to point the way. When we arrived at the California line, we were given the opportunity to choose a more scenic route with a little welcome to California sign or we could opt for a larger sign with less views. We chose the latter as we wanted to celebrate our accomplishment. Tim provided champaign for everyone as we stayed at the line and “took in” the moment.

IMG_0999Most of the climbing had been completed; however, we still had to cross the Sierra Nevada. We rode up approximately 3500′ to 8500′. I was amazed at the vast changes in scenary. We went from a parched area into a green and very alive one. We camped close to the top of the mountain and looked forward to the descent on the following day.

We were not disappointed as we got up the next day and headed down the mountain. Even though the road surface had seen better days, we continued to see views that only pictures could accurately capture. IMG_1038One of the battles that we constantly faced was choosing whether to stop during a 30+ MPH descent to snap a photo or just to take in the site while moving. Some chose to do both!

When we arrived in Folsom, California, Tim, Ed and I purchased hamburgers and hotdogs for everyone. Another rider from 2012 had bought beverages and Kurt (one of our ride leaders) and another rider, Brett, who is a chef by trade, grilled the burgers and dogs.

Our next to last cycling day was into Winters, California. I wanted to come into San Francisco with a nice clean jersey and Tim and I packed several jerseys into backpacks. We rode into town to do the laundry and upon leaving the laundromat, we were greeted by a couple who wanted to know what we were doing. We explained our mission and they were extremely interested in the endeavor. They were very familiar with San Francisco and wanted to know our plans. Tim told the gentleman, Kirk, that he wanted to go see Alcatraz but there were no tickets available. Kirk informed us that his company works with the Parks Department and immediately got on his phone. Tim got his tickets!

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Nevada!

We are having a great time in the desert beating the heat and the wind! The mornings have been pleasant and the winds have been light. We start early in the mornings to avoid high temperatures. Also the winds in the mornings are bearable.

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Dolores, Colorado to Utah!

imageThis is the last day in Colorado and we are looking forward to going to Utah tomorrow! I cannot believe how fast we go through the states. There are rides all over the country that encompass tours across various states. This has been so different as just as we get used to a particular state, we move from it and into another adventure.

The first day in Utah was amazing as we traversed very different terrain. Almost immediately after we crossed the state’s border, we were greeted with peaks that were touchable. The Rockies in Colorado could be seen where we had entered that state, but we did not reach them for days. When we did hit The Rockies and started climbing them, I felt that I was in a different country.

Utah feels as though I am on a different planet! Our rides take us to the top of various mountains and then back to the bottom imageagain. As we climb, I am reminded of the hills and mountains in Virginia. The major difference, though, is that Virginia climbs were measured in hundreds of feet and Utah mountain climbs are measured in thousands of feet.

IMG_0866Our first night in Utah was strange. We became involved in an electrical storm with very high winds. I took down my tent at 2:30 AM and thought that at any moment, we would experience a huge rainstorm. The rain came but it quickly disappeared. No rest, though. We were greeted with hotel rooms on the second day that were very welcomed and this allowed us to catch up on a bunch of sleep.

July 11, 2014 Telluride, CO!

IMG_0421I have not been able to post anything on the blog due to limited Internet access and I could not wait to get this up. Colorado has been awesome. In Pueblo, we were treated to a (cheap) hotel that was very nice. The amenities were not especially great, but just having a warm shower and a clean bathroom were awesome! It is not uncommon for us to shower with cold water or to wash off with a cloth next to a road.

In Pueblo, we had a rest day that enabled us to help a family who was struggling with MS. My job was to help clean the gutters of the house and I was on top of it. The family provided subs and Pepsi after the work was completed!

Central and western Colorado is not like any other state. It is not just the views which I experience every day but the type of riding which so different than anything I could have imagined.

IMG_0391As we cycled through eastern Colorado, the views were very similar to Kansas. The land was mostly flat, but there were a few rolling hills. When we started into the mountains, I was hesitant to believe I was actually climbing. The roads up the mountains are not nearly as steep at the ones where we had to attack in Virginia and Kentucky. Don’t get me wrong. They are higher, much higher. In fact, it is normal to have to climb one mountain for over two hours!

IMG_0604When I ride on flat land (Florida), 16-19 MPH is very common. There were times in Virginia where I was climbing a hill that was less than 200 feet higher. In Colorado, I have climbed mountains that were 2500 feet higher but I was able to generate more speed.

The views cannot be described. Maybe that is why I do not mind climbing. As I go around one bend, another scene awaits.

 

Photos from Kansas!

Carbondale, Illinois to Pittsburg, Kansas June 26, 2014

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Awesome! It just keeps getting better. Illinois seemed like a blur and granted, we only were in the state for a few days but it was excellent! Tim B. and I split a room at the Best Western in Carbondale as this city was the site of our rest stop. We had been cycling for 12 straight days and logged 727 miles. The cool thing about this stop was it had three professional bike shops where we could divide the work needed for our machines.

I do not know if most of you would want to know this, but bike maintenance is the second most important part of this mission, next to personal maintenance. After all, if you or the bike is not healthy, the trip comes to a standstill. People are depending upon you to fulfill your obligation and they are pulling and praying for the group to complete its destiny.

I received a package from Darla that contained much needed supplies, ie. Gatorade, Cliff Bars and cool Under Armor clothing. Of course, I could have purchased the items from the local stores in Carbondale, but I would have had to find transportation as my bike was being repaired. It was one less thing I had to worry about.

One of the towns we visited included Chester, IL which is the “Home of Popeye,” where a bronze statue of Popeye the Sailor Man stands in the Elzie C. Segar Memorial Park, which honors Popeye’s creator. Two officers of the Chester Police Department blocked traffic so we could ride our bikes across a bridge over the Mississippi River. The photo is a picture of the officers’ patch.

Once we crossed the Mississippi, we arrived in Missouri. I was surprised how quickly we travelled through the state although we did see rain while we passed through a few towns. Some people have asked about the weather conditions and how we handle the rain. Honestly, sometimes the rain is light and somewhat welcomed as the afternoons can become extremely hot.

One night, Tim B. had assisted one of the riders who became overheated. He travelled by van to a medical facility where the rider was assisted. He asked to be dropped back where he left the route and continued to bike to camp. He did this while it rained and with night quickly approaching. I was able to get a room for him which was less than a mile from the campsite. He truly exemplifies what we are trying to accomplish—help those who need it most.

The hills in Missouri were very different from the mountains we encountered in Virginia and Kentucky. It seemed that we were either climbing or descending throughout each day. It became a game to guess how long it would take to go from the top of one hill to the top of the next. Some were measured in seconds, due to the speed the bikes hit on the descent. Other hills took everything out of you. It was not uncommon for my heart rate to approach 170 on climbs.

IMG_0348Today, June 26, 2014, we reached Kansas. As I write this, we are in a beautiful high school in Pittsburg, KS. We have been treated like celebrities. I have been interviewed by local media and, by the time we leave tomorrow morning, we will have been fed three times by wonderful ladies who also are working in finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.

Although we have a routine, each day brings its own joys. One of the greatest things I have experienced is receiving donations on the road. I am not just talking about people we meet, but also from friends and family through the Internet. It blesses me so much that so many people have joined this adventure for a tremendous cause!