Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 18......we made it!

A big day today. We are inching ever so close to the Golden Gate Bridge. Today was our last opportunity to go game day and Greg wanted to make it clear he was proud to be a Deav so he finally turned sideways to show the world he was no longer going to be a closet Deav. After this start to the day there was no stopping us now. 
As for the ride itself, I wanted to keep the ending under wraps for a while but what the hell, I'll spill the beans (i guess the title already did that). We made it to the Golden Gate Bridge!!!!

As you can see, it was NOT an easy ride. 70 miles and over 7000 ft of climb. 

As expected, the ride along the HWY 1 was spectacular. There was a mixture of trees, small fishing towns and rugged beaches. There were many climbs along the way and the beautiful scenery gave me the perfect excuse to stop and take a picture when I was actually dead tired. 
Leaving Stinson Beach there was a pretty good climb and though the fog limits the beauty of the shot, I definitely got a great rest in though. 
Riding around the bay heading towards Stinson Beach. 
Shortly into the ride, we hit the first of the major goals of this trip and that was to ride 1000 miles (remember Sec 4 of the rules states we need to also cross the Golden Gate Bridge). As the odometer "clicked" (not sure the correct adjective for a digital odometer) over to 1000 we had to stop and capture the moment. 
We were feeling the Village People (hint for those that went to UW: they sang YMCA) which worked pretty well considering we were in our jerseys, tights and going to San Francisco. 

The original plan starting today was to only ride about 50 miles and spend the night, then finish tomorrow (of course the simple fact that we planned something doomed it to failure). The only campsite that came up on Google in the area was Mt Tamalpais State Park. Since we were within the 72 hour on-line reservation limit, it was a first come first served situation. Of course the camp hosts NEVER answer the phone so you have to actually drive there to verify if there is a spot. So Cheryl and Krissie drove ahead to check it out. As it turned out, the "stress-o-meter" of yesterdays parking lot incident pales in comparison to what happened on the road to Mt Tamalpais State Park. The road was 3 miles of severe vertical incline and switch backs that would make a HUMVEE cringe let a lone a 35 ft Class A motor home, but she came through like she always does and brought the big Intruder in safely. Cheryl even had the mountain bikers asking her for an autograph and Billy Goats nodding their approval. Needless to say, there was no space at the campsite so we decided to make the push for the famous Golden Gate Bridge and phase 2 of our goal!

Of course the last 19 miles couldn't just be like the final stage of the Tour de France and include a flat route and sipping champaign. Nope we had one more monster climb as we came inland from the coast. You can't see from this shot but Greg isn't even sweating and was looking for his glass of champaign. 
But it was all worth it as we road up Bridge Way to the golden landmark of San Francisco (its color is actually industrial orange - PMS 173, 175 and Pantone 180 for you interior designers). But I digress, the point is we finally made it!!!!!

What a tremendous feeling as we approached the bridge.  There were thousands of people on the bridge with us at that moment, all with their unique reason for being there, but for Greg, Cheryl and I it was the culmination of an 18 day journey we will always remember. 
As if simply getting to the bridge was not enough, my friend from high school (grade school is really more accurate) Mark works as a painter on the bridge (talk about job security!) and was able to get us all on the north tower!  Seriously.  Words can not describe how cool it was. I'm afraid of heights so I needed a tranquilizer and a pair of Depends before we went up there but it was truly amazing. 

Thank you so much Mark for the exclamation point to the journey and a memory that will last a lifetime. 
So there it is Day 18 and our completed journey from Kennewick WA in the book. What a ride!  

Before I close I want to thank Cheryl and Greg for joining me. I know 4 months ago a 1000 mile bike ride was the furthest thing from your mind but you made the commitment to join me and I am grateful because I could not have done this without you. Cheryl, you are the trips MVP. Always there when we needed you providing encouragement, with information on the road ahead and fantastic meals along the way. I love you!  
Greg, my road partner. I'll always remember the "little things" we shared on the open road along the way. The "picture moments," tight shoulders on 199 or "jackpot island." 
Krissie, thank you for minding the fort at home which allowed Greg to join us. You meeting us in Willits provided a needed boost to get across the goal line. What great friends you and Greg are. I love you both!

I hope you all had as much fun as I did.  Thank you!!!

So now the bikes are securely stored, ready for a much deserved rest as we travel back home (straight up I5 I might add).  Intruder, unfortunately you're not quite there yet so hang on baby!
Finally, thank you all for following this blog. It has been fun reflecting on the days events every evening and sharing the experience with you. 

See you all on my next sabbatical!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 17.......a touch of Mexican.

After a day off yesterday we were back add it early on Tuesday. Actually "early" is relative in that at the beginning of the trip we were riding by 730 am and now we are lucky to get out by 9 am.  Notice anything different?  Yes!  Greg is back on his own bike!  It's going to be a great day. 
To start the day, we were less than 100 miles from San Francisco but for some idiotic reason we decided we wanted more "scenery" and took a right turn at Santa Rosa and headed for HWY 1 so we can ride along the coast. After 900 miles we are "feeling it" with mother nature and want to see beautiful landscapes. Go figure. 

In general, it was a nice ride getting in 70 miles and over 3500 feet of climb.  One of the "lights" (not sure if it was a high or low) was we were stopped by a police officer while riding on HWY 101. He turned on his loud speaker and actually gave us the "PULL OVER AND STOP" Greg was really nervous because he thought it was the Eureka Police still looking for the stolen bike. As it turned out, HWY 101 had turned into a freeway and no mon motorized vehicles were allowed past Mendocino County.  

He actually did us a favor because it forced us to look at other routes and we found an awesome route that went through the Dry Creek Valley vineyards. I was amazed at the number wineries (there were 35!). It broke my heart having to ride past ALL of that wine without tasting even ONE!
This sign lists all the wineries on the area (so much wine, so little time!)
While Greg and I were riding through beautiful wine country, Cheryl and Krissie were creating a different kind of memory. Cheryl has been doing a tremendous job driving the RV on this trip but is learning everyday. Today's lesson?  Ensure plenty of turning radius when entering a parking lot. Apparently she got stuck half way in a parking lot and caused a little bit of a traffic "disturbance." Cheryl hasn't seen this much attention since she made the front page of the retirement home newsletter in Fossil Oregon.  But she has learned not to panic and worry about being called out on the Santa Rosa Sky View traffic report and eventually got back on the main road and out of trouble. Well done!
We finally reached historic HWY 1 and decided to stay at Bodega Bay for the night. We have all the fix-ins for an excellent meal on the RV but we have been craving seafood all trip and we saw what we thought was a seafood restaurant within walking distance of the RV park. Silly us for thinking seafood when the sign read "Seafood Restaurant." as we got closer we saw some fine print that read "with a touch of mexican." Turned out it was a "Mexican Restaurant" with "with a touch of seafood."  Nevertheless, we had a very good meal.  The highlight was getting the picture right on the first take. Krissie's butt looks fine, Greg isn't talking and Cheryl is in proper position. Great job team!
We finished the night off with some cards and a little dancing (don't even ask). I'm not sure what the rest of the RV park thought but what the hell. We only have a couple days left on the trip and we're going to enjoy every minute. 
So the latest plan is to only go for 50 tomorrow and actually cross the bridge on Thursday morning (subject to change of course). We are so close we can smell it (then again, that might be the touch of Mexican). 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 16......a day off (sort of)

We've ridden for 15 consecutive days without a day off (I guess that's what consecutive means). Since we had a lot of errands to run, we decided not to ride today. First on the list?  Pick up a rental car and drive back the our favorite hell hole of Eureka (133 miles!) and get Greg's bike. This is such a classic picture. We're supposed to be taking scenic photos of powerful pacific waves crashing on the beach or majestic mountains of the Cascade Range. What am I taking pictures of today?  Eureka Police Department. 
I have been a little critical of the city of Eureka (ok, a lot) however I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Allen from Eureka Pawn Shop who notified police when Greg's bike was brought in. He is a terrific guy. I would take him over Rick, Big Hoss, Grandpa or Chum Lee any day. Also officer Wayne from the police department was terrific as well.  Greg and I both take our helmets off to you. Thank you!!
The silver lining on going back to Eureka is that we got to visit Lost Coast brewery again (I think 3 times in a row justifies theropy) We did something different this visit, you guessed it, beer tasting. The winner?  Downtown Brown!  It was quite the battle with 8 Ball Stout and Raspberry Brown. It actually required an overtime pint. With overtime pints, everyone is a winner. 
The final piece to our logistical puzzle today was to meet Krissie at the Willits Hertz rental car office as she drove in from Sacramento airport so she can finish the last leg of the journey with us. As you can see mission accomplished. 
We have about 140 miles left to go to the Golden Gate Bridge. We added a few miles because we are crossing over to HWY 1 to get some beautiful coastal scenery (and make up for the day in the Eureka Police Department) so we decided to give our bikes some TLC. I'm still having front derailleur problems Kyle. 
With the four of us being together for the first time in a while, we wanted to get a group picture to capture the moment. Now we've all been there. You've got a group of people together and you want the perfect picture of everyone together. It takes multiple attempts because each time some one says "I don't look good" Well today was no different. We wanted a group shot with the fabulous four and needless to say, it took more than one shot to make everyone happy. The empty Crown Royal bottle may have had something to do with our inability to coordinate. 

Take 1: Actually pretty good except we thought the light was too bright coming through the window. No problem we'll just take "one more."
Take 2: Not bad except Krissie thinks this angle makes her butt looks big. OK lets switch positions. 
Take 3: Ah this is the one.  But wait a second why is Krissie's face glowing?  OK just one more. 
Take 4: this is the 4th picture and we have been using the self timer app all trip that visually counts down. Greg, so why are you talking at the last second?
Take 5: Cheryl decides to suddenly lean forward?
Take 6: OK. Lets call it good for crying out loud, the chicken on the BBQ is burning. 
Tomorrow is going to be a big day. We are looking to get 80 miles in so we can finish up on Wednesday afternoon. We are back to full strength on bikes and have Krissie with us so the stage is set for the final push to San Francisco baby!  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 15........bacon, bikes, bad movie, bands

A great day today (big surprise). We are in the world famous KOA/Chucky Cheese/Disneyland RV Park in Willits CA. As I mentioned yesterday, this place has everything for the kids (which is probably why we like it). This morning, being Sunday, was breakfast day at the park. It was a champaign brunch (minus the champaign and most of the brunch).  There were no prices posted so we thought maybe it was free so we eagerly walked up to the window excited for our ration of 2 pancakes, one egg sausage and bacon. "That will be $6 each please"  Six bucks?!  But it was an awkward must pay situation, so we did.  (note the pride in Greg has he wears a correctly spelled Oregon State shirt)
Today's ride was a short one. We simply wanted to get a few miles in so when we get Krissie tomorrow we are that much closer to San Francisco. As we can see, we had our park wristbands on and are ready to go. 
We got in 30 miles and only 1361 ft of climb. A nice short ride, especially since my stomach wasn't feeling too good from breakfast this morning. 

We've been at this for 15 days and all of our pictures of us off our bikes and I know there are some conspiracy theorist who don't believe we are actually riding our bikes. Well let me set you all straight. We did in fact land men on the moon and yes we are RIDING our bikes to San Francisco. Here is a picture of us actually riding (nice hold out pick eh?)
After the ride, we had some time on our hands so guess what we did?  (No, the beer would come later). We went to see Pacific Rim at the local theater in Willits. It was quite simply the worst movie I have seen in years. I gave it zero bags of popcorn. Greg gave it one because he did not fall asleep. Cheryl gave it one because she thought a couple of the guys were eye candy. Final rating? 2/3 bags of popcorn (out of five). 

When we got back it was still scorching so we decided to utilize one of the many amenities at the magnificent RV Park, specifically the water mushroom (fortunately the kids were gone). Cheryl has done such a great job taking care of Greg and I that she has neglected her own exercise program. So today she decided to run laps around the water mushroom. 
We also got an unexpected surprise when we were told that the wristbands change color every Sunday. So we got a blue one yesterday and an orange one today. How lucky can you get. We may never take these off. 
So tomorrow is a big day on a variety of fronts. First of all, Krissie will be here at about three (yea!). Secondly, we need to get Greg's bike in Eureka. The police have it but we couldn't pick it up until Monday. Sooooooo this requires some logistical  handsprings to accomplish. We are renting a car (much cheaper than driving the RV 130 miles) and going back to the scene of the crime and picking up the bike then coming back to Willits. We will then meet Krissie, hop in the RV and continue our journey to San Francisco. Whew!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 14.....finally made it to Willits.

It's a big day today. We have been pointing to Willits CA for days as this is where we will link up with Greg's wife Krissie (boy is he excited). We left the RV park under blue skies so we expected a warm day but wow it got HOT. The jersey cycle brings us to game day again so I'm a Coug and Greg is a Deav (Greg still not showing the side of his jersey)
We got in 60 miles with 5500 ft of climb. Between the climbing and the heat I had flashbacks of earlier in the trip. Previously  we have never went triple digits but today we hit 100! I went through 8 gatorades and 4 waters (that was before the beer) and I still didn't pee. 

We made one last pass through the Redwoods. These trees are simply amazing. 
We still have lots of open road to cover. Traffic is much less than in and around the Eureka Hell Hole which makes riding a lot easier. One new twist is the addition of rumble strips on the side of the road. We haven't seen too many of these until today. If you hit these with your bike they make your bike rattle bad enough to knock the fillings out of your teeth. But the distance between the edge of the road and the rumble strip is only a foot or two. This can get pretty dicey at times (especially doing 40 mph down a hill). Either you lose fillings, ride in traffic or run off the road into a ravine. The combination of these choices results in major pucker factor.  
Another big milestone today....the first flat tire. Unfortunately it fell upon Greg (but I provided excellent moral support) and I was so impressed with how quickly he changed it. Watching the master at work, I felt like I was watching a NASCAR pit stop. I had a hankering to chug a Budweiser and grab a pack of Marlboros.  Here he is in action (still not showing the side of his jersey). 
So we finally made it to Willits and decided to hang our hat at the world famous Willits KOA. This is no ordinary RV park. I'm trying to decide whether its more like Disneyland or Chucky Cheese. 

It as a little bit of everything (except decent WiFi of course). There is a petty zoo (below) frisbee golf, 4 playgrounds, a train and the list goes on. 
Of course there is a pool and even an old town where there is dancing and Karaoke. 
Its great for kids and families (I even got plowed into by a remote controlled car) but where is the brewery!  Believe it or not, ALL occupants of this KOA are required to wear a wrist band at ALL times. Since Krissie does not arrive until Monday I will be sporting this baby for two days. No joke. 
As for tomorrow we will be hanging out in Willits. We will likely ride about 30 miles to get some miles behind us and have Cheryl haul us back to RV Disneyland. This will shorten the distance to San Francisco.  It's getting closer. Less than 200 miles! (and my butt feels it)