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Cross Country Challenge Journal, page 1
San Francisco to Salt Lake City, UT
(Western States Tour)

current date and time 2008-05-09 | 09:10:18
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Number of Journal Entries online: 13
Day 0 - Saturday June 4th - Opening Day !
Welcome to the Cross Country Challenge!
Cyclists arrived throughout the day with their bicycle and prepared for the big adventure ahead. Planned activities: bike assembly and safety inspection, ride registration and orientation session. As you can imagine there is a lot of excitement and a little anxiety in the air as everyone prepares for the ride to begin. After our first meal together, all the cyclists retired to the hotel to rest up for the big kick off tomorrow.

posted 2005-06-07 | 13:15:49 | article number: 1

Day 1 - Sunday June 5th - San Francisco to Fairfield, CA. (81 miles) 3200� cumulative climb.
Up early to eat Breakfast, get packed and line up in front of the hotel with bikes, the cyclists were all rearing to go!! Weather started off a little chilly in the low 60�s and did warm up a little throughout the day. The group began the Cross Country Challenge together, riding the 1st - 16 miles from the Holiday Inn Express over to Golden Gate State Beach for the Ceremonial Wheel Dip. (It is a tradition @ America by Bicycle, on cross country bicycle tours to dip your rear wheel in the Pacific Ocean to officially kick off the ride, and to conclude the tour by dipping your front wheel in the Atlantic Ocean, having ridden the entire country) After the ceremonial wheel dip, cyclists departed the beach at their own pace. Now the adventure really begins. The day is filled with so many things to do and see it�s hard to cycle too quickly and ultimately everyone gets to Fairfield late in the afternoon. Highlights include: the Presidio, cycling across the Golden State Bridge, Sausalito, many scenic bike paths, past Folsom Prison, around San Francisco Bay, past Napa Valley, and one final climb and down to Fairfield, to name a few. A little head wind kept us cool early and later in the day it turned around and gave us a little push the last 30 miles to the days final destination. Everyone arrived in Fairfield safely.

posted 2005-06-07 | 13:21:42 | article number: 2

Day 2 - Monday June 6th - Fairfield to Sacramento, CA (57 miles) 600� cumulative climb.
Whew...............Day 2, are we there yet!?? Today was a more laid back day. After the crazy kick off and ride out of the city, we find ourselves a little more relaxed and out in the country for most of the riding. Everyone is getting to know each other better. Some friendships have begun as well as some classic goofing around, this is the way to see the country. There clearly are a few jokers in this bunch. Weather today started out in the 60�s and warmed up nicely to the low 80�s by days end. Pretty flat terrain through a fertile farming region of central California. We saw everything from broccoli to artichokes growing. Ultimately the farming region turned to neighborhoods as we cycled thru Davis and the UC Davis campus. This area is very bicycle friendly as we picked up a bike path and rode all the way into Sacramento. We stopped off before our final hotel in Olde Town Sacramento for lunch and to play tourist. A few of us even went over to the State Capitol for a visit and ran into Governor AAAArnold. A nice tail wind was our friend throughout the day. Everyone arrived in Sacramento Safely. Overheard on the road today, �I didn�t know Sacramento was the State Capitol.�

posted 2005-06-08 | 15:19:15 | article number: 3

Day 3 - Tuesday June 7th - Sacramento to Auburn, CA (51 miles) 2000� cumulative climb.
Today is another moderate mileage day, were enjoying the slower pace and gearing up for the two big climb days to Truckee and Sparks. This was a perfect cycling day, temps 78-80F Clear and Sunny. We began on the Jebediah Smith Bicycle Trail in Sacramento and followed it along the the American River for 33 miles. The trail was fun and scenic and paved. The terrain today began to roll up a little as we get into the foothills of the Sierras. The bike trail ended @ Folsom Lake. There is a nice State Park here with a hydroelectric dam. The Lake was very full from all the melt off of the Sierra snow. I hope it�s not snowing tomorrow. After the SAG Stop at the lake we headed out to the Auburn-Folsom Road and followed it into town. We cycled past many farms and horse properties along the way. A long final climb into town and over to the hotel give us a small preview of things to come. The group seems to be getting much more comfortable with each other now that we�ve gotten in a little mileage. Everyone arrived in Auburn Safely. Overheard on the road today, �WOW!� �Hey look at these Mountains, that�s where we�re going tomorrow!�

posted 2005-06-08 | 15:24:42 | article number: 4

Day 4 - Wednesday June 8th - Auburn to Truckee, CA (76 miles) 8300� cumulative climb.
Today was a challenging day! It�s not so much the mileage as the climb. The biggest mountain passes and cumulative climb of the entire tour. Our route took us from the foothills up over the Sierras, Donner Pass 7600� and along the Truckee River. The weather today made it even more exciting, rain off and on throughout the day with temperatures in the mid 50�s. The scenery was breathtaking as the clouds swallowed up the view and then opened it up again. Donner Pass was an awesome site. �At the top of the pass was the second SAG stop of the day, inside a nice warm, toasty restaurant. �Everyone enjoying a game of pool and some nice hot soup. Soon the weather cleared just as it was time for a spectacular decent down the mountain switch backs to the base of Donner Pass Lake. Then it was a quick spin thru downtown Truckee and over to the Best Western. Everyone arrived in Truckee Safely. Overheard on the road Today, �It�s a long way to the top!� �WoW, that�s a fast, wild ride.�

posted 2005-06-11 | 21:35:34 | article number: 5

Day 5 - Thursday June 9th - Truckee to Sparks, NV (50 Miles) 4600� cumulative climb
Morning came quickly after yesterday�s big day. One more mountainous day and we�ll be over the Sierras and on the high desert plain. Cold and rainy in the morning but we warmed up quick with the 5 mile climb up and over Brockway Summit. Then a nice down hill run all the way to Tahoe. A little up and down along Incline Village and we cross into Nevada. Casinos everywhere! Then the big climb of the day came as we attacked Mount Rose. A long 8 mile climb to the top with views of Lake Tahoe over our shoulder. And what a scenic view!! The best climbing strategy is to get into a comfortable gear and just spin away. At the SAG Stop on Mt. Rose Summit 8991�, John Clark was building a snow man. There certainly was a lot of snow pack left over from the winter season. Some years, it�s well into July before the pack melts. Then the fun really came as we got an exhilarating and memorable 16 mile descent to the Desert floor. Most cyclists stopped often to admire the view and snap a few photos. It was sunny and warming up nicely as we rolled over to the hotel in Sparks. Everyone arrived in Sparks Safely. Overheard on the road, �Check out the View� � Are your rims hot?� �Any one going to the Casino� � Man the dinner buffet was awesome!�

posted 2005-06-11 | 22:21:49 | article number: 6

Day 6 - Friday June 10th - Sparks to Lovelock, NV (90 Miles) 1250� cumulative climb
We�re really making some progress now! The staff hangs a USA map on the community Bulletin Board with a line tracking our progress. Once in Lovelock we�ll have come 400 miles in 6 days, not too bad. The group is really getting tight. It�s hard not to get to know people when your together on the bike, 4 - 8 hours a day. And there are really some interesting people on this tour. The weather was warming up and we saw the sun come out as we departed Sparks. Our cycling continued as we slowly climbed up off the desert floor for the first 30 miles, then flattened out for the last 60 miles. The country is vast and wide open. The wind also gave us a little help, at least it�s in the right direction. We did have a sad note today when our friend Paul touched wheels with another cyclist, took a fall and separated his shoulder. The staff coordinated transportation back to Sparks and the hospital. He�ll be ok, but most likely will have to leave the tour. We all thought of him for the rest of the day and kept an extra eye on the road all the way to Lovelock. Beyond that we had a pretty good day. Overheard on the road, � On your Left!� Did you see the road runner!?!?� � Get well Paul!�

posted 2005-06-13 | 13:57:38 | article number: 7

Day 7 - Saturday June 11th - Lovelock to Winnemucca, NV (76 miles) 1400� cumulative climb
Another beautiful day here in the desert. Well that�s really a misconception. Most folks think Nevada is a desert like the Sahara or something. The country here is very beautiful, wide open, and really no large, white sand dunes. It is desolate at times, but beautiful. The terrain is gentle rolling with mountains in the distance. The vegetation is limited, mostly scrub brush with iron ore red soil in places. Our route follows the old Bidwell, Pioneer and Donner trails. Once used to taking the Pioneers west at the turn of the century, mainly to San Francisco. I�m sure glad the trail is paved and we get to stay at the Best Western at night. Weather today is in the mid to upper 70�s with a slight tail wind. Great cycling weather. Once everyone got to our overnight hotel it was time to clean up and explore town. Winnemucca is one of the towns robbed by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1900. The activity today seems to be the Annual Basque Festival, including a local parade. Some of the group met a local cyclists who gave us a little background on the area. Everyone arrived in Winnemucca Safely. Overheard on the road, �What are you guys doing? You�re going where??!! That�s CRAZY!!�

posted 2005-06-17 | 18:04:24 | article number: 8

Day 8 - Sunday June 12th - Winnemucca to Battle Mountain, NV (56 miles) 1480� cumulative climb
Today was a great day! Moderate mileage, with a little more climbing, but the real story was the weather. Sunny in the upper 70�s and we had a kickin� tail wind! There were times you�d be flying along at 26 mph and not even be pedaling. We screamed into town. Everyone got in early! It was almost a rolling rest day! Many went to the local pizza joint for lunch. Steve found the expresso bar........ again. The interesting note of the day was being overrun by Locust. This must be the year for it because they were everywhere. More than the locals have seen in years. They weren�t carrying us away or anything but it did get interesting at times. At the SAG Stop you could hear the crunch under your wheels. It was a new experience for some especially Georgia, Christine and Steve C. who wear cycling sandals. We finished the day with good Mexican food for dinner. Everyone arrived in Battle Mountain Safely. Overheard on the road, �What was your average speed?� �Fastest 50 miler I�ve ever done!� �What are those things� �Crunch!� �Yum, they taste like chicken!�

posted 2005-06-17 | 18:07:35 | article number: 9

Day 9 - Monday June 13th - Battle Mountain to Elko, NV (72 miles) 2530� cumulative climb
Today was another nice day on the bike with good weather, temp�s in the low 80�s. The sage is very fragrant and desert flowers are in bloom . The colors are beautiful as they roll off into the horizon. After the SAG Stop in Carlin, the route gets real rural. We followed along the Union Pacific and the Humbolt River. Wow, the river was really swollen! Riding on Canyon Road took us up and over the top and back to the highway. Off in the distance, to the south, we could see the Ruby Mountains. Great Views! Elko is a small city with a fair tourist following, mostly from the Cowboy Legends. Georgia, Mel, and Bill began the first of what I�m sure will be many visits to the local Dairy Queen for ice cream. YUM! A quick stop off at the Frontier Museum gave us a little more insight into pioneer history. The bummer of the day had to be Paul Apert. He wasn�t feeling too well today and rode in the van. After the Doc checked him out it was discovered he had walking Pneumonia and will have to take an extended rest away from the group. I hope he�ll be able to rejoin us ! We hope you get better fast Paul! Overheard on the road, �Hey, why can�t we ride thru the tunnel?� �Have you seen any crickets today? I�d like a few to go fishing� �Make mine 3 scoops!� �Get well quick Paul!�

posted 2005-06-17 | 18:09:07 | article number: 10

Day 10 - Tuesday June 14th - Elko to Wendover, NV (108 miles) 3690� cumulative climb
Big day today!! 1st real Century+ !! Warmer in the mid 80�s. The wind and additional climbing made it even more challenging. We were up early, ate breakfast, packed up and hit the road. It warmed up quickly. The terrain was rolling with 3 good climbs. Very desolate out here. But the geography has certainly changed as we�ve crossed Nevada. The group is getting stronger. After the final climb of the day, the view out across the salt flats was tremendous! You could see for a 100 miles. The fast downhill run into town was cool too. Riders rolled into the Wendover hotel between 2-6pm. Once we were all in, a huge lightening storm rolled thru the area. It was spectacular, if not a little scary. Glad we were at the hotel. This was Kathryn and Dan R�s 1st century ever!! NICE!! We chowed the last great Nevada casino buffet for dinner. Played the slots one last time. Went to bed early to prepare for tomorrows 117 miler. Once we hit Salt Lake City, we�ll get a day off. Looking forward to that! Everyone arrived in Wendover safely. Overheard on the road, �Never seen lightening like that before!!� �Have any more quarters, I�m out� �Are we still in Nevada?�

posted 2005-06-17 | 18:12:33 | article number: 11

Day 11 - Wednesday June 15th - Wendover to Salt Lake City, UT (117 miles) 910� cumulative climb
Long and flat today! Up early and on the road. We started out cycling across the Bonneville Salt Flats. The temps warmed up quick. It is iron flat for as far as the eye can see. Bonneville holds many records for auto racing including the land speed record. Granted the car looks more like a rocket, but it is a sight to see as well as cycle thru. After we got 50-60 miles under our belt, the terrain began to move a little. It sure looks like we are cycling right towards a mountain. Then the road begins to work around the mountain. Not close enough to roll too much. It�s about this point the wind begins to blow, right on the nose and the temps got up to around 92F. That slowed us down a little. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the SAG Stop gave us a little extra fuel. As we near the century mark we begin to see civilization again and the Great Salt Lake, off to the North. We also notice a great big Morton Desalinator plant to the south. Morton evaporates the water from the lake water to produce fine table salt. We finally come to our turn and roll into the motel. WHEW!!...............Long day, but we all made it. Dinner was a celebration of achievement for conquering the miles. Finally, a day off tomorrow! We�ve been on the road for 10 days and cycled 845 miles and climbed 30,000�!! Everyone arrived in Salt Lake City safely. Overheard on the road, �Are we there yet?� �What the heck is that??!?� �Where�s the pool!� �Is there a DQ around here?!�

posted 2005-06-17 | 18:13:58 | article number: 12

Day 12 - Thursday June 16th - Salt Lake City - Off Day.

AHHHHHH...............Slept late today!! Starting to get some cool tan lines. Hopped on public transportation and hit the downtown section of SLC. Took in the tourist sights, Temple Square, Capitol Building, etc. Ended up at Red Rock Brewing Company, a local micro brewery with great Pasta too. Back at the Comfort Inn, caught up on laundry and hit the sac early. Folks went in all directions today. Some rented cars, some hung around the hotel pool, some hit the town and saw it all. It was great to have a break but I�m glad we are moving on tomorrow. The USA map hang up on the AbBike Bulletin Board is really showing progress. We are doing it!!! Looking forward to seeing Colorado next week. Overheard today, �Another round please!�
�See you in Syracuse Michelle!�

posted 2005-06-17 | 18:15:33 | article number: 13

On to Page 2 Salt Lake City to Pueblo, CO (Rocky Mountain Tour)
On to Page 3 Pueblo to St. Joseph, MO (Tour de Plains Tour)
On to Page 4 St. Joseph, MO to Indianapolis, IN (Heartland Tour)
On to Page 5 Indianapolis, IN to Erie, PA (Country Mileage Tour)
On to Page 6 Erie, PA to Portsmouth, NH (Eastern States Tour)

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