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self designed & self supported bicycle tour adventures




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Reno to Carson City

Carson City to Sorenson's Resort

Sorenson's Resort to Kirkwood Ski Area

Kirkwood Ski Area to Placerville

Placerville to Scramento

Sacramento to Fairfirld

Fairfield to San Francisco

 ...we were treated to many scenes of California in bloom as we rode across the State...


Ride Across California 

car free adventure __________________________


California would be the first state selected for the RAAOST.  The Adventure Cycling Association has mapped bike routes across the United States and we selected the route they had detailed along US 50 for our ride.   From the elevation plot they provided with the map Carson City Nevada was several 100 feet above the California coast which would reduce the climbing.  We decided we that riding “east or west” across a State would be options.  We would ride west from Carson City Nevada to San Francisco.  RAAOST became Ride Across America One State at a Time No Particular Direction (RAAOSTNPD)


Logistics made Reno the best location from which to start our adventure.  The first day we would ride to Sorenson's Resort located at the beginning of the climb to the top of Carson Pass.  The second day we would climb Carson Pass and stay at the Kirkwood Ski area for the night.  On the third day we would ride to a place out in "the sticks" that the Adventure Cycling folks recommended.  The fourth day we would stay in Placerville.  The fifth day we would ride to Sacramento.  The sixth day we would ride to Fairfield and finally on the last day of our adventure we would ride to the San Francisco Bay at Vallejo.  At the Bay we would catch the ferry to San Francisco and then catch a second ferry across the Bay and stay at my son Jack’s condo in Corte Madera. 


We would not have car support.  We would as we often do in Europe carry our clothes, toilet kit, medical kit, spare parts, GUE, water mix, etc.  in a bicycle trunk mounted on a rack over the rear wheel of the bicycle.   We would rent a car to transport our gear and bicycles to Reno.  When we had completed our adventure we would rent a car in Corte Madera to transport us and our gear to Los Angeles. 


Again drawing on our European adventure experience, we contacted someone on the ground in Reno to verify our trip assumptions.   My wife contacted the Reno Bike Club to ask for advice.  She not only got advice but one of the respondents said he would ride the first leg of the route with us.  The first leg of the route would be beginning the climb over Carson Pass so he would be welcome.  He said he would meet us in Reno at the hotel the morning of the start of the ride. 


We rented a car large enough so that two bicycles would fit in the trunk without the wheels on.  Previous practice excursions around LA had taught us which car to rent.  We packed our bike trunks, put the bikes in the car and set off for Reno.  We had skied several times at South Lake Tahoe and knew the drive takes about 8 hours.  A long eight hours.  “Lessons Learned,” we decided to give ourselves an extra day on the way to Reno and stay at a hotel along the way.  We stayed in Folsom, "of prison fame," at the Marriott.  The stay reduced the next days drive to about 2 hours. 


We also decided to take route 50 to Reno thus driving our planned bike route backwards to see what we were in for.  We witnessed the conclusion of the famous California "Death Ride" when we reached Carson Pass.  Riders were strung out all along the road and the climb looked brutal.  In fact our ride looked difficult.  We stopped at the hotels recommended by Active Journeys along the route to check them out.  The accommodations looked adequate but the distance from the Kirkwood ski area to our quarters in “the sticks” would be a long day. 


We drove to the Marriott in Reno where we were staying.  We dumped our gear then drove to Reno Airport to return the car.  We built our bikes and and returned to the hotel on our bikes.  While eating dinner we decided riding from Reno to the bottom of Carson’s Pass would make a very long day.  Experience has also taught us that adding a free day before a ride begins and a day at the end of the ride is a “must.” We decided to use the free day to ride to Carson City and stay overnight.  We asked the Marriott to make us a reservation in Carson City for the next night.  We called our fellow rider from the Reno Bike Club and told him of the change in plans.  He said he would meet us in Carson City.  We were ready to begin our first RAAOSTPO adventure!

...brief stop before turning right onto the Emigrant Trail west of Kirkland Ski Area where we started our day...


..Sorensons Resort...


..on the way down from Carson's Pass...

...on the Davis Bike Path on the way to Fairfield...

..glimpse of the Bay Bridge from the ferry...

..celebrating on the wharf in San Francisco...

 ...having a late afternoon lunch with our friend from the Reno Bike Club at Sorensons Resort...

....Silver lake on California State 88 between Kirkland and the intersection of the Morman Emigrants Trail...

 DAY 1 - Reno to Carson City - 33 miles


 ..there was a grade riding out of Reno on US 395 of several miles that topped out at about 5%..."good exercise"

...a very wide comfortable shoulder along US 395 allowed us to avoid the traffic...the scenery was not desert brown which I had expected, US 395 passed along the shore of Lake Washoe for several miles which provided a change as well... 

..the mountains ahead are located between California and Nevada...Lake Tahoe is located on the eastern slope... 


Plan for the day - The ride across California would begin in Reno Nevada.  Our original plan for the first day had been to ride from Reno to "Sorenson's Resort" located on the start of the climb up Carson Pass.  The distance would be 66 miles.  We were a bit insecure about our cycling prowess so we decided to use our free day in Reno to reduce the first days riding distance and allow us to physically work into the daily routine with a short ride. 


The modified plan was to ride to Carson City on our "free day" and complete the 33 miles to Sorenson's Resort the following day.  A respectable distance that hopefully did not exhaust us for the ride over Carson's Pass on the third day.  


We had been given instructions by our contact from the Reno Bike Club on how to avoid the traffic on US 395 and take a more secluded and scenic route.  On the way to Carson City, however, we, I, missed the turn off to take the route proposed by our guide from the Reno Bike Club.  In my defense the mistake allowed us to ride past Lake Washoe.  Washoe Lake is huge and I could not see the opposite shore as I rode past.  It view was a surprise and added to the riding day.


Getting started - We were staying at the Marriott in Reno.  It was located in the southern part of Reno giving us a good exit point from the city.  We were carrying everything on our bikes so we did not have a lot to pack when we got up in the morning.


We dressed in our bike clothes and packed our overnight gear into our bike trunks.  We headed down to the complimentary breakfast offered by the Marriott.  We enjoyed a good breakfast and at about 9 AM we went to the desk to checkout and find a hotel in Carson City.   


We had reservations for two nights at the Marriott in Reno but breaking the first day's ride into two days required we cancel the room at the Marriott for tonight and make a reservation in Carson City.  Carson City did not have a Marriott, our stay of choice, but they had a Holliday Inn Express near the northern part of the city which would be very convenient for us to exit toward the California state line the following morning.  I asked the desk if they could make us a reservation at the Holliday Inn in Carson City and they said, "of course." 


We went back to our room, put our helmets and gloves on, got our bikes and headed for the elevator.  We exited the parking lot of the Marriott and headed south toward Carson City.  


Today’s adventure - The Marriott where we stayed in Reno was located on a side street a few blocks away from US 395.  We rode down side streets until we reached the highway and then turned onto it and headed south.            


I was surprised that we began to climb a mile or so south of Reno.  The climb never exceeded 5% but I like to get in a few miles of flat when I start each day to warm up before I have to climb. 


We planned to follow US highway 395 to a state road that our friend from the Reno Bike Club had recommended we take.  He told us that the road ran through a very nice area and took us away from the traffic.  I missed the turnoff.  I blame it on the "first riding day brain loss." 


We only had 33 miles to ride and we quickly got into that first day euphoria of cycling and completed the ride in a little more than 2 hours.  We experienced no problems on the road and US 395 was downhill into Carson City.


The Holiday Inn Express was on the opposite side of the highway a short distance after we entered.  We turned into the parking lot and pushed our bikes to the desk to check in.  It had been a good choice to start early.      


Today's landscape - We started the ride in a rather dry, desert landscape but after a few miles the terrain changed and became greener with trees scattered in the fields along the road.  The mountains around Lake Tahoe were west of us in the distance and could be seen all the way to Carson City. 


Bicycling notes - The traffic on US 395 was heavy.  The road had a comfortable wide shoulder all the way into Carson City.  The shoulder was gravel free and without any significant debris.  The wind was calm.  No bugs.


The weather was great.  The sun was out in a cloudless sky as we began to ride and the sunshine continued throughout the day.  The temperature was not uncomfortable and continued that way for the remainder of the riding day.


The first day of a ride for me always begins with a bit of apprehension.  What have I forgotten or am I physically prepared? But after a few miles on the bike all of the "what ifs" disappear and I am into communing with my surroundings at 15 miles an hour.  


Our ride across California would be a "self-supported" bike ride.  There would be no support van.  A self-supported bike ride requires that everything needed during the trip be carried on the bike.  The only support one could expect if a problem developed was the cars that passed along the road, or if cell phone service was available, help one could call.  This was our first "self-supported" bike trip.  


Our clothes, toilet kit, and some trail food was carried in a small trunk behind the bicycle seat.  The trunk was attached to the bicycle seat on a rack which the truck was attached to.  Jackets were secured to the top of the trunk with a bungee cord.  Crocks were the "light," universal shoe and could be attached via clip to the back of the trunk.  When our destination town for the evening was reached the trunk could be removed from the bike or more often left on the bike and the clothes removed as required to step out for dinner or to sleep.    


Post ride activity - We checked into the hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, located a couple of miles inside Carson City.  We took our bikes to our room, showered and changed into our "street clothes."   We went down to inquire at the desk about a place to eat dinner.  If there was nothing close by our choices were to ride our bikes or walk, and we could always call for take out.


We asked the young woman at the desk where we could find a good place to eat dinner.  She said she was not sure.  We walked out of the hotel and saw a "restaurant" across the highway.  Close enough so we went across the street.  The place looked ok from the front so we asked for a table and ordered.  The food was great.  We told the clerk about the place across the street when we returned.  She had never heard of it!  This is not the Marriott!


We went to our room and put on our pj's which we retrieved from the bike trunk.  We made some energy drink for tomorrows ride and put it into the refrigerator that was provided in the room.  We watched TV and read the newspaper from the lobby.  I wrote some notes about the day's ride and went to bed. 


Tomorrow we meet our friend from the Reno Bike Club to start the ride up Carson's Pass.  I'm grateful that all of the difficult climbing occurs in the first part of the ride across California.  I hope to just coast into San Francisco.   



 DAY 2 - Ride Across California - Carson City to Sorenson’s - 33 miles


 ...our Reno Bike Club guide..

the cabin at Sorensens Resort ...home away from home......

 ..relaxing after the ride...


Plan for the day - Today we would continue south on US 395 and then turn west on State 206 which would take us across the Nevada/California border.   After crossing the border into California State 208 would transition onto State 88 near Woodfords, California.  We would take State 88 over Carson's Pass to Sorenson's Resort where we would stay the night. 


A cyclist from the Reno Bike Club had offered to escort us on our exit from Nevada to the Sorenson's Resort.  His riding day would begin in Reno.  He was aware of our last minute change to cut our first day's ride in half and the plan was to meet us at the Holiday Inn Express in Carson City.  


The distance would only be 33 miles but the profile of the California portion of the ride is what had spooked us into dividing the start of the ride into two days.  Carson's Pass is one of five climbs that made up the famous "Death Ride."  It is a "cyclist survival event" which is held each year in California.    


Getting started - We got up early to insure that we met our fellow cyclist at the agreed upon time.  We extracted our bike clothes from our "bike trunks" and prepared to ride.  We packed our overnight wear into the trunks and headed for breakfast.


The Holliday Inn express provides a "great" complimentary breakfast.  It is the main reason that if I cannot find a Marriott it is my next choice.  During breakfast our Reno Bike Club participant arrived and joined us in conversation. 


We finished breakfast and went to our room to collect our bikes.  We returned to the lobby, checked out and headed outside to ride into California.


Today’s adventure - It was great to have our quest from the Reno Bike Club with us because he had ridden the route before eliminating all of the confusion associated with changes in the route.  (I cannot make a wrong turn!) As I had done with my son Jack in France on my first bike tour I followed him taking in the surrounding and paying no attention to the quirks of route. 


He was much better on a bike than we were and kept dropping us when we started.  He gave up and reduced his speed so we could keep up. At one point he rode with my wife and I rode ahead for a few miles.  When they caught up to me he and I rode ahead of my wife and again I could not hang on after a few miles and would fall back because I could not maintain the pace.


The three of us stopped at one point to consume Power Bars and I told him he rode at a wicked pace.  He responded that he had improved dramatically since coming to Reno and joining the club.  He said he would participate on day rides during the week with a group from the club and as had happened to me he would get dropped after a few miles.  But he was determined and after several months he could hang on and now he could comfortably keep pace.      


The route he took us on was along back roads which were almost traffic free until we approached Carson's Pass.  At that point we continued along a road which ran parallel to State 88 for a few miles and then as we began to climb up Carson's Pass the road we were on merged onto State 88. 


When we began the serious climbing up Carson's Pass my wife and I dropped to a crawl.  A crawl to me is 5 miles an hour.  One falls over at 4 miles an hour.  Our friend from the Bike Club tactfully told us he was going ahead to ride to the top of the pass and would meet us at Sorensen’s Resort for a late lunch. He took off as we cranked along at a slow but steady pace up the Pass. 


The last 3 miles to Sorenson's Resort consisted of three 5% hills.  Each climb was followed by a few hundred yards of flat and then the road turned up again. Typically the road is not flat but is actually 1 or 2 percent but after slogging along on 5% 1 or 2 feels like it is flat during a climb. 


After the last climb we reached Sorenson's Resort.  We rode up to the building complex that housed the restaurant, store and office and checked in.  We took our bikes with our trunks to our cabin.  After freshening up a bit we returned to the patio on the front of the complex to wait for our Reno friend to return from his climb up Carson's Pass.


Today’s landscape - From Carson City we were riding on a southwest trajectory to the south of Lake Tahoe where we would turn west and head across California for the Pacific coast.  The landscape in Carson City where we began our day was green.  The green fields were accompanied by a large population of trees.  The landscape did not resemble the desert landscape from LA to Vegas that I had assigned to all of Nevada.      


Even before we approached the start of the climb up Carson Pass the landscape was filled with trees.  As we climbed up Carson Pass to Sorenson's Resort we were riding in mountain country.  Our route ran south of Lake Tahoe and supported many ski areas.  We had left the desert behind at Carson City.  We would be treated to many beautiful, natural scenes climbing over Carson Pass and entering eastern California in the next few days.      


Bicycling notes - I had searched for bike clubs in Reno on the web and found the Reno Bike Club.  I emailed the Reno Bike Club to ask for advice about how to ride in Nevada. It was the first time that I had contacted a bike club during the planning phase of one of my bicycle trips.  The results were rewarding.  I received information about the entire route because many had ridden from Reno to the Pacific Coast.  As an example they recommended that we take "Emigrants Trail.  This was an alternate way to get to Placerville, California which was one of our destination towns.  I am reluctant to change my itinerary when on a "self-supported" bike trip but here was a local cyclist who had joined us and had done all of the scouting for me so we changed our route.  It turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. 


Also the fact that the local cyclist volunteered to ride with us from Reno to the Sorenson's Resort proved to be very informative and very helpful in avoiding the heavy traffic before we began the climb up Carson's Pass.  Contacting bike clubs in the area of a ride has been added to my trip planning "to do list."


The "bike trunks" we were using on the trip allows us to ride together which is the reason we use them, but we do not have the luxury of a car support.  The amount of clothes and equipment that can be carried is minimal and makes the packing interesting.  To off set packing space I also ride with a CamelBak.  Besides the water mixture I carry in the pack, I carry bike tools and "other" bike supplies as well. 


The route we were using to get to the Pacific was recommended by "Adventure Cycling."  Adventure Cycling Maps were recommended by local cyclist and we purchased the maps to support our ride.  They provide additional very useful information about the route. They recommended Sorenson's Resort as a place to stay.  There were no towns of any size along our route between Carson City, Nevada and Placerville, California.  Having a source that has ridden the route providing the information about the unknown is very reassuring.  But note the title of the organization is "Adventure" Cycling.  The route can be a challenge.     


On our climb to Sorenson's we stopped at a store along the road as we began the climb up Carson's Pass.  My wife noticed they had FEDEX pickup and decided she was carrying too many "power bars" and clothes and sent via FEDEX to our hotel in Sacramento.  That was first for us to ship while on the road but good to know.  When its too heavy to carry but too precious to throw away FEDEX is there. 


Post ride activity - We rode our bikes to the entrance of the building complex at Sorenson’s Resort.  We met a couple there who asked where we had ridden from. We told them about our ride and the discussion continued into the merits of cycling. They were cyclist as well.  Our conversation ended and we headed up the stairs to check in. 


During check in my wife discovered it was possible to get a "massage" so she signed up.  We asked that the hot tub fire be started near our cabin so we could do a bit of body repair later in the afternoon. 


We put our bikes in the our "cabin" and went back to the patio in front of the restaurant and sat at one of the picnic tables to wait for the Reno bike rider to return.  He must have cranked because he was back much sooner than I had expected.  It seemed that we had just sat down and he appeared.  


We had a very relaxed lunch during which he told us that the only exercise his and his wife participated in together was walking between stores in the shopping mall.  The reference being how lucky I was that my wife would participate in cycling with me. 


We ordered sandwiches for lunch and continued our conversation about cycling.  He told us that we should definitely take the Emigrants Trail after we left the following day because it was not difficult and had beautiful landscape.  After we finished our lunch we said goodbye and our cycling friend rode off to return to Reno and home.


We went to our cabin and the lady arrived to give my wife her massage.  I left and found a lounge chair near by where I sat and wrote down notes about the day's adventure.  We tried the Jacuzzi later but it was not as hot as we had hoped.  We left in a short time and I went back to the room and I enjoyed a "very" hot bath. 


We went to the restaurant for dinner.  The food was a bit disappointing because we had heard many good things about Sorenson's and I assumed the food would be gourmet.  It didn't quite reach that scale.  We went back to our cabin and crashed.  It had been a good riding day.  We had survived the first part of the climb but tomorrow the real climbing began!



 DAY 3 - Ride Across California - Sorenson's to Kirkwood - 15 miles


 ...that's Red Lake in the background..a "picture stop" just before we started our last 10% climb to the summit... 

 ...we made it!!!  It took a bit more than two hours with a couple of stops, "to take pictures!"...

 ...roadside look at Caples Lake with the mountain view in the background....

 ...entrance to Kirkwood Ski Area where we will spend the night in the ski lodge...


Plan for the day - Today we climb "over" Carson Pass.  Our destination is the Kirkwood Ski Area where we will stay the night.  The distance to the top of the pass is 9 an a half miles.  At 5 miles an hour that is 2 hours.  If a fall off my bike a couple of times it could get to 4 hours! 


The summit of Carson's Pass is 8,650 feet.  The elevation at Sorensen's Lodge is 6.919 feet.  We only have 1731 feet to climb.  There will be 10 percent climbs along the way and a lot of 7, 8 and 9 percent.  The good news is it today we only have to ride a total of 15 miles from Sorenson's Lodge to the Kirkwood Sky Area, and after we reach the summit of Carson's Pass it is all down hill!  


Getting started - We got up early.  We wanted to start early because we did not know how our bodies would respond to the grind up the Pass.  If we bonked we would need as much time as we could muster to recover and make it to the Kirkwood Ski Area.  


As soon as we got up we changed into our bike clothes.  We packed our street clothes and sleeping outfits into our trunks.  I filled the bladder of my CamalBak with and energy water mixture and returned it to my back pack.  We policed the room, and satisfied, headed to the restaurant at the lodge for breakfast.   


We ordered eggs, hash brown's, bacon and toast.  It was a good start to the day.  After we finished eating we checked out and paid our bill.  We went back to the cabin to retrieve our bikes.  We took one last look around. pushed our bikes to the road out front, State 88, and we were off to the summit of Carson’s Pass.


Today’s adventure - State 88 appeared to be relativity flat in front of the Resort but it would be up at some angle until we reached the summit.  Even a slight upward angle is a bit tiresome at the beginning of a ride.  A few miles to get the mussels working is appreciated.


Within half a mile we began a more difficult climb.  We encountered what appeared to be rolling hills but we were always going up.  After several rolling hills each of which ended with us higher up the side of the mountain, we entered a "false flat" area again and rode through an area with large fields of grass immediately on each side of the road.  The fields lasted for several miles and then we began to seriously climb.      


The climb was continuous and we must have been climbing for at least 5 to 7 miles of 7% or more.  The 7% was followed by a mile of 9% to 10% until we reached the summit.  It was a difficult climb and we were chugging along at 5 miles an hour. 


Entering the change from the 7% to the 9% grade at the top, the road made a 90 degree turn to the left.  As we approached the top of the grade the road made another 90 degree turn to the right.  As we came around the last turn there were some people standing on the opposite side of the road who began to cheer us on yelling "it is only a short ride to the top."  We must have really looked pitiful!   


We made it to the top and crossed the road to the ranger station.  We took some pictures to record our accomplishment at the summit sign.  We checked out the gift shop, walked around the grounds of the ranger station and took in the view.  Then we were off to the Kirkland Ski Area.


I had assumed that the climbing was over but we were surprised by a second difficult climb which began a short distance after we began our decent.  I was cranking on the down hill relieved that the worst was over and that I had not bonked when I looked ahead of me and saw the climb.  I accelerated into the climb but I was doing my 5 mile an hour survival routine before I reached the top. 


The climb sobered me up a bit and I realized that I may have a bit more climbing to do before I reached the flat coastal run to San Francisco. To this point I had only worried about Carson Pass but now I had to face the reality that there may be more climbing in my future. 


The other reality was that the snow had beaten up the road which made the down hill dicey.  We discovered the holes in the road by accident.  We were cranking down at a fairly good clip on a fairly good road surface and suddenly found ourselves dodging "pot holes."  The adventures that cycling presents are everywhere.


Even with the pot holes we made excellent time and were soon at the turnoff to Kirkwood.  We turned off State 88 and rode a couple of miles to the Ski Lodge area which included shops, restaurants and the Ski Lodge itself. We located the lodge office and took our bikes with us to the front desk and checked in.


Our bicycling day was over and we had climbed over Carson Pass!  The remainder of the ride to San Francisco should be easy compared to today.    


Today’s landscape - Today we wound our way around and through the foothills and mountains until we reached the summit of Carson Pass.  The views along the route were varied and beautiful. 


In places the road had been carved into the side of the mountain producing a great view of the valley below.  At other times we were climbing through a valley with a thick growth of trees immediately at the edge of the road.  Occasionally we would ride into an open space with large green treeless fields on each side of the road.   


We saw Red Lake when we stopped before we made the 10% decent to the summit of Carson's Pass.   Red Lake added a very beautiful touch to the view from the top of Carson's Pass.  We passed Lake Caples located immediately beside the road on our way down to the Kirkwood Ski Area.  It was huge with mountains along the opposite shore. 


Bicycling notes - The sun was with us on the ride. Temperature was perfect.  Basic riding clothes were all that was required. There was no wind. There were no hungry insects. The traffic was light and bike friendly.   I do not remember if the road had a shoulder large enough to support a bike but I never felt in difficulty from passing traffic.  Also this is the route selected for the "Death Ride" and I would assume it is bike friendly. 


The conditions of the road to the top of the Pass were good or maybe since I was going 5 miles an hour I did not notice any problems with the road surface.  On the way down the road was a concern in places.  I would assume that this was a result of freeze and thaw during the winter which tore up the road.  The problem was not continuous but would appear suddenly and making up time on the down hill could become treacherous.  Caution was required.


Our destination was the Kirkwood Ski Lodge. The Adventure Cycling Map had provided us with the idea that we could reserve a room at the lodge.  I had assumed that ski areas were closed for the summer and maybe many are. The point is Adventure Cycling provides possible lodging locations along the routes they map out and our stay at Sorenson's Resort and Kirkland Ski Lodge would not have been on my radar without them.  The maps themselves are very useful.


All of the shops in the village at Kirkwood were not open.  But there was a well supplied grocery store, a restaurant and of course the lodge open for business.  There may have been more but those were the ones of interest to me.


The room that we were given at the lodge was great.  It was very large with two beds and had all of the creature comforts that make the end of a ride day very pleasant.  I do not remember the cost of the room but I am sure the web could be used to find out.  


Post ride activity - The room we were given was very comfortable and welcome.  After we cleaned up and changed out of our riding clothes we headed out to find a restaurant to eat dinner.  Afterward dinner we located the grocery store and bought some ice cream, a bicycling favorite, for desert in our room while enjoying TV. 


We had inquired at the restaurant about breakfast and were told they did not open until 10.  We wanted to leave earlier than ten.  They told us about a restaurant a couple of miles further along State 88 for breakfast. 


We went back to our room, ate our ice cream and went to bed.  It had been a good riding day.  We had climbed over Carson Pass or did I say that before?



 DAY 4 - Ride Across California - Kirwood to Placerville - 62 miles


 ..view of Silver of the beautiful lakes we passed as we rode from the summit of Carson's Pass...    

 ..a new idea for bike support while enjoying a Power Bar or looking for a "happy tree"...

 ...5% plus climbs challenged us as we continued down from Carson's Pass but the difficult part was behind us...

 ..this young woman was in charge of the motel in Placerville... she was fun! 


Plan for the day - The plan for the start of our day is to exit the Kirkland Ski Area and return to State 88 to locate the recommended "breakfast place" a couple of miles west.  After breakfast we continue on State 88 to the Emigrant Trail and turn right.  The Emigrant trail will take us to Placerville.  We make a convoluted entrance into Placerville after leaving the Emigrant Trail which should test our navigation skills.  If we don't get too lost we will wind up on Broadway on our way east into Placerville to our motel where spend the night. 


The distance from Kirkwood to the start of the Emigrant Trail is approximately 12 miles.  Then we ride 25 miles on the Emigrant Trail to Sky Park Road, or CO-RD16 whatever that means, turning right or northeast until we reach Pleasant Valley Road.  We turn left or north on Pleasant Valley Road which will take us to Broadway and Broadway takes us into Placerville.  When we turn onto Pleasant Valley Road we have 25 miles left to ride to get to the motel.      


Getting started - Breakfast was not served until 10 AM at the restaurant in Kirkwood.  At the Ski Area Lodge desk the night before we learned of a place a couple of miles west on State 88 where we could get an early breakfast.  We got up, put our bike gear on, loaded our bike trunks with out night clothes and pushed our bikes down to the front desk to check out.  After checking out we headed for the street in front of the lodge, got on our bikes and rode back to State 88 turning right or west. 


We located the restaurant which was nothing more than a shack with tables on a small patio.  We went in and the lady behind the counter was a bit upset because the kitchen had been flooded.  I did not get the exact cause but I assume a pipe had broken.  Anyway our plan was in jeopardy   We briefly kicked around the idea of riding back to Kirkwood because we had a long day ahead of us.  We decided we could or would live on GUE and power bars.  We got back on our bikes and headed for the Emigrant Trail. 


Today’s adventure - After missing breakfast it could have been an ugly day, energy wise.  Anyway that is always a concern when starting a ride on an empty stomach.  I ate half of a Power Bar leaving the aborted breakfast spot and consumed the rest as I rode.  Power Bars are nothing special to me and the different flavors simply make some taste worst than others. 


Kirkwood being a ski area meant that the road trended down hill when we began to ride.  We continued to ride through a mountain environment with very large trees at the edge of the road which provided us with a beautiful ride.  Even on a downhill profile I knew from experience that we would be climbing occasionally.  We had a couple of "good" climbs along the route to the turnoff to the Emigrant Trail but with Carson's Pass behind us the climbs where not a challenge.  We were very confident in our cycling prowess.  Silver Lake appeared as we rode which added an excellent view to the ride.


We reached the turnoff to the Emigrant Trail and asked a couple who were taking pictures if they would snap one of us at the sign near the entrance.  We continued onto the trail which headed northwest.  On the California map a warning on the Emigrant Trail indicates that the trail is closed in the winter due to snow.  Also I was surprised that the Adventure Cycling had not suggested that we use the trail since they always seem to pick routes that add the most adventure. 

We had driven on the route Adventure Cycling had proposed on the way to Reno and it was nothing special or I missed the point which is very possible.  Our friend from the Reno Bike Club had convinced us to take the Emigrant Trail.  He had ridden to San Francisco or into California several times with club members in the past and they always took the Emigrant Trail.


After turning onto the Emigrant trail the road drifted down hill toward Placerville.  The road surface was good and we made good time.  The only draw back I thought of to taking the Emigrant Trail as we rode was that we were riding alone.  There were no houses and no cars.  We were riding by ourselves through the forest.  We did not check for cell phone service but I would suspect it was 50-50 because Kirkwood was near by and a tower there may support the road.  That said our experience has been that the cell phone do not typically work in remote areas.


The 25 miles we rode on the Emigrant Trail went quickly and we soon returned to civilization.  After deciding to take the Emigrant trail we had been instructed how to get to Placerville by our Reno guide.  Numerous roads are located near US 50 which were the route into Placerville.  Our plan was to turn onto Park Road and then turn again at Pleasant Valley Road.  On Pleasant Valley Road we began climbing back up to US 50.  At first it was rollers but the final climb was steep and there was no shoulder.  Traffic would pile up behind us and then do the quick dart around us to continue.  I am sure that the locals would have avoided this road somewhere along our route and used one that was much more bike friendly to enter Placerville.  It is not clever to anger traffic when on a bicycle. 


We made it to the top of the climb and after a short distance the name of the road changed to Broadway.  We were on Broadway but we were still on the outskirts of Placerville.  We saw a farmers market and stopped.  We often do this on our rides and on this occasion we purchased cherries to eat watching TV later. 


We continued on to Placerville and the streets became a bit congested and the bike path or shoulder was not available.  After about two miles we saw our motel and crossed over at a busy intersection into the parking lot.  Our adventure on the Emigrant Trail was complete.  We did our high 5 and went into the office to check in.  


Today’s landscape - Riding along State 88 and then the Emigrant Trail to Placerville was quite a treat.  Now that the concern over "could I climb" Carson's Pass was over it was a relaxed ride through some very pretty mountain landscape and there is nothing more beautiful. 


We passed Silver Lake on the way to the Emigrant Trail turnoff which was beautiful.  The landscape along the Emigrant Trail itself was beautiful. 


Bicycling notes - We continued to be lucky with the weather.  We had another sunny day to ride and the temperature was warm enough to ride without extra clothes but cool enough that I did not suffer.  There was no wind. The insects continued to avoid us.


I do not remember any cars passing us along the Emigrant trail or on one the remote roads taking us toward Placerville.

State 88 has a good shoulder along the road but the winter freeze and thaw breaks the surface down and the shoulder is covered in gravel.  Gravel is dangerous to bicycle on.  I avoided the shoulder but the traffic was light and pulled into the other lane to pass.  I never felt in difficulty from passing traffic.  This route was picked for the "death ride" and the traffic was bike friendly.  


It should be noted that the Emigrant Trail does not have any support along the entire 25 mile route.  That could be why Adventure Cycling Maps had not suggested it as a route.  Because if a problem develops during a bike ride and I am out in the wilderness then life could get tough.


Post ride activity - The motel had lost its air conditioning. First my breakfast spot was flooded and now my room had no air conditioning!  It must have been our day to be tested.  We were tired so we took a shower and laid back to see what was on TV.  The Tour de France was on the TV in the room! This was heaven.  We were sure that the motel we were staying in would not have satellite TV. 


We relaxed and watched the Tour and ate cherries.  Afterward we went to a bar near by recommended by the motel to eat dinner.  The food was very good.  We returned to our room, watched a bit more TV and went to bed.  It's all down hill from here! 




Scenes along the road on the ride to Placerville


 DAY 5 - Ride Across California - Placerville to Scaramento


 ..impressive bike path bridge over the American River...

 ..the remote location of the bike path supported a pleasant and relaxing ride...

 ...riding along the American River adds to a pleasant experience...

 ...we caught a view of the capitol after we left the bike path to locate our hotel...


Plan for the day - Yesterday we detoured from the Adventure Cycling Map, as suggested by our Reno Bike Club friend, to take the Emigrant Trail from State 88 to Placerville. Today we return to the route proposed by Adventure Cycling.  We exit Placerville and using the instructions on the Adventure Cycling Map for exiting west of town onto Green Valley Road.  We ride about 25 miles on Green Valley Road to Folsom.  In Folsom we use the Map's instructions to get to the American River Bike Path.  We follow the Bike Path into Sacramento. 


Getting started We got up and dressed in the bike outfit for the day.  We packed our night ware into our bike trunks along with our post bike ride walking around clothes.  We exited the room and walked to the office to checkout. During the process we asked for advice about a breakfast location.  The suggestion was a breakfast spot along Main Street, the Heyday Cafe.  The Cafe was west of the hotel so it was on our route out of Placerville.  We said our goodbyes, took a photo with our hostess and left for breakfast and Sacramento. 


The streets in Placerville are a challenge for cyclist because they are tight and busy.  Along tight roads I worry about how the drivers are feeling in their cars as they approach.  Happy motorist are preferred.


We located the restaurant and stopped.  We locked up our bikes and went inside for breakfast.  We had our usual eggs over easy, bacon and toast with coffee.  We paid our bill and checked the Adventure Cycling Map for our exit from Placerville.  Our goal was Green Valley road. 


Today’s adventure - We continued down Main Street to Canal which we used to get onto US 50.  After a short distance on US 50 we took the Placerville Drive exit which put us back onto the Adventure Cycling Map route.   Placerville Drive provides access to numerous businesses along its route.  The road was wide.  It had a large shoulder and a bike path was provided in places that supported us until we reached Green Valley Road.


After turning onto Green Valley Road the landscape became rural.  We rode through forests on both sides of the road in many places.  There were beautiful homes built in various places along the road and we rode past a school.  The traffic dropped off to almost nothing and it was a very pleasant ride all the way to Folsom.  


After Folsom we would get onto the American River Bike Path which would take us into Sacramento.  The bike path went over a dedicated "bike bridge" over the river  and once on the opposite side we were very much alone or at least civilization was hidden well.  At one point the path forked and we were not sure which way to ride.  Experience had taught us that without "van Support" find out the correct way to go if possible before continuing.  Fortunately a bicyclist rode up on the path shortly after we stopped and gave us directions.


The bike path was a very pleasant experience.  Once in Sacramento, still on the bike path and isolated from traffic, we were riding through a heavy growth of trees and under brush and were oblivious to the traffic a short distance from us.


When we reached the exit point on the path we turned rode to a busy street to locate our hotel, a Marriott for the evening. When we reached the city streets to locate our hotel it was a bit of a shock.  We had to ride along a four lane busy street for a couple of miles before we reached the exit to our hotel.  The street had a large shoulder and bike lane which saved us.     


Today’s landscape - The American River Bike Path was somewhat remote giving me the felling that I was bicycling on my own.  The bike path started in Folsom and ran along the American River all the way into Sacramento and continues on to the west.  It was a very pleasant ride and also a surprise.  We had ridden on bike paths in Europe but not in the States.  I had assumed "we" were not yet investing in cycling the way they were in Europe.  The American River Bike Path was an eye opener. 


Green Valley Road was a pleasant ride.  We rode through a very lush green area.  Sometimes through a forest environment and at others times we rode next to fields.  There were a lot of flowers.  Occasionally there were homes built back from the road but I do not remember any businesses.      


Bicycling notes - This is California so we had sunshine all day.  The temperature was in the middle 80s.  The wind was quiet.  We were basically continuing to ride down hill or the trend was down hill.  There were no bugs. 


There was light traffic along Green Valley Road and obviously nothing along the bike path.  We did not see other cyclist on the bike path until we got close to Sacramento.  The pavement on the bike path was very good. 


There were no sudden surprises of holes, gravel or dirt.  The surface was good.  Small sticks from tree branches and other environmental objects were encountered occasionally but there were no cars to worry about and objects in the bike path could be avoided easily.    


Post ride activity - We were staying at one of the Marriott's in Sacramento.  We located the hotel and pushed our bikes to the desk to check in.  My wife wanted to get a massage so while checking in we inquired about the possibility of getting a massage and what the cost would be.  The price was reasonable so we suggested a time and asked the desk to make arrangements.    


We went up to our room pushing the bikes.  We took a shower and put on our street clothes and relaxed.  The desk called and gave us the time the massage person would arrive at the hotel.    


The hotel was a bit off the beaten path and there was not a restaurant in the hotel which offered dinner.  The hotel also did not have shuttle service that could take us to a restaurant.  If we wanted to find a restaurant on our own we would have to take a cab or bicycle a mile or more to find dinner. 


We did not choose either of these options but instead opted for "take out."  We went down and asked for recommendations from the desk, made a selection from the "places" recommended by the hotel and carried the menu for the place they had suggested back to our room.  We decided to wait until after my wife had her massage before we ordered.


We opened our door to let the massage person in and discovered there were two!  The extra person said not to worry that the hotel had assumed two but the second person did not have to get involved.  I thought for 30 seconds and said "what the hey, I'll get a massage as well."


The massage was great and after they left we ordered our take out, ate our dinner while watching TV until we were ready for lights out.  I love roughing it while on the road bicycling!




...scenes along Green Valley Road,,,


 DAY 6 - Ride Across California - Sacramento to Fairfield


 ...the bike path in Sacramento along the American River removes the city from view..

 ..the bike path past Davis is flat and near the Interstate but safe and smooth...

 ,,,a dedicated bike bridge supporting the bike path west of Davis California...

 ...we are in "flat" farm country as we continue west of Sacramento...



Plan for the day - Today we would exit Sacramento and ride to Fairfield a distance of 43 miles from Sacramento.   We leave the American River but continue onto the bike path west of Sacramento past Davis California toward the Pacific coast.   


Getting started - We were staying at "one" of the Marriott’s in Sacramento.  We had a massage the night before and soaked in the Jacuzzi.  We were very relaxed when we got up to start the day.  


We got up put on the riding garments for the day, packed the bike trunks, put them onto the bikes and went down to enjoy breakfast.  The Marriott provides an excellent complimentary breakfast.  After breakfast we went back to out room collect to our bikes and headed to the lobby to begin the day's ride. 


Today’s adventure - Our hotel was a couple of miles from from the American River Bike Trail which we had ridden on for most of the ride the day before.  We started in a remote area by the hotel and rode to a busy 4 lane street that ran along the River.  We rode to the entrance to the bike path.  We turned onto the bike path riding west.  


We rode south for a few miles along the American River and the bike path ends.  We then turned west on a bike path that took us past Davis, California. The bike path is located a short distance from Interstate 80.  The terrain was very flat with large fields planted with crops which I would estimate to be about two feet high and approaching harvest time.  The riding was not difficult and we were not pushing against any wind so we were riding at a good pace.  Once we were in Davis we picked up a bike path which took us to the west side of Davis.  


After leaving the bike path west of Davis we continued as We continued toward our destination for the day, Fairfield. California.            


Today’s landscape - The terrain would be very flat and unexciting from Sacramento to the west past Davis, California.  Our son had gone to University of California at Davis and we had visited the area several times which may have taken some of the discovery out of our ride.  


The Bay would be almost immediately south of where we rode which explains the terrian.  Although where we rode was flat, tree covered hills could be seen to the north near the end of the days adventure.  We entered some hill country and we entered  forests along the road as we approached Fairfield.  The landscape both manmade and natural and was very green along out entire route.    


Bicycling notes The American River bike path was awesome.  I was very pleased for the State of California.  We have bike paths in Southern California but they lack the background the River provided but I appreciate all that the State has done to support cycling.


Our bike trunks served us well.  We wanted to tour on our "road bikes."   We did not want to ride a bike that allowed us to use saddle bags or pull bike trailers to carry our clothes in.  The wardrobe provided by the trunk size was limited.  But we have used what we carried to attend concerts and eat at the Richstog in Berlin and no one seemed to notice or care.


We carried two  sets of bike clothes.  We took swimming trunks for the Jazzcui.  For off bike activity I brought thin pants with zip off legs.  A long sleeve cycling shirt acted as the top for this outfit.  Surf socks were my street shoes.  I carried my wind breaker in a bag attached to the top of the trunk with a buggy cord.  A toilet kit was located in a side pocket.  A set of thermal underware was used as PJs and for cold riding days if needed.  On my back I strapped a CamelBak with bike tubes and a tire, warm gloves, head and tail light, and a long thin cable and lock to support the trip.  We had successfully used our wardrobe to support after ride activity at resturants in the evening and touring along our route.          


The number of bike outfits that can be changed into each day after a hard day of riding are limited which required they be washed each night.  Once we reach the hotel we typically wash and hang up the day's outfit.  Not wanting to carry the weight of soap to wash our outfits we use what is available at the hotel.  The fabric of the cloths that are selected for the trip is important as well to insure that the outfit is dry and ready to wear the next morning.         


Post ride activity We stayed at a Budget Inn a cheap but clean hotel in Fairfield on Texas Street and Airbase Parkway.  We try to book the best room we can find when we are cycling and have stayed at some which were interesting.  The Budget Inn was nice.  It was a good stay.


We checked in and went to our room.  We cleaned up and put on our "off bike clothes" from our bike trunks and went to look for dinner.  The desk suggested the Mexican Restaurant across the street.  I like Mexican food and the location made it an easy location.  We found the food to be excellent. 


We decided to call it a day after our meal.  We returned to our room put on our "cycling PJs" and relaxed watching TV for a while and then fell asleep.  It had been another good cycling adventure.


 DAY 7 - Ride Across California - Fairfield to San Francisco


 ...the route is flat and uninteresting and we are into the last day of the ride mentality... 

 ..Bay in background..soon turn north on a traffic free back route into Vallejo to take the ferry to San Francisco.. 

 ..we did a little "two step" over the power lines so we could continue... 

 ..tired but happy on the ferry to San Francisco...


Plan for the day - The plan for the day is to complete our "first" state ride of our "ride across America." Our ride across the state of California will end in Vallejo.  We will bicycle from Fairfield to Vallejo and take the ferry to San Francisco.  Our hotel was located on the


Getting started - We got up and dressed for the riding day in our bike clothes.  We put our night clothes and walking around clothes into our bike trunks.  We put the bike trunks on the our bikes and headed for the motel office.  We checked out and reaffirmed the location of the IHOP we had selected for breakfast on Texas Street with the receptionist.  The IHOP was about 2 miles away.


We removed our trunks and used the cable and lock that I carry to secure the bikes outside the restaurant.  We carried our "stuff" inside and selected a table.  We had our usual IHOP "bicycling" breakfast, eggs over easy and pancakes with coffee.  The food was good, service as expected, good, and we had a relaxed breakfast.  We paid the bill, collected our bike trunks and headed for our bikes.      


Today’s adventure - Our adventure would begin immediately exiting Fairfield, California from the restaurant where we had eaten breakfast.  The immediate task was to return to the Adventure Cycling Map route we had left to locate the hotel.  Our hotel had been about a mile off the route and we added a couple of miles getting to the IHOP.  I had decided not to return to the hotel but pick up the Adventure Cycling Route at a different location as we left Fairfield.  


I asked as we paid our bill at the IHOP register how to get to the "access road" along Interstate 680.  We took the route suggested to Interstate 680.  We rode under the interstate and onto the access route on the opposite side.        


We were on the last day of our first state ride and we were into finishing.  We did not terry along the route and pushed toward Vallejo where we would catch the ferry to San Francisco our destination point for the completion of our "first State ride" ride.  We continued to ride through the agriculture area between Sacramento and San Francisco.  It was flat and there was no wind so we made good time.  Just pounding out the miles.


Our route took us southwest along Interstate 680 until we reached Suisun Bay.  We were riding a short distance from the bay but we could not see it.  If we could have it would have provided a great view for our ride.  After a few miles riding along the Bay we turned north on lake Herman Road to Vallejo.  It was along Herman Road that the days excitement occurred.  


Herman Road had nothing along it accept fields which were filled with foot high dry grass and an occasional tree.  As we approached a turn there was a California State trooper car setting in the road.  We rode along side and asked what had happened.  He told us that a car had overturned and knocked down a power pole leaving the power line on the road.  I asked if I could take a look and he said ok.  Luckily for us he did not seem uptight about our safety.


We rode around the corner.  A car lay on its side 25 yards off the road.  The car had struck a power pole which had been in its path and left it lying in the road and the power lines it carried were also lying across the road attached to the next pole.  I neglected to say that the road turned sharply at this point which is why the car left the road and the power lines had dropped onto the road as they ran to the  next pole. 


I rode back to the patrol car and asked the patrolman if we could walk over the lines with our bikes and continue on.  Without hesitation he said go ahead.  Lucky for us because we would had to add a lot of miles left to ride back along the road to the first opportunity to head west and then north to Vallejo.  We rode back to the power lines, picked up our bikes and stepped over the power lines and continued on the Adventure Cycling Route to Vallejo.   


Several emergency vehicles passed us a few miles after we left the scene of accident.  I had assumed the car was empty but maybe things were a bit worst than I imagined.  I had worked as an attendant on an ambulance to support myself one year in college.  I had witnessed sufficient mayhem on the highway that today I avoid stopping at accidents that have sufficient support.  I am glad I did not realize that someone may have been injured in the car. 


We encountered a bit of climbing as we climbed away from the accident.  We had turned almost due west after leaving the accident.  The coast of California has been pushed up from the Pacific Ocean and typically there would be a climb to get to the coast.  We began to climb once we left the accident.  The worst I would estimate to be about 5% and it was short. 


It had been the only climbing we encountered on the ride.  After about 5 miles we entered the out skirts of Vallejo.  We made our way through the city using our Adventure Cycling Map and after a few miles we reached the ferry dock.  We purchased tickets, put the bikes onboard, found some seats and soon we were on our way to San Francisco.


Our route seemed short but the view of San Francisco was great and we had done it!  We had completed our first state ride and best of all our planning had worked so we could start the plan for our next adventure.  We disembarked at the "San Francisco wharf" and looked up some food.  We selected a seafood restaurant, "how unusual," and ordered mussels our favorite.  The manager came by to inquire about out cycling attire and of course we bored him to tears with tales of cycling.  


We had done it!  We had completed the first state ride of our ride across the United States.    


Today’s landscape - The best views of the day came during our ferry ride from Vallejo to San Francisco.  As the ferry took us across the Bay, San Francisco was on the skyline



and we could see the Bridge in the distance.  As we approached San Francisco the skyline separated into different views of interest.  There is a large area of shops and restaurants where the ferry docks in San Francisco and is a fun place to eat or find something to remember the trip by.    


On our ride through the Central Valley of California toward the Pacific Coast the scene was predictable and rather uninteresting.  The fact that it was the last day of cycling may have impacted our interest in our surroundings as well.  


The landscape on our ride west from the accident on Herman Road became a bit more interesting.  We began to climb and the flat fields of grass disappeared.  Trees and underbrush stayed with us near the road until we reached the outskirts of Vallejo.      


Bicycling notes - I was learning that the routes selected by Adventure Cycling could be expected to avoid traffic.  The traffic along the Interstate 680 access road was light because the cars opted for the Interstate.   We rode alone until we reached the outskirts of Vallejo.  The road surface was good.    


It was sunny but not hot.  We could bicycle without the need for a jacket.  There was no wind.  There were no insects 


We rented a car to return to Los Angeles.  Before we left Los Angeles we located a rental agency in Larkspur, our final destination, which had a car with the feature that the back seat could be dropped flat so the back seat and the trunk becomes a continuous storage area.  By removing the peddle clips and the front wheels from our bikes they fit easily into the cargo area for transport.  We had little additional luggage so we had plenty of room.  


Post ride activity - We reached the wharf in Vallejo and bought tickets for the ferry.  We took our bikes onboard and left them in an a designated area.   We used the lock we had brought to secure them.  We took our seats, inside, in the cabin and the ferry headed for San Francisco.   After we reached San Francisco we grabbed our bikes and got off the ferry. 


We looked for a place to eat in the "tourist" complex at the wharf.  We selected a sea food restaurant and ordered mussels our favorite and discussed the trip.  After we finished we caught the ferry to Larkspur where we would stay with our son Jack until we departed for our return to Los Angeles.  Our first state ride was complete!  



"car free adventure"