Our first three days in California have been full of ups and downs. We’ve taken on a lot of miles and hills and the engine of our support car started smoking. But the incredible ups we’ve had are sustaining us through the downs.
Our first day in California we ran into the Texas 4000 Sierra team taking a break at a gas station. Texas 4000 is a charity bike ride of students from the University of Texas cycling from Austin to Alaska to raise money for cancer research. Our Austin gals had friends and friends of friends on their route. We rested with them and bonded over this strange way of life to which we’re all growing accustomed. Texas 4000 covers almost twice as much ground as we do each day, but we made sure they picked up our bikes to see how much weight we’re pulling (30-40 lbs per person). It was so encouraging to swap stories and meet some people who are just as crazy as we are.
Our campsite that night was at Elk Prairie in the Redwoods, and boy, was that prairie full of elk! We met several friendly fellow campers, and were gifted a watermelon that we still haven’t found a good knife to cut with—we may have to literally crack it open tonight.
Our second day in California was one of our longest days yet in terms of miles. Our car broke down, so our riders had to make their own water and lunch stops. Lizzie and Audrey, our Support and Gear team for that day, spent hours figuring out what to do with the car. Old Hutch had to be left behind in Eureka, and we bought a rental car for the remainder of the route. (Thank you Enterprise for the amazing discount!) It’s a Ford F-150 that doesn’t have a trailer hitch, so we have to load our bikes (and our now useless bike rack) in the truck bed. But other than that, we love it. There’s so much space, with an extra seat in the front, and we’ve upgraded from a cassette tape player to a Bluetooth radio.
We spent the night in a hotel in Eureka, and woke up well rested and ready to tackle another 50+ mile day. For lunch we stopped in Ferndale at a farm to table restaurant called Farmhouse On Main. We met the owners Karen & Matthew, and after an incredible meal they invited us back to their farm to pick raspberries and strawberries and snap peas. They showed us around their property, let us feed the chickens, cut us sprigs of lavender, and let us take as many berries as we could carry.
Tonight we are sleeping once again in the Redwoods, and we have a rest day to look forward to tomorrow. At 9pm, the latest we have ever finished a day, our last ride group arrived at the campsite just before dark. Though the day was exhausting, we all decided that moments like berry picking with Karen and Matthew are worth the long days. Though we are riding miles and miles each day, the purpose of our ride is not in the cycling. We are riding to start conversations. People are more likely to tell others about our mission if they have a meaningful encounter, and acts of generosity inspire us to keep extending ourselves to others—even on the long days!