Monday, August 28, 2017

Lower Yahara River Trail is open!

Just a quick post fueled by excitement: Yesterday was the opening day for the first phase of the Lower Yahara River Trail. This trail connects Madison with the little town of McFarland. Previously all the connections between the two consisted of heavily trafficked roads. This new trail will open up a new route for commuters as well as recreational cyclists. I went out there last night and took some footage of the trail:

Smooth asphalt, great signage, and a long boardwalk across Upper Mud Lake/Lake Waubesa. And a tavern at the McFarland end of the trail. What more could you ask for?! (Okay: There are two more phases for the trail, eventually connecting it all the way to Stoughton. So there is something more to ask for. But for now I'm really happy and excited!)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Converge ride, 3rd edition: Chicago/Harvard to Madison

Converge is one my favorite bands, and there is now a bit of a history of me biking to their shows and experiencing adventures. Back in 2011, I bike from Ithaca to Syracuse and back, running over a dead skunk on the way back. And while spending the summer in Germany in 2014, I got completely drenched in a thunderstorm on the ride from my home town Welzheim to Stuttgart. So when I saw the announcement that Converge and Neurosis (another one of my favorites) would be playing in Chicago, I immediately started scheming up some plan that would involve a bike ride.

My friend Kevin, who used to live in Chicago, was game to join me. I met with Kevin at his workplace at 1:30pm on Friday. We biked to the Madison airport to pick up our rental car. Fortunately, they gave us some kind of SUV, which made loading the bikes quite easy. Driving into downtown Chicago on a Friday afternoon was painful, but we arrived at the National Car rental location in the loop shortly after six. Friends of Kevin's had offered us to crash at their place for the night, and we rode our bikes over there. Biking in a big city like Chicago is always a bit of a culture shock, compared to the relative serenity of Madison.

One stumbling block was that Kevin didn't have a ticket to the sold-out show yet. We tried contacting some people online and posted on the event's Facebook page, with no immediate success. Eventually we decided to just go to the venue and hope for the best. In order to not having to worry about our own bikes, we checked out Divvys to ride to Thalia Hall. Since my last visit to Chicago in September 2016, it seemed like they had kept expanding and improving their bike infrastructure. While still crappy in places, it was nice to see so much effort being put into making the city a better place for people getting around by bike. Somewhere along the ride Kevin received a message from someone looking to sell a ticket—great news.


I got into Thalia Hall in the midst of Amenra's set. They had an awesome video projection behind the stage, complementing their sludgy post-metal sound perfectly. Converge was up next, reliably delivering their usual energy-laden performance and also playing the songs from their recently released EP I Can Tell You about Pain.

 The highlight of the night, however, were Neurosis. They played songs from at least five different albums, with an emphasis of their latest release, Fires Within Fires. Once again, I was blown away. Neurosis are able to reach emotional layers in me like no other band can.

After a late-night dinner stop at Furious Ramen, we divvied back and fell asleep on our camping pads around 2 am.

The plan for the next morning was to take the Metra train to Harvard, the station closest to Madison. With the train scheduled to depart at 8:20, we didn't get a whole lot of sleep. On the way to the station we picked up a cup of coffee at Big Shoulders. Our train was slightly delayed, but a little after 10 we arrived in the little town of Harvard.

Catching the train at Clybourn

Our route took us west, on a mix of country roads through corn and soy fields, a rail trail with dubious surface conditions, and finally through Rock Cut State Park. The stiff wind from the east made for a great helper and pushed us to our lunch destination in just over two hours. Pig Minds Brewing in Machesney Park was awesome. I had been there before, but both times I had been the designated driver and it had been winter. This time we could sit on the patio and enjoy their beers, burgers, and stellar desserts—all 100% vegan.

Weekend special at Pig Minds...
After our opulent lunch, I felt very much like taking a nap in the sun. Reasons prevailed and we continued on, at a reduced pace. Pig Minds is located in an industrial, exurban area, and during route planning I was slightly concerned about some of the roads. But on a Saturday afternoon it was pretty quiet and soon we would be on a bike path again anyway.

Said bike path led us to was probably the biggest adventure of the ride, involving a flooded underpass and a climb up a steep concrete banking. But compared with dead skunks or torrential downpours, this was pretty tame, leaving me only with wet feet and a squeaky derailer pulley.

To counter the post-lunch slump I suggested stopping for a quick coffee. Right on our route in Rockton, a nice little town, Local Dough offered itself for a coffee stop. I had an okay espresso and Kevin enjoyed cold brew coffee and vanilla ice cream, which apparently were just what he needed.

Crossing the Rock River, the landscape turned rural. We crossed the border into Wisconsin and continued west until we reached "The Little Store." This general store and gas station is a bit in the middle of nowhere, but nonetheless it was quite busy when we got there. It hadn't been that far since our previous stop. But with the next refueling option almost 40 miles from here, we made a quick stop for water, V8, and Dr. Pepper.

Trail kitteh at the Little Store

We turned left onto Brandherm Road, expecting the first gravel section of the ride. But despite what the WisDOT bike map had promised, the road was all paved. It took two more turns, onto Timm Road, until we finally reached gravel. The section was short, but very nice, with a narrow, smooth gravel road lined by trees.
Intersection of Timm and Beloit Newark Roads

Timm Road
We caught another gravel section, in much worse shape, on Bernstein Road. Shortly after being back on pavement, Kevin continued his unlucky streak of one-flat-per-ride. But otherwise the rest of the day remained serene. A quick stop at a gas station in Brooklyn, and soon after we would be back on familiar roads. We made it back to Madison just after sunset, finishing a terrific trip with a beer on our patio. I highly recommend the route for getting to and from Harvard in one day. There is relatively little climbing, and with the exception of some of the roads around Rockford, it is all either on quiet back roads or bike paths. 5/5 would do again.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Bike California, Day 2: Samuel Taylor State Park to Bodega Dunes

[Back to Day 1]

The sun rises late under the tall redwood trees in Samuel Taylor State Park. I had slept reasonably well, but when I emerged from my tent it was chilly. My cue sheet indicated three possible options for the day: A stretch goal of riding all the way to Gualala—140 kilometers (86 mi) and a major climb—, Salt Point State Park—115 km (70mi) and the same climb—, or Bodega Dunes State Park, at about 100 kilometers (60 mi), skipping the worst of the climbing.

But before making any decisions I needed to get coffee and breakfast. Knowing that the Bovine Bakery, where I had stopped last night, wasn't far, I didn't bother making breakfast at camp. With the high humidity and cold temperatures, everything was damp. And packing up damp gear on a cold morning makes for cold fingers.

Instead of backtracking on the road that I had come in last night, I took the beautiful Cross Marin Trail that runs on the other side of Lagunitas Creek. The morning sun in my back created a beautiful landscape, but my hands were way too cold for me to take any pictures. Even in late February, however, the California sun is strong enough to warm you up quickly (and the short and steep climb out of the Lagunitas Creek Valley probably helped as well). By the time I got to Point Reyes Station, it was warm enough to enjoy my coffee and large vegan scone outside. Apparently only Mid-Westerners like me were of that opinion, though, and so I had the benches in the little town square all to myself.

As I got ready to roll out again, I roadie couple on fancy carbon bikes also arrived on the square. They circled around my parked bike and I chatted with them for a bit. They were fascinated by my carrying all my luggage in the front, and when one of them lifted my bike by the handlebars, she exclaimed: "Oh my gosh, Larry, lift this! It's soo heavy!" I decided to take this as a compliment...

Out of Point Reyes station, the ride took a wonderful start. On one side the undulating grassy hills in the soft morning sunlight; on the other side the still waters of Tomales Bay. The scenery could not have been more beautiful.

After about an hour, Highway 1 turns inland, toward the small village of Tomales. I could feel the effort of the previous day in my legs and made a quick refueling stop at the general store. Across the street, a lot of bikers of the other kind and a bunch of Porsche owners also enjoyed the Sunday morning. I continued on Highway 1, and traffic kept getting heavier, with no good shoulder to ride on. Reviewing my route later, this seems like one of the cases where the requirements of a sanctioned randonneuring route clash with the aims of the bike tourist: Instead of taking the most direct but busy Highway 1, I could have followed the Porsche drivers toward Dillon Road and then turn on Valley Ford Franklin School Road until it meets with Highway 1 again. A little more distance, and possibly quite a bit more climbing, but probably it would have been worth it.

Traffic conditions improved once I left the coastal highway in Valley Ford to head toward Freestone. On the side of the road I found an Astana cycling cap, and of course I had to stop and pick it up as a souvenir. Once in Freestone, a tiny hamlet that nonetheless sports a bakery, an artisan cheese store, and a general store, Bohemian Highway begins. Bohemian Highway—an evocative name, and maybe it was bit too evocative to not disappoint. The road was going uphill and my legs and mind were tired. No shoulder and a surprising number of cars for a Sunday. A headwind. And by the time I got into Occidental, I probably was also bonking a bit.

Occidental is logging-turned-vacation town and was bustling with people. The brevet cue sheet listed Howard Station Cafe as a control and food spot. Looking at their menu, the options were either vegan but too healthy/low in calories, or full of delicious salt and carbs but not vegan. Or I was just bonking and therefore bad at making decisions. At any rate, I skipped the cafe and continued down the road to the local supermarket instead for bread, avocado, and hummus.

I ate lunch at a picnic table in the middle of town, which exposed me to the chilly winds but made for good people watching. Nearby a young white guy with dreadlocks was selling jewelry, which, according to his explanations to customers, had something to with Buddhism and quantum theory and a whole bunch of other things... He later came over to chat and offered an alternative route to get to Bodega Dunes, apparently consisting of an amazing multi-mile downhill all the way to the coast.

At this point it was clear to me that Gualala was out of reach for today. Salt Point State Park (the 70-mile destination also including a major climb), however, I had not completely given up on. I also know my body well enough to not make these types of decisions until at least 30 minutes after eating after a bonk. And even had I decided to go straight to Bodega Dunes, I would have been hesitant to follow the route suggestion of someone combining Buddhism and quantum theory (and more importantly: a general mistrust in route advice from any non-cycling locals). And so I continued along my planned route along Bohemian highway toward the Russian River.

The descent on Bohemian Highway continued about as mediocre as the ascent had ended. Rough pavement paired with inconsiderate people in cars and buses. And my al fresco lunch stop had made me chilly. Only near the end of the descent, the highway lived up to its name at last: A split in the road took car traffic left and left me on a narrow road lined by tall trees and secluded houses, some of which may very well have been inhabited by people leading a Bohemian lifestyle.

The Russian River was brown and swollen. On the bridge across the river in Monte Rio it was time to decide on the day's destination: Tackle the big climb on the Orr Springs route or follow the river to the coast. My spirits were up, but the warning on the cue sheet—“King Ridge Rd - steep grades - 11 mi”—combined with the tiredness in my legs and the increasingly grey skies made me opt for the coastal option.

In Duncans Mills I resupplied at the general store and enjoyed an afternoon coffee at Gold Coast Coffee and Bakery. While they didn't have any vegan baked goods, they do have a beautiful garden terrace with little birds flapping around everywhere.

After a few more kilometers, I was back at Highway 1 and the coast. Time to turn south and find the Bodega Dunes campground. The ocean greeted me with strong winds and dramatic mix of sun and low-hanging clouds. Without much warning, those same clouds opened up and a heavy mist blew on and around me—the first and last time it would actually rain on me for the whole trip! By the time I had stopped, made sure my panniers were properly closed and put on my hood, the rain was already over again. I stopped at the first campground I saw, tucked away between the highway and the beach. But it turned out that the state park has several campgrounds along the coast in the area, only one of which has hike-bike sites. So I continued through the strong winds for another 10 kilometers (and passing the intersection with the road the quantum hippie had recommended to me) before finally reaching my destination for the day.

And what a destination is was. This was my favorite campground of the whole trip: Protected from the wind by large sand dunes and pine trees was my flat and soft camping spot. Again I had the hike/bike site all to myself, and the campground host was just across the park road.

There were still a few hours of daylight left and they sky looked less foreboding now. After setting up the tent and buying firewood from the campground host, I set out to walk to the beach. The campground host didn't have the map and only gave me vague directions, but after a 20-minute walk I made it to the beach. It was well worth it.

My day ended with baked beans, prepared on a camp fire, and the obligatory avocado and beers. I had covered less distance and elevation compared to the previous day. But clearly it had been plenty, and sleep came easy.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Giro Rumble VR: A review one year out

It's been a little over a year since I posted my first impressions of the Giro Rumble VR shoes. Since then I have been wearing the shoes almost daily, except during the winter. They also were the only shoes I had during a seven-day bike camping trip in California earlier this year. And since someone in the comments to the original post asked for an update, here is a full review. Giro appears to continue production of the shoe, and they have since introduced an additional color option (olive/black). The Rumble VR is widely available online and offline for about $80.


In my initial review I remarked that I was concerned about durability in two areas: The thickness of the sole around the cleat and the little elastic lash that holds in place the shoelaces. The good news: The elastic is holding up very well, and it is a feature that's I've come to appreciate, especially on a fixed-gear bike where you really don't want to get your shoelaces caught in the drivetrain.

The sole is a different matter. Even though I haven't walked around the shoes a lot and the sole isn't worn down by much, it is worn enough that the cleats touch the ground occasionally. It hasn't gotten to the point where that becomes dangerous, but I'm afraid that may happen in the not too distant future. The problem is that there is just not enough material around the cleat to begin with. Another indication of that: A commenter on the initial review asked whether the shoes made crunchy noises when walking, and indeed they do, unless you're walking on very smooth and clean pavement

The outer of the shoe, on the other hand, has held up very well. Compare the two pictures:

The top one is of the shoes today; the bottom is from the original review over a year ago. And if you think I've gone easy on the shoes, think again:
After a wet 100k ride
The heel cup is also still in excellent shape. That may be because I've continued to diligently use a shoe horn whenever I put the shoes on. As mentioned before, the shoes have a snug fit and and no tab to hold on to when putting on the shoe. So you either have open up the lacing a lot or use the shoe horn.


Comfort on the bike eventually worked itself out. My initial complaint about numbness in my foot went away after a while. Whether that was due to slight adjustments to the cleat positioning or just the shoes breaking in, I cannot tell. The longest rides I have done were about 10 hours on the bike during my California trip, and the shoes worked well for that. With thick socks I can wear the shoes comfortably down to about 8°C (45F). Below that my feet will get cold after an hour or so. In the summer they are sufficiently ventilated.

Off the bike I've never come to love the shoes. While they are not outright uncomfortable, I would not recommend them for longer walks or even just standing for extended periods of time. It may be the lack of cushioning in the sole (despite the Vibram label) or its stiffness, but my feet feel strained whenever I wear the Giros off the bike for too long.

Odor control

Nobody likes smelly shoes, and the Giros perform well in that department. The worst was during my California bike camping trip: Eight days of daily wear, combined with damp and cold nights, meaning the shoes would never fully dry out. By the end of it, they unsurprisingly had developed a distinct funk, but fortunately that has disappeared since.


I'm torn about the Giro Rumble VR. They look great, they're vegan, affordable, come in a large enough size for my feet, and they work well on the bike. But then they're also uncomfortable off the bike and don't have enough rubber on the sole to make them durable. So while I certainly don't regret buying them, I'm not sure if I would buy them again. I may, just because there aren't a whole lot of vegan SPD-compatible shoes that don't look like bike shoes. But some do exist, for instance the Chrome Truk or the Mission Workshop Hardcourt, and I would give those a hard look before re-buying the Giros.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bike California, Day 1: San Mateo to Samuel Taylor State Park

[Back to Day 0]

The official Orr Springs route has its starting point at the Golden Gate Bridge. I pondered taking the BART train for most of the way there to avoid mediocre riding through endless suburbs. But after some consultation with my hosts, I concluded that the ride to get to the bridge may actually be nice for the most part, especially when taking a slightly longer route. With a hastily handwritten cue sheet in my handlebar bag, I headed out at 8:17 am.
I have reached the ocean!

The route indeed turned out to be pretty nice, probably helped by it being Saturday morning with light traffic. After following the Caltrain/BART route into San Bruno, I reached the South San Francisco Centennial Way. This is a nicely paved bike trail that, as I later learned, runs on top of the BART tube. Where the trail ended, I encountered the first of what would be many more climbs. Chestnut Avenue is a straight shot up toward the San Bruno mountains, until it intersects with Hillside Avenue. When planning the route, I had suspicions that Hillside, showing up as a major connector road, may be unpleasant, but it actually turned out to be beautiful. There was a good bike lane/shoulder, and the road takes you through a long stretch of scenic cemeteries.

Plenty of surfers in the water
I got slightly lost on my way to the ocean and had to squeeze my bike through a narrow fence opening at a pedestrian connector, but eventually I got back on track and reached the beach near the appropriately named “Great Highway.” I spent some minutes watching the surfers and then continued along the coastline. The multi-use path along Great Highway is very bumpy, but fortunately the highway itself was closed off to cars that morning. Getting from the beach to the Golden Gate Bridge involved some pretty brutal climbs, but it also provided a nice mix of riding through an urban environment and then through the Presidio park.

Looking toward downtown on Clement Street
View of the Marin Headlands from the Presidio
The start of the Orr Springs route
Tourists afoot and on their “Blazing Saddles” rental bikes of course were swarming everywhere on and around the bridge. Fortunately on the weekend the western path of the bridge is open and limited to only cyclists, making riding across actually enjoyable.

On the Marin side of the bridge
Once in Marin County, the Orr Springs route follows Highway 1 out of Sausalito. I had been warned about there usually being a lot of car traffic on that route, especially on the weekend. To avoid that I tried to retrace my steps from a day ride during a San Francisco visit one-and-a-half years ago. I really enjoyed that route back then, but alas, I couldn't figure it out again. The route I took instead had some great section as well (see photo below), but there were also segments with hard climbing and lots of car traffic. By the time I got to the top, at the intersection with Panoramic Highway and Muir Woods Road, I was soaked in sweat.
Beautiful residential street in Mill Valley
I knew that Highway 1 was closed off in the segment going down to Muir Beach due to construction, requiring a detour either via Muir Woods (less climbing) or Panoramic Highway (more climbing). So I wasn't surprised to see a detour sign at the intersection. Apparently I also didn't read it too closely before starting the descent down Muir Woods Road. However, something on that sign must have triggered doubt deep in my reptile brain and I decided to pull over after the first few downhill turns. I pulled out my cell phone to double-check that I was not mistaken about which parts of Highway 1 were open and which ones were closed. But of course, being on the other side of the mountain, I no longer had cell reception. And so I just continued down the hill, together with a steady stream of weekend tourists going to and from Muir Woods. The descent was fun and twisty, with me actually managing to scrape my panniers on the ground in one of the switchbacks. I guess there are certain disadvantages to use rear panniers in the front...
Looking back and catching my breath on steep Edgewood Avenue

Past the entrance to Muir Woods, traffic volumes dropped quickly. I rationalized that away, thinking that with one section of Highway 1 being closed off, most people in cars would just take Panoramic Highway instead. I encountered a bunch of sad looking runners who, as I later learned were the back-end of an ultra running event. Well, soon enough I would look just as sad: At the intersection with Highway 1, there it was: ROAD CLOSED. LOCAL ACCESS ONLY. In both directions.
Back at the entrance to Muir Woods

I considered just continuing anyway, in hopes that on a bike I may be able to pass the closure. But having seen enough pictures of really big landslides on other parts of the coastal highway, however, that didn't seem like a great idea. Around I turned. At Muir Woods—which is where the serious climbing begins—I made a quick stop to ask one of the rangers about the closure. After all, my legs were somewhat tired at this point, and not only would I have to get back up to where I'd come from, but the route on Panoramic Highway would continue climbing for a good bit before going back down to the ocean. The ranger couldn't tell me much more than that the closure was because of a slide and that she didn't think I'd be able to pass on a bike. Oh well.

The climbing was tough and had lots of annoying car traffic. And yet, the sunshine and beautiful scenery more than made up for it. About an hour later I reached the highest point of the day at Pan Toll campground. I was in desperate need of a break, calories, and electrolytes. I had plenty of Clif Bars left for the calories, and the campground vending machine had some sort of sports drink to take care of the electrolytes. Just to make sure that I wouldn't encounter any further surprises along the road, I inquired with the volunteer at the campground registration about the status of the route from here on and whether Samuel Taylor State Park was open and had hike-bike sites. She gave the thumbs-up on the route and offered to call the park. Nobody picked up there, but she confirmed that they did have hike-bike sites and that she had no reason to believe the camping wasn't open. She also offered me a campsite right here. But with a few hours of daylight left and the worst of the climbing was behind me, I declined.

Double espresso in Stinson Beach. The barista seemed a little stoned...
The descent to Stinson Beach was sublime. It's over six kilometers (3.8 mi) of twisty downhill with stunning vistas of tall trees, endless beaches, and the Pacific Ocean. At the bottom is a small beach community where I stopped for an espresso and a bottle of V8. North of Stinson Beach the Coastal Highway is truly coastal: For a few miles I rode right at the edge of the water, on a road that had hardly any traffic. Some seals lazing on sand banks further enhanced the scenery.

After a few short ups and downs when the route turned inland, I reached the tiny community of Olema. This was where I would have to turn off the coastal highway to get to my camping spot for the night. Olema consists only of a few houses, but there is a little deli as well as a campground right in town. Riding to Samuel Taylor State Park would be all uphill, and so I considered just staying here, or at least getting my dinner supplies at the deli. But the deli's selection was rather upscale and the campground looked expensive and geared toward RV campers. So I decided to keep going on Highway 1 into the next town, Point Reyes Station. The Orr Springs cue sheet promised a supermarket and a renowned bakery there, and it was only another few miles.

This was well worth it. At Bovine Bakery I had a tasty vegan minestrone and at the supermarket across the street I bought pasta, an avocado and two large beers for dinner. Daylight had started to run out at this point, and so I started on the final few miles to my camp site. The climb from Olema turned out to be not too bad, or maybe it was just the beautiful scenery in the soft evening light that made me forget about my tired legs.

The ranger station was already closed when I arrived, and there was a sign that the campground was full. As full as the regular campground was, the hike/bike site was completely unoccupied. I set up my tent under the massive redwood trees and right next to Lagunitas Creek. The avocado and a pound of pasta with tomato sauce and two cans of Sierra Nevada Torpedo made for a very satisfying ending to a long day of riding.

[Continue to Day 2]

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bike California, day 0: Assembling Grando and a first shakedown ride

What you don't want your route map to look like a week before your departure (Photo: Big Sur Information)

Wisconsin winters are long and cold. I tolerate but certainly don't like them. So this year I decided to find reprieve on a week-long bike trip in sunny California. Inspired by Hunter's wonderful ride report, the plan was to ride down the coast from San Francisco to LA. Well, sunny California turned out to be rainy California this winter, upending my plans. Landslides had interrupted much of my planned route. I kept being hopeful that everything would be cleaned up by the time of my trip. But that hope proved elusive, and by the time of my departure I didn't really know where I would end up touring. Generally I'm a person who likes to have a firm plan. But somehow in this case the idea of making things up on the go appealed to me.

Boxing up my SOMA Grand Rando
Dropping off the bike at FedEx

Packed and ready to leave for the airport
California, where oranges just grow in your garden...
My flight got me into San Francisco at 9 pm. My hosts, Julie and David, fortunately live very close to SFO, and they greeted me with a wonderful vegan pizza for dinner. My bike, shipped a couple days previously via BikeFlights had not arrived yet (note: If you insure your bike over $500, a signature is required at delivery, and apparently the signed note that my hosts left on the door does not fulfill that requirement). Not a problem, as I had planned to hang out with Julie and David for another night anyway.

The bike has arrived!
And indeed, the next morning my SOMA Grand Randonneur arrived, mostly unscathed: The rear fender was bent a little, and the nut of the front quick release skewer got lost. No big deal. Reassembly was also unproblematic and quick, courtesy of David's well-stocked garage, including a brand new repair stand. Once assembled, it was time for a test ride. Yes, I had not previously tried the exact set-up of bags. In Madison it had been too cold and snowy for a shakedown ride. I wasn't too worried, given that I had done overnight camping trips with a similar setup. Nonetheless, an actual test before starting on the tour seemed like a good idea. After all, I had much bigger panniers, was carrying more weight than ever before on Grando, and had just switched to a new cassette. My hosts had recommended Crystal Springs Reservoir as a scenic destination not too far away. The route there would also include a good amount of climbing/descending, making for an excellent test course. Conclusion: The ride was pretty, and the bike felt great! The handling was intuitive, despite having all the weight in the front, and on the descents there was not a hint of shimmy or speed wobble. The only adjustment I made after the shakedown ride was to nudge up the tire pressure in the front.

Climbing up to the reservoir
Grando, fully loaded, on the Sawyer Camp Recreation Trail
Fancy houses and fancy cars on the way back
At this point I had also made a decision on my route: The weather forecast north of San Francisco looked relatively promising, with only a small chance of rain and high temperatures of around 12-15°C (55-60F). So I would start out on the Orr Springs 600k route, a brevet route that promised a “course [that] challenges even strong riders, but it rewards with fantastic scenery and uncommon isolation.” In best case, I thought I may be able to do the whole route in six days. This would then give me a few days to take the train further south and do a bit of riding near LA. And if that would prove too challenging, I could always spend more time on the route or cut it short. As I said: Improvisation!

I concluded the day with Julie and David, having strong beers at Grape and Grain and a truly amazing "Hella Vegan" samosa at Curry Up Now.