On June 7th 2013, We (Justin Ancheta & Morgan Nilsen) departed the foggy bay area to find sunshine and heat, tired of the cold front that kept the weather at a constant chill. We we heading North East to the Sierra’s to find the mountains once again, and the sunshine. Two shows were booked so it made us also have a deadline to get to Auburn within two to three days. The idea was to leave Friday early at 5:30 a.m. to arrive at the Ferry building in SF, boat over to Vallejo, then start the 140 Miles to Auburn by bike. The first leg of the trip was to go from Vallejo to Sacramento. Our first friend we met was on the ferry to Vallejo, Kurt – a walker, walking the Bay Trail and blogging about his travels. He was kind enough to mention us in his blog (http://walkingthebaytrail.com/2013/06/08/an-offer-i-couldnt-refuse/), and the BMF coming up June 22nd.
We got off the boat in a foggy overcast morning in Vallejo that lasted until we broke through around 9 a.m. dropping into the Vacaville valley. I was stoked to see a separate bike freeway that lasted through the mountains, as well as dropping into small back country roads and ‘greeways’ through the valley and agriculture land. Our goal was to get to Davis to break for the mid day heat by 1 pm. We didn’t arrive until 3 pm and felt the scorching sun for a few hours of the first day. We waited there while doing computer work and resting in-doors, as it was too hot in the shade outside to even take a nap. By 7 pm, we headed down the side bike route, left of Interstate-80. We arrived in Sacramento soon later, about a 15 mile trip and headed directly to 24-hour fitness to freshen-up and … work out? – okay, we didn’t work out. I think we had enough of a work out for the day. After that, it was 9:30 at night and I was hungry again. Someone told us of the closest store which ended up being all the way across town in the opposite of our camping direction. We made it by about 10:30. I got us a little lost, not sure how, as Sacramento has easy street directions. As I went into the store to pick up some food, Morgan sat by the overly-loaded mundo. within 15 minutes a guard told Morgan that she cannot be there, as it was making customers, or will make customers feel unsafe, and she cannot sleep there. She told the rent-a-guard that we were customers ourselves and would be on our way shortly. Once I came outside with some food, we ate briefly, saw some old friends, and got harassed by the rent-a-guard. I had to let him know that we are paid customers and he needed to back off. He said he was going to call for back-up and I never saw him again. We stayed and rested, ate for a bit longer, and went on our way. I felt sorry for all the other bike-riders in the area that get profiled as trouble-makers. It seems ironic, as in truth, there is a larger chance that someone in an expensive vehicle doing something in waste economically/environmentally/ or socially, then us. We are travelers enjoying the open road and living the experience we wish to see happen in the world, supporting bike routes by taking them, and supporting the freedom to travel as vagabonds, a freedom that actually sets us free to choose the hopefully large spectrum of life options in ‘the free-world’.
We didn’t find a sleeping spot by the American river until 12:30 at night, tired and grumpy, we passed out in the not-so-best-of-neighborhoods, to wake early to start our trip to the TV station, Good Morning Sacramento. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we arrived at 7 a.m. to start setting up the bike-pedal-powered gear, a one-bike-one-speaker system from Rock The Bike. Paul Freedman from Rock The Bike, with the help of Jake, stayed up late the night before completing one of the newer technologies so that we may have the opportunity to display it on a local television broadcast of about 30,000 viewers.
I am excited about the possibilities of bikes powering local power usages such as lighting, sound, and hopefully one day even toaster-ovens. The technology seems to be getting better at an exponential rate, and happening almost as fast as the tech booms of computer science.
Live on air they spoke of the weather forecast for the day, starting to say 107 degree weather, it jumped to as high as 109 degree forecast, record breaking by 6 degrees (previously 103). My uncle offered to take us in his truck up to Auburn, as he felt it wasn’t safe to be out biking in weather when they said for everyone to watch out, stay inside, and limit strenuous outdoor activity. Being stubborn to complete what we started out doing, we opted to leave the station at 12:30 pm, in the middle of the heat wave to start biking down one of the most beautiful trails, the American River Bike Trail, a 26 mile stretch up to Folsom, California.
Within 10 miles we new we were in for it. We stopped off at a store to get some food supplies and make some head
covers for the insane heat that got up to be close to 115 degrees over the black asphalt trails. Every 5 miles we barely made it to shade or water to rehydrate. We were loopy, about to pass out on our bikes numerous times, we finally jumped in the river around Hazel Avenue. So appreciative of the water that felt ice cold, we quickly jumped back on our bikes in hopes make it a distance before feeling the scorching heat once again. I think I felt it while waiting by the bikes, even before getting back on the saddle. We decided to bi-pass the last stretch of trail to find civilization, AC-indoor, and to wait off the heat once again. I think it was already 3 pm and we were already 3 hours into one of the most heat-drenched days in Sacramento recorded history.
We made it about 4 miles down Hazel Avenue before my wobbling bike from delirious sun exposure and Morgans quiet attempt to say let’s pull over, was enough to stop us once again. This stop ended up being a long-lasting stop that felt a bit life threatening to say the least. We found some indoor AC, food, cold drinks, ice cream, but it was not enough to get us out of the funk. I sat there putting ice all over Morgan as I felt she was going through a possible heat stroke. My friend Anna checked in during this time and I told her what was going on. She offered to pick us up using a horse trailer from 15 miles away. I kindly accepted, as the pool-side AC’d house, and a place to rest seemed like it would help the situation. She got there shortly after. We put Morgan and the bike in the car and trailer, I continued on the e-bike to save on packing/unpacking time. I made it to Anna’s house at the same time as the vehicle, about 30 minutes later. We charged up, both electronically, emotionally, and physically. By dusk we set out with the new plan that I’d bike once again by e-bike up to Auburn, meet Morgan at Club Car with Anna and Damian would drop her off by car, to then bike the last 8 miles to Meadow Vista. The plan seemed flawless, however, we didn’t expect my bike to have an instant flat by a huge shard of glass on Auburn Folsom blvd, just 4 miles outside Auburn. I unfortunately had the tire patch kit and all my supplies delivered ahead to Auburn, so I had to call on support. My mother, Denise Ancheta, luckily was 8 miles away and was able to pick me up within 50 minutes with my Dad’s car and a bike rack. It was now about 11 pm. We then picked up Morgan from Club Car and made it to Meadow Vista by midnight. I was so grateful to sleep at my parents house that night, indoors, and safe. We made it over 100 miles by bike in two days. I was shy of the 140 mile goal Vallejo to Meadow Vista by about 10 miles. I didn’t feel like we failed. I actually felt that we over-achieved, due to the extreme weather conditions that we faced of record breaking heat waves in the Sacramento Valley. We kept repeating in the middle of our delirious bike ride through the heat, “this will be a story to tell for the ages.” The story of how we finally made the trip from the Bay to the Mountains of California by Bicycle, in the hottest recorded day of June 8th in history. Ironically, the following day dropped over 20 degrees to be an average of 82 degrees. Timing and planning with weather is something to highly consider when doing activities such as this. We learned a valuable lesson that almost kicked our ass permanently.
The following day, Sunday June 9th – we made it to our show at Club Car in Auburn, then continued our nature-seeking, by finding Aloha Lake in the Sierra’s
(by car and foot). The extreme weather changes from the coastal bay area to the sacramento valley, and on to the high Sierra’s, made me appreciate the diversity we have in California. Also made me really think of why this record breaking heat happened this day and age. Was it global warming, some heat-inversion from smog?, or was this just a coincidence that was happening to make us laugh when we told friends and family years later. Either way, it’s something for the ages to tell in my life. A story of potential life-threatening adventure, successes and failures, laughs and frustrations, and the big question – Why the hell to we do this? –
I can answer: because I want to see a revolution happen. Where we localize our life habits, grow community and nature around us, and fight for the balance of technology advances that help us, and the technology advances that might inhibit us, as humans to connect locally. This is a revolution that takes strong steps to choose not always the simple or easiest path, but the path that you whole-heartedly feel with you soul, beneficial for yourself and for seven generations to come. Your are in this web of life and born to make these decisions. There are always paths and roads that split and choices have to be made. Are you going to take the easiest path, or are you going to have fun with us in creating a revolution to help nature, life, and wisdom? – Let’s make our destiny on this earth not as a parasite, but as a symbiotic relationship of love and hope for all humanity, and all of the natural world that sometimes speaks quieter words of wisdom.
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Thanks for reading!
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