24 April 2017
(written by Dave)
We are in the USA, getting ready for the start of our tour and hanging out with friends and family. It’s getting towards the pointy end of the trip – we start riding less than a month from now.
We’ve spent the last week in Carson City, Nevada at my mum’s house. It’s been raining in Oregon (where Nancy’s family lives) and warmer and dry here so riding has been better. We brought our touring bikes down from Oregon so we could get used to them. We had a great ride on Saturday – 55 miles out and around Virginia City. We had great weather (over 70/21 and sunny), plus we had some great views of the snow covered Sierra Mountains. It’s been cold in the mornings though, so we have had to re-educate ourselves on how to dress for the changing temperatures. Both of us have been overcompensating a bit for the cold morning temperatures and generally start shedding clothing within the first 30 minutes of riding. Obviously we’ve gotten soft riding in Australia – time to toughen up!
The Cascades (Oregon/Washington) and Sierras (Nevada/California) have had really big snow years so there is lots of snow left in the mountains. We’ll be riding through bits of them in June/July/August so we are hoping enough snow melts by the time we get down from Alaska to allow a path through. On the positive side, the naturalists say that bears should be less pesky as there will be plenty of “normal” food – so there should be no need to eat savoury touring cyclists. (Editor’s note – still planning on stocking up on bear spray, bear-proof (ok, resistant) food bags and practicing our rope-throwing skills to get the bags up over the tree branches).
We had dinner the other night with our friends Pete and Inge. Pete and I have been friends since 4th grade. Pete is 3 weeks older than me, Inge 2 weeks older than Nancy. They rode across the US on a tandem for their honeymoon years ago and we got to spend the first week with them. We think we have “our Older friends” convinced to join us on part of our trip – either in northern California, or riding from Carson City. Pete got the scales out and we weighed Nancy’s bike – 37.5 pounds (~17 kilos) with no gear loaded. Wow, no wonder our touring bikes seem slower going uphill! This reflects our the touring mindset – we’ve owned the bikes for 3 years, done 2 tours on them and just never bothered to weigh them before. When touring it’s all about the journey, not the speed at which you do it. Though that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few swear words coming out of the Editor’s mouth when trying to pedal the bikes up some of the hills…
Speaking of touring bikes, we are proud to report that the Clamont touring bikes that took us on our Australia to Europe tour have been given new lives. We’ve passed them onto Anna (Claire), Nancy’s niece and a friend of hers. Touring bikes are meant to tour and having them hang in our garage just didn’t seem right. They are now in the hands of two young, soon-to-be bicycle tourists. It’s great to see the bikes get new lives and equally to have passed on a bit of the touring bug to Anna. We are hoping to get her to join us for part of the Oregon leg of the upcoming trip, along with her dad (and Nancy’s brother) Andy.
Pre-trip gear gathering has started as well. While we were in Oregon, Chris and Mark (the two guys joining us in Fairbanks) came over to the coast and we reviewed the gear list. Mark is using this trip as an excuse (as if he needs one) to buy some new ultra lightweight gear. Chris is taking a more pragmatic, “let’s see if I like this touring” approach – we are loaning him a few things to supplement his existing kit. Chris was particularly happy with the loaner sleeping bag (see below) and equally happy to learn that we had a slightly lighter version as well.
We’ll be heading back to Oregon in a week to sort our gear in earnest – Nancy is working hard to cull a pre-ride pile of Smartwool jumpers into something that comes close to fitting in her limited clothing space. I’m keeping a keen eye out for leakage from her bags to mine. (Editor’s note – I am sure there is some space in Dave’s bag for a shirt or two…)
And one last “only in America” comment. We spotted the sign below out riding one day. We also saw a couple guys with guns on their belts while up in Virginia City – not sure if they were fake or real. Regardless, after living in “gun-free” Australia for so many years, it’s odd being in a place where guns are so accepted/common place – not right or wrong, just odd…