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Bikepacking in California Day 3

In Blog by EricLeave a Comment

I wish I could say that I slept well on the first night camping out. I wish I could say that the snoring had nothing to do with me staying awake. I wish I could say all the physical activity of cycling through the mountains put me to sleep immediately. I wish I could say I liked sleeping in a bivy.

But I can’t say any of that. It took quite awhile to fall asleep and although we didn’t wake up too early and I should have been OK, still being on Kansas time, I did not want to get up. But I did.

As you can see in the image below, Joe’s tarp is nice and taunt, while my poor little bivy is the opposite of taunt. It seemed better when I set it up in the dark. It is also the opposite of dry. What I mean by that is that it was wet, inside and out.

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It was cold and wet that morning. The walls of the bivy were nice and moist. The clothes that I set outside to air out were covered in a cold dew. Oh and while Jason, Erik and Joe are breaking things down and making breakfast, I was taking pictures. I better get going, before I make everyone wait.

The truth is, even though I woke up tired, achy, cold and wet, it was exhilarating to wake up out there. It’s hard to describe, but the only thing I can come up with was that I felt very alive out there knowing I rode into the mountains, slept in the mountains and had another day of cycling through the mountains ahead of me. I felt alive.

After putting on cold, wet cycling clothes from the day before and drinking a water bottle of coffee, I began to feel awake.

We immediately jumped over a fence to start the morning ride and faced a little bit of climbing before the beauty of the sunrise came into view. Sights like this make everything worth it.

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Like I said, it was cold and wet, so the lens of the camera would fog over pretty quick. I like the effect I got on that shot just before the lens completely fogged over.

My legs were stiff and felt like bags of sand, but they slowly came to life. I was feeling pretty good and the views that morning were amazing. So far so good. I can do this.

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 Then we started climbing.

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I couldn’t resist a shot of the Fargo on a sunny climb before the lens fogged over.

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We climbed some more. Soon we were pushing, except Joe up there slowly but steadily grinding out the climb on his bike.

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The views were nothing short of spectacular. Here’s a little California gravel.

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 The morning was full of climbing. Our speed was pretty slow. The views continued to motivate me to see more. Then we got low on water.

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I think we were only two to three hours into our ride, when we found a cistern and decided it would be a good idea to fill up. The amount of climbing we were doing had slowed us down considerably and water was a concern. I was worried about the cleanliness of the water and Erik let me use some tablets to treat it. After reading the pouch, it looked like it would take four hours for the water to be treated, which is fine if I quit drinking water for four hours. Joe was confident of the water being clean. I really had no choice and hoped for the best.

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After more hours of climbing we were once again rewarded with a view of beautiful California mountains. Here’s Joe at the top of the world as we saw it.

We continued to climb. I knew there would have to be a nice rewarding downhill. It never came. Well let me explain. We did find a few short descents, short downhills followed by more climbing. We climbed and we climbed.

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Here’s a panorama of a sweet, curvy downhill. Click on the picture to see it larger.

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We climbed some more.

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more climbing


We saw more tarantulas.

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We saw beautiful rolling hills.

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This is one of my favorite pictures because it captures exactly how we were feeling. Sometimes finding something to shoot served as a short break on a long climb. Jason’s rear was a good enough reason for me to take a quick break. In the end though, I do like this shot because of the memory and feeling it captured.

After a decent on pavement, we turned back onto a mountain road and climbed some more until finally taking another break under a shady tree. I believe water was becoming a concern at this point of the ride. The winery and kids camp that were on the map turned out not to exist and we kept rolling in search of some water.

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 time for a break

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 hike a bike

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 more climbing

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 A short downhill and some relief

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I can’t even explain how wacky some of the roads were that Joe led us on. If you look to the right of the image there is a number pad that controlled a gate that we all just climbed over. Yes, we were in the middle of nowhere, or so it felt, with a private, motorized gate. I liked the bridge that appeared like it was the bed of a dump truck.

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We were in an area that looked like plains surrounded by hills. We passed an abandoned greenhouse and then…

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… ended up on this “road.” Notice the huge rocks. Parts of this trail were not rideable and reminded my of trails that aren’t yet finished as I pushed through and over branches and bushes and rocks. Joe was too far ahead to question. But once again, the path led to another path and soon we were in an opening and decided to take a short break. My Fargo posed for a few shots.

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Joe, I gotta say was the man on the bike. He crushed every climb, except the one he said he pushed up to make us feel better. But then something happened. We came out of the trees and he spotted an apple stand. That sign in the background marks an apple orchard. Joe saw the apple stand with bags of apples and was beside himself with excitement. APPLES! I think the apples took over all of his mental capacities as he forgot to unclip and almost took the whole stand down as he lunged towards the succulent apples. If only I had been ready with the camera.

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We left some money and took a bag of apples. I love how food tastes so good when you ride all day. At the time, those were the best apples I had ever eaten in my life.

We hit pavement next. I believe this is where the route started to change as the words from Joe’s mouth were,

“That was the hardest day of climbing I have ever had on the bike,” or something like that. Since Joe completed the Great Divide race successfully, I found that statement quite rewarding to my ears. I believe we rode 50 miles in ten hours that day. Wow.

When we hit pavement, I was able to pedal hard and keep pedaling. I felt pretty good all things considered.

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We came upon an establishment that looked like it probably had food and we made another stop at Jack Creek Farms. It is family owned and we were glad to see them and it appeared that they were happy to have people to talk to. Joe splurged and bought a round of Dr. Peppers. That Dr. Pepper tasted better than anything my tongue had ever experienced. (remember, I love food when I get this hungry)

Many things were going through the mind of Joe as he looked at that gourd. Just use your imagination.

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 I don’t think I’d eat that.


Changing the route landed us in Templeton, California at Griff’s pizzeria. We were pooped. As we waited for our order, out came our phones and we littered the social media with pictures and commentary. It started getting cold, so we also put on our warmer clothes and ate outside, as we were a bit rank.

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 That was the best chicken pizza I have ever eaten.

Each of us ordered drinks and a full pizza. After almost finishing the pizzas and wrapping up the rest for breakfast, we decided what to do next. We rode off, after fixing Erik’s flat tire, to a nearby town with a hotel. So much for roughing it. A warm shower did sound awfully good though.

We got to our room and laid out the bags and bivies to dry overnight. Showers were next before heading to the grocery store to load up on more food for the next two days. I bought two chocolate milks and downed one that night. Chocolate milk is a great recovery drink, but I think I might regret drinking a big chocolate milk before bed.

That was a great day on the bike.

Feed Your Monkey!