Goodness Cali, just give us an easy day haha!

Today was filled with headwinds in the beginning for the first 30 miles and also for the last 25… The last 25 was almost all a steep uphill into absolutely ferocious headwinds. It was by far the strongest headwinds that I have ever encountered on the bike. We started the day with a lovely layout of pancakes for breakfast along with 5 different kinds of juices! It feels great being back in civilization where our hosts feel kind enough to provide is two amazing meals! Seriously, it lifts morale a lot. I rode with Katie and Eric in the morning and was later joined by Tom after first lunch. The first 33 miles to lunch was flat with strong crosswinds/headwinds. We weren’t on the safest road ever, so so!e of us were nervous with having no shoulder and crosswinds blowing us to the left sometimes… I had a great lunch and ate some of Katie’s family’s chocolate and brownies!! Oh my goodness they were so good.. We took a slight detour to help with safety and crossed a cool bridge that has water that leads to the Pacific! It smelled salty and I haven’t had that scent since South Carolina. It was a fun stretch between first and second lunch too. We went over a large bridge that I got a flat before climbing and a flat at the top about 1 mile later.. So I finished descending the bridge pretty much on my rim and changed yet another tire at the bottom :-( Me and Eric then rolled into a BBQ and car show contest where Katie and Tom had been for about 20 minutes. It was a cool little venue with awesome classic cars and meat galore! We took off headed for second lunch and ate a bit when we got there but nobody was too hungry really. We only had 25 miles left in the day that we thought were the same kind of terrain that had faced us all day long… Incorrect. Very very incorrect lol. The road started with a slight uphill climb which morphed into a steep, relentless climb directly into 20mph headwinds!! Everywhere the road went, there were wind farms surrounding the area which only goes to show just how windy the area gets. We probably averaged 5mph climbing this crazy mountain with busy traffic passing us on the left. The hills were so dang pretty coated in golden grass and trees near the top!  I got another flat towards the top of this ascent and I handled it well mentally I think. All you can do is accept it, change it, and keep on truckin.. We reached a false summit where we stopped and took pictures only to be greeted shortly afterwards by “the wind tunnel”. This specific area was dubbed that name because of the unbelievably strong winds blowing our way. I started laughing twice because I was simply awestruck at how hard we were pedaling to go 4mph… It was ridiculous. However, the top eventually came and we made it to host no problem! We took showers and scarfed down another great California dinner before talking with our beloved rider, Maddie, on Skype and then headed out to snooze. I’m ready to sleep so I’m gonna wrap this up :-)

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Eric, Devin, and Katie right before we left pur host in Davis, CA.

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Devin just doin his Devin thing :-) I love this guy

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Tire problems with Eric before we even left this morning.. Suuuucks man. Notice me and Eric’s new pink tires on the front! By the way, all of my flats were from the back tire, not the pink one. Way to stay strong pink!

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Eric leading the pack in the early morning while we bike further and further south headed for Santa Cruz!

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Molly, Katie, and Eric just before first lunch taking windmill selfies! I joined in also :-)

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The same location from above, just me turned around facing the lovely Suzette. Those were some happy windmills today! No kidding.

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Cool agriculture on a steep steep hill!

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Katie pushing that big gear as always up the beginning of the ascent!

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Beautiful, but oh so windy..

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Happy windmills everywhere you look!

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Katie at the false summit!

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Eric at the false summit!

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Me and Eric!! Sippin on some clear drank..

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The pink monsters absolutely crushing the road!! I don’t regret this purchase one bit.. At all.

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Katie, Eric, and Tom descending into town! It was a good descent in my opinion :-) No breaking required!

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Pushing myself on the pain train.

Leaving Colusa for Davis left us with a very flat and agriculture rich ride! I headed out with Noah and Tom but got a flat within 5 miles only to get another at mile 8 and only to get another at 13… At that point I told Noah and Tom to just keep going. I waited for sweep to come and took their tire that they carried with them. I wasn’t in the best of moods so I decided to see how fast I could finish the day. I started in the very back with sweep and ended up finishing in the front with Reuben :-) I was solo for the majority of the day. That was cool because I had the opportunity to push myself as hard as I wanted and not feel bad about pushing riders too hard… So I got to first lunch about 3 minutes behind Noah and Tom after making up all of the lost time after my tire change :-) I took a pretty brief lunch break and kept on truckin solo. I passed a few groups and caught up with front group and Reuben hopped on to wrap up the day for the last 10 miles, which I really liked. I had a great time pushing ourselves into town and I felt accomplished to go from all the way in back to all the way in front! And I’m really trying not to sound like I’m bragging about being able to bike quickly, because I am nowhere near the quickest in the group :-) Anyways, we went to a bike shop where we got a great deal and then went to a house party that an alumni put on for us! That was such a fun way to wrap up the day. Then me and Abbie walked back yo host where I grabbed the guitar and wooed her to sleep in minutes!! She was out and was snoring so loud lol! Here are some pictures.

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Noah and Tom in the early morning!

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Cool mountains to the East with a flock of birds flying close by above :-)

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Agriculture!!

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Noah and Tom at my second flat for the day…

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Logan and Eric passing us! Love these two buddies of mine.

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Beautiful riding through trees!

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Noah, Sara, Tom, and Devin on the hard packed dirt path trying to find a bike shop haha!

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My dessert plate for the night! Soooo good :-)

The last stretch…

Our last stretch of riding began today leaving Chico, CA headed for Caluso, CA about 50 miles away. We were joined by many local cyclists in Chico who wanted to tag along with is for a whole and even pushed the pace for us which was really fun :-) Today was 100% flat which made for leisurely stops and fun times! Me, Eric, and Devin stopped to pick some blackberries growing on the side of the road and I realized I had a flat… So I foxed it and then we spent at least 15 minutes picking, eating, and keeping blackberries for later :-) It was a bunch of fun to not even care how long we took to harvest these berries. I have had an empty Arizona tea can on my bike for a while and decided to cut the top off in order to keep blackberries in it to take to lunch! I felt like such a hipster while biking toward our lunch spot with a torn up tea can containing freshly picked blackberries that sat in my bottle cage below me :-) Good times. After eating, I took off with Katie and Ashley heading for town and were joined by another group too. We stopped just short of getting to host and visited Barb’s Fruit Farm down a country road. Barb personally gave us five free nectarines and also gave MG an entire canelope for her to eat all by herself! It has been a goal of MG’s to eat an entire canelope without help from a fruit stand while on this trip. So she got all of the way to one piece being left and she was pretty miserable so Katie helped her out and ate the last slice and also cleaned off all of the leftovers :-) Barb took some pictures of us and said that she would put us on her Facebook page which was pretty cool. We got into town and immediately walked across the street in order to get some cold coffee and milkshakes! Ashley promised she would buy me a milkshake and she loved up to that promise today :-) Thanks again Ashley for always being kind to me. You’re awesome. We were treated to another great dinner and had our very last family meeting as well tonight :-( I started tearing up slightly when we said our highs and lows and my low was how much I was going to miss everyone once this dream is over… This summer has been one for the books and I will forever hold it near and dear to my heart. I’m sad and happy all at the same time and I keep telling myself not to bum until I’m home in Kansas. Because there is no time for bumming when I’m still on Bike & Build. Ever. ;-)

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All of us trying to figure out the route as we leave Chico, CA. Notice Noah with the awesome left leg on the pole to keep his bike upright lol!! Impressive.

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Katie cruising behind me as we head towards Colusa! I’m gonna miss the crap out of her. Seriously, its going to be hard for me to say goodbye..

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Eric pushing it in front! Also, I will miss this guy too. I have really felt completely comfortable around him and love just talking. Talking talking talking.

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Devin and Eric up front just before we stopped to pick blackberries!! This is proof that this area is pancake flat..

Our last build day of the summer.

It is officially SC2SC 2014’s last build day of the entire summer!! It is again a bittersweet feeling because we love having a day when we can volunteer and give our efforts toward a good cause. There were many different jobs to do on site including drywall, siding, trim, and others. Most of today I did trim around the windows so only cutting white 2x4s to the correct size, predrilling holes, and installing them above and on the sides of all of the exterior windows on the house. I enjoyed this job because it was slightly time consuming with just a couple people working on it and I enjoyed simply working with wood again, which was one of my favorite things to do when I was in high school. Our team did a good job on the house and actually !Ade the paper the next day! Ashley is featured on the very front page holding a hammer while working on the shed out back and I am also mentioned in the text of the story :-) Woohoo! We left the site and literally walked across the street to the Sierra Nevada brewing company for a free tour of their plant! It was really cool to see such a large and successful company that started in one man’s garage with janky brewing equipment… This company really focuses on sustainability and being green. Over 70% of their required energy to produce their national products is made on site by hydrogen and solar energy!! That is really cool. Their waste is only at 0.20% over everything that they use and produce to create their products :-) Afterwards, the riders that are above the age of 21 got to try different drinks and o heard it was fun and tasty haha! We then walked to their restaurant right down the same building and were treated to an amazing dinner! I sat with Katie and Noah along with two older men on the Board for Habitat for Humanity. I talked with Bob Gross who is a professional Mechanical Engineer in Walnut Creek, California. He said his company is hiring like crazy and would love some new MEs, like myself, to work for his company!! I would be so ecstatic to intern for him next summer if possible :-) Katie lives 10 minutes away in a co-op living situation that I could stay at and there are just so many things to do in Cali I’m general.. That is about it for that day. I patched over 10 tubes that night (all successfully) with Eric and had the opportunity to teach Ashley a couple tips for tire repairs and such :-) Fun night.

“It is all downhill”… But really..

So we left the absolutely lovely town of Mineral from our ranch in the woods. It was raining in the early morning. This always causes Bike and Buikd to move a bit slpwer due to not wanting to set much things outside and loading the trailer takes a tiny bit longer too.. Once everything was good to go and our route meeting was over, we all wore our raingear, which are almost all bright and vibrant colors! We lined up in rainbow fashion going from the rest to the oranges to yellow to blue to black to purple.. It really was a cool sight to see, all of ua together smiling in the rain ready for another day in the elements :-) It was climbing for a tiny bit which quickly turned into the best descent eveeeeerr!! We descended for almost 30 straight miles from an elevation of around 4,400 feet to just about 200 feet! After averaging well above 20mph for the first leg of our ride, we stopped at a place to get some coffee and food :-) After we all ate some lunch, which was freshly stocked from a quick grocery run, I took off with Molly, Katie, and Eric for our last stretch of the day. After our descent, we were in the California Valley region which is very heavy in agriculture and is also obscenely flat… We blasted out some miles before I slowed the group down with a flat directly in front of this man’s walnut farm. It turned out to be a great place to get a flat tire because he shared the history of his farm with us and taught us about how they are harvested too :-) He was a very nice man and we enjoyed learning about a different side of life in California. A little bit later I discover that my recently repaired tire had turned into a slow leek :-( So I stubbornly pumped it up instead of fixing it.. This required me having to stop once again just one mile further down the road to change the same tire again in the relentless drizzle that fell on us all day long. Despite all of the tire problems, I had a fantastic day just riding with some of my favorite people on the trip!! We arrived in Chico, California and were greeted with a hose to clean our bikes (and faces) along with some excellent snacks as well! Later that night, we had our largest potluck dinner that we have had all summer long and guess who was on presentation crew??? My chore group!!! We really do love giving presentations, especially when we know that the people we are presenting to have a genuine interest in what we are doing across the country. It went really well and we were able to watch the video that we show alongside our presentations for the first time in a long time :-) The crowd had many questions for us to answer which I really like. This just really shows how much the are involved in the presentation and that they are interested enough to want to know more. After dinner we went to this man’s house who literally had an arcade and miniature movie theater within his own house! He calls it “Hulleywood” because his last name is Hulley and he obviously loves loves movies very much. We watched “Wild Target” and we enjoyed our night there. Bike and Build does this every year and we seem to like it every time :-) We then thanked him and headed back to our host for the night to sleep and enjoy the last build day of the summer that was to come the next day.

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Ashley Ebright descending on our ride. It rained so much this day that I only took one picture… Sorry guys :-)

Biking on the side of a volcano!! But really..

We took off from Susanville this morning and headed towards the small small town of Mineral, California. Just like yesterday, there was a bunch of climbing and rolling hills. The trees are still standing out to me when we bike past them, I am trying not to take advantage of them anymore :-) We started out on this lovely gravel trail called the Bizz Johnson Trail which we stayed on for 7 miles. We went over 6 old railroad bridges and through 2 tunnels! That was really cool, and then we hopped on CA-36 highway which we would stay on for the remainder of the day, except for our detour to see Paul Bunyan and Babe… That’s a different story :-) I enjoyed hanging out with Eric and Ashley for the majority of the day which was definitely a highlight for me. Along with looking forward to crossing the Colorado Trail in Twin Lakes, i have been excited to also cross the Pacific Crest Trail in California! I was riding today and i caught a glimpse of a familiar logo out of my peripheral. I shouted “PCT! STOPPING!!” I then just took in the magnificence of the trail that i was in the presence of.. Me and Eric took some pictures and hopefully will get the chance to take a picture with the same sign, except in a couple years as thru-hikers with loaded down packs!! There is this volcano-mountain called Lassen that we biked towards all day today. It is the Southernmost volcano in the Cascade range, so that is pretty cool. It came in and out of view from lunch onward and it really was a sight to see. The day finished on a gnarly climb going up the side of Lassen which granted us a 4 mile descent into Mineral for the evening! We are staying at a family owned ranch tonight and they have 18 beds for us to use along with hot showers and a hot tub ;-) Who knew such great amenities could exist in a town of 150 people in Northern California?? Fun time.

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Ashley and Eric biking on the Bizz Johnson Trail!

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One of the two sweet tunnels on the trail.

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Ashley taking in some water after we met the highway from coming off of the trail.

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Our first pass for the day! That is Logan on the left :-)

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Paul!!!!

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Typical view for the day :-) Let’s just say I don’t miss Wagontire…

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Ashley and me!! Yay.

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PCT!!! This will more than likely be my next big trip (there you go mom haha) but I won’t be attempting this 2,650 mile long monster for another couple years.. This is the Pacific Crest Trail which is a long-distance hiking trail that follows the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges from Mexico to Canada! It passes through California, Oregon, and Washington. Me and Eric have talked quite a bit about us possibly doing the hike together, which I would love. He would make an excellent partner and would be a sweet person to share the experience with :-)

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Ashley with Lassen in the far distance.

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ERIIIIIIC!!

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Our other pass for the day, Morgan Pass!! This is MG, Ashley, me, and Eric at the top.

A detour due to wildfires.

So SC2SC 2014 had to reroute around some wildfires that are occurring everywhere across Northern California. Instead of a chill 70 mile day, it was replaced with a 108 mile day filled with hills and mountains the entire time… So I lied when I said our last century would be in Idaho :-) It was quite the grind getting through the day, I’m not gunna lie. People hitchhiked with their bikes to get to lunch, and some others decided to take the van too. There is nothing wrong with this at all either, sometimes vanning yourself is looked down upon. But everyone who decided to ride in a vehicle that day are very determined, strong riders. It really was a difficult day with much of it spent climbing. Despite all of the hard biking today held, it was a very beautiful, scenic day filled with mountains and trees all day long! The absolutely best part of the day was when me, Molly, Mary, and Noah rolled into an ice cream place once we reached Susanville!! Between the four of us, we had more than nine empty Styrofoam cups that used to hold various forms of dairy like shakes or ice cream. It. Was. So. Good… Mmmm! We were supposed to camp but our premiere DMer, Marine, called a local Methodist Church who agreed to accommodate us on a last moments notice! And afterwards we set our stuff there, we headed down to the Susan River, and were fed by the local rotary club in Susanville! They provided us with hot dogs, burgers, veggie burgers, beans, and cake for Noah’s birthday!! By the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY NOAH! Anyways, I’ll let the pictures explain the day :-)

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Cruising behind Molly in the brisk morning of Northern California.

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The first pass of the day. Pretty good gradual climb that rewarded us with a great downhill!

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Molly and Noah working on getting up a steep hill.

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Isn’t that perty? Molly and Noah

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Noah pushing through the wind on one of the two flat sections of the day.

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Another climb. Another sign.

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Molly and Mary pulling the pack around mile 100 or so…

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Noah behind me around mile 100.

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Yaaaaaaay!! We finally made it! Half of the population in town is incarcerated by the way.

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Proof. Toughest 100+ mile day for me so far.

California!! The final frontier..

Our amazing crew made it to California today!!!!! It is a bitter-sweet feeling knowing that our trip is coming to a close, but we are also about to finish something incredible that we have all dedicated our entire summer to. The state line came after a relaxing 14 miles and we all spent a considerable amount of time just hanging at the sign taking pictures and stuff :-) I ate these sour candies that Ashley gave me which I enjoyed a bunch! It always blows my mind how distinct of a difference in landscape there is between states.. When we crossed from Oregon to California, it changed from being sparsely any trees to tall mountains on the left that were covered in trees. About 10 miles later, we descended through a shallow canyon that had a small creek running through the middle of it. That is something we haven’t seen in a while also. We are very lucky to live in such a diverse country. I want to see more of it because there is just so much to experience and not all that much time. After lunch, which was right after a sweet descent, my group took off into some not-so-friendly headwinds which took us all of the way to that canyon I was talking about earlier :-) It feels so good to be surrounded by plants that are naturally green and not irrigated constantly.. And also smelling pine trees is still one of my highs of the week! It was me, James, Katie, and Eric just taking in all that California has to offer us today and we were in high spirits! Towards our host town, Alturas, James pointed out an electrical pole and asked me “Hey, you wanna race to that pole??” To which i answered with a smile and said “Oh ya.. 3..2..1!” We both took off and announced PASSING as we cruised by our friends. We were neck and neck for a while but I shifted up two gears pretty quickly and dropped the hammer. I saw James start falling back and i glanced down at my computer a couple seconds later which said i was going 31mph which i held only for about 10-15 seconds or so. We coasted practically the rest of the way into town just laughing and breathing heavy! I didn’t know this until i got to our host, but my max speed for the whole day was during James’s and my race! Which ended up being 31.6mph, not too bad, but nothing to really brag about either. Professional cyclists that sprint at the end of a race typically reach speeds around 42-46mph!! I thought of this after i was done with my own sprint and wondered if i would ever get to that level… Possibly.. The riding has been awesome, the scenery has been awesome, the food has been awesome, but none of these things make the trip for me. The friends that I have made and the relationships that I have formed are the things that have made this summer so incredible. Without all of the taking, laughing, and living, this summer would simply be a long bike ride shared only with valleys and trees.. And don’t get me wrong, I love valleys and tees, but not nearly as much as I love all of these beautiful people that I have had the pleasure to spend my summer with! You guys rock, and this experience has been so great to share with each and every one of you :-)

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The morning stroll towards our last state sign!! That is Mary, Kaley, Katie, and Mary-Kate with Noah behind me :-)

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Me in Caliiiiiiiii!!

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Half of our crew at a lookout point just before our descent into lunch. Mountains on the left, valley on the right!

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Ashley Ebright and me biking down from the outlook into lunch! So scenic..

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Katie, James, and Eric as we bike into the small canyon :-) I looooooove these guys!

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Pretty pretty pretty!! Cool clouds too.

Trees!! They still exist!

We finally road to an area in the country where trees once again grow from the ground and give off amazing scents of pine! I, along with everyone else, missed these beautiful plants. The day started off the same as the day before, scenerywise.. Although it was a bit more scenic towards the middle and end :-) First lunch was at mile 30 and I had already experienced two flats for the day, so I wasn’t in the brightest of moods. But Eric made me a great peanut butter and jelly and banana sandwich which I scarfed down in my flat-tire fury! I decided to just replace my tire with an old stock tire that has been laying around in the trailer for months now. Hopefully it holds… We then climbed a tiny bit and it was just me, Noah, and Eric now. We descended into this amazing basin that used to be one giant lake! It is called Abert Lake and hardly contains any water these days, but it left behind a beautiful salt flat with mountains on both sides! And I’m talking real mountains. We rode on the highway which wound it’s way along the ridge of the lake for about 20 miles or so! This was such a beautiful part of Oregon that I am glad we got to see. This is also where we saw our first naturally growing pine trees since what seems like Colorado! I let out a loud “Awwwwww” as the smell of the pines hit me and I remembered just how much I missed these!! We had second lunch shortly after which consisted of more cheese, like always :-) Then me, Noah, and Eric wrapped up the day going at a strong pace for the last 23 miles into Lakeview, Oregon. We went straight to host and I munched off of people’s food that they received in their mail boxes from their parents! I don’t mean to be rude by stealing people’s food, but most riders get so much that they can’t fit all of it inside of their bags, so it all has to go :-) And I am more than happy to help them out!!

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Awesome sunrise this morning! The picture doesn’t do any justice..

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Tom, Kaley, Molly, Mary, and Noah at a small spot of sand dunes! Pretty neat.

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My attempt at an artsy shot :-)

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Eric and Noah riding no-handed while joining hands! Impressive and also beautiful..

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The beginning of Lake Abert.

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The expansive salt flat of the lake that used to be.

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Noah killing it with some gnarly mountains in the background! So sweet..

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Cruising into second lunch behind two speedy demons!!

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Our first re-immersement into trees!!! Love it love it love it.

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Some of the largest Sunflowers I have ever seen!! This was taken in someone’s backyard in Lakeview :-)

Wagontire: population 1…

So today we left the lovely town of Burns for the barren “town” of Wagontire.. It started with an easy ride that was finally overcast and even gave us a few sprinkles! The first bit of rain we have seen since the mountains of Colorado. I miss Colorado. We had lunch at a tiny town called Riley. It was nice because they had portapotties and shaded benches for us to use :-) It’s the simple things on Bike and Build that you learn to appreciate. We then headed out in a group consisting of all great friends for the metropolis of Wagontire. We had a couple flats along the way but we all made it there in good time and had fun riding through the Eastern Oregon desert. Upon arriving, we were greated with a sign that says “Wagontire, population 3” even though only one elderly man, Marty, lives here year round. There is a cafe. It’s closed. There is a motel. Oh ya, it’s closed too.. He welcomed us riders and was friendly and even told us that he would turn on the water for us so we could use the one shower in town. However, his delightful mood came crashing down when he saw five of our riders waiting in line for the showers. Lord only knows why this upset him so much, but it led to him swearing towards us at the top of his lungs telling us to get out. So the people waiting for the shower trudged back into camp, unsure of what they did wrong, and continued on with their night. Dinner crew made a bomber potato and bean blend which a lot of us put into tortillas to eat. A bit later, we saw a big storm out in the distance gracing us with views of lightning hitting nearby peaks. We later noticed that this storm was heading directly towards camp and decided it would be wise to put our rainfly on. It was wise. Very much so. Within twenty minutes, our tent was leaning sideways due to the strong winds and we had to park the van & trailer strategically so that it would block as much wind as possible for the tents. This worked pretty well and many rocks were then used to help tie down all of the flapping fabric of the tents. Our tent consisted of me, Eric, Katie, Tom, and Mary Kate. The rainflies on the Coleman tents are made so there is just enough fabric to cover the mesh on the body of the tents.. This means that if it is just slightly off center, which it always is during wind, that rain will fall into your tent onto either your head or your feet.. We chose feet :-) Katie shared her headlight with me so we could both read into the night and after we decided to go to bed I didn’t wake up until morning! Perfect night’s rest despite the howling coyotes I heard about in the morning. Good day!

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Leaving Burns in my convoy made of friends!

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Our lunch spot in Riley. Notice the sign that says “Whoa!! Ya missed Riley” lol. Small place.

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Ashley and Katie heading out from lunch. Love these two girls!

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Riding towards Wagontire.. As you can tell, there’s not too much to see. This is Mary and Noah in front.

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The entrance sign into Wagontire.. Welcoming.