Friday, June 25, 2010

Into the Desert

Thursday we crossed into Nevada and got a camp site donated at Zephyr Cove on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. So far, people we've met have been incredibly generous towards the Lea's Foundation cause, from handing us $20 from their motorcycles to offering us showers and of course donating lodging. We've also met many people along the way who are or have been deeply personally affected by leukemia, lymphoma or other cancers.

This is the Harrah's literally at the state line of Nevada at the southeast corner of Lake Tahoe (the green sign under the speed limit). They just couldn't wait.

We spent Thursday afternoon at Zephyr Cove, we dipped in the water but it's snowmelt! The sand was toasty warm though. The chipmunks at Zephyr cove are insane, and at times we felt like we were slowly being surrounded by those little dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. We did not feed them, but man they tried. At night, we made a pathetic attempt at a campfire and ate our ill-advised 3 cans of beans and some toasted marshmallows. Stacy, in his infinite wisdom, opted for a burger and fries down the road. In the end, however, there were no major bean-related incidents.

Stacy made some friends who wanted him to throw eggs at a boat with them. Stacy respectfully declined after finding out they didn't have any eggs.

This morning we headed out from Zephyr Cove around 6:45 and passed through impressive little spire. We headed up over the last remaining shadow of the Sierras and coasted 2,200 feet down for 10 miles into Carson City, NV. It's difficult to explain how awesome that ride was. I think Stacy put it best when he said he felt like Batman. After having his seat adjusted in South Lake Tahoe and having the fitter say he can't believe Stacy made it over the mountains, he is a new man.

Carson City may send some mixed messages, but it's people were supportive and kind! Thanks CC.

On the way out from Carson City, we happened upon this little gem. No words, but we all agree we'd love to commute in it.

We rode the 60 miles from Carson City to Fallon in great time, passing through sagebrush landscapes dotted with oases of casinos gun shops. Oh Nevada, we love you. The weather has been great for us, and Ed, a manager we were talking to at Carl's Junior, said the weather should be overcast and kind of cool most of the week. Maybe we'll get lucky!

Arturo came across this on the side of the road coming down into Carson City and decided to blend in a bit. Definitely a local. We've now made it to Fallon, Nevada and Super 8 generously donated a room for us. We plan to hit the sack pretty soon since tomorrow is 118 miles to Austin and we intend to leave around 1 am in order to avoid at least some of the heat. Wish us luck! We'll update you all the next chance we get.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Over the Mountains and to Lake Tahoe

Day 3 - We left from the Wilkes' house early in the morning towards Placerville. While on the Great American Bike Trail in Sacramento, we got a little lost because of construction, and the nicest person, Bobbi, helped us find our way. She even paid for some seat adjustments for us, and gave us recommendations to a great Mexican restaurant.

When we finally made it to Placerville, it was getting dark, and the only thing we saw was a Home Depot. We asked them if we could camp in their parking lot during the night, and they said sure.

So we started setting up our tents behind the cliffs sheds in Placerville.

Day 4 - We left early from Placerville, and then got some breakfast at a nice diner named Sweetie Pie's. Along the way, we found a little convenience store with an aptly named cafe.

Going up the hills at the base of the Sierra Mountains.

When we finally made it to Cooks Station (which is the only stop up the Sierra Mountains), it was closed! Luckily, the Pirnie family bought us some great food in Somerset so that we could eat for the night.

Day 5 - Up to Kirkwood

As we started climbing up the Sierras, the views became phenomenal. Arturo climbed up some rocks and took a picture of us.

Kirkwood is a beautiful town at the height of the Sierras (population during the summer of 20 residents). We ate at a little inn, and a nice couple let us shower in their place. It was much appreciated.

Day 6- To Tahoe

We climbed up the last bit of the Sierra Mountains (almost there!)

Here we are at the top of Carson Pass. Elevation 8500 feet.

And then it felt nice to ride downhill for a good 1500 feet of elevation.

A view on the other side of the mountain.

And we're finally in Lake Tahoe!!! The Tahoe Valley Lodge donated us a room (which is so nice of them!), so we're camping in Tahoe for the night. Tomorrow is our first rest day, so we'll spend it enjoying the scenery that this place has to offer.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

115 Miles Down, A Bit More To Go

Day 2- The beginning

After a good night's sleep at Kristin's house, she walked us down a few blocks to the beach. We're finally at the beginning of our coast to coast bike ride. We cristened our bikes with fine Pacific sand

It was really cold in San Francisco. At least when we were there, it was really, really cold.

The Golden Gate Bridge. According to the sign, there's no turning back anymore.

After 45 miles, we finally made it to Villejo, and ended our first day biking. In town, Relax Inn donated a free room to Coast to Coast (the place definitely lived up to its name). We also had our first visitors; Loreen's boyfriend Steve came with his sister, and then we had dinner and called it a night.

(We later learned that there's a huge Pirate Festival going on in Villejo this weekend. We're not exactly sure what that entails, but if we had known, we would have taken a day off to check it out! Maybe not)

Day 3 - "California reminds me of Disney movies"

Loreen's boyfriend Steve is very savvy with bikes, so he helped us tune things (and by my use of the word "things" you can tell that I'm not very savvy with bikes), and we set our for our next journey from Villejo to Davis. A little before we hit wine country, the views of the hills and farms were spectacular.

Davis is a green, chicken-loving, co-op worshiping, Burger-King-needs-six-months-of-firey-city-coucil-meetings-to-open bike Mecca. As we approached the city, we started noticing signs that we were approaching a "bike-friendly" habitat. As we passed by a farm, we saw this unique pinwheel.

We got to Davis, and and after 76 miles, we were all pretty tired, and couldn't wait to get to our final destination.

Tonight, we're staying with the Wilkes family. Dr. Wilkes is an alumnus of the UCONN School of Medicine, and he and his wife hosted every Coast to Coast team for the past 5 years. They had a barbecue for us (which is nice considering that we've only been eatin PB&J sandwiches and Fig Newtons), let us use their pool, and gave each of us a bed to sleep on. We also got a tour of the UC Davis campus, and and then went downtown to have some frozen yogurt.
Now, we're getting some much needed sleep, because we'll be climbing the Sierra Nevada mountains over the next three days.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day One in San Francisco

After months of preparation and fundraising, we're finally in San Francisco! We left Hartford at 10:15 in the morning, and arrived at San Francisco at 3:00.

We took the BART to Citizen Chain Cycles to pick up our bikes.

The great people at Citizen Chain cycles in San Francisco put our bikes together at a very reduced price. They're the best bike shop in San Francisco!

All geared up and ready to go.

Here's Alex posing with a buffalo in San Francisco. No explanation necessary.

Biking through Golden Gate Park, and seeing the botanical gardens.

Loreen biking with the Ferry Building in the background. It was actually much cooler than it looks in the picture.

The first Coast to Coast 2010 hosts, Kristin and Katie. Alex has known Kristin since kindergarten, and she was nice enough to let us stay at her place in San Francisco. Katie, by random chance, also knows our classmate Christian. Small world, huh?

We've been up since 5:30 Eastern Time, and now it's 11:00 Pacific Time. We're ready to go to bed and prepare to leave for Villejo tomorrow.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Coast to Coast Kickoff!

One of our biggest supporters, the Dean of the School of Medicine, Dr. Laurencin, threw us a Kick-off at the Health Center. Ever since we introduced ourselves at the Valentine's Day Ball for Lea's Foundation, he's been a tremendous help to our cause. He's treating the top four fundraisers of our class to dinner, and he connected us to the UCONN Foundation so that we can get more publicity in the UCONN community. (There's also an article coming soon under the UCONN Foundation. We'll keep you posted!)

Also, Dr. Laurencin's blog has featured the Coast to Coast riders twice, and at our Kick-Off he mentioned starting some "interblog" communication throughout the summer. As a start of this communication, here's a link to Dr. Laurencin's blog, featuring a nice entry describing Coast to Coast dated May 18th:

Here we are debuting the official 2010 Coast to Coast Lea's Foundation jerseys. Pretty nice, huh?

We had a raffle in the cafeteria. We would like to thank the companies that donated items to us!

EMS in Manchester gave us two kayak rentals. When I handed the kayak rentals to the winner of the raffle, she was ecstatic that the rentals come with paddles, life jackets, and the EMS employees will even tie the kayaks onto your car!

Coach handbags at the West Farms mall gave us some pretty nice bags. The managers of the store pooled their money together to get us some nice items for our auction.

Also, Max's Oyster Bar (probably my favorite restaurant, with the most amazing Happy Hour deals) gave us a $50 gift certificate.

Here we are getting ready for the raffle.

This is a picture of us chatting with Ms. Dieli, who won a Coast to Coast jersey from our raffle!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Final preparations! And thanks to bike shops!

The school year is wrapping up, and we're tired after 10 months of our first year of medical school. However, in under a week, we're trading our mental exhaustion for that of the physical kind. Two days after our final exam, we're flying to San Francisco, and making our way back to Connecticut.

We've been spending a lot of time making sure that we have everything for our bike trip. Panniers, bike conmputers, bike racks, Camelbaks, panniers, lights, helmets, shoes, clipless pedals, chamois cream (look it up if you don't know what this is; it may be the most important thing that we take with us!), bike shorts, chains, wheels, tents, etc. Hopefully we're not forgetting anything!!

Here we'd like to give a shout out to some bike shops that generously donated to our cause.

Benidorm Bikes in Canton, CT, has been involved in Coast to Coast since the first ride 4 years ago. When we stopped by, we saw a newspaper cutout of the first-year riders, Ben and Jeremiah, posted on their wall. They gave us most of our supplies at a discount, and were a tremendous help by giving us advice on what we need on our trip.

The owner of Benidorm even showed us a broken bike helmet of a Coast to Coast biker two years ago. It had a huge crack along the sides, and just from looking at it, you can tell that the helmet saved her life. It shows how important it is for everyone to wear helmets while biking!!!

Zanes Cycles in Branford, CT, has donated bike shorts, bike computers, air pumps, and Camelbaks. Thanks to our amazing classmate Kate Dannheim who contacted the store and got us these donations! Kate was also one of the captains of our fundraising teams, so we can't thank her enough!

Biker's Edge in Bristol gave us helmets and bike shorts. It's a really nice bike shop right on Route 6.

The Bike Shop in Manchester, CT, gave us tubes, water bottle holders, and presta valve converters so that we can fill our tires at gas stations. The owner, Mr. Johnson, has a wife who works at the Health Center, and his daughter is a 3rd year medical student.
We're almost there! (And by "there," I mean "starting the journey.") We've spent a lot of time preparing, and we would be ill-prepared without the help we received from bike shops. Thank you guys so much for helping our cause!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

WTIC 1080 Interview

Coast to Coast recorded an interview with WTIC AM 1080 this afternoon. It'll air on Sunday, June 6th early in the morning.

BBQ and Beer Brewing Contest

Coast to Coast had a BBQ and Beer Brewing Contest last Saturday. We would like to thank Dr. Belniak for letting us throw the fundraiser at his home.

Congratulations to Jared and Steve for winning our beer brewing contest, and Erica for her amazing Coast to Coast cake!