Thursday, April 30, 2009

Aliens, Area-51, and Bulls...oh my.

Homework for blog readers: Google "Rachel, Nevada". Just don't go there.

After we left Tonopah, NV we rode with the winds to our back through many mountains and valleys to finish around 73 miles. We sighted our first bear roughly a quarter-mile to our left and decided to keep going for a while before looking for somewhere to camp. We used our water sparingly since we wouldn't get to Rachel, NV until our 40 mile mark the next day.

The land we were on (and the following 75 miles) was marked with "open range" signs with the silhouette of a bull. Pretty straight forward. Now, these bulls turned out to be very curious of the two cyclists riding down the road. They'd form up along the side of the road, or what Andrew called "an ambush". It is pretty intense when multiple Bulls on both sides of you bluff charge and act like they want to impale you with their horns. We survived and pedaled harder than ever while yelling taunting words to the nosy beasts.

We rode through the Military testing zone with loud and ground shaking explosions towards Rachel, NV. This famous small town of 79 people is known for its interest in beings of outer space. They even named their one business the "Ale-inn", even though it's spelled ALIEN. While there, we realized that AREA-51 (the top-secret military sight-- impossible to penetrate) was about 20 miles south of where we were. That might also explain the excess of white SUVs with strange license plates driving by us at 75 mph. Jets were flying everywhere, and there were random patches of land with zero vegetation. Strange.

We left. We found ourselves biking later than usual and ended up pissing off more bulls at night while looking for somewhere to camp. Under the stars and high up, we slept before our trek to Caliente, NV. It was hot and our water supply was running short on the way to Caliente. With an 8 mile downhill we arrived in this small town and decided to stay before leaving Nevada in the morning.

We'll be in Utah sometime tomorrow since we only have 30 miles to the border. After that we have a 10,000 ft summit to achieve. We'll keep you posted.

Be sure to check out the link to our photo-wall on

Monday, April 27, 2009

Nevada never dies...

...And neither do the winds. More on that later.

We took a day off after the Sierra Nevada Mountains to relax and catch up on things. We stayed at a questionable motel in Minden, NV. However, it served it's purpose. Pizza, Beer, and "Mrs. Doubtfire" and a lot of rest did the trick. We left Minden for Yerington, NV which was about 60 miles south-east. We still had daylight so we shot for the town of Shurz. Located on the Walker River Paiute Tribe Reservation, it was compact but full of caring people. Everyone there referred to us as "brother" and were concerned about our travels. The tribe police gave us permission to camp out down by the river, so we did exactly that.

We had breakfast at the only gas station near town and received well wishes from many of the locals. We rode past walker lake into the Army depot town of Hawthorne. We stopped briefly for some groceries and made our way (another 34 miles) to Mina, NV. A town of maybe 150 people served us well with their local burger joint. We biked 9 miles out of town and camped off the road for the night. The next town (NOTHING in between) is Tonopah, NV (62 miles).

WORSE RIDING CONDITIONS THUS FAR. We had limited water, high temperatures and non-stop head wind. If you're wondering, this means the wind is blowing towards you. It had to be blowing at least 35 mph almost the entire day. OH, and we were climbing 2,000 feet so it was uphill most of the time. The pain aside, It was absolutely gorgeous. Untainted mountains in every direction with bright blue skies. It seems no matter how far we bike we can always look back and see a section of snow capped mountains mentioned many times before.

Just before Tonopah we ran into Daniel. He was walking down the highway with a baby stroller full of food, gear, and water. Unique to say the least. He is 21 years old and left NYC last October to walk across the country. He does his job from the road whenever he has cellphone reception and appears to be doing alright. Its funny because he thought what we were doing was "crazy".

Tonopah is over 6,000 ft above sea level and provides cheap rooms. we're here for the night. more later...

oh. Andrew got a flat tire yesterday. fyi.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sierra Nev-NADA

We were told by many that we would not make it through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in less than three days with all of our gear. Hah. Okay, I'm not going to was rough. Our legs and the state of California are DONE.

We left Pine Grove, CA for the mountains with a loose idea of what we were up against. This was solely based on the input of people living in that area because they DRIVE through there. Cars do not equal bikes, they're very different. We took route 88 east towards Kirkwood and found it to be quite beautiful. We drank all the water we could, not knowing when we'd run out of gas stations and random bars. As we climbed over 5,000 feet the first day and over 32 miles we ended up camping off the highway. We used our filter bags to catch melt water from the rock face nearby. At 7,000 ft, our camp overlooked much of the mountain range to the south. The temperature dropped quickly as the sun went down and our temporary home was waiting. We ate our kashi rice meals quickly and watched the sun set before passing out.

Sunrise, and highway 88 is once again alive with the sounds of truckers breaking through the passes. We knew we had to get to our highest pass (8,600 feet), nearly 30 miles away. BUT, before that, we dropped deep into a valley only to climb right back out. It's hard enough on your body to take that, but knowing you lost all the elevation in minutes...rough. We stopped to snack and make a video of how we filter our water and kept uphill for a few more miles. We arrived in the ski-town of Kirkwood. Do any of these people work? it was 2 pm and there was NO shortage of people skiiing and snowboarding. We ate a HUGE lunch at the Kirkwood Inn...and headed out for our summit. Once we hit our 8,600 ft was all downhill into Nevada.

45 MPH and loud yelling sums up the 18 miles that followed. The rest was flat land with mountains on both sides and cattle running away as we cycled by.

I think we need to rest here in Minden, NV.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

To the foothills and beyond....!

So last night we were looking for a place to stay in or near Lockeford, CA. We ended up on the outskirts of Clements, California where all the vineyards are. GORGEOUS views of well kept fields that seemed flawless with symmetry on either side of the road. In the distance you could see the snow capped mountains of the Sierra Nevadas... the next challenge. We were very fortunate to find Joe and Anne's Bed and Breakfast here. They allowed us to stay and pitch our tent there for the night. We were very greatful and suprised since we had been turned down about 6 miles back. We were ruitinely patrolled by their new dog, Pepper. If only we had the energy to keep up with her.

Morning broke out quicker than we thought as we packed up and said our goodbyes. We biked up hill for most of the day before we made it to our pre-arranged camp site on Kathleen and Steve's property in Pine Grove, California. Cats and dogs everywhere, as well as a large sanctuary where they raise stray deer. We thank them both very much for their support during this leg of our journey. They also provided showers and a ride to town to pick up a new camera so that we can start showing YOU pictures.

Tomorrow we head into the Sierra Nevadas. We're thinking we might head south after that to avoid the rockies because of the weather. We'll let you know what we come up with.

until next time... Keep commenting and spreading the word. It'll be a few days!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day one.

We parted ways with Will, Dave, and Sean. Our bikes were packed and ready to go. We rode for almost an hour across the city to the beach. Once there we dipped our wheels in the pacific ocean to mark the beginning of our journey (pictures soon). Trekking across San Francisco is tricky at best. Narrow streets that happen to be nearly vertical and packed with cars. We made our way through Oakland and up through steep beautiful mountains. At some points we had to dismount and walk up hill; Even cars were struggling. The backside of the mountains were fun to say the least as we arrived in Walnut Creek. We narrowly missed Concord (our goal) and shot straight for Clayton. For dinner, we devoured a Hawaiian pizza that happened to be our last meal for almost a day. During sunset we biked towards Mount Diablo to camp. We came across a small plot of land owned and maintained by a guy named Dave. His beautiful 6 acre property was more than we could have ever asked for as he offered us a place to pitch our tent. 50 Plus miles made it easy to pass out around 9:30 PM.

Today we left camp around 9:30 am. Rolling hills lead to open flat land for MILES. The temperature rose to almost 100 degrees and we did our best to stay hydrated. Looking for a place to stay near Lockeford, CA.

we'll let you know. Also, stay tuned for pictures... we haven't had the time to post them. Thank you to Computer Max in Lockeford for the free wifi to do this post.

take care.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Today is the day. This is the morning that we will one day look back at and laugh. We're nervous and a little overwhelmed, but ready. Today we're setting out for Concord, CA. City miles are going to be rough because of all the traffic. Hopefully Sundays around here mean stay home. No? yeah, probably not.

until next time...

matthew and andrew.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Zephyr. Long ride, Long post...

Greetings from San Francisco, CA. Here is an overview of our 50 + hour train ride from Chicago to San Fran.

Depart Chicago, seamlessly landing in rural back country Illinois. Imagine a rusted water tower labeled "Mendota" as it overlooks freshly prepped farm land and Midwestern industry. That scenery remained fairly consistent for a while. We Crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa, while many passengers discussed how they learned to spell Mississippi when they were younger (double S/ Crooked letter). Rolling hills, cattle, brush fires and abandoned buildings sums this segment up just fine. We slept most of this state of Nebraska after enjoying Ben playing his fiddle in the lounge car and brief conversations with fellow travelers.

We woke up just outside Denver as the conductor announced our hour long stay there. We were quick to explore the city and grab a delicious breakfast and a few pictures. The feeling of not wanting to leave Denver, CO quickly faded as we ascended into the Rockies. 9,300 feet above sea level and the views we're almost literally breath taking. We followed along the Colorado River through "Gore Canyon"; known to be too remote and inaccessible by anything but a train. After hours of snow capped mountains we crossed into Utah. This state provided a beautiful reddish backdrop to our evening on thursday.

In the last coach class car of train #5 California Zephyr, many of us became close. We shared stories, jokes and opinions like old friends. Everyone knew who was heading where and why. We ended up meeting a few other touring cyclists on our train. Ken, Andy, and Quinn were going to Portland, Oregon to bike back to New York. We all shared our plans in detail hoping to learn something new to take with us. We will do our best to keep up with them as they travel in parrallel across the states. Best of luck to you guys, stay safe!

Every time we stop somewhere for any length of time, the smokers get wired up and dash for the platform. As smoking is not permitted on the train, stops along the way are a fix to their sanity. Our friend Ben however steps off the train to practice his fiddle and possibly earn some tips.

The car is noisy but it was time for sleep, last night on the old Zephyr. Once again surrounded by beautiful mountains, waking up in the "middle of nowhere" Nevada was amazing. Nevada proved to be the most arid landscape yet. A quick stop in Reno lead us right into Cali and the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Snowy, slow moving, and absolutely beautiful. A historian nearly put everyone to sleep with the vast amount of information he put out about this leg of the journey. However, an interested old man next to me was quick to scream at a loud woman on her cell phone when he couldn't hear the latest on the historical references. He then apologized and told her "its a free country lady".

We descended quickly into the suburban towns of central California and made it to San Francisco right on time. We carried our large bike boxes over our heads with our duffel bags and back packs strapped to our chest and back. The people of this city looked at us like we were crazy...and if asked, yes we are!

We are currently at our hotel on market street hanging out with some old friends of ours. Oh, and we let Ben the fiddler stay with us as well. Full house.

Thank you Brittany, Sean, Will and Dave for visiting us before we depart.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We're well TRAINed.

I'd like to start this blog entry by thanking everyone for their support. We've received a lot of praise and attention these past few days that only motivate us more. Thank you. I hope everyone got a chance to view our news story, on You Tube, do a search for pedal across.

So... we woke up just before 4 AM yesterday (Tuesday) to walk two miles in the rain to our train station in Richmond, VA. Nice start! Cold, wet and tired. We caught our delayed train to D.C. with plenty of room and plenty to observe. Fast forward three hours and we're in Pentagon City Mall just south of the actual pentagon. We met up with our old "boss" from the Navy, Master Chief Raymond D. Kemp (shown trying to look big!). He gave us many words of encouragement as we shared old stories and further explained our plans. We briefly Met with an old friend, Amy Baker, on her lunch break to remind her that we were serious about this trip! Apparently she didn't believe we'd ever follow through. Hah.

After 8 hours in D.C. it was time to board our 4PM train to Chicago, IL. 16 Hours of rule free travel. If you have never traveled by train; they do not search any bags or demand too much in the way of passenger behavior. Kids were running free and old ladies were singing over the sound of the tracks. Meanwhile we planned out our map and listened to music while enjoying the Maryland Country side before dark. Around Midnight we found ourselves relaxing in the lounge car with clear glass overhead and comfortable seating. There we met Ben (of northern VA) who was on his way to backpack around California. We also met Audra from Minnesota. She was visiting D.C. for the first time. It was nice to meet both of you!

1 AM bed time... only to wake up at 8 AM looking out at the Chicago cityscape. From there we stopped for coffee, necessities for the next train, and some Wifi to write this blog.

Next train is a California Zephyr... 2.5 days of tracks and maybe some stories.

take care.

Monday, April 13, 2009

waiting game

The bags and bikes have been dropped off at the train station in richmond after the 1.5 hour car ride. We're thinking that will be the last time we'll be in a car for a while. So now we've got nothing but time until our 5 am train headed towards D.C.

There might not be many blog entries during our 4 day train ride across the country, and we're sure that they wouldnt be very interesting anyways.

take care.

In other news...

So its 6:30 AM day of departure... We're both awaken by a phone call we had never expected. NEWS 13, of Hampton Roads, VA called us for an interview. Tired and nervous we gathered our bikes and threw on the best set of biking gear we had. It turns out they wanted to do an entire story on our trip and how we came up with it. It was 40 degrees out and we must have done at least 15 different videos on our bicycles, but it was well worth it.

For those of you that live in VA/NC and receive NEWS 13 WVEC we will be on the 14th of April between 5 - 5:30 PM. We hope you catch it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

So I'm sure that if you're reading this blog you understand that we (Matthew Marshall and Andrew Bryson) are riding bicycles across the U.S. to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

A lot of planning and extensive research has gone into this trip only to find ourselves rebuilding hubs and brakes on our bicycles only hours before we're set to leave for San Francisco. Ridiculous. Monday the 13th of April marks our departure date for San Francisco, CA. We will be staying in Richmond, VA overnight to catch a 4 day train to the west coast. Yes, 4 days. From there we will be mailing back what we've known to be normal attire and strapping on some biking shorts for a long journey east. Can't wait...

For those of you that have already donated, we really appreciate it. Be sure to spread the word as networking is the most important tool we have to gain attention. -- Dont forget.

thanks again and we hope that you look forward to reading about our trip!