"Californiaaaaa, Californiaaaa! Here we comeeeee!"
The strains of the song by Phantom Planet echoed through the gym as we rubbed sleep out of our eyes and deflated our thermarests. Today was a big day. It was the day of our last state border crossing. We have only one more state to traverse: California. Perhaps everyone was still waking up or was weary from riding for the past seven days, but the mood in the gym this morning seemed strangely solemn for a state line day. Maybe it was because California is a bittersweet border. We are so excited to finally get there but in the back of our minds, we know that this is the state that we are going to have to say goodbye in.
After breakfast and route meeting, people seemed to perk up a little. We pumped up our tires, filled our water bottles, and headed south. I was in another six person paceline: Rae, Kevin, Dan, Marcus, and Curtis (aka "Pancho.") we stopped first at a grocery store to pick up some sparkling grape juice to pop at the state line. Marcus stuffed two large glass bottles in his jersey pockets to transport them.
We pedaled hard once we were on route, Kevin and Rae led the charge before dropping back, handing the reigns to Dan and Marcus. We came upon Chawa (Chris and Hawa) shortly and passed them on the left. Instead of being left behind, they jumped on back of the line. "Chawa is on!" shouted Rae from the back, notifying the leaders of the added riders. We passed the message up the paceline.
Soon, we saw Eliza and Mel riding about a mile and a half ahead of us. We caught up to them. "Join us!" we called to them as we passed. "Don't mind if we do!" said Eliza as her and Mel slipped into the streamline on back. Our paceline was growing.
Kendra and Brian appeared on the horizon. We sped up slightly to catch them faster. The border was approaching quickly, located at about mile 15. Brian saw our line coming. "Where are you headed?" he asked, his voice thick with some sort of fake accent. "Jump on the train! We're going to California!" we answered and him and Kendra hopped on.
I looked back and was amazed at the number of smiling faces behind us. We were on our way to California. Excitement filled the air and we took on hills and headwind with ease. Everyone kept pace with the leaders to stay together. We wanted to cross the border in our massive peleton.
The miles dwindled between us and the border. There wasn'tmuch left of Oregon for us to travel. We passed a sign that read "Thanks for Visiting Oregon!" A whoop of joy was emitted from the paceline. We were almost there!! Finally, we spotted the trailer parked at the border line and finally the blue California sign appeared and we all shouted in excitement. We cruised over the state line together. "WOOOOOOO! We made it!!!!" So many celebratory pictures were taken. Austin and Brian climbed up the sign while the rest of us took ridiculous pictures safely from the ground.
Front of the sign
We popped the grape juice and sprayed it all over each other and the sign while blasting Califonia-themed music from the van. We can barely believe that we biked here from South Carolina! We must be nuts!
The rest of the ride was beautiful but difficult. We were battling a vicious headwind for the rest of the day. Our distraction was a beautiful valley that opened up on the right side of the road. We had a smooth descent from the mountainside into that valley and it was a relief from the debilitating winds. We arrived in Alturas, CA after 53 miles of riding.
We had the greatest dinner tonight. The last few nights, dinner has not been provided, so it had been up for us to scrounge around towns for food, DMing whatever we can. It was a relief tonight to not have to worry about finding food and we are so grateful for our awesome hosts who fed us so good and so healthy tonight. Our bodies needed it! I had two of the most delicious cheesecake-brownie cupcakes. I probably didn't need two but they were so good I couldn't resist.
We set up tents outside tonight but it is supposed to get pretty cold so we'll see whether or not our sleeping bags stay warm. 80-something miles tomorrow, I should get some sleep!