It's hard to believe it's only been 5 days since we started this trip. So much has happened it is almost hard to keep track of! I am currently in a cute little coffee shop called "Alpina Coffee" in South Tahoe, trying to salvage the few hours of electricity we get before heading back to our campsite for the night. But let me back track the best I can...
Day 2 of the trip went pretty smoothly. Kiersten and her biking buddy James went off to conquer 80 miles, 5 straight miles consisted of a constant incline. I drove ahead with the support vehicle to their ending destination that day in Davis, California. Davis was one of the most interesting towns I had ever seen, because it was one of the first places I saw more BICYCLE traffic than CAR traffic. Speed bikes, hipster bikes, mountain bikes, parents biking with 3 children hooked on the back in kiddie seats. This place was the biking capital of the world. You felt so comfortable walking around, not having to look twice because you knew the cars would stop for you. At one point we walked by a train station. I watched the train stop, the doors open .... and bicyclists roll out in a line RIDING their bikes! It looked like a magic trick! How did they all fit in that train and have enough space to hop on their bikes to ride out? No walking necessary. I was in awe of this place... and it made me kind of want to hop on a bike of my own.
Day 3 my wish was granted. I was originally suppose to hop on my motorized bicycle to follow Kiersten down the American River Bike path this day - but was dismayed to learn that the pathway didn't allow motorized vehicles. But Kiersten suggested I hop on her spare bike and ride with her. I laughed at this suggestion, and when it hit me she was serious ... I considered the options. No, I hadn't ridden a bike in years. No, I had no idea how to change the gears of a road bike. Yes, I realized this was one of Kiersten's really expensive bikes and if I crashed I could damage it... and my camera equipment that would be strapped to my back. But when I looked at the big picture, I remembered the message of this entire Bike Across America ... to accomplish things that seem impossible. That inspired me.
The morning started off slow. Kiersten had to change out the pedals for me since I didn't have the proper biking shoes with clips. It took a lot longer than expected, but it was nice to wander around Old Sacramento for a bit before we started our ride. I felt so cool because Kiersten had dressed me up like a professional bicyclist, even down to the padded bike shorts! But realization hit that I was NOT in face a professional, when I started taking the first few strides of the bike. It was so difficult for me to balance, I couldn't even get it going at first. My camera kept sliding down and smacking my knee and throwing me off balance, but Kiersten didn't give up on me. She took my camera from me even though it added extra weight to her pack. And she hopped on her bike and told me to follow her. After a few wobbly turns and clumsy hand break moves ... I finally started to get the hang of it!
Eventually I felt comfortable enough to ride with my camera once again strapped to my back. I felt the wind hit my face and began to see all this BEAUTIFUL scenery around me, and before I knew it Kiersten announced that we had already gone 10 miles! She asked if I wanted to stop or continue on the 35 miles. I didn't know if I could make it for sure, but I wanted to try. I hadn't had enough of it yet! So we continued on and it was one of the best decisions I have made on this trip. I got some great footage of Kiersten by pedaling ahead and having her pass me, then hoping back on the bike and catching up.
At one point we were going around a corner and we saw this guy off of his bike, motioning his hands for us to stop. We put on our breaks just in time to see a HUGE snack slivering across the bike path. I hoped off the bike and pulled out my camera just in time to get it slivering away into the forest. I had seen snakes in Brazil before, but they were always so small and colorful. This one was so big! It was after I crawled up within a few feet to get the shot that the guy decided to tell us that was a rattlesnake. UHHHHHH..... had I known that I might not have gotten so close. But it was so exciting to have seen my very first rattlesnake in the wild!
3 1/2 hours and one very sore butt later, we finally got to our destination. I was exhausted, my legs were burning, but I felt so accomplished. I can now say I contributed by riding for Bike America and what it stands for. And I definitely want to do it again!
Day 4 - this day took a turn for the worse. We drove up to meet Kiersten at her first checkpoint, and as we saw her heading towards us ... off her bike ... and limping.... we knew something went wrong. It turns out Kiersten's Garmin took her on some really dangerous roads. And after getting honked at and almost pushed off the road by a guy driving a truck, she took a hairpin turn too fast and fell hard. She didn't get her feet out of the clips in time, and the twisting of the bike as it hit the ground really messed up her knee. She made a tough decision to stop riding for the day because she didn't want to push boundaries and permanently injure herself.
But what was looking like a pretty horrible day, actually turned out pretty cool. In the support vehicle, we accidentally stumbled upon a beautiful lake. Kiersten, being injured but still wanting to enjoy the beauty of America while we are all doing this - said we should turn off and jump in! So that's exactly what we did. I have never felt more refreshed jumping into a body of water. Then when we got back in the car, Garmin kind of failed us and took us the wrong way back. But low and behold we ended up at Lake Tahoe! So we decided to take a few days to explore here and get Kiersten's leg better.
Northern California is one of the most beautiful parts of the country I've even seen. I'm sure I'm going to say this many times during this trip - but I have never seen so many breathtaking sites in one day. From the snow cap mountains, to the crystal clear lakes, to the giant trees that just fill the air with fresh pine scent .... it's so easy to fall in love with nature here.
So far on this trip I have learned to not be afraid to try something new. Even if you fail, you still learned something new that day. And if you succeed, you will be able to take that with you for the rest of your life.
I've also learned to take the time to enjoy the beauty of the world around you. This morning I took a little hike on my own and discovered a beautiful creek! I climbed up on this fallen log and dangled my feet over the babbling water ... it felt so wonderful. I have to admit, I have been very stressed out about this documentary and making it the best I possibly can. I get nervous about finding the story and asking people the right questions and having the camera rolling at the right times. But I need to keep reminding myself to take a deep breath, and everything will work out. By taking myself out of that stress and allowing myself to experience the beauty of this trip first hand, only then will I be able to tell a good story.
So let the journey continue ....