A Song of Fire and Ice: Riding through Deserts and Mountains

By: Sarahann

Hello from Middlegate, NV: the self-proclaimed “middle of nowhere” with a population of 17 (formerly 18). Over the past few days, the SAIS Cycling for Access team has ventured across mountains, a frozen lake, and the very hot Nevada desert.

After leaving Ham’s Station on Highway 88, we climbed 4500 feet across 30 miles. We had a mild bike breakdown, so we weren’t able to make it to the Carson Pass (elevation: 8500 ft) before nightfall. We were surrounded by snow, so Josh treated us to a night at the Caples Lake Resort, which mended our spirits and thawed our frozen bodies.

Biking along Highway 88 on the way to Tahoe

The following morning we set out for Lake Tahoe. We descended nearly 3000 feet, reaching speeds of 35 mph. Once at the Lake, we checked in with our Warm Showers host, Warren, who is pictured with us below. He was incredibly welcoming, gave us cold drinks, and shared local tips to explore the town.

The cycling team with our Tahoe host, Warren

After Lake Tahoe, we sailed through the mountains to Carson City, NV. We stayed with another Warm Showers host, Evan, who has an amazing garden and chatted about international relations with us. In town, we ran errands and reached out Nevada community colleges and municipal governments to arrange meetings.

Lidia and a Sarahann overlooking Lake Tahoe

Next we biked over 70 miles from Carson City to Fallon, NV. The Nevada heat was brutal, but we enjoyed the flat landscape and the friendly waves from construction workers. We breaked for lunch at Lahontan State Park, which was a relaxing oasis amidst the desert. That evening, we had coffee and dinner at Stone Cabin Coffee in Fallon. The owner, Butch, and his staff were very kind and welcoming–and Butch treated us all to coffee the following morning.

Grabbing coffee in Fallon, NV

Next year, we hope the SAIS cycling team will be able to chat with people in Carson City and Fallon (we ran out of time to schedule events this year). While they are both lovely cities, we saw great signs of need. We believe students from these towns could really benefit from this ride.

That brings us to today. We have biked nearly 50 miles from Fallon and are resting at Middlegate Station — a historic stop along the Pony Express. The restaurant here has delicious burgers and a chill atmosphere. After digesting our lunch, we will be heading onwards to Cold Springs, NV.

Enjoying burgers at Middlegate Station

Over the next few days, we will be traversing the desert. But we are actively setting up meetings with students and community members between here and Cedar City, UT. If you know anyone along this route, please shoot us a message!

Rattlesnakes, breakdowns, and lots of pretty views

By: Sarahann

It’s the Cycling for Access team here, checking in on Day 4 of our cross country trip. And wow, it’s been an incredible few days.

We started our journey at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco with a lot of excitement. From there, we took the ferry to Vallejo and started biking towards Davis, CA. In our first day, we had two flat tires, a bike breakdown, and ended up catching a ride in a car the last 10 miles. We spent the night with a wonderful host named Alan from the Warm Showers cycling community website, who gave us a kind greeting and shared lots of local advice.

On Day 2, we ran a few errands around Davis, which included a stop by a bike shop and the post office to mail duplicate items home. We then biked through Sacramento onto Folsom. To cool down, we took a dip in the American River. The water was very cold. Once we arrived in Folsom, John would not stop singing Johnny Cash. Also, the Folsom dam was beautiful. We met many groups of riders who were excited to hear about our mission and offered advice. An FBI agent in cycling mode escorted us to Beal’s Point campground after we got lost. All in all, a great day.

Day 3 brought us beautiful rolling hills between Folsom and Fiddletown, CA. We rode nearly 50 miles in the California heat, saw rattlesnakes, and ate at a delicious deli. Again, we were greeted warmly by all. People offered us free places to stay and wanted to know how to support the Cycling for Access goals. We spent the night camping at the beautiful Casa de la Pradera BNB outside of Fiddletown, which was hosted by Alice, who is wonderful in all types of ways.

On Day 4, we climbed nearly 4000 feet as we entered the Sierra Mountains. Our legs felt like they were on fire! We had lunch at a pitstop along Route 88, called Cooks Station. Now we are camping behind another roadside restaurant, Ham’s Station. We enjoyed talking with the owners’ grandkids about hiking and going to college.

As we close out the day, we want to give a shout out to everyone who has helped us along this way. In our 4 nights, we have been given free lodging 3 times. People are excited to hear about what we are doing and why, and it makes us feel like our purpose is more important and timely than ever.

Thanks for reading!

SAIS Cycling for Access

Gearing up in San Fran!

With less than 24 hours to go, the SAIS Cycling for Access team is gearing up in San Francisco. Tamas, John, Sarahann, Josh, and Chloe have already arrived in California, and Lidia will be joining us tonight.

The past few days have been filled with excitement as we gather last-minute gear and prep outreach materials. A huge shout-out goes to Phoenix Bikes in Arlington, VA for donating precious gear for our riders. Phoenix is a community-oriented shop that teaches youth to fix bicycles and serve the greater Washington, DC area. Another thank you to REI for giving us coupons for REI-branded gear in support of our ride.

Tomorrow we are leaving San Francisco at 7:30 in the morning. Our first night will be spent in Davis, CA, and from there we will be heading over the mountains to Nevada. Stay tuned for more news.