Greetings from Rescue, CA!
There's so much to talk about, I don't know where I'll begin. The Rea-Wilkes family started off our day with tons of fresh fruit, muffins, and croissants - they are amazing hosts. Riding through Davis was a treat. Someone told us that you need to ride 50 miles in any direction to get to the nearest hill, even though we know from yesterday that this isn't the case. Regardless, there was a lot of flat ground today. We started off on a Davis bike path, which was great until we hit some construction. Not wishing to deal with a potentially crippling detour, we forged ahead on the side of the construction zone. Coast to Coast mountain biking!
After the half-mile stretch of off-roading, we joined back up on the bike path, and it was pretty much entirely separate from the roads for 30 miles until Folsom. California is the most biker-friendly state imaginable - bike lanes paralleling highways, bike lanes in the roads, bike lanes along the rivers!
We had bike lanes through Sacramento, and despite minor route-finding challenges, we found a path along the American River - one of the finest rivers you can imagine. We didn't want to leave the path, but had to make a detour onto a scary tram-laden street in downtown Sacramento to find an REI. Of course, the store was out of fuel bottles, ensuring at least a few more nights of cold dinners (or so we thought!). Our efforts were rewarded by one Amy Flores, a classmate of ours at UCHC, who treated us to a delicious burrito lunch. Suffice it to say that, like the riding, the Mexican food is better out west.
The American River trail is GORGEOUS! About 20 miles of pretty flat, two-lane bike route with a sparkling turquoise river to the side. We met a local ranger names Tom who gave us a lot of great information and encouragement, and the locals advised us that the river is dangerous, but we couldn't resist forever; eventually we found a safe spot to swim.
The water was, as we all agreed, "refreshing". It might have been 90 degrees today, but the water is coming straight from snow melt, and was probably checking in at around 60 degrees - the perfect temp for hot, sticky bikers, especially those wearing 1920's-style onsies.
Along the American River trail, one rider took particular interest in our over-laden bikes, and even offered us a place to stay! Mark and Dawn are proving that Californians are the friendliest people in the nation: after finishing off the day with lots of large rolling foothills, they offered their backyard for camping, and we had BBQ chicken and corn on the cob for dinner! Above and beyond, they even offered a fuel bottle and bike maintenance help - Mark wants to open a bike shop, and we all agree he would be a great owner. After a night of great conversation, it's off to bed to begin climbing the SIERRAS tomorrow - it should be a long, hard day.
One a personal note, I think it's both surprising and refreshing how generous everyone has been so far - I don't know if it's California, or that people like to support good causes, but we have been treated perfectly out here. It really shows the true character of Americans, and makes a strong statement about the greatness of this country, that everyone has been so kind. We're looking forward to seeing the rest of this great country.