The last two weeks with Jules riding the Big Sur and heading up to San Francisco had been so much fun and I was so happy to see Jules enjoying it. Although I hadn’t moved that much further north it was a break and we had covered some distance. Our next stop was Grass Valley and Nevada city where we would get to meet Sharon’s cousin Heather and her partner Chris. Being on the 2 year anniversary of losing Sharon it seemed bizarre timing we were heading to see her and knew how excited Sharon was at the prospect of meeting Heather. Having the day to get to Navada city was good as it kept my mind occupied and not to dwell on what had happened. For now though it was Julians time to have fun and heading to a micro brewery to meet family and to see how some of the best bikes are built we couldn’t wait. 

Tuesday 26th April

Today was the anniversary of Sharon’s death and all I wanted to do was keep busy and not think about it. I had heard my phone beep with messages but I didn’t want to look at them. I just needed to be and with a day of travelling I could use it to keep me occupied. Needing to catch the train to Nevada city we got up early, sorted our things and headed up to have breakfast. Claudette came to see us off which was amazing as we had missed her yesterday and so it was great to be able to thank her. We set off for the station and made our way up the escalator with a fully loaded bike. It wasn’t to bad due to the station not being to busy but knew that could all change.

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Getting the bike on the train was easy and we were just waiting for something not to go to plan. We headed for Mac Arther station and then had to catch a bus to Richmond. With a bike rack on the front of the bus all I had to do was remove the panniers and pop it on. We set off for the next station where we had to rush to catch the train but when we told them we had a bike they told us we had to take the next train as it had hanging points. Pleased we could at least catch the train with a bike  we relaxed for an hour and a half until it arrived. We caught the train hung my bike up and found a place to sit and wondered if the next stage would go as smoothly as it had so far. We sat as the train pulled out and we headed out of the city and across the bay.

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The views were great being up high where we could see for miles. The hills soon disappeared and farmland stretched across the central valley all in various stages of work. It went on for mile after miles which was nice to relax to but hard not to think about this day 2 years ago. The train terminated at Sacramento and from her it was an hours bus ride to Colfax. With no rack and what looked like small compartments for luggage we thought it could be here we get a problem. The bus driver arrived and didn’t even worry about the bike and it fitted in with ease.  We were now on our last leg to Colfax where we would be met by Chris who would pick us up and take us back to Nevada city.  We set off heading towards the Sierra Nevada mountains and could see the snow on the top. The pine trees got thicker and the landscape became greener with the air getting cleaner.  After an hour on the bus we arrived at the station and a pretty picturesque town to wait for Chris.

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Entertaining ourselves 

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After a few minutes a light blue international Scout pulled up with bear claw scratches on the bonnet and a cool looking guy at the wheel. Chris was just the most welcoming guy and was so great to meet him after so long and he was picking us up in the coolest vehicle in the world to be taken back to town.

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We picked up food on our way and arrived at the pub where Heather works and finally got to meet her to. It was like I had known her for years and just felt like home. I was so pleased to see her and it seemed like fate that I was here on this day. We were shown around Ol Republic brewery and its huge tanks of real ales and then got to try some. This place was awesome with its snow capped mountains in the distance and fir trees that wrapped around the town and bang in the middle was the most amazing couple. We sat breathing the fresh air, drinking the cool beer and enjoying the view. Once we had finished our fun wasn’t over. We were then taken to Chris’s workshop where he builds bikes. These bikes looked so cool and as soon as I saw them I wanted one.

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Chris is one of the best bike builders in the world having grown up with the best, like Tom Richey and Jo breeze and had even raced with Lance. Chris was a legend in the world of cycling and still is and it wasn’t hard to see why. We scanned his shop and all we could see was quality and pride. His talents didn’t end there as we were then taken back to the bar where he set up for an open mic night.

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We sat with another pint and watched a few acts play along with Chris and Heather joining in. As it started to get late Heather took us back to their house and were made to feel at home. We caught up on news and just enjoyed their company.  It had been so amazing finally meeting them both but I knew how much Sharon had been looking forward to meeting them. They had been so kind and so thoughtful but knew they would have loved to have seen her.

Wednesday 27th April

Waking in Nevada city with the most awesome couple was great. We joined Chris and Heather for breakfast and headed out to the bike shop to pick up our bikes. With Dolly being one of the them and Chris loaning us one of his 29er’s we headed out for the trails. We Stopped at a bike shop in town to pick up a trail map and made our way towards the woods. It was just like the routes we were used to at home but with taller trees. We followed our nose not being to worried about getting lost we just soaked it in.

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Apart from a bear pinching Jules cup of tea all went well

It was so much fun and so great to have Jules to ride with. We zig zagged through the trails often arriving back at the same point or arriving at a gate with big dogs. It was great riding Chris’s 29er as it was so smooth and looked so cool unlike mine as I rattled through the woods passing people wondering why on earth I had a Bolivian dolly attached to it.

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Once we had covered a few miles we headed back into town once we knew which direction to head for and found a great place to have dinner. Having a Pulled pork roll with BBQ sauce, chips, onion rings and salad washed down with a couple pints of beer was perfect. Getting our energy back and still having time we headed back to the forest and looked for some different routes. Swapping bikes over was so much fun but just riding a bike with no weight was just the best. The only problem was the more I rode Chris’s bike the more I wanted one.

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As the clouds built to the East we turned back and headed for home. We were joined by another cyclist called Bryan who showed us the way back to the right trail home and headed back to meet Chris, Heather and Emma. We had a lovely evening chatting and just enjoying such great company. I felt lucky to be here and get to know such wonderful and caring people and to have Jules there as well made it really great fun.

Thursday 28th April

Today was Chris’s birthday and so we joined them both for breakfast and wish him a happy birthday. With a plan to have a birthday BBQ in the evening it gave Jules and I to have the morning to explore.

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Being Jules last morning in Nevada city we decided to ride down to the Yuba river to meet Heather. We rode out through town and returned to the cycle trails that lead out to the highway.

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Once on the highway we started the 4 mile descent to the river which was so much fun. We arrived just after Heather and made our way down to the clear blue rushing water. It was beautiful but after having so much snow up in the mountains meant that it was freezing. We fished around in the water for gold but not finding any other the fouls gold we gave up and tried to get the feeling back into our hands.

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Not having to much time left we headed back to the town to a coffee shop and chat before we had to say goodbye. We drove to the station to see the bus there waiting we said our goodbyes and set off. I couldn’t believe the time had gone so fast but it was so great we had done so much.

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Being Chris’s birthday we headed back to Chris’s shop to prepare for a BBQ. It took a while to get everything sorted but it was so good to help out. As the afternoon went on, Chris and Heathers friends arrived in their droves which was testament to what an amazing guy he is. I was so pleased to be part of it and to help him celebrate.  The evening was just great and I got to meet some amazing people. I was enjoying it here being with Chris and Heather.

Friday 29th April

Today was a work day. Chris and Heather had organised an event to be held at the pub and so I had been in contact with Shelter Box to see if they could attend. Finding out they had a member there that had a tent to display was just amazing and so it was down to me to pick a few photos out for a slide show. This however was easier said then done. Having literally thousands of photos was going to take forever to go through them but I knew it would be worth it. Knowing how important Shelter Box is gave me the motivation to get my head down and get it done.

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The beautiful view out across the forest with the clouds changing colour

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Not forgetting the great view inside

Burying my head in the computer the day soon passed and Chris and Heather returned home. Once I had done what I could for the day I sat down and we all watched a film together. Still having a lot more to do I was feeling the pressure but it was good and knew I would get it done.

Saturday 30th April

With just a few hours to continue to pick out a few photos from the thousands I had I got up and joined Heather and Chris for breakfast. Feeling a little nervous I got to work and stuck at it. It seemed to take ages but It was nice looking through what had been an incredible journey. Time went past quickly and Heather was soon back bringing food for dinner.

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I couldn’t believe it was dinner time already so I finished off what I could and started to prepare what I was going to say. With a few great ideas from everyone I had a basic outline and just hoped it worked. Chris’s daughter Emma was my Guinea pig which was great as she could point out a few things I got wrong or was unclear. It was’t long before it was time to leave and get my bike ready to take to the event. Wanting to have my bike loaded so that people could see how I packed my bags I headed out to Chris’s workshop to get my bike. Once there I put everything on and rode up to the pub. We reached the bar and a few of the shelter box team had arrived and were about to set up the tent.

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I introduced myself and got chatting to them all which made me relax as I knew what I was doing was for them and for the people who had no one to help them. It was great to see so many that were interested and learn about a charity they had never heard of. I was handed a beer which seemed to help but knew the time would come when I would have to speak. Chris and Heather were great and really supported me which gave me the confidence to stand up in front of everyone. I seemed to get most of what I wanted to say and it felt like it went well but the main thing was I introduced people to our charity. Just seeing the tent once again and the passion behind the team was a testament to the belief that this charity really works. Everyone was so kind and I was pleased I was so  I had come here. I knew that Heather and Chris would have loved to have seen Sharon I just hoped I had made them proud.

After another beer it was time to say goodbye and head home to have dinner. I had been so well looked after and I felt so at home. We sat altogether and had our tea before sitting down to watch a film. It had been a really good day and hopefully we had made a small step to helping a few more people get their lives back.

Sunday 1st May

After a few manic days preparing for the event it was time to get Dolly serviced and nice and shiny. Once we’d had breakfast we headed down to Chris’s shop and got to work.IMG_6916

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Chris and Heather preparing their new boat

Being Sunday Chris and Heather set about washing their. Having the tools and the space to work on Dolly was perfect but for some reason my back was really sore. Once I was done I headed back to the house to try and stretch it off. I hated having a bad back and hadn’t had one for a long time. Once I was back I worked on my blog and rested. I was amazed at where the day had gone but I was in the perfect place to rest and try and get myself ready for my journey north.

Monday 2nd May

Having decided to leave tomorrow it left me with the day to look around the town. I got up and joined Chris and Heather for breakfast before they set off for work then headed out to explore. I rode into Nevada city to take another look in a bike shop when on my way out a older guy called my name. I looked around to see someone I recognised. It took a few moments to place him but I soon realised it was David who I had ridden to the campsite with while on the Big Sur. It was really great to see him again and he asked what I was up to. I told him why I was in Nevada City and was about to look around town.

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It was great to see Dave again and join him for a coffee

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Deciding to join me we rode down into town and went for a coffee. From here we wondered the town and David showed me a view sites I probably wouldn’t have noticed. Being a small pretty town we decided to head back to our bikes and head to his place to have lunch. We reached his house after a short drive and he showed me his bike collection along with his tents and kit. It was really great seeing how he travelled and the equipment he used. Even though I have been on the road for 3 years I’m always amazed at the different ways people travel.

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Once we had eaten and chatted for a while it was time for me to head back into town and find Hirshmans pond. It took me a short while to reach town and headed out to the highway until I reached the trail.

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Hirshmans Pond

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This little boy was 11 days old

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Hirshmans pond is an old gold mining quarry that was closed down many years ago. Using water cannons to blast away the rock to expose the gold meant tons of sediment got washed down the river to San Fransisco. After a lot of pressure from the city the mines were closed and soon became over grown with the natural wildlife. Now the quarry is abundant in trees and wildlife with a beautiful trail that runs through the middle.

It was so lovely riding the trail meeting people and seeing the sun shine through the trees. Once I had looked around I headed back to the city to the bar to see if Chris and Heather wanted to join me for a pint. It was so great spending time with them and relaxing after a really good day. With the plan to head out for dinner we made our way back to the house and got ready to go out. Tonight we were heading to a Mexican restaurant and we couldn’t wait. Riding in the scout was perfect way to go and soon reached Maria’s where we enjoyed an amazing meal. It was the perfect end to a great day and I was getting excited about the road ahead.

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With Chris planning to head to San Fransisco on Wednesday meant I could have one more day to relax, get some work done and prepare to leave but knew I would miss it here as it had been so much fun.

Tuesday 3rd May

Wanting to catch up on my work I saw Chris and Heather set off for work and I got my head down to some editing. I worked until midday when I rang Sharon’s sister to have a chat and check she was free to speak to Heather. I headed to the bar and we sat down and spoke to Natalie. It was so great to chat to her and to catch up on the news from home. Once we had finished chatting it was lunch time so headed down to the workshop to see how Chris was doing.

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The old republic drag car for the salt flats

Being flat out making another masterpiece he stopped to join me for some lunch before I needed to head back and do some more work. Once back I worked until 6pm when I got a message from Heather to say she was finished and did I want to come up for a pint. Deciding it was a great idea I was up and out the door in about 15.45 seconds and up the road heading for the pub. Once up the hill I dropped into the town and flew into the carpark and clipped a kerbstone which luckily I kept control and meet Heather at the door. I laughed at my near miss and was great to be there to relax. Being our last evening we sat together and watched the musicians go up and play while Chris did the sound. It was so great to hang out have a few beers before it was time to leave and head home to relax. I was looking forward to getting going again but being here had been so much fun and I knew I would really miss them.

Wednesday 4th May

The day had come for me to leave Nevada city and head back to San Fransisco. I packed my bags and joined Chris and Heather for our last breakfast together. I couldn’t believe I had been here for a week and had felt so much at home here. I loaded my bike into the blue Scout and went up to say my goodbyes to Heather.

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Chris practising for the next open mic night

It had been so amazing to have had the time to spend with her and Chris and I had loved their company. They made this place feel like home and hopefully one day I will return. Waving goodbye Chris and I headed to his workshop to meet Val who would be driving us down to San Fran. Val arrived moments after us and we loaded my bike into his truck. Val was also an awesome guy and I was so grateful to him for driving me down. Being around 200km we drove for around an hour and stopped for a burger at an ‘In and out’ burger place. I ordered my food but Chris stepped in to change it for a larger meal that would feed an army. We sat down and I noticed behind him was a police officer. It was such a stereotypical scene being in a diner with a cop sat there on the bench seats.

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Once we had got through the mound of food we continued on down the freeway and into the city. Being in a car meant I would get the chance to cross the bay bridge which was pretty spectacular.

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Stopping for a coffee we then continued through the city to drop me off at Claudette’s. We soon arrived and with Claudette being only a few minutes away we sat and chatted while we waited. Claudette arrived and was so great to see her. Chris and Val stayed for a bit before they had to head off to pick up the truck they had come down for.

I thanked him again for being the most awesome guy and would really miss them, then I waved goodbye and went in to catch up with Claudette.

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Wanting to do something we headed out in the car for Pacifica beach and once there we walked along the sand to a view point.

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It was a beautiful place and it got me excited about getting going in the morning. The wind was blowing hard but didn’t stop it looking and feeling great being out on the seafront. We headed back via the city and once home we ordered a Chinese for dinner. Having all my bags to repack I set to work to sort through my things ready for tomorrow and for my next adventure.

Having had the time in Nevada city with Chris, Heather and Jules was every bit as fun as I imagined it would be. Travelling up with Jules to Nevada city I couldn’t seem to work out why I just wanted to shut myself away and not think of what happened to Sharon 2 years ago. After thinking about it over the time I was there I realised that it was because I didn’t want to remember the day she died but rather the time she lived. 

Sharon was someone who loved each day and everyone around her. With the things she did and the people she helped it would be wrong to focus on the wrong day. Sharon influenced anyone who met her and changed a little bit in each of us. I felt honoured to have the time with her that I had and loved every second I was with her. I knew from the moment I lost her I was going to finish this and knew she would always be in my heart like she is in some many others.

Sharon would have loved spending time with Heather and vice versa. Heather had a lot of her families trates which made her the fun, caring and loving person she is.

It was now time to get back on my bike, leave the beautiful city of San Francisco and cover some ground to reach Canada. What lay ahead were the giant redwoods and more of the pacific coast which was a great motivator to get going and I couldn’t wait.

 

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