While in Sonora, one of our Facebook fans gave us a lead for a home stay (thanks!). Our home stay was to be with Jeff Boatman of Carousel Design Works. Jeff has combined the philosophy of ultra light backpacking with his love of bicycling. The result is a series of rackless bags that have been used to win grueling bicycle adventure races like the Great Divide Race. The philosophy of his system – less is more. The less weight you have, the further and more remote you can travel with less expended energy. His bags aside, Jeff was an awesome host who walks his talk. He handmakes each bag in his grandfather’s old house in the hills in Sonora.

In his house, there is no excess. It’s a shelter and workplace and when he’s not sewing he’s going out on his own adventures. He escorted us out of town on some beautiful country roads, a pleasant break from the 49 which has been hell to ride on since Angels Camp.

As we ride with our fully laden bikes, we can’t help but envy Jeff as he does wheelies and dances up the hills. The night before he showed us his 13lb bike touring kit and our eyes were opened. We won’t be able to whittle our weight down quite to 13lbs but it made us heavily evaluate what we were carrying and also made us understand that by carrying so much we were limiting our daily range. By carrying less, we could travel further with less expended energy and less wear on our bikes and bodies.

Almost immediately after we parted ways with Jeff, we rode up Marshes Flat Road. As if to emphasize the points we learned the night before, the road climbed at a painfully steep grade. I was in my granny switchingbacking the narrow road and Laura had to get off the bike and push at parts.

Eventually, the road leveled out at the summit and it was a series of rollers to our site for the night – Horseshoe Bend.

The next day we stopped at Coulterville and freshly inspired by our time with Jeff, we jettisoned about 20lbs of stuff. It was wonderful to literally get the weight off our backs. At this point we were back on the 49. While it was hellish around Angel’s Camp, south of Coulterville was absolute bliss. It was a manageable climb with a good grade and very little traffic. You could hear cars approach from several bends away so while it was a twisty mountain road it was quite safe!

We arrive early at our camp by the Merced River and Laura has some time to make a bike mustache.

I play harmonica on the banks of the Merced much to the chagrin of the local wildlife.

The next day is all climbing and switchbacks – but beautiful.

We roll through Mariposa and work our way to Midpines where the Yosemite Bug Hostel is. After we summit at about 3k feet, we have a nice descent. It’s beautiful here, everyone. The leaves our changing colors from green to orange and red.

It is cold. There’s a storm that’s suppose to come through. Possibility of snow, but we are happy. We are meeting some friends at the hostel, an amazing stroke of luck, a moving dart hitting another moving dart. Our plan is to ride to Yosemite tomorrow and spend a day or two out there.