Las Americas -
Episode 4: California to Canada!
Words and photos // Charlotte and Tito Tomasi
Life can be seen like a road trip, traveling, taking chances and facing decisions. The sun rises every day bringing love, discoveries, surprises and choices, and happiness is what we seek at the end of the rain. We all want to cross the rainbow and touch something bigger. When the road trip becomes your life, the metaphor gets more accurate and you enter a different dimension.
Traveling is important for me, but I find it more interesting to share, build and ride. Share the sun rays, the trails and happiness. Build stories and content, artwork and video, just because I like to express myself, deliver a message and help people to realize their potential. Because happiness is never far when your eyes are opened. And I like to ride, because it's a lot more than just bike riding.LEAVING MEXICO
After Baja, we took the ferry to the mainland and had an incredible trip in Mexico. Riding volcanoes and visiting a fascinating country (see Episode 1 to 3). But this was just one-third of the project because our plan was to get back to southern California and catch the coastal highway. Our goal was to discover the west coast of the USA and reach British Columbia in Canada in August. The rest of the plan is to get back to the USA in fall through Montana and escape the winter driving south to Arizona in a few months and go back home from California for Christmas. This is the plan.
So we are driving from the north of Mexico City to Texas, with some stops, for waterfalls and mechanicals… Nothing too bad. We eventually got to Texas in May, where we had some of the craziest storms, floods and beautiful conditions. I wasn't expecting all the beauty we saw. To make it to Los Angeles from Texas we took it easy, visiting a few classics and taking our time.
Arriving in Southern California we spent a few weeks around Laguna, got our van fixed, worked a bit with Rossignol, surfed and rode with the raddest group of mountain bikers I have ever had the chance to meet, the RADDEST! What an experience to ride and share history.
Back on the road, we were lucky to stop everywhere and explore the spots, Santa Barbara's rocky trails, Monte de Oro flow trails and more. What a pleasure to ride every day a different spot and discover the classics.SANTA CRUZ LAND
The first major spot on our road trip, and it was a nice experience. I was lucky to ride with a bunch of locals, learn about the history of biking in a place where 90% of the rides are illegal. I found it hypocritical and weird, this was really surprising for me and couldn't understand how this situation can be possible and last for so long. With some of the biggest MTB brands in the area, the business around bikes, tourism and the huge community. But still the trails remain illegal and you can be fined for riding.
There is no place like Santa Cruz and I found a lot of things funny. Like the heavy localism in the water, the thousands of homeless people around, the drugs, the rangers chasing mountain bikers in the woods, and the thousand of riders all dressed the same with the same bikes!
Still we enjoyed the area, the coast, the waves, Aptos and did some great meetings. We stayed a couple of weeks. I was lucky to spend quite some time with one of the riders who inspired me the most back in the days, Olivier Guincetre! This French fellow is a very nice human, rider and nature lover. He used to travel to places with his bike and share stories. With almost no sponsors, he left France a while ago to travel in a van, in BC then in California, and eventually found his paradise in Santa Cruz. A true human with a clear vision, love for the ocean and nature. It was sick to get him back on the saddle and go for a few rides. Riding with a historical group of riders the Old Soil Team are awesome and carry a big part of mtb history in Santa Cruz. What a trip!TAHOE BY THE SEA
We left Santa Cruz and spent a few days resting and visiting San Francisco, such a beautiful city. Then we went riding in a few spots in Marin county and visited the mountain biking museum in Fairfax. And drove east to Yosemite. The place is breathtaking, with a impressive valley full of cliff and waterfalls. We stayed a few days, hiking and discovering the place. And found the Yosemite museum really interesting, we learned about the native people living in the mountains before, the gold rush, the tourism and finally the effort of the natives to keep the culture alive. Show their artifacts, history, and more.
Back on the road, we could cross the Tioga pass at 3031 meters high with incredible views and fantastic snowed landscape for June.
Then we drove to Lake Tahoe, probably my number 3 highlight on my list for this trip! And after all I can say Tahoe delivered. Fast and fun trails, big rides and beautiful views on the giant blue lake. I loved the enduro rides, the mellow loops I shared with Charlotte and finally had a blast doing the Tahoe Rim Trail (despite the wilderness detours). This place is incredible and it's hard to give justice with words.
Exploring some of the Tahoe lake areas took us ten days and after that we decided to drive to Downieville and discover this iconic spot. The old mining town see a second breath thanks to mountain biking tourism and the village kept his charms. The bridges and rivers that converge in town, the big threes and chill atmosphere. This is cool, but the riding is even better. I was happy to make the classic from the bottom and enjoy the ride back to town before jumping in the ice cold river.SIERRAS AND VOLCANOES
Not far at all from Downieville is another incredible spot for mountain biking, if you like rocks, it's the High Sierra. The gold lake area, Mount Elwell trail… We loved it and I rode a few trails. We discovered a place with a lot of potential and great spots for camping.
We left Graeagle to the north after riding mount Mills in the sunset lights and we drove to Crater Lake national park and got choked by the beauty of the place! This lake lives in a crater and is 600 meters deep, with the clearest water on earth. 45 meters of visibility. But it's also impressive when you realize how big was the volcano before it exploded.
We finally left California and entered Oregon through the highway 97 toward Bend. Oregon was incredible with a unique landscape composed of giant dark forests and massive volcanoes covered of glaciers. We loved the camping spots, the chill atmosphere and the loamy trails. A great time and a pleasant discovery.
Riding around Mt Hood was the best, especially because this summer saw unusual rains, it felt like home. With long, remote and epic rides I had a blast. The views on Mt Hood are always really impressive. Then the rain came back and we decided to get back on the road to follow our plan, going north to get to Seattle and pick up my wife's parents as they were visiting us. Before entering Washington I was lucky to ride a secret spot, but I just can say more than that. Oregon trail builders are rad and the spirit is strong there! Good times!
Following that volcano highway with Mt Bachelor, Mt Hood and then Mt Baker we ended in Bellingham with some quality time on the coast exploring and on the famous trails. A great place for mountain biking with a strong community and sick spots. For me, it was really interesting to ride the trail and understand the movement of Washington mountain biking. The brands, the spirit and the vibe around the Pacific Northwest.
Unfortunately, my family in law had some trouble and had to delay the trip, but we were already on track and decided to wait for them in BC. Spending time in the north shore and in the sea to sky area. Riding Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton… But this for the next episode.
Excuse us for the long wait in between episode but we are just cruising, taking our time just like old hippies would do.
Life is precious. Take care.
Thanks to my partners for their trust and help --- Rossignol Bikes, @urgebikeproducts
, Julbo eyewear, @shimano