With 85 miles to go on the first day (it turned out to be an even 90, just to make things fun), we decided that the only way we could get the kids to tolerate that length of a trip was to leave insanely early (some of you might have thought "they should just leave insane," that would be correct, too). After one of the roughest night's sleep ever, we packed up our gear and got the kiddos in their trailer. We decided to bring the trailer so they would be more comfortable, warmer, and hopefully sleep better. I also left the Peanut Shell on the Mundo to give the boys some space and a change of scenery as needed. Since we were going to be staying with friends, we didn't need any camping gear so food and toys became the bulk of our load. Clothes came close behind, packing more than we would normally pack on a bike tour as we usually don't care if we smell like exhaust and funk, but we didn't want to impose that on our hosts.
Day two was rough. Jose and I were both pretty sore and starting the ride off in Modesto wasn't very fun. Our friend had offered to let us relax and then drive us to Stockton but that would have felt like cheating so we declined (and a couple of times regretted that decision along the way). The boys slept better on this ride than the day before, tired out from all the fun they had had. Our route took us as far has Highway 26 but then we had to find our own way to Stockton. After a few backtracks, we managed to get on a levee road--gravel, nothing marked, gated off in many places, and a bit sketchier than either of us would have liked. Jose's crank arm fell off at one point. For awhile, we almost thought our trip was over since we didn't have a #8 allen wrench. Amazingly, Jose was able to tighten it enough with a few pieces of rock from the ground and a smaller wrench with a shim (we had to do that a few more times along the way). He's so talented! We trudged through ankle-deep mud, pulling and tugging our loaded up bikes, climbed steep banks, and ducked under gates. It was a workout! Jose and I both managed to get terribly sunburned and even though we only went 44 miles, it felt longer than any other ride. However, as soon as we got to Stockton, Jose got a beer, the boys got to play, and I got my bestie best friend in the world! Life was good again! Another fantastic pizza dinner, hot showers, and we were refreshed.
We got a really late (11am) start. Big Brother wanted to ride in the Peanut Shell (he actually almost always does) so he climbed aboard with me. It was great for Little Brother, too, to get some space and sleep soundly for much of the ride. Stockton is probably one of the worst biking cities ever. It took us two hours to get through about 8 miles of busy, horrible streets. I am even more thankful now that I live in Sacramento with it's wonderful (compared to Stockton) bike infrastructure. Stockton has no bike lanes anywhere, hardly any shoulder, and 4-6 lanes of miserable traffic. We actually spent as much time on the sidewalk. Legal or not (I'm not sure in Stockton), I wasn't risking my boys' lives.
Once we got past Stockton, we got on some much, much nicer frontage roads. We were still incredibly exhausted and we did a bit of bike swapping so Jose could have a chance on the Mundo. It was slow going. Finally, we reached Cosumnes Wildlife Refuge for our lunch (it was 3:30pm). We got started on our final 20+ miles but then Big Brother decided he wanted to be in the trailer. He had been up on the bike for over 4 hours, without a nap--what an amazing kid!. Once in the trailer, there was a bit of a struggle between the two boys, being so tired, but once that was sorted, they were both quickly asleep. They stayed asleep for the rest of the journey. Once we got to Elk Grove, it was busy traffic but a nice shoulder lane and tailwind made it tolerable. Our one incident was when Jose got stuck in some deep train tracks and I crashed into the back of the trailer. Luckily, no one was hurt but it knocked off Jose's front wheel and taco'd a trailer wheel. It wobbled the rest of the way home (just like us!), but made it. We had a few more stretches of sidewalk riding and less friendly traffic but we rode safely and cautiously. We rode 52 miles for Day 3 bringing our weekend's total to 186!