Back in service!

After not sleeping very well due to howling winds all night long, I thought I was really doing well this morning when I got up before the sun. I had everything together and was down the road before 7:30. A few miles ahead, I stopped to get breakfast and saw a clock on the wall. 9:00 AM. My phone hasn’t had service to update the time, so I am an hour off The combination of high canyon walls and just crossing over to the mountain time zone had me all out of whack. 

Oh well. Climbing out of Hells Canyon was a challenge, but not terrible. I stopped in Cambridge for lunch and had the old faithful burger. Then off down the road again. 

In the early afternoon, I passed a little country store an saw the Korean outside. We waved as I went by. No biggie. Later on as I was going up another climb, I see a touring cyclist up ahead taking a break. Of course this was exciting for me! It’s always cool to see someone doing this!

Lo and behold, it wasn’t just another cyclist. It was the Korean!  He’s sitting on a guard rail, smoking a cigarette. I said, “I guess you got a ride?”  He smiles. Shakes his head and says, “It too hawd!” That’s it. I’m done with him. 

So I rolled into New Meadows and found a Subway, cell service and wifi! The trifecta! Spent an hour chowing and uploading pics. Nice to be connected and caught up on all my doings. 

Tonight I am staying at the Hartland Inn and Motel, a quaint little place with nice folks who own and run it. JoBeth, the misses, was nice enough to let me do my wash. Clean clothes are a big plus!  Lol!

This evening I planned the next few days out. Looks like tomorrow will have an easy morning and then a big climb in the afternoon. Friday will be short and easy. Saturday will be rough. Probably my roughest day yet. But I should be in Missoula Saturday night and then I’m going to take Sunday off. Looking forward to that!

Today’s stats:
Mileage-74.03
Total-869.35
Trip time-5:24:40
Avg speed-13.68
Max speed-44.83
Climb-4840

A little lonely

Today was a banner day! I finished my first state! Oregon is done and I’m now in Idaho, camping along the Brownlee Resiviour, which is on the Snake River in Hells Canyon. One down and nine to go!

Much of today was downhill, which was a big help. I had been worn down a bit over the last few days. I did have one pretty good climb, but it was only 7 miles.

Yesterday when I met the three cyclists heading west, they told me there was a Korean guy they had passed who is going east like me. This morning at the hotel as I was getting ready to leave, I saw an oriental man leaving my hotel on a bike. Seeing as Baker City isn’t exactly teeming with orientals, I made the assumption that he was the guy.

He ended up getting about a 15-20 minute head start on me, but I caught him about 15 miles down the road. We then leapfrogged each other all day long. I’m faster than he is, but I guess he just doesn’t make too many stops. We ended up at the same campground at the end of the day. He is hard to talk to, as his English isn’t very good, but just knowing someone else is out there is nice.

Late this afternoon, as I was coming down the road next to the Snake River, right before I crossed into Idaho, I came across a section of road that was freshly chip and sealed. This wasn’t your average chip either. I’m talking 3/4″ rock on this road. It was more like a gravel road than anything. And it went on for 7.5 miles. Yuk. When I got to the campground, I saw the Korean. I was able to get enough out of him to find out that he gave up and was pushing his bike. Someone felt bad for him and gave him a ride here. Yeah, I rode the whole thing. Boo hiss.

This evening I have no cell service or wifi, so I am writing this as a note on my phone and I will post it to the blog later.

Not having service is turning into more of a problem than I want it to be. I really look forward to my evening chats with Jeneen. Tonight I called her from a pay phone here. I think I paid $13 to talk for about 2 minutes and then got disconnected. When I called back, it went straight to voicemail. I’m not very happy this evening. I’m just realizing how very important it is to me to be able to at least talk to her. I’m not an on-my-own kind of guy. Hopefully I will just sleep. I love you baby.

Before I put down today’s stats, I want to give a big shout out to Burt from Annie’s Cafe in Richland, OR. Today was his birthday, and although he was trying to keep it undercover, it got out. Everybody wish Burt a happy birthday!

Stats:
Mileage-87.72
Total-795.31
Trip time-6:17
Avg speed-13.95
Max speed-41.22
Climb-3653

End of map 2

So today I started in John Day. Got out pretty early because I had everything organized and ready to go from the night before. Up at 7:30 and out the door before 8:00.  Stopped at a cafe in town and had a good breakfast first, then was actually in the road about 8:45.

 I had 3 passes to go over today. None of them was too awful big, but the sum total of the three meant it was a pretty rough day all and all. 

Coming off the third one, I met 3 touring cyclists going the other way. We all stopped and had a good chat for about 30 minutes. It was refreshing to see someone out here,  as I hadn’t seen anyone on a bike in a couple days. 

I got a bit bogged down in the afternoon. The combination of missing lunch (I had snacks, but no real meal), not getting a good nights rest last night (too much tv), the heat (about 95) and a nasty head wind for the last 15 miles or so, all added up to one tired and hungry dude when I rolled into Baker City. 

Baker City means that I have finished map 2 of 12. It also means that I am almost done with my first of 10 states. Tomorrow should be my last night in Oregon, providing I can realize my plan and make Oxbow. 

Some interesting things I’ve learned in my first week or so of touring:

1- Back home, I am a speed junkie on the bike. I’ve been over 50 and would go faster if I had the right hill to do it on. Out here, I have those hills to do it, but with the bike loaded down, 40ish is as fast as I am comfortable with not knowing the roads. I’ve learned it is more efficient use of my energy and brakes to control my descent speed by making myself as big and tall as possible. Early on, I got my rims really hot by using brakes too much. Sitting tall and spreading my knees and elbows out as far as I can to catch wind with my body has enabled me to keep my speed to a more comfortable 35-40 on all but the steepest of hills. 

2-The general public is just amazed and can’t understand why anyone would want to ride a bike across the continent. It amazes me that it amazes them. This adventure is really not too hard. It’s just a matter of getting up everyday, picking a destination and going there. Then go to sleep. Repeat enough times and you make it across the country. 

3- Wifi doesn’t mean good Internet. You may be connected, but it doesn’t guarantee it will be fast!

Stats fir the day:
Mileage-82.43
Total- 707.59
Trip time-6:21
Avg speed-12.95
Max speed-40.02
Climb-4695

Back on track

I stayed up way to late last night watching tv!  I think it was about 1:30 when I shut the light out, so when I woke at 6:30, I was surprised. It didn’t help me get out any earlier though. By the time I organized and put everything away, changed clothes, ate breakfast, locked myself out of my room, had the attendant let me in and finally hit the road, it was 8:45.  I guess it just takes two hours to get going, no matter what! 

The first 8 miles or so were kind of a slog. The last couple days are wearing on me I guess. After that, I loosened up and felt pretty good. Ochoco Pass was my first test of the day and it went well. Once I was over the top, the terrain turned to even more desert. Dry, dry, dry and 100 degrees. 

The first town on my route today was a welcome site after 48 miles. Mitchell has a population of 170 according to my map, but they do have a little cafe where I got a burger, fries and a soda while I cooled down in the air conditioning. After filling my water bottles, it was off again to climb another pass and another 50 miles to the next town. 

That next pass, Keyes Creek pass, was not as tall as the first, but it was 3 times as nasty. 1400′ in about 7 miles. When I finally reached the top, it was so exhilarating!  I stopped there for about ten minutes and just took it all in. 

The ride down the other side was amazing! For 17 miles I coasted, minus 4 little times where I had to pedal for about 100 yards. The views were incredible too!

At the bottom, I had a short 7 miles into Dayville. Filled my bottles again and got a Snickers and set off to try to make John Day, 31 miles away. At this point, I was pretty well beat, so I just put my head down and hammered away. There was about 800′ of gain in that 31, but it was mostly gradual. 

I rolled into John Day about 6:30 and hit the first restaurant I saw, which just happened to be the Big M Supper Club (aka McDonalds). The map showed no campsites in the general area, so I got a room at America’s Best Value Inn. I would have to argue the truth of their name, but I’m a little too tired to worry about it. 

I shouldn’t have named yesterday a monster day! Today’s stats:

Mileage-118.74
Total-625.16
Trip time-7:40
Average-15.45
Max-38.21
Climb-5068

It’s funny. The last two days, there have been a few times where I am riding along and I think to myself, “dude, you are riding your bike across the US!” I’m still floored by that. I guess it might seem a little more real when it’s all done. Right now it’s like I’m just out for a long ride. 

One cool thing about having big mileage the last few days is that I am now back on track for what I wanted to do. Today would have been a scheduled day off and my plan was to average 80 miles per day. After today, I am now at an average of 86.57 miles for the six days of last week, minus one rest day. That’s 39.41 miles in the positive for my goals. Glad to be on the positive side!

McKenzie Pass and beyond

Another great day on the road! I got a good start this morning and hit the road about 8:45. My first twenty miles along the McKenzie River were just amazing. The river was beautiful and forrest was so lush and green. It was everything you can imagine Oregon being. 

Then came McKenzie pass. 22 miles to the top and 3700′ of climb. It was rough, I admit. But with a few breaks and my iPod, I made it. Along the way, seeing the lava flows was amazing. As well as the mountains surrounding the pass. 

Coming down the other side was a great reward for the climb. Unfortunately the descent is shorter than the climb!  It was very interesting to see the change in climate and scenery as I got into the high desert. What a change and to think it is so different over a spam of just a few miles. 

I stopped in Sisters and had a burger for a late lunch. Then it was back on the road. At this point it was 4:30 and I wanted to try to reach Prineville, which was 40 miles away. So I put the hammer down and cranked it out for awhile. 

Arriving at Prineville, you are overlooking the town from a ridge. Stopping to take a picture, I then noticed the storm clouds and heard thunder. I had plans of camping here, but I wasn’t too excited about tenting it in the rain. Plan B was a hotel. So I boogied on down to town and checked in at the Econo Lodge. The hot shower was nice and a real bed will be welcomed tonight!

So today ended up being a pretty monster day, considering my distance and the amount of climb coming over the pass. Here are the stats:

Mileage-98.43
Trip time-7:06
Avg speed-13.86
Max speed-35.80
Climb-5511

Cue the Bare Naked Ladies….!
“It’s been, one week….”
Today is day 7!  One week on tour! Here are the stats so far:
Total mileage-506.42
Total time-37:29
Avg speed-13.34
Total climb-24542

The beauty returns

Another flatless day! I should just stop the post right there and call it good!  Lol!  

Today started in Corvallis, with two l’s. I guess I need to apologize to the city, as I have misspelled the name of it every time I have typed it.  Anyway, I didn’t get out as early as I wanted, but 10:30 wasn’t too bad considering my track record so far this trip!  I had to go to a bike shop and pick up a light weight wind breaker.  I forgot mine and i think I will need one in the next couple days. Then I was on the road. 

Down the road south toward Coburg and Eugene. Stopped in Harrisburg and got some chicken tenders and potato planks for lunch. Ate part of it and saved the rest for later. 

Although the route goes north of Eugene, I considered going into the city to take photos of the U of O track, site of numerous Pre wins. Because it was hot and it would’ve been another 12-15 miles added go today, I chose not to go. I’m ok with it. I don’t plan on this being my last trip to Oregon. 🙂

When I turned east at Coburg, that was the end of map number one. One down, eleven to go! It was also the start of a steady uphill slope, heading toward McKenzie Pass, the highest climb for me in Oregon. The whole afternoon seemed to be a bit of a slog. The only thing that made it better was the way Oregon got beautiful on me again! 

For about 40 miles, my route weaved along the Mckenzie River offering up gorgeous views. I stopped several times, just taking it in. Ate the rest of my lunch at one spot.  Shortly after that, I came  to the wide spot in the road called Nimrod.  There is a little b&b here that has campsites along the river, tucked in the woods.  Actually, right now as I type, I’m sitting in a chair next to the river watching the sun go down over the hill. It is very peaceful here. 

All in all it was a really good day. I’m a little nervous about tomorrow though. McKenzie Pass is a 4000′ climb over about 25 miles. It will certainly be my first test. Guess I better sleep well!

Stats:

Mileage-76.96
Total-407.98
Trip time-4:51
Avg speed-15.81
Max speed-30.39
Climb-1516

On my own again

Started today in Pacific City. We had camped in the county campground there, which was nice as it was right across the road from the beach. Weird thing was there were rabbits EVERYWHERE. Not like wild rabbits. These were black mostly and some where black and white. The tame kind, but not completely tame. Evidently someone set some loose there years ago and now they are breeding. It was actually kinda creepy. I wanted to pull out my knife and skin one. Not really. But when I joked with the host of the campground about it, he got really offended. West coast liberals! Lol! 

The first part of the day was more of the same. Gorgeous views of awesome rock formations and the Pacific. We saw some whales spouting again just out a ways.  Unfortunately it had to come to an end. I caught my last glimpse of the ocean about 1:00 or so, and then came to the spot where it was time to say goodbye to Erik. We shook hands an he invited me to come to Chicago some time. I plan to take him up on that!

The first 10 miles or so, I kinda felt out of sorts. I had grown accustomed to the company and being alone just didn’t really sit well with me.  Quick enough I came to a pretty good climb and I just put my head down and grinder. When I got to the top, I just kept the hammer down. I had a tail wind and decided to make up a little time. And so I did!

At one point, the shoulder wasn’t very wide so I was sort if close to the traffic. I had just come down a hill at about 40 and started up the other side. Keeping a high cadence and pushing myself, I was ascending the other side at about 20ish. As a semi came by with a long line of traffic behind it, I picked up their draft. Here I was going up hill at probably about a 6% grade being sucked along by the draft of cars and holding a steady 28 mph, all with 40 pounds of gear on my bike! It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever had happen to me on a bike!

I kept the hammer down most of the afternoon and rode til after 7. That puts me now in Corvalis, OR and just about 40 miles from Eugene. 

With the closest camping spot 4.2 miles off route according to my map, I elected for the Super 8.  Warm shower, real bed, got my laundry done, free wifi and an easy place to charge my phone. Not a bad deal. It will be back to camping tomorrow, I’m sure. 

Good day!
Mileage-92.83
Total-331.01
Trip time-6:07
Avg speed-15.14
Max speed-41.22
Climb-3883

Last full day on the Pacific coast

Today Erik and I started out in Bay City. First things first, I got up enough nerve to shower in the garden hose at the park. There is nothing quite as free as washing yourself in your underwear in the park. It was a cold, but refreshing none the less!

Off we went to Tillamook, the town that had somehow eluded me for days. (I actually intended on making Tillamook on Monday afternoon!) Erik wanted to use the library computer, as did I. Afterward we ate lunch at the Blue Moon Cafe. I’ve decided to try new things on this trip, so I had an oyster burger. Not your typical burger, but ok. After a quick hardware store stop, we were off to our seemingly typical slow start. We left Tillamook about 1:00. 

There was some absolutely gorgeous scenery today! I posted quite a few pics on Facebook as I went. Probably the Single most cool thing today was seeing whales spouting water up just off the coast. Unbelievable. 

We ended our day in Pacific City camping at the county park here. Caught a beautiful sunset, met some new friends doing the Oregon coast and ate a great dinner at the Pelican Brewing Company.  I had raw oysters for the first time, Thai chicken pizza and a great conversation with my friend. It’s a shame we have to part ways tomorrow, as I am headed inland and he continues south to San Francisco. It will be bittersweet to leave the coast and my friend. 

On a different note, I had 0 flats today!

Today’s mileage- 50.36
Total- 238.18
Trip time- 4:32
Avg speed- 11.07
Max speed-38.21
Climb- 3237

Different perspectives

Just an FYI, I’ll be writing this as a note on my phone throughout the day and then publishing it to the blog in the evening. That might explain any issues with past or present participles or whatever you call those things!  I am certainly not a wordsmith. 

So this is day 2 of the trail and day 4 of the trip. It’s funny how time has sort of stopped as of the day I left Farmington. It all seems to be running together in my mind. Call it travelers syndrome I suppose!

Had a nice night in a cool little hostel  in Seaside, bunking up with Tom, Terry and Eric. Had some great conversation as well with the operator of the hostel, Ruth. 

After breakfast at the hostel, it was off to the grocery store in town to get a few things, anticipating having to camp and make my own meal this evening. That and I just need to be prepared. I had been carrying snacks, but nothing of real substance. 

After the store, I headed back to meet Erik at the hostel. We had decided to ride with each other as we are going the same way for a couple days. When I got back to meet him, guess what? Another flat!  I’m really getting sick of this now. I worked on what I believed to be the cause of the problem (rim tape, again!) and we started to leave. Erik needed to make a couple stops before we left town and before we knew it, we didn’t leave until about 1:30. 

At this point, admittedly, I was getting frustrated. I started this trip with the intent of shooting for an 80 mile a day average. 

What I’ve come to realize over the course of today is that this trip is not about miles.  It is strictly about the experience. Yes, you do the miles along the way, but the focus should be on getting the most possible from this trip. My self imposed time lines have already been a detriment to the experience. As my friend Erik said, if you focus on the end goal, and not so much on the day to day, it’s much easier to swallow. Sure seems counterintuitive because the end goal is so large, bug I get the idea. Getting wrapped up in the day to day gets frustrating when the daily trials come. As seen over the journey, those bumps are minor imperfections, smoothed out merrily by the distance and the EXPERIENCE!  I digress. 

Once I chilled out, the day was awesome! Saw the Haystack and numerous other beautiful sites along this seemingly untamed coast. If you haven’t been to the Oregon coast, just go. Words cant describe it!

At the en if the day, we camped in the city park in Bay City, just 5 miles north of Tillamook. Great day!

Stats-
Day miles- 51.95
Trip miles- 187.81
Avg speed- 12.00
Max speed- 35.80
Trip time- 4:19

It really is a small world after all

After a great nights sleep at the Norblad, I ate breakfast at The Rusty Cup, a quaint little coffee shop. I then took my coffee down to the river walk and took in the gorgeous view of the Columbia River and Washington. After a short walk around downtown, which is really neat and historic, I headed back to my room to get organized for the day. Off to the bike shop when they opened at 10:00 for some new tubes and some new rim tape! 

When I got back to the hotel, there was a touring cyclist leaving. His name was Eric and he said he was riding from Vancouver to San Francisco, which means he and I will be on the same route for awhile. I told him maybe I would see him down the road, but he only planned on 40 miles or so an I planned on 80. I then went upstairs and installed my new items and got things together to leave. 

As I was walking out of the hotel, I ran into a couple. Graham and Wendy saw my bike and chatted me up. Right away I noticed their accent and asked if they were the couple from New Zealand that I had heard about coming through Farmington a month or so ago. Sure enough!  Had a great chat, got some good advice and took a couple pics. Then I was off to start…finally!

I went to the Columbia Maritime Museum where the Transam officially begins and got the obligatory photo. Then headed up the hill to the Astoria column. More pics and great views! As I was leaving, I ran into Graham and Wwndy again! They were just site seeing. Finally, off I go out of town. 

Not so fast. On the way down the hill, I had a flat. Joy!  The new rim tape was junk and had punctured my tube. Put my old rim tape back in, secured it with patches and was on my way. Unfortunately, now it was already 1:45, so I stopped at Burger King on the way out of town and ate. 

Then I left Astoria behind. For real! Had a wonderful ride down to Seaside, although there was a stiff 20-30 headwind. Slowed me down a bit. At Seaside, I went out on the beach and did the ceremonious wheel dip in the Pacific. Then I ate an early dinner at the Harbor Bite.

 It was getting a bit late to carry on, so I decided to stay here in Seaside. A weather system has moved in as well, so rather than camp in the rain, I opted for the hostel in town. I’m bunking in a room with 3 guys. Tom from San Francisco, a traveler hanging here in town for a few days, Terry from Vancouver, Canada who is wrapping up a motorcycle trip that he did around the perimeter of the USA and Eric, the guy I met at the Norblad this morning! He didn’t make it as far as he wanted to either an just happened to stop at the same place!  It really is a small world! 

Stats-
Today’s mileage-30.10
Total miles- 135
Time on the bike- 2:43
Average speed- 11.01
Max speed- 34.90