Wednesday, August 4, 2010

5K

108 miles from Fort Bragg to Bodega Bay campground

Found a wallet on the road yesterday. The owner was going to get a new
passport this afternoon until he got word that it had been found. When
I met him, he told me this and the he was immigrating Costa Rica in 6
weeks. He was thrilled to get his passport back. Felt great to make
someone's day like that.

Made fast friends with my host in Fort Bragg over dinner and saw her
again in the coffee shop in Mendocino. I split from the family trio +
Lee (physics teacher in Berkeley) as we left Mendocino only for one
final showdown in point arena. I said farewell to my friends only to
meet several new ones up the road. Riding along these organized routes
is like a party in motion. There is someone new everyday, it's a
blast. I met a guy named Ryan from Portland who is going to SF for a
coop conference. Dinner St a nice little Indian spot in Jenner
(location of the first Mansen murder-not the restaurant, the town).

Logged 5,000 today.... Woo hoo!

Next day....
Relaxed day. On my 3rd cup of coffee as Ryan and I keep stopping in
all these nice little towns. We had coffee in Bodega Bay which was a
nice little bay town. Now we're in Point Reyes; nice little spot. We
won't see all of Point Reyes because we're on bikes but I hear it's a
great spot to visit. Maybe I'll be back out here with my mom- she'll
be flying into SF tomorrow! I'm ready to see some family. What a treat
to end the trip.

Next day...
Landed in San Fran last night and hit 5,100 miles! Camping around the
bay area seemed a little sketchy plus Ryan had a friend in Oakland who
was willing to put us up; hard to pass up a warm shower.

Yesterday's ride, and all of the coast for that matter was gorgeous.
When we hit Tomales Bay, I told Ryan that I had a required Art History
class in my senior year which required me to not use beautiful,
gorgeous, and pretty to describe art. I found myself using all of
those words and feeling their inadequacy to describe their worth. It
was a natural mobile poetry festival from thence forth. "The golden
grass of the rolling meadows envelope the winding river as they meet
the cliffs edge at the edge of a whole other world: the Pacific Ocean.
The blue hues jump from the ripples atop the bay ..."

Not only is the coastline GORGEOUS, uh huh that's right, but it has
also been some of the most enjoyable riding all trip. Lots of good
climbing and sweeping descents which cut in and out of the coastline
for a roller coaster effect. The last day may have been the best of
all.

I heard my echo thru Ryan's voice. He said he was intrigued when I
claimed to be excited about my future. Well of course I am! I feel
certain snout the direction I am headed. While there is always
uncertainty about the future, this trip has shown me, if nothing else,
that everything always seems to work out so long as I am willing to
put forth the effort. Willingness and effort; simple, not easy.

We had a thrilling descent into Sausalito.
"table for 2?"
"no thanks, I'll just dine with my dog on my lap" Ryan said as we
waited at a stoplight. I glanced over to my right and began sighing
uncontrollably when I was a diva dining with her dog on her lap.

This area is hilly, no joke. We crossed the Golden Gate just after 9
at which time peds are prohibited due to the high amount of suicide
jumps from the bridge. It was so foggy that I couldn't see up, down or
around. We crossed into the city and the rest is history.

--
Sent from my mobile device

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sunshine at last

For today anyway. We've been traveling predominately along the 101
which took us inland where the sun is. After the supposed dreaded
Leggett climb, we'll drop back down to the coast where the fog awaits.
I'm more worried about the fog than the climb. It will be a regular
circus with all the on/off of jackets, armwarmers, and gloves that
climbing and descending in fog will bring.

Thanks too my new friends, I have finally slowed down; something that
is a challenge to me especially when not on bike tour. While it's only
for the last week of my tour, it will be a pleasant way to bring
closure to my journey rather than with a screeching halt. Less than 60
miles today. AT this point, I'm no longer shooting to make at least X
amount of miles per day. Now, my goal is to make no more than 60 miles
per day.

By 11:30, I had ridden 4 miles, savored coffee at camp and at a coffee
shop, and enjoyed a few pastries. That's what I call a successful
start to my day. Ilunch was enjoyed by a cove along a river which we
swam after eating. Taking and slow and loving it.

Quote for the day: "the road up and the road down are the same road."

At our first stop in the coffee shop, I asked if there were and plugs
where I could charge my phone. The shop owner angrily explained that
he wasn't willing to risk ruining my electronics by charging them for
me and that he didn't have any plugs anyway (lie). When he left, the
barista offeree to plug IT in but I declined because I didn't want her
taking a guy on behalf of me. The next spot we stopped in, I asked the
same question and he said that IT wouldn't be a problem. Meanwhile,
Morris, not missing a beat and glowing with gratitude, profusely
thanks this man who just served us smoothies for being nice to us.
Unfortunately, it seems like an odd thing to do. We typically expect
nothing less than top notch service from a minimum wage worker and get
angry when we don't get it. But coming from an earlier experience of
being treated poorly for no apparent reason to me, I understood and
appreciated the general kindness this man had. Without a second
thought, I left with the crew and forgot my phone. I turned back 5
miles later when I realized it after and van had gone by us and
honked. 2 miles later, there was a cloud of dust in a turnout where
that van had just pulled off and the man who served us smoothies stood
there with my phone and charger. He said he normally would have just
left it there but since I had asked for permission to plug it in and
our crew had been so nice compared to other tourers, he didn't mind
taking a drive out of the park to deliver it for me. All I could say
was thank you and that this favor would surely come back around to
him. Be nice, it will come back to you or vis a versa.

--
Sent from my mobile device

Friday, July 30, 2010

Touring 101 cont...

I accidentally dropped the phone into the fire pit and pressed the
send button when I was frantically brushing off the soot. Fortunately,
no damage.

So they haven a theme to their trip, "what is love?" They ask people
they run into along their travels this simple question. After the
trip, they will compile their video responses into a documentary and
mail them out to people they have met. Pretty cool little project. I
look forward to seeing it.

Touring with the trio slowed me doooown; in a good way. We enjoyed a
field of clovers beneath the redwoods and also took a detour to what I
believe is the 2nd biggest tree. It's circumference is 40feet. We even
stopped AT a blackberry patch to some sweet snacking and a produce
stand for blackberry pops!

Touring 101: slow down. I think I only did 58 miles today.... Whoa.
We're camped in the redwoods along The Avenue of the Giants road.
Thanks for reading

--
Sent from my mobile device

Touring 101

Stop and taste the cheese.

I stop at the crossroads. Do I take the detour thru Loleta or stay on
the 101? I heard a while back that the Loleta creamery was better then
Tillamook so cheese became my motivation. While they had some
intriguing cheeses, I had no choice when I saw the cheese curds. I
scurried of with my tasty, squeaks in your mouth cheese to the post
office to mail home a print of Mother Teresa in Calcutta that a my new
friend, Peter, gifted to me in Arcata. Before I could get to the Post
office, I see 3 bikes outside of a cafe. I initially hesitated to
approach. My apprehension was that they might be like some other smug
tourers that seem inconvenienced when they have to tell you where they
going from and to. This trio was a treat to bump into: Morris from
Scottsdale, AZ and his 2 daughters Casee and Dalton.

The questions came without hesitation. What is a book that you have
read that changed your life? A movie? What has been the best part of
your life? The worst? If you could pinpoint one issue in which we
could all come together to fight for or against, what would it be?

Last year, the theme of their bicycle your was "what is passion?" this
year's theme is "what is love?"

--
Sent from my mobile device

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Eureka!

Started off yesterday off with a 4am thunderstorm. Apparently this is
a rarity on the coast on the summer. I was just glad to have been
staying with Tom and Misti and not be stuck in my tent. For breakfast,
homemade granola and homegrown strawberries. And what better way to
start the day than with a few miles of road thru redwoods and a 5 mile
climb?

I stopped in Klamath as friend in Asheville who is following my
travels whom I haven't even met yet suggested I do if I wanted to find
some smoked salmon (say that 10x fast). When I saw that this stuff was
$54.99/lb, my eyes said "wow!" I've heard the Northern Cal pushes a
lot of product by the pound but I can't imagine spending that kind of
cash on some fish. I asked for a $5 piece and he gave it to me for
half price. I got the feeling that those prices are for the
vacationers travelling in their Porsche convertibles and staying in
B&B's.

I climbed into the Prairie Creek Redwoods and ate my still overpriced
smoked salmon and Tillamook cheddar under the redwoods. Marvels of the
day: a tree 3x the length of my bike and a hollow tree big enough for
me and my bike to fit inside. This redwood forest was right along the
coast and it was freezing! Apologies to all my east coast friends and
family... I know it is sweltering hot over there. Well, it is
unseasonably cold here. I'm tempted to ride inland just to get some
sun but then I'd miss the coast. Almost every morning, I can see my
breathe and need to wear all my cold weather gear.

My warmshowers.org hosts, Kathy and Dick, were also hosting a group of
6 guys riding down the coast with a sag vehicle. So when i arrived at
the house, there was a crowd on the porch with a feast on the table...
dinner was served and I got there right on time 92 miles later. Those
guys had a wreck that day from pacelining that ended the bikes and
bodies all over Hwy 101 and one person in the ER. They were fortunate
that there weren't any cars near when they crashed. The injured is now
driving the sag car.

Where can you find someone to tension your spokes by the tone from
plucking them? Eureka! I told Dick I needed to find a bike shop to
work on my wheel since I broke another spoke today. I was wondering
why it felt like I was dragging a cinderblock all day. I didn't notice
the broken spoke till I sat down for a snack. Anyway, when Dick
started plucking my spokes, I thought, "oh no, here we go. This isn't
going to end pretty." But i didn't want to be rude and tell him to
stop because he had already been so kind to extend his hospitality to
me. I figured if worse came to worse, I could pay a shop to fix it if
he made it worse. "DING! DONG! plunk...." went the sound of my spokes
from Dick's fingernail. As I watched, I started to ease up. Dick
seemed to know what he was doing and played my spokes like a harp. In
a short 10 or 15 minutes, my spokes were all tight and the wheel was
true. Only in Eureka.

I'm less than 300 miles from San Francisco, my destination, and I have
6 days to get there after my rest day here in Eureka/Arcata area. Do
the math... less 50 miles per day. So we'll see how that goes. Maybe
I'll go inland to stretch it out a bit. I think I heard that the
cycling hall of fame is in Davis, CA. Eureka has been great so far,
people are great here, very hospitable. Sitting here in a coffee shop
on a Thursday morning while a middle aged women is strumming and
singing the blues trying to come up with a succinct description of the
town. Maybe 12 more hours will give me a better idea. I know what
you've heard about Eureka. So far, I haven't seen any hippies on the
corner burning funny cigarettes. It brings to question the matter of
social deviance. Are people more inclined to behave outside of
socially acceptable behavior if it is harshly punished or not?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Double or nothin'






82 miles, today. oops

I took a long break in Brookings to make sure I wouldn't have time to go all the way to Klamath. $1.99 bean and rice burrito held me over like magic. I crossed the state line and didn't even see the welcome sign, bummer. However, I was welcomed by a man at what I later learned the locals call "the bug stop." California is so dependent on agriculture that they wanted to make sure I wasn't bringing in any bugs to ruin their crop. Actually, he just gave me some maps and said I should check out Jedediah Smith Redwood SP. He threw in that the Endor scenes for the Star Wars film Return of the Jedi (Episode VI) were filmed here. Sounded nice, thought I might check it out. Then, a duo on a tandem soared by me and caught their draft. I asked if they minded me riding along with them and they said that I should come along with them to Jedediah Smith Redwood SP. So all of a sudden, I am having a flashback to riding with Lee. We are cruising at near race pace and suddenly buzzing by these gargantuan redwoods. I have never seen trees like this in my life. They say their meeting a friend to ride up with South Fork River and that I could drop my bags at the store where we would meet him. While I only planned on riding about 50 miles today, I ended up riding almost double that. Still managed to get me normal mileage in and didn't get further than I planned. In fact, I'm about 9 miles North of Crescent City which leaves for a long day to Eureka tomorrow.

It was a nice change of scenery. Once we got just a few miles inland, I could see blue skies, thunderheads, and rolled my arm warmers down to my wrists. Jerry and Tanya, the tandem duo, had to turn back early but I kept riding with Tom further up creek till the road turned to gravel. He invited me to stay with he and his wife, Misti for the night. Turns out they had biked down to SF not long ago and were able to give me some tips. Turns out that Tom went to grade school in Fletcher, 15 miles from where I live, ad that he is going back for a reunion in the Fall. So I got to give them some tips and they got to give me some tips. If I am available when they visit, I'll take them on a ride up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mount Pisgah. We had a delicious mexican feast with salad from their garden and huckleberry crisp to end the night.

Monday, July 26, 2010

So many others!











84 miles Monday 7/26 to Gold Beach, OR

There are so many of us on the road sometimes I hesitate to make small
talk. I saw some bikes in front of the pizza place when I climbed into
town and thought I might make some friends. I should've known better
when I saw the designer "Black Star" punk grunge panniers. I have
never seen panniers like them but they looked like they were trying
hard not to look like the practical panniers that made sense. They
looked like they were trying so hard. IT must have cost a lot of $ to
make panniers that don't look like they cost a lot of $.
If I were going to spend big bucks on panniers, I would get ortlieb's.
There is a reason that everyone has them; they are good. But if
fashion is more important than practicality, maybe you want to follow
the hipsters. By the way, did I mention the top tube foam cushion?
Hello, are we just learning to ride a bike? If so, maybe you shouldn't
be bike touring. In the roughly 4,500 miles I have covered in the last
few months, my crotch and my top tube have not once made contact to
where one of those silly foam protectors would save my day. However,
if you are using the foam protector as a form of personal
expression... go on, express yourself. We're all watching. I picked up
a sewing kit today to stitch up my gloves. Maybe I should go to group
campsites and charge them all $10 per person to stitch their initials
in their foam pad covers.

Well that was a rant. I'm just bitter because I was hoping to go in on
a campsite with them and they seemed to have no interest. No worries,
I found a hidden grass section tucked away in a church yard a block
off the main road and a block from the coffee and book store. I know
where I will be in the morning! I just couldn't bring myself to fork
out $17 for an 8x5 piece of ground and 5 minutes of hot water. In this
cool coastal weather, it's easier to justify skipping a shower than IT
was in muggy Illinois.
California tomorrow!

--
Sent from my mobile device

Oregon Coast






Delayed post....

87 to Waldport Saturday 7/24
99 to Sunset Bay Sunday 7/25

Apparently I'm having a hard time slowing IT down. I tried, I really
did. 2 farmers markets, a lighthouse detour, several photo opps, and
lots of conversation with other cyclists. AT this point, its hard to
not go AT the pace I've been going AT since May 9th when I said
goodbye to the Atlantic Ocean. I'm camped in a state park hiker/biker
site where all of the other rides, about a dozen, are following some
pacific coast route book that only has them going 50-60 miles/day. If
I double their mileage, I'll see a whole new group tomorrow night!
Hopefully I won't have to go that far.

The guy who made my smoothie was giving me a serious warning about the
hill I was about to climb. He said they have a hospital on the other
side of IT for those unlucky cyclists that don't make IT. I assured
him that I'd be fine and I had probably seen a little worse. When he
asked where I was coming from, I replied "the Atlantic Coast." foot in
mouth.... His perception regarding my ability instantly changed. It's
a good feeling and quite a contrast to what we experienced in the
East. People used to ask where we were going and just reply with a
"good luck" in a tone that AT least felt sarcastic.... I don't know if
IT actually was or not. Perception is everything.

Break... Next day...

Sitting in a coffee shop in a fishing town. IT is COLD out here! While
east coasters are complaining about the heat, I am waking up and
seeing my breathe. It's only warmin up to the low 60's and staying
misty most of the day. Even though it's in the 60's, IT feels like the
40's when you are AT cruising speed.

The 3 Canadian boys AT camp didn't make IT but a mile out of camp when
one of their spokes broke. Apparently they were waiting for me and
hoping I could shed some light on their bleak situation. He had no
idea what the problem was; he thought he had a bent rim. I told him to
disengage his brakes and roll down to the store so we could get some
coffee while we worked on IT. IT became apparent very quickly that
these kids didn't know the first thing about bikes. Unfortunately the
broken spoke was on the driveside. This meant that the cassette had to
be taken off to replace IT. Fortunately for them I had a cassette
tool. The only thing I was missing was a crescent wrench which we
borrowed from the store and a chain whip. In a pinch, you'll make IT
work. I had a spare chain that served as a chainwhip. IT was work for
him to hold the chain taunt while I turned the cassette tool but we
finally got IT. He was overjoyed when we had him fixed up and ready to
ride within 30 minutes. What a joy, felt nice being able to help
another cyclist. Lucky for them they are on a well traveled road. Had
they been in Nebraska they would have been twiddling their thumbs.

Looks like the sun is finally making it's afternoon showing. Time to
crank out 50 more miles or so.

--
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Portland->Pacific Ocean






Recap...
Olympia was great. Coffee and sweets at the Bread Peddler then 20
miles of paved trail to the next town. We thought IT was only going to
be 120 miles to Portland but IT turned out to be closer to 140. So at
90 miles, we bought train tickets to Portland from Kelso. Hey, IT was
Lee's birthday. If you want to ride a train on your birthday, no one
should stop you either. Michael, my friend from Asheville who moved
to Oregon via cycling across the country after graduating from UNCA
last year, greeted us at the train. What they say about Portland being
bike city USA is true. Cars stop for bikes, they yield to bikes, and
are generally more courteous and cognizant of them than anywhere I
have been. We had good eating that night and and went to a beautiful
swimming hole in Washington the next day. To me, my time spent with
Michael really embodies what has become most important to me: people.
He and I have known each other for years but were never close by any
means. But he and I were up till 3:30am trading stories and sharing
about our lives the night before I left. Having an honest exchange
with another person is priceless.

I believe that some people take trips like this to get away from IT
all; whatever IT is. My experience is that my trip has only made me
want to be more a part of IT; whatever IT is. I don't always get to
decide what IT is. In fact I rarely do. However, I do get to choose
whether or not I engage myself with IT or not.

We did Portland right. Doughnuts from voodoo doughnuts at 11pm. We
rode by the place and I heard music and Saw a line stretching half a
block. I figured IT must be a concert. No, IT was doughnuts, voodoo
doughnuts. Along with her maple bacon doughnut, the girl in line in
front of us wanted to buy 2 pair of the pink underwear from the guy
with pigtails selling doughnuts. The doughnuts were wild, crazy
ideas... But nothing to write home about. Portland also has 60+ bike
shops, seems like one on every corner.

The ride to the coast was a breeze minus the flats. I had to get a new
tire before leaving town. The specialized nimbus started to rip in the
tread exposing the kevlar. It was a decent tire, roughly 2500 miles
problem free with minimal flats. However, Schwalbe is the way to go.
Lee has had his rear Schwalbe on the rear the whole trip. Granted IT
probably wouldn't make IT another 100 miles, IT has AT least 4200 on
IT. He got 2 flats yesterday... Bumme for a last day. But AT least he
didn't have to buy another tire.

I felt like we glided all the way to Tillamook; felt effortless to
average 20-25 mph. Once we stopped to buy groceries for our
celebratory dinner, I didn't feel Luke pedaling anymore yet we had 12
or so left. We caught the sun setting right over Cape Lookout as we
approached. We went straight to the beach before setting up camp; Lee
swam, I didn't. I am going further south so I will wait for warmer
weather. I finally felt IT hit me... WOW! We just rode our bicycles
from the Atlantic to the Pacific. IT was a real feeling of awe.

That morning we had done a phone interview with Jill in advertising
and marketing from UNCA. She said to us... "IT hasn't hit you yet." I
have a feeling that she was right. There is probably a lot about this
trip that won't sink in for a while. A few days ago, Lee and I were
discussing the fact that many people who attempt this trip do not make
it. We have oushed on through good and bad. We have woken up in wet
sleeping bags, had major machanical issues, had relentless headwinds,
and even dealt with death. In the moment, we always just did whatever
we had to do; life as usual. Looking back, I have a strong sense of
accomplishment.

Lee left this morning on a bus from Tillamook back to Portland where
he will fly home. I will continue down the Oregon and California coast
which people have Ben telling me may be the best part of the trip. IT
seemsike everthing just constantly gets more and more beautiful. It's
hard to say if they actually are or if I'm simply maintaining an
appreciation of all things beautiful. i just arrived in Pacific City,
OR where a gigantic monolith sits a mile out. Absolutely gorgeous.
Pictures when I can.

--
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Olympia


88 miles.

We departed the most diverse zip code in the nation (98118, S. Seattle) after a great breakfast with our host, Don. Our plan was to ride the STP (Seattle to Portland) route which we did once we finally found the darn thing. Somehow I missed a turn even with a GPS and great directions but it didn't put us off course at all. It took me nearly 40 miles to get my riding legs on today. For some reason, they just didn't feel like pushing. After 2 shots of espresso and a Sunday at McD's, I was ready.

We stopped in this little town called Puyallup (pew-al-up)at the McDonald's so Lee could get his sweet tea fix. Once we left the South, the only place to get it is McDonald's. This was fast food like you've never seen it before. Classical music playing in the background and a sweet lady to bring you your food and offer you a moist towelette when you are through eating. Bizarre.

We traveled through to Yelm. Little did we know but we rode right by J.Z. Knight's School of Enlightenment. Knight is the reputed channel of a spiritual entity named Ramtha. Ramtha is an ancient warrior, conqueror, and ascended Master who lived 35000 years ago. Apparently, the little town of Yelm was poverty stricken until Knight descended with he sidekick, Ramtha. Since then, the town has been booming. People travel from all around the globe to learn from Ramtha. I wonder if Knight ever channeled Ramtha for guidance regarding any of her first 5 marriages.

We have once again landed in a lovely chateau thanks to warmshowers.org. Dana and Dudley live in a beautiful historic home with tall ceilings overlooking the state capital. My bedroom window looks right out on it. I can't wait to see the view in the morning. If they weren't already asleep, I'd sneak in and take a picture of the bathroom. In fact, I wish I had taken a picture of every shower I have had.... ok well, not all of them. But Jeff and Martha's in Johnson City, Casey's in Jackson Hole, and Dana and Dudley's in Olympia. Showers are certainly a commodity on a trip like this but you wouldn't believe some of the showers I have been in. Not that you want a steamer in the summer time in the Appalachians, but Jeff and Martha's shower was like not other. Another quirky thing I wished I had done that came up with Ryan in company was to take a picture of everything I ate. Every meal, every snack bar wrapper, every banana peel, every empty jar of peanut butter, every piece of pie, every ice cream sundae, every cookie, every hunk of meat, every noodle, every grain of rice, every pop tart, every bag of granola, and every PBJ.

Tomorrow, Portland. We'll rest in Portland for a day and ride to the coast. We will stay with my friend Michael who rode from Asheville to the West Coast 2 years ago and hasn't left yet. It will be delightful to see a familiar face!!

Seattle rest day, wha????







45 miles 

We decided when we woke up to spend the day in Seattle. Our warmshowers host, Don, had offered to let us stay another night. Having gotten in so late the night before, we hardly had a chance to visit. Don is quite the cyclist, he probably has more stories to tell than we do. Don, correct me if I'm wrong, has ridden his bike every day this year and everyday last year but 3... ? He has ridden STP (Seattle to Portland annual ride with 10,000 riders) 13 1/2 times, he has ridden Ramrod, participates in randonneuring (long-distance unsopported endurance cycling), and a plethora of other bicycle events.

I stamrted the day with sone bike maintainence. Lubed the chain and gave it some new shifting cable. We went down to Chinatown fir lunch and bought a ridiculous  amount of great authentic Chinese food for very little. Over to the Pike Place market. Fishes were slung and songs were sung. Book store across the street. I haven't read ant books all trip, maybe I'll have the energy now... If not, plane time isn't far off. 'Feminism is for everybody' by bell hooks. I wanted ice cream but my nose brought me to Piroshky Pirosky, a Russisn bakery. I had a delicious paroshki (   pirozhki are baked stuffed buns made from yeast dough and often glazed with egg to produce the common golden colour. They may contain sweet-based fillings such as stewed or fresh fruit (apples, cherries, apricots, chopped lemon, etc), jam, or cottage cheese; a vegetable filling (mashed potatoes, mushrooms, onions and egg, cabbage); meat or fish; an oatmeal filling mixed with meat or giblets). Off to the space needle. We tool some nice photos, dud the tourist thing. No, we didn't pay to go up it. Home at 6 for dinner with Donald and Mimi.

Don had some friends coming into Seattle by train from Tucson that he was riding into town to meet and asked if we wanted to go along. Lee had friend in Seattle that he visited with so I went sling with Donald without him. We Aldo got to meet another of his friends who just happened to be getting off the same train and had just completedva 1200k ride around the Oregon Coast down to Crater Lake. We looped back home on the scenic route and I got to see the troll on Troll Ave (a giant cement troll under the bridge that is eating a VW) and the Seattle skyline at night from the north across from the lake. Wished I hadn't forgotten my camera fir these sights! I have never been a fan if skylines... Always preferred treelines. However, the Seattle skyline is gorgeous. The fact that I have been SO far since seeing a big city might have something to do with that. The last bug city we were in was Omaha and St. Louis before that. There is something about large swarms of people that gives ne a sense of security I guess. 

Ahh, tired. 1:15 am here. Crash time. Either Olympia or Centralia tomorrow.

Sent from my iPod

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Road That Has No End






That's the name of the book in my lap right now. It's by a typical
American couple who gave up their typical American lives for a global
bicycling adventure that has no end in sight. I can't even begin to
imagine such a lifestyle. I know where I will be by August 5...
Hopefully San Francisco. I also know that I'll be back on the east
coast for my Grandfather's 90th birthday shindig. And after that,
Graduate school will begin consuming my time. However, with the kind
of luck I had today, I could go forever.

I started the day climbing out of my tent which was poorly positioned
on a slope. The poor positioning was due tobthe lack of space to pitch
a tent. The morning view by far compensated for awkward slope in my
tent. We camped on the cliffs of a small island (Teddy Bear Cove)
that's actually connected to the mainland by the traintracks that run
alongside it. We couldn't have paid for a better spot to camp.

We cruised back down Chuckanut Dr in no hurry. We gad no qualms about
riding that road again, gorgeous. I was craving that coffee bean so we
stopped at the first place that looked like they'd have any; The
Chuckanut Manor. The waitress asked if I wanted anything more than
coffee, I said that coffee would gecpkenty fircme when she said that
the buffet was $22. She insisted that I get a small plate and she'd
charge me accordingly. I reluctantly gave in considering that I had
what seemed to be a pound of bananas on my bike. When I saw the food,
I was glad I had. This place was fit for kings. Eggs Benedict, crepes,
coffee cake, and fried oysters seemed to jump on my plate. I forced
myself to stop at that as I knew I couldn't really afford this feast.
The owner told ne of how well he was taken care of years ago when he
went traveling in Europe and wanted to return the favor. So, he bought
my meal. What s gut. Apparently Europe has this amazing reputation for
taking cate of travelers. Sounds Like nice place for a bicycle trip...

We barely made the ferry to Pott Townsend. We couldn't have timed it
better. We boarded and the ropes were being tied within a minute. I
found a coffee shop in Port Townsend with good coffee, cheap cookies,
and free soup and bread on Sundays. Score. Could I have gotten any
luckier?
By this time, we already had 59 miles behind usand many more ahead.
Again, we got to the Bainbridge Island ferry just at the right time.
It's nice beind on 2 wheels and being able to cruise right by people
who have been waiting so long to ferry that they are asleep.

We ended the day with 115 miles behind us and another great host from warmshowers.org
. Tomorrow. We'll follow the STP(Sattle to Portland annual ride with
10,000) route and either camp in Olympia or Centralia. Shut eye time.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bellingham, WA --- PUGET SOUND!






if you don't have facebook, you can view my pictures here:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2341756&id=25524058&l=86e5e60135
if you do, you can still view them there!

I wrote a blog the night we camped at Diablo Lake but it somehow got lost. That was a quite a day. Washington pass was absolutely gorgeous but it didn't come without its challenges. I broke a spoke, Ryan broke his chain, and Lee got a flat. I got to throw my first snow ball of the trip at Ryan near the top of the pass. We I was on that road, I just kept thinking that this is beautiful as it gets. Well, maybe not. We descended to Diablo Lake and stopped for water but stayed for the night because the campground was so beautiful (Colonial Creek Campground). The forest floor was soft with moss, the Lake was turquoise (and freezing I found out after running in without thoroughly testing it), and the trees just seemed to stretch forever up to the sky. Riding on the road through that forest all day was gorgeous but getting off the bike and being in it was a whole new experience.

We awoke and descended to Newhalem for coffee and breakfast. There we met 2 other tourers. One of them was on his 3rd bike. One had been stolen in Mexico and the other in LA. I'm amazed that he kept going. The other was a sweet older woman from Germany who had a pretty wild rig. She was riding a fully carbon Koga hybrid. I queried about riding a loaded carbon frame and she seemed to think that all the talk about carbon cracking and breaking was just a myth. Well, I have seen some broken carbon frames but my fingers are crossed for her. She also had a sweet saddle! It was a selle anatomica which is made in the USA. It's like a Brooks leather saddle except the leather is waterproof and has a more comfortable looking cutout.

We took the scenic route into Bellingham up Chuckanut Drive. Apparently lots of car commercials are filmed on that road, I don't doubt it. At this point, I will unquestionably say that Chuckanut RD is the most gorgeous road I have ever been on. Maybe it was the confluence of me seeing the Puget Sound and having the feeling of accomplishment of coming all this way? But probably not. That road is just gorgeous. We stayed a total of 2 days in Bellingham and have really enjoyed it. We went out for gargantuan burritos the night we got here followed by ice cream. Yesterday, Ryan and I worked on his bike till he boarded the ferry. Ryan added a lot of pizazz to our duo and his presence will be missed. Regardless, I think we've made a lifelong friend. You can check Ryan's progress at www.longhualryan.com
While I do somewhat wish I were on that ferry to Alaska right now, I am pretty excited about heading down the coast to San Francisco. There is a certain sense of security and comfort that the California Coast will probably have that Alaska very well may not.

We're meeting Nolan, UNCA outdoor/cycling guru, for dinner tonight in Bellingham. Turns out he happens to be staying the night to go climb Mt. Baker in the next day or so. Timing couldn't be better. I strolled the farmer's market for a while this afternoon while munching on a Salmon burger; what a treat! The farmer's market here is quite impressive. After dinner with Nolan tonight, we'll be riding a ways back down Chuckanut Dr to Larrabee State Park to camp. This will give us a head start on our ride tomorrow to Whidby Island where we will take a ferry to Port Townsend. From there, we'll ride down to Bainbridge Island and ferry to Seattle where to plan to stay for the night. We hear that this little trip ahead to Seattle is supposed to to be gorgeous... old out for pics!

Thanks for following along! Send me an email with your address if you'd like a postcard at heller.luke@gmail.com !

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Twisp

What a cool name for a town. and IT was just that, cool, when we
arrived. We descended Loup Loup pass in the chilly Washington air just
after sundown. There was a campground at the pass but we thought
better of camping at 4,000 ft. So we dropped a few thousand feet and
camped in a field of field of sprinklers behind in the community pool.
IT made for a wet start to the day... Wetter for some than others. Lee
was glad to have found a laundromat. He even threatened to drink
coffee to compensate for his lack of sleep due to the sprinklers. He
came up short with an iced chai. I, on the other hand, have been at no
loss for coffee. There is no reason to not start your day with 2 stout
cups of coffee and a fat piece of blueberry coffee cake... Even if you
still have 100 miles ahead of you today.

Ran into a gal, Nan, who lives in Brevard and works for outward bound
on my way into the bakery in Winthroo this morning. Small world!

102 miles to Twisp yesterday

--
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gusts up to 55mph

That's what we're heading into. Not only that, but we're sitting at
1700ft in Colville and we have to climb to 5575ft to cross Sherman
Pass. We already have 1700ft of climbing and 40 miles behind us.
Welcome to hurricance Washington. We passed 37 riders earlier who were
all on an extended group ride.

Break

Crossing the Colombia River was gorgeous. From there, we began our
slow ascent. A cowboy in a truck honked and gave the finger at Lee as
he pased by. Oddly, we came up on a line of traffic on this 2 lane
road shortly after. Turns out a tree had fallen due to high winds
bringing down a power line over the road. Lee was rather pleased as he
strolled by on his 2 wheels while the cowboy sat in traffic. Next came
the real adventure... Finding a way around. So we pushed the bikes
over the embankment and started through the field till we came to a
ravine. At this point, Lee and I were both doubtful that we'd
successfully find a way around the downed power line. However, Ryan's
adventurous nature didnt't blink. Shortly after, he shouted, "I see a
road!" so, we followed to the end where the proud landowner briefly
interrogated us and threatened a toll. In his New York accent, Ryan
exclaimed, "but we're native Americans." He has a charming way with
people. Where I'd walk away without resolution or frustrated, Ryan
says just the right thing to lighten the mood or in other cases throw
their BS right back at them.

So back to the climb... We went from riding shirtless, to sand storms,
to wearing gloves, ear warmers and jackets. The pas we climbed was the
tallest in WA and it was long. The descent into Republic, WA was
amazing. 10 miles downhill St 6% grade. Shortly after we started
descending, a deer that was chewing grass on the otherside of the
guardrail started sprinting alongside me at 30mph and kept that up for
something like 2 minutes. While I was snapping pics of it, Ryan was
cruising behind me taking video footage with his iphone. Watching that
thing sprint so close was amazing. I'll be working on the link to that
video...
My mother asked, "are you by the seat of your pants kind of guy?" I
confidently responded that I was not and generally give a lot of
thought to any major decisions.
The closer we've gotten to the coast, the more realistic I've become
regarding Alaska. My friend/housemate Katie expeditiously mailed out
my expired passport and SS card in the event that I'd chance it.
Having run thru all the scenarios, I've decided against Alaska. The
guy on a motorcycle in the traffic who works for border patrol in
Alaska also helped clear my delusions about getting across the border
without a curent passport. Oh well, another time. We also skipped
Glacier. We're just adding things to the list for future adventures.

Total miles today: 95 (Republic, WA)
Total ascent: ~6,500

7/18 Bellingham->Seattle 91
7/19 around Rainier
7/20 Portland (173 between 2 days)
7/21 break in Portland
800 miles to San Francisco
Goal: arrive on 8/5

Arriving by 8/5 shouldn't be a problem mileage wise. The hard part
will be not getting there till 8/5. I have a feeling that there will
be plenty to distract along the California coastline though.

Lee is undecided as to whether he'll end in Portland or San Francisco.
As they say, it's the journey, not the destination.

Deer descent:
http://qik.ly/C9wwq4LtC4WcVwk6hQmaZG2

Drafting:
http://qik.ly/CunANpczQG2XSNHtLe15KX4


Thanks for following along!

--
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Welcome to Washington

That's right, the final state till we hit the West Coast. Almost
surreal, expecially since the panhandle of Idaho was so short.
Speaking of Idaho, we think it should be renamed to Whiteaho... There
are no Black people there. That's right, none. Ok, ok. There are
probably a few sprinkled here and there working whatever menial jobs
the white population loathes. Nonetheless, idaho was gorgeous... last
nights sunset was breathtaking. On the way in last night, Ryan saved a
turtle that was trying to cross the road. In payment, the turtle damn
near peed all over Ryan, tried to scratch him, and caused Ryan to fall
while clipped into his pedals. Turtle success, Ryan failure. He's been
nursing his Achilles since. Fortunately we were still able to crank
out 98 miles today.

Slow slow start. But its funny how we woke up at dawn on the 2nd day
of the trip to pedal 115 miles and still finished after dark and we're
now able to stop after 20 miles to watch the World Cup Final, leave in
the afternoon, take several stops and still make camp by dark.
Granted, much of that credit goes to the fact that the sun stays out
much later put here. Go Espana!

The quiet discontent was deafening. It happens. We thought we'd make
it to Colville but the sun was getting lower in the sky. Some want to
push on, some want to break to swim. We pedaled slowly while avoiding
a solution when Ryan veered right onto a dirt road towards the river
the was a bible camp. The decision was made and it couldn't have been
a better one. While the csmo staff was initially hesitant to let us
swim, they eventually gave in. Not only that, but they offered us
leftover pizza and lasagna. After freshening up in the river and
stuffing our faces, we pushed another 20 miles and camped at an
intersection just before Ione, WA. One of my panniers needed some
repairing so I spent about an hour sewing it up, looking good now.

--
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Idaho

Fri 107 miles to Plains, MT
Sat 95 miles to somewhere Idaho

Before I forget to mention IT again, we went tubing in Missoula.
Jumping from the bridge was a blast and the float was relaxing. The
finale to the float was a rapid that is visible from the park
downtown. Kayakers play in the rapids all day. If I lived there, IT
seems like it'd be a nice thing to see as I strolled thru my busy
days. We topped it off with ice cream and then Ryan and I made it up
for finger food and Rachel's rockin band. She's got a lovely voice.
They remind me of The Be Good Tanyas a bit and The Barrelhouse Mamas.

We rode out of Missoula on I-90 for. Roughly 60 miles. It's legal to
ride them out here and there usually isn't much traffic. The shoulders
are almost always good and they also tend to take less hilly routes.
We were a bit relieved to get off of IT though, mostly for a change of
scenery and shift of wind direction. Oh yeah... Another benefit of the
interstate... Senior citizens at the rest stop with refreshments. I
ate almost a dozen cookies; that was lunch.

We heard about some hot springs up the road and so we took the
opportunity to soak for a while. We heard conflicting Stories about
bears... Worry, don't worry. One girl said that a man had woken up a
few weeks ago with a bear chewing on his ear. We rode another 9 miles
up to the next town and camped in the county fairgrounds. With all of
our stops and a 12 noon departure, we got to camp around midnight. Lee
had 3, count 'em, 3, flats today. Not a good day for Lee.

Beakfast was delish. I didn't want much so I got the "small pancakes."
my jaw about dropped when she brought out my plate. The word "small"
should be removed from every dictionary in MT because thru don't know
what IT means. Everything out here is big.

We didn't quite make IT to Sandpoint. We got about 20 miles away and
we could see that we were headed straight for a storm. Just so
happened that we were at the junction for a great campground that
people apparently travel all over for. If I knew the name, I'd tell
you buy I don't and I am all wrapped up in my tent and I don't want to
get out!

Many new pics have been posted on facebook. I need to repost that link
when I think of it.

--
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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Destination Unknown

We spent a wonderful 2 days in Missoula and we could easily spend a week here. Our hosts, Rachel and Jenny, have been a pleasure. When blogging, I often feel pressure to say the right thing... keep people happy... causing a bit of censorship. Not the case here. Missoula reminds me of Asheville quite a bit... roughly the same size, seemingly a pocket of progressive thinking, and an outdoor mecca. It's one of those towns that people come to visit and never go home. Speaking of "visit," I've noticed since Nebraska use the word "visit" instead of spend time, hang out, or... get together.

We spent yesterday running errands. I bought a new fleece since we've had some bitter nights and mornings. We spent some time at Adventure Cycling Association, "the bicycle travel experts," and got our pics and bios taken. They offer free ice cream and drinks to any adventure cyclist passing through. It's quite an organization. Ryan and I went back the next day and invited Greg Siple, a cofounder, our for lunch at the Hob Nob. He had plans with a bagel for lunch but he postponed and hob nobbed with us for a bit. Greg is a walking, talking bicycle historian. His bikelove was born out of his father's involvement in the 6 day bicycle races in the 1930's. The races were usually on sloped wooden plank tracks. The racers rode day and night. I can just hear one now, "Is he awake yet? I need a break!" That's just a tidbit from Greg, he has so much to share about bicycling. When riding from Alaska to Argentina, they had been toying with the idea of a massive transcontinental bike ride. Somewhere is South America, they looked at their cyclometer, pre- cyclocomputers, which read 1776. His wife came up with the name bikecentennial. In 1976, the first group of 4,000 cyclists rode all or part of what is now the transamerica route. Today, the transam is almost certainly the most traveled organized route.

Gel bar tape is a bad idea. So is letting someone else wrap your bars. My handlebars were double wrapped with gel underneath. While it was a comfy ride for a while, the cork tape separated causing the gel to be exposed. I bought some new synthetic tape (leather is too expensive), and paid a mechanic to out it on. While I needed the mechanics help to get the bar end shifter off because I stripped the bolt, I should have wrapped the bars myself. I've become a big believer in supporting those who support you. If it weren't for all these bike shops along the way, life would be infinitely more difficult. However, when it comes to wrapping your bars, wrap them yourself. The $25 I just spent on good bar tape became 3 inches of electrical tape at the end section because he cut my tape short.

We planned our next 7 days to Bellingham. We will arrive the day before the ferry departs. While Glacier was going to be the highlight of the trip for me, Alaska has quickly taken over. What happens once we hit Alaska is a little hazy. I have a passport being sent ahead which is only 6 years expired. Right, the 10 year old Luke will pass. Anyhow, I'm really taking my chances here. I had no intention of going to Alaska initially so I had no need for a passport. But it looks like we'll have to ride through some of the Yukon Territory once we hit to coast to get to Anchorage. If they don't let me through, I hear you can ride through at night when no one is staffing the gates. Once in Anchorage, I'll ship the bike back and fly home.

Monday, July 5, 2010

7/4 85 miles from Ennis to Divide
2,920 total miles

Today was one to remember. There have been many days that you just
pedal to get thru and don't look back. Almost all of Iowa and several
stretches thru Nebraska and Wyoming were like that. We all had frost
on our tents when we woke up. Fortunately we had planned to go to the
pancake breakfast at the firehouse so that allowed for plenty of time
for the tents to dry. When we were packing up camp, our neighbor just
happened to be from Missoula and just happened to have 3 spare
bedrooms. So, we have a place to stay when we get there.

The 4th of July Ennis parade seems to be what keeps that town going...
that and the rodeo. It's a town of 600 that swells to 5,000 for one
weekend every year. We left when the parade ended, just a bit before
noon. The climb out of Ennis was something like 1500ft in 10 miles.
Our total ascent for the day was between 3500-4000ft. We powered
through the first half of the day and stopped at Twin Bridges for
lunch. This town is amazing for cyclists. There is a bike camp
exclusively for people like us. Free shelter, shower, repair stand and
pump. Its also along a river that we floated down 3x... a very fast
moving, cold river.

From there, we took a dirt road that shaved off 20-30 miles. This was
our second pass for the day. The views were absolutely breathtaking.
Rolling lush green hills with snow capped peaks in the background. I
felt like I was in a scene from a movie. Maybe that's because many
movies have been filmed around here. Speaking of, we may take another
dirt road where 'a river runs thru it' was filmed. Along the way, I
found out that our new riding partner is a friend of Bill W. Who
wouldve thought. There is more to that story but that's the SV.

We ended our 4th not with fireworks but with a hearty meal. Missoula in 2 days.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

My first rodeo

Relatively uneventful. By relatively I should clarify that IT was an
amazingly beaut Montana day. However, I don't think those are hard to
come by out here. We started pedaling and IT felt like a brisk
Asheville morning in late October. The only difference was that IT
never really warmed up much. I wore my arm warmers all day.

After setting up camp alongside a friendly Austrian named Peter who
offered to share his site, we bathed in the nearby creek. IT was less
than 2 days ago that we were at the source of this ice cold water in
Yellowstone. We made our way into town and ran into another cyclist
who was actually going our way! We have begun to pass between 10-15
other cyclists per day now that we're on the transam (till Missoula)
but the overwhelming majority are going west to east. Ryan, 36 year
old from NYC, had been riding with a friend but just parted ways in
Yellowstone. Since town is flooded with tourists due to the annual
Ennis Rodeo, we sent Ryan to our little patch of grass that Peter was
nice enough to share with us. We decided we'd ride together to
Missoula where he will head west to Seattle. Ryan just decided
yesterday that he's going to Alaska. His motivation for his adventure
was sparked by the Swedish furniture company he worked for burning
down.

We rode something like 72 miles into Ennis today. We ended the day
with a rodeo, my first. Quite an experience. IT is cold here! Another
cyclist we had lunch with said, 'I'm going to go inside to warm up.'.
Mind you, IT is July. There are fireworks going off in town as I type.
I have never had such a cold 4th of July. Tomorrow for beakfast: all
you can eat pancakes. We'll be well fed for a long day ahead. I think
both Lee and I are thrilled to have someone else to ride with.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

JH->Tetons->YNP->MT

Casey got home from dropping her car at the shop and said, "All the roads out of Jackson are closed! You'll have to stay another day!" I think we both believed her for a 1/2 a second. Fortunately, we had not trouble getting out this time. On our ride past Teton Village, we stopped for 15 minutes and watched the parasailers taking off from the top of the tram and coasting down. It was quite a show. While we feel like we got out fill of Jackson Hole, there is so much that we missed out on. Whitewater rafting, hiking, parasailing, and climbing the Grand. There's also all the winter sports. Oh did I mention that Casey, our host, spends 3 weeks every summer on the boats that "Deadliest Catch" is filmed on? She's is quite the talented woman.

So we rode thru Grand Teton NP which I said was without a doubt the most beautiful ride I'd ever been on. As you might guess, it only got better. I rode thru most of the park without Lee because he snuck thru the park so he wouldn't have to pay. This turned out to be a fruitless effort because he still had to pay once we got to Yellowstone. The climb in Yellowstone was just as beautiful as it was challenging. Lee, the mountain goat, climbed ahead of me as he so easily always do. It was no big deal since the campground at Lewis Lake was only about 10 miles from the park entrance. However, I began to freak out a bit when I got to the campground and couldn't find him after to loops thru the whole area. Turns out he was sitting on the dock by the lake... probably the most obvious place to look. I had already started to frantically ask other campers with if they had seen him.

So we scouted a campsite and immediately began to be dinner for all 15,000 mosquitoes in the immediate area. Before setting up camp, we decided to go clean up in the lake. The sign said, "Life expectancy in the water is very limited." So, we ran in and out as fast as we could. They were not lying. A couple that was moving to Davis, CA witnessed the foolishness. At least we were fresh. Turns out the girl, Amanda, was from NC! We had been looking for NC license plates to no avail. Though we hadn't realized, we had run into this couple when we were bear gazing just before entering YNP. The great thing about all the tourists is that you won't miss any wildlife because they will all show you where it is by the dead stare. The bad thing about all the tourists is all the tourists. Back to Amanda, and her future fiance, Dave... after chatting for a bit, they invited us up to feast on Buffalo and Elk bratwursts. As we were approaching their camp, Amanda shouted, "We're engaged!" Turns out that Dave had proposed to her between the time we had last seen them and that moment. Yet, they were excited to share their evening and grub with us. It was quite a treat not just to eat their brats but to share in their evening. They had known each other for something like 12 years but had only begun dating a year or so ago. They said that it would have never worked between the 2 of them when they first met but now they are soulmates. Timing is everything. Oh yeah, we saw 1 bald eagle, a momma and baby grizzly, and a moose that day. Jackson Lake is amazing. We hit a record speed for the trip so far of 52mph dropping down from the Tetons.

We rode 82 miles from Jackson to Lewis Lake, Yellowstone NP.

We woke at 9:30 and left camp at 11:15. Wow, late start! We took our time as we were planning on a really short day. We stopped at one lake area near Grant Village just to kill time. Turns out is was the West Thumb Geyser Basin. I have a horrible memory but this is one place that I clearly remember visiting when I was young. Lots of really cool, small geysers. Oh yeah, and Twin Geysers... they're 201 °F!

We went to Old Faithful, yes, we did the tourist thing. I walked in the Gift Shop/Restaurant and some strange woman walked up to me and said, "You must be Luke!" I had never seen this woman before in my life. How are you supposed to respond? The confusion on my face prompted her to clarify that she is my sister's friend. Ginelle had sent her an email 2 days prior letting her know that I'd be passing through. What are the chances? She said, "Bikes clothes, you look like Ginelle, you must be Luke!" We lounged in their rockers, eating lunch, drinking coffee, and being in no rush whatsoever. We made our way over to Old Faithful eventually and only had to wait 2 minutes for it to erupt. That was fortunate because I don't think I could have convinced to Lee to wait for long. Today was no doubt one of the most beautiful rides I have ever been on. It is immensely refreshing to see that places like this exist. On our way out, we saw another bald eagle... a fat bald eagle at that. It was a beautiful and relatively stress free ride into Montana. On yeah...
There was one stressful moment to speak of... We were pushing pedals hard downhill with a crosswind and heavy traffic. Lee motioned with his hand that there was debris ahead in the road. With the crosswind pushing against us, a woman in an over sized SUV within arms reach rolled down her window and yelled, "You're going 35 mph!" Wow, really woman? Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea how much danger you're putting us in right now? Foolish. I guess she didn't noticed the wind from her tank and assumed we would be just as impervious to it as she was.


65 miles from Lewis Lake, Yellowstone NP to West Yellowstone, MT.

We crossed the Continental Divide 3 times today. Climbing in YNP is challenging. We passed 2 other tourers who were carrying next to NO gear. It made us a little squeamish. I guess when you're in your 50's and have American Express that's just how you roll.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jackson Hole=Black Hole

The vortex has it's grip on us. It seems as though we may never get out of here. Ok, that's a bit dramatic but we did leave Casey's house today only to return a few hours later. Rather than take the highway out of Jackson into Yellowstone (the way we came in), we thought we'd ride the road along the foot of the Tetons alongside the Snake River through the Grand Teten NP. As luck would have it, they are grading and resurfacing the roads today which includes spraying magnesium chloride. Apparently this is only once a year, today. They say that stuff is no joke and you don't want it on you bike. So, 30 miles later, we're back where we started. I was grumbling at the fact that it was going to cost $12 to get in. Now, I would have been more than happy to pay that $12 twice to get through. Of course, we could gripe about the fact that we wouldn't be in this situation had we only taken 1 rest day instead of 2. As the Scots say, bullocks! At this point, it makes little to no difference. We'll get an early start tomorrow and, yes, do the same ride since the construction should be done. This time, we will call ahead to check on road conditions.

So what do we do in Jackson now? Lee has already spent the last 2 days mtn biking. I went with him yesterday on a bike that was a bit too small for me and cut my ride short because I didn't want to end up with a broken collar born or something. We have watched a storm engulf the Tetons as the sun went down. Ate at Bubba's BBQ and Teton Thai... wonderful! If we had a lot of time, we'd hunt down the guy we were riding with today and have him teach us how to build a frame. When we asked about the origin of his bike, he plainly stated that he built it. He has been riding it since 1976. He wanted to be a frame builder till he realized that he'd only make $1.50/hour doing it. Pearl Street Bagels is sounding like a nice afternoon event...

Our host here has been wonderful. Last night she said she would miss coming home to us at night. Well, she gets one more night of us! She drove us out to a beautiful lookout of the Tetons where we sat and picniced. She has lent Lee her mtn bike for the past 2 days which has kept him more than busy.

The ride from Dubois to Jackson over the Continental Divide was much easier than we both predicted. In fact, Lee was very disappointed. He wanted a challenge. I had stopped for minutes before I got to the top to put my arm warmers on because I figured I would have at least another hour of climbing. The climbs here are just much more gradual than what we are used to in the Appalachians. I believe we'll be crossing the divide 2 more times in Yellowstone, maybe more after that too.

Dubois->Jackson 90 miles
And we've probably ridden 60 miles around Jackson by this point.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dubois





101 miles to Dubois via Riverton

He walked in and asked us to relay to Matt to 'go to the cougar den at
the whiskey saloon.' Turns out this guy had toured from Jackson via
Glacier to the northern tier last summer. Two hours before, we pulled
into town exhausted with no where to stay for the night. I saw 2 bikes
in front of the Cowboy Cafe and decided IT would be a good place to
stop at least for dinner if not for camping suggestions.
Unfortunately, the couple who owned the bikes were German and spoke
broken English. It continues to amaze me how things seem to just work
out and we meet amazing people. One of the chefs at the cafe asked if
we needed anything so we asked for camping suggestions. When he asked
what we were looking for, we replied, 'free.' Without hesitation, he
offered a spot of grass in his yard and any facilities we might want.
He warned us that his place was both 'primitive' and 'delspitated.' I
assured him that whatever accomodations he could offer would surely
suffice for two guys living off their bikes. So we found the house. No
siding, plastic for walls, and a campstove. 75% of his space is used
for his wood shop. The remaining space is his living space. Really, a
pretty cool setup. No frills, no luxuries. Just the bare necessities
plus his loves and hobbies. Simple. We have been in such and array of
accomodations... it is amazing that someone with so little would offer
whatever they have.

So we landed in Dubois after a generally treacherous day. The last
30-40 were basically hell. The fact that we were riding thru the Wind
River Indian Reservation should suggest something about the wind. 9mph
was pretty average for the most part. There was a point where Lee just
stopped out of disbelief and ate a pop tart to ease his mind. That's
about all IT really takes for him. That pop tart got him moving and I
didn't see him again till I got into town. When we get near the end,
he smells blood so to speak.

We stopped in Riverton for food and supplies. I needed some tubes
because I got yet another flat this morning when I had the bright idea
of pumping my tires. That was 3 flats within 24 hours all on my rear
wheel. I calmly stated, 'I quit!' I borrowed a drill from the people
camping nearby and drilled the hole for the valve in the rim a bit
wider. So far so good. In Riverton, I finally did IT. I went through
my gear and sent everything home that I hadn't used yet. That included
lots of pasta, some freeze dried meals, my camp stove, and other misc
items. That is 8.5 lbs less that I have to carry over the pass to
Jackson tomorrow. When we walked out of the post office, they was a
crazed looking fellow at the bottom of the steps wearing a backpack
who was eager to shake our hands. We were both a bit taken aback until
he showed us his bike and told us his story. He had been racing in the
Continental Divide Race until his freehub went out. I suppose you'd
have to be a but crazed to ride a singlespeed in that race.
Considering that I was having similar problems with my feehub, I am
glad that I got my problems worked out. This guy wasn't so lucky. He
was only able to coast or push thus ending his race. However, IT
could've ended much worse for this fellow. Of the 45 that started, he
said that only half of them are still in it and one person had already
died during the race.

The apex of elegance is finally fulfilling its many purposes. Lee
motioned for me to stop apparently when I was looking down. I looked up
just in time to grab my brakes and run right into his bumper. IT was
then that we decided every bike should have one. Neither bikes were
damaged, nor were the riders. The curved section of the 'apex' got a
small bend but is holding strong.

Since we've been in Wyoming, we have been seeing tourers all over.
Today was the first time we'd run into people goin east to west.
Tomorrow will be yet another challenging day. I hear it's 93 miles to
Jackson. We are due for a rest day and have made contact with a host
who we'll stay with for 2 nights before proceeding thru Yellowstone.

By the way, IT is really just it. The SureType function on the
blackberry defaults to all caps on that for some reason and I don't
have the patience to fix IT!

--
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Friday, June 25, 2010

111 miles past Shoshoni to camp

Just because it is a town on the map doesn't mean that there is anything there. The sign at Moneta said population 10. I think they picked that because it's a nice roung number.

We ran into 3 other cyclists on tour. We had only seen 2 others since we started so this was big. Even then, we were both mildly discontent because we have seen one yet under the age of 55. Wouldn't you know, we met someone else our age traveling across the country, only he is walking! His name was Fran and he is going from Oregon to Massachusetts. He was 24. The mileage we covered today woid take him at least 3 days.

We stopped in a post office in a little town called Powder River, because IT was the only public building, and were promptly refused use of the facilities. So i found some shade behind the building and started in on the sandwich that I made at Linda and Jack's. When I got up to get some peanut butter off my bike, the post lady poked her head out of the back door and said, 'if that pack falls and smushes those flowers, you gonna wish you were never born.' I replied sincere curiousity, 'really?' As she closed the door, she explained, 'oh yes.'
at first glance, this post lady reminded me of my Aunt Susie, sweet as can be. That quickly vanished once she opened her mouth. I had to ask if she were serious because I just couldn't believe that someone could be that serious about their flowers. She was.

The wind was rough till around 5pm. We weren't sure that we'd make our goal today. 60 miles in, we started takin 1 mile long pulls which was very efficient. Just enough time to rest up for your next pull while you got pulled along.

Two flats in one day. First was before we left. I started to pump the tire and it went flat. Finally realized that I need to file down the valve hole because IT keeps cutting into tubes. Second was riding the gravel road into the campground. According to Lee, I always change
tubes or spokes in front of the most beautifu scenery. I'm glad he was savoring that moment. A couple passed by and asked if they could help and offered to drive me that last mile to camp. Small world. They used to live in Chesterfield, VA, my home town, and her son was a grade
behind me and went to school with me. Also, she lived in Brandermill, the subdivision on the other side of the lake from where I was raised.

The scenery is amazing, the pictures will have to do the talking. We are camped right on a lake which should provide a most spectacular
sunrise.

--
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Casper





Weds 6/23 74 miles to Wright, WY
Thurs 6/24 103 miles to Casper

Fun fact: Wyoming is the least populated state, including Alaska.
While IT would be easy to say that there was a lot of nothing on
Wednesday, we did go by the largest surface area coal mine in North
America. They had trucks that were, no joke, bigger than houses. My
friend Tom in Nebraska told me about this method that they utilize to
replant they grasses and make the site look natural after they
stripped IT of all its worth. If they could do that with this site, IT
would be nothing short of a miracle. Looking at it on google maps
hardly reveals the area that they are mining. Any how, the Thunder
Basin Grasslands were very, very nice. We asked Joan, the woman who
provided shelter from the tornado, what the ride would be like and she
replied 'flat and plain.' Again, the locals experience things
differently than we do. To someone who never seen those mesas, IT was
a jaw dropping day. It seems so natural that we take things for
granted once we're used to them. Oh yeah, and it wasn't flat. Is it
ever? Rarely IT seems.

As Lee said, we hard to go left to go Wright. We pulled into a cookie
cutter neighborhood that was all that Wright consisted of. IT was too
perfect looking; IT was bothersome. After 70+ miles of nothingness,
the only thing around this town was the mine. IT was a first class
kinda town; nice schools, playgrounds, and a new library. Evidently,
all the money came from the mine because there was simply no where
else for it to come from.

We drank tallboy sodas, 16 oz, and watched the sunset over the pond.
That's right, tallboy sodas. After nightfall, we setup our tents
between a row of trees and went unnoticed.

Sunrise comes early out here. We were both up by 5am, not so much by
choice. Retrospectively, IT was a great thing. We got to Midwest, a
town of about 400 people, by lunch time which was our 1/2 way point.
Winds were not favorable as usual. I asked a boy, probably 8 years
old, where the grocery store was. 'I will take you there' he
exclaimed. He was kicking rocks in the front yard when I asked him. I
think we were the highlight of his day. Unfortunately, his chain fell
off his bike after only 1 block. Not much goes through that little
town. I took a few pictures of the houses so I'll be able to remember
they way they lived. Many houses were abandoned. I broke a spoke and
changed IT in 14 minutes (that includes getting IT of the holder on
the chainstay and truing it). Not that I hope to break more spokes,
but I will try to beat my time on the next one. I stopped to change
the spoke at breathe taking view of the Big Horn Mountains. This was
our first siting of snow covered mountains. Lovely!

The southern ride towards Casper was neverending. There is a gigantic
mountain on the south side of town called Casper Mountain. It was such
a tease because it gave us a false sense of nearness. Town must have
been 20 miles off. It's a bit torturous at mile 85 when you felt like
you shouldve been there by now but town is still somewhere off in the
distance. We ran into a cyclist on our way into town who directed is
to a suggested bike shop. For peace of mind, I had the mechanic take
my freehub off, check IT out, and put IT back on. Seeing as the shop
in Valentine didn't charge me any labor or shop fees, I didn't feel so
bad in having to pay to make sure IT was done correctly. Lee greased
his new pedals.

Warmshowers.org is an awesome resource. I have no connections in this
town yet we were greeted with a porkchop dinner, wild rice, veggies,
fresh cookies, ice cream, warm showers, clean sheets and beds, laundry
facilities, and of course more wonderful people who were eager to hear
our stories and share some of their own. IT really makes me want to
ask what motivates them to be so kind to total strangers who only have
stories to repay them with. I will choose not to question it but
rather to simply accept it.

On a down side, I left my fleece lined marmot jacket in the house in
Newcastle. I guess IT was an expendable item really; I can use my rain
coat with arm warmers.

We are told that the next 2 days are going to be the most desolate
areas that we will venture to. I drank 8 bottles of water today. I can
only anticipate that I will continue to need that much in this dry
heat. We have some water reserves as well, no worries. At least enough
for 4 bottles. Another long day tomorrow to Shoshoni, around 100
miles. May the wind be at our backs!

--
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