Saturday, June 30, 2007

Day 7 (6/29): Austin Junction, OR --> Halfway, OR (108 miles)

Days mileage: 108

Steven and I descended the first mountain pass we had climbed the evening prior (Dixie Pass) and were looking forward to, nothing more than, finishing the next two passes that lay ahead of us. It was becoming a recurring trend....climbing a mountain pass first thing in the morning, ending the day climbing a mountain pass....and so the woes of a biker goes.

The winds of change did in fact shift all throughout our day; with each twist in the road causing the wind to attack us from an entirely different direction, thus forcing us to re-balance (that's prob not even a word, but whatever) ourselves and maintain our speed.

We had our sights aimed towards Baker City...another western-type looking town that we hoped would have a library with interent access, cell phone reception, and a good place to stuff our faces with food. We found all of that...It was about mid-afternoon by the time we got the 50 miles to Baker City. During the ride Steven and I kept commenting about how much the terrain changes from the birth of each day until it dies at the end....we started in a valley between two mountain passes consisting of tall, tall, tall pines and were ending up (eventually, the day wasn't over yet!) in, aside from the middle of nowhere, a desert.

We left Baker City around 4pm knowing we still had another 58 miles of biking to get to our desired was a confusing-ly (another made up word for ya) named town called Halfway. We failed to understand what it was halfway between...our closest guess was that it was about halfway between Baker City and the Idaho border. The jury is still out on that one though....

We climbed a steep ascent fighting 20-30 mph wind gusts that tried their best to push us off the road. Once we reached the top we coasted on down, down, down into a gorge-like area where the Powder River flowed in and out, through and to a destination we would never see...we finally got the wind to push us super fast through the gorge-like area.

Things were getting dark in the desert, bit by bit...minute by minute. We still had one last climb up an un-named mountain with an elevation topping off aobut 4,300 feet. It wasn't too, too bad seeing the views as we ascended were nothing less than amazing and "postcard" quality. The mountains now gave off the appearance of being covered by a blanket of clay colored velvet. Small trees and schrubs were scattered in the various crevices where bare traces of water prob tred at some other point in time....

Anyways, highlight of the day was at the end...we had a 7 mile descent into the town of Halfway and had no daylight left. We could see some type of bright, stadium-like lights calling out for us to come closer and see what was going on. The next thing we knew we heard an announcers voice over a loud speaker yelling in an excited voice about some cowboy who was running out of time to lasso the scampering pony....yes, ladies and gentlemen...we had rolled right onto a real, live rodeo. It was the coolest thing and we quickly proped up our bikes and took an awkward seat in the stands...Steven and I hastily agreed that we were the only two homosapiens in the area who were not wearing Wrangler jeans, cowboy boots, flannel hat, and a cowboy hat. Everyone was dressed in their finest pair of jeans, cleanest flannel shirt, and whitest cowboy hat they could find. It was such a sureal scene and one that just sticks in your memory forever. I managed to take a brief video clip of the last round of the rodeo and took some other pics.

Steven and I ended the night by settin up camp behind the closed library. It was that or some RV park with an overwhelming amount of cowboys prancing around in their respective camp rings.

I also learned that such towns do not have phones that have: modern public pay telephones, no cell phone reception, telephones that don't work wtih collect calls...

(I'm typing from a library right now in a town called Cambridge, ID...Steven and I are halfway through a days worth of cycling...we've done 57 miles so far and plane going another 48 to a town called New Fields....more on crossing into a new state tomorrow...trying to keep things organzined on this thing with complete days recorded....)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Day 6 (6/28): Mitchell, OR --> Austin Junction, OR (100 miles)

Steven and I headed out of Mitchell about 8:45 Am...we needed no cup of coffee to get the day rolling...we had a pretty looooong climb to get out

of the town of Mitchell. Once we reached the top it was all downhill for the next 25 miles or so...we were trying to get in as many miles as possible as to adhere to my rough schedule I had mapped out for this trip.

In brieft, it was a long hot day in the high desert land with little, if any, relief from the sun. I know I spent a lot of time hydrating and applying copious amounts of sunscreen....though who knows how much good that really did. We rolled on through a lot of one-horse-towns, which we used to refill our water bottles and stuff down some consumable food products.

Our main goal was to reach the town of John Day in order to resupply our food load and to get in a decent meal and stop at the local library...we accomplished two out of the three. We hit up a Mexican restaurant that fed us very, very well for a great price, stocked up on food, and walked away from the library with big frowns painted upon our faces (their internet access was down for the time being...go figure). It was fine though. We still chatted wtih the librarian and absorbed as much of the A.C. air as our pores would absorb.

We pulled out of that town around 3pm and still had about 30 miles of riding to woudl mainly be uphill from the get-go and one more mountain pass to get up and over. The beginning of the climb was through rolling prarie-like land, with herds of cattle sprinkled about in a random fashion. The views of the tall, towering mountain ranges made for great distractions of the climb that soon lay before us. Luckily, the temperature was gettin cooler and it was mostly overcast at this point in the day.

We trudged onward and upward not really knowing how far from the top we really were. Each winding turn resulted in our disapointment in seein, not a summit sign, but another turn that would result in the same discovery.

About halfway up the climb there was a random viewpoint/overlook for eager-eyed tourists to snap Kodak moments gallor. I took two pictures. One of the mountain range and one of the touristy covered-wagon that was sittin all alone in the parking lot.

Finally, arond 6 or 7ish...we rolled down the mountain for 7 miles straight into Austin Junction. There was only one building there and a field in the back for bikers to pitch tents. Steven and I did just that and went inside to chat with some other bikers that Steven happened to know from a previous days ride. It was great to finally relax, share stories, and meet some new folks. One of them (Gene) is planning on riding through all the 50 states and is raising money for disabled veterans...Steven (a different one) just retired from the Marines and is biking XC and going to end up in Bar Harbor. He's taking his time, taking pictures, rock climbing, etc all the while. Before it got completly dark we all trudged out of the lodge/convenience store and called it a night. = Steven's blog address for further reading/another person's perspective on riding XC

Day 5 (6/25): Sisters, OR --> Mitchell, OR (91 miles)

Days Mileage: 91 miles (for other daily mileage just read the headin of each day...)

Well...I figured I'd wake up feeling anything but excited to get rolling again seein the previous days struggles were still looming within my mind. I did my usual morning "routine", swung by a bakery that had the best bagels I've ever had, was disapointed to see the local fly-fishing shop was closed, and rolled on out of Sisters.

I reviewed the maps earlier that morning and was in for a day of high-desert landscapes with temperatures that would end up being in the mid 80's for most of the day. I wasn't sure what there was to look forward too except that perhaps the day would be over sooner than later...I started to pedal.

The more pavement I put between me and the town of Sisters, the more of an amazing view I had of the Three Sisters Mountain range....def one of my most fav mtn, I trudged on along at the usual 13 mph, got lost tryin to navigate through the town of Redmund, and then ran into some inspiration...

As I was slowly descending down into the desert land I saw another cyclist who was going opposite direction of me. We stopped, greeted one another, and shared our tales, trials, and tribulations. Ends up that this man was from Tennessee and had started doing this "biking XC" in sections....back in 2002 is when he started. So, he was near the end of his long, hard journey. What really made his journey inspiring was the fact that he was diagnosed with a type of cancer in 2005 (I think). It was in remission now and he was doing what he loved doing....biking. Anyways, we chatted for a good while, I signed his journal for him and then we were off in our different directions. As I coasted past sand covered buttes I was able to appreciate the surroundings a bit more and not just see the place as a barren desert....

The toughest part of the day was the end...go figure, right?


I had to get through Ochoco Pass and reach the town of Mitchell before it got to being too late in the day. Luckily, the pass was not too step the direction of was just a looooooong and gradual incline. Furthermore, the winds of the world happened to be blowing against my favor.

The view at the top was quite amazing though....a view of the entire desert area and a brief glimpse of the world that was to pass beneath my feet the following day. I coasted on down Ochoco Pass for 16 miles until I rolled on into the town of Mitchell...

Mitchell is a town with maybe...maybe 200 homosapiens residing in it...and around it. When first rolling into "it" every building is run down, closed, and prob would fall over if one were to even think about leaning against it to rest. I found the center of the town (the entire town being about 1/4 mile) and bought some food from the general store.

There was a free place to pitch a tent, which I did, and then I started talkin wtih some other bikers who were doing the same as I ....just for different reasons.

Long story short....there was a guy named Steven from Berkly who was also biking to the East. We were doing about the same type of mileage/pace and decided we'd try and ride together the following day....

In the meantime I passed the time by playin some old time folk/country tunes with a local yodel. He played banjo and I used their old guitar. It was soooo fun...and a great way to pass and the local guy played tunes until 10pm and the sun was no longer shedding light upon the fretboards. I sauntered back to my tent, crawled inside, wrote some in my journal, and feel asleep in two seconds flat.

Oh...also...there was a town pet bear named Henry. He

lived in a cage in the center of the town. It was pretty cool to see him..though a shame he is even there in the first place....

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Day 4 (6/26): Vida, OR --> Sisters, OR (102 miles)

Pure frustration and fury is what pushed the pedals up and over the last climb up Santiam Pass. It was nearing the end of what proved to be one of the most trying and difficult days ever....

I had started early from Vida and very eager to start the climb of the infamous McKenzie Pass. It was a solid 22 mile climb to the top with views of amazingness. I was excited. I neared closer and closer to white capped mountains, which for the past 1.5 days had seemed to be sprouting from the lower lying mountains themselves.

I started up the gradual incline of McKenzie Pass knowing that things were only bound to get tougher and steeper from this point on. Elevation changes would be about 5,000+ feet within the next couple hours of biking....and the extra weight on my bike was of no assitance in my attempts to out smart gravity.

Things were fine and dandy, aside from the physical strain, when I suddenly saw a gate. It was locked and stated that the road was closed d/t construction efforts. Damn. I was 11 miles into the climb and now I had to turn around...and then what? Start from the bottom and go the alternate route up Santiam Pass???
Yup Yup.
And that's when the day suddenly went downhill....
I reached the turn off point which I thought I'd never see again and turned onto Santiam Pass was very hot by this point in day, no shade from tree cover, more traffic, and my legs were already burning from the previous climbing attempts. Ontop of that I still had 50 miles to get to the first town....Sisters.
So, I started to pedal, and pedal, and pedal....and was slowing being worn down into the ground by the head wind and unforgiving grade of mountain. Each push of the pedal I kept asking myself who's idea it was to do this thing anyways and so forth. I really can't describe how tough it was and agonizing those miles seemed...partly b/c I've tried to block them out of my mind for the time being. Let's just say, when I finally saw the last switch back that would put me at the top of Santiam Pass I was cursing outloud the whole way at the mountain...when I passed the official "sign" at the top I gave it the middle finger and cruised on down into Sisters....
I coulnd't help but where a face of discouragement the rest of the day...I had climbed well over 8,000+ and my legs were shot. I was drained and in need of a meal, water, and sleep...
As I stumbled towards a Mexican restaurant two friendly looking folks got out of their car and asked me how the riding was going...I proceeded to tell them of my misfortune and they def seemed to sympasize with me seein they lived in this neck of the woods...they understood how steep those climbs could be. Long story short, they treated me to dinner and it was great to talk with about anything and everything. It def made the end of the day worthwhile to say the least. So, after we parted ways I went to the towns park and pitched a tent for the night and slept very, very well.
Anyways, thanks again to Phil and Kris for the great company and conversations!
(above are two pictures...both from the same day for this blog...both pics are of Mt. Washington)

Day 3 (6/25) Dallas, OR --> Vida, OR (112 miles)

Started things off shooting through some very flat Oregon a sense it was very familiar of the Shenandoah Valley area seein there were mountains on both sides of me and just flat, flat, flat farmland all around. Luckily there were no cattle crops anywhere so the oxygen wasn't too unbearable to breath in...that and along with a lack of dog food/chicken processing plants made things more bearable than the valley.

My main goal of the day was to get down to Eugene, OR to relax and find the track that Prefontaine used to run on. Well, I got the first thing accomplished and almost found the track the Pre used to dominate. I was prob less than a mile away from it but just coulnd't make the right turns or even cross the main road for that way roads were def the root of this problem. So, seein it was gettin late (around 3pm) and I still wanted to get some good miles in I bid a farewell to my hopes of touching the track....and riding my bicycle around it. I pedaled away with some slight disapointment in myself.
The rest of the day proved to go very well with the miles rolling by and the route following the McKenzie River. This was great for me as I got to see people fishing everywhere. It was such a refreshing change of pace from the busier roads along the coast. There was a lot less traffic....prob b/c all the drivers were in the river fishing. I would have gladly joined them, but seeing I still hadn't bought any flies yet I thought such actions of casting my fly rod would result in nothing greater than nothing itself.
Near the end of the day I was still on that long stretch of road and realizing I had no real place to camp...or at least there were no official campsites. So, I checked over maps again and saw a sign for an Inn somewhere down the road. Bingo. Ends up the inn was lacking in everything except four walls. I was offered a room that didn't have running water, smelt like mold and cigarettes, and appeared to be occupied by blankets and other sheets. I politely thanked them for the offer and asked if there was anywhere else near this area. The owners both said there wasn't much for another 15 miles or so down the road and since there was an hour or so of day light left they offered to just let me pitch my tent in their backyard. I hoped on that bandwagon, hung out with their pet dog (Tyler), and then fell asleep.
(pictures above are random from the trip...I'm in library right now and the computer wont' let me view the pics before they're, most def out of place as far as chronological order goes....first one is from Day 1 at Canoon Beach in front of Haystack Rock...second picture is from Day 4 on a strech of river along McKenzie River...more random pictures to follow!!!!)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Day 2: Tillamook Dyke, OR --> Dallas, OR (93 miles)

...the rain stopped, or at least long enough for Joel and I to pack up our tents and start the day wtih anything-but-refreshed-legs and a 1.5 mile climb straight up a mountain that led to a lighthouse. As the peanut gallery might have started to down-pour about right when we turned to start the climb.

It was cold too.

We pressed on...for we had little other options. Eventually, after biking for a couple hours Joel and I decided to grab a decent meal at some Mom and Pop's diner in some no-name town. It was a glorious meal to say the least... a meal of American sized proportions. A meal where no homosapien would dryly state after wiping the last crumbs from his lips that he was "still hungry." I orded up an omlet and a tall glass of O.J. Joel orded up some eggs, bacon, toast, and clam chowder...well, minus the clam chowder seein we sat down to order our food 30 minutes too early (apparently in no-name towns they only serve clam chower after 11:00

And then...Joel and I parted ways. It was written in the stars that things would end like this between us...him going his way and going in my own direction. We shed tears, talked about all the good times we shared from the past 30 hours seemedl like yesterday when we first really did...We were able to put such emotions behind us and start pedaling....Joel to Astoria and me to...Virginia...well, eventually. I still had a good 8 hours of sunlight left and wanted to squeeze as many miles out of those rays of sunlight as me weary legs could manage.

As Loretta informed me on the phone the otehr rains a lot in Oregon....but, it wasn't until yesterday that I really took these words to heart because it freakin rained on me on and off the rest of that damn day as if it was the last day God was permitting rain to fall from clouds. I took shelter a few times beneath outstretched branches of pine, used my bright red,neon pancho as a cover and waited....only for like 2 minutes..then i got inpatient and said, "to hell with this" and just rode off down the road.

It wasn't until 8pm that I decided to pull into a cheap motel. I needed some showering and all my gear was soaked and the gas from my stove had leaked into on of my panniers....pretty cool eh? So i found the most sketchy lookin motel i could and offered to purchase a room for a night.

As I lay beneath the sheets about to fall asleep I kept thinkin to myself that I've got to keep each day in the main focus...not the big picutre....while riding earlier that day I got really discouraged (and it's only the second day!) about how far I really do need to go. Just a day at a time though and the miles will come. Patience is the key.


Day 1: Astoria, OR --> Tillamook Dyke, OR (78 miles) one...a thing of the past.

Joel and I camped out at Fort Stevens park which is butted up right against the Pacific Ocean and nestled deep enough in the woods that you can see RVs parked everywhere you might want to rotate your head. Anyways, it was good to just have a place to camp so we could assure ourselves an early start the followin morn. It was about 10pm and a light drizzle....and, icing on the cake, mosquitos were out past there curfew as to torment us as we staked off ground for our tents.

The drizzling rain lingered over our heads all throughout the morning as we meandered down the coast, up and down gigantor mountains and so on and so on. We stopped in Cannon Beach to get the traditional picture of "dipping tire" in ocean as to repeat the same ordeal on the flip side of the continent. Well, rather than take my whole velo down to the beckoning ocean I opted to just take the front was lighter and probably saved us about an hour or two worth of struggling in draggin the bike through the sand, etc.

Ah....that reminds me. It took forever to get used to the entire weight of the bike. I could barely get on the thing when Joel and I first left in morning and feared that the whole trip would be just that..luckily, due to all the riding....the velo has become a part of my rump, which in a sense, has become a part of my we all know....our body's decide to go through a form of bikerhomeostasis...anways.

I was cold entire day....and the drizzle on and off didn't work to me cold fingers and feet's advantage....but life goes on i suppose and there were many miles yet to roll up and down, over and through.

We took breaks where we needed particular at overlooks of the Pacific Ocean and before we entered a tunnel..YIKES! Def scariest part of Day 1 ride...we pressed a button that flashed pretty lookin lights to warn drivers of the presence of velo-ers. Not only was it hard for the pupils to adjust to the lighing, but the noise of the cars' engines were amplified a million-fold due to the "echo effect." There was one car in particular that had squeeky breaks...which when i first heard the break's breaking i thought Joel was plastered up against the side of the tunnel or something. So yeh...tunnels suck and Joel and I were both fine and dandy. Our jitters were sweated out through our skin by the steep and long mountain climb that followed (for those who think bikin along the Pacific coast would be easy are living in a reality that flirts with the mentality of "not really knowing what it's like to bike on the Pacific coast).

At the end of the day Joel and I stopped by the infamous Tillamook Cheese Factory, ate more than our fare share from the sample plates, bought more than our fair share of ice cream and were on our way in search of a campsite.

We found one....though it just so happened to be situated on the other side of a "NO TRESPASSING" sign. Seein the sun was about to take a slumper for a bit we decided it'd be better to trespass than be a good, tamed U.S. citizen. We slept started to pour down rain at 3:30am.....

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bike put back together with full load

"Please secure all belongings for final descent on Portland..."

Here I am.
West coast. Velo just arrived about 30 seconds ago and I now feel like a little boy on Christmas morning who just got a ....cardboard box filled with a well-weathered bike, sleeping bag, cooking stove, and other random things not worth typing out....

Today I promenaded from Joel's apt to the city (about 60 min walk), bummed around town like a local yodel, and promenaded back after i went food shopping. That was prob the dumbest thing i did groceries for the trip knowing i had an hour hike back to Joel's house....aside from that...

- passed boards for now I can fully enjoy the trip and not worry about having to study to take the test again once I get back.
- Joel and I are officially leaving for Astoria on Friday night, camping out and getting an early departure time from Astoria come Saturday morning.
- Joel is dunna ride down the Pacific Coast portion of the trail with about 100 miles or so. It'll be great to have a veteran show me the ropes.
- Just chilling out for the next few days....figuring out food rations/costs for each day, go on some bike rides around Portland, and just try to soak in the relaxing moments.

Still need to buy some things (spare tires,etc)...other than that it's just a matter of time.

(I'll work on figuring out how to post some pictures on this bloggy thing.)

On that note...time to unpack bike box and reassemble me velo and sort out all the gear...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

QAF (Questions Asked Frequently)

Lately, it seems, there have been many repetitive questions tossed in my direction. Mainly questions concerning my sanity and "what are you going to do if it rains?" So here it is folks. Without any further adieu, some answers to 'questions asked frequently.' (Each question will be paraphrased to maitain the questioners privacy and not to embarass them for asking such silly questions...any names given are false and are also used as means of privacy protection)....

1. "How many miles is the who thing and how long will it take you?" - VDOT sign turner
"It's about 4,426 miles and I should be done by August 5th..." - Michael

2. "What if it rains?" - Eeore
"Then I get wet." - Michael

3. "Are you going to bring a knife or a gun?" - Chuck Norris
" Guns scare me and the only knife-like object I'll have is the handle to my spork." - Michael (I'll have pepper spray though...just as good right?)

4. "Why are you doing this by yourself?" - The Lone Ranger
"Because no one else has expressed interest in going and the timing didn't time out right." - Michael

5. "Is there a specific route you'll be following?" - Christopher Columbus
"Yes. Adventure Cycling Association issued maps, and are the ones who started the whole thing back in 1976. Anyways, I have their lovely color maps and having scheduled getting lost into my daily routine...yet. Maps are very organized, show mileage in each grid, an elevation profile, what each town contains (library, food store, etc), places to camp and avg rainfall/temp throughout the year for that area." -Michael

6. "Where are you going to sleep?" - Hotel Clerk
"Bringing along tent and plan on settin up camp in a designated campsite or anywhere else I can manage to pitch a tent without being labeled as a trespasser." -Michael

7. "How much gear will you be taking?" -My Bike Racks
" Carrying about 20-25 lbs of gear. Will have handlebar bag and two panniers in back with ability to load gear ontop of seatpost rack. Main gear I'll be taking are various forms of clothing, cooking stove, tent/sleeping bag/sleeping pad, water/food, spare parts...and most and some flies." -Michael

...well, ya'll get the idea.

Bike is gettin dropped off and boxed up on Tuesday, June 12th and mailed off via UPS the next day.

That's all I got for now.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Lettin the Picture do the talking...

So yeh...check out visual aid below for a aid in visualization of route...

Aeroplane will be jumping off the landing strip in Dulles Aero-port come 3:30 pm, June 19th (Tuesday, for folks who don't have the month of June memorized quite yet.)

Revisions of trip have been taking place, day in and day out, day out and day in...I've managed to map out the miles as to land me in the Atlantaic Ocean on August 5th (Sunday, for folks who dont' have....yeh). Start date may be anywhere from the 21st - 23rd...all depends whether or not Joel Koberstein can ride the first two days with me. If so then we'll start on Fri or Sat...if not then I'll just start on the original date of June 21.