Saturday, June 30, 2007
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 destination....it 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
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 go....it 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.
http://www.havetoride.blogspot.com/ = Steven's blog address for further reading/another person's perspective on riding XC
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
Monday, June 25, 2007
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 am...fyi).
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 moi...moi going in my own direction. We shed tears, talked about all the good times we shared from the past 30 hours together....it seemedl like yesterday when we first met...it 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 night...it 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.
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 wheel....it 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 body...therefore...as 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 them...in 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 until......it started to pour down rain at 3:30am.....
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
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 today...buy groceries for the trip knowing i had an hour hike back to Joel's house....aside from that...
- passed boards for nursing...so 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 me...so 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
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
"Eh...no. 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 importantly...fly-rod 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
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.