Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 68. Ochoco Pass, OR to Bend, OR. 60ish miles.

When I stepped out of my sleeping bag into the cool morning air, I felt like absolute shit. The food baby I had created the day before was still there, solid as ever. For some reason, my body didn't seem to digest any of the jalapeno laden dinner. I packed up quickly, put on all of my warm clothes, my warm breath filling the air in front of me and headed down to the road to a rest stop.

The morning was one of the coldest I had experienced the entire trip. The one mile ride down to the rest area caused my toes and fingers to go numb. I stood in the warm sunshine and waited for the sun to get a bit higher in the sky before moving on. After a couple hours of riding and beginning a new audio book I found myself in Prineville, OR where I immediately disregarded the promise I had made to myself the night before. The promise to eat fruit and vegetables went right out the door as I ate pancakes - at least it wasn't full of B+G. As I sat, I started to feel worse and worse until after nearly two hours I decided I had to keep going. Plus the town of Prineville wasn't so awesome.

Nausea start to set in as I started the 30 miles to Bend, Oregon. My stomach churned as the ocean. My legs slowed, my head started to hang low and suddenly a car passed me within inches as it came right toward me passing another car. Holy shit, I thought. If I had weaved or the wind picked up, the last thing that would have gone through my mind would have been my ass. At one point I stopped on the side of the road and rested my head on my arms atop my handlebars. Vomiting was certain. But I kept on, and as I rolled into Bend I stopped to sit in some grass like a bum. After a brief rest I went to the library to update this blog, which has definitely been fun but at the same time has been a bit of a hassle. As I typed it was as if someone pushed a button in my insides and I ran for the bathroom. Sorry, fellow shitter patrons.

Welp, that did me in. I made my way to a fabulous motel. The room was cheap, smelled of cigarette smoke and didn't provide shampoo. That's how you know a motel is nice, the lack of shampoo. There I caught up on the latest 'The Hills' episodes. You know, that show where people are famous just for being alive but not actually doing anything except for being pretty. That sounds good to me, empty, but good.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


i know it's long overdue but day 67 is up on the blog.

Day 67. Mt. Vernon, OR to Ochoco Pass, OR - 75 miles

I know it has been a couple weeks since I have made a legitimate post, and I feel a bit pathetic for it, so hopefully y'all are still into reading the remainder of the trip.

The North Carolina dudes I had met the night before in the 'Bike Inn' were up early and moving about before I could open my eyes. They generously shared some Fig Newtons and coffee with me before we parted ways, they to the east and I to the west. (Is that proper grammer? somebody please help me.) There was a bit of a headwind as I headed off but for some reason before long I was feeling a bit weak and tired. I imagine it was due to the mountain passes from the day before. I pulled over to the side of the road, sat upon a guard rail and enjoyed half of a jar of peanut butter before rolling on.

Shortly after I pulled into the town of Dayville - the last stop before 40 miles of nothingness containing a 25 mile, 2000 vertical foot climb. Two cyclists from Oregon, freshly out on the road, were sitting in the cool shade of a local market, where I stopped to fuel up. I probably ate the most calories in that one meal - made up of three cans of food, a hot pocket, candy and soda - and I chilled with the two guys. We went through the usual conversation and they hit me up with question after question of life on the road and I responded proudly. After being fully satisfied I set out into the heat of the day and a gusty wind.

'Abraham Lincoln. Vampire Hunter' played in my headphones and kept me company as I climbed the long, long pass. I seemed to climb over false-summit after false-summit and being as tired as I was, I just became irritated with the roadway. Climb, fall, climb, fall, climb, fall....hours. really just a few but seemed like forever. After the last false-summit I saw another cyclist in the distance and caught up to him immediately. His name was Jim and he puttered along ever so slowly. He had recently had knee surgery and a trip from Phoenix to Bend, Oregon was his way to heal/train his knee back to normal. We rode side by side for a mile or two as cars whizzed by and the occasional middle finger was thrown in my direction. Yeah, it was completely my fault and the gesture was deserved but I didn't care. There was plenty of roadway, and driver should slow down anyhow. Just sayin...

When I finally reached the top I had to layer up for the ride down into Mitchell, Oregon. The breeze and the air was cool despite the hot sun. It was amazing that it took a few hours to ride up 2000 feet and then only minutes to descend into the small mountain town. I noticed a small cafe, and even though I wasn't really hungry, I stopped in for a meal as I had another 2000 foot, 15 mile climb to finish up before dark.

The owners of the cafe were sitting on the porch and no one was inside. Looked like they were taking a smoke break from a pool game going on inside. And they seemed almost annoyed by my presence and eagerness to spend money at their cafe, which I imagine didn't have too many visitors. The woman cooking was actually playing a game of pool while cooking a jalapeno bacon cheeseburger with fries. While I ate two other gentleman came in and ordered the exact same thing I was eating. And I tell you, it was great, but then I bit into a partially cooked fry (these were of the homemade variety, not the frozen one) and thought it to be a bit gross but with enough salt anything can be saved, right? After chowing through the hearty meal and conceiving a very large food baby, I had the hankerin' for some ice cream. surprising, right?

The market across was run by a guy who looked like he had been lost in the woods for weeks and/or under the hood of his automobile all day. He sat in the corner near the register and picked at a guitar as I wandered the store. "You must be one of those biking guys?" he asked. It must have been the jersey and shorts that gave it away. We chatted for a bit and I filled him in and then told him that I had moved from Colorado to NYC just over a year ago. "Well, I guess you went two ways" he replied. It's amazing the amount of people I met that weren't fans of the city or any populated area for that matter Why is it that crowds bother/stress people out? I don't get it. I bought some ice cream, stuffed my belly even more-so and started the last stretch of the day.

I climbed for another couple hours, over one false-summit, before finding myself at a campground. I pulled in, rolled out my footprint and sleeping bag and passed out under a setting sky. For some reason, I wasn't feeling real well and I thought it was because of all the garbage-food I shoved into my face during the day and realized that my diet really had to change. Fruits and vegetables were in order. I vowed that the next day I would have oatmeal and fruit for breakfast.



i apologize for the lack of writing. but please be sure to check back tomorrow. it's the beginning of the end....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

back in the good ol state of co.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

relaxing in novato, ca. full of pizza and beer. 25 miles till the end...

Monday, July 19, 2010

snapped cable. hitchin it to redding, ca.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

just about back to normal and movin south.

Friday, July 16, 2010

a solid 32 miles brings me to la pine, or.

Day 66. Side-of-the-road, OR to Mt. Vernon, OR. 100+ miles.

The day started before the sun broke the horizon. High winds kept me up most of the night and allowed for an early start. I started climbing a pass as soon as I started pedaling but as I pedaled higher and higher I entered national forest and the wind died and I was loving it. Much to my chagrin, I exited the forest just as quickly as I had entered and the wind picked back up. A small town boasted a cafe via a highway sign and made the 1 mile dash straight for it.

While eating I met a dude from Santa Barbara who was on his way north hauling bicycles to Washington for a triathlon. We chatted for over an hour and he hooked me up with some books-on-tape for my iPod and even offered a place to stay in Santa Barbara if I happened to make it down that way. I started up one of those books as I departed; 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' it was titled. I recommend it.

The day consisted of 4 climbs and the book on tape probably got me through them. I just focused on what was being said and pedaled onward and upward almost entering a meditative state as I climbed and climbed.

I rolled into Mt. Vernon with plenty of daylight to spare but I had heard about a specific church that allowed cyclists to stay - almost a co-op sorta place. The co-op was in John Day, or at least I thought, 8 miles east - obviously the wrong direction. I rode down there but found nothing. I asked around, called the police but nobody knew what I was talking about. After searching the internet, I discovered that the co-op was in Dayville - 23 miles west of Mt. Vernon. 31 miles was too far to cover with the remaining daylight so I just headed back to Mt. Vernon where I discovered the 'Bike Inn.' The Inn is a donation based guest house where cyclists can hang, eat, sleep and shower. I ended up sharing the house with three other cyclists from Seattle that night. They were making their way to North Carolina and eventually riding back. I was a bit envious of these guys as this trip was not just a temporary thing. They hadn't any deadlines or time-lines. This was just a stage of life, one I imagine, they will remember forever.

Day 65. side-of-the-road, WA to side-of-the-road, OR. 100+ miles.

So, now I'm basically riding as far as I can everyday in order to wrap this thing up, hence sleeping on the side of the road. Not to mention, it's free!

I was up bright and early, which happens when sleeping near the road. I knew I wanted to get to John Day, OR in two days, nearly 200 miles off so I pedaled and pedaled. But within 5 miles I had to get some coffee and eat. Gotta energize, you know. After the quick, undeserved rest, I was off and pedaling into the wind. After a couple of hours I hit the town of Walla Walla, WA. What a name. shortly thereafter I entered Oregon in 100 degree heat as I pushed toward the city of Pendleton where I could eat again and cool down. I took refuge in a fast-food joint, places I will now stop frequenting due to being grossed out, but the AC was nice as was the ice-cream and burgers and water.

I left Pendleton nearing 5pm with at least another 50 miles in my mind. What I didn't know is that the next 30 would be straight into the wind and uphill. This kicked my ass. As I climbed and climbed, I knew there were two passes that I would be approaching and as I hit the first one and found it to be 9pm, I stopped for the night. I thought that crossing in the morning and in the daylight would be a much better option.

Near where I posted up there was a family eating supper in a camper, no doubt enjoying the sunset. As I was just about set-up, a man was crossing a field from the camper and heading in my direction. I immediately thought him to be the land owner and was coming over to kick me out. My mind started coming up with excuses and ways to charm the man as to let me stay. Turned out I was just putting myself through a bit of mental anguish as I met him halfway. We shard a wave and a brief hello before he asked me if I was setting up for the night. I said yes. He then asked if I had everything I needed; water, food, ice-cream. The man and his family were from British Columbia and were on there way down to Disney Land for holiday. He was a fellow traveler, more of a backpacker, but had concern for any traveler. We shared stories of traveling before he went back to his camper and returned with ice cream for me. Nothing like an ice cream sandwich and a drumstick before retiring for the night. I know it's been happening the whole trip, but I still dig, and always will dig, the kindness of strangers.

Day 64. Pullman, WA to side-of-the-road-somewhere, WA. 95ish miles.

I was up early, before Paul, and headed out the door only leaving a thank you note behind. My head pounding a bit from potent micro-brews, I quickly ate some McD's and set out towards...who knows. For nearly three hours I rode through more of the hilly, lush green fields I had entered the day before and before I knew it I was perched atop a 2,000 ft. vertical drop into Lewiston, ID.

There were two routes down into Lewiston, a two-curve route on the highway or the old frontage road that snaked downwards. I chose the frontage road. Solid descent. I snacked a bit in the town, used the library and continued on. Naturally after a 2000 ft drop, there is always a 2000 ft climb to get back out of a valley. For the next three hours I climbed a mere 20 miles into the wind before reaching the top just to drop back down. Oh, and the green hills disappeared and became brown and dry.

The landscape out here is like nothing I've ever seen. It is a high-plains environment full of canyons and draws, which, are where the roads are constructed. Most of the time the roadways wind and follow streams and rivers until they are forced to climb over long, tall hills. After dropping back down I stopped at a cafe merely to refill water bottles, but after looking at a menu, my glandular problem forced me to eat a philly cheese steak, sweet potato fries and a mountain dew. With daylight dwindling I knew this to be a risky move and one that would most likely leave me in the dark, but 'who cares' i thought. After being full and happy, I pressed on into the fading sun.

Within 10 miles I found a touring cyclist on the opposite side of the road standing there next to his bike. I stopped just to make sure everything was ok with him and it was. He was waiting for two of his friends that he had left in the dust. Within minutes the two friends came riding up and we all rested and had a chat. The three guys were from England and had been on the road for only six days. I told them I had been out for 9 weeks and was bombarded with questions. To those who are just starting their trips on the west coast, I appear to be somewhat of a veteran to this game and must know all about this form of travel. I answered their questions, to which, they were thankful for my answers and we parted ways.

My goal was to hit a campground past Dayton, WA but due to a 3 mile climb up a 6% grade I was 10 miles short of that goal and decided to set-up camp at the top of the pass. There was a semi-truck parked at the top as well so this gave some comfort as to not be the only person sleeping on the side of the road. Fortunately there was a bit of a drainage on the side so I was mostly out of view to the passing traffic.

Monday, July 12, 2010

day 63. coeur d'alene, id to pullman, wa. 92 miles.

i tried to get up bright and early to get a good jump on the day. but it didn't happen. i snoozed for a couple hours, enjoying the comfort of my hotel bed.

on my way out of the city i stopped at a local bike shop to top off my tires. just before stepping inside, two dudes approached inquisitive of my origins. when i said nyc they became stoked and shook my hand. toward the end of our conversation, one asked, "i bet you like weed. i can get some if you need it." i politely declined explaining that while i do support the sticky plant, it's effects just don't do it for me.

i rolled over a few mountain passes before being out of the woods, so to speak. its amazing how the terrain can change in the blink of an eye. rolling hills of lush green grass and wheat surrounded me in all directions as if floating on a raft.

the day went on, the heat reached 100 and countless cars and trucks screamed by, their air conditioners blasting, no doubt. in an effort to remove myself from traffic i took a right and veered into washington state towards pullman. the green rolling hills continued for miles as i rolled over one hump to see many more of its brothers stretching on into the distance.

the clock showed 7pm as i hit pullman. standing out in the parking lot and looking at a map, a dude with a pony tail, glasses and a baseball cap approached interested in my travels. after some brief discussion he invited me to stay with him. paul owned his own place where a spare bedroom and a shower awaited.

we spent the night at two breweries talking about all sortsashit and drinking tasty microbrews. paul was a cool guy looking to earn his phd at wsu.

honestly, i started thinking this trip was just winding down as i cruise through these last couple weeks. but honestly its just the same as when i started except my endurance is a bit better. I'm still going to have some wild experiences and meet some interesting folks. yes, there may only be three weeks left but its gonna be awesome.
shower!! in a guesthouse in mt. vernon, or. headed in the direction of bend, or tomorrow. i hear its quite the spot.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

cooling down in pendleton, or. 101 degreeeeeezzzzz.

day 62. athol, id to coeur d'alene, id. 20 miles.

traffic was whizzing by on the highway just beyond my pine-needle coated barrier. the tall weeds surrounding me as well as my sleeping bag and bike and bags were coated in Idaho morning dew. i was certain that if no one spotted me last night as i crept into the woods, they would surely spot me this morning as i used trees as drying racks. but without problem i was on the road riding in morning sunlight.

i cruised into a local subway shop for a bit of breakfast. i had a thought today; do they throw all leftover bread out at night? would be a great spot to pick up some free grub to accompany my jar of peanut butter. anyway, a fellow subway diner struck up conversation about my ride and said i needed to check out the coeur d'alene lake in coeur d'alene, only 5 miles off.

my original plan was to use the library in the city mentioned above and then move on. well after visiting a local coffee shop and the library i cruised to the lake. what a wonderful sight: a massive lake, grassy knoll for the sitting and a dock that ran off into the water. ok, I'll hang for a few. in seconds i was stripped down to merely bike shorts and feeling very euro in my revealing attire. i rolled out my thermarest pad and stayed for over two hours while i read, mapped, and enjoyed the scenery and views. my stomach rumbled and i knew it was time to eat and it was during lunch that i knew i couldn't pass up this clear beach day.

i rode down to the strip of cheaper motels outside of the main strip. i rang a bell and an older fellow came from around the back chasing an old dog. "can i get a room please?" i asked. "well, sure. i have a single available. so you're on a bike huh? so you don't have a car, no pets, and you probably don't smoke." his eyes stared at me through thick lenses. i nodded to reasure the man. "well what are you looking to pay? cuz i know there are cheaper spots down the way." i was bit taken back. "well, i like paying 5 to 20 bucks. are you saying that this is negotiable?" i asked. "well, no." he responded. i laughed. before giving me a price he showed me a room. if it had a hot water and a bed i was sold. "so how much?" i asked. "this single is $55. how does $45 sound?" "uh....sounds good to me." strange i thought. funniest part, as i was signing my receipt amother dude came in looking for a single. the old man told him it would be $60 and the guest rejected it and left. then the man looked at me and said "i used to race bikes." the bike scored me yet another deal.

i spent the rest of the day on the beach working on my farmers tan before going to dinner and relaxing in the comfort of a bed and a massive ice cream cone. I'm not sure the relaxing day was deserved but it was sure nice.