Archive for June, 2010

10 Down, 40 to Go

Mountain Home, Idaho:   On our 10th day into this trek we resumed pedalling and caught a fantastic tailwind which blew us into Mountain Home before noon.  This was the easiest day of cycling so far.  After setting off from Boise at 8am, we exited the city on a bicycle path and took a variety of mostly back roads, except for one stretch of interstate, to arrive in Mountain Home.   There was a vastness and emptiness in the landscape, with wide open spaces in all directions.  

This is the “before” shot of my cross-country colleagues.  It’ll be interesting to see how we look when we get to New Hampshire.

With five days to go before July 4th (Independence Day), there’s patriotism in the air:-

In Mountain Home, an air force town, Live Rude Girls is a big draw:

Day 10 summary:

Day 10 route:  Boise to Mountain Home, Idaho
Day 10 mileage:  52.7 miles
Cumulative mileage:  668.4 miles
Today’s Elevation:   1,400 feet of climbing 
Cumulative Elevation:  29,650 feet of climbing
Terrain: flat


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Boise, Idaho:   Yesterday we cruised into Idaho and on to the capital city.  It was a stress free and mostly flat  ride on back roads through farmlands and neighborhoods into Boise.  It’s interesting how the houses got bigger and closer together as we approached Boise.  We made good progress and arrived in time for an al fresco lunch in the bucolic Hyde Park neighborhood.  The balance of the afternoon was spent chilling (jacuzzi and reading) and doing some bike maintenance.   Yes, even I am learning bike maintenance.  Tomorrow I’m even going to learn how to change a tire.   I also visited Georges, one the best bike shops anywhere, to pick up some more stuff (including a spare chain and a rear view mirror to affix to my sunglasses).

Today is the first of five rest days on this trip.   After eight consecutive days of cycling, it seemed unnatural to not pedal today.   Instead, we took it easy.   I caught up on my work email this morning.  We walked all over historic old Boise.  Visited two bike shops.  Went to Boise State University to find a bookstore.  Had a really good lunch in a distillery, and topped it off with ice cream at Moon’s, which has been keeping Boise happy since 1955.  In short, it was a “normal” day that didn’t involve huffing and puffing across a continent.

Tomorrow the pedaling resumes.  Now that we’ve crossed the Cascades mountains, the Teton range of the Rockies is the next vertical hurdle on this eastbound trek.

Day 8 summary:

Day 8 route:  Ontario, Oregon to Boise, Idaho
Day 8 mileage:  63.7 miles
Cumulative mileage:  615.7 miles
Today’s Elevation:   1,650 feet of climbing 
Cumulative Elevation:  28,250 feet of climbing
Terrain: flat, farmland

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Ontario, Oregon:  I’ve now been cycling for a week, and today three milestones were reached.  I surpassed the 500 mile threshold (my odometer now reads 552 miles); I crossed a time zone, and am now on Mountain time; and I crossed an entire state (Ontario, where I am sleeping tonight, is close to the Idaho border).   Today’s 83 mile ride was an easy one, and I have now already completed about 1/7 of the transcontinental journey.   It was also an authentic Americana day with Holiday Inn, Dairy Queen and Sizzler among the experiences.

In photos, this is how I spent my day:-

6:30am:   Loading “The Box” with Luggage, then breakfast

7:10am:   On the road

9:30am:   SAG Stop #1

10:00am:   Back on the road

12:00pm (1:00pm Mountain time):  SAG Stop #2

2:30pm:  Traffic jam at DQ.  For lunch I had a chili dog and chocolate blizzard.

3:00pm  Check-in at the Holiday Inn:

4:30pm   Mechanics

6:00pm   Dinner

Day 7 summary:

Day 7 route:  Baker City to Ontario, Oregon 
Day 7 mileage:  83.2 miles
Cumulative mileage:  552 miles
Today’s Elevation:   2,100 feet of climbing 
Cumulative Elevation:  26,600 feet of climbing
Terrain: Flat and rolling hills; more down than up

Terrain:  farmland, prairie and forest

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Life is Good


Baker City, Oregon:   Another fine day on the bike.  As one of my fellow riders exclaimed, “this is livin’!”   Every day seems like a Saturday.  We feel really blessed:  great scenery, relatively quiet back roads, excellent support, awesome weather, and fine camaraderie.   Life is good, the cycling exhilarates, and we’re eating our way across America! 

Today’s 81 miles (and three mountain passes) seemed like a breeze compared to yesterday’s marathon.  Yet we climbed 4,650 feet.  One of the riders called me the ‘mountain goat,’ because I love the climbs.  We cycled through two national forests with ubiquitous Pine trees, and across prairie and farmland.   

Tomorrow is our last day in Oregon, and by tomorrow we will cycled across the entire state of Oregon — over 500 miles — and completed about 1/7 of the trip.  Even though I’m cycling slowly, it’s all going by so quickly.

Today has been a fairly typically day.  Today’s schedule:

5:20am        Wake up

5:50am        Load luggage

6:00am       Breakfast at a local restaurant (eggs, sausage, oatmeal, fruit)

6:30am       Start cycling

~9:00am    SAG (support and gear) stop.   These are refuelling stops.  Today’s first SAG stop was next to a small cafe, so this SAG stop became a cobbler and coffee breakfast.  The cobbler was just the fuel I needed to get over the day’s remaining two mountain passes.

~1:00pm    Second SAG stop.  Picnic lunch.

2:30pm      Arrive at hotel; check-in.   This afternoon I hit the jacuzzi and swimming pool to ease my muscles.

5:00pm     Mechanics time.   There’s great mechanical support on this trip.  I lubed my chain, figuring the squeaking sound I was beginning to hear isn’t a good thing.

6:00pm     Dinner (salad, chicken, fettucine alfredo, veggies), followed by Route Rap, where navigation directions for the next day’s ride is circulated.

7:30pm     Free time for blogging, socializing.  Because wireless reception is generally weak in the motel rooms, most of my blogging is done from the lobbys, as is the case today.  Four or five other riders are also doling the same thing.

~9:00pm   Wheels up and lights out.

Here are some snapshots from yesterday’s ride to John Day and today’s trek to Baker City:

Day 6 summary:

Day 6 route:  John Day to Baker City, Oregon 
Day 6 mileage:  80.8 miles
Cumulative mileage:  468.04 miles
Elevation:  4,650 feet of climbing 
Terrain:  farmland, prairie and forest

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Ups and Downs


John Day, Oregon:  It’s been an up and down day.  Today’s 117 mile ride was long and challenging, involving 5,000 feet of climbing on two mountain passes.  I ended the day on a high with a personal best record for distance in a single day, taking eight hours of pedaling at an average speed of 14.4 mph, aided by good hydration and plenty of endorphins racing through my body. 

Originally I thought that the long distance days would be easy days of cycling on flat terrain, but that’s not the case. The distance for each day’s ride is determined by the availability of lodging, not the difficulty.  There’s very little development in the 117 mile stretch between Prineville and John Day, except for the tiny (population ~ 150) towns of Mitchell and Dayville, and so we ended up with a lengthy up and down ride and one of the most challenging days of the whole trip.

While long, today’s ride was scenic, through farmland and the Ochoco National Forest, with abundant pine scent.   The climb to Keyes Pass at 4,650 feet was especially invigorating. The good thing about the ups  is the awesome downs that follow.  After Keyes Pass we descended through a high desert gorge.  The downhill was equally invigorating. 

I was quite apprehensive about the ride, unsure about the combination of climbing and distance.    This apprehension was compounded by a hotel receptionist in Prineville last night.  She said:  ‘I can’t believe you’re going to cycle to John Day.   It’s a really long drive in a car, and that second mountain pass is so steep.”  Those were the last words I heard before going to bed; those words were still replaying in my mind when I awoke at 2am.  I’m not going to chat with any more motel receptionists.

Broadband service in the town of John Day, so named after a fur trapper in the 1800’s, is painfully slow.  No pictures today.  Tomorrow will be another day of ups and downs, but over a shorter distance.

Day 5 summary:

Day 5 route:  Prineville to John Day, Oregon 
Day 5 mileage:  117 miles
Cumulative mileage:  387.24 miles
Elevation:  5000 feet of climbing 
Terrain:  farmland, forest, desert gorge

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Prineville, Oregon:   Another great day of cycling in central Oregon, with beautiful summer weather to go with it.   As rides go, today’s 60 mile journey was an easy one, with a modest climb of 3200 ft out of the canyons and onto the mesas.   This is the fourth day in the saddle and I’m getting into a riding rhythm.  I look forward to getting up every morning, hopping on the bike, and cycling through some amazing country.  So far I don’t have any aching muscles or sore body parts, but my lungs are having an allergic reaction to all the fresh Oregon air.  And all my sinus issues have evaporated.  I feel great.

Each day I try to soak in the scenery, which is pretty easy when you’re averaging about 12 or 13 mph.    It’s remarkable how quickly the topography changes into farmland from the high desert plateaus.  I never appreciated how diverse Oregon terrain is.  The ride today was beautiful, mostly on back roads.   Cutting through the Canyons, we rode in parallel with the Deschutes river.  Once out of the canyon and on the plateau we rode through expansive farmland and through the Crooked River National Grassland.  

Tonight we’re staying in Prineville, a quaint town of about 10,000.  The people are friendly here and quite curious about all the cyclists they’re seeing on the roads.  A group of us had lunch at the Tastee Treet, which has been serving burgers and ice cream since 1953 and still serves a big dose of Americana.  I had the soft serve blended with Reece’s Pieces — very yummy, but probably won’t make it to the finals in my quest to find the best ice cream in America.  

There’s much apprehension about tomorrow’s ride.  While our journey today was one of the easiest on this transcontinental expedition, tomorrow’s 117 mile trek to John Day will be one of the hardest.  I’ve never ridden 117 miles in a single day, so I am looking forward to establishing a personal best distance record.

For today’s slideshow, there are diverse images of central Oregon, including the mesa and farmland.  There are also two candidates for prettiest barn in America, and a couple shots from Prineville.

Day 4 summary:

Day 4 route:  Kah-Nee-Ta to Prineville, Oregon 
Day 4 mileage: 60 miles
Cumulative mileage: 270.9 miles
Elevation: 3200 feet of climbing 
Terrain:  mesa, high desert, and farmland

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Mountain to Mesa

Kah-Nee-Ta, Oregon:  Another fantastic day on the bike.  Much of the day traversed Mt Hood National Forest and involved about 5,000 feet of climbing, with a technical descent toward the mesa.  The landscape evolved from mountain forest, then quickly flattened out, turning into mesa and arid desert terrain.  It’s all very beautiful, and there was little traffic on the roads.  The weather was most agreeable, and the backdrop of Mt Hood against the pristine blue sky was awesome.  I much enjoyed the smells of pine, sage, and juniper along the way.   Kah Nee Ta is a resort on the Warm Springs Indian reservation.  I cycled through the casino.   We also biked across the 45th parallel, the midway point between the equator and North Pole.   Today, on the descent, I also swallowed a bug.  Nasty.

Scenes from today:


Day 3 Route:  Welches to Kah-Nee-Ta, Oregon 
Day 3 mileage: 65 miles
Cumulative mileage: 210.9 miles
Elevation: ~ 5000 feet of climbing 
Terrain:  Mountain forest evolving to mesa and desert

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