Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 84 - Epilogue

This post will be a work in progress as I continue to absorb the events of the past 3 months....

first, it was no accident that I shared in this blog mostly the day-to-day goings-on and little of the personal reflections and emotions I experienced along the way. some things just aren't meant to be shared with the world....

i'd like to express my thanks to all of you who took the interest in my journey to take the time to check out the blog as I went along, and especially to those made comments to my postings. I wanted the daily postings and pictures to be informative and also entertaining to read, so I hope I achieved that.

also, I very much appreciate all the positive and supportive comments and feedback I received. I've heard the term 'impressive' mentioned often; while I accept these comments with great humility, I want to say that my intent, beyond my own reasons for this endeavor, was never to impress anyone. rather, if my accomplishments, whether athletic, personal, or professional in nature, offer INSPIRATION to others, then I will have done some good.

more later....

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 83 - The End - Astoria, OR

the ceremonial dipping of the wheels at the end of the voyage....

Congratulations to my amazing riding compadres Dana Miller and Josh Evans.  These 2 fine folks absolutely made this trip for me; great compatibility as riding and camping partners, but mostly great friends for life.  we shared experiences and laughs that no one else would ever be able to understand !  So, I'd like to give Dana and Josh the Best Cycle Touring Partners Awards !

Welcome to Astoria !

Approaching Astoria. Not much elevation compared to what we'd done so far. this sign made me smile.

awoke early to a fine morning; sunny, calm, nice. after our final camp dinner last night, I made our final pots of camp coffee this morning. we had a 76 mile ride or so to Astoria and spirits were high for Dana and I. Josh reached Portland ahead of us 2 days ago and had made a long push yesterday to Astoria. Dana and I were a little bummed that we might not all finish together, at least for the wheel dipping festivities; we had traveled together for what seemed so long and shared so much that it just wouldn't be right to not finish together. we got in touch with him on the way and he said he would wait or us in Astoria to celebrate. so, on we pressed, making excellent time and enjoying the ride immensely!! the remaining climbs on the way were a bit more work than we anticipated, but still motored right into Astoria. I felt my emotions start to crank up for the first time as we got closer to to town; the reality that this long epic journey would be ending in a few short miles was hitting me hard. we ran right into Josh as we entered the town, so that was a real mood booster!!! we would all get to be together for the finale, the wheel dip and some celebratory champagne, which we promptly picked up. found our way to a good spot to do the celebration. it was a happy and emotional time. dipped our wheels, toasted each other and let the whole thing sink in.

i needed to head back to the bike shop in town I had previously contacted to prep and pack my bike for shipment back home. got there and took care of business. didn't like at all feeling rushed breaking down my bike and packing my gear (the shop would be closing soon...), all of which had been all i had to my name for almost 3 months.  lots of memories of campground coffee and dinners and breakfasts as i unloaded the cooking gear pannier. i had to remove both front and rear racks to get the bike to fit in the box. got everything packed acceptably, with clothes and extras in one pannier and the cooler (which had doubled as my handlebar bag since replacing my front rack in Frisco, CO) as carry-ons.  once done with the packing chores, I was now on foot. this was when the reality hit home hard with me that this journey had ended. i had reached the destination, Astoria, Oregon. i had checked my computer to see 4,629 miles since i left Ft. Myers, Florida on April 2. i could no longer hop on my bike to go from there or to there.  i very hard reality check that life was changing again for me very quickly.
dana and josh met up with just after i got the boxes taped up and ready for fedex to do their thing.  they had gotten a room for us to share so we could hang out one more night (remember, i don't have my tent and sleeping gear !!).  we checked in, cleaned up, and took a walk-about for a place to eat. had a decent burger and local micro-brew, and then we headed back for our last chance to hang out..... would have been better to camp !!

today: 76 miles
grand total: 4629

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 82 - The Penultimate - Scappoose, OR

camped at an excellent spot back in the Lewis and Clark park in Washougal, right on the Columbia River. very nice. today, Dana and I would venture into Portland for a little ride-about before moving on later in the day, mostly a pedestrian pace today. an easy ride towards the bike path crossing the river into Portland. the portion of the ACA map detailing the bike path was a bit of a cluster-fuck as we got all discombobulated finding it!! once on the path and across to the bike path on the other side, we met up with a couple on bikes who suggested we head to the Pearl District of Portland, which we easily reached. cruised about a bit, and found 3 local micro-brew pubs to relax and enjoy an extended happy hour. later in the day we ventured west out of town, deciding to make our camping destination in Scappoose. we found a great camping spot in a county park just outside of town there, complete with the coveted hot shower. a camp stove meal of pasta, clams, and kernel corn and a dessert of cookies made for a nice ending to a generally relaxing day. slept in the bag out in the open sans the tent again, very nice. the penultimate night of the tour, heading to Astoria to tomorrow.

today: 60 miles
to date: 4552

first happy hour stop in Portland at the Deschutes Brewery ....

then, hoisting a cold one at the Rogue Brewery. Next happy hour...


.. and then a stop at the Bridgeport pub..

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 81 - Washougal, WA

gotta love sleeping on a cozy bed !!

awoke EARLY to a pretty morning, but again, the winds were already there, giggling and just waiting to tell us bad jokes. we stopped for a quick convenience store coffee before crossing the bridge back over to Washington to continue the trek thru the gorge. we have been riding the Washington side instead of the Oregon route because it runs closer to the river and more honestly, there is less climbing; the winds were bad enough without hills. got a great view the Dalles Dam coming across. once across, the headwinds picked right up, keeping our pace slow right away. beautiful scenery as the river / road began to twist and turn, and we saw more sheer cliffs and steep outcroppings. Dana and I were able to settle into a steady, albeit somewhat slow pace of 10 mph or so; the winds never really picked up enough to cause much consternation as we were able to sustain a decent pace. the twisting turns of the created numerous pockets of areas fairly well shielded from the winds; there were serious whitecaps out on the river, but the water was often calm along where we were riding. sweet ! even the areas we hit the headwinds were generally devoid of the strong stop-you-in-your-tracks gusts, so again, we were able to keep up a steady rhythm. we passed thru a series of short tunnels that did give meaning to the concept of 'wind tunnel', but that seemed to be the worst of it. as we progressed thru the ride, we moved into the lower Columbia River valley as gentle hills and tree-filled terrain
became more common and provided more block from the wind. before long, the winds began to subside, and we navigated some easy climbs that also gave some nice fast descents we could enjoy for a change. made great time during the ride, but decided to end up in Washougal to camp instead of pressing another 20 miles to Portland, where Josh had reached today. we found a fun pub, Smeads Pub, for happy hour beers and a killer club sandwich to fill the tummy. got turned onto a nice local park camp in, even though camping was not allowed. :)

an unexpected excellent ride today, one that I put in the top 5 rides of the tour. felt great all day, and capped the day with a fun happy hour with pleasant locals and a great camp spot.


today: 78 miles
to date: 4489

the Dalles Dam

Road shots on the final run through the Columbia River Gorge

Mt. Hood

ha ha ha !

Camped here at these grounds, right where Lewis and Clark once made camp. fucking awesome !!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 80 - The Dalles, OR

today started with more of the same weather we've been having: partly cloudy and yes, the headwinds. the attempt to beat the winds by getting an early start didn't work out, so after morning coffee, Dana and I took off. didn't make it onto the highway without Dana getting a flat. lots of glass debris and thorns on the roads here, giving us both numerous flat tire changing opportunities. got rolling after that, and not much later, it was my turn. good thing Josh did me a big solid the day before by spotting me a new spare tube, so I was able to fix this flat and keep rolling. I'm now without a spare tube, so kept my fingers crossed I'd have no more problems. as we progressed thru the Columbia River Gorge, the winds indeed picked up and kept our pace slow, albeit steady. passed by a long stretch of windmill farms along the way, pretty impressive. we decided to cross back over to Oregon to Biggs Junction for a pause for lunch. took a lengthy break to graze and take care of travel arrangements to get back home by the end of the week. Dana and I decided to continue along the river on the Oregon side towards The Dalles, OR. by now, the gorge winds had cranked up big time and were really playing with us; Canon City-esque winds this time, with gusts stopping us cold in our tracks, or catching us from the side, sending us 360 degree turns into the road. laughed our asses off at the absurdity of the conditions !! we had to ride along a short stretch of I-84, and the traffic actually seemed to temper the headwinds, so the 22 mile grind to The Dalles wasn't so bad. decided to hotel it there one last time to enjoy a hot shower (missed that yesterday...) and a cozy bed. tough riding day in the gorge, but we enjoyed amazing scenery and vistas, so a good day!!

today: 59 miles
to date: 4411

road shots on the way to The Dalles, OR

Day 80 - Happy Fathers Day !

Today's ride is dedicated to my Dad, my brother Brad, my buds Dave and Paul, and all the other men I know who have done so well at being devoted to their children at the hardest job in the world. so, here's to you gents !!

also, I want to thank my children Erika and Nic for being the fine young adults they are, and for giving me the gift of being their dad. I love you both !!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 79 - North Roosevelt, WA

slept like a rock last night, which has been easy to do all tour long; 6-8 hours of saddle time make it easy to physically spent each day, but seldom so trashed that the next days ride is hard as a result .... it rained during the night, plus I was up late fixing the front flat, so for me, the early departure wasn't happening. I used both new tubes and was able to repair only one, so traveling lean. Josh was able to accomplish the early get-going, so he was off ahead of Dana and I. she and I got going with the goal to catch up with Josh in Biggs Junction, about 85 miles away. the early start was intended to get in miles before the vaunted headwinds kicked up. these wind conditions thru the Columbia River Gorge are legendary: stiff and sustained, with gusts that can stop you cold. nasty, especially with all the exposed surface areas of the bike and panniers. anyway, Dana and I met up with the winds and settled in a good rhythm of swapping pulls every few minutes. along the way, I got ANOTHER rear flat, again of the slow-leak variety (compared to the instant large puncture PSSSST... ). i had to use my last tube. i discovered then that the winds had caused carnage to my bike bling (the USA and Texas state flags that had been prominent on my rig since Day 1): the USA flag had been blown off. Texas would have to fly alone.  by the time we reached Roosevelt, I needed a water bottle reload and some food. Dana had already packed best westerns so we expected a quick turnaround to continue the 8 mph grind to Biggs. we happened upon a bit of a social event (see below), so we settled in for a beer or two with lunch. ended up staying all day and tenting in a yard out back. a tough ride today, but not as many miles as hoped. we actually had caught up to and visted with Josh, but he decided to pass in the festivities and head for Biggs on his own. hopefully we'll reconnect before the coast. he gave me a new tube, so I could breathe easier till I repaired one of my own or got to an upcoming bike shop.

today: 50 miles
to date: 4352

On our way from Umatilla, Dana and I stopped in North Roosevelt for a water bottle reload and to munch on Best Westerns. we stumbled upon the annual Roosevelt Wine, Wheels, and Tunes Festival.  great local wines, microbrews, and live music. water stop turning into the overnight camping stop. excellent find and great happy hour....

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 78 - Umatilla, OR

Nice sunset while cooking out grilled chicken, catfish, and mixed skewered veggies. not a bad menu for touring cyclists on the road ...

Day 78 - Umatilla, OR

after enjoying an awesome sleep under the stars without the tents, we awoke to a beautiful, sunny warm morning in Walla Walla.  this was our first day in several that we could dress light, no jackets or rain gear. winds were looking to be mostly cross and tailwinds, so our spirits were high this morning !  we stopped at a safeway grocery store for a starbucks (first time all tour) and road snacks (bagels, granola bars, the usual fare ...) on our way, passed several local wineries; too early for wine tastings. we headed on generally flat terrain toward the Columbia River, along which we will ride for several days, looking ahead to the notorious fierce headwinds. BUT, for today, the winds would be at our backs, so we enjoyed motoring along ! my momentum was stalled by a flat rear tire, of the hard to repair on the road slow-leak variety. replaced the tube instead and was on my way. our goal today was a shorter day to Umatilla, a relatively short day of 50+ miles; laundry and library (PC access) were on our minds, but we second-guessed ourselves, partly wanting to keep going with the rare tailwind. made camp, did the laundry and library things, had a fun cookout and another fun camp evening.

just before turning in, I discovered ANOTHER flat, this time up front. fixed one spare tube after dinner, so now running on fumes without any spares. not good. Grrrr...

today: 64 miles
to date: 4304