Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 10 Boise to Mountain Home, Idaho --- 54 Miles with 1500 Feet of climbing.

Today we were ready to resume our journey after a much needed rest in Boise for many of the riders. I was somewhat tired but in order to keep my legs fresh, 7 of 8 of us went out for a short ride.  I rode 17 miles along the greenbelt trail system that is very nice and it goes in many directions along the river in Boise.  It was really nice and there were many Canadian Geese along this path. 

Today we woke up to partly  cloudy sky's and the temperature was 62.  We left the hotel after breakfast at 0700 and load the luggage truck and we left downtown Boise on one of the many bike paths that they have on the road and hooked up with the greenbelt trail system for 7 miles and then climbed up to another road for our trek east and out of the city limits.  We crossed hwy 84 and then we had to get on this road and ride once again on the shoulder of the freeway for 10.5 miles and we had a west went that really pushed up and everyone really enjoyed the help of the wind.  It is really nice going up a 2-3 % hill going 20-23 MPH without any effort.  Everyone really enjoyed the day and we had only 3 flats among the group today and this was once again to all the trash along the shoulder of the interstate.

We had only 1 rest stop today due to the short mileage and with the cool wind no one spent much time resting there.  After we left the rest stop the road we went on was the old hwy 30 and we only saw 2 cars on this road from mile 25 to mile 37.  It was really great with the exception of one stretch that was fresh chip seal and it was really rough.  However we were going between 20 and 25 MPH most of the time. 

The landscape really changed from the irrigation land east of Boise with all the crops to arid open range with sagebrush and rolling hills.  It reminded me of the area in eastern Wyoming and Montana.  I know we are in for allot more of this type of terrain until we get close to the big climb coming up in the days ahead into Jackson Hole.

We are now on another 8 days of riding and the next rest day is scheduled for Casper, Wyoming but we have many more miles and hills to attack before we arrive there. 

Everyone of the riders has new energy with our rest day and with the shorter mileage and the helping wind, it was almost like another day off.  In most cases there is usually a payback of an easy days of riding and we will have to meet that challenge when it crosses our path.

I was the 5th rider in today and the luggage truck was unloaded by 11:30. 

Tomorrow we are riding to Twin Falls and it shows to be around 95 Miles.   That is about all for today.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 8 Ontario, Oregon to Boise, Idaho-- 65 Miles and 1787 feet of climbing

Today everyone was ready to get started as we are all looking forward to our rest day tomorrow in Boise.

The weather was in the mid 50's with the high predicted in Boise to be 98 by afternoon. We did not eat breakfast until 0630 and they did rap then and gave us the Que sheet for today's ride.  It had many turns so it was quitelong  compared to the last few days.  But it was really great as we were riding on the country roads with the dairy's and irrigated farm land with Potatoes, Beans,  Wheat, Corn, Onions, Lettuce and probably more but that is the main crops I saw.  We had very little traffic and the road went from smooth asphalt to rough chip seal to brand new asphalt.  Quite a variety. Mostly every one rode in small groups today as we weren't in a hurry as they told us the luggage truck would not be there to unload at the motel until 1330. After arriving in Boise we had great bike lanes all the way until we got down by the capital building and then we had to take one lane and go.

We stopped and ate lunch as everyone was hungry and the recommendation was to stop at one of the restaurants in Hyde Park.  I had a Reuben sandwich and 3 cold glasses of waster and a brownie with a chocolate chip cookie on the top and it was really good.

Everyone is ready to take the day off tomorrow and see the sites around Boise and visit the local bike shop for supplies.  I will probably ride for an hour tomorrow just to keep the legs going.

Next blog won't be until Wed. afternoon.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 7 Baker City to Ontario, Oregon 84 miles

Well today started very cool about 45 degrees and a slight wind out of the South.  I wore my jacket because it is not fun riding when you are cold.  We left town and the wind was in our face to start and then we started a small climb out of town and the fun really began.

This was the day everyone dreams of on a bike, downhill most of the day.  We started out at 3500 Feet and climbed to about 3800 ft. and at the top of this hill I was ready to shed my jacket. The sag vehicles were along the road taking pictures and I left my jacket with Karen at on of the vans as it was starting to warm up pretty good.  Then the fun started we started to drop down 2500 ft in 45 Miles.  It was really nice to coast to give legs a rest from 2 days of climbing.  We really did not have much uphill but at the bottom of every hill usually leads to another up.  This was the case after arriving into the town of Huntington.  After going through town the road started up for about 2 miles and then another downhill decent.  We had to ride on the interstate (84) for 2 different stretches as the frontage road was torn up.  Some riders were unsure of our safety in doing this.  It turned out to be OK as the traffic was lite as it was Sunday morning.  The only trouble with the shoulder on interstates is all the debris that is there.  We had to dodge everything you can imagine.

We then arrived down where the Snake River was on our left and the 2nd and last rest stop for the day was on the river by a campground.  It was getting pretty warm by this time and we did not spend allot of time here.  Margo and myself left with 26 miles to go and we had a slight head wind off and on but we moved on down the road sharing the work and arrived at the Holiday Inn which was home for today. We were the 2nd and 3rd to arrive for the day so we felt really good about today.

I then got my room key put my horse to bed for the day and they we went to dairy queen as the luggage truck was not here yet.  After having a heath bar blizzard, which really hit the spot, we went back and got the luggage unloaded and I went and showered which is always very refreshing.

Tomorrow we leave Oregon and go to Idaho.  We head to Boise and the mileage is listed at 61.

Day 7 Baker City to Ontario, Oregon 84 miles

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 6 John Day to Baker City, Oregon 82 Miles with 4800' of climbing.

Today started with a cool 48 degrees and a slight east wind.  I ended up wearing my arm warmers and my wind vest as it was real cool into the head wind until we started the 1st of 3 climbs on the route for today.  We started to gradually climb out of town at 1-2% and then it kicked up to a steady 6% until mile 13.8 and there was a large covered wagon on the left side of the road, and everyone stopped for a photo shoot.  After leaving this site the road continued to be 6% until we topped out at the Summit at 5277 feet.  This was also where we had our rest stop set up.  There was a restaurant that is famous for their cobbler, so 90% of the riders tried it.  It was very good and I would go back again.  After filling the water bottles up we began the 1st decent of the day and it was very cool.  Then the  road kicked up once again for the second climb of the day and this limb was once again 6% all the way up.  By this time it was getting warm as we were climbing all the time and the scenery was second to none.  The sky was clear and blue and not a cloud in the sky.  But due to no cloud cover it continued to get warmer.  At the top of the second climb which topped out at 5124 feet we once again filled the bottles up. 

The mountains were majestic in 3 directions and I took a few pictures that are posted below.  On the second decent it was a great ride to the bottom and then the 3rd climb of the day started, with another climb of 6% all the way to the top and at the top we had 50 miles in for the day which took a long time to get there compared to my normal 50 mile ride.  You really can't compare due to the long climbs that we can't duplicate in Texas.

After completing the last decent we came to the junction in the road were we made a right hand turn and shortly after I heard a scream from a bird, I looked around and spotted a bald eagle in a nest on top of a pole.  I was going to stop and take a picture, but did not.  Then luck was with me as 1/8 mile down the road were 2 more poles and there were a group of us stopping and one of these nests has another one in it and I got the picture which is in the photo below.

Due to no stores after mile 50, everyone had ordered sandwiches from the restaurant that we ate last night and our support crew hauled them to mile 58, which was next to a lake at a picnic area that had picnic tables and nice shade for the big  pine trees in the park.  We also had a nice breeze blowing which was nice,  however the wind was again coming from the east and we had 25 miles to go in a head wind. 

We left the park and headed on the home stretch and the road followed the clearest stream and the water sure looked inviting but we wanted to get home so 2 of us shared the work by taking turns up front and fought the wind all the way into town.

I  was another tough day with the legs still not recovered from yesterdays climb and most of the day I took it real easy. 

We got to the hotel just in time and the luggage truck pulled in right behind us.  Everyone that was here helped and the unload went really fast.

Every day so far has been another great day to be on a Bike with the great company and the scenery that has been fantastic due to clear Sky's.

Tomorrow is going to be 84 miles but overall we will be dropping elevation instead of climbing and everyone is looking forward to this day.  The only thing that may be a factor is the heat that some riders are not used to.  The morning temperature is supposed to be 44 with a high as we go east of 92. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 5 Prineville to John Day, Oregon 117 Miles with 5000' of climbing

The day started out cool at 48 degrees when we loaded our luggage in the truck at 0515 and then breakfast at 0530 and then we were on the road at 0600.  On long days everyone needs to get going so the slower riders can get on the road and finish within a reasonable time as they want to finish by 1800 with everyone. 

The 1st part of the day was a nice gradual climb out of Prineville with a steady 1% great and very cool.  I rode by my self for about 7 miles and it was time to find a spot to get rid of the morning coffee.  Right down the road was a nice fishing and camping spot and I used there facilities.  After pulling out I was riding again along taking it easy as to same some in reserve for the climbs and the length of today's ride.  Then along came a pace line that had 10 riders in it and Joe looked at me and said join in.  So I dropped in line at the end of the train and away we went at 20 MPH against a slight east wind.  This went along for about 10 miles and the front took turns and then went to the back.  When the hill started to kick up to 6% I dropped off to ride my own pace for reserve later in the day.  I climbed alone passing some people and said hi and good morning to all on the road as we passed.  After getting to the summit which was at 4720' the support truck was there with fluid replacement and food.  After filling up I put my jacket back on and went over the top and then to the decent.  I was a great downhill ride and it ended too soon and then we were in the town of Mitchell and once again we stopped and used the facilities. I took off thinking there was another place to fill my bottles as they were getting low and then we were out of town and the big climb of the day started.  It started right off at 6% and straight up with no switchbacks so you couldn't see where the top was.  It then increased to 7% and then to 8 and sometimes 10% then back to 7% the rest of the way to the top.  My water bottles were empty and the support van was at the top for filling them up.  After eating a honey and peanut butter sandwich and drinking more water, I filled up again and then started the next decent after putting my jacket back on as I had taken it off on the start of both climbs.  The send summit was 4369 not big elevation but still some steep hills.  The second decent was much faster and on the way down the terrain changed from  pine to wide open valleys and rock formations. 

The rest of the day was allot of filling of water bottles as it got into the mid 80's by at the bottom the wind shifted and we had a nice tailwind for the rest of the ride home.  It ended up being a 7'42" day and we were glad that the day was over.  In our group there were 10-15 people  today  that this was their 1st ride of 100 miles of more.  It was also a personal best for me  with 117.

Everyone is ready for bed tonight at we had a late dinner and rap was late also and tomorrow we have 3 more big climbs in the 5000' elevation range.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 4 Kah-nee-ta to Prineville, Oregon 60 Miles

Last night after dinner we took a group photo shot with our America By Bikes jerseys, which are all American red, white and blue.  I am going to see about getting a copy to post, but don't have one yet.

On to today, we got a later start today due to less mileage and moderate climbing.  The temperature started out in the mid 60's with the forecast to be in the low to mid 80's.  We left the casino and got to go down the big hill that we had to climb yesterday and it was great to coast down to the road.  After taking a left turn there was a golf course right by the road and I thought of our weekly group and made a tee time for August 10th for our group if they can make it.  Moving on down the road I spotted a snake and after passing it by I turned around to see what kind it was.  It turned out to be a small garter snake so I did take a picture but it did not show up well.  Then we moved and started the climb out of the canyon we dropped down yesterday and I spotted another snake and this time I could see that is was a rattler, so I took a picture and it should be below this posting. We had a steady climb and once again we could see Mt. Hood in the background.  After topping out we got to descend in to the town of Warm Springs, Oregon.  Due to it going to be hot our support van was getting gas as the Shell station, so I pulled in got rid of morning coffee and topped my water bottles off.  We then got to the Des chutes river and crossed it and there were people floating the river in a boat fly fishing.  It really looked inviting but I had another schedule to meet so that thought of fishing and wading in the inviting clear cool water was only a vision as I started another 5 mile climb out of another canyon.  This climb was not all that bad with a constant 5% with an occasional 6-7% for short spurts.  Due to the heat and lack of places for many water stops as only 1 was on the route for today, our luggage truck was about half way up the hill in a pull out with water for us.  I once again topped off my bottles as when I do allot of climbing I like to stay hydrated.  After topping out on the plateau, the beauty of the country side was awesome and it reminded me of Montana and my good friend Holly.  So when I got the opportunity to stop at the national grassland sign, I called her and said that I was thinking about her knowing she also likes the Mt's and I wanted to say hi.  Up till this point I was riding by myself and enjoying the beauty and fresh air and taking a leisurely ride in the wide open spaces.  We then turned off the main road on rural roads which are kink of lime the Farm to Market roads (FM) that we have in Texas.  These roads took us by fields of carrots that were being grown for seed.  After leaving these fields we started down a nice downhill under a railroad trestle and into the town of Madras, Oregon.  Our rest stop today was in a park with nice shade trees and green grass.  I once again topped off the bottles and ate some snacks. banana's pretzels, cookies, peanuts, and more cookies.  You really burn allot of calories and need to keep replenishing the supply when it is available. I don't want to waste away to nothing.  HA. HA.HA.  Got to keep you humour in all situations.

After the rest stop we had another 1000' of climbing and 30 miles to go before we got to our home away from home today. I hooked up with Howard, Bob and Beth and we moved on down the road.  The roads weren't very steep and we had a slight tailwind and moved on down the road.  After topping out we had a great 30 MPH downhill 6 miles into the town of Prineville, Ore on new asphalt and boy was it great.

After arriving at the motel for today, there were 3 riders getting ready to go and eat so they waited until we checked in and we hopped back on our bikes and went and got lunch and ice cream at the local Taste Freeze that was opened in 1952. 

Today was once again an awesome day to be out in the wide open spaces of God's creation and I gave many thanks for all the beauty and being able to have the enjoy it with others.

Tomorrow we will have our first day over 100 miles and the forecast is for more warm temperatures.  Need to get a good nights sleep and see what new and exciting challenges await the new day.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 3 Welches to Kah-Nee-ta, Oregon. Indian reservation resort and casino. Mileage 67.3

The day started overcast and cool today and it was in the mid 50's at the start of the ride. After receiving the profile for today's ride we had a 13 mile climb right from the start up to Mt. Hood with a forecast in the afternoon over the top in the 80's.

I wanted to take it easy today and ride comfortable in regards to my heart rate monitor so when the ride started I took it easy and rode with new people again today. 1st was Nan who is a emergency room nurse from Havana, IL. I asked her how she got the time off for this ride and when her hospital was asked they told her no. So she quite and is doing the ride and will find another job when she returns.

I then ran into Shirley from Maine who said that she was 62 and enjoys these rides. 3 years ago she did a ride across the USA with an all women's bike tour and when I heard that the discussion came up of weather she was in Kerville at the same time that I was there for the Easter Hill ride and she said yes. We talked about the snow and she rode 20 miles on Saturday when we came back to Ft. Worth at the weather was terrible. She got frostbite on one of her fingers.

I then started to pick up the pace a little and rode by myself the rest of the way up the pass to Mt. Hood. It was a steady 4% to start and then kicked up to 6% and at 13 miles we reached the top. What a great view of Mt. Hood again today, closer and clear sky's once again. On the way up I had shed my arm warmers as it got warm and I was sweating pretty good. At the top we filled our bottles got something to eat and then I put my wind vest and arm warmers on once again as it was still cool and we had a good decent. On the decent Jeff from Newtown, Ct. We rode together until the second and final rest stop at mile 45. On the decent I spotted some bear grass and took pictures for my wife as she really likes them. I also took pictures of Lupins.

By the time we hit the 2nd water stop my bottles were empty as it was in the mid 80's and hot. There was a slight breeze which made the rest of the ride ok. There were 2 more good limbs one was a 7-10% hill for 3/4 of a mile and then we hit a 1600 foot decent and then a mile climb up to the resort which was another 7-10% grade for 1 mile.

All in all it was another great day meeting new riders and enjoying nature and everything God created for us to enjoy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 2 from St. Helens to Welches, Ore. 3200 Ft.of Climbing and 74 miles was the listed Mileage. (83.6 My Mileage)

Today everyone was ready to get on with our adventure.  Last night at the rap session ( this is where we get the route with the mileages and anything we need to watch out for or be aware of.)  we were told the luggage would load between 0545 and 0615 with breakfast at 0600.  I loaded by luggage right at 0545 and then went in and ate breakfast.

After eating I got my bike and put air in the tires and then waited for some more riders to leave so I would have someone to ride with.  Margo and 1 other rider whose name I haven't learned.  We left and had a slight tail wind at 15 MPH and 50 degrees.  We were riding about 22-25 MPH and at about 3.5 miles I felt my back and realized I left my camel back with my wallet, leg warmers, etc at the Motel.  I turned around and headed back but this time it was against the wind.  Needless to say my heart rate climbed as I was in hurry to get back to locate my pack.  All the riders coming against me kept giving me looks, like where are you going.  After arriving back to the Motel, I looked where my bike had been parked when I put air in my tires and it wasn't there.  Then I went in to the motel lobby and some of the staff from group asked what I was looking for, l told them and they said it was in the breakfast area and Jeff had it, what a relief. 

This was not the way I wanted to start.  Mike the ride leader asked my when I came back out of the Motel, I thought you had all ready left.  I said that the mileage for today was not enough for me so some bonus miles were in order.

Just when I was ready to leave the 2nd time, Jay and Kay were leaving so I hooked up with them.  We trucked down the road at 25 MPH until we crossed the Columbia River in Portland where the Marathon goes as I saw Mile 17 painted in the Street.  All was good and we arrived at the 1st rest stop for the day at mile 22.  I then hooked up with Michael and Matt Louis, who are riding a Tandem bike.  They are father and son and Matt is 16 and Michael will be 55 on July 30 so we will celebrate his birthday on the ride.  They are raising money for a charity and have raised over 17,000 Dollars

Michael is a sports physical therapist and in the 1984 summer Olympics,  he was assigned to be the official therapist for all of the cyclists.  Not just the Americans, but all of them.  This was really neat hearing his stories and talking to his son Matt. 

After leaving the rest area we were routed to the Portland bike trail along the Columbia River for our departure out of town.  Because we had to make many turns on this path other riders from our group caught up and about 15 were all riding together which was really neat to see.  The Portland bike path system is really neat and fun to ride.

After  leaving the bike train we arrived at our last aid station of the day and we refilled our bottles and were ready to leave once again.  From here on we started our climb, which was not real steep but a steady grade where it went from 2% and at times kicked up to 8%.  At we were climbing the sky's started to clear and the sun was shining on Mt. Hood and it was clearly visible. 

While climbing we went by many tree farms and fruit stands.  As we were passing a church the sign out front said "Come as you are, Perfect people not allowed, which was a high spot in the conversation as we passed.

We then came to a spot where we could get a good photo shot of Mt Hood and we took pictures. 

Moving on we were looking for the lunch stop at Calamity Jane's.  We found it and ate and then moved on to our last stop which is the resort at the Mountain..   This is really a plush place and each of our rooms is a sweet, with a Pool, Hot Tub, Golf Course.  We are really lucky for this break from today's ride.

This is all for today and pictures are posted below.

Tomorrow is 66 Miles with 5000' of climbing.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 1, Astoria to St. Helens Oregon. 69.5 miles with 3000 ft of climbing

Day one was officially started today with getting up loading our luggage on the truck at 0615, breakfast at 0630 and I was on the road by 0700. 

The day started out cloudy, overcast and a cool 50 degrees. I wore my knee warmers, arm warmers and wind vest as I am a wimp any more when it comes to riding in the cooler weather.  We rode hwy 30 all the way and most of the way there was a good wide shoulder.  There was a whole lot of rocks, glass, debris and chunks of wood bark that was being blown off by the logging trucks.  The 1st 20 miles I hooked up with Dan and really enjoyed riding with him.  He starts out every day with the song "Oh what a beautiful morning.  This was really a nice touch as it was really great to  be alive and out in the fresh air on my bicycle.  We did some climbing and Dan said that he was slow on the climbs so for me to go ahead.  I rode by my self for about 2 miles when another rider caught up with me and started up a conversation.  I did not get his name but he owns the Holiday Inn express in Astoria where we stayed last night.  He told me that  he had watched the America By Tour leave from his hotel for the last 5 years and he decided to ride along with us today only.  He was a great help on the 2 big climbs we had today as he stayed behind me and let me  know that the top was just around the bend.  Mentally this is helpful as you know when the suffering is to end soon when the road levels out.  After the 2nd water stop at mile 48 he rode on and I said thanks for being a great tour guide.

After filling up my 2 water bottles I rode out by myself.  After riding to mile 55 I thought that the pavement had really gotten rough.  Supprise I had my 1st flat tire.  All of the things in the road a staple was stuck in the tire.  I pulled off the road and put my bike over the guard rail as this was a whole lot safer than having my back to all the traffic on the shoulder.  One  of the tour staff member's stopped and kept me company and gave me moral support until all was aired up and good to go once again.  2 riders came by and I rode in with them the rest of the way to the motel.

We got back to the motel just in time to help unload the luggage truck.  That is the one thing about getting to the motel daily is the chore of helping unload every ones bags.  There were lots of help and we were done in about 10 minutes.  Everyone has 2 bags.

After taking a shower and getting cleaned up I was going out the lobby door and 2 other riders were ready to go and get something to eat.  We all went to subway and got a sandwich.  Then we went to the drug store and bought some efferdent, which we are told is a great way to wash your water bottles daily so you don't get mould on them.

This is all for today.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Orientation in Astoria.

Well the day is finally here. 

The one question everyone has asked is how many are doing your ride?  Today we got the sheet that shows 47 are riding all the way to the Atlantic Ocean,  15 people are doing parts of the ride.  I have not got the stats on males and females yet, so more to follow later on that.  We have a class at 3Pm today and I should get more information. 

Today we rode from the motel to the Pacific ocean and back for a total mileage of 26.6   We took an indirect route to keep us off a busy bridge right out of Astoria.  I rode with about 15 other cyclists and when we got to  the ocean and took our shoes off and carried our bikes to the ocean and dipped our rear tire in the ocean. This is the tradition to dip the rear wheel in the starting ocean and the front tire in the ending ocean.

The weather was nice and cool and we did get wet as it rained off and on going and coming back.

Earlier in the day my wife Sue and granddaughter Theresa drove to the ocean so they could see the ocean and both of them found some sand dollars in a downpour while I stayed in the truck.

I did not get any pictures of my wheel dipping in the ocean as it was raining when we left and my camera got left with my baggage at the hotel.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Drive to Astoria

After a 3 day drive with my wife Sue and my oldest granddaughter Theresa we made it to Astoria, Oregon where my ride will start.  Registration, orientation and meet everyone starts tomorrow and then Monday we start our journey east.

It has now sunk in that the time has come for my journey of a lifetime.  I am really excited to get going after riding in the truck for 3 days.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Training for the x-country ride

I have been riding my bicycle 6 days per week since Jan. 2010 and it is now June and my ride is less than 2 weeks away. My weekly mileage has been between 300 and 350 miles per week as the training log suggested from the company I am riding with. So far my yearly mileage is over 5000.

I am riding from Astoria, Oregon to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for a total distance of 3650. This will be a 50 day adventure with 5 rest days, so the actual ride will be 45 days with the daily average mileage being 86. America By Bike is the company I am doing my ride with as we are staying in Motels every day and they take care of hauling the luggage, mechanical support and rest stops daily.