Tuesday, August 28, 2007

1000 miles into Big Sky Country

Juliette and I ended our third week on a quick decent into Montana from Lolo Pass. We made it to Missoula the next day and took an over due rest day. We hit 1000 mile on our trip at a Dairy Queen in Lolo, Montana. We rewarded ourselves with the best tasting blizzard I have ever had.

Idaho is a beautiful state. The traffic on highway 95 was fast and close and we could smell roadkill every 10 miles. Things got much nicer on state route 12 was much nicer. We were expecting the worst there, but it ended up being one of the nicest roads so far. It followed the Lochsa River for miles and just snaked through the canyon. We camped on Wier Creek and took a dip in the hot springs. The hottest pool can reach 114 in the summer and was just what we needed to relax after a few days of climbing. We also found a nice spot along the Lochsa to swim/bathe/laundry (if you go in with your clothes on it's an all in one).

Missoula is a pretty nice little town. I think I see more bikes locked up around town here than in Eugene. We were greeted here with outstanding hospitality from Amalia. She put us up for the last two nights and showed us around town a little. Thank you so much!

So far the only real negative is the sunburn on my ears. I'm using SPF 50 and reapplying every couple of hours, but I still have blisters. I haven't had a sunburn this bad in years. According to my parents I never had freckles on my ears until the first time they blistered when I was about four. I've started tucking them under my hat. I feel like an idiot, but it seems to work.

You all should check out Juliette's blog too: jbealebiketour2007.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Logging trucks and the smell of death.

That's been the big experience in Idaho so far. The logging trucks move fast and give very little room. They're as bad as they are in Oregon. The roadkill is also as bad as it is in Oregon, but seems to smell worse here. What is it with the states not picking up their dead animals?

Idaho is still a beautiful state. The ride along the Salmon River was amazing. Yesterday we hit the worst wind so far riding into Riggins. It was 60 miles straight into a 20+ mph wind. It took us 5.5 hours.

Today the ride into Grangeville was much nicer. We rode on the old highway, which is so small it doesn't even have lines painted on it. It also had no traffic to speak of, nice steady grade with switchbacks I've only seen on Tour de France coverage (minus the millions of screaming fans), and a great decent into town.

Some other random thoughts... I finally got my load balanced enough to ride no hands, I can bunny hope an 80+ pound loaded touring bike, chamios butt'r has reached a near godly status, and this is the ultimate way to travel.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Good bye Oregon, hello Idaho!

So after two solid weeks in Oregon we finally crossed the Snake River and made it to Idaho on Sunday evening. We left Oregon how I always remember it, in the rain. We got dumped on for over an hour and later found it was a half inch of rain. My jacket sucks and I got soaked. Luckily it wasn't cold, the day cleared before sunset, and I dried out before dark. The smartwool shirts were warm even when wet.

Yesterday we took a rest day in Hells Canyon near the Brownlee Dam, before heading to Council, ID this morning. After two weeks of riding I think our bodies have settled into the day after day pace. The aches and pains are pretty much gone and I'm finally getting used to night after night on a thermarest. We stayed at our first hotel in Halfway, OR to get out of the smoke from a fire miles away and I tossed and turned all night on the bed!

The hospitality is still wonderful. We've had no problem getting directions, camping, or resturant advice. Juliette and I were huddled under a ramada at a park in Halfway to get out of the rain and eat some lunch. A woman driving by saw us there and invited us to use her guest trailer as long as we needed if we, "Don't smoke, drink, do drugs, or watch dirty movies." It was a nice gesture, but we didn't take her up on it because we wanted to finally get out of Oregon.

We've been seeing Jeremy, another coast to coast rider, every couple of days. It's kind of fun to guess where we'll see him next. Every now and then we'll stop in to some small store or cafe and they'll tell us, "that other biker was just through here." I wonder which of us will get to the Atlantic first.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Oh, the hospitality

We started our second week yesterday and all is well. We stayed just west of Ochoco Pass in the national forest and made our way to Dayville, OR. We stopped in Mitchell for breakfast and an afternoon break in the park to beat the heat before making it on to Dayville. In the park two older women offered us fresh fruit. This got us thinking that the "empty nesters" might be a good source of hospitality.

Things got even better in Dayville. The ride in was hot and windy. We stopped at the general store for a beer on our way into town. As we walked in the man behind the counter said, "Hey, I saw you two in Prineville the other day." He rung us up and told us about the church hostel on the hill. We went to the park to drink the beers and a couple out for a walk suggested the church too, so we checked it out. Hot showers, laundry, internet, and a kitchen, oh my!

We met another tourer, Audrey, here last night. She started in Virgina in May with a couple of other women and they parted ways in Missouri. She's been riding alone ever since and was still really excited to ride. She plans to roll through Eugene for the Saturday Market this weekend.

Just when we thought we were the only people heading east we met Jeremy today. He started in Astoria a week and a half ago. He'll stay at the hostel tonight, but we'll head out this afternoon. I'm sure we'll see him off an on for a little while.

So far we've ridden about 430 miles and spent 37 hours on the bike. Our appetites are huge (especially Juliette's, she's finishing her food and whatever I can't eat), but we're adjusting well. The aches and pains aren't too bad, and we're still enjoying everyday!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

300 miles and 25 hours

Juliette and I made it into Sisters, OR yesterday, which put our first major mountain range, the Cascades, behind us. So far it's been slow and steady as we ease into our long days on the bike.

Day 1, Eugene to Florence, was rather ambitious. It was 80+ miles and took nearly 7 hours. We planned to follow it with a rest day, but decided to head back instead. It took us two days to get back to Eugene, which proved to be helpful in figuring out our gear. Day 2 was about 50 miles to Triangle Lake, followed by 40 miles (errands included) on Day 3 to Eugene.

When we got to Eugene on Day 3 we switched up some gear and were met with incredible hospitality from Kellen. He put us up for the night, made us breakfast in the morning, and sent us off with two days worth of snacks. It was a good way to leave Eugene. Thank you very much, Kellen.

Leaving Eugene and heading east on Day 4 was wonderful, it felt like the trip was actually starting. We made it 63 miles to the Delta Campground near McKenzie Bridge, OR off highway 126. Day 5 was another 60+ miles over Santiam Pass and into Sisters. Climbing my 80+ pound loaded bike over the pass wasn't as bad as I expected. Climbing isn't fast, but ground gets covered. The difference between the east and west Cascades is drastic. It's so much dryer here and feels much more like home.

Overall we spent 120 miles on 126 in two days. The traffic was heavy, but not terrible. We had hoped to clear the Cascades on historic 242 from McKenzie Bridge to Sisters, but the road is still closed for construction.

So far some of the highlights have been the picnic lunch stops and camping. On highway 126 near Vida we ate lunch in a hazelnut orchard and saw a fox run through. Yesterday we soaked a bit in the Deer Creek hot springs as we ate, which were more warm than hot, but still felt wonderful.

That leaves us on Day 6 here in Sisters taking a much needed rest day. I got a new seat in Eugene and the break in period was a little uncomfortable, but is done. Juliette got a little pain above her heel after the first day, but after a little icing, taping, and some fit adjustments, everything seems fine. Spirits, appetite, and general hygiene are still high.

Tomorrow is Day 7 and we hope to go about 80 miles to Mitchell, OR. The days will be warmer and we'll really have to watch for sunburns (my ears and neck already got it) and water. I've never been through eastern Oregon, so I'm pretty excited.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Leave for the Coast Monday

Pat will be starting out on his grand adventure by biking from Eugene to the coast Monday, August 6th.