Archive for July, 2011

Baker City, OR to Prairie City, OR

Friendly horn taps: 3

Rude horn honks: 2

Miles: 70

Total miles so far: 4, 262

Shadow play: Out of the Saddle!

Last year on the 10th of July, Sallie and I got a 4:15am start on Colorado’s Triple Bypass, a 120 mile, one day ride, covering three mountain passes.  Today we did three mountain passes here in Oregon.  The differences were notable in that we had much more oxygen in the air to breathe, and we didn’t go 120 miles to accomplish the ride.

Nonetheless, we put in a full day covering Sumpter Pass, Tipton Pass, and Dixie Pass on our way into Prairie City.  We spent nearly the entire day in the forest, which always provides green relief from some of the prairie, and when the trees would clear, the vistas of the ever present surrounding mountains were beautiful, particularly when we cleared Dixie Pass and dropped into the john Day River Valley.  The view we had of the Strawberry Range was breathtaking.

The Strawberry Range as seen from across the John Day River Valley from near Dixie Pass

We are getting an early start on the night’s sleep, as we are rising at 5:00am while the weather remains fairly warm, and to be quite honest, we are a little tired from the day’s labors.

Sallie says next July 10th, she’s not going to be climbing any more mountain passes.  I say talk is cheap.

Lovely mountains on all sides

This gentleman was a bomber pilot in WWII. He remains in contact with the faster life today

As seen this morning in Baker City. I think there's a trademark story here somewhere...


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Kay Cee Herring

Kay Herring

Kay Herring was a native of Buford, Georgia.  On December 1, 1999 Kay was killed in a rear end, high speed collision with a drunk driver while traveling between St. Augustine and Jacksonville, Florida.


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Halfway, OR to Baker City, OR

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles: 57

Total miles so far: 4,192

The view behind us as we move west near Flagstaff Hill, Oregon

I was once asked by a MADD volunteer preparing a “shoes” display (a shoes display is the assembling of a specific number of shoes to represent the number of people killed in drunk driving crashes) if I would like to place a pair of Carlie’s shoes in the display as it was going to be at the state capitol.  I declined.

I have her shoes.  I have the very shoes she was wearing the night of the crash. They are in my closet.  I see them everyday, but I won’t lend them out for fear of losing them.  I received them in a horribly awkward moment when Carlie’s clothes were unceremoniously handed to me in a paper evidence bag, months after the crash.  That’s another story for another time.  What matters is I have her shoes…I have so precious little.

One of the things people in my position face is what to do with the personal possessions of a loved one.  In a moment of bravery, I once gathered all her clothes from her room and called a friend who worked at a church charity to see if I could come by privately, after hours, and bring them in for some needy children.  It was way too early, but I didn’t know that.  Things were going well, it was sad, but we went through the donation and sorted everything.  I thought we were done, because I had asked to be able to come in, drop them off, and leave.

My friend pulled out a receipt book and with pen poised to write, asked what monetary value they had.  I was overcome by the question, lost all control, and began sobbing in that shocking way that I was familiar with, but very few people were witness to.   I said something about priceless, and left as quickly as I could.  I learned very painfully it was way too early for me to be doing something like that.

For some people, for some items, there never will be a time when something like that can or should be done.  That’s OK.  A comment came into this journal and the writer moved and reconstructed her child’s bedroom in the new house. There are a lot of examples.  What was I  to do with the little hearts Carlie drew on a book shelf in the dust of my lax housekeeping?  I wouldn’t close the front blind to my house because that was the window through which I last saw her leave.  My porch light stayed on for two years until I moved.  I could go on…

I have her shoes, and I won’t lend them out.

The Powder River during a quiet stretch

The view ahead as we approach Baker City, Oregon


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Jason Moffitt

Jason Moffitt image not available

Twelve years ago, Jason Moffitt, age 22  was killed on 7/10/99.  Jason was a rear-seat passenger in a collision involving a drunk driver.

Jason’s mother contacted me and asked if I could make a dedication to him as she approached this anniversary, but was unable to forward a picture.

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Cambridge, Idaho to Halfway, Oregon

Miles: 58

Total miles so far: 4,135

Trip Update: We’ve entered Oregon, and we have projected a completion date for this journey, arriving in Astoria, Oregon on July 19!  That’s only eleven more days of riding.

Our 13th and final state!

In the game of paper, rock, scissors, if I have the order correct, I  believe the game goes, paper takes rock, rock takes scissors, and scissors takes paper.  In touring cycling there are maybe four main elements to riding.  Heat, takes cold, rain takes heat, but wind trumps them all.

We woke to a stiff northwesterly wind this morning on a day predicted to have only 5 to 10 mph winds.  Instead it was blowing 25 mph plus.  Wind is the ultimate nemesis for cycling.  The majority of resistance to forward movement of a cyclist is air drag, and any amount of wind is felt immediately in terms of increased needed effort and decreased speed.   Wind is such a factor in cycling that drafting other cyclists has been measured to decrease effort by as much as 40 percent.  The panniers we carry on our bikes are a big wind catcher too.  We routinely draft for one another, taking turns when it’s windy.

Brownlee Resevoir, Hell's Canyon

Today was to be a difficult day, as we had to ride through the Snake River canyon, otherwise known as Hell’s Canyon.  Every person we met seemed to shake their heads and tell us how hot it gets in Hell’s Canyon.  We met two cyclists yesterday that said they nearly didn’t make it out of there without serious dehydration problems.  Now we had wind to contend with.

Fortunately, an after-effect of some thunderstorms that hit the area last evening, cooler temperatures prevailed, so as it turned out, temperatures were not an issue.  But we had wind.  Direct headwinds.

The Snake River behind Oxbow Dam, Hell's Canyon. Oregon shore to the left, Idaho to the right.

Most of the morning was spent climbing the hills and ridges that surround Hell’s Canyon, and if there is some saving grace in going uphill during headwinds, it is the physics of the effects of that same wind.  Traveling on a level surface where a cyclist with panniers can normally maintain say, 14 miles per hour, with a 25 mile an hour wind, the cyclist may be reduced to 8 miles per hour.    That’s about a 43% drop in speed.

Climbing steep hills, where a cyclist with loaded panniers may only maintain 6 miles per hour, the cyclist encountering a 25 mph wind may move at 5.4 miles per hour.  That only a 10% drop in speed.

Oregon...the beauty continues.

The real problems are the psychological stress the winds place on the cyclist.  It’s just not an enjoyable experience, and climbing long grades with a seventy five pound bike and load is something that only demented people enjoy anyway.

We cannot control things like the wind, and we made it through the day in good humor despite the conditions.  Predictions for tomorrow are better, but they were that way last night too.

It is what it is, and we go on.

Dedications:  If you have a dedication you would like posted, or know someone who may want one in the remaining days we have left, please consider e-mailing them to me at carl2ride@gmail(dot)com.  A picture is preferred in jpeg format, and a short paragraph of how the dedication could be worded is helpful.

Please include the date of the collision, hometown, or other pertinent information.  I may do some editing for continuity, but I am happy to help any way I can.

Our home for the night...tents in a horse corral with showers available; $5 each person.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Robvina Marie Anderson

Robvina Anderson

Robvina Anderson of Grants Pass, Oregon was injured in a drunk driving collision on October 28, 2006.  She was 17 years old at the time of the crash.

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New Meadows, ID to Cambridge, ID

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles: 52

Total so far:  4,077

Beauty break...wildflowers in sagebrush

It happened again today.  I’ve seen this repeated in one form or another a couple of dozen times.  It’s usually a man, never a woman, and the exchange goes something like this:

He: “Where are you headed to?”

Me: “Astoria, Oregon.”

He: “Wow.  Well, when you leave here, “I’d take the 107 to 84, head up to 176, and across Hoodang County that way.  That will probably save you a ton of miles.  Heck, it’s a straight shot from here if you know what I mean.”

Me: “Thanks for that, but we have these maps and they route us all over the place to avoid heavy traffic and commercial vehicles.  They take us the most scenic routes, with good road shoulders to ride on when possible.”

He: (Not very happy about having his route advice ignored) “Son, I figure you are an intelligent person, you look like one anyway, trust me, I know these roads like the back of my own hand.”

Me: “Yea, well I think I got that…107 to 84 and head up to 176, right?”

And then I follow the map when I get out of sight of the advice giver.  He’s only trying to be helpful, but this is like some strange male ritual where the stranger in the county must yield to the insistence of the resident native.  Especially if the stranger in the county is wearing spandex.

it's usually not signed, but we may cross the 45th Parallel three times. I'm not counting.

For those who have been following us, and those who have maybe made the mistake of taking out a map to track our route with pins or other devices and made guesses as to what roads we took, you will notice we are just now finishing a big giant southern dash after a long northern trek up to Missoula, Montana.  yes we’ve gone 300 miles south, after going 300 miles north.  We’ll next go west to the coast, and back north again.  The zig-zags are intentional.

Missoula is where the headquarters for Adventure Cycling Association is located (Those are the people who furnish our maps and routes.  Sallie refers to the ACA headquarters as the mother ship).  Touring cyclists that stop in get a free ice cream cone and their picture taken.  We did not stop, because we rode through there on the Sunday of the Fourth of July weekend.

ANYWAY, the purpose of that northern swing is not exclusively for picture taking and ice cream eating, but this is a tour.    The routes have been carefully researched and provide a genuine showcase of roads for cyclists wanting to see this nation.  The maps are like a complicated formula in algebra.  If you skip some steps, you’ll get a different answer. It is not a way to get up to Hoodang County by saving a ton of miles.  We heard of another group who wanted to avoid the mountains of Colorado and chose to go from Kansas to Fort Collins, and then up to Laramie, Wyoming.  That’s great…but they missed Breckenridge, Frisco, and the other attractions of the ski areas in summer (and they had to ride bicycles north on Highway 287).  I’m told the same group intended not to make the northern swing into Missoula, but take a short-cut across Idaho.  If they do that, they miss the great rivers we just traced.

Yes, this is a lot of work, but bicycles are like that.  They don’t pedal themselves.  You may have noticed we’ve just passed the 4,000 mile mark (Yea!!).  Our current estimates are that we’ll finish with something closer to 4,760 miles.  Anyone can cross the country, even from Florida to Oregon, in less miles than that…but this is not about saving miles, but making our ride a tour of the nation.

Life is like that…there are more direct paths to take, but we’d miss out on the tour.  I’m so very grateful that I’ve chosen the latter.

Frontier Motel in Cambridge, ID: Cyclists get a camping spot out back, showers, laundry and a pool for $10. This is what it looked like right before I jumped in (I've always wanted to do that to a quiet pool).


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Paul Justin Clark

Paul Justin Clark

Paul Clark, a resident of Mesa , Arizona was killed by a drunk driver on March 17, 2007.  Paul was but 25 years old.

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White Bird, ID to New Meadows, ID

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles: 60

Miles so far: 4,025

The Salmon River

We followed the Salmon River going upstream this morning in the startlingly beautiful Salmon River Valley.  We took a fork and did the same with the little Salmon River.  The route in Idaho seems to be a river’s route as  a theme.  It needs to be, as the countryside on either side of these valleys cut by the rivers is deep and steep.

At lunch we stopped in a little restaurant in Riggins, Idaho.  It was called the Cattleman’s.  One of the owners, a little gal in her mid-sixties used to be a fly fishing guide.  She made a good living from an exclusive list of clients, but gave up the work and bought a restaurant so she could be more of a help to her mother.  She says she hasn’t been fishing in two years and misses it terribly.  then she laughed and said, “During the two years, I bought three fly rods though!”

Just upstream from Riggins on the Little Salmon River, we came to a spot where there was no parking available on the highway, and fishermen were everywhere on the water.  I saw fishermen working the swift water, literally shoulder to shoulder.

During an afternoon break at a little country store on the Little Salmon River we got a brief lesson on the habits of salmon by the owner there.  He explained they are running right now, trying to make it back to the places where they were first hatched.  According to this man, salmon are driven to spawn and come back to the exact place where they started life, after two years time.  He explained that what we witnessed below, what he referred to as, “combat fishing” is generated by the fish trying to get to the hatchery, on the banks of the Little Salmon.    The hatchery happens to be at the place where we saw all the people fishing.  These are hatchery released fish.  He says the creeks are full of “natural” salmon doing the same thing, but the natural salmon are protected and if caught must be released, unless caught by a member of the Nez Perce Indian tribe.

Something new I learned today, is that salmon always have their noses pointed upstream, even when they are migrating (do fish migrate?) out to sea.  Essentially, they are swimming backwards.  It is said that is how they never lose track of where they came from.

The day was full of meeting nice people and riding through some gorgeous country.  I don’t know the first thing about salmon, so I was particularly interested in the explanations about their behavior. I’m not so sure about the swimming backwards thing though.  I may have to look that one up.

Another span of "bridge art" by the Idaho DOT

One of the creeks running into the Little Salmon River

The Little Salmon River


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Raelene Pearce

Raelene Pearce

Raelene Pearce, age 22 from Couer d’Alene, Idaho was killed on April 20, 1998.  She was a passenger in a car operated by a drunk driver.  The car went into the Couer d”Alene River, and Raelene drowned as a result.


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