Archive for the ‘Living the life’ Category

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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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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Lolo Hot Springs, Montana to Lowell, Idaho

Rude horn honks: 1

Miles: 87

Total so far: 3,894

Descending with the Lochsa River to our left for the entire day's ride.

I look at the alarm clock and it’s 4:30am.  Despite my desire to sleep, the process of waking will take hold now, and there is little I can do to prevent it.  I will fall asleep again, but it will be the in and out of slumber marked by dreams until the alarm goes off at 6:00.   We are within a stone’s throw of Lolo Creek.  Camping this close to the banks of a creek when the morning will be chilled is a recipe for damp wet mornings, but the campground needed us here because they were cleaning up after some sort of a rock concert two nights before.

I hear water drops hit my tent floor.  This tent will do that on cold wet mornings.  It doesn’t leak, it is the condensation from inside that runs down the rain fly until it catches up on a wave in the fabric.  The water collects and then drops.  It’s not much, my gear will remain dry.  The tent will be soaked from the dew and we’ll pack up wet tents again.  In the cold.

I snuggle back down in my sleeping bag and go for the bonus sleep – that little I can squeeze out before it”s time to get going again.  Think of the warmth of the bag; breathe; don’t think of anything else…sleep will come.

“Good morning Sal.”  I give my usual greeting upon reaching the alarm clock and silencing it’s morning roust.  My comment is returned with a mumble from her tent about the cold, but we are up.  The routine is well established, first dress in the cycling clothing of the day, supplemented by knee warmers, gloves, and layers covered over with the heavy rain jacket — whatever we have for warmth.  No socks and shoes — we’ll be walking around on wet grass.  Flip-flops, the non insulated non-water proof variety.  Cold toes are in our future.  Pack the sleeping bag, the Therma Rest mattress, the clothing bag, get all the gear ready and pitched out of the tent.  Grab the food pannier (right front) and exit the tent, leaving the last warmth of the morning.  Our day begins.

Ascending Lolo Pass

After we fix breakfast and secure our equipment to the bikes we ascend what is left of Lolo Pass.  This will end our time in Montana, as the pass marks the Idaho border.  One more state behind us, only two more to complete.  Descending, we enter a new environment entirely, marked by two deer I surprise just at the top of the pass.  I would expect mule deer, but these are clearly white tail.  The trees suddenly change.   There are pines here I do not recognize, and red cedars appear.  Giant red cedars.  maybe they are all that big.  I have no way to know.  There are ferns in the understory.  Ferns?  The mountains of the river valley are steep.  Consistently steep.  You-will-need-rope to get up these, leave the horses behind steep.

Only one more border crossing remains

A peek over the top

I take a picture of the terrain as we begin descending Lolo Pass, but I miss taking a picture of the highway sign that says, ” Road Curves the Next 99 Miles”.  Really? Really.

Red cedars. Big ones.

Soon we are alongside the Lochsa River and I come to understand why we are on a winding road for 99 miles.  We will trace this river the rest of the day.  The white water is spectacular, but it’s obvious the run-off has the water levels too high to work safely.  There are no rafts on the water.

We begin a section of the ride that has no services (water, food, gas stations, etc.) for 65 miles.  We had planned to camp at a forest service primitive campsite on the Lochsa River, but the riding is so spectacular, we do not want to quit, so we push on to Lowell.  Down the river we go…

Some of the white water on the Lachsa River

More river than the rafts want...

Safe landings in Lowell, Idaho...and a picture with Peter Townsend to prove it (not really he says he's Tom Petty)


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to David Scott Berry

David Scott Berry

David Scott Berry was on his way back to college when he was hit head-on by a drunk driver.  David was 25 and he was from Mena, Arkansas.  The crash took place on May 25, 2008.

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Bannack State Park, MT to May Creek Camp Ground (Chief Joseph Pass)

Friendly horn taps: 2

Miles: 65

Total so far 3,678




Gate post on a ranch

*Wriiten on 7/1/2011; Posted from Darby Montana on 7/2/2011*

The Montana route so far has been a series of fertile green valleys and fairly significant mountain passes. No sooner do we complete the climb of one pass, we drop into a valley that is surrounded by mountains, cross the valley and make for another pass. The passes have not been extremely steep, long, or really high in altitude (today we did the highest, Big Hole Pass at 7,400′). The route itself is amazing, because the terrain is so diverse and stunningly beautiful.

Big Hole River

We can tell we are much higher in latitude also. It does not get dark here until well after 10:00pm, and we were told in the town of Wisdom that they only average 32 days of frost free weather a year. That’s for a valley at 6,400 feet above sea level. We were told they can’t grow alfalfa here because of the frost.

We were witness to heavy frost last night at about the same altitude, as we had to pack our tents while still full of ice this morning. I thought it was because the campground was situated right on a creek bank (creek banks are nice for camping, but quite cold in the west – cold air descends, etc.), but perhaps at this latitude this is common for the first day of July.

Although we are having cold mornings until we drop significantly in altitude tomorrow after clearing Chief Joseph pass, the days have been quite nice with highs in the 60’s. Today there is little wind, so we had a near perfect day for cycling this beautiful state.



Descending into the Big Hole Valley with the Beaver Head Mountains in the background

The only common complaint among cyclists we meet is the mosquitoes are out with a vengeance. The Big Hole Valley must be the northern hemisphere headquarters for mosquitoes. The entire valley seems to be one large irrigated hay field, and that is prime real estate for the little fellows. I’ve seen bigger mosquitoes, but the numbers here are impressive. With all the frost, I’d sure like to know how they survive, but they seem to thrive.

One rancher was complaining that the hay in the valley wasn’t getting tall enough, quick enough, and another said, “Maybe the mosquitoes ought to pull it up a little more.” I’m sure they would if they could.



Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Stephanie Mae Andring


Stephanie Mae Andring

Stephanie Andring was killed at the age of 14 riding in a vehicle with a drunk driver. She was in her first year of high school, a Junior Varsity Cheerleader, and involved in the performing arts. Stephanie was from Metter, Georgia. 

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