Martin’s Every Road Tour

I met Martin Arnold in the Honey Pot in Gackle, North Dakota. Actually, I woke him up after midnight. Martin had begun his bike tour two months before mine in Brunnen, Switzerland.

For the next month we met time and again as we both made our way to Anacortes, Washington. Martin had a video camera and has made this edited account of his ride. The section of his ride in Europe is new to me. Although we didn’t see each other, our routes actually overlapped somewhat from DC to Indiana and again from Minneapolis to Gackle.

I got a good laugh out of the pictures from the Northern Cascades in Washington state. He’s going fast one second then crawling the next. Just as I remember it. Except that the crawling lasted all morning and the speedy descents lasted a few blissful hours in the afternoon.

At the end of the video is his blog address. The blog is in German but contains many more pictures including one of the two of us when we briefly rode together near Colville National Forest.

 

Any Road Tour – Riding with La Mariposa

During my bike tour to the Pacific northwest, I tried to put out of my mind that I had several mountains to climb to get from central Montana to the Pacific. With each climb I’d find myself grinding away, sometimes at speeds as slow as 4 or 5 miles per hour. On several occasions as the effort became difficult and my speed fell, I would pick up a companion.

As it turns out, butterflies fly at about 6 miles per hour. I’d find myself totally focused, giving it everything I had, and there, flitting around me would be a butterfly. Each time it seemed as if the butterfly was telling me, “See how easy it is?” These encounters would go on for as long as five minutes, welcome diversions from the arduous task at hand.

And my flying companions would remind me of someone.

Four years ago, a friend of a friend died. She was hit by a bus while walking home from a Metro station. It was 2 hours before her 42nd birthday. A Facebook memorial page was started. Many of the postings in her native Spanish referred to la mariposa, the butterfly. Perhaps this was just an obvious reference to rebirth or maybe it was a childhood nickname. Regardless, the upshot of these posts is that whenever I see a butterfly I think of Lorena.

Lorena was going to American University. Younger students and friends would look up to her and ask for advice. Her advice was often couched in three sentences:

Are you happy?

What would make you happy?

Do that with everything you’ve got.

Time and again this summer, mile after mile, I pedaled onward and upward, fulfilling my dream of a lifetime. And when the hills steepened, una mariposa would remind me to give it everything I got.

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The Hardest Part

Each time I do a bike tour I get asked, “What was the hardest part?” I suppose they expect me to say something like the hills in Washington or the rain in Iowa or the mud in Maryland. Sorry to disappoint.

The hardest part is leaving home.

I am a creature of routine. I eat breakfast. Read the paper. Do the crossword. Take a shower. Go for a ride. Do other stuff. Eat dinner. Watch a baseball game or read a book or watch a movie. Take a shower. Go to sleep. (You’ll notice that one of my favorite things is taking a shower. I don’t take long ones though. Just long enough to press the clean re-boot button.)

My at-home routine provides a comfortable rhythm to my life. So it is not surprising that it takes several days to get into the rhythm of the road. And I don’t welcome the transition. It took me about a week to get into the rhythm of the road on my ride to the Pacific northwest. By the time I got to Montana it was clockwork.

Another reason why leaving is so hard is the fact that I am looking at the tour as one thing. Holy crap, my destination is so far away and I’ve never been there or most of the places in between! This could go wrong. That could go wrong. I’m an idiot for doing this! No way!!!

Somebody once said fear is excitement without breathing.

Then, of course, I take a deep breath and say

Yes way!!!!

And all those worries, all those unknowns become experiences and stories and adventures. The Meth Man on the Gap. Impossibly intense thunderstorms on the UP. Incredible piles of hurricane debris in the Florida Keys. Thrill ride descents on the other side of mountain passes.

And so many interesting new people and conversations. The brother and sister from Yorkshire riding all 50 states. Countless other bike tourists on the side of the road. A Swiss tourist in a beekeeper’s house. Plant nerds! An Alaskan rolfer/artist in a broad brimmed hat. Pretty good for an introvert, wouldn’t you say?

I’ve done eight bike tours.

Soon I’ll be leaving again.

The hardest part awaits.

 

 

Any Road Tour – Afterglowing

This bike tour, far more than any other that I have done, has left me with after effects that I truly wish I could hold onto.

The Physical Afterglow

Despite eating and drinking an appalling amount of unhealthy things, I managed to lose weight just about everywhere except my legs. The upper body muscle weight that I gained from lifting weights all winter is gone. My belly, although still very much in evidence, is smaller too. Mrs. Rootchopper said that the roll of fat around my waist in the back is gone. I can tell because my pants fall off.

Of course, the upside to this physical change is my body is much, much more efficient on a bike. My pedaling goes more round and round than up and down. I am a few miles per hour faster, which is not surprising, I suppose. I can stand when I climb, something that normally tires me out, and find an extra gear in the process. I noticed near the end of the tour that walking up stairs or up a hill was a snap.

I stopped doing my daily stretching and physical therapy routines for the first time in ages during the tour. It was a complete shock to me that I was much more flexible in my tent than I have ever been.

One thing that didn’t change, and may have been worse than before, is the cramping in my legs and feet. When I was putting my sandals on in the tent, I’d have cramps in my feet. My feet felt like they were curling up, kind of like the Dr. Pepper dude in An American Werewolf in London. Sometimes when putting on shorts in my tent, I’d get a hamstring cramp.One night when my calf was swollen, I had a humongous, painful  cramp in my calf muscle in the middle of the night. Ayeee! Then there was the infamous hamstring cramp in Astoria that caused me to fall off my bar stool.

I could do without the cramps but the rest of these physical changes are quite welcome. I held onto my weight loss from my Key West tour for a couple of months, until pulmonary embolisms parked me on the couch with junk food for solace. It would be great to hold onto these changes well into September so that the 50 States Ride is relatively easy. (Doing it last year with blood clots in my lungs set a low bar for “easy.”)

The Mental Afterglow

After the Key West tour, I was totally mellowed out (except for my bruised rib). This feeling went far beyond mere satisfaction from completing an arduous task over a month’s time. After this year’s tour, I had the same mental afterglow but it was much stronger and more long lasting.

I have no idea what the endocrinology or neurology of this phenomenon is. I recall reading an article about a writer who microdosed on LSD daily for a period of time. (Basically, until her supply ran dry.) She just felt happy all day long. And much more productive. I can’t say I’ve been particularly productive, but the happy part sure fits like a glove. A friend of mine once did ayahuasca and described a profound experience that she “still need[ed] to process.” I feel that same need to process this post-tour mental afterglow.

I talked about my tour with Joe, a reader in DC, at a protest I attended last week. He says he had the same thing after his tour and, to this day, he feels changed in a way that he can’t describe. Andrea, my friend from Friday Coffee Club, said something similar last Friday. She did a tour very similar to mine a few years ago.

It’s a subtle feeling. It’s similar to the feeling I get immediately after I meditate.  (Ironically, I stopped my meditation practice during the tour because it was obviously superfluous.) Maybe it’s caused by a boat load of endorphins or serotonin floating around in my head. I wonder if it made me less introverted during the tour, talking with my Warmshowers hosts or the people in the park in Wenona IL or Martin or Maria and the plant nerds. I definitely noticed it when talking to Julie in the bar the last night in Astoria. I felt like I was talking to someone I had known all my life.

Regardless of the introversion angle, I feel very different. And, just like last fall, the feeling is fading.

Can I hold on?

In the interest of holding on to the physical and mental afterglow, I decided to go for a long bike ride today. The humidity was oppressive and, as the day wore on, so was the temperature. I managed to ride my Crosscheck 92 hilly miles to Poolesville MD and back.

After the ride, I was totally zonked physically. I think riding fast on an unloaded bike brings about a higher level of muscle fatigue that riding a loaded touring bike slowly. Mentally, however, I felt the same afterglow, albeit in muted form. Then I fell asleep. And the Sandman took it away.

 

 

 

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Any Road Tour – Some questions, some answers

What did you do with your bike at restaurants, stores, nature breaks, etc.? 

I was mostly in small towns or along the side of a road in the middle of nowhere. I would lean my bike against a wall and not bother to lock it. I figured if a thief tried to steal my 80 pound bike, he’d probably crash within a few yards. Sometimes I’d through my U-lock on the front wheel to immobilize it or keep the front wheel from flopping which might cause the bike to tip over.

It was far more likely that a thief would take something from the bike. The rear panniers were buried under the tent and sleeping pad so they were inaccessible. The front panniers didn’t contain much of anything valuable. If you’re that hard up for chamois cream, go ahead and take it, brother.

My handlebar bag was another story. That contained, among other things, my wallet and cell phone. I am absolutely paranoid about losing either. (I even took a picture of my driver’s license in case someone stole my wallet.) I checked to make sure they didn’t fall out of the bag several times per day. If you’re smart (smarter than me) you’d carry a credit card, a copy of your id, and cash elsewhere in your gear. Of course, then you can worry about that stuff getting lost or stolen.

Where did you put your bike overnight?

When camping I’d have all my gear in my tent. This would leave my bike vulnerable to theft. First, I’d try to orient the door of my tent so that it was facing my bike. When things went bump in the night, I could peek outside and check on The Mule. Second, I’d secure my bike to something solid. When there was a picnic table available, I’d use a bungee cord to attach the bike to table so that it wouldn’t get knocked over. One bad fall and you could break a shifter lever or your derailler and that would be bad news. If there was only a tree around, I’d use the bungee to make a loop through the front wheel and around the seat post. This would keep the front wheel from flopping. Finally, I’d throw my lock on, if only to immobilize a wheel. Anything to make the bike undesirable to passersby.

Overnight or when it looked like rain, I’d cover my leather saddle with a waterproof seat cover.

At hotels, more often than not, I’d roll my bike right up to the reception desk as if to say, “Look, it’s already inside.” I’d ask for a first floor room. Failing that, I’d ask about an elevator. A couple of times I had to carry the bike up the stairs. I’d unload it first, of course.

I’ve only once had a hotel tell me I couldn’t take my bike in a room. This was in 2004 when I was touring with Big Nellie, my long wheelbase recumbent. They put it in the luggage storage room.

Always ask at hostels if there is secure bike parking. The hostel in Astoria didn’t have anything for me to use so I hauled The Mule up three short flights of stairs. After 4,200 miles, this was not fun. The hostel in Columbus had wall mounted bike racks in the living room, but I had to carry the bike up some steps to get into the house. The hostel in Pittsburgh had a garage. The one in Portland had bike storage in a keyed basement luggage room, accessible by an elevator.

What about prescriptions? 

I have two prescriptions that I needed to take on a daily basis. For my asthma medicine I had two partially used maintenance inhalers in hand. Then just before leaving town, I refilled my prescription for the last time. This was good for almost two months. My doctor is planning to tweaking in August so she gave me a sample inhaler to bridge me to my next appointment with her.

For my eye drops, I brought the prescription box with me. In Lewistown MT, a pharmacist used the information on the box to call my drug store at home and transfer the prescription to him. When I got home, the local pharmacy called Lewistown and they transferred it back.

How did you arrange for travel home?

One of the best aspects about being retired is I don’t have to get back to work on a certain date. The flexibility takes some stress from the tour. But I still have to get home, and do so without crushing my finances.

In Florida, I booked a return trip on Amtrak while staying with a friend in West Palm Beach. It was ten days away so I had plenty of time to make the train.

On this trip, I waited until I got to Missoula and booked a return flight on Southwest from Seattle for the Saturday after I’d reach Anacortes. This turned out to be an inexpensive direct flight to BWI. I used my points to pay for all but $6 of the cost. I left a day or two to deal with getting a duffle for my camping gear and to drop my bike off for shipping home. (You can do this at the airport, but that can be a big pain.)

By the time I got to Camano Island I had decided to bypass Seattle so I switched my return flight to a direct flight from Portland to BWI. It cost a few more points but the switch itself was free. (Southwest is great for this.) I gave myself three days in Portland to deal with my bike and the duffle. (It took about three hours.)

Using The Google, I found a bike shop and arranged to drop off my bike. They boxed the bike and acted as the shipping agent for FedEx. The bike is going to my local bike shop who agreed to be the receiving agent prior to the tour. The particulars of shipment were done through BikeFlights.com which was pretty easy to use.

Any Road Tour: Day 10 -Failure to camp (again)

Xenia Ohio is famous for being obliterated by tornados about 45 years ago. I was in no rush to stock around for any repeat performances.

Dinner was the all you can eat salad and soup bar at the local restaurant next door. I feel bad for these people. I should announce something Hulk-like like: “You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.”

I watched the hockey game last night and managed to stay up for the entire contest. Yay Caps!

This morning I intended to repeat my hooverization of the morning free hotel breakfast but it was sadly subpar food. Stale Cheerios can really mess with your whole meal. However, I persisted. Oink.

I was soon back on the rail trail heading for my planned destination, Richmond Indiana. Today’s tail trail featured my first snapping turtle of the trip.

There was also this attractive building on the trail.

In Dayton I left the trail to check out the Wright Brothers Museum. I watched a film and thought about how great things come from obscure places like Dayton and Liverpool and a garage in Palo Alto. They were complete self-taught nerds who risked everything to solve a series of massive physics problem. Most of the buildings they occupied are long gone but you can get a sense of their little corner of the world at the turn of the 20th century from some of what remains.

Here’s a statue of Wilber on the sight of his last workshop. Note that even the greatest people in history end up with bird poop on their heads.

Next to the Museum was the site of the Wright Brothers bicycle shop. The bikes on display look remarkably similar to modern bikes.

I’ve been seeing goslings all along the way but today I saw my first babies. So cute, but camera shy.

I managed to tear the transparent plastic on my map case so I stopped at a post office to fix it with some packing tape. The window clerk also told me where the local eateries were. I stopped in Bob’s next to the trail for the buffet.

About 90 percent on the patrons were way older than me. Everything moved so slowly. I had soup and salad and dessert for $10 because that’s what every meal costs on this trip for some reason. Riding a bike this far makes me crave veggies.

I’ve been meaning to include some corn in this blog so today I’ll get that out of the way.

After Brookville my route took me in roads. There are very few cars to deal with so it’s nearly as peaceful but without any shade. I also had to contend with strong headwinds as the day wore on. I suppose it’s good practice for North Dakota, but ten miles of frustration was plenty. It wasn’t all bad. This covered bridge was pretty cool.

As I neared the Ohio-Indiana state line I thought my readers would like to know the score. It’s Columbus 88, Indianapolis 82.

Not long after taking this picture the sky started to darken. Ominous black clouds loomed. I saw that my maps were taking me on a meandering route to Richmond. I called an audible and turned around. The headwind became a tailwind as I made my way to a highway that went straight into Richmond. Zoom!

It started to rain. The sky was black. I kept slogging along, scanning the roadside for an emergency shelter. Porches, barns, extended waves.

I looked up and saw signs for hotels and restaurants and made a beeline for them. I had intended to camp but this storm was scary looking. I checked into a motel as the skies opened.

Any Road Tour mileage today: 62.5

Total tour mileage: 696.

The headwind made it a tough day but I’m still on schedule.

Any Road Tour – Day 1: who needs a canal anyway?

After a leisurely breakfast I packed my bike and nearly crippled it by getting the rear wheel all messed up with my cargo net. Ten minutes of cussing later, I base farewell to Mrs. Rootchopper and ride off to points north and west.

About five miles into the ride it occurred to me that I had failed to pack and important doodad, my Fiber Fix spoke. It’s a Kevlar cord that can replace a broken spoke, no tools required. So if I break a spoke I’m screwed. Yeah well….

I also forgot to pack a master link for my chain. This makes putting a broken chain together much easier. (Not that I’ve ever done it.)

I suppose I can stop at a bike shop and pick at least one of these items up.

The first 31 miles were a combination of my old bike commute and the old Vasa ride route to Potomac Maryland. A tailwind made the ride up the Mount Vernon Trail to DC a piece of cake.

I made my way along the river and under the Whitehurst Freeway. I passed a restaurant named Mate Sushi and thought of my Argentinian friend who is nuts about both mate and sushi. I carried on to the Capital Crescent Trail and ever so briefly on the C&O Canal towpath. As expected it was quite muddy. I thought about riding it but then decided to climb up to MacArthur Boulevard and use the roads.

I was dreading this short steep climb but it wasn’t so bad. My granny gear got its first of many uses today.

The rest of the ride to The kayakers put in near Old Anglers Inn was routine. I’ve done this ride scores of times.

I took a potty break. The restrooms have a covered sidewalk in front. When I came out, The Mule was dry as rain started to fall. Then skies opened up. I pulled out my bag of trail mix and munched a few handfuls. I can wait…..

The rain abated and I started the mile long climb to the top of Great Falls Park. Granny helped. The rains returned. My rain jacket and the physical effort were keeping me warm if not completely dry.

A left on River Road brought me to miles of big rolling hills. Big gear. Granny gear. Repeat.

I turned into Partnership Road and things got all kinds of farmy. Moo. Grain. Mud.

At Poolesville I stopped for lunch in the Watershed Cafe. I had a “veggie” sandwich (it had cheese in it) and some panther piss. ‘Twas yummy.

I asked the Google to plot a course for Frederick Maryland and so it did. The Google is good like that.

More farms and a few cute towns. I counted three purple houses. What’s up with that? Somehow the ride seemed downhill for miles and miles. And the route cleverly avoided Sugarloaf Mountain. My knees and back were pleased.

Now it was just a race against the rain. The skies grew darker as I rolled through funky Buckeystown.

Pedal, pedal.

I rode past English Muffin Road where Bimbo’s Bakery (I am not making this up) makes the nooks and crannies. I’d actually been to this area on a business trip a year or two ago.

I started seeking hotels but continued on playing chicken with the approaching storm. As raindrops started falling an Econolodge appeared.

As I rolled my bike into my room thunder roared from the dark clouds above. Timing is everything.

So I’m content with shelter, TV (I hope they have the Nats game), WiFi, and a Sheetz next door for fine dining.

68 miles down. 3,900 or so to go.

Any Road Tour: Last Days of Prep

Here’s what I did to get ready to hit the road:

  • Friday – Volunteered for Bike to Work Day in the rain
  • Saturday – Road to and from and during DC Bike Ride in the rain (45 miles). Watched 2 baseball games
  • Sunday – Road to Vienna VA to return Bike to Work Day materials (47 miles). Watched baseball game. Went to concert (Brandi Carlile) at The Anthem in DC.
  • Pulled together everything I’m bring on the tour. Put it in panniers and rode The Mule 1 mile to see if I distributed the weight properly. Mowed the lawn that had made use of a week of rain. Watched my last baseball game at home. (I’d love to go to the ballpark but there’s just no way.)

 

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It weighs a ton. (I am bringing a second water bottle by the way.)

I also kept track of the problems with the C & O Canal towpath. Sort summary: mucho mas. Came up with a workaround to get me beyond the damage and the quagmire. Printed out some routing information that I will need. Did some last minute banking. Obsessively checked the weather forecast for tomorrow. (Rain. Thunderstorms. Typical DC area summer weather.)

So there you have it. Time to put up or shut up. Tomorrow I roll.

 

Any Road to the PNW – Pre-tour Anxiety

Construction, Fires, Floods, and Lions

I can’t sleep. All I can think about is the cascade of things that are going wrong with my bike tour and I haven’t even left home yet. From past experience I know that I have to go all mindful and concentrate on the here and now. This will be easier once I am rolling.

The route I am taking keeps changing and troubles keep arising. First I was worried about road construction on the route west from Missoula Montana. Next I discovered that the passes to the central Cascades in Oregon are compromised from last years wildfires. (Can’t wait for this years. Derp.) Then I found out that the route down the Columbia River gorge to Portland Oregon is partially closed because of more forest fires. This would force me to ride along the Washington State side of the river, missing Multnomah Falls in the process. For the last few days torrential rains have been wiping out the 185-mile C & O Canal towpath from near DC to near Williamsport, at Mile 100. Needless to day, the free camping sites are probably a mess too. This morning I learned that a mountain lion killed a mountain biker about 30 miles east of Seattle.

That’s right fires, floods, and lions. Whose idea was this anyway?

The Packing List

So I have busied myself making a packing list. Here’s what I am bringing.

Camping

  • Two-person tent
  • Lightweight sleeping bag
  • Silk sleeping bag liner
  • Pillow
  • Bear bag (for keeping carnivores away from my food)
  • Carbiner and nylon rope (to hang the bag)
  • Toilet paper
  • Utensils
  • Ear plugs
  • Sleep mask (for hostels)

Personal

  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Shaving cream
  • Razor
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Medicine
    • Maintenance inhalers (4) (Asthma)
    • Rescue inhalers (1) (Asthma)
    • Eye drops (glaucoma)
    • Aspirin (blood clots)
    • Ibuprofen
    • Nighttime Ibuprofen
  • Sunscreen
  • Ear plugs
  • Chamois cream
  • Back up prescription glasses
  • Book (maybe 2. Probably ancient Tom Wolfe paperbacks)
  • Passport (for going into Canada or boarding a flight if I lose my other ID)

Clothes

  • Bike shorts (3)
  • Technical bike shirts (3)
  • Cotton t-shirt
  • Off -bike shorts
  • Belt
  • Technical underwear for either on or off bike
  • Socks (3)
  • Bike shoes
  • 1 old t-shirt to use as a rag after it gets worn
  • Floppy hat
  • Teva sandals
  • Rain pants
  • Rain jacket
  • Sunsleeves

Electronics

  • iPhone
  • iPhone cable and charger
  • iPhone earphones
  • Small back up battery
  • Head light
  • Head light charger
  • Taillight belt
  • Taillight belt charger
  • Camera
  • Camera charging cable

Bike Gear

  • The Mule (1991 Specialized Sequoia touring bike)
  • Water bottles (2)
  • Extra water bottle in pannier
  • Four Ortlieb roll top panniers (2 small for the front, 2 large for the rear)
  • Ortlieb medium handlebar bad with map case
  • Bicycling gloves
  • Multitool
  • Tire levers
  • Tubes (3)
  • Folding spare tire
  • Valve adapter
  • Topeak RoadMorph Pump
  • Lube
  • Lock
  • Cables
  • Zip ties
  • Duct tape

Other

  • Adventure Cycling Association Maps (14)
  • Rudi’s route to Little Orleans (A cue sheet to circumvent most of the C&O Canal. A very hilly route that I hope not to use.)
  • Trail mix
  • Energy bars/fruit

The new stuff for this tour is underlined. As you can see I have already crossed out a few items. I wouldn’t know what to do with a cable if I had to do a roadside repair so there’s no point in bringing them. And other than the fact that I can take pictures while riding, the camera is kind of useless. I can use my iPhone for photos, and it will force me to stop to take the pictures which is not a bad thing.

The Route

Whether I like it or not, the route is changing as I type. My current thinking is that instead of riding the canal directly west from DC, I use roads to get me about 100 to 110 miles upriver. So on day one will be spent riding on the roads to Fredrick Maryland. I’ll stay in a hotel. This replaces my first C&O Canal day. Day two will involve riding roads west from Fredrick picking up the Canal and the Western Maryland Rail Trail either at Williamsport or beyond and overnighting in Hancock Maryland at mile 125. (The bike shop has a bunkhouse with showers and WiFi and such.) Day three will be 60 miles of mud to Cumberland assuming the the trail is open. If not, the pooch is screwed. But I’ll mix my metaphors and blow up that bridge when I get to it.

Today’s Fun

My anxiety woke me up at 5 a.m. I have to ride 45 miles round trip to Vienna Virginia to return Bike to Work Day materials. I had volunteered to staff a pit stop 1 1/2 miles from my house. What I didn’t know was that I was responsible for picking up and dropping off Bike to Work Day materials for the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB), our suburban advocacy group, 23 miles away. This easy volunteering effort ballooned from a 3 hour commitment to about 12 hours. Suffice it to say, I’ll choose my volunteering events more carefully next time. On the plus side, I get to do a shake down ride on The Mule.

When I get home, I’ll watch the Nats game, do some laundry, and go a concert in DC. Hopefully, I can sleep in tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Planning: Any Road Will Take Me There

  • I’m thinking of naming my bike tour the Any Road Tour. The reason is I can’t seem to decide on a route let alone a destination. And as lyric thief George Harrison said, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.
  • So a special note to Tim Jones, Lindsey, and Brittany: I still don’t know if I’ll make it up to the Seattle area. As they say on the Facebook, it’s complicated. I should have a better idea if/when I get up your way in late June when I am somewhere near the Missouri Breaks.
  • The route options go through Missoula, Montana. They are:
    • Ride to Seattle directly from Missoula. Return home around July 22.
    • Ride through Portland then on to Astoria Oregon. Backtrack to Portland. Return home around July 24
    • Ride through Portland then on to Astoria Oregon. Continue north to Seattle. Return home around July 29
    • Ride to central Oregon Coast. Then to Portland. Then to Seattle. (I haven’t mapped this out). Return home around August 6.
    • Ride to central Oregon Coast then to Seattle by way of Astoria. Return home about August 6.
  • All these routes have pluses and minuses. And as Mrs. Rootchopper noted, I could make a separate, month-long tour out of them. (Seattle to Missoula to the central Oregon coast to Portland to Seattle, for example. Or maybe go south to Crater Lake…..)  So this routing uncertainty is a good problem to have.
  • I have met a couple of times with a local bike tourist named Marie. She and her husband Roy did nearly the same tour in 2015 and blogged about it. I didn’t want to read her blog because I thought it might include spoilers, but I finally gave in. It’s wonderfully written and contains all kinds of useful information.
  • I had lunch with Marie the other day. She gave me one of her Adventure Cycling maps of Oregon. And imparted some good advice
    • Feel free to wander from the ACA routes, especially east of the Rockies. There are some surprises, good and bad, to be had. The Google is a pretty good resource.
    • Each county seat in North Dakota has a motel (to sequester juries). So if I get sick of camping I can probably use the Google…
    • I will probably follow their route through the Twin Cities instead of around them. The ACA route goes east from St. Paul, then north, then west. Marie and Roy went northwest and re-connected with the ACA route.
  • Marie and Roy made the trip without camping. Other than staying with a friend or two, they just booked a hotel a day in advance and rode to it. They appeared to average about 2 miles per hour faster than I expect to ride.
  • With the weather finally settling into something resembling spring, I am getting antsy. I still have a few things to take care of for the trip, all of which happen just before I leave.