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OK, the Bike Blog is Up!

Posted by cgiblin2 on June 21, 2011 in Day 0

The purpose of this blog is to portray what life is like riding a bicycle across America. I will be writing at the end of each ride, as well as uploading pictures and movies. However, if I don’t have internet where I am, then a few days or so may pass until I can post. Stay tuned!

 

Here is a map of my route (click to enlarge):

 
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Day 1 Astoria, OR to St. Helens, OR

Posted by cgiblin2 on June 24, 2011 in Day 1

Day 1 Astoria, OR to St. Helens, OR
Riding time today: 5:39
Riding time total: 5:39
Distance today: 67.93 mi
Distance total: 67.93 mi
Average speed: 12 mph
Top speed: 33.6 mph
Average cadence: 36 rpm
Max cadence: 52 rpm
Calories burned: 3829

Last night my parents and I arrived in Astoria around 10:00, and hence we ate and went to sleep late. My plans of waking up at 6:00 were quickly replaced with waking up at 8:00. It was a slow go this morning mainly because I wanted to double check everything on my bike again. I was looking for things to get rid of. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get rid of too many things, thereby not lighting the load really at all.

We went to Astoria cycles on the corner of Marina and 11th St. If you are in the area, I highly recommend them. I’ll get to why in just a moment. After buying a lock, a rain jacket, and a presta to shrader valve adaptor, I went to the coast area to take the obligatory photo by the water signifying the beginning of my journey. Yes, I could have gotten in the water, in the sandy area, but it was a shallow beach and I didn’t see the point of getting my shoes and socks wet! I started off, and after 10 minutes, I started hearing clicking sounds coming from my front derailleur. I turned around and headed back to the bike shop. A hipster bike mechanic threw the bike on the rack and made some adjustments. I gave him a tip and I was on my way. 20 minutes later, the clicking returned. I attempted to adjust the derailleur myself but was unsuccessful. Man, now what to do, should I return again, or just live with it? Well, I ended up going back, and this time dealt with an older more experienced bike mechanic by the name of Chris. Not only did he take his time to checking out the whole bike, but he taught me a lot making adjustments, as well as passing on general touring advice. He was super stoked when I told him I’m going across the country. Before I left he also filled my tires to a much higher psi than what the bike shop in Petaluma had recommended. That along with the gears pristinely turned, made the bike ride immaculately. I can’t describe in words how great it is to know that your bike has been tuned by a professional who also tours himself. It was a real morale booster.

Back to the tour. Oregon is beautiful. I’m so glad I’m here now rather than in California with the impending deserts of California and Nevada to look forward to. It’s green, clear, no smog, and really bike friendly. The shoulders are a bike tourers dream. I hope the wide shoulders co finite on into Washington and beyond.

I stopped at a subway for lunch, and ordered a foot long chicken breast. I ate half, and saved the other half for dinner.

Around the 50 mile mark, I could feel the effects of riding a 70 pound bike. My legs were feeling it, but I pressed on. My goal was to make it to Portland, but it was getting late, and I decided I should start looking in St. Helens. I found a Best Western that had a huge banner on it with “welcome America by bike riders” written on it. Just as I saw that, my gps beeped to indicate a low battery (I forgot to charge it the night before). I took those things as a sigh and rode in. Rooms were $109.99. Yikes, I really need to spend half that or less! There we’re any other hotels nearby, so I asked if she could come down on the price. She asked what I did, and I told her that I work at a university. She clapped her hands and said “perfect!” She then said, how about $74.99? Given the circumstances, I, without hesitation told her I’ll take it! So, here I am in one heck of a nice room with all the amenities. I probably won’t end up staying in too many places as nice as this. I’m looking forward to crossing over to Washington tomorrow.

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Day 2 St. Helens, OR to Cascade Locks, OR

Posted by cgiblin2 on June 25, 2011 in Day 2

Day 2 St. Helens, OR to Cascade Locks, OR
Riding time today: 6:16
Riding time total: 11:55
Distance today: 76.09 mi
Distance total: 144.02 mi
Average speed: 12.1 mph
Top speed: 31.0 mph
Average cadence: 69 rpm
Max cadence: 159 rpm
Calories burned: 4,070

I woke up late today due to not being able to sleep last night. However, I had to be in the hotel restaurant by 9:00, or else I would miss out on the included continental breakfast. I stumbled into the restaurant around 8:45, and immediately the aroma of omelets, sausages, waffles, and coffee swept over me like a giant ocean wave. I ate as much food as I could fit in my stomach because I knew I would need the energy later. I also took three of the Danishes for the road.

The day started around 10:00 because I took my time eating then chatting with one of the hotel workers who was in awe of what I am doing. Fast forward 20 miles and crash! I was on one of the designated bike roads and noticed some railroad tracks up ahead. No big deal, right? Well these tracks were curved around 90 deg. I was traveling around 20 mph, when I crossed over the tracks and just like a train, my bike wanted to follow the tracks. My handlebars turned abruptly, and I went flying. As I was in the air, I began thinking of my motorcycle accident, and how I thought two-wheeled crashes were behind me. I hit the ground rolled over once and thought I need to get out of the street before a car or worse, a semi hits me. I picked up my bike and wheeled it over to the side of the road. My knee was in a fair amount of pain along with my elbow, both of which had some nasty road rash. My new bike now had bend shifters, scrapes, a torn pannier, and other various damage. I obviously wasn’t happy, however I soon became grateful that I wasn’t run over by one of the many semis on route 30. However, the one thing I didn’t inspect was my iPad. If that had been broken, that would have been a too much bad news overload. For more information, watch this YouTube video:

Let me just say I love Oregon, especially Portland. They are most bike friendly cities that I’ve ever cycled through. But, Oregon has some of the worst civil engineers in the entire history of mankind. I taught kindergarten students in Taiwan that could have designed that railroad crossing 1000 times better compared to the “professional” Oregonian civil engineers .

I was going to press forward and try to put this mess behind me. I road through Portland and was having a difficult time trying to take my mind off of the crash. An hour later, I passed the first bike shop that was on my route and pulled in. I thought I would try to get a new mirror and have them look at my bike. My grievances were soon quashed by the sincere friendliness of the bike shop (The Outer Rim) employees. They were a little busy, but still told me to bring my bike in. I told them about the crash and they were sympathetic. They also told me that I could clean up my wounds in their restroom. They had neosporin and bandages! Brandon, the bike mechanic working on my bike, inspected the bike, made a few adjustments (mostly to the front derailleur) and refastened my cadence sensor. Not only was he a really cool guy to chat with (actually all oft the employees were), but he didn’t want to change me for getting my bike back in shape. I was running low on cash, but had enough for a tip.

I then made my way to the scenic hwy 30 route aka the Columbia River Gorge Hwy. It was overwhelmingly beautiful. Im glad I am cycling through this rather than the deserts!

I ended the day at yet another pricey hotel in a tourist area. It was nice, but I can’t keep up these pricey rooms indefinitely. I washed my clothes in the sink for the first time. The real test is if I can tell the difference in freshness tomorrow.

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Day 3 Cascade Locks, OR to Arlington, OR

Posted by cgiblin2 on June 26, 2011 in Day 3

Day 3 Cascade Locks, OR to Arlington, OR
Riding time today: 6:15
Riding time total: 18:10
Distance today: 96.04 mi
Distance total: 240.06 mi
Average speed: 15.4 mph
Top speed: 31.0 mph
Average cadence: 76 rpm
Max cadence: 117 rpm
Calories burned: 5,423

Riding on the 84 today was sort of bland in terms of scenery and a little dangerous due to being just 5 feet away from vehicles traveling 70 mph. I was hoping I would come across some west bounders, or east bounders for that matter, but it never happened. On the plus side, it was much more flat that the previous day which allowed me to set my legs to cruise control and get a decent amount of miles in. I made a short video to illustrate how exciting this highway is:

I stopped in The Dalles for lunch. Even though there was a Subway, I went for Burger King. Did you know that they sell a triple whopper? Apparently it’s one of their best sellers according to the cashier.

After lunch, I continued on the 84 and to be honest it was uneventful until I reached Arlington. This small town has (I think) only one motel so there wasn’t going to be any shopping around for better rates. Luckily the rate was $60, and I was able to talk them down to $50 using my powers of persuasion. It was nice getting to the motel at an earlier time. I believe it was around 4:40, compared to 7:00 from the past two days.

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Day 4 Arlington, OR to Walla Walla, WA

Posted by cgiblin2 on June 27, 2011 in Day 4

Day 4 Arlington, OR to Walla Walla, WA
Riding time today: 8:21
Riding time total: 26:31
Distance today: 103.18 mi
Distance total: 343.24 mi
Average speed: 12.4 mph
Top speed: 27.6 mph
Average cadence: 75 rpm
Max cadence: 135 rpm
Calories burned: 5,039

Today started off to a slow start. I was stopping frequently to adjust my sattle which felt too low and too far forward. I think I stopped around 8 times before I got it just right. The morning was the same old boring interstate 84. I was really looking forward to arriving at hwy 730 simply because it would be a change. In comparison, the 730 was better paved, had less traffic, had a cleaner shoulder.

I can’t really say that I made it through a state yet, but I did enter Washington. The plan was to make it to Touchet and if I had some extra energy, I’d press forward to Walla Walla. I made to to Touchet completely spent. So, I thought I would get a room somewhere in that small town. There was only one problem, there was no hotel in that town. Well, there went that option. I stopped at a gas station to get my third bottle of gatoraid for the day and pressed forward to Walla Walla. It was 20 miles away and it was a long 20 miles. For the first time in this tour, I got a strange sharp pain in my right knee. I was forced to use a lower gear to just make it.

Once I came into Walla Walla, I had some hotel options. I was hoping that the first one would give me a $50 rate, but that wasn’t the case. I shopped around with 5 hotels and came across the Budget Inn. Their rooms went for $55. There was no negotiating, I just took it. It was 9:00, so I needed to quickly shower and then find food before the restaurants closed down.

Lately, I’ve been eating gas station ramen noodles and hot pockets, but because today was the most challenging day by far, I went to a Mexican restaurant. It really hit the spot. My body told me it needed beer, so I abided and ordered a Tecate. It came with a quarter slice of lime and a frosted glass. It was the most delicious thing I have experienced since being back in America.

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Day 5 Walla Walla, WA to Pomeroy, WA

Posted by cgiblin2 on June 28, 2011 in Day 5

Day 5 Walla Walla, WA to Pomeroy, WA
Riding time today: 8:18
Riding time total: 34:49
Distance today: 83.59 mi
Distance total: 426.83 mi
Average speed: 10.1 mph
Top speed: 32.5 mph
Average cadence: 72 rpm
Max cadence: 104 rpm
Calories burned: 4,374

Today started off with some annoying problems with this wordpress blog hosted by go daddy. For some reason, I have had database errors and I think it has something to do with the wordpress iPad app. I think I will try an alternative such as blogpress. But I digress, that definitely wasn’t the worst of today’s problems. I get to those in just a moment.

I was on the 12 around 5 miles outside Dayton, and I noticed that my gps suggested taking a shortcut on a frontage road. It would shave off 10 miles. I thought, sure I could use a break from riding on the hwy. I rode on this desolate road for around 7 miles, then I saw a sign that said “pavement ends.” Lame! I didn’t want to turn back because that would mean 14 wasted miles, so I pressed forward. The gravel became heavier and rockier. I deflated my tires to around 65 psi so I would get better traction and less prone to getting a flat. To make matters worse, it was really warming up and there wasn’t any shade. I started with full water bottles along with my reserve water from Dayton and I was drinking it very quickly.


After 10 miles of gravel with steep hills and all, I made it to hwy 126. There wasn’t I highway that I’ve ever seen that hasn’t been paved, and this one wasn’t an exception. I was so relieved to see pavement again. I stopped and used my c02 to reinflate my tires. Then, I was happy again for half a mile, when all of a sudden I saw a pavement ends sign again! I stopped again and deflated my tires once again. I was really running low on water now, so I made a sincere effort not to drink unless I had completed 4 miles. After another 7 miles of gravel, I made it to a sign that said “Hwy 12 – 11 miles West.” At the sign was also pavement again, but I wasn’t going to take any chances reinflating my tires. I was going to wait until I made it back to the 12. 11 miles traveling west was so uncool, but it had to be done. Once I made it to the 12 I reinflated my tires using another c02 and was on my way.

I had 24 miles to Pomeroy with half of my reserve water. I had to take my mind off of water. I turned my iPod back on and tried to focus on the music rather than riding my bike. Now, it was every 5 miles, I would have two extremely small baby sips of water. Nightfall was approaching and I was nearly out off water with 10 miles to go. I thought back to when I ran my first full marathon and how difficult that was. If I could run 26.2 miles, the I could definitely bike 10 more miles.

I made it into town in total darkness. Nothing was open. I really needed a drink of anything! Maybe the motel had some water. I made it to the hotel only to find that the no vacancy sign was lit. This was the only motel in this small town so I went in anyways and asked if they had anything that they could give me. I clerk said he had one room left. Oh man, it was my lucky day. There was also a convenient store two blocks down the road that was open for another 20 minutes. So, I parked my bike in the room, and walked toward the store. I picked up 2 big bottles of gatoraide, water, a mikes hard fruit punch, a homemade mead loaf sandwich, and a Philly cheese steak sandwich. What a day!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Main St,Lewiston,United States

 
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Day 6 Pomeroy, WA to Lewiston, ID

Posted by cgiblin2 on June 29, 2011 in Day 6

Day 6 Pomeroy, WA to Lewiston, ID
Riding time today: 2:28
Riding time total: 37:17
Distance today: 31.49 mi
Distance total: 458.32 mi
Average speed: 12.8 mph
Top speed: 32.2 mph
Average cadence: 71 rpm
Max cadence: 88 rpm
Calories burned: 2,087

After yesterday’s hectic day, I was ready for something a little easier. After I left the motel, I went back to the same market I visited last night to buy some energy bars. I mentioned to (I think her name was Nancy) that I needed some work done on my bike after riding on that gravel trail. She immediately took out her mobile phone and made some phone calls to find the best place to get my bike serviced in Lewiston. She even drew me a map of how to get there. I must say that some of these small town folk are some of the nicest people on this planet.


I was trying to ride a little slower today because of my bad knee. In all my years of running and cycling, I have never felt a pain in that knee like I am experiencing now.

I had a bit of a climb up a hill, but soon it wax down hill for around 4 miles. Its fun to bomb hills, but not when your body isn’t 100%. I didn’t want to push too hard, so I stayed at around 30 mph.


Even though I had only gone 20 miles at this point, I was still hurting. I think I just needed to relax my knee for half a day.


Going first through Clarkston on the Washington side, I realized that it was lackluster town. It seemed like there were no trees and just a lot of smashed up cars everywhere. That all changed once I crossed over to the Lewiston side in Idaho. Lewiston was a really nice place. It had more culture, it was far less trashy, and it was a lot greener.


I eventually arrived at Follet’s Sports Store, and it rocked big time. They had all the parts that I needed and they were really helpful on getting my bike back in tune. I think it was Justin that helped me. Sorry if I got your name wrong, I’m sometimes bad with names. Anyway, he was able to get me the following parts: spare chain (in case I break the one I’m using now), a bottle of tri flow dry lube, a new helmet mirror (I broke the other one back in Portland with those stupid railroad tracks), and three new c02 refills. He also looked at my bike and lubed one of my pedals that was emitting the most annoying squeak sound!


After leaving Follet’s, I road along main St. In search of some motels. Actually, today I splurged and stayed at a hotel. To my knowledge I haven’t stayed at a Guest House before, but I now highly recommend them. There are lots of amenities here including a nice pool, jacuzzi, wifi, and each room has a small patio. All that for $50. Not too bad in my book.


Today’s the big decision day for me. Should I stay on the less safe no shoulder Hwy 12 which is far more direct, or should I head north to Coeur d’Alene which is safer, but will easily add two days to my tour? I have a lot to ponder now…

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Main St,Lewiston,United States

 
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Day 7 Lewiston, ID to Kooskia, ID

Posted by cgiblin2 on June 30, 2011 in Day 7

Day 7 Lewiston, ID to Kooskia, ID
Riding time today: 6:34
Riding time total: 43:51
Distance today: 75.27 mi
Distance total: 533.59 mi
Average speed: 11.5 mph
Top speed: 26.2 mph
Average cadence: 72 rpm
Max cadence: 122 rpm
Calories burned: 3,384

Today I was able to get the earlier start that I have been wanting for awhile now. I kept getting into the towns late, therefore I wasn’t able to go to sleep on time and would ultimately wake up later. I had breakfast at the Guest House and chatted with a man in is 80s who is an avid skier. It’s always inspirational to meet older people whom still lead active lives.

While heading out of Lewiston, I only had one thing on my mind and that was my knee. I had to go easy on it. I pulled in to a convenient store and bought some Bengay cream and some pain medication. I hate taking pain medication, but in this case it was either take it or stop cycling for yet another day. The cream and the pain medication worked well, ever better than I expected.


Riding on the 12 had some definite pros and cons. The pros were: beautiful scenery, nicely spaced towns for meals, and not too bad of an elevation gain. The cons were, scratch that, there was only one con, and that was it was a dangerous road. There wasn’t much of a shoulder and some of the logging trucks would zoom by me with just inches to spare. I was checking my new mirror every thirty seconds.


I shot this video and pondered why there were loads of railroad cars just parked along the river.

Later, I found out that it was due to the recession. Railroads weren’t hauling as much stuff as they did pre-recession, hence they didn’t need the extra cars. It turns out that many of the local residents in Kooskia aren’t too happy about the chosen location to park them.


I pulled into Kooskia thinking that I would have another nice selection of motels to choose from. Wrong. Kooskia has a population around 600 and has only one motel. After I checked it to The Western Motor Inn, which I highly recommend by the way, I strolled around “downtown” and took some shots of this old town. Look at the architecture of the buildings. Notice how the windows are much smaller and lower to the ground. Also, the old signs were really cool.


Knowing that tomorrow is going to be a grueling day to Powell, ID, I stocked up on lots of food and Powerade. Yes, I made the switch from Gatorade to Powerade. I compared the ingredients of the two, and Powerade has carbs, electrolytes, as well as vitamin B. Gatorade only has carbs and electrolytes.

Question of the day: Gatorade vs Powerade, which do you prefer?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Kooskia,United States

 
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Day 8 Kooskia, ID to Powell, ID (Lochsa Lodge)

Posted by cgiblin2 on July 1, 2011 in Day 8

Day 8 Kooskia, ID to Powell, ID (Lochsa Lodge)
Riding time today: 7:41
Riding time total: 51:32
Distance today: 90.32 mi
Distance total: 623.91 mi
Average speed: 11.8 mph
Top speed: 25.9 mph
Average cadence: 75 rpm
Max cadence: 93 rpm
Calories burned: 4,496

Whoa, today was intense. I road over 90 miles and climbed over 2,500 feet in elevation. It was a beautiful day, and the lush green scenery of Clearwater National Forrest was breathtaking, however I was preoccupied with knowing that I had a long and arduous day ahead of me. As a result, I didn’t stop and take as many pictures as I normally do.


One really cool thing that happened today was for the first time on this tour, I ran into another person touring! I was so stoked knowing that I’m not the only one out here! Her name was Rebecca and she was riding a fully loaded Trek 720. It looked extremely heavy, much heavier than my bike. She was heading west bound on the 12 and eventually will be ending in Seattle. I wish I had remembered to take a picture of her (as proof that I’m not making this up). We had a nice chat about our tours thus far, but we both had long days ahead of us, and before I knew it, we were both on our ways.


I think if I could relate this day to something, I would relate it to my last marathon that I ran. It was never ending! I was running on fumes for the last 20 miles. When I reached the 85 mile mark, I was barely able to keep the bike straight!


Lodge is amazingly cool! It was the oasis that I ever so much was in dire need of. They are open all year round and have some top notch facilities. Check out this video of my cabin!

Tomorrow, I will have an even bigger hill climb to Lolo. I’m looking forward to seeing how my bike handles in the snow as there is currently snow at the top of Lolo Pass.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Kooskia,United States

 
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Day 9 Powell, ID (Lochsa Lodge) to Missoula, MT

Posted by cgiblin2 on July 2, 2011 in Day 9

Day 9 Powell, ID (Lochsa Lodge) to Missoula, MT
Riding time today: 4:26
Riding time total: 55:58
Distance today: 53.58 mi
Distance total: 677.49 mi
Average speed: 12.1 mph
Top speed: 44.9 mph
Average cadence: 68 rpm
Max cadence: 87 rpm
Calories burned: 2,970

After having a nice breakfast at the lodge, and enjoying my last moments at the cabin, I was off to conquer the real hill climb that is Lolo Pass. Knowing that this climb is going to be the most intense of the tour yet, I carefully deliberated on what I should bring. I decided not to bring one of the big water bottles that I had bought last night because it was just too heavy.

The first five miles out from the lodge weren’t too bad. If this was the climb, then I had nothing to worry about. Suddenly, the grade became much MUCH steeper. I can usually handle most steep grades in fourth or fifth gear, but not this one. This one, I was in first gear all the way. I also had to stop every mile and a half just to give my legs a break.


Eventually, I reached the summit and also a new time zone! Cool, I was now in Mountain Time. A little further down the road was the Idaho/Montana border. I was on my way!


Now it was time for some extreme downhill action. Since there wasn’t any strong winds today, I was able to blast down the mountain at speeds of over 40 mph. My top speed was 44 mph.

I made it to Lolo, but there really wasn’t much to Lolo, so I just kept riding to Missoula. I found a Super 8 Motel and was able to negotiate a fairly reasonable rate of $55. Missoula also had a Safeway. Time for some Safeway chicken tenders and ranch dressing, ohhh yeah!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Brooks St,Missoula,United States

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