TransAm 2018 Day 7 - June 8th

87 miles and 4600 ft of climbing over THREE passes, each 5000+ above sea-level today to get to Baker City where I planned to get a room, do laundry and restock.  It was the last day of good weather I'd see for a while.  It was also the last pain-free ride I'd get to enjoy.

I knew the day would start with a big climb because I'd planned it that way.  Having good data and maps was definitely a plus.  The goal today was to get through the three climbs and 'coast' into Baker City, OR.  Near the summit of the first climb was a large historical site.  These were every few miles but usually they only consisted of sign or plaque. This however was a full size wagon with tons of historical information.  

After the first summit, there was a cafe where I stopped for water.  I discovered they had a full restaurant so I ordered breakfast and enjoyed it immensely.  While ordering, the lady asked me about where I had camped the night before.  When I told her, she said Bob and pre-paid for a cobbler for me to enjoy (and I did!) She wanted to take a picture of me and my bike before I left.

The rest of the ride was good.  Saw a lot of open country and nice scenery. The small train engine was seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  The rest of the way to Baker City was uneventful.  Once in town, I found an inexpensive room and a hotel that had laundry facilities.  Once checked in, I washed/dried everything and ate half a pizza.  I saved some for tomorrow's breakfast and wrapped the rest to pack for the ride.

TransAM 2018 Day 6 - June 7th

The goal today was Prairie City and the camp ground in town.  83 miles and 4000 ft of climbing.  One big climb leaving Mitchell, a fun downhill, then slow climb into Prairie City.  Today was the first hint of rain I'd seen.  I actually BARELY beat the bad weather to the camp ground.

The scenery today was exceptional.  Riding beside the river again most of the day (against the current meant slightly uphill for the last 50 miles).  I had to keep fighting the urge to stop and take pictures.  Every time I did stop, it seemed like I'd ride a mile or two and the scenery would be even better.  While stopped at a store for water (and a cold Mt Dew), several old classic cars came in.  They asked about the bike and I asked about the cars.  No luck in securing a trade but it was interesting.

It was hot during the middle part of the ride, so when I found the small town of John Day, I got some ice cream.  While stopped I met this lady who was riding the route looking for riders crossing the US.  SHe was riding the route and wanted to meet others.  We chatted for a while and took some pictures together.

Late in the day the skies started to darken and I kept watching the weather.  I could tell the guys behind me were getting soaked but for the time being I was dry.  WHen I got to Prairies City the grey clouds had caught me.  The host at the camp ground said I could camp under the shelter so I took my bike over and parked it under the canopy next to a picnic table.  I unpacked and went to the showers.  When I went into the bathhouse it was just starting to rain and the wind was picking up.  I showered in a coin operated shower stall (just like a small car wash) and changed into shorts and a t-shirt.  When I came out it was clear and sunny!

I setup the tent on the grass next to the creek and then went under the shelter to eat.  I had Spam and chips in my panniers for supper but a very nice couple had come over to meet me and brought spaghetti and a salad!  It was awesome!  They sat and talked for a while.  They asked about the signatures on my bags and I explained about the fundraiser.  They ended up handing me $60 before I left the campsite.  That, along with the food was a true treat.

Later another biker (Bob) came into camp.  He was doing a large 5 day loop of the area and it was his last night out.  He camped next to me and we talked a bit.  He was gone when I woke up it the morning, which was a bit of a surprise.  I wasn't used to being beaten to the road! (Bob shows up again in tomorrow's post :-))

The last few pictures below were taken in the morning before leaving the camp ground.

TransAm 2018 Day 5 - June 6th

86.5 miles from Sisters, OR to Mitchell, OR with about 3800 ft of climbing.  Great ride with a long climb near to 60-70 mile mark, then coast down into town.  This seemed to be the pattern for several of the days, so I planned the ride to match the terrain, trying to keep the bigger climbs early in the day.

The scenery, while still awesome, began to change as I entered what they called the 'high desert'. I looked like some of the backdrops in the old black and white westerns on TV.  I wish now I had taken more pictures, but I kept stopping to take them and I needed to keep moving.  

I did make it over another 4700+ ft summit (Ocholo Pass) before late afternoon so I felt good about the ride today.  I really wanted to get to the hostel because I'd heard so much about it and I was not disappointed. I was welcomed by several people standing in the road ringing cowbells and banging pans!  It was cool to say the least. The a hot shower, warm bed, laundry, and a hot meal of pasta, rice, and beans! 

I tend not to stop once I start riding (not for more than 5 minutes at a time) so I arrived at the hostile relatively early compared to the other riders that would come in later that evening.  I was asleep when the most of the others came it, but I got up and helped welcome Nishanth, Don, and Paul(?).  Paul(?) was also a teacher.  He teaches high school in Ohio and was riding from Oregon back home.  There was another rider who came in as well but I didn't get to meet her.

When I woke in the morning, the bunk beds were full where other riders had arrived during the night and the room was full of snoring bikers!  That goodness I had earplugs.  I never heard them (although I probably added to it before I woke up).  I tended to be on the road by 8am but the others tended to start much later, so I rode off alone towards Prairie City, OR where my next stop awaited.


TransAm 2018 Day 4 - June 5th (MY BIRTHDAY!!)

Today I turned 53.  That didn't matter much out in the middle of nowhere so I was up early and ready to get to the summit of McKenzie Pass.  Roughly 5300 feet above sea level, the pass runs through a field of volcanic rock before dropping back down into the forest and into the town of sisters, where I planned to stop for the day.  It was only 43 miles, but the 5000 ft climb took most of the day.  I'm pretty slow on a regular bike, so adding 50 pounds of gear REALLY slowed me down.  Plus I was loving the scenery and hoping to see snow at the top!

I ran into another rider at the store near the camp ground and he suggested we share expenses on a room in SIsters, OR which was about 40-45 miles away on the other side of the pass. I have no problems sharing expenses so I agreed to meet him there.  He was a little (lot) slower than me so I ended up getting the room and waiting on him.  Things did not work out so I ended up paying for the room myself, but I it was my birthday so just enjoyed to warm bed and hot shower and didn't stress over it.

The climb up the pass was not the highest or hardest of the entire trip, but for me it was going to be my first big challenge.  In all actuality, like a lot of things, I'd made it much worse in my head than it actually was.  Sure, I walked a few of the steeper parts (not much) but overall it went better than I had expected.  (I've learned to like climbing after this month to be honest).

About halfway up the pass I found a small rest stop with bathrooms and a picnic table.  A family was using the table, so I sat on the log guardrail and ate lunch.  Butterflies began to gather on and around me and the bike. Nice and peaceful.

At the top of the climb I did seem snow still piles along the sides of the road.  Not a deep as the pictures you see on Google (google McKenzie Pass) but still it was snow.  Once I reached the summit and the observatory made of volcanic rock I was pleased to find another public restroom.  Thanks Oregon (and Idaho) for having them scattered around seeming in the middle of nowhere but exactly where they are needed! :-)

I had another small meal at the top (cashews and salt-n-vinegar chips) while I waited a little longer on the other rider.  I never saw him so I continued on into town.

The downhill was MUCH quicker than the climb and I could feel it get warmer as I descended.  Once I arrived in Sisters, OR it didn't take long to find a good meal.  Being what seemed to be a tourist town, there were restaurants a plenty.  I chose a simple outdoor grill and ate, taking my time to wait for George, the other rider.  I kept my phone in airplane mode while riding but turned service back on when in town.  No communication from him to let me know, so I went about finding a room.

After eating, showering, and restocking food and water for the next day, I began to plan out tomorrow.  I wanted to get to the Spoken-Hostel in Mitchelle, 87 miles away.  Easy-peasy.



TransAm 2018 Day 3 - June 4th

Today was a perfect weather day and the scenery just kept getting better.  114 miles was the plan for today in order to get to McKenzie Bridge, the last stop before climbing over McKenzie pass (a major climb, at least for me).  The overall ride was uphill but the elevation only climbed slowly so it never really seemed like to was uphill most of the time.  Riding next to the river helped keep the day interesting.  

Nothing major happened today.  Just an awesome ride through interior Oregon ending at a totally empty campground next to the river.  I think the most exciting thing was the deer head toilet paper holder.  Looking over at it and not expecting it was a treat!  I also saw a few old classic cars at the small gas station I stopped at for lunch.

I knew that there was a store about 2 miles past the campground, so I rode up to it to stock up for the night (water/food).  The rode back to the camp ground to setup.  I still was not really used to daylight lasting until well after 9pm so I was camped by 7pm or so.  But I also knew I'd be climbing McKenzie pass in the morning!


TransAm 2018 Day 2 - June 3rd

Today's goal was Monmouth, OR.  85 miles with around 4300 feet of climbing.  Beautiful weather again!  More riding along the Oregon coastline and following some of the same route that Lewis and Clark took while exploring.  At least that's what the signs claimed.  I wasn't around when they were. :-)

I do not really like to eat breakfast before a ride and usually prefer to stop after about 20-30 miles to eat.  So today I rode to Pacific City before stopping.  A breakfast burrito and coffee hit the spot and I continued on.  The route turned inland from the coast midway through today and I ended up on some pretty rural roads.  This is good because it means low traffic and nice scenery.

I passed Nishanth Iyengar, a fellow from India who was ridie the same route across the US.  I had me him before we started so I knew who it was as I came around the curve and saw him.  He was stopped and doing something on his iPhone.  It wasn't a tough climb but I didn't want to stop so I just high-fived him as I rode past.  We'd meet again later in the day after I missed a turn and had to backtrack about a mile.

I had actually planned to ride farther than Monmouth but did not have a firm plan as to where to stay for the night.  I ran into another cyclist who was staying in town and he invited me to eat with him.  I'd done a much better job of watching my nutrition during the day, so I was not exhausted or cramping but it was getting to be later in the afternoon and Monmouth was a nice little town so I decided to get a hotel room, a good meal (the biggest burrito I'd ever seen), and a hot shower.  Plus WI-FI and somewhere to charge my batteries.  The dyno was keeping my phone at 100% as long as the bike was moving, but low signal strength drained the batteries quick when stopped.

Once I was checking in and settled in Monmouth, a friend I'd met online contacted me.  He didn't live very far away and was wanting to come by to meet in person.  So we met at the little Mexican place next to the hotel where I had the burrito fit for the Hulk.  We chatted for a while.  It was cool getting to meet someone you'd only talked to online a few times.

Later in the evening, Nishanth Iyengar came into town.  I knew he was riding around the world on a VERY limited budget so I offered the second bed in my room to him.  He was very interested in learning about American culture so I answered his questions as be I could.  

TransAm 2018 Day 1 - June 2nd

There were well over 100 other riders in Astoria, OR getting ready to ride 4200 miles across the US.  Each person was doing it for their own reasons.  Some for charities, some for fun, some were running from the darkness in their life, some were chasing excitement. I was doing it for several reasons. Mostly to see if I can and to try to raise money for chromebooks.

Here is a video someone made of all of us leaving Astoria together.  Everyone rides at a different pace so once we left the small city, the rides began to spread out quickly.

Today was great.  The weather was perfect and the scenery along the Oregon coast is beautiful to say the least.  My goal today was to ride 85 miles to Cape Lookout Campground.  The route was hilly and some of the climbs were tough with a loaded bike.  At the top of one of the climbs I topped and dumped about 10 pounds of items I determined I would never really need. And luckily I never regretted ditching anything.  I did, however, learn the hard way to carry extra water.  On one of the longer climbs I ran out of water and a nice family at the top gave me two bottle of water.

 I was so excited to finally be riding after 3 days in town waiting and so busy enjoying the scenery that I didn't think to eat an actual meal until 78 miles into the ride in Netarts.  I stopped and had a humongous hamburger and fries.  This was around 3:30pm my time, so I was doing better than I had planned.  I was also experiencing muscle cramps in my legs.  Luckily today would be the only time that happened.   

After leaving the grill and filling up on food and water, I rode the last few miles to the campground.  I could have ridden farther, but I knew that immediately past the campground was a 2000 ft climb and I felt it best to save that for bright and early the next morning.

When I did arrive at the coupground, which was right on the ocean, there was only one other biker there.  I picked a nice quiet spot and setup my tent.  Except for the squirrel who INSISTED that he needed to inspect my bike for loose food, the campsite was secluded and private.

I rode over to the camp showers, cleaned up, and rode back to camp. Then, with plenty of daylight left, I walked the 20 or so yards to the beach and just say enjoying the sunshine and breaking waves for a long time. 

Pre-start post from the start

I want to try to post at least once each day but cell service will limit that for most of the western section.  I've been in Astoria for a few days and am ready to get started. 

There were well over 100 other riders in Astoria, OR getting ready to ride 4200 miles across the US.  Each person was doing it for their own reasons.  Some for charities, some for fun, some were running from the darkness in their life, some were chasing excitement. I was doing it for several reasons. Mostly to see if I can and to try to raise money for chromebooks.



I'll post as many pictures and videos as I can along the way.  I am definitely not a professional camera man so don't expect too much.  😁

So here is the first few days in pictures and video. 



Somewhere over the middle....


Coming into Portland. 



At the starting point. The Maritime Museum. 


James, John, and Zack.  A few other riders I've met. 



Two velomobiles in the race this year. 



Breakfast before the bike inspection. Lots of riders came out. 



View from the Astoria Tower. 


Thats really just a snap shot (no pun intended) of everything to see and do here. I start the 4200 mile ride in a few hours and I am looking forward to this adventure. 

My only 'off day'

Yesterday was my last day at school.  I have to admit I shed a few tears. I taught these students for 2 years and now they move on to high school. I will miss ever single one if them a lot but I know I did my best to prepare them for next year.  My students did not make saying good easy.


  Tomorrow I will make a new video detailing my bike and gear for the big ride.  I'll talk about my goals, plans, etc.  I'll get the bike and gear ready and make last minute adjustments.  

Tuesday I will be at the bike shop getting help packing bike for travel.  I'll head out to Oregon early Wednesday morning, arriving in Portland around noon.  From there, an awesome local couple has volunteered to help some of us get from the airport to Astoria, even giving us a place to sleep that night. 

Once I get to Astoria on Thursday, the adventure really begins.  After bike inspection and check-in, there will be nothing to do but mentally prep for the race start Saturday morning. 

Here's to hoping this is the only bear I see on this ride! 


Less than 2 weeks to go...

My students' signatures through the years. 

My students' signatures through the years. 

The TransAm bike race is less than two weeks away.  I just registered my Spot Tracker with Trackleaders, my bike is almost ready, my legs are definitely ready, and my head is in the game.  Travel arrangements have been made and all that is left to do is wait for my flight to Portland next Wednesday. 

An awesome lady named Terri and her husband are picking me up at the airport and giving me and another racer a place to stay for the night. They also offered to drive us and our gear to Astoria where the race officially starts.  There I plan to share a room with another racer until time to head out on this adventure June 2nd.  

I've never met either of these people but that's the awesome part. I hope to meet many new people on this trip!  A few years ago I was a crew member for a RAAM team and I still keep in touch with some of the others I met.  During the 2014 and 2015 TransAm I also made new friends I still talk to occasionally online. I hope this year is no different.  

So WHY do this? Well I answered part of it above. Riding the bike is only part of the adventure. Meeting new people from all around the world and across the US is just as fun.  Showing my students that they can do more than they think is also part of it.  And of course, I simple want to do this for myself. 

The goal is to tell my story here for you to folllow and for me to relive as needed. I will try to post pictures and video as often as I can. Stay tuned!