A couple of weeks have gone by since the last time I updated. I still need to spend a lot of time updating while it is still somewhat fresh in my mind. So, if anybody is still reading this you are very patient and I will try to fill in the large gap between San Francisco and the trip home.
Iíve been back in town for a few days now. I havenít found the time to update my web page recently but will try to make time now that Iím back home. Iíll go back to the most memorable experience since I last updated. The day I rode through the Rocky Mountain National Park was a bit different than what I had expected. I left from the town of Kremmling where I had spent the prior evening hanging out with a group of three other touring cyclists. I had planned on riding closer to the park that afternoon but I was having fun talking with the other cyclists. I created a long day for myself the next day. It would be a 90 mile trip from Kremmling to Estas Park. I had been warned the one should travel through begin your ascent up the mountains in the early morning in an attempt to avoid the routine afternoon precipitation. So I left Kremmling sometime around 10 in the morning. It was late afternoon before I entered Rocky Mountain National Park and I was greeted by pea and marble sized hail almost immediately after paying the park admission. Fortunately the hail only lasted a few minutes and I could continue to the beginning of the ascent in half dry clothes. It rained three separate times during my ascent which lasted several hours. The first time started raining I was near a park restroom with an overhang so I decided to wait for the storm to pass. After waiting for 15-30 min. the rain stopped and I was ready to continue the climbÖ. But I found my tire completely flat and the culprit was a small white plastic sliver. The climb was intense. I remember noticing my lungs feel constricted as I climbed to higher into the thin mountain air. I crossed the continental divide at 11,800ft but this would not be the end of the climb. The Park visitor center lies up the mountain a ways after the divide. I was getting rained on while traveling up this steep section of the climb. The visitorís center was a nice oasis to the cold wet conditions. I walked through the building in search of some dinner and as I was walking up to the cafeteria an employee was fastening a rope across the entrance. I asked if they would take one more customer and it was no problem. They closed the whole visitor center about the time I was done eating and I was forced to go out into the rain again. The storm looked like it would be past me soon so I found some shelter from the rain while I waited for it to pass. The storm had left behind a huge rainbow behind and the sun was coming out now. The long trip was beginning to pay off.
I've been in San Francisco for about a week now and still have so much I could still do. There is pleanty of great food, music, and people to keep me busy a lot longer but I have to leave and try to make my way back to Iowa for RAGBRAI.
I'm planning on taking a train from here to Salt Lake City and riding home from there. Idealy I will ride from Salt Lake City all the way back to Iowa but I don't know if I'm physically able to ride such long distances. I would have to ride
well over 100 miles a day consistantly. I finally got around to uploading some new photos so you may want to check them out.
I found a state park campground where they have hiker/bicycle sites where you can actually camp for a reasonable rate. Iíve been to a few of these hiker/biker sites now and they all have been separate from the rest of the campground where an area is set aside for cyclists and hikers only. The rates in Oregon were $4 per person and Iíve been to one hiker biker site in California and the rate was a mere $2. The sites Iíve stayed at also had shower facilities. It was free to take a hot shower in Oregon and at the site in California the showers were coin operated. I took a nice long shower for $.75.
Today was a good day because particularly because I met another touring cyclist that was actually traveling in the same direction as I. I met him the afternoon that I got to the hiker/biker site in the Oregon sand dunes area. He lives in Seattle and is riding to San Francisco from there. He has done this trip three times before so riding with him was like taking a guided tour in some ways. He knew where to stop and eat and which side trips to take for the best scenery. I hope that when Iím as old as Pete I will still be in good enough shape to tour. He is in his mid fifties and is still touring. Pete is quite the health nut. He always shops at health food stores and is very careful about what he puts into his body. He taught me a great deal about health and the importance of taking steps to improve my diet. Pete is strongly against the use of corn syrup in place of real cane sugar and believes that this is a major contributor to the poor health of Americans today. Iíve tried to improve my diet some but still find myself eating garbage often. I love the big mac!
We met Pierre at the next hiker/biker site.
Todayís ride was quite pleasant due to the mild weather and minimal hills on the route. I rode my bicycle across the Golden Gate Bridge today which was very exciting. Right before crossing the bridge I was able to watch a huge ocean liner pass underneath the bridge. I then had to ascend a huge hill up to the bridge itself. I rode to the west side of the bridge where I had planned to travel on the path across the bridge but this side was closed and I was forced to use the East side. This was going to be a huge problem because I would have to somehow get my bike down a steep set of stairs leading to a walkway crossing underneath the bridge o the other side and back up an equally steep staircase. This would not be an easy with a bike loaded with panniers but I also had a trailer and was expecting to have to unhitch the trailer and make a couple of trips. A dude on a mountain bike came by and offered me a hand with my rig. I lifted the bike while he lifted the trailer by the back wheel. This was quite the pain in the ass but we made it down the first set of stairs and up the second without any major problems. I spoke with a couple of people about the going across the bridge today and was told that it without a doubt would be foggy and I may not even be able to see the water. But, it was without a doubt a beautiful day with high visibility from the bridge and even after crossing the bridge looking back at it. I feel very lucky to cross the bridge while experiencing such great conditions. It was an unforgettable entrance into San Francisco. My first impression of the area is quite positive. Iím not sure if Iím technically in San Francisco right now but I very close if not. Downtown is a little ways away from here. Right now Iím in a cafť waiting for my good friend Nathan Flom to get off work. He has been kind enough to provide me with a place to stay while Iím here. Iím now over budget and will either need to stick around here and find some work or head back to Iowa. I really would like to complete my ride in San Diego or maybe lighten my load and try to ride back to Iowa in time for REAGBRAI. This will be a very difficult decision to make because Iím sure both options would be rewarding.
I spoke with my friend Justin who is watching my saltwater tank. He left home for the forth and asked another friend Eric to take care of the fish. When he came back from vacation he found a couple of floaters. The Blue Lined Trigger that I had purchased before leaving on this trip was one of the casualties and the other was one of his fish. That was a quick way to loose $75 but Iím not to upset about it. That fish was vicious and I think that eventually it would have done more damage. It was one of those fish that can appear to be friendly towards its tank mates but one day it may wake up and decide to start attacking other fish. It had been attacking my Huma Huma quite often and it seems that the tank should be a little less aggressive now.
I left camp early and was on the road by 7am because today would be a long day. I purchased a book providing routes through the pacific coast. The book is divided up into suggested days and today I rode 1.5 days or about 65 miles of ridiculous hills today. This was one of the most difficult days I can remember because of the steep climbs and fast windy descents. I remember one hill in particular south of Elf that I was climbing where the road cut switchbacks up a hill. As I was on one of the sharp turns on the switchback I nearly had to clip out of my pedals and start pushing my bike. Instead I slammed down on my pedals and used my arms to pull my body down which helped to push my pedals with my legs. It was crazy! This part of the coast is a very difficult one. The hills are steep and mostly one after another. I found this area more difficult than most mountain passes that Iíve been through.
I only rode about ten miles today. It as the day after the fourth and I didnít really want to ride with all of the traffic. I found a cool park with hiker/biker camping and decided to stay. I met a group from the bay area that was camping in the same park. They were an organized camp for kids and so the group consisted of a bunch of kids a few older college kids and a few ďdirectorsĒ who apparently organized the event. It seemed like a very cool camp. I ate lunch with the group and they showed me around their camp. The kids were making soup at one station and actually produced some nice looking and good smelling soap. They had also dome tide pool exploration and had collected a few different creatures including abalones, sea urchins, and some cool seashells. They showed me a plant that I could eat and they showed me what thimble berries are.
I went into Fort Bragg to check things out. I was in the found a brewery offering tours and decided to try to get another jersey donated to me but the brewery didnít make cycling jerseys so I decided o try out a couple of their brews anyway. Speaking of jerseys, I will be getting a free one from Bianchi very soon!!
I woke up early today and hoped to explore some tide pools but I donít think I woke up early enough. I hear the best time is around 3 in the morning when the tide is the lowest. Although I didnít see very many sea creatures I did find an interesting starfish. At least I think thatís what it was. I looked like a starfish except that it had 12 ďarmsĒ and I thought that starfish only had 5. Iím curious about what this actually was.
I woke up in Arcata California this morning. Ed and Penny we very hospitable and pretty much said we could use their house while they were away at work. I've had some challenging days recently and I feel like I need a day to recoup so I'll probably end up staying here for the day. This seems like a pretty cool town. There is a university here so there are a lot of younger folks running around. Also, a huge number of hippies... hippies everywhere!! It's not a bad place for people watching. The town has a focus on small businesses and to the extent that there are no chain restaurants in town. It took me a while to figure it out but this town seemed so different from most places in America. There aren't any fast food chains or chain restaurants of any kind... most everything is locally owned and operated.
Pierre and had a late start today and probably didnít start to pedal until around noon. A few miles south of camp we came to the town of Orick. What a horrible place this was. The town looked nasty and dirty. We decided to stop for breakfast at a cafť. I ate 2 Ĺ biscuits and gravy plus hash browns, bacon and sausage. After a huge breakfast in Orick I felt like I was ready to ride but I was wrong. Iíve come to the conclusion that gravy and grease are not the best energy foods. Today should have been an easy short ride but I was in poor shape up the hills. Pete had recommended that we stop at Patrickís Point State Park to check out the great views. By late afternoon we arrived in Arcata and decided we would look into motels and check out a hostel in town. The hostel was closed and we were planning on getting a cheap motel room but we got an offer from a couple to stay with them. We decided to stop at a cafť where they rent out hot tubs and soak a while before going over to Ed and Pennyís place. They offered us beds but it was a nice night and we decided to sleep under the stars (or fog).
Pierre and I left from Harris Beach leaving Pete behind to recover for a couple of days. Today would be a nice ride. We traveled about 65-70 miles into California through the Redwood National and State Parks. We had two large hills today each of which had an elevation gain of nearly 1000 feet. The redwood groves were magnificent! These trees can live to 2000 years old and I believe they are the tallest trees in the world reaching hundreds of feet tall. We me a couple of girls on the way to camp and ended up hanging out that evening at the campground. We met a couple of touring cyclists from Germany who were very cool. They were riding about 90 miles a day which is a lot with all of the hills around. They hung out with us at camp and were quite entertaining to talk with. We were in Elk Prairie Campground this evening.
We left camp fairly early from Humbug Mountain. Today was quite hilly once again but the ride was excellent. The roads were hilly but fun to ride. There were nice sections along the coast and some great downhill sections with nice tight turns. This is where itís at!! We arrived at Harris Beach and found our spots at the hiker biker campground before riding into the nearby town of Brookings for supplies. This is another lame town in northern California; this seems to be a reoccurring theme. Iíve seen a lot of dirty looking towns with some very strange folks residing in them. The park was great! That night we all went down to the beach and did some hiking and climbing on the rocks. We had a lot of fun that night.
I'm leaving Eugene today and plan on making it out to the coast finally. I stayed at a hostel close to downtown Eugene and had a great time meeting all of the travelers passing through. I camped in my tent for $10 a night but you get to use the shower and pretty much the rest of the house as well. I'll try to fill in some details soon but for now I need to get pedaling.
I'm in Eugene Oregon right now!
This is where it's at! I rode from Bend through Sisters and over McKenzie Pass today. I took hwy 242 over the pass. The road was actually closed but I heard you could get past the gate and over the pass by bike.
I had one of my favorite days of riding because of this decision. I only saw one other person on the pass. The ride from Sisters over the pass was also some of most scenic riding I've done on this trip. Leaving sisters the climate was high desert with large pine trees and a lot of sage Brush. On the way up to the pass the sage brush disappeared and I noticed ferns covering the ground. The top of the pass included a lava flow with great views of the nearby mountains. After I reached the summit I headed down the hill. This is a huge downhill stretch through a rain forest like climate. My destination was a hot springs between Bend and Eugene. This may have been the best hot springs I had been to yet. The hot water came up through a cave you could sit inside or you could soak in the rock pool just outside of the cave. I had the spot to myself and had no trouble relaxing and soaking in the hot pool. I camped in the forest a couple of miles from the hot springs.
I woke up very early and began looking for a cafť that would be open at this early hour. I ended up seeing a couple of guys talking in front of an art gallery. I decided to approach them and ask if they could recommend a cafť. One of the guys suggested a place called DBís and asked if the other would show me where I was located. So Iím following this guy to the cafť and I try to make small talk with him. This guy was really strangeÖ he looked fairly sane but communicating with him was impossible. I canít explain what his deal was but I donít think he was quite right in the head. He came into the cafť with me but he didnít have any money for a meal. I told him that I couldnít buy him breakfast but I ended up giving him a pastry that I had with me. He didnít seem very grateful but did end up eating the pastry. Beggars canít be choosersÖright? I decided that after sleeping on the ground outside of the motel I deserved a little bit of relaxation. I got a room at the Red Lion motel. I booked the hotel on Hotwire and received a good rate. I went by Hutches bicycle shop because my front brake had been rubbing on my rim for a few days and it was getting annoying. I met a dude there from Council Bluffs. He showed me how to adjust my brakes and sent me on my way. I spent the rest of the day at the hotel sitting around in the hot tub and swimming in the pool. It ended up being a very relaxing day.
Today turned out to be quite interesting. I left Sarahís place fairly early in the morning and went downtown to a cafť with Wi-fi. After hanging out for a few hours I learned about the Bite of Bend festival taking place in the Old Mill District and headed on down. I was having a good time listening to music and relaxing in the warm sun but decided to head down to the Deschutes Brewery for a tour. I first tried their beer as I was coming through Idaho and fell in love with their Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Towards the end of the tour I ended up meeting Nikki Mills from Iowa City Iowa and asked her if I could do some advertising for her by wearing the breweryís jersey while on tour. I was surprised that she said yesÖ she gave me a $70 cycling jersey and 15 stickers. Thank you Nikki and thanks to the Deschutes Brewery! I went back to Bite of Bend and met Sarah and a couple of her friends. I was hoping that one of them would offer me a place to stay or to put up my tent but it didnít work out. It was getting late and I was getting tired so I decided to stop by a motel but the office was already closed for the night. I noticed a somewhat secluded area behind the motel and decided to pull out my sleeping bag and get some rest right there.
I camped in Clyde Holiday State Park last night. It was a nice place because they had a hiker/biker camping area where you could put up a tent, have a fire and electric for $4. I met a couple of touring cyclists from North Carolina who were riding the Transamerica bike route from Astoria Oregon to Virginia.
They were very cool folks and sat around the fire with them until we went to bed. They couldn't believe how much gear I was hauling around... I had just sent home 12 pounds a couple of days ago! The ride today wasn't bad. I only had one mountain pass (Keyes Creek Pass 4372 ft). I camped in the Mitchell city park for free. I didn't feel like packing up the tent in the morning so I decided to sleep on the picnic table, a good choice because I really cut down on the time it takes to get ready in the morning.
The Pine Cafe was not open at 5:00AM when I woke up but I banged on the door and the owner let me in anyway. He was very a very cool guy and gave me free coffee an donuts!
I just rolled into Bend Oregon yesterday evening after a very long day of riding. I left Mitchell Oregon around 6:00AM and shortly after was climbing up a very long and steep mountain (Ochoco Pass 4722 ft).
It was good to do the pass early so I knew that the worst was behind me. I ended up riding about 85 miles yesterday and didn't arrive until the evening. I was fortunate to find a place to stay right after getting into town. Another tour cyclist saw me walking my bike downtown and stopped to talk to me. She had done a cross-country tour a couple of years back and was interested in my trip. She asked me if I wanted to get something to eat and I had been looking for the Deschutes Brewery to get some dinner and try one of their fine brews. She ended up letting me stay in a loft above her apartment for the night.
After drying out my tent a little I left Unity and continued west on hwy 26. Today I would go over three passes as follows (5109 ft, 4506 ft, Dixie Pass 5279ft). It was a bit difficult to deal with psychologically but I just kept pedaling and eventually made it through all three passes!
I left Vale and began heading west on hwy 26. The climate was high desert and consisted mostly of sage brush and agriculture. I had two passes today (Brogan Hill, 3981 ft, Eldorado Pass 4623 ft). When I got to the town of Unity I found that camping is allowed in the city park. I found a nice piece of grass to put up the tent and eventually went to bed. Shortly after I am startled by the sound of the sprinkler system and it was spraying water all over my tent and bicycle! I moved my bike away from the path of the sprinkler but decided to just leave the tent ;-) I did have the rain fly on after all. Apparently it got pretty cool that night also because when I woke up the water on my tent had frozen! Fortunately nothing got very wet but the tent.
Today I had to leave Boise and start heading towards Oregon. I'm really getting anxious to see the ocean and plan on making a lot of progress over the next few days. The ride was not to exciting and leaving Boise was pretty miserable because of all the traffic and the fact that I really didn't know how to get out of town. I was able to find a visitors center and got some directions out of town but the roads were still pretty busy.
I've been riding through the Sawtooth Mountains for the last few days. It has been difficult but very pretty. I'm trying to decide if I should ride into Boise today or wait till tomorrow. It has been raining a little and I could use a rest.
Aside from having to say goodbye to a great new friend, today went fairly well. After packing up camp I started out of the campground. I saw this huge moth in the middle of the road apparently struggling to fly or crawl or something. The moth was red, black and brown. It actually was very pretty it but seemed like it was about to die. I began heading up a gradual hill until I reached the actual pass. It seemed to take quite a while to get to the top but I felt like I was in a bit of a daze from working so hard and breathing so heavy. The higher I got the more difficult it was to keep pedaling and I did stop a few times on the way up. When I made it to the summit I felt greatÖ exhausted but it felt awesome to be at the top. I met this older gentleman who was doing maintenance work a scenic viewpoint near the summit. He was a nice guy and he said he rode his bike over the pass with his wife every year. This guy had the craziest eyebrows Iíve ever seen! Seriously, weíre talking about over an inch of eyebrow hair and it went all over the place.
I hung out in the town of Ketchum toady while Michelle and the roommates were all working. After Michelle got off of work she decided to give me a lift a little ways north of town to a nice camp spot. We made salmon and asparagus for dinner and must say that it was quite good thanks to Michelle! I would have never tried to cook something so complex with my little camping stove. Afterwards we decided to hike to the top of a nearby hill and saw some nice views including a couple of birds trying to mate.
I did another nice mountain bike ride with Michelle near the town of Stanley. It was an excellent eleven mile single track loop. Afterwards we went to a nearby hot springs and soaked away the pain.
I decided to stop into a local bike shop to check on rental prices. This shop actually allowed me to take a nice Klien Palomino mountain bike out at no charge. I rode Adam's Gulch Loop with Michelle toady. It was a great trail with some steep uphill sections. I had an interesting spill on my way down the hill. As I was riding down some switch bikes a decided to bunny hop over a small obstacle but didn't land very well. I was heading off the trail and caught my front tire on something. When this happens rear of your bike will fly up and throw the rider foreword off the bike and often results in some scrapes at a minimum. I somehow managed to be thrown foreword but amazingly landed on my feet! It was a bit embarrassing because there were a couple of young ladies hiking up the trail that saw the whole thing... at least I made them laugh ;-)
I tore down camp and decided to take up Tom on the ride to Hailey. I rode up to Ketchum along a nice bike trail shortly after arriving in Hailey. It seemed like a nice town. I'd been hearing a lot about it ever since I arrived in Idaho and now I can see why. I would compare it to towns like Estes Park Colorado or Jackson Wyoming. You can tell that there is plenty of money floating around the town. A lot of famous folks have homes in this area including Governor Arnold, Tom Hanks, and many more. Sun Valley ski resort is located here as well. This town seems to have a huge population of the active outdoor type and it is easy to see why. Sun Valley is home to some of the best mountain bike rides Iíve been on and many of the rides are so close you can ride your bike to the trailhead without much effort. After checking out the town I found the library and stopped in to check my e-mail. While I was sitting in front of my PC a fellow solo tour cyclist came to greet me. We went out to a bar for some food and talked about our experiences on tour. I couldn't pass up the offer to stay in their condo for a couple of days. I should mention something strange about this town. Within a few hours after arriving I had four different people offer me a place to stay! I felt very comfortable knowing I was amongst such a cyclist friendly community. The people here are very kind. Michelle and I went to a couple of bars and I ended up meeting a lot of her friends and her two roommates.
I left Twin Falls and began heading west towards Hagerton Idaho where Miracle Hot Springs is located. The ride was short but sweet. It was only about a 30 mile trip and the scenery was great. Miracle Hot Springs is near the 1000 Springs and there were several waterfalls in this area. I arrived in the early afternoon and set up camp before relaxing and reading a book about hot springs in the Pacific Northwest. Miracle Hot Springs consists of a man made pool separated in two sections. One pool was hot and the other just warm. It was nice to soak in the hot pool and then cool off in the warm pool for a while.
I am currently in Twin Falls Idaho outside of the Comfort Inn so I can borrow their wireless Internet. I'm having a difficult time deciding where I will go from here. Yesterday I was planning on going through Nevada to Yosemite but today I'm having second thoughts and may still go through Oregon as originally planned. I think that tour cyclist.com should be up soon. The support group finally replied to my e-mails so I think they are taking care of the problems. I haven't had a good opportunity to update the trip log much lately but I will hopefully get some time to write some more. I have had an interesting time the last week or so. I think I'm may search out some hot springs today instead of a shower ;-) Whatever works I guess.
Well I've been in this hotel for two days and Have seen little rain. The weather man seemed really sure it would rain all weekend. I'm going to head for Arco Idaho tomorrow and should be going into a stiff headwind all day and it's supposed to rain in the afternoon. Not cool.
My site has outgrown the free hosting I have been using and found an inexpensive provider that I will be using instead. I purchased www.tourcyclist.com and will be transferring the site to the new domain ASAP. I'll be sure to post a message when it is available, hopefully in a few days or less. There are also a lot of new photos that will be on the new site.
I am somewhere in the middle of Idaho right now. I've had a great time the last couple of days. I rode out of Idaho Falls and didn't see a town for 60 miles! I camped in Craters of the Moon National Monument and spent a day exploring the park. This area has a lot of cool lava formations and huge caves there. Now I need to get back on the bike.
After packing up my gear this morning I rode around searching for a hotel room. I've become fairly skilled at negotiating reasonable rates. I don't feel quite so bad staying in a hotel where I might be paying $20 less than the next guy in the door. I have a few suggestions for finding quality inexpensive rooms.
I. Making hotel reservations online is often the best way to find a reasonable rate. If you want to stay at a certain hotel be sure to check that hotel's website for a discounted "web rate". You may have to actually make the reservation online but other hotels will offer you their web rates if you explain where you found the discounted rate. Sometimes you can find lower rates through the big online travel sites. I prefer Orbitz.com, Hotwire.com and Priceline.com but Expedia.com, Travelocity.com and Hotels.com are all worth checking out if you want to spend the time. The best rates I've paid came from reservations made on Priceline and Hotwire. I often book rooms on Priceline for half the rate on Orbitz. I was once able to afford 5 nights in the four star Westin Innisbrook Resort from a reservation on Priceline. One of the best ways to get a low rate is to contact a hotels main corporate reservation line to make a reservation be sure to ask about special rates. They may not mention a special but if you ask about it they will let you know. Whenever making a reservation online or in person I rarely accept the first rate I'm quoted. The typical conversation with the front desk goes something like this:
I will ask for the room rate and the front desk will quote a ridiculous rate. I will explain that I'm on a tight budget and ask if they are able to offer a lower rate. They almost always will offer something lower. You can ask if they will offer you the corporate or government rate also. Sometimes you will need to speak with a manager for larger discounts. You might mention that you prefer to stay in their hotels and that you are a loyal customer. If you are comparing hotels make sure you know what amenities you prefer and decide how much each is worth to you. I will typically pay a little more for a hotel offering breakfast, high speed internet and a hot tub.
After stopping into about 10 hotels I choose the best deal. I paid $55 at a surprisingly nice Best Western. They quoted me $75, I asked for a lower rate, they offered $60, I asked if a manager was available the guy at front desk called him and I was offered another $5 off. I don't always ask for a manager but if nobody else is in the lobby and the front desk isn't quoting me the rate I would like.
Later in the evening I went to the Outback Steakhouse for dinner. I met a guy that just moved to Idaho Falls from Denver. We decided to check out a bar called DBs because they had live music there. I didn't really like the place so much but had a good time anyway. I played some horrible pool and met some interesting folks that night.
I rode to Idaho Falls today. It was only about 55 miles again but I didn't want to go further for a few reasons but mostly because it looked like it would rain for the next couple of days and I may just stay here until it dies down. I ended up camping for free in the city park next to the snake river again. It started raining fairly early and turned into a nice thunderstorm.
I got up early, packed up the bike and was on the road by 7:00am. Right as I was taking my first pedal strokes the rain began coming down. I stopped and threw on my waterproof gear and continued on my way. The rain was cold on my hands because they're exposed but otherwise I was able to keep the rain away from my body. I did not stay dry though. Waterproof gear often does not breath well and it can fell like exercising in a plastic bag. I was probably just as wet from sweat as I would have been from rain, but at least I was warm...hot. I only rode maybe 10 miles before finding a place to stay in Swan Valley. I finagled with the owners and got the room for $30. The room had a double bed and two sets of bunk beds. Needless to say I had plenty of space. It continued to rain steadily all day so I don't feel bad about getting a room.
Today I started heading towards Idaho from Jackson. I was already across the continental divide and my route followed the Snake River. It was almost all downhill! I rode about 55 miles along the Snake River. There is a huge reservoir with a dam following it and I poached a camp site at the base of the dam and enjoyed the rest of a great day.
I left this morning and headed north into Teton Park. When I got to the visitor information center I learned that Yellowstone had received some snow so I had to return to Jackson. It was a nice bike ride along the Teton Range but now I will need to pick a new route to go west. It looks like I'll probably ride through southern Idaho but toady I'll be staying at the Motel 6. Shortly after checking in I was doing laundry and saw a touring cyclist with fully loaded panniers (bike bags) pulling up. I introduced myself and learned that he had rode from Austin Texas. It was nice to finally meet another touring cyclist and even cooler that he was solo like me. We got some Mexican grub and then went out to a bar for a couple of drinks. Wade is quiet a cool guy and it is unfortunate that we weren't traveling the same direction or I might have had some company for a change.
It's been a while since I've had a chance to give you all an update. I'm currently stranded in Jackson Wyoming because I can't get my bike back from the shop until Monday. I was just getting some new brakes and tires put on and had planned on picking it up yesterday but they were closed for a race and they aren't open on Sunday. I'm hanging out at the Hard Drive Cafe which is an internet cafe across the street from the Daze Inn where I'm staying.
We left camp pretty early and began heading to Mammoth Hot Springs. This was a particularly cool area where the landscape is constantly changing. The hot springs cause mineral deposits which form interesting land formations. We saw the mud pots where pools of mud form bubbles 6-8 inches in diameter that swell and pop often splattering mud several feet in the air. You can hear the mud gurgling as the bubbles are forming. We also spent some time checking out the geysers and were fortunate to catch one going off. The geyser was shooting out blasts of water quite a ways into the air. Overall I was very pleased with the trip to Yellowstone. I was expecting ridiculous traffic on the roads and large numbers of tourists but am happy to say that we encountered neither. Since we made the trip before the tourist season started for the park we were able to skip many of these annoying distractions and were able to make excellent time going through the park. We saw most everything we wanted to with the exception of tower falls because that area was still closed for winter. After we left the park we learned about some hot springs in the area we planned on camping. We heard that there was a man made pool where you could swim, but also a natural pool along the side of this river. We drove ten miles along the river but didn't see where the natural pool was so we walked up to the man made pool to see if anyone could help us find the natural pool. The man working said that it was at the base of this waterfall. When we got to the base we could see across the river there was a stream of hot water steaming as it made its way down a cliff into a calm pool. Jerry and I were very excited to take much needed soak in the hot water especially since I hadnít showered in three days. We decided that we would set up camp then come back for a soak. We came back to this oasis and were excited to make our way across the river to the pool. This was not an easy task though. The river was only a couple of feet deep where we decided to cross but it was moving very swiftly and it was not easy to hold your footing. The freezing cold water was not making matters any better but we eventually made it across. We came to a small pool a little downstream from the main pool but it was only deep enough to soak your feet. The water coming into the pool was really very hot and I was anxious to get up to the main pool. I made my way there and got in ready for some warm water to heat up my numb feet but only found more cold water. It was a little disappointing but at least we know where this spot is for the future. We learning that if it was later in the year between summer and winter it would have been a nice hot spring but since all the snow had been melting the rapid waters swept away the warm water. I can't believe how perfect the spot was though. The scenery was amazing. This pool was at the base of a 30-40 foot staircase waterfall and we were surrounded by the Teton Mountains. It couldn't get much better that. I will have to come back some time.
Today Jerry and I are off to Yellowstone. I can't believe I am finally going. The experience is long overdue and I couldn't be more excited. We drove back through Teton Park and entered Yellowstone from the south. When you first enter the park you can see steam coming up from different parts of the ground. Yellowstone is know for it's high level of geothermal activity and there is no doubt that there is an abundance of it. We drove to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and spent quite a bit of time there checking out different views of the canyon and waterfalls there. This was one of my favorite sites at Yellowstone. The first stop at the canyon was at the top of the canyon overlooking a huge waterfall. A trail led down the canyon and Jerry and I ran down it. It was quite a rush and led to a closer view of the waterfall. Next we went to the top brink of the waterfall we had just seen. The views were incredible. We had a difficult time trying to determine where we were going to camp for the night but ended up finding an open campground. That evening we went looking for a natural hot springs to soak in but ended up finding ourselves near a herd of bison. We ended up getting very close to a couple of the bison. There were also little bison babies running around with e bigger ones. It was very cool to see.
Today my brother Jerry met us at the hotel and from there we went into Jackson for some breakfast. The rest of the morning Jerry and I went to several different galleries looking for a place where he could display some of his work. I help out by showing some photos I had on my laptop of a vase and flowers that he made. I think that it sells for something like $1600 and stands about three feet tall. I wish I could see it for myself but I've only seen photos.
After we were done we met back up with my parents and went for a drive into the Teton Park and went to Jenny Lake to hang out. It was an incredible view of the Tetons. The mountains shoot up from the base of this lake, it is very cool. That night we all ate at an Italian restaurant. Jerry and I said good bye to my parents and drove south of town into the national forest and camped on the top of a little hill.
Eric picked me up from the hotel at 7:00 AM and I went with him on his sales route. He works for Pegler Sysco Food Services and travels to different bars and restaurants in Nebraska taking orders and selling them on the latest special. I went along with him to a few different stops. I think he actually has a pretty cool job. He pretty much gets to B.S. with the owners and get their order for the week. One stop was a little cafe where the owners gave us both a free breakfast. How can you beat that? We got to Sidney and met my parents at the Cabella's around 10:30AM it couldn't have worked out more smoothly. I was happy to see my parents. I hadnít seen any friends or family for three weeks and it was great to hang out with them. It was about an eight hour drive through Wyoming to the town of Jackson and we arrived more quickly than we expected. We checked into the Snake River Resort in Teton Village and went to eat shortly after. The Resort was very nice. It is at the base of the Jackson Hole Ski area and was on of the nicest hotels I've been to. But I didn't really get to enjoy it to much. I had to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor... it was rough. My folks and I ate at a Mexican Restaurant nearby. We had a good time and good food. The restaurant Mexican the music was bluegrass and the server was from Austria which created an interesting blend. My dad got a chance to practice his German with the server but mom and I just listened.
I rode about 45 miles today before getting a flat and getting a lift to Ogallala. May parents are coming from Colorado and agreed to meet me and give me a lift to Jackson Wyoming with them and we would meet my brother there. But, I had to cover a lot of ground to meet up with them and I had to find another way to get there. I learned a lot about hitch hiking today. I was trying to get a ride most of the day. I went to a gas station and a truck stop looking for a ride without any luck. It was a bit awkward trying to ask truckers for a lift. I figured I should only ask the ones that seem friendly so I would walk by a trucker and say "hi" to see what their response would be. If it was a friendly one I would ask for a lift if not I wouldn't. Unfortunately, most didn't seem very friendly. One guy seemed nice enough but he was going East. I decided I would make more progress pedaling than hanging out at the truck stop all day so I got back on Hwy 30 and rode some more. Every time I saw a pickup or van I stuck my thumb out but nobody stopped. It seemed like some thought I was giving them a "thumbs up" so that was useless but I kept trying. Then I noticed my bike wasn't riding as it should and saw that my rear tire was a little low. I stopped to check it out and realized it had a slow leak. I started walking with my bike and stopped to stick out my thumb as trucks went by. I only had to do this three times. I got picked up by a guy with a pickup and he drove me to Ogallala and said he would give me a lift to Sidney the next day. After Eric dropped me off in front of the Holiday Inn an older gentleman with a beard and circle wire rim glasses, probably in his 40s, approached me and asked where I was riding to and where I came from. I told him the story and talked to him a while. He was in town driving a truck for Nabisco he was a biker also. It turns out he had done some touring himself. I spoke with him about changing my gears for the mountains and told him about the B.O.B. trailer and how well I liked it. So after we were through speaking I went inside the hotel to inquire about their rates. I came back out and noticed two red boxes setting on top of my trailer. As I got closer I saw two big boxes of Chips Ahoy cookies! I looked around to thank the guy but he had gone. It amazes me that Iíve been the recipient of so many random acts of kindness.
I left the hotel at noon and didn't arrive to North Platte until 8:00pm. I had a very interesting day including 100 miles of riding. This is my first century ride ever so I was very happy to make it all the way. I was riding down the road and noticed a couple of statues on either side of a driveway. One was a rhino and the other a zebra... so I rode past while checking out the statues. I looked up at the road and in the corner of my eye I see something strange. There were 2 real zebras standing in front of the house. Can zebras live in the Midwest?
I left the park in Aurora this morning around 10:30 and made it to Grand Island by 12:00. It was a 20 mile stretch with the wind helping a little. Iím eating some lunch in a cafť connected with Howard Johnson. Itís tempting to get a room. They do have Wi-fi also but I must keep going if I want to hook up with my parents in a few days. They are driving from Denver to Jackson, WY and may give me a lift out there if I can make enough progress. I made it to Kearney I think it was roughly 60 miles. The wind was pushing me at first but changed direction and I had to ride into a head wind for most of the day. Well, I need to get back to riding so I'll try to fill in some of the details next chance I get. I decided to get a room at the Country Inn and Suites after finding out that the campground shown on my state map no longer allows camping. I found another campground in town but they wanted $19 for the night. I decided to pay the extra and sleep in a bed. Kearney is a actually a pretty decent town. The University of Nebraska Kearney is there and they seem to have a pretty cool bar scene. I only went to one bar but saw several that looked cool from the outside. I didn't catch the name of the place but it had 4 big plasma screen TVs, some good beer, and nice scenery.
Riding on a road with traffic is not always an enjoyable experience. Some drivers will pass you by going into the other lane and treating bicycles just like any other vehicle. That is what a driver should do but many drivers think itís okay to share the lane with you. This seems ridiculous to me. It also seems odd that drivers will slow down and wait to pass a slow moving vehicle like a tractor but canít have the same respect for a cyclist. Anyway, I learned a technique to help drives learn to pass you properly. I learned this from a guy at Hall Bicycle. I use a rear view mirror so that I can see when cars are coming up behind me. You can encourage cars to use the other lane to pass by swerving out into the roadway when you see a vehicle approaching from behind. Drivers will probably assume that they canít count on the cyclist to drive in a straight line and should give you plenty of room. Generally this works fairly well. Use caution when practicing this tip. I donít usually try this on really busy roads.
On roads with small shoulders I typically practice this as well. I ride on the line between the road and shoulder and swerve out then get onto the shoulder when Iím being passed.
I left the bed and breakfast around 10:30 and started heading south along hwy 14. I was making my way to hwy 30 because it parallels 80 and the towns are larger and closer together than ant other part of NE. I put in 80 miles and made it to Aurora by about 5. It was a great day with lots of sunshine. And I rode along parts of the California Trail and the Mormon Trail. The riding was excellent today. After having a reuben sandwich in Expressions cafť and using their Wi-fi I went to the city park. It turns out that camping is free there with electric!! After a nap I headed into town to check out the taverns. There was a party at one bar and they had a decent DJ playing music so I stuck around for a while.
Okay, I got back on the road finally but today was not very fun. It was very cold and windy. I ended up traveling 40 miles before it started raining. Fortunately I was just outside of the town of Newman Grove and was able to take shelter in the Library and bowling alley. I had some lunch and waited for the rain to die down but it didnít seem like it was going to stop and I had a ways to go before the next campground. So I decided to suit up in my rain gear and tough it out. As I started to leave the bowling alley a couple of older gentleman pointed out that there was a bed and breakfast in town. I decided that a bed and a roof over my head sounded like a good idea so I called them and to discuss price. The rate was $65 and I was not willing to spend that on a room. I told her my situation and offered $40, they accepted and everyone was happy. The Crystal Key B&B was the name of the place and the folks who ran it were very kind. I was asking them what forms of payment they accepted and Ann told me I didnít need to pay them at that time I could just mail them a check when I get home. Itís hard to believe some that they would trust a stranger like that. That night I went to a couple of taverns and played a little pool. Not a lot going on that night and I didnít stay out very long.
I'm still here in Norfolk and I'm just waiting for my bike to be repaired. They don't have the rim that I need but they will get it from Omaha by tomorrow. If you are thinking about using Campy components on your bike, remember that most small bike shops only carry Shimano or other. If you breakdown somewhere w/o Campy components you may end up having to hold up your trip while you wait for parts to be shipped to you :-)
The Folks at Andrew Bicycle and Fitness have been great to me. The owner offered me a place to stay with a bed. They also gave me a bike to use while mine is in the shop.
After drying out my tent from last nights showers, I went into town for a nice big breakfast at a local cafe. Some farmers there suggested that I cross over the Missouri River into Nebraska. The Outlaw Scenic Byway follows along the Missouri river West through most of the state. I can't tell you how beautiful the route was. It turns out that Nebraska has lots of huge green hills and is not all flat like I had previously thought.
I decided to get a room at the Howard Johnson that night instead of camping. After talking them down on the price I was able to get the room for $44. That's not a bad price considering the girl at the front desk hooked me up with the hot tub suite! It had a microwave and fridge also. I went to "Player's" next door for a couple of drinks before I went to bed for the night.
I'm in the town of Lynch, Nebraska. I just had to flat tire about 5 miles back. It was a lot worse than I thought. The tube was popped which is a pretty easy fix. The tire was so worn that threads were showing through all the way around. Luckily I was carrying a spare tire. When I was changing the tire I also noticed that my rim is breaking. The metal is splitting around one of the spokes. I'm not sure how far it will get me and I don't think there is a bike shop anywhere nearby. I might have to have one shipped to me.
Alright...I'm doing much better now. I went to the local bowling alley (Eagle Lanes) to get something to eat. While there I was telling one of the owners my story about my breakdown and asked if she might know if anyone might be able to give me a lift to the nearest bike shop (a 2 hour drive) for some cash. She called some high school kids to see if they would be interested. Before anyone accepted the job one of the kidís grandparents (Jerry and Joyce Hull) offered me a ride to Norfolk. It turns out I had seen Jerry earlier in the day giving me a friendly wave while I was going down he road. When we got to Norfolk they also helped me find a campsite in town. I can't express how grateful I am for all of their generosity. I think it is amazing that someone would be willing give so much to a complete stranger.
I'm still in the hotel but will probably ride some today.
Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers out there!
I rode along the Lewis and Clark trail today and camped in Springville SD.
I'm staying at the Holiday Inn.
I left the park by 9:30am and started heading W. The scenery was great leaving the park. The terrain mostly consisted of nice big green hills. Lots of cows horses. I has a tail wind out of the east giving me a nice push. I was maintaining speeds of 30-35mph this is far faster than I can usually travel, even on a downhill. I made my way to Viborg where I had an encounter with the cops. Anyone who knows me is probably thinking "this can't be good" and I did end up spending some time in the police department.
When I first rolled into town I was looking for a cafe to get some breakfast. I asked a local cop (Police Chief Kieth Nelson) where I could find a good breakfast. Not only did he recommend a nice cafe he also paid for my breakfast! I was also looking for a library to use the Internet. Kieth was very kind and allowed me to use the computer in his own office so that I could check my e-mail and the weather forecast. Overall he was very hospitable to me and his generosity will not be forgotten.
I was a bit frustrated when I realized that the crappy South Dakota map I purchased did not label the county blacktops I prefer to travel on. It was also inaccurate. I was down this county road and it came to a T, but on the map it was supposed to continue on. Apparently not all of towns in South Dakota have signs indicating when you have entered the town. I was heading west out of Viborg and trying to find one of the unmarked county road shown on my map. I had planned on making a turn onto this county road when I got to the town of Center Point but I blew right past it and the next town also. Neither had a sign and they were so small I didn't notice I passed through the town, seriously.
I ended up putting in about 65 miles today and I got a hotel room at the Holiday Inn Express in the town of Yankton.
Today was a big day for me. I had a nice wind from the NW and was making good time. I felt like I needed to make up for yesterdays short ride and I wanted to get out of Iowa. I rode 85 miles and arrived at my destination late in the day (7ish). I camped at Newton Hills State Park in South Dakota. I was feeling good about my progress but I was a little homesick. I think it's partly because I'm in a different state now and it really feels like I'm far from home.
My morning went a little something like this. I woke up, started packing up everything inside of the tent. I start to hear rain drops so I stopped packing and listened to music until the rain stopped. While waiting for the tent to dry I finish packing up everything inside the tent and then take all of my stuff out of the tent and remove the rain fly and place it over the picnic table to dry while I pack some more. I felt rain drops and quickly threw the rain fly back over the tent and put all of my stuff back inside of the tent. The rain didn't last long but this all took a lot of time and I didn't leave camp until 11:00am. After riding for awhile I decided that the wind out of the South completely sucked and it was ridiculous to ride so I stopped in the town of Lake Park.
I'll be camping in another city park tonight. This one is also right on a lake. I found out that there was a wind advisory in the area. Winds were consistently blowing at greater than 30 mph. The sizes of the waves on the lake were HUGE! I couldn't believe it, they must have been five feet tall. It was like being on the ocean. Well, I'm off to go find some dinner and a beer.
Today is Cinco de Mayo!!! I spent much of the evening in a bar hanging with the locals. I had a great time that night for a number of reasons. The owner of the bar had prepared a few Mexi dishes and dips. They really went all out... sombreros, beads, and festive music. I headed back to camp around midnight.
I just rolled into Arnold's Park on Lake Okaboji. The roads were still pretty flat but the scenery was much better today. I'm off to go find a place to camp now... I ended up staying right on the lake in the Arnold's Park city park. It was really a great site because I was only a few blocks from Okaboji night life.
I rode from Clear Lake to Brancroft today. It was about 60 miles riding into the wind. The route was straight and flat. Not much to look at today. I stayed in the Brancroft city park right behind the baseball diamond. It was nice because it was free!
I decided not to ride today because I wanted to hang out in Clear Lake and because I have caught a cold and need the rest. I used a roll of T.P. last night blowing my nose. I'm not sure but it seems like allergies may be making it worse. I got a hotel at the Heartland Inn. The room has a balcony overlooking the beautiful Clear Lake I am pretty happy with the place. They just got wireless internet in the hotel yesterday and I'm here sitting in my bed with my laptop updating my webpage. It was very nice to relax a while!
I left by 10:30AM. I made it to Clear Lake by early evening and camped at the state park. Modern facilities had not yet been open to the public meaning that flushable toilets, running water and showers were not available. I was chatting with the camp attendant and he was able to unlock the facilities for me as a favor. Camping was okay that night I slept well until the rain started. It started in the very early morning and didnít quit until midmorning. I decided to lie in my tent until it dried some, but after a while of waiting the tent was not getting much drier. So I used a towel to dry it off. Shortly afterwards it was ready to pack up.
I woke up by 8 and left by 9. Today I experienced strong winds from the SW. It was ridiculous to ride unless the wind was at your tail. So I headed north towards Pine Lake state park. When I got there I discovered that the entire campground was closed for renovations. It would have been nice if that were mentioned on the parks website. I was forced to continue on and Iím glad that I did. I rode another 10-15 miles to Ackley. Most of todayís riding was directly N and some directly W. Going N was great I had a very strong tail with gusts of 35mph (probably more) I rode the fastest I have ever gone to my knowledge. My computer said 35mph, a bit too fast with the trailer. It was a great feeling to be in your highest gear pedaling uphill at 20 mph with little effort. Heading W was a different story. The winds were at my side and the gust prevented me from going in a straight line. Semis SUCK!!! When a semi passes you it causes huge gusts of wind and can throw you off balance. Only 10-15 of the roughly 60 miles I rode today was W. I fond a city park in Ackley that had camping facilities. It was only $5 a night and included shower facilities!! I guess these 2 guys volunteer their time to the park and made it all that it is today. They started in 1989 and developed the park from scratch. Today the park has 2 campgrounds, several miles of trails, and nice clean facilities. I talked with two of the volunteers who were very helpful and kind. It is a wonderful place to go!!
I finally did it!! I left Hiawatha sometime around 11am. The head wind was strong and from the West. I had planed on taking V18 N after Clutier but the road was closed. My options were to ride 10 miles out of the way or use gravel roads to bypass the construction. I chose to try the gravel roads for 2 miles, It wasn't bad. I rode 68 miles west to Garwin. I spent some time at Rumors bar and the owner ?Rod? (PO Box 202, Garwin IA 50632 (641) 499-2213) offered me shower and a place to stay. After pitching my tent I went back to Rumors for another beverage. I learned that the 2004 RAGBRAI would be passing through Granier for breakfast after the overnight in Marshaltown. I encourage everyone to visit Rumors on their way through. Rod is a great guy, very cool. By 10pm I was back at the tent and in bed. My route passed through the following towns: Palo, Newhall, Van Horne, and Clutier.