Thursday, June 4, 2009

First day on the road--on the bike

Picture taken a few days bago at Mt. St. Helens.What a spectacular scene. Before the eruption in 1980 it looked like a regular mountain , with a rounded beautiful peak. This is what it looks like now and all that rock and dirt got distributed to the valley below. You have to see for for full effect.

OFG (old fat guy) on bike getting ready to move out. I will write more about bike and equipment later on. The tradition is to take a pic of dipping back wheel of bike in the Pacific when starting a trip like this and then at the end a pic of front wheel in Atlantic. Time and logistics forced a change of plans and photo op was not psoosible. I tried unsuccessfully to get the motel folks to let me dip wheel in swimming pool , so this is the best we could do.

Pic of spectacular waterfall I forgot to edit before posting so please turn your screen for full effect. Saw 3 wonderful waterfalls yesterday . This is actually supposed to be a video showing the falls from top to bottom. It is over 600 feet high and what you can see id about one third of it. I have not yet figured out how to post a video , but when I do there will be some good ones. Lots of postcard scenes everywhere you look.

Another falls, I could not get enough of them.

On Wed. June 3 the bike part of the trip got started. The original plan was to begin on May 25, which was then moved to June 1, from Astoria but that did not work out. Bike repair and other elements entered the scene so in order to accomodate getting Monica to Portand airport, Josh Keihl picking up van etc etc. the bike ride started in the parking lot of the airport Quality Inn about 90 miles from Astoria.

Although I missed the bike ride along the Columbia from Astoria to Portland the trade off was well worth while. Monica and I got to drive thru some great areas of Washington. We also visited many of the Lewis and Clark sites near Astoria. Overall we drove almost 4000 miles from Greenville, Ohio during the trip west, and it was a marvelous time. Such a variety of scenery and landscape. There were so many possible side trips along the way that if we had stopped as much as we wanted we would still be in Iowa somewhere. It will be interesting to see what a lot of this looks like from the seat of a bicycle heading in the opposite direction at about one fifth the speed.

When traveling thru Oregon from the Pacific the first obstacle is the Cascade Mountain range. If you do not want to climb over them the best route is the Columbia River Gorge. Besides the river itself , there are roads and railroad tracks on each side of the river. Although both sides can be used for biking I chose the Oregon side for the first part , mainly to ride on the Historic Columbia River Highway and the fairly new bike trails along that route. This is very scenic and there are several service stops along the way.

The other side of the coin is that there are sections where you bike in Interstate 84 which is not terrible, the berms are very wide but it is constant traffic noise and it is kinda dirty as well. What I am still adjusting to is traveling at 11 miles per hour along roads instead of 75 on this road and 50 along back roads.

The HCRH is a great road and goes right by 3 waterfalls that are real show stoppers. I did learn a lesson at first one. I got all excited and climbed about a mile trail to the top. Tht took a lot of energy and when I got back down to the bottom it dawned on me that now I had to ride a bike instead of just jumping into a car and continuing the trip. It did not take me long to realize I left some of my legs on that climb.

A pleasant surprise was meeting Phil Foster along the HCRH. He was riding a Rans recumbent bike like mine and was loaded for travel. Even though he was going in the opposite direction we both immediately stopped and talked bike/trip stuff for awhile. We are about same age and have a lot in common. Phil lives in Vancouver Wa. and is training for across country ride this summer. Phil originally started his trip earlier this year but sustained an injury part way in--he is now recovering and getting ready for a second go. My regret is that I did not get a picture of Phil and his rig to show readers there is more than one old guy doing this bike thing. We exchanged contact info and maybe if Phil reads this he will forward a pic so I can post it. I look forward to meeting him again somewhere down the road, who knows we may be biking together some day.

I did feel a little like Lewis and Clark yesterday in that I to make 2 portages off the biking surface. The first involved an area on I-84 where some bridge work narrowed the road and made it impracticle to ride on the roadway, so I had to unhook trailer and it and bike over a 4 ' barricade twice . It was more time consuming and clumsey than anything else.
The other portage was a butt buster. There is a great scenic trail leading to Cascade Locks and just before you get to town the bike path stops and there is 6 flights of steps down to where the trail starts again. Normally this would not seem like a big deal but it was the end of the day and I am tired, and that trailer seemed to double in weight from an hour before on the Interstate. This was the moment that I realized I am not 59 any more.

The ride yesterday was about 35 miles and I ended in Cascade Locks . The motel I stayed at was interesting in that the shower area was also the toilet area but there was no tub or seperation, just a drain in the middle of the floor. Miss Sassy would have had a rough time here. When I rode up to the door the counter guy made several comments about bike but when I filled out the registration card he asked me twice about car info (license # and make) . I had to remind him both times I rode a bike in.

I just learned that I can only post 4 pics per post on this blog so will probably be posting more than once a day on occasion in order to show more things. Also, will work on getting the videos viewable.
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