Monday, August 16, 2010


I came across a number of funny and interesting signs not likely to be seen around new york city. Below are few I captured with my camera.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Days 69,70 - Eugene, OR

Today was the last big day of my trip riding 91 miles to Eugene and summitting the Mckenzie pass at 5325 feet along the way. Throughout my trip I would tell myself at the end of long days that if I could get to the last 10 miles I could do them standing on my head. It just meant that no matter what condition I was in I would make my destination for the night. Well, today I could have done the ride with one leg, riding backward on my head. I hit the climb in the beginning of my ride and when i stopped to take a picture of Mount Washington and the seven sister peaks i belated realized i had already summitted the peak.

At the apex is a cool lava field which cooled as it was still flowing some 1600 years ago, leaving behing a river of black angular rock reaching all the way back to the peaks of mount Washington. Some of the narrow twisting roadway cuts through the rock itself giving the feeling of passing along stone hedgerows.

I started a long 3000 foot decsent outpacing at least one vehicle along the way. The road snaked around the side of the mountian presenting one hairpin turn after another. I passed new elevation signs every thousand vertical feet. At the bottom I lifted my arms of the bars and felt aches in my muscels from being on a technical decsent for a half hour.

The rest of the ride was along rout 126, a narrow no shoulder road on a slight downgrade all the way to Eugene. A pretty good headwind eliminated my ability to coast at any point. I just started to ride as if I were going up another climb, turning the cranks pretty quickly and making good time into town.

Along the way I saw the sun shining through the trees of a yard with a wooden fence and a house tucked away not to far from the road and I had he sensation that I was riding along a road from my childhood, almost a deja vu feeling.

Sue, the person I arranged to stay with through warm showers was waiting outside her two bedroom condo for me as I rolled up the street. She is one of the best of hosts I've had the good luck to encounter along my trip. She offered a multitude of information about Eugene and a set of keys to come and go as I please. We had dinner along the willamette river and then headed over to an outdoor short film festival in Alton Baker park.

"Tell everyone it rains all the time, we don't want the secret to get out." Sue told me. The secret is that during the summer Eugene is an Eden of dry sunny days and cool clear nights. It's what some locals call "their second paycheck."

Eugene is a college town with old hippies looking to hang on and new ones being minted every year on the University of Oregon campus. I have to believe there are more VW vans per capita here than anywhere else in the world. The town also has an inordinate amount of modern day hobos, young dirty kids with backpacks and sleepig bags traipsing about town. They are probably not much different from the tramps riding frieght trains in the 30s, albeit less easy to romanticize.

Sue was kind enough to put me up for another night so i could rest up an enjoy the city some more. I went to the Saturday market in the morning, a mix of food an craft vendors selling there goods downtown, had a fantastic dinner at Papa's, a soul food restaurant and did a little bit of early celebrating over a trio of noise rock bands at Sam Bonds, a popular music venue as I toyed with the surreal notion that I would hit the pacific ocean tomorrow.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 68 - Sisters, OR

My energy level is through the roof, feuled by the thought that I'm just a few days from the coast. I started the day with another 2000 foot climb over the ochoco mountain pass, the fifth one in three days. I loved it, spinning up the incline with music blasting through my headphones.

I put in a 92 mile day ending the town of Sisters. Snow capped peaks were visible beyound the brown stone buttes and scrub brush prarie. The terrain is enough for me to not even think about my millage or the headwind or the heat. I am just enjoying it all.

Steve, who I'd been riding with for the last couple days cut his day short in prineville. It was good to have his company for a while but i am too excited to slow down. I'll head to Eugene tomorrow leaving me just 70 miles from the beach.

Day 67 - Mitchell, OR

Woke up first thing in the morning and rode 87 miles to Mitchell, OR. The first half of the day was really easy heading downhill for most of it until Dayville. There was only a market open and I tried my luck with a microwavable chicken sandwich.

The second half of the day involved a gradual climb of 2000 feet over Keyes mountain pass. He road lead through an amazing gorge surrounded by ancient rock buttes. Oregon is just getting better the more I ride through.

Mitchell is a cool small town, just one road with a market and a restaurant and a few other necessities. There was a self-proclaimed hobo with a long beard sitting outside outside on a park bench. There isn't much to do in town, but you can do anyhing you want.

Day 66 - Prarie City, OR

I climbed over three mountain passes in a headwind today today to reach Prarie city, just 66 miles away. The heat thankfully broke and for the first time in a week it was actually cool in the morning, perfect for climbing the 4000 feet of total elevation.

There were no resources along the way keeping me on my bike until I reached town for hearty lunch. I've pitched my tent at a local campsite and am looking forward to a quiet evening in this 100 person town.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 64, 65 - Baker City, OR

I died of dysentery.

Just kidding. Baker City is an historic town on the Oregon Trail and I just can't stop thinking about playing that game on the Apple IIe when I was a kid.

As some readers have probably noticed, I have been sporadic with this blog lately. It has been harder to write daily posts these days due to: having no cell service; being too tired at the end of the day; or being more interested in having new experiences than writing about them. The good news is I have sat in the Baker City library for most of today catching up so that my future posts will be real-ish time as finish out my trip within the next week. There is just 417 miles from here to the coast! However, there are 5 mountain passes to deal with along the way.

I have been riding with Steve, a super fit and adventurous 62 year old from Minnesota who has been involved with parks and rec and a number of nature conservation initiatives.

Day 63 - Halfway, OR

I knew the day was going to be great when the waitress at the cafe reached down below the counter, pulled out a gun and fired at me. The projectile, a dart, sailed passed me landing on the floor. "Alright" she said, reached down under the counter pulled out bigger gun, loaded it with a marshmallow pumped it up and fired hitting me right in the chest from 20 feet out. The whole dinner broke into laughter. That's what you get for convincing the cook to ring the triangle when your order is up at Bucky's Cafe.

I headed out along 71 making a 1500 foot climb to summit a pass at around 5100 feet and than began a very long descent into, duh duh dahhhhh: Hell's Canyon. The waitress, who really liked me despite beaning me with a marshmallow, told me the Canyon is usually 5 degrees hotter than in town. I belated patted myself on the back for deciding not to ride through it in yesterday's heatwave.

The downhill was fantastic, twisting through stone passes along steep 7 percent grades. This is one of the few times on the trans-am bike trail where its better to be going the "wrong way," i.e. east to west.

After several miles I turned a corner to see the expanse of the Snake River flowing along the floor of Hell's Canyon. The road followed along the river passed the Oxbow damn where I crossed into Oregon, the 14th state of my trip. Oregon! The final frontier. The last state of my trip. I was so happy to see that sign.

I stopped at the only rest stop in the canyon to cool off. The thermometer read 100 degrees. They proprietor calmly told me that I wouldn't have made it through yesterday -- to damn hot. Steve caught up with me and in another 10 miles we were in the town of Halfway having a late lunch. Halfway to where? To another stagecoach stop in the olden days, which is how it got its name.

Steve had mentioned that Inga, his warm shower host, told him she had plenty of room and sounded laid back so I decided to show up at her door, having had no luck reaching her on the phone for past day. We rolled down a long dirt driveway two miles out of town up to an old farm house. A tall blond woman came to the fence saying hello and that it had slipped her mind to call me back but there would be no problem staying there. She immediately start shooting deadpan jokes our way, telling me she had a lovely ditch to bathe in and that the hay bales in her barn would make a lovely bed for us tonight. In the middle of the relentless joking she mentioned she used to race bikes in the past. I didn't think much of it.

After our greeting she went back inside to tend to some house guests and I took a walk around the yard. I stepped into an open barn off to the side and high up in the rafters were hanging 10 or so different racing bikes, most all with steel frames from the 80s. I walked under one bike to find her name embossed on the top tube. Across the rafters hung a team 7-11 eddy merckx bike. A light went off in my head. When she said racing she meant in the Olympics, holding world records, and winning national championships kind of way.

She fixed us some margaritas and we sat on her front porch as she told us stories of her career and what it was like raising horses and keeping an old farm. Steve and I were just giddy with the incredible luck of meeting someone as cool as Inga while on the road. We all drove into town for a first class dinner and wound the night up back on her porch, relaxing and trading stories.

After two months on the road I was mentally and physically exhausted and began to feel like i wanted to end my trip as soon as possible. This chance encounter completely revitalized me and got me excited again to be out on the road. Experiences like these are nothing short of magic.