I made it to the ocean!

wp-1469738068087.jpegOn Tuesday, I rode like I was on a mission. For days, people had been telling me how close I was getting to the ocean and finally I had reached the breaking point. I didn’t want to hear about how spectacular the Pacific was anymore, I just needed to see it for myself. So I did a mega day, ending my ride at the 125 mile mark.

Yesterday, early in the afternoon I reached the Oregon coast. Oddly enough, my first ever glimpse of the ocean was not from the seat of my bicycle but from the vantage point of a car. While I was registering to camp for the night, I asked how to best reach the beach on my bike. The lady, named Kim, picked up on my excitement and questioned me,

“Do you want to see the best view of the ocean?”

I said yes. She took Liz (a fellow tent camper) and I in her tiny red bug and we went on a sightseeing tour. First we stopped at a graveyard. Kim explained that the early pioneers had a habit of selecting land with choice views of the coast on which to bury their dead. We walked past gravestones to take in the sweeping vastness of the world’s biggest ocean. Then we went to see a herd of sea lions. Along the way, we chatted about our travels.wp-1469738144761.jpeg

Liz is Australian. Until recently, she lived in a houseboat. One day she went to a friend’s birthday party. When she returned, her boat and all her possessions had sunk beneath the waves. Her outlook on her loss?

“It was just stuff. Not having that stuff anymore freed me up to travel.”

I was quickly learning that Liz was a gem. While talking about the ocean she mentioned how the mere sight of the ocean makes her soul soar with joy. It makes her taste freedom.

There was something in the tone of her voice that I instantly identified. I blurted,

“That is how snow makes me feel.”

All three of us were surprised by my outburst. I guess my longing for vast stretches of sparkling snow is never quite buried even while meeting a new ocean.

After Kim’s tour, I ate my supper on the beach and then strolled along the coast, letting the cold waves nip at my toes. Before turning back, I faced the thundering water and sang my heart out to God. I tried to take in the significance of the moment: I had made it to the ocean!

But it all felt so unbelievable, all I did was ride my bike for goodness sake! Had I really made it across to the other side of a continent? How had this happened?

It all started when two young people decided to go on an epic adventure on their bikes. They rode thousands of miles, on a mission to explore new places.

In case you are confused, I am not talking about Noah and myself. I am talking about my parents.

In 1982, they were preparing to move from Montana to Maine. Before the move, they decided to explore the Pacific coast and along the way celebrate their 1st anniversary. Because my parent are smart, they choose bicycles as their mode of exploration.

So for ten weeks, they rode on steel frame, ten-speed bikes along the Pacific coast, all the way to the Grand Canyon. My mom carried 90 pounds of stuff in her panniers and my dad carted around a whopping 120 pounds in his panniers. That’s how you get in shape on a bike tour!wp-1467584708770.jpegwp-1467584678938.jpegwp-1467584598505.jpeg

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Thirty-four years later and still awesome!

I have been hearing stories about their tour ever since I can remember. While I was planning our tour from New York to Colorado, those stories gave me confidence.

-Confidence that Noah and I would have fun and make memories that we can recount for decades.

-Confidence that if our parents could ride 2,000 miles without cellphones, the internet or bicycle-specific maps, then we could certainly make it with those resources!

This entire trip, I have felt a bit like I am re-living a part of our family’s history. This feeling intensified when I hit Santiam Pass on Monday. Santiam Pass was the first mountain pass my parents climbed on their tour and it was the final mountain pass of my tour. As I spun up the incline, I imagined where they may have rested or what they said to each other when they saw Mt. Washington off in the distance. It felt surreal to be “walking in their footsteps” or rather, riding in their pedalstrokes!

Then last night, after meandering up and down the sandy beach, I stood next to my bike, looking out into the ocean until darkness fell. I thought about what had compelled me to ride all the way to the Pacific. It was a love for my bike and the excitement of riding new roads and seeing new things, new places, new animals and meeting new people. But it goes deeper than that.

All along, it was in my blood.

 

Dragged from New York

It is a beautiful day out and I am in the middle of Oregon, just a few hundred miles from the coast. I feel like I am gonna explode from excitement, I get to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time in the next few days!

But before I arrive in Astoria and finish up my tour I thought I would share exactly what I have been dragging along with me from Northern New York. My philosophy in gathering gear for this trip was the idea of traveling “medium-light”. I don’t have a proper touring bike so I wanted a load that wouldn’t strain my road bike (or myself) beyond our capabilities. It probably wasn’t the wisest choice to bring a road bike but the cool thing about bike touring is that you don’t need to have the perfect setup to make it work.  I have seen all kinds of people, with all kinds of setups, on all kinds of bikes riding across the USA.

So let me introduce you to my gear. This is the complete list of stuff I have (unless I missed something), but I didn’t get pictures of quite everything and it isn’t perfectly organized either…that’s my bad. I also don’t have the time to jot down all the details about each piece, so if you want more specifics about an item, just ask.

I hope this is not my only bike touring expedition so critiques and suggestions are welcome!

wp-1469468358097.jpegMy Clothes
Two Sugoi Icefil jerseys
Two pairs of Garneau shorts
Long sleeve shirt
Wool socks
2 pairs of ankle socks
Pearl Izumi cycling gloves
Full finger gloves
Sunglasses
Columbia Arcadia II Rain Jacket
Rain pants
Tee-Shirt
Pair of Capri’s
Underwear

wp-1469468376054.jpegCare Items
Sunscreen
Toothbrush and tooth powder
Comb
Extra hair tie
Shampoo
(I have been using the shampoo as all-purpose soap, from doing laundry to washing my bike.)
Lip balm
Deodorant
Chamois Cream
Razor
First Aid Kit
Pack towel

wp-1469468288326.jpegProtection Program
(I am just being silly, the knife is used for food prep.)
Counter Assault Bear Spray
ResQLink+ Beacon
Knife
wp-1469468308712.jpegFood
Fork and spoon
Can Opener
Sardines
Tuna
Creamy Peanut Butter
Random snacks
Salt/Pepper/Sugar Packets

wp-1469468327822.jpegwp-1469468230636.jpegStuff for the bike
Bike Levers
Mini Pump with gorilla tape wrapped around it
Two Park Tool patch kits
Spare Tire
Spare Tube
Cornstarch
Chain Lube
New Shoe Cleats
Random extra screws and bolts
Allen Key set
Zip ties
Cables for brakes and shifters
Bungee Cords
2 Fiber Fix Kits
(Thanks for the suggestion, Rootchopper and Doug!)
Chain break tool
Spare Brake Pads
Tool with flat and philip screwdrivers
2 Sets of bike lights
Bike Lock
Taco Seasoning
Gatorade powder
ReplaceSR tablets
(I take 3-6 a day so that I don’t have to worry about buying sports drinks for electrolytes.)
wp-1469468206549.jpegTech
Tablet with Case
USB charging cords
Battery Pack
Camera
(I lost my phone a few days ago…)

Sleep System
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 Tent
Marmot Sleeping bag
Thermarest Prolite Womens
DIY Groundcloth
(aka tarp cut to size, thanks mom!)

wp-1469468271315.jpegOther Stuff
Maps
Wallet with Bike Lock key
Bug clip thing
(I haven’t used this yet, I have my doubts whether it would keep bugs away.)
Chemical handwarmers
Pens
Paper
Glue Stick
People’s info and notes
Microfiber wipes
Passport

Hydration
Two 28 ounce water bottles
2 Liter Water bag

wp-1469468253103.jpegMore Other Stuff

Helmet
Sleeve for map
Bike Computer
Schwalbe Marathon Tires (28mm)
(No flats yet!!)
Saddlebag with super secret stash of Clif bars
(If you guess what kind of Clif bars I have in my stash, you can have a free one! You just have to come to Oregon to get it.)
Worn out bike shoes
Sneakers

Pedal Away!

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Starting out. 

Four days.
Two hundred fifty two miles.

Our trip has been crazy fun so far. The weather has been a perfect backdrop for our journey, it doesn’t get much better then cool days, gentle wind and dry weather.

And the scenery? All the trees and fields are bursting with life and color, every bend in the road uncovers stunning foliage and beautiful flowers.wp-1463915899971.jpegwp-1463915548983.jpeg

I feel like Noah and I are becoming a solid team, every day I feel so blessed that we can do this trip together, brother/sister adventures like this are a once in a lifetime experience.

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I removed five stitches from above Noah’s eye last night. Good trusting building exercise, I think. I didn’t stab his eye. Win.

We stopped at a bike store to buy some stuff and I found the prettiest bike I have ever met in my life. It was a Trek Madone 9.2 and I think I disturbed Noah by how excited I was. I dared to pick it up-I think feathers weigh more!wp-1463915435527.jpeg

The best part of our trip has been the people we have met. Along the Erie Canal Trail, we stop to chat with a dad and son who set off after the son’s graduation to cycle across New York.

We also visited with a couple from the Netherlands. They are completing their fourth major tour of the US. The guy was pulling a BOB so I immediately thought of Dan and his trailer. They passed us as we were sitting down to eat our second breakfast (or was it our first lunch? We are eating so much food that it gets confusing) and they took a picture of us. So somewhere, on a Dutch blog is a picture of us and our food.

And then there is Bob.
It was the third day and Noah and I were riding on the Erie Canal Trail through Rochester. The trail gets very confusing. Last year, when I rode here, I had to ask four different people for directions before I made it successfully to my destination. So I was pretty apprehensive about biking through Rochester-but then we met Bob.

We were riding along at a pretty slow pace when a guy caught up to us and asked where we were heading. When he found out we going to Holley for the night, he told us that he was going that way and he could take us through the city.

Suddenly, we found ourselves in the hands of a capable, friendly guide. Bob commutes this route several times a week, so he was a total pro, escorting us safely through each turn and intersection. We had been planning to spent the night at an RV park but he told us that we could  camp at the drawbridge in Holley. We are not the only touring cyclists Bob has rescued, he definitely needs an official “Guide of Rochester” title.

It was beyond amazing to be riding another cyclist’s commuting route alongside of them. Bob was a great, interesting person  to talk to and before Noah and I knew it we had made it past the city. Once Bob left us, Noah and I flew along the trail with wide grins spreading across our faces. Bob had saved us time and money. But most importantly, he had boosted our spirits and we reached our campsite that night feeling great.

When we got to Holley, I talked to the lady who was working at the drawbridge about spending the night. Jane was the sweetest lady we have met so far. We chatted about Colorado and in the morning, while we leaving, she called across the canal to wish us well.

Saturday night, we slept over at a friend’s house, which was a nice little break from camping. We hung out and skyped our brother out in Colorado, it is hard to believe we get to see him soon!

Guess what came in the mail today?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

One of my brothers has been living out in Colorado for the past few years and although my sister and parents have gone out to see him, I haven’t had the chance to visit him yet. But this summer my brother Noah and I have decided that it is high time to get a move on it and go to the great state of Colorado to visit our brother. Since it is scientific fact that cycling is the best method of transportation, we are making preparations to bike out west. (You can’t argue against science after all!)

Today our maps came in the mail from the Adventure Cycling Association and I am beside myself with excitement. We are going to ride down to the Erie Canal trail and take it to Buffalo, then hop on the Underground Railroad route and follow it until we reach the Trans America. Then we will stay on the Trans America trail and eventually arrive in Colorado (if we manage to follow the maps properly). Here is a rough sketch of our planned route, starting from where we reach the Erie Canal.

We are expecting to leave at the tail end of May, so there is a lot of planning to do and much gear to buy. Is this actually happing? I think this is actually happing!