Archive for August, 2010

Extras: Portland

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

60.39 miles (Total: 4416.2) Avg Speed: 11.8mph Max Speed: 26.5mph

We decided on a casual start this morning which was summed up by me eating a breakfast burrito in bed then knocking over a 44oz drink all over the floor, the picture below shows the room 5 minutes after we were supposed to check out. We got going eventually onto busier roads as we approached the city of Portland. The shoulders were pretty good the whole way though and when we passed through towns it turned into a bike path.

Motel room 5 minutes after checkout time.

Only 38 miles now, he might as well ride the whole way.

When we arrived on the outskirts of town the bikes increased, people zipping in and out of the traffic. This seemed a long way from Kansas. Once we made it into downtown we split from Siemen as he headed to stay with a friend whilst me and Wim managed to go the wrong way down one way streets several times. A friendly local gave us his bike map of the city and we figured out a path to Stefaan’s, this isn’t small town America anymore, even though we are in Portland Stefaan’s house is still 8 miles away.

Portland has won bike city of the USA 14 out of the last 15 years and it also claims to have more micro breweries than any other city. Joe Meyer warned me that you cannot out weird Portland in a similar way to which you cannot out weird people in one of my favourite places in the US, Austin Texas. It had the same vibe as Austin but seemed to have abit more style and the bike paths are amazing. The bikes allow cars to drive on the roads here not the other way round. At this point I’m already thinking I have a new favourite city in the US.

Me and Wim stop for a celebratory beer while double checking the route to Stefaan’s. We arrive to his place and are introduced to his lovely wife Tara then given a tour and shown our rooms and shower, they don’t use the downstairs. We head out for a dinner in the neighbourhood of St Johns where they live, this is a new place for Stefaan & Tara too, they have only been here a few weeks themselves but I think they made a fine choice in choosing Portland. I finally found the Odometer setting on my cycle computer a few days ago so now have digital evidence of the miles covered, picture below is the current total, looking healthy.

Joe Meyer told me you cannot out weird Portland, we met some characters straight away.

Stefaan's lovely home.

Extras: Chance Encounter

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

79.61 miles (Total: 4355.81) Avg Speed: 12.5mph Max Speed: 35.5mph

Another chilly morning by the coast saw us pass through the towns of Newport and Waldport before we started turning inland in the direction of Portland, we have become east-bounders. At the aptly named Cape Foulweather we stopped in the visitor centre, drinks were limited. Siemen recommended the V8, a vegetable drink. I have had the fruit V8’s before which are nice but this thing nearly made me throw up after one sip.  It was basically cheap & nasty tasting cold vegetable soup in a can. I asked the women behind the counter where the toilet was. “We don’t have one.” she said, so I pondered the fact she turns up to work and doesn’t need the toilet all day? I bet there was one out back.

Some weird didgeridoo playing nomad.

Who needs the ACA maps. A good old road map will get us to Portland.

Somewhere along highway 18 as I have Japandroids blasting in the iPod I see another cyclist coming the other way so we exchange the usual cyclist wave gesture when something clicks in my head, STU! We both stop and spin around knowing immediatley who the other is.

Stuart Woolger, also from England, emailed me before the trip and we have commented on each others blogs several times. He started the TransAm ahead of me and I thought the chance of a meeting had passed a few days ago when we put in some big mileage and missed him somewhere along the route. It turned out he wasn’t doing the alternate Florence route to the coast but was heading up to Astoria which explained him being on this road, now about 20 miles from the sea. We exchanged a few stories then headed opposite ways.

Me & Stu

For the rest of the day we enjoyed a nice tailwind all the way to Mcminnville where Siemen was finally starting to concede that he would ride the whole way to Portland with us. Me and Wim split a motel room for the night and allowed Siemen “The Budget” Jansma to stay for the nominal fee of $3.

Going to miss seeing this lad.

Extras: Riding Up The 101

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

49.04 miles (Total: 4276.2) Avg Speed: 11.9mph Max Speed: 28mph

Stefaan drove us into town this morning for breakfast to say farewell to Terry and Jessica. I’ve been riding with Terry most of the way since the end of Virginia so its going to be strange riding without him now, but as with Joe and Cooper he’s been an unbelievable companion.

Campsite this morning.

Goodbye Terry aka 'The Ter-Dog' aka 'The Tazmanian Devil'

Me and Wim were planning on staying with Stefaan once getting to Portland, Siemen really didn’t want to ride there because he was short on time and wanted to spend more time with his friends. Stefaan was driving a a convertible with no room for a bike so Siemen decided to ride with us until he could hitch a ride.

We knew going north up the pacific would mean strong headwinds and they were tough but the new coastal views were enough to keep me occupied. Everybody raves about the Big Sur coastline in California (I saw that one by car) which is great but the Oregon coast is just as rugged and beautiful.

Breathe that sea air in, you'll sleep well tonight.

Me capturing the shot below for you guys.

We skipped the Sea Lions at a charge of $15 each.

Siemen wasn’t having much luck trying to hitch a ride so decided he needed a sign attached to his bike to help the cause. “I need a ride to Portland” to the point, but me and Wim were sceptical I had already told him he is riding all the way with us whether he likes it or not. At one point a car was pulled over in the shoulder up ahead, just as we got close to it though they pulled away, funny.

The Sign.

A fog descended over the road by the afternoon which made things chilly. I didn’t mind though, I found it refreshing to have a running nose again just like riding around Newcastle in the cold. We arrived at the South Beach state park which was advertised as FULL on the sign but we knew they had special sites for bikers available which they did. The hot shower felt even better after the cold riding and I stood under the thing for about 15 minutes. Its going to take another two days to get to Portland, we took it easy today and split the mileage over 3 days rather than take a rest day in Florence which we had talked about doing.

Day 73: Cycled Across America

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

85.47 miles (Total: 4227.16) Avg Speed: 12.4mph Max Speed: 34.5mph

Sunday 1st August 2010.  It was a chilly morning, a bike path took us to the edge of town where we diverted onto the standard country roads. It was a strange feeling this morning, I kept thinking about Virginia and how I felt the night before the first ride of the trip. I had wanted to do this ride for a long time and its easy to think about and say your doing something but its not until the week or days before you start that it hits home.

I was scared, anxious and nervous but couldn’t show it back home or people would worry. That first night when I arrived at Yorktown in the dark of night I felt more alone than I have ever felt. When I actually got to the beach I was still asking myself what the hell I was doing. The first pedal was the hardest, but from those few first minutes of riding I never looked back feeling stronger and more confident every day.

Houses, weather and even some roundabouts this morning reminded me of home.

Batman Wim

Today’s ride wasn’t going to be short at around 85 miles but everybody rode with a sense of urgency today and the easy terrain made things fly. A couple of grocery stops later and we had a surprise visit from Stefaan who had drove down from his home in Portland. We knew he was going to be meeting us later in the day at the coast to join in the party but had arrived early and road inland until he found us.

The final 'climb', now its down to sea level.

Stefaan's surprise visit.

We left Stefaan and agreed a spot to meet up on at the coast. We picked up the speed again, I still don’t know what the desire is to get to the coast as fast as possible but I found my legs pushing and trying harder just to make it, I couldn’t wait any longer. Jessica managed to get a flat 2 miles out so we were temporarily halted but soon entered the town of Florence and began to navigate our way down the beach roads towards the dunes.

There was sand by the sides of the road, seagulls everywhere, you could even hear the ocean. Then I saw it shimmering out for miles into a vast horizon, the pacific ocean. Its the best ocean view I have ever seen, if ever I’ve felt a little bit lost or unsure of myself at that moment I felt 110% confident in myself, this is what I am capable of. Now time to celebrate.

Leading the troops to the coast.

Jessica's flat, 2 miles from the coast.

Getting closer.

Jessica's mum and Stefaan greeted us with Champagne at the beach.

Accomplishing my dream. My eyes were moist.

Me, Wim, Stefaan, Siemen, Terry & Jessica. Solo riders unite.

The dip in the ocean was icey cold, and seconds after getting out I was shivering to bits so we all cleaned and dressed up to hit a restaurant in town for dinner. I was always wary of ordering seafood in places like Kansas and Wyoming being situated where they are so decided to go for the Seafood medley pasta now I’m in a coastal town and it was great.

We returned to the campsite and talked over beers and a fire about the trip sharing familiar tales and stories that I look forward to sharing back home, only snippets make the blog and I especially leave out the stuff that would have worried my mum. 🙂

I hope that when my brothers are older they will be able to read this blog properly and feel inspired to do whatever they want. Its only the fear of something that will hold you back, but there’s no need to be scared. A trip like this will restore your faith in humanity, just look at all the amazing strangers I met.

I may have completed the TransAm but this story isn’t over yet, now I’m riding up the coast towards Portland with Wim and Siemen, so don’t switch of just yet.

Day 72: Penultimate Push

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

113.57 miles (Total: 4141.69) Avg Speed: 12.6mph Max Speed: 37.5mph

I went out into an empty downtown Redmond alone this morning in search of breakfast. I managed to find one place that opened at 7am for a breakfast burrito, they had some Led Zeppelin playing too, cashback!

Redmond, OR

It was described as Flag City USA, every street was lined with flags. Ridiculous.

Once on the road we headed to the town of Sisters where Siemen had went to last night, there are actually three sisters in Sisters named after the 3 mountain peaks viewable from town. They grew taller with each pedal and were pretty stunning coupled with distant views of mount Washington on the other side of the road.

After passing through Sisters we began to climb Mackenzie Pass, the final major pass of the TransAm. Just at the bottom we caught up with Siemen who was stopped talking to a homeless guy called Paul. He told us some stories about being held at gunpoint and his dog who road with him in the back. When we continued I found the gradual climb a piece of cake, the trees soon turned to old lava flows formed thousands of years ago.

Paul's ride and his dog.

Drafting some free miles at the back.

Volcanic rocks.

Top of the final pass.

Terry & Jessica coming up the climb.

The descent which followed was the biggest of the trip, around 5,000 feet over 30 miles. Me and Wim flew on ahead and I nearly caused us both to crash with a stupid overtake. Not a single car passed us the whole way down, infact with all the switchbacks I’m certain a well manoeuvred bike would beat a car everytime down the mountain. We stopped for lunch at McKenzie Bridge and added up the remaining miles if we were to get to Eugene tonight, it was around 50 having already done 65. We knew we would have to work as a team with a headwind against us so we formed a draft which allowed us to fly through the miles.

I thought about how quickly you could do this route with a bunch of people working all the time like this, some people do it. Many because of time constraints but others because they see the ride as a test of performance. Its not the way I see it, I feel like I have paced myself perfectly seeing and enjoying everything I wanted.

The Eugene Draft - could have gone across country in about 3 weeks with this.

Mr Jansma enjoying a carton.

We make Eugene a little before sunset proud of a good days work, my body barely even felt it. I’m in the best (probably the only) shape of my life. After pizza next door to the motel room, which we had split 5-ways, the gang returned to rest up. Tomorrow its the coast, living on an island like Britain its been mentally challenging to be landlocked for over 2 months, seeing the Pacific is going to be great.

Day 71: Its Called A Rideover

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

70.14 miles (Total: 4028.12) Avg Speed: 11.6mph Max Speed: 35.5mph

Some of us woke with sore heads this morning, Jessica was hungover but I had just slept head on concrete after my inflatable pillow was punctured. We road just out of town to the only place to get breakfast. One woman was running the show and was getting so stressed with the amount of people to serve (about eight people) she told us to inform other cyclist they cannot get breakfast there because she can’t cope. She then rambled about how the government punishes you too much for earning more which is why she didn’t want to work any harder than she had too.

Asleep on the floor without a pillow.

Not cyclist friendly.

Once on the road we made our way through fossil beds and canyons, Oregon seems to have every landscape rolled into one state, similar to California.  One large climb was the order of the day as usual so I hooked up some Simon & Garfunkel happily spinning away up the mountain. I got excited at one stage thinking I had seen a bear for sure. I pulled over when a black creature with legs meandered through the trees, then I caught a full glimpse, it was a cow. 🙁

Still going, but I enjoy climbs remember.

After a descent back down into the valley we stopped for an all-you-can-eat salad and soup bar. A few bowls later I was feeling refreshed and ready to ride the others were maybe still recuperating from last nights free wine, a 40 mile haul to Sisters seemed pretty big for Terry too who wanted to spend some time in the library so me, Wim and Jessica headed towards Redmond. Riding with a hangover, a ‘Rideover’ was the phrase I coined. Siemen had decided he was definitely going to Sisters today so pressed on ahead of us as storm clouds came in and lightning crack the mountain sides in the distance.

We got a room at the Village Squire Inn, a pretty shabby motel but we didn’t feel like hunting around town. After Terry caught up we went to do laundry then grabbed some dinner whilst discussing tomorrows ride. There is no rush to get to the coast as we all have plenty of time but its so tangibly close now we are all getting restless. Therefore we hatched a plan to make it the day after tomorrow meaning a 115 mile day to Eugene  and then an 85 mile day to the coast rather than splitting the ride up over 3 days.

Day 70: The Winepisode

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

62.10 miles (Total: 3957.98) Avg Speed: 11.4mph Max Speed: 27mph

Terry was up early as usual and tip toed around the rest of us asleep on the floor. He set out as we enjoyed a more than casual morning chilling out in the bikehouse with some radio. After we set out and reached the next town of Dayville we found Siemen who had stayed there the previous evening. He told us he had immediately regretted not staying at the bikehouse when he left.

Morning at the Bikehouse Inn

We entered into a canyon before starting the major climb for the day, it rolled up and round into a continually stunning Oregon landscape. We took a rest under some trees on rocks halfway up and discussed snake bites, Jessica has some special kit to combat certain bites. We really needed Terry, he would know about snake bites for sure. I enjoyed the climbing as usual and was looking forward to arriving in Mitchell this evening where they have a town bear who was rescued by a guy as a cub and now has a purpose built home.

Wim armed with a Bike pump.

Defeating the final climb.

When we eventually got to Mitchell expecting stores and restaurants we found what looked like a ghost town, where was Terry? Every single building had closed signs outside. Even Henry the bear wasn’t in his home, where did he go!

Henry the bear was not home, disappointed.

We find Terry at the only place in town open, sat out on the deck outside talking with some people. Turned out the town was once booming but since the logging industry in the area was closed down it went bust. The bartender blamed the ‘Left-Wing liberals from western Oregon’. Another bunch of cyclists going the other way were in town and it soon turned out they were winemakers from the Napa Valley carrying over 200 bottles of their own wine in their support van.

I order the Nealeigh Burger from the menu (named after the biggest guy in town, Mr Nealeigh). Needless to say I destroyed the burger to the astonishment of the owner. I have become known not only for my appetite from the others but the speed in which I can clear a plate. The winemakers left then returned with several bottles of wine and they just kept pouring more and more for us. We sat late talking still in our bike clothes and didn’t go over to the city park until dark. After an ice cold dip in the stream behind the park we didn’t bother to set the tents up, I found my inflatable pillow had a hole so had to makeshift a pillow out of clothes stuffed into my mat sac.

The Nealeigh Burger

Napa Valley winemakers.

Can't move for free wine!

Day 69: 3 Passes

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

88.85 miles (Total: 3895.88) Avg Speed: 13.1mph Max Speed: 39mph

I enjoyed possibly the best biscuits and gravy ever this morning before setting out with Siemen. The profile for today’s map sections showed three distinct passes one after another and we soon caught up with Terry stretching before the first one began. Rain looked a certain so I pulled out the waterproofs ready which inevitably meant it didn’t rain once.

Steady Hands Jansma.

I scared the cows away.

The 3 climbs looked almost identical with the final one looking a little more gradual so after cruising up the first I was feeling great about the rest of the day. The second pass came and went and we pulled into the only store on the route for the first half of the day to find it is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Like most of these places they had ‘OPEN’ painted on one of the boards outside which means the place is technically never closed.

Siemen provided further humour by devouring his bread an jam before insisting on setting out, he didn’t want to waste time sitting as he would lose more calories doing so and might not make it over the final climb. It was funny, he is probably the strongest rider out of all of us but was worried about losing a few calories taking a break. He set out as the rain did finally start to pour. Me and Terry were happy to wait around a little, so I pulled out my emergency supply of trail mix and Terry had a spare onion bagel for me. After feeling great completing 2 out of 3 climbs the day had turned glum, when suddenly blue sky appears from nowhere and the rain was gone. Jessica caught up just as we were about to set out in the now glorious day.

Climb 1

Climb 2

Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Climb 3, the gentle climb.

The descent into Prairie City was incredible, you could see for miles down the valley with the mountains providing a perfect backdrop. We were well and truly on the Oregon Trail and memorabilia lined the roads along the way. After getting into town Wim caught up and we discussed the options for the night. Mount Vernon was another 23 miles and had a cyclist only lodging listed on the map, they are often the best places to stay. Siemen pressed on ahead and said he would check out the price but might push on further. The rest of us set out soon after drafting the whole way around 17mph.

The Oregon Trail.

We arrived at the Bikehouse Inn to find a note on the door instructing us to let ourselves in. We were greeted by a harmless barking dog with a wagging tail, we soon became best friends. They also had goats, chickens and ducks walking around in a penned area outback. Siemen had left a message in the guestbook saying the place looked out of his budget despite the fact it was donation only. It turned out to be a great place and Terry and Wim cooked up two pasta dishes. The bikehouse is a separate building from the owners main house, who eventually turned up late in the evening. She was a lively happy women who talked about the cyclists who pass through and told us to stay as long as we needed.

My new best friend.

Want to come with me?

The Bikehouse Inn

Day 68: Civilization

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

42.73 miles (Total: 3807.03) Avg Speed: 10.7mph Max Speed: 24mph

2 Bananas and a Cliff bar for breakfast and I was ready to get the show on the road. I was hoping to buy a new rear wheel in Baker City, I think riding for the lengths of time I have on the trip with an unbalanced wheel has riddled it for life. It was going to be a shorter day with only one big climb towards the end so me, Wim and Terry took it easy. Wim had noticed a hole in his tyre this morning so was using his replacement folding tyre but it wasn’t so smooth.

Morning.

We stopped for our first break at a rest area where one old woman said ‘Welcome to the United States, if Obama can welcome people then so can I!’ what the hell does that mean?

After killing the climb we got a glimpse of Baker City down in the valley, the same view frontier settlers would have had a few hundred years ago. We got into town with no sign of Jessica or Siemen. We split a motel room 3 ways and me and Wim dumped our stuff then headed to the first bike shop. Pubs and bars advertised micro brews and the bike shop itself actually played recognisable music, its been months since I have heard locals listening to none country music.

Me and the mechanic from the shop looked at several wheels but he had none suitable for disc brakes. We resolved to just replace the spokes and rebalance my wheel. I talked about how it has broken down again since last getting it fixed but he insisted I hadn’t had him fix my wheel before. He worked well and did a great job, he then pointed us in the direction of the micro brewery across the street and I offered to buy him a beer if he went in after work.

Wim needed a new tyre.

Siemen caught up with us by this point, he had been in the library. We talked him into joining us at the motel so the price would be split 4 ways, he reluctantly accepted after some persuasion because we had a free camp last night after all. We then also persuaded him to join us in the micro brewery for food. They had imported Strongbow on tap! I haven’t had cider for months, first pint refreshment as the advert says. Continuing my series of buying the biggest burger on the menu I ordered the ‘Death Burger’ after recently sampling the ‘Gut Buster’.

We returned to find free burgers on offer at the motel which didn’t bother me but Siemen on his tight budget looked mortified having just dropped a pretty penny on food he didn’t need too. Pretty funny. A storm passed over so we were holed up indoors as I tried to update my blog on the useless wifi.

Motel room carnage.

Me & Wim may look busy, but the wifi didn't actually work.

Day 67: Oregon

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

69 miles (Total: 3764.3) Avg Speed: 11.1mph Max Speed: 26mph

The saddle sores were almost completely healed this morning, its amazing how quickly they can crop up and just as soon disappear. We met Terry in town, he was just about to head out whilst Siemen was still asleep. Me and Wim took in breakfast before setting out into a sticky humid morning. Just as I mentioned how the atmosphere this morning reminded me of Kentucky we were chased by a large black dog. The owner called half heartedly for it to return.

The motel sign. Were me and Wim the grouches?

Siemen caught up with us at a store just before the border crossing and we went over the bridge into Oregon. How did I get here? I can’t even get my brain around the concept. When I think about Virginia it seems like a lifetime ago, another trip that happened 4-5 years ago. Cooper and Joe were people I knew but had not seen in years and the scenery and people were so different even I was a completely different person. I remember before the trip trying to imagine actually reaching Oregon but I somehow couldn’t picture myself doing it.

State No.10 - The Final State

Looks like western Idaho.

After a pit stop Wim and Jessica road on whilst me and Siemen kicked back before setting out into the late afternoon. A climb of several thousand feet began as I realised again how much I actually enjoy the climbs compared to flat country. The downhill to Richland would have been great if it wasn’t for my unbalanced back wheel so I took it easy and road the breaks the whole way down watching Siemen enjoy it zipping off into town.

When we showed up at the city park the rest of the gang had already set up camp and even began a celebratory dinner for reaching Oregon. The pavilion had a stage with carpeted floors, no need to set the tent up tonight, so we all slept out.

I enjoy climbs.

Richland, OR

Wim was pleased with his Trailer Park Boys style Wine glasses.

He was also quite pleased with his cooking.

Well earned.

What's this?

My name is Ryan Anderson, in Summer 2010 I rode my bike across America. Starting on the east coast in Yorktown, VA and finishing in Florence, OR. Read more

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