Monday, June 30, 2008
Hardin to Ashland, MT....84 miles
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Billings to Hardin, MT...52 miles
Weather remains perfect. After a week or so without flats we had 4 today. Also we climbed about 2,000 feet which didn't seem hard so we must be getting in shape. The 80 mile day tomorrow should tell the tail.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Columbus to Billings, MT....50 miles
Big Timber to Columbus, MT...46 miles
For some insane reason the Rocks were on the road this morning at 8:00 AM going to what was described as self-service laundry that just happened to have a motel and truck stop on-sight. Conditions were perfect for a fast ride; slight downhill, tail wind and cool temperatures. By 11:30 AM, I was eating Chinese in Columbus with a whole afternoon to kill.. We did stop at Prairie Dog Town–a state park on route– and watched and were watched by the locals who kept barking their disapproval of our presents. My camera batteries ran out so I had to steal this picture off Google.
I also missed a great shot of a couple baby skunks but didn’t hang around for mom to show up.
Columbus and our motel turned out to be a pleasant surprised. I had a interstate truck stop pictured but it turned out to be a 1950's main street motel with a gas pumps out front and laundry in the back. Kind of old fashion but very clean....we did need the laundry.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
On the road with the other folks........
Bozeman to Three Timbers, MT...64 miles
Three Forks to Bozeman, MT 47 miles
Easy, mostly flat ride today. We stopped at the head waters of the Missouri River where this picture was taken. Lewis & Clark accomplished one of their missions when they reached this area. A guy could pee in the river here and it would be a 2,300 mile trip to the Mississippi River....but who would be so crude to do such a thing?
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Why didn't I read the fine print?
Monday, June 23, 2008
Helena to Three Forks, Montana...70 miles
Sunday, June 22, 2008
It's a crappy job......
Sometimes the stories get a little long or repetitive on XC-2008 and Tour Daddy has to get out the BS shovel.
Rich's wife Mary joined us for a few days. Since he is my roommate I have my own room. Good thing with this damn cough.
Great Falls to Helena, MT...2 days 98 miles
Friday, June 20, 2008
2nd letter to my hotel friends in Charleston
So far my bike buddies and I have been almost a thousand miles. I’m writing this email from Great Falls, Montana. Since my last report the bicycle riding has been a little like riding back and forth across the Copper River Bridge–lots of up the hill and down the hill. On route, we passed over Lolo Pass. This requires riding a steady up hill for about 60 miles, then we did the downhill into Missoula Montana. Since Missoula is surrounded by mountains, you don’t have to be to smart to figure out that the climbing ain’t over when you get there. Sure enough, a few days later we rode over the Continental Divide at Rogers Pass which is about 90 miles west of Missoula. So far we have been in Oregon, Washington State, Idaho and into Montana. We’ll be in Montana for several weeks, it’s the 4th largest state but only has a population about the size of Charleston. In the last few days we’ve stayed in Ovanda, MT population 61, Lincoln, MT population 1,100 and Augusta, MT population 284. Lots of open space around here.
The weather has turn from COLD to warm. We start the morning with a wind breaker on and finish the ride in short sleeves. I sweat like a pig going up hill and freezing to dead going down hill but don’t worry I’ll be complaining about the heat in a few days.
Hope you guys are all doing fine. Reports from the Bike Taxi business have been good but we can always use more so keep giving out those yellow business cards
Augusta to Great Falls, Montana 58 miles and rest day
Lincoln to Augusta, MT 57 miles
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Breakfast..on the road
Ovanda to Lincoln, Montana..28 miles
The ride up to Lincoln was just that...mostly up as we get near to Rogers Pass. Several of the group took a detour to add some miles to this short day. I kept the ride as short as possible since I’ve come down with a cold and feel like hell. I can’t believe I survived 18 months with little Jack and not get a cold but come down with one the first time in years when I really need the energy. RATS! Tonight I take a magic pill and try to get some sleep.
We’re staying at the same motel here in Lincoln that Bill and Tom stayed at last August when we were in the area. Last year I drove here from Great Falls it took about 1 ½ hours. What I remember about the drive is that it’s ugly from a bicycling point of view. Lots of up and down even after we cross the pass.
Missoula to Ovanda, Montana..59 miles.
The weather was perfect, some where in the seventies, clear and a tail wind. We did some light climbing but don’t get the hard stuff until the day after tomorrow. Due to our group size and the accommodations were at two different places last night. I'm staying at Lake Upsata B&B which is 6 miles down a dirt road and worth every inch of the trip. Rich say the road out to the B&B is horrible but when I put an Alabama perspective on it becomes.."Maybe later in the summer we'll call the road commissioner and have him send out the road patrol." Case your a Yankee a road patrol is called a road grader up your way.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Locha Lodge, Idaho to Missoula, Montana 59 miles..up and down hill.
When I told the group we would have 8 miles of easy climbing and only 4 miles of the steep stuff apparently some of them didn’t believe me. Bruce left a dark-thirty and was in the tour guide business in Missoula by the time we arrived. When we reached Lolo Pass after those first 12 miles there were some happy folks. Rich got a bunch of us organized for a photo shot which after awhile started to feel like a wedding. If you have 10 people with cameras all wanting group shots, single shots and small group shots the smiles can start to get a little forced–I think the wait around for pics was harder than the climb but managed to smile on....and on....and on.
Then we did the 35 mile downhill to the town of Lolo and got there just in time for much needed taco lunch.
Rich and I are staying with my friend Tom Robertson in Missoula. Rich also knows Tom from when they did an Adventure Cycling event together in 2002. It was great fun to hang around with a couple bike-heads. We had plenty of bike-war stories to tell. Rich is staying on the couch in Tom’s bike room which has bikes mounted on the wall and a espresso machine– heaven on earth for bike guys. Later, Rich told me he counted 13 bikes in that room. Still later, I spot a couple in the side yard and Tom said he had a couple more in the shed and his wife Ruth has 2 with her in San Diego where she is attending Rolfing School. That’s 19 more or less.
Rich, Tom and I took Judy to dinner for her birthday. We ate at a nice Italian restaurant . The next night we had sushi. Both were good meals after our time in the wilderness.
Looking around 360 degree in Missoula you see nothing but mountains. It does not take masters degree in physics to figure out there going to be some climbs ahead. A rest day will do us all good particularly since there is a bug loose in the group causing some bad colds. Our route raps sound like there taking place in a TB ward
I know I look like hell in this picture and that these post could use some editing but I'm too darn tired to give a shit
Day 13 Lowell to Locha Lodge, Idaho 68 miles..up hill
We got an early start and did the nice steady climb on the road next to the Locha River for 68 miles. It didn’t seem that hard when we were on the road but everyone was whipped and in bed early. It’s a scenic ride up to the Lolo pass but after a 90 miles it’s starting to get a little old. We were entertained by the river rafts headed down river and Ron actually saw one girl go over-board and helped her get up the bank where she hitched a ride down river to her buddies. Also, there is the Historic Ranger Station on route which I visited on my last trip with Bill and Tom–lots of old pictures of rangers and horses.
It’s Rafting season at Lochsa Lodge. Apparently you can get drunk as hell and still ride the raft. There are grown men running around up here with hula skirts and fake black breasts. Hopefully, the mosquitos will run them inside after dark...mosquitos the helpful pest.
Judy, my riding buddy, seems to be getting stronger. Keith and I have been sticking with her for morale support. The signs around here can be a little troubling like when you see one that says Lolo Pass 75 miles and you know that means it's uphill for the next 75 miles.
Day 12 Winchester to Lowell, Idaho 75 miles
Another long day but with only 2,100 feet of climbing. The rocks [ Keith, Judy and myself] were on the road at 7:00 AM. The breakfast spot we picked on route was closed so we did 43 miles before stopping for lunch at Kamiah, including a nice 10 mile down hill. Kamiah is near the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. They say property is all about location, location, location. If this is true the Indians really got screwed cause there ain’t to much in them there hills.
Lowell is location on the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River and our cabin at the 3 Fork Inn has the river as an extension of the front lawn. This place is first class in the world of river rat camps, really not bad. They even had a veggie burger in the café.
I’ve mentioned before that our riding friend Cal has been getting cookies mailed to him at different motels on the route. Keith came up with a plan to get his friends to send cookies. He send an email to them and said, "I want to thanks everyone who has sent cookies." Now he is getting emails from friends asking for his schedule so they can send goodies. We’ll all be fat as pigs before this is over.
WIFI and cell service that works have been hard to find on this part of the trip so my calls home and blog updates have been sporadic.
Day 11 Lewiston to Winchester, Idaho, 42 miles
We have bunk house accommodation tonight in Winchester but this place is much nicer than the dump Bill, Tom and I stayed at a few years ago. Last time I was here must have been early July rodeo time because I saw a billboard advertising it for July 5 of 6th. Last time I was here the rodeo was on and it was hot as hell going up the mountain.
Tonight the group had chicken and I had canned tuna. We also had rice and fresh corn. Our best friend Cal has people sending him cookies so most nights we have homemade cookies at happy hour–a nice treat.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Pomeroy, WA to Lewiston, Idaho 32 miles and Rest day
I hope all my friends, who work in the hotel business in Charleston, get to see this email.
As you know I’m traveling with 14 other people on a cross country bicycle trip from Seaside, Oregon to St. Augustine, Florida; 4,700 miles. Is this crazy or what? Most of my riding friends are from up north and sound funny but I’ll have them talking southern before we reach Mississippi; it might be safer this way.
I’m rooming with a Cancuk from Canada, every time I see the police I tell them he is with us but they haven’t sent him home yet.....this is a big joke with us.
We are staying in cheap motels...nothing like the places in downtown Charleston. These places maybe a little scary from the outside but so far they have clean sheets, soap and warm water; good things to have after a long ride. So far we have been going to bed early by 9:00 PM. Going to sleep is kind of like getting hit in the head with a hammer; one minute your awake and the next minute it’s 8 AM.
This first week we’ve been about 450 miles. Most of it in Oregon and Washington State and following the Columbia River East. This is the route Lewis and Clark followed a few hundred years ago; I think some of our motels were built then. The winds real blow in the Columbia River Gorge, 30 mph is common, and we were lucky because it was at our back. I could tell you how nice and cool the weather is here but someone might take a poke at me when I get home. The bad news......IT AIN’T FLAT. Its been awhile since I’ve had to climb a hill other than the 12 foot hill going up State Street from the Market. The Bike Taxi business has given me a chance to stay in good shape for riding.......hauling 500 plus pounds on a 12 foot climb is about as much work as climbing some of these hills out here.
I miss you guys and look foreward to seeing you...hopefully when it’s cooler
Monday, June 09, 2008
Day 9 Wally Wally to Pomeroy, WA 67 miles
Pomeroy is a one road community which is making an effort to stay alive. There were high school graduation activities going on in town so our waitress was on alone and had to handle waiting on tables, tending bar and running the cash register. A few in our party were distressed with the situation but fell into line as there was nothing to be done. Might as well have a drink and relax. It’s like we’re riding across country at 10 mph and end up stressed because it takes 40 minutes to get dinner? Go figure. I was very relaxed by the time we got back to the motel which by the way is another bike rider special. Know what I mean?
Day 8 Umatilla, OR to Wally Wally, WA 57 miles
An early, 7:30AM start. Then another wind ride today as we were pushed on up the Columbia, River to just pass the Washington State line where we hung a right and rode on into town.
Umatilla is another one of those back country towns going to seed. Among other things the older population has headed south. "Hey, Ma you wanted hang around Umatilla a few more weeks or take off for Florida early this year?" That’s a no brainier. It’s not just the cold weather around here, you have the wind.....the gas station across from the motel has their signs out front tied down with rope and the grocery down the block has the door on the windy side locked. Once your door gets jerked off the hinges with a 40 mph wind you look for ways not to use that door.
About the only negative in traveling with this big of group is that when 15 people show up for dinner it can it can take a little long to order, eat and pay for your grub. Last night a bunch of us went to a Italian Restaurant who it turns out had a new cook. After a long wait several folks left before their food arrived. Bet they’ll learn to chill before we reach Florida?
Day 7 Biggs to Umatilla, OR 90 miles
Today we rode from the motel in Biggs to the very next motel on our route. Both motels are in Oregon but we did the 88 of the 90 miles in Washington. We also enjoyed the Columbia River Cruise Control–30 mph east wind– the whole trip. Even with 2400 feet of climbing it was easier than the 65 miles we did 2 days ago. Even with a long lunch in Pendelton, WA we made it in 9 hours. By the way, in the Patty Girl tradition, I tipped the waitress double when she called me honey.
We've been going to bed early, around 9:00 PM and it's kind of like someone hit you in the head with a hammer.
Day 6 [47 miles Hood River to Biggs, OR]
Today started with a long climb on the Historic Columbia River Highway and then continuing on the Columbia River Trail, which is a nice paved bike path with over-looks and a couple tunnel through the mountains. After two days of over-looks I’m about over-looked out; one more, "What a beautiful view" and I’ll throw up. We probably did 40 hair pin turns today. The annual rainfall amounts drops about one inch per mile between The Dalles and Biggs, OR so that this morning we were in wooded area’s and by the time we arrived at the motel the hills are bare. The only trees in Biggs are scrub stuff on the run-offs.
A little shower this PM and a few more flats from riding in I-84 for about 10 miles. Biggs is really just a big truck stop off the interstate. A few dumps called motels, fast food joints and the city-center aka Pilot Fuel Truck Stop.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Today was eat up with scenic wonder as we ran down the Columbia River Valley, on the Historic Columbia River Highway. Plenty of water falls, over looks and some great bike trails. It’s a nice climb out of Hood River area up the hill to the Columbia River over-looks. Sweating like a dog on the up hill and freezing to death on the down hill.
At some point in the day we passed everyone and everyone passed us; an indication that everyone is taking time to enjoy the trip. The flat tires continue to mount up, I added 2 to the list today and we had to send the van back for Bruce and Beth who ran out of tires and tubes. On the final 10 mile run into Hood River we used the east-bound- Hood River- cruise- control–the 30-40 mph west wind that makes this town the wind sailing capitol of the world.
My riding buddies did fine.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Day 4...57 miles from Rainer to Portland.
We have a vet in the group named Fred. I helped him get his bike fixed today. Pay back is hell, Scooter now has his own on-call vet.
I was talking to Rich tonight and it turns out he stayed at the Natchez Trace Motel when he rode the Trace. This is the same dump Uncle Bill, Jannie and I stayed at on our trip to Missoula from Fayette, Alabama. The good thing about this motel is that after staying there everything else is an improvement. I loved the broke down John Deere lawnmower with four flat tires sitting out front in 8 inch high grass.
XC 2008 day 3...50 miles Astoria to Rainer, OR
We’re staying at the Budget Motel. When I saw the place it made me wish I had my piece but turned out to be just fine; hot water, clean sheets. We did a group cook-out with wild salmon as the main course.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
XC 2008 1st riding day...
XC Arrival in Oregan..........
I’m rooming with Rich Gallo, the group leader –he needs to keep an eye on me--and Ron Winney. Ron is from Canada and even though I’ve reported him to the police several times he hasn’t been deported yet. So far, living on the road with an Italian from New York –shades of Patty Girl– and a Canuck has been great fun. Kind of like camp.
The happy hour and route rap–review of the next days ride– has given us all a chance to become friends. We’ve done a good job in this area. By the time I picked up my bike from Bikes and Beyond, finish the bikes assembly, had a group meeting and ate dinner it was 9:00 local time. I ran into the one and only bike taxi guy in Astoria, OR after dinner. We bonded, then took turns riding each other in the pedicab back to my motel. Lights out.