Friday, June 29, 2012

Mountain Home, Id, Twin Falls, Id. Burley Id Days 10 -12

Downtown Boise walking home from very good farm to table restaurant

It's time to discuss the routine and other philosophical issues. This is a long trip and only rarely will I be spending two nights in one place. No one I know travels this way anymore. For years I have been the proponent of taking a long trip to one place and if possible, not leaving that place. If you want to go to Provence ( South of France), pick a town, pick a hotel in that town and stay there the entire time. Unpack your bag, hang a few clothes, fill the drawers, set out your shoes and put the suitcase AWAY. Likely, I have previously vowed to never violate this paradigm.

With Chuck on board for the first week, the routine was in soft focus. Now that he has departed and I am on my own, a pattern has quickly evolved only minimally different from the first week. After the ride I find a place to eat with the people I last have ridden. Then I check into the hotel, shower, bathtub wash everything dirty and hang it out while the sun is still my friend. I take everything out of suitcase and set it in like type piles on the unused bed. Next I clean my bike and go over any mechanical issues with the mechanic. Then back to the room where it is quiet and lonely, the latter not as bad as it may sound.  Never having had my own room growing up, or in college, and then marrying almost immediately after college, has to put me in the 0.0001 percentile of adults in western civilization, with nights spent alone. This adds another dimension to the challenge and so far I am up for it

The last room detail is to set up the technology. The bike computer (Garmen) is downloaded, the sound system placed in open drawer next to bed for extra resonance (I have a nice small speaker that attaches to the I Phone) and the lap top is plugged in and turned on. There are wires EVERYWHERE. Though Neurologists hate the government imposed electronic medical record requirement, I have to admit, the process has made me more comfortable with what technology has to offer for recreation purposes. Thank you my enemy. Now I can do ALL of this! "Ha Blanche, Ha"  We have a group dinner, at the hotel or restaurant within walking distance, and back to the room to read or blog. Okay, somewhere in there, one or more cold ones are imbibed. This is vacation. 

Next I would like to comment on what it is like to be on or with the bike for more than 6 hours a day. I would be interested to hear what the people I know very well would speculate. Is this like the cruel joke of giving a kid "all"  the ice cream he can eat until he pukes? Things could change but at this point almost every second on the bike is a pleasure for me. The bike is magic. There are three basic factors accounting for this. As opposed to running or swimming, it is just enough speed to be thrilling, there is no motor and therefore no annoying sound production, and lastly, the awesome feeling of this movement being generated by my own power. These three are exponentially enhanced by nice weather (cool and dry which has been the case for the most part), new and interesting scenery and top conditioning. ( I gotta a few faults but right now, yeah, I'm fit). There is a linear addition of good company to chat with while pedaling. So the Ride is firing on all cylinders with two turbo chargers. I am generally disappointed when we reach our destination each day
The Boise River just out of town
This is not Montana but I gotta call it big sky country
This was the scene for most of the ride today on both sides of the road
The ride to Mountain Home, Idaho was our first view of what we are likely to see for awhile after make it to the Grand Tetons. As you can see from the photograph above this was like " The Plains" with two exceptions. There were attractive mountains at a distance to the North and the South and we are basically following a large (Snake) river. There is a considerable amount of agriculture with fields of potatoes sometimes as far as you can see as well as beets, corn and onions. There are massive irrigation systems drawing from the river to make up for an average yearly rainfall of 10 to 12 inches throughout this area and most of that is in the winter.

Click below for link to today's ride

Today it was just under 100 miles to Twin Falls, Idaho.We were presented with a conundrum. It was nice and cool, below 60, in the early AM but the high in a small town half way through the ride was forecast to be 99 degrees. The wind was blowing from the East in the morning and from the West in the PM. In other words, did we want to battle the heat or the wind. Everyone choose the wind to battle, so it was off at 6:00 AM. I got a late start so I had to ride hard without a warm up for 10 miles to catch a group I felt comfortable riding with for the whole day. No way was I going to deal with the headwind alone. (If you ride with 3 or 4 other people you can trade off the point periodically and it is much easier to follow than to lead, especially if there is a significant headwind.) I feel a bit fickle having made certain claims in yesterday's entry, but I need to confess, there was a twelve mile stretch starting at about mile 75 that was a pain in the ass. I was tired, the headwind was getting old and the heat on the black road was noticeable. The scenery was also not too exciting. Only the company was good.

The famous Snake River Canyon where Evil Knievel made his unsuccessful
attempt to go across a long chasm in 1974

Polly from Boulder. former basketball, softball and field hockey player.
 Now skier, rock climber, horseback rider and cyclist

Canyon edge

Snake River from bridge going into Twin Falls, Id

The Bridge
Click below for link to today's ride

Today was the shortest ride of the trip. With less than 40 miles on the schedule, we took a detour to the famous Twin Falls of, you guessed it, Twin Falls, Idaho. This only added 5 miles and we experienced our first 10 % descent and climb (back up) on the trip, when we went to get a close look at the falls. The remainder of the ride was flat and easy with favorable winds. There were a few minor mishaps within the small group I was with for the day. There was a flat, non functional odometer and a rider fell without significant injury. We were lucky to have these occur on a short day.

Twin Falls
Shake River, just west of the falls.
Rainbow generated by the mist of the falls

 Mountains with blue hue to our right  (South) along our straight shot West today

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

John Day, Or, Baker City Oregon, Boise, Idaho Days 6-8

I was apprehensive waking up to 80 plus miles after 118 miles the day before. We were looking at 3 climbs totaling just under 5000 feet with a net gain of over 1000 feet. 5000 feet is equivalent to the 3 Gap we have been doing in North Georgia for decades. It's no big deal, but the additional miles, along with presumed tired legs presented potential difficulty. Party cloudy benign skies with a stimulating 50 degree departure temperature erased all doubt. We all left together and a there was good cheer among all the riders. I spent most of the day with my two Macon buds, Chuck and Bob, New York Richard and Ainslee from Yarraville (part of Melbourne), Australia. Again the views were stunning, good roads and now another dimension I frankly had not considered, new and interesting people.

Ainslee, an excellent rider, has a repertoire of Aussie idioms that kept us entertained. Generally they are R rated and the fact she is half our age adds to the hilarity. At out first stop today she was " hungry enough to eat the crotch off a low flying duck". I have 7 weeks to learn these idioms and I'll be a motivated student.

Chuck and Ainslee in the first 5 miles. Mountains and mountains to see

Olli from Hamberg, Germany  reaching the first summit
Chuck at the second summit, no problem at this point
Ainslee likes the camera 
Gratuitous photo of me confidently approaching
the third climb. Problems did occur soon thereafter
Baker City is located between the Wallowa  Mountains to the East and the Elkhorn Mountains, part of the Blue Mountains to the west. It was named after Edward D Baker who was the only standing US senator to be killed in combat. In 1861 (Civil War) he led a charge of 1700 Union Soldiers up Ball's Bluff, Virginia. One of the biggest events here is the Baker City Cycling classic which we missed by one week. I told Chuck how disappointing it was to miss it. Doing a criterium race after " warming up" for 82 miles in the early part of the day would have been some sort of statement. He didn't bite.

Click below for link to ride details

The next day we had a 84 mile ride to the edge of Oregon and into the Central Time zone and eventually arrived in Ontario, Oregon. This town is on the Idaho border but with a late start, we did not have an opportunity to see much of it. Clean up, dinner, a cold one or two and early to bed because of the lost hour. For many of us, this day was the inaugural Interstate ride. There are not nearly as many roads here as there are back East. It is not unusual to have only the Interstate connecting two small towns, so it is legal to bicycle on it, using the emergency lane. I was a bit nervous about this, not so much on the danger aspect. The lane is 10 to 12 feet wide so there is plenty of room. A truck can be spotted a mile away, so there is ample time to move all the way over. The trucks throw quite a draft at 70 MPH which everyone enjoyed. I was more concerned about all the trash likely to be in this lane. In Georgia, if I need to pull off the Interstate while driving, I will wait until the the road is clear for as far as I can see, then jump back on it, rather than go through 100 feet of trash I don't think my car tires could survive. Bicycle tires wouldn't  make it 10 feet. Because of less traffic and the snow plowing multiple times each winter on these Interstates, the lane was remarkable clean and we had very few flats. We were on the Interstate for less than 10 miles.

One time zone down, but I had flat tire when I put the
bike down for photo 
Mimi from Aspen, happiest rider of the day

Chuck, Richard and Bob on the Interstate, not
looking all that happy

Small group waiting for Chuck who was back a bit socializing 
The not so mad Physicist. I tried to start a rumor  that he was the suspected Unabomber
after he moved from Macon to New Mexico.

Click below for link to ride details

Today, day 8, we had an "easy 60 miles" to Boise, Idaho and were able to have a real lunch just after noon for the first time. Previously we were arriving between 2:00 and 3:00 PM and having a snack. Because of this, or my loss of extracellular volume, I have manage to lose a few pounds. According to Guyton's Physiology Textbook, a 70kg person, like me, has 15 liters of extracellular fluid. According to Dr Robert Cade, previously mentioned Nephrology mentor and inventor of Gator Aid, one can increase that amount 15 % by training in the humid heat. Most of my recent training before the Ride fits that description. These first 8 days have been chilly and it is likely my volumes have readjusted. It's therefore possible I have excreted just under 5 pounds of water and that would account for my weight loss. It is now easier to do the hills and the big climbs are coming soon around the Grand Tetons. I would rather have extra bulk with over 40 days remaining.

Boise is the Idaho state capitol and its greater metropolitan area is close to 600,000. Its name comes from  "the wooded river"  the city was built around,  " la riviere boisie" as it was called by the French trappers. Fort Boise was erected in 1862 along the Oregon Trail to protect the frontiersmen against hostile native tribes. The city grew around the fort. It is the home of Boise State University, 20,000 students and perennially ranked football team that plays on the famous blue field.
Outdoor restaurants in the center of town
Had a beer here last night

The Capitol

The Boise River which connects to the Snake River
Click below to see link to ride

Today was a rest day so I just tooled through town on the bike with sneakers and regular shorts. There was a nice bike path along the river. Total distance was less then 10 miles and I am certain my heart rate did not hit 80. On a very sad note my roommate Chuck headed back to the real world. Also Bob concluded his ride and drove his car back to New Mexico. We really appreciated the effort he put forth to get with us on this ride and we hope to ride with him again in the future. Looks like I'll be having some quiet time at night. I might make up for it by turning up the music Chuck would not allow me to do.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 4 and 5 Warm Springs to John Day

Day 4 - Thursday, June 21, 2012
Three women photographed on the reservation in 1902
On the third night we made it to the Warm Spring Tribes  Indian Reservation. We stayed at a " resort" within the reservation in the middle of the high open desert. At one time it was a casino, recently closed, the only remnant, no TV's in any rooms, a long time Vegas trick to keep the guests on the floor. There is a new bigger casino in the small town miles away. The resort was very large and seemed somewhat full, our 60 plus blending inconspicuously. The main attraction was now somewhat ambiguous. The climate afforded us a quick dry to our soggy clothes we had been toting around for days. We had a so so dinner, buffet Italian, and they ran out of food. After dinner some guy  asked what kind of firewater they had, and that caused a transient stir.

The man that checked us in was an Indian from the local tribe. He was tall, handsome and attractively wearing his pride without a hint of bitterness. He gave me the low down on the important historical events. The Warm Spring and Wasco Indians had ownership of 20,000 square miles in this area of Oregon for 10,000 years.  In the treaty of 1855  they "exchanged " this for basic health care, education, other worthless shit, and a land reduction to 1000 square miles. A third tribe, the Pauites, were relocated to the reservation. The three tribes did manage to retain fishing rights to most of the lands they originally owned. They are still experts in root digging - a wild celery is the main crop

Chuck going over cattle grate leaving the reservation
River on the reservation
Mount Jefferson in front of me on the way to reservation
Conquering a pass

One surprise bonus to this trip was the last minute addition of Bob Willis, a former physics professor at Mercer and long time riding buddy. He heard we were doing this trip and headed to Astoria from his current location in New Mexico. He signed up for the first 8 day segment. Above, he is standing in a mustard field just outside of our destination last night in Prineville, Oregon. We were told the white flowers were mayonnaise, but I am not too very sure of that.
Click below for details

Day 5 - Friday June 22, 2012
Today we had an epic ride. Here in Southwest Oregon, towns large enough to hotel 60 people are few and far between. How far?  How about 117 miles. So it was up at 4:30 AM, big breakfast at 5:15 and on the road at 6:00 AM. We had 2 climbs totaling 5000 feet in the first 65 miles and then a rather flat ride through two spectacular canyons. Weather prediction was for thunderstorms in the afternoon, so the plan was to stay moving instead of our usual posing for photos, messing around at the sag stops and missing turns. There were only two turns today, the left out of the hotel and the left into the hotel 116 miles later on Route 26. I missed the second one and rode an extra 3 miles.
Just before the second climb
One  of many West Oregon rock formations

Chuck and New York Richard in the Canyon
To view click below then click Link, note almost 7000 calories burned!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Days 2 and 3, St. Helens, Oregon to Warm Springs, Oregon

Day two and day three, night and day. We left St. Helens on day two with forecast of 70% rain and from the day before, we knew exactly what that meant. Temperature was to be in the 50's all day. LUCKILY there was no precipitation when we hit the the wet road at 7:AM. We were following the mighty Columbia River toward the northern edge of the greater Portland area on US Route 30. Somehow the Logging Truckers Guild got word of our journey and came out in full force to see us and provide extra tail wind. It was a near continuous parade. They were quite confident in their driving skills which they enjoyed demonstrating  by missing us by inches. When it start to rain they demonstrated their resolve by coming closer.

After a couple of hours of bonding with the Guild we dove onto a bike path below the road and were quietly riding within 100 feet of the river with only a few walkers to negotiate. One of the riders literally dove over the handle bars after hitting the steel post within 5 feet of the path's beginning. It was in the middle of the lane, designed to keep all cars and apparently an occasional cyclist off the path. After a brief catapult, he had a relatively safe landing. Firetrucks and ambulances were summoned. Chuck and I, always the last to leave the hotel, followed the sirens to the accident. The bicycle was pronounced dead at the scene. The front wheel looked like a modern art piece. The guy looked fine. He did go to the ER and was released. He bought a new bike in a well established Portland Bike shop and is back in the peleton.

The Columbia looking west from bridge. Oregon on the left and Washinton on the right

It was too wet to take many photos. You will have to take my word on how beautiful the river looked, even in a drizzle. Fairly large verdant hills in Washington State, which the Columbia demarcates, majestically blended into the river. There were a paucity of homes and commercial enterprises. I suspect all riverside property in Washington is some sort of National Park.

Chuck finishing up at Calamity Janes
Today we left the hotel in bright sunshine.  Without any view of the sky for the last 3 days, including our drive over, the blueness was overwhelming.  We started climbing immediately.  It was 50°, which is leg warmer, arm warmer, and light jacket weather.  We approached Mount Hood and could see it  from various angles throughout the day.  The road surface was perfect with only a modicum of commercial travel.  We had a very nice large shoulder and did not need constant vigilance for approaching vehicles.

Wild Lupine noted along the road all day today
Chuck not noticing Mount Hood

Pulling  out of the Sag Stop
In 1803, Lewis and Clark were the first Americans of European descent to see Mount Hood. It's peak is the highest point in Oregon at 11,239 feet with 12 named glaciers on it. You can tell it is a volcanic mountain by the  way it pops up, in an otherwise flat area. Approaching it is like approaching one of the grand cathedrals in France such as Chartes. It can be seen from a great distance and the viewer is progressively overwhelmed while advancing. Though inactive, it is the volcanic mountain in Oregon most likely to erupt, a calculated chance of 3% to 7% in the next 30 years.

Mount Hood
To see details of the rides click each of these below and then click the link that pops up:
Day 2 - Tuesday June 19, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Astoria to Helen Day 1

On day 0 we met all the support crew and the riders. All 50 plus riders stood up successively, stating who they were, where they were from, and why they were here. Chuck and I suspected something like this would go down and figured they might also ask what we did for a living. So when we were driving over from Portland we tossed around a couple of bullshit careers we could claim to be. Now I am perfectly comfortable with who I am and what I am, but it is always fun to instantly reinvent yourself and live it out a la Catch Me If You Can. We narrowed it down to Morticians or Jazz Musicians. Now neither of us knows shit about either profession but we weren't concerned about any type of intense questioning. Just to boost  the authenticity of the jazz musician angle I took my homemade AC-DC ( Bevis and Butthead)  T-shirt and tried to change it to Charlie Parker, but I wound up ruining it. Some of the riders had causes they claimed to be supporting and were raising money. I was convinced they were all sincere. There was heart disease, hemophilia and cancer. One very nice guy was raising money for 501C ( or something like that) dealing equal assess to marriage.We later thought about telling him marriage might be a little overrated but figured he didn't want to hear that.

At the mouth of the Columbia River. What, me worry?
I'll eventually get to the ride but while on the subject of impostors my absolute favorite ruse goes down when I am cycling alone in Italy, usually while accompanying Charlotte on her painting trips. When I first get there I will seek out the local bike shop and without exception, they will sponsor a team and sell a team kit (jersey and cycling shorts). I always buy one. Most of the time they look better than the pro team kits which is hard to explain. When I bring them back home I am the only one in town that has the kit, which is cool. While I am there and riding on the back roads, not uncommonly a car with lost Americans will flag me down and ask for directions. Usually I have studied the maps well before riding and can answer the question. I speak to them in broken English with a thick Italian accent, constantly reminding them to speak more slowly. Once, when I later made it to the town I directed two of them, they bought me a coffee and took photographs of each other with me to show their fiends back in ? Atlanta they had met an authentic Italian bike rider. 

Back to the ride. Well a sane person would have labelled it an inauspicious start. I had a decent sleep, was up at 6:00 AM and knocked back three double cappuccinos before leaving the room to eat a typical motel breakfast. I have brought along the Nespresso machine with milk frother but still managed to stay within the stringent weight limits for luggage detail. No way I can ride more than I usually do and not tank up with the necessary caffeine delivered as a wonderful quality coffee. I love good coffee more than I love the green on a tree leaf, the purr of my cat and the smell a rose all put together. I once asked my niece Mary, a vegetarian, if she ate cheese and she replied  "Life without cheese is not worth living." Well it is right back at you in spades with me and coffee.

The forecast was 60% for rain. For us Georgia crackers that means a 60% chance it might rain on you for a millisecond over the 24 hour period.. In Oregon it means if you are outside all day, it will rain on you 60% of the time.We were wet 100% of time with rain coming down the full 60%, usually a drizzle, but it poured on the second longest descent. We rode with the mighty Columbia River to our left all day but it was hard to see it well. The pace was easy. At the hotel we were more soggy than tired.

Wild climbing hydrangea ( I think)

Click below and a link will appear, click it to see ride details 516688

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day -1 and Day 0, Portland

I flew into Portland, Oregon yesterday a couple of days before the ride begins. I had never been here and thought it would be a good idea to acclimate to the time zone change while checking out the area and visiting an old friend. "Roof" was one of my college roommates at Georgia Tech and I had not seen him for many years. The 'Ride through the Free World' will bypass this large city so this was only chance to see him and Portland
At the Rose Garden in the center of the city

A cappuccino at Stumptours  It tasted
as good as it looked

Roof and I had major history. The main reason I chose to go to Georgia Tech was the Cooperative Work Study program they offered. For the first 3 years the "Coops" would alternate quarters attending school and working the Coop job. The last two years were completed conventionally, working only the summer between them. The experience, we were told, would make you a more productive employee post graduation and the decent salaries allowed us to cover all expenses during the work quarter, with enough additional saved money, to pay for most of the school quarter. This all sounded quite wise professionally and noble from the responsibility standpoint. Everyone in this program appeared to have a laser like plan for the next 40 years, always looking for the best job opportunity regardless of what hell hole the nuclear power plant, or whatever, was situated. On the other hand I was primarily looking for an opportunity to live in a city where I could have the most fun while free from the choking burden of the never ending papers to write and tests to cram for, which I am sorry to say, ruined the actual college experience. In other words it was location, location and location. I could have cared less what I was doing during the 9 to 5 hours. It couldn't be too much worse than mowing lawns and working at McDonalds, my previous two 'professions'.
Approaching Mount Hood. I'm not a perspective expert but that mountain got to be more than 6 ft wide

Lenticular clouds next to Mount Hood
 Roof was also a Coop and New York City was the place we were going. We had several interviews and were hired by Pan American World Airways. This was richest airline in the World for decades but it sputtered the moment we were hired, sinking into bankruptcy at the end of our 5 years. We blamed each other for this debacle but in retrospect  it was likely not us, but the knuckleheads who hired us. In New York we had some money, a lot of energy and tons of free time. We discovered Broadway, MOMA, the Met and the Mets,  free Shakespeare in Central Park and free concerts there with the new bands at dawn of their careers: Led Zeppelon, Blood Sweat and Tears, Ten Years After, Sly,  Fleetwood Mac and others. We played basketball in the streets, a rough game there where fouls were never called, and we honed our 3 man game well enough to make it to the finals in the 3 man intramural league at Tech, losing to 3 guys on the Varsity Tech team by only 2 points. Freshman year the two of us were asked to play for Tech. They needed two more guys to round the roster to 10 men, in order to scrimmage. Our deal was no road games, no scholarship money and not even a place at the jock dining hall (which was all we really needed), So we said "no". This refusal, we decided yesterday, was very stupid. Telling everyone for the rest of our lives that we played b-ball at Tech would have added gravitas to our CVs.

The culinary experience was not so great. Our favorite restaurant was the Steak and Ale chain. Five dollars for a steak, salad, baked potato and "all" the beer you could drink. We were kicked out of every one of these in Manhattan and told not to come back. Though only a 3 letter word "all" meant something different in New York than it did in Atlanta. 

As opposed to Ga Tech, there were females everywhere.With no extra money, no car, no coeds, and not exactly Hollywood looks, I was having some difficulty at Tech handling the raging hormones of an 18 year old. How did my parents let me go there? If I hadn't had the Coop experience I could have sued them for parental malpractice. One work quarter Roof and I got mixed up with a Mafioso daughter and had to leave town a couple of days early.

The most enduring activity of which I first became passionate at the time was reading novels. Given no obligatory studying we could knock one off a week. During high school we were given a nice reading list for the summer. I recall reading the first 20 pages of Moby Dick, giving up and going to the Cliff Notes, which was too pedantic, and was similarly chucked, then finishing with the Classic Comic Book version. I aced the test and that became the paradigm. While in New York we read all the predictable intellectional and pseudo-intellectual material everyone else was reading in the late sixties and early seventies. Catch 22 was our favorite. We shared a room which was standard at time and some nights we would lay in our (individual) single bed with our own copies reading it out load to each other.
Roof's job is to help move the salmon through these spillways, avoiding the turbines on the Columbia River dams

Pacific Lamprey
Picketed Lead funnels the fish by the counting window

Wild Salmon move through  the counting window. Note the
small fin 2/3 of the way to tail from the dorsal fin. The farm raised
have this removed before release