Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Still off the trail update

So I'm still off the trail. I was looking at the status pages of the campgrounds and roads; There has been no changes.  While this has been completely frustrating, there's not much I can do except wait. I'm going to get to the east coast before heading back. I kept thinking that maybe I could go back and try with the campgrounds being closed, but there's no way I can bike uphill for 100-150 miles in a single day to get to another town. Max I can do on the super mountainous days is about 60 miles.

I'll give it another week before looking at the statuses. <3

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

TABT update

Sorry for the lack of updates on the ride the last few days. I have been doing a lot of soul searching and calling home to figure out how to proceed.

All of the campgrounds that break up the ride (and provide resource replenishment) are closed still because of late snowfall.

I talked with a park ranger and she was super friendly and helpful. I told her what my plans were and she told me that her suggestion was to "remain in place until the snow melts enough that life returns to the mountains". Without the campgrounds open there would be sections where there is zero human life for about 100 miles (160km). One of the sections also has no natural sources of water nearby, so I'd have to carry more water than I even have space for (roughly 12-16 liters and I only carry 4 when I know there's 15-20 miles between closest towns)

As much fun as it sounds to "remain in place", that means being stuck in a tiny town with a super expensive hotel and nothing to do for at least 2 weeks, but more likely to be 3-4 weeks (the ranger said she estimates those remaining sites to open up in mid June).

Originally I wanted to visit a few other places AFTER my bike ride was over, I'm now moving myself into place to go do that now and wait for the snow to melt and I can reevaluate where things are in 2 to 3 weeks. If things are looking fine, I'll just go back to the Ochoco National Forest (where I left off) and start pedaling forward.

I guess this is a lesson on "learning how to adapt to changes out of my control" that I had so desperately wanted.

I'll definitely be biking in a few national parks in the meantime since I kept thinking about that non-stop the last few days. :-)

Monday, May 22, 2017

TABT Day 7

The climate changed quickly today. After breakfast I left town. Sisters ist cute as could be. Looks like an old western film in real life. Within a short time those mountains and forest behind me; I was entering a desert. Suddenly the air was dry, the sun was warm, and things got really hilly. I was constantly up and down and around curves.

I met a couple from Portland as they were doing a day tour by bike. They were super friendly and full of good advice. We watched the alpacas together for a bit while we talked.

Then I met nother couple later in the day. They were fishing. I think they said they were from Washington state. They were surprised I wasn't from the area and we had a long but funny chat about life and what led us to that moment in time. I think they were old hippies.

Today was the most miles I've done; Despite all the hills I was also faster than expected by a full hour. Now I'm chowing down on dinner and will get ready to sleep. Despite all the sunblock, the sun still drains all your energy. I don't have a single ache or pain in the muscles either.

Distance for the day: 50mi (80km)
Total distance: 253 mi (407km)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

TABT Days 5 & 6

Days 5 and 6 were awful. Everything started out fine. I met another biker, we biked together for a bit and then we parted way so I could eat breakfast. I had a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich that I believe was deep fried and then grilled in butter. Delicious! After breakfast, I hit the road again. About half an hour later I stop by the forest ranger station and asked if there was anything I need to be aware of. Oh there was a blizzard in the mountains last night? Oh they need 4 days to plow it? Oh that road is closed? Oh that's the road I'm supposed to take? Oh there's more routes I need to take later that they expect to still be closed and I'll have to take alternative routes for those too? Damn!

They tell me bikers do these "alternative routes" all the time. So I begin my way out that way.

I began "the climb" (photo of me at the 2000ft (610m) point. Not so bad, so I decided to continue on to the next camp site as I had only biked about 10 miles (16km). The next site would only take 2 hours to get to. On the way there, I lose ALL phone reception. Not even emergency call access.

I arrive, but it's closed.

So I decided to bike to the next one about 30 minutes away...also closed.

I bike to the next one which had an open gate and no closed sign...but the map said it didn't have drinkable water and I was out about an hour before and starting to get really thirsty.

I decided the next one would be best because it's got a convenience store and listed as having cabins. So I pull into the gate and notice I'm going to have to do a considerable climb down the road to get to it. After biking down 400ft (192m) I pull in front of the convenience store / cabin rental office. Nobody's in there and the door has a sign that says CLOSED. SUMMER HOURS 0800-1800. I glance at my phone and notice it says 6:25pm (18:25). MOTHER @#$_&-+()/*"

I began to feel the creep of despair. A girl walked across the parking lot and asked if I needed help. I told her I wanted to rent a cabin. Apparently the US government is more bureaucratic than the German government. You can't get one unless you reserve it 24 hours in advance. She suggests I go back to the one with no water, but to take 4L of water from there before I head over. SUCCESS! Or so I thought....

After climbing the huge hill again and then biking 3mi (5km) back downhill the way I just came from. I turn into the campground road and follow that road about 15 minutes as it's already getting dark. As I make the final turn for the campsite, I turn the corner but instead of a ranger I see a gate and a sign that says CAMPGROUND CLOSED. WTF? LIKE REALLY WTF? Words can't even express the level of despair I was at. So I climbed the gate with my bike and went to campsite #5. I put up my tent and threw​ in the sleeping bag. I began to cry because this was the most vulnerable I had ever felt; then fell asleep. The time was 8:30pm(20:30).

Around 12:30am (00:30) I was suddenly awoken to the sound of CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH outside my tent. I suddenly needed to pee. I layed there still, without making a sound. After about an hour of hearing nothing more, I finally used the bathroom and then layed back down. I was mostly in/out of sleep until my alarm went off at 4am(0400).

DAY 6 was finally here!! After the rough day, the day before, I decided I needed to start the day off with a positive outlook. So I bike up the mountain beyond the convenience store and have a coffee by the lake. I was in a good mood because the internet finally came back. So then I  start the trek up the 2000ft (610m) to the peak of the mountain.

Between my legs being weak, cars zooming by ever 5-15 seconds, breathing in only car exhaust, no shoulder, and the side of the road being a snow and lava rock mixture; I was not able to bike very far. I had to PUSH the bike up the @$_&-+*# mountain. All 19mi(30.5km). This took me about 8 hours. All the while, cars are still close to hitting me. And I'm having to walk through the snow/lava rock mixture, which provided no traction.

When I finally reach the peak of the mountain, I broke down in tears again because I knew I could fly down he mountain and be at my hotel in no time. Except that I had to ride the breaks the whole time because the cars were not moving over at all. Even on the downhill, I only had car exhaust to breathe in.

I'm finally at my hotel. I'm alive. I survived. THAT SAID... I need to ask the hive mind of the internet. Should I change my plans? Should I move off and try to find a different route that might be biker friendly until I get beyond Colorado? The only time I've enjoyed myself so far was on the Eugene/Springfield bike path, where I was in nature and not a busy highway.

Another option would be to rent a car and drive to different bike paths along the way and still bike my 40-60 miles every day until I get down to Colorado? It seems less genuine that I'm going across America, but I'd be happier and I'd still bike from Colorado and doing the full 4000miles (6400km).

Or am I just overreacting? Is this just the mind playing a trick on me because it's under so much stress? I know I'm in love with biking in general because my legs and stomach are HOT after just 1 week of biking this much. But I kept feeling like my leaving Berlin was final and I keep going back to that, every time I have a car zoom by.

If there wasn't going to be more alternative routes ahead, I'd think I was overreacting.

Distance for the day: 33mi (53km) and 35mi (56km)
Total distance: 203 mi (327km)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

TABT Day 4

After a day of rest on "day 3", I left bright and early because I knew today would be a long one. It was a beautiful bike ride along the river to get out of Eugene. I thought I was going to be clever and skip 4 miles by taking a short cut. Unfortunately there was no way I was biking that highway. So I took roads alongside​ the highway until it merged into the road I needed. Still ended up saving myself a hill and 2 miles. I have to count the small blessings on this trip.

Things were going pretty good until lunch. I had a small pizza and like 4 glasses of water. It had been raining just before I stopped, and by that point I was sore and tired from all the uphill against light headwind. After eating, I assumed I'd get a second wind. Unfortunately that never came. So I was only 2/3 the way there and exhausted.

After pedalling 54 miles total, I made it to the campsite. They don't have hiker/biker rates (I swear I saw it online for this campground), so I paid $20 for a place to crash. If none of the campgrounds have biker rates, I'm just getting hotels the rest of the way.

The situation I'm in actually feels dire when I think bout it. I'm just realizing that I'm not just putting my body through this stress, but also my mind. Not only having to push myself through the physical, but also all the day-to-day planning. The hardest part, so far, is that I'm limited on distance by the campgrounds. Tomorrow there will be tons, but today I felt helpless today having to go 50+ miles just to get to a campground (which might not be there or open). Today was probably the first rough day I've really encountered. I probably just need some sleep.

Distance for the day: 54mi (87km)
Total distance: 135 mi 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

TABT Day 2

It was hard to get going this morning because the arms, back, and legs were so sore. Like I probably would be under exaggerating to say it felt like I had watermelons inserted into my legs and then had them smashed with a hammer multiple times. I sat around making breakfast and coffee, while I lazily packed up camp. While cooking breakfast, I saw a bald eagle land in the tree across from my camp. It was a nice reminder as to why I'm putting my body through this.

After leaving the campsite, I biked around Triangle Lake. It was a nice and peaceful way to start the day.

The next town I hit was Blachly, where I sent home some of the extra stuff that I felt was overkill. That lightened my load a bit. Plus I didn't carry the additional 2 litres of water since I knew I'd make it to a city tonight. That also really helped. I walked out of the post office and was standing around out front and the woman working there ran out after me and handed me 10 postage paid postcards and told me I should write to my family and friends to let them know I'm ok. I told her I'd write to her along the way to let her know how the adventure is going. Such kindness! I'll also pay that act of kindness forward along the way.

Just after that, I reached the highest peak of the trip so far (1022ft/311.5m). It's 10% of what I have to do in Colorado, so I'm hoping my body is ready for that seeing as this little climb made me want to throw myself off the mountain so I wouldn't have to keep going upwards.

Finally on my way into Eugene, I made a wrong turn and noticed it 3 miles later. So I ended up having to cut across a super busy highway with no shoulder. Was super scary! Then there were about 7 miles of city biking, before making it to my hotel.

I'm going to stay here 2 nights. My muscles feel better today, but want to give them a break. Plus the next days see a climb to 5000ft (1524m). I want to be rested and relaxed, plus I'm slightly ahead of schedule anyways.

Distance for the day: 39mi (63km)
Total distance: 81 mi (131km)

Monday, May 15, 2017

TABT Day 1

I had my first full day on the bike. The day started out rainy and cold, but as I biked on the weather became pleasant.

It only took 10 minutes before biking out of Florence (the starting point) and another 2 hours to get to Mapleton, the next biggest town on the route for the day. The town is made up of a row of shops and a bus selling fish across the street. I decided to sit down and have lunch at a small diner. I ordered chicken strips and the woman gave me 1 extra to "really make sure I had energy to continue".

After my lunch break I biked roughly 3 more hours to the halfway point, a town called Swisshome​. This was the first moment I began to question everything. The last hour of biking, I must have taken a break every 5 minutes. After arriving to town I decided I'd had enough biking for the day (20 miles) and would ask the church if I could set up camp in their yard. Nobody answered so it became clear that I would need to continue biking to the next campground.

The next 20 miles were all uphill, against light headwind, after already being exhausted. At one point I got a second wind and made good progress, but that last 3 miles was painful. I finally made it to the campground, but it was still locked up for winter. With no way to call or use the internet, I decided I'd have to find something or break in to the campground.

Luckily to the left of the entrance was a path that led down to the water where I saw an old fire pit. I decided I'd have to set up camp there. The whole evening I was afraid that I'd get in trouble. The only uncomfortable moment was when a huge dog came by my camp and I was half expecting to be attacked and half expecting the owner to show up. Instead the dog jumped in the river and continued up to the lake and no owner ever appeared.

I ate a hot bowl of Ramen (and realized the suggested serving size is half the package, ha!) and then by 8pm I was sound asleep. Woke up a few times in the night but the camping gear was mostly comfortable enough (or I was so exhausted, I don't care)

Distance for the day: 42 mi (68km)
Total distance: 42 mi (68km)