August 8 – We Made It!

9 08 2009

Day 63:

WE MADE IT! Exactly two months after dipping our tires in the Atlantic we reached the pacific ocean. With the ocean just a few miles away (Bay View, Washington), Jake took off, while the rest of us were stopped, to ensure he would reach the ocean first. Zach and I weren’t going to let him have it that easily so we sprinted off in an attempt to catch him. No luck though. I saw him turn the corner and run to the water before I reached the beach. It’s okay he can have those bragging rights…I still made it to the top of every mountain pass first! More importantly though, after nine weeks of biking, and only two full days off, we successfully rode from New Castle, New Hampshire to Anacortes, Washington.

It seemed like just another day of riding when we woke up in our tents, packed our gear, and started out on the 14 mile ride to breakfast in Marblemount (yesterday’s original destination). It was pretty cloudy, but we enjoyed the break from the heat. After a buffet breakfast at the Marblemount Dinner, we stocked up on drinks, and headed out with a long day ahead of us. For once the ride was mostly downhill and flat so we were making great time. By staying on Highway 20 we saved ourselves a few miles. Just before lunch in Concrete, Zach had yet another flat tire…a pinch flat after hitting a large rock. With only two tubes left, we replaced that one and hoped to make it through the day without any more flats, but Dad’s rear wheel was on it’s last legs, and the tire cord was showing through. After lunch in Concrete (crazy to think of how many of these little town diners we have eaten in over the last 9 weeks) we were back on highway 20 for a while. With another uneventful 20 miles behind us, we spotted a DQ and couldn’t pass up the opportunity… so we enjoyed a little ice cream before our final 20 miles. We were off the main road, riding on rough county farm roads once again. As we neared the end, we climbed one very steep hill and with Jake right beside me I knew he was scheming. And after a quick rest stop, he took off for his victory. When we all caught up, and touched the ocean for the first time, we found the bike trail into Anacortes…our final 10 miles. After 85 miles, we finally arrived at the Anaco Inn for the night, where we were very pleasantly surprised by our two room villa! We enjoyed some pizza and relaxing (real relaxing…no worries about tomorrow’s ride!) and headed to bed…very excited to sleep in! Tomorrow we will formally dip our tires before leaving the bikes at the bike shop to be shipped home, while we head to Seattle and await our flight home on Tuesday!

It’s hard to believe we are finally done! Thanks to everyone we met along the way, and those at home keeping close tabs on us the whole way!

Maggie





August 7

8 08 2009

Day 62:

After a wonderful sleep in the Country Inn and a great big breakfast we were off to tackle our final mountain pass. We did not get very far past the general store before the EXPLOSION! Jake’s rear tire, already extremely bald from all this riding, tore right through and the tube popped. Luckily, we had a replacement tire, so we were able to replace the tube and the tire before continuing on our 20-mile climb. The sun was out and it was getting hot. As usual, we took our time getting to the top, stopping every five miles to regroup and have a quick snack break. The climb got much steeper as we neared the top, and Dad and I stopped with about 3 miles to the top to load up on snowballs and waited for the others to arrive! With the final hairpin turn is sight we headed for the top. Up around the corner, I looked over the edge and saw the others not too far behind. Finally, the sign was in sight and we had reached the top…Washington Pass: Elevation 5477 feet. Turning around, we saw a sign that read “7% grade – Next 7 miles” …we had just climbed it! We decided to knock off the last mountain pass before lunch, so we cruised down 3 steep miles and climbed the last 2 to the top of Rainy Pass: Elevation 4855 feet. With no services available for the whole day, we stopped for lunch at the Rainy Pass Picnic Area where we enjoyed lunch of Ramen Noodles, crackers and peanut butter, freeze dried chicken teriyaki, gummy worms, and whatever else we had left. With the rest of the
day a guaranteed downhill we were eager to make quick work of the next 50 or so miles. We cruised down the mountain, surrounded by the gorgeous views, for a little while but were soon slowed by the wind. We really can’t catch a break! The wind was incredible. It was actually blowing us over, and we turned around to find that it would actually push us up the hill…where was that while we were climbing? The view over the turquoise lakes was still spectacular as we worked our way down the mountain. We definitely we not making the time we had hoped for, as we had anticipate cruising at 20 mph for 50 miles. With the wind picking up, we hurried to the nearest town as it was nearing dark. Through two tunnels and down a hill we arrived at the Newhalen county store just before closing. We quickly munched on some sandwiches for dinner and stocked up on snacks for the night. It was clear we weren’t going to reach or original destination, so we headed one mile down the road to a State Park campground where we set up just before the last of the sunlight disappeared. Having fallen14 miles short we have a long day ahead of us if we still plan to finish tomorrow…so we are in our tents and ready for bed. Must rest up for our final day as we plan to arrive in Anacortes, Washington tomorrow night!

Maggie





August 6

7 08 2009

Day 61:

Beneath cloudy skies we left Okanogan to tackle our second to last mountain pass. After stocking up on drinks and topping off the tires with air at the bike shop (creatively named “The Bike Shop”), we were back on highway 20. It was hot already, and we began our climb with a very steep hill. Eventually, it evened out a bit, but we were still climbing. Tired already, we welcomed a short break to talk to Tom Pitts, a local agricultural consultant and rancher who allowed us sample his fresh picked cherries. They were great! I think I could have eaten them all day…thanks Tom!! We certainly took our time on the way up to Loop Loop Pass. Don’t let the name fool you, this was a very legitimate mountain pass, harder than yesterday’s climb but not as difficult as Sherman pass. After climbing 3000 plus feet over 20 miles, I reached the elevation sign, and was surprised by the gradual final mile to the top. I waited for the others to begin the 12 mile decent into Twisp. We flew down the hill, over 30 mph for sure! After a very late lunch at the Pub, was very filling, and gave us enough energy for the final 23 miles. We began to climb again, as the ride to Mazama is just the beginning of tomorrow’s final mountain pass. Riding late in the day, we saw tons of deer throughout the rolling hills. Of course we finished the day with some big hills and finally arrived at the Country Inn to warm showers and comfy beds. Our trip home is finalized as we will finish Saturday and are forced to hold off till tuesday to fly home due to our last minute reservations….so we will be in Seattle for a few days. We are off to bed to rest up for our final mountain pass tomorrow and our second to last day of riding…wow!

Maggie





August 5

6 08 2009

Day 60:

Today was hot! If you have windchill in the winter do you have
windwarm in the summer? The southerly wind started with a vengence at
noon and it was like riding into a blast furnace. We were told the temp
topped out at 108.

The temp was a fact during the day but did not become a factor as we
banged out another mountain pass (Wacaunda pass ) where we had
another young bear cross our path.

Once over the pass, we entered the desert like terrain of the area
east of the cascades. Very dry with limited vegetation.

We met a few fellow travelers today, one guy from Rhode Island who
started the week before us and a family from Calgary. The Calgarians
are were a family of 5 and the kids looked to be about 7,6,5. They are
riding a tandem and a triple. They are taking a year to do the west
coast. My hat is off to those guys riding their rigs through the
mountains.

After 41 miles and a quick flat repair for Jake, we arrived in
Tonasket for lunch. We have had number of flats lately. I attribute
this to the very hot temps and tires that are becoming very worn. We
should probably have rotated tires earlier in the game.

We battled the inferno to Okanagon. After a total of 70 plus
miles completed we enjoyed a swim in the pool before a late
dinner.

Brian





August 4

4 08 2009

Day 59:
I need to start this by taking back what I said after climbing Logan Pass – that was not the hardest thing I have ever done. Today we climbed Sherman Pass in Washington, the first of the Cascades. We set out from Kettle Falls with extra frozen water, G2 and snacks for what we expected to be a fairly difficult climb. That is the understatement of the trip. As we started up, Jake and I passed a road worker who asked if we were heading for Republic. When I answered “yes”, his reply was “it’s only going to get much worse before it gets better”. I thanked him very much, coming just shy of calling him a jerk. The climb at the beginning was pretty standard, although not the switchback style of Logan. Mostly, long, gradual climbs. The temperature warmed up very quickly so we were going through our water supply steadily. About a third of the way up, Maggie had a broken spoke so we stopped for a quick repair. Traffic was not too bad although we saw plenty of logging trucks, which was a bit of a surprise. Fortunately, they were coming down the hill so didn’t bother us too much. We met a few other bikers, one gentleman who had just started his eastward journey to Bar Harbour a week ago. He let us know we had our work cut out for us on the upward climb as he happily glided downhill.

Brian, Maggie and Zach had the lead with Jake hanging back with me – thanks Jake. With about 7 miles to go, Jake and I met up with the others at a nice little bridge turnout close enough to a creek. Great place to wade in the water and even dunk our heads to cool off. The water felt great. We set off for the final climb but it didn’t get any easier. I found myself stopping to rest about every half mile – sorry I slowed you down Jake. Brian stopped every so often to make sure that Jake and I were not too far behind before continuing on with Maggie and Zach. As Jake and I finally saw the sign for the Scenic Overlook, a driver with an rv came down the hill and shouted “almost there!” – music to our ears. Jake and I pulled into the overlook but saw no sign of the others. We checked out the area and decided that they must have gone a bit farther down the road. We should have known – we weren’t quite at the top. Another half mile brought us to the very top as evidenced by the elevation sign and the steep grade sign we love to see. 5500 ft! Everyone was laying down by the information map – good idea. We were all out of water so just rested before heading down the glorious downhill. Before we left, Brian called the Northern Inn and booked us in for the night. It was obvious we weren’t going to get any farther than Republic today. Some of the more optimistic had grand thoughts of getting two passes done today. Oh how wrong they were.

The kids headed down ahead of Brian and I (I think they may have broken some speed limits on the way down). Brian and I chose the more gradual pace using our brakes regularly. I tried not to worry too much about the kids ahead of us. The ten miles went by very fast and we arrived just outside of Republic and stopped for a late lunch. When the waitress found out we had just climbed the pass, her reply was “I think all you bikers are nuts”. The food was great and we soon re-hydrated and re-fueled. I must confess, I almost fell asleep at the table.

Three miles later, with the obligatory final hills (ugh!) we arrived at the Northern Inn, a very nice motel. Some ice for my knees and a glorious shower and I felt a bit revived. I napped while the rest caught up on their Internet stuff. Now, Brian and the kids are down the street at the market getting some snacks and drinks for tonight and tomorrow. Time to get our “Family Guy” fix for the night (never though I would be saying that!) I don’t remember when I was this tired. Tomorrow’s climb won’t be nearly as high and I certainly hope the hills are not quite as long. Wish us luck.

Carolyn





August 3

4 08 2009

Day 58:

After seeing the elevation map of Washington State, some of us were a little nervous when we got started in the morning. Fifteen miles into the ride everything seemed to be going well except for the heat that was starting to get to us (Upwards of 95 degrees), but of course around the next corner was a very steep hill, and then another one, and another one. It was almost like Vermont/New York all over again. We all were breathing heavily at the top of each hill making us take breaks much more frequently than we usually would. We managed to climb almost 20 miles without a single downhill before we got to the actual top of the mountain (4400 ft above sea level). The final hill to the top of the mountain seemed a lot easier than the rest probably because we all could see the 6% Grade for 8 Miles sign at the top. The 8 miles downhill did not seem nearly long enough, but thankfully it put us right into the middle of Chewelah, a decent sized town where we eagerly found a place to eat a very late lunch (4:00 pm!). As we were heading out of Chewelah we stopped at the grocery store nearby to fill up our water bottles for the 40 miles ahead of us (And it was past 4 o’clock). With about 14 miles to go until we got to Kettle Falls, Zach managed to get yet another flat tire (Maybe Tracker isn’t the only blind one in the house). We have changed flats so many times by now that we were able to make quick work of this one and finish our ride without any more problems. We have two passes to climb tomorrow so hopefully we can get the good night sleep we need and a filling breakfast in the morning as we get that much closer to finishing our trip.

Only the best

Jake





August 2

3 08 2009

Day 57:

After spending two whole weeks in Montana it is hard to believe that we spent just one day in Idaho. We finished a long day yesterday in true Montana fashion, complete with hills, heat (103 degrees!), and even a little wind and enjoyed a good night’s rest next to the grazing cows (who need to learn to chew with their mouths closed!) on the hotel lawn. A quick breakfast next door got us going and we took off towards Sandpoint, ID. It was another very hot day (high 90’s) so we were happy to have the breeze off Lake Pend Oreille, as we cruised along beside it for most of the morning. As we neared Sandpoint, we began to feel a little less “in the middle of nowhere.” After quick stop at the local bike store to check our tire pressures, we went in search of lunch. While eating outside we chatted with a few locals, who were able to suggest an alternate route for tomorrow and recommend that we take a short break at the beach down the road. That we could not pass up! So after refueling, we made a short trip to the city beach where we enjoyed an extended lunch break and ice cream! While there, we ran into a few other bikers and happily traded stories. We all would have liked to stay for the rest of the afternoon, but with 34 miles ahead of us the bikes were calling. A great bike trail lead us out of the city and back onto the main highway. But for some reason we never seem to make great time on these kinds of trails…and a flat tire slowed us down a little as well. While on the bridge out of town, a small shard of glass punctured Zach’s rear tire and we made quick work of the repair. The afternoon was a hilly ride along the lake and we began to feel the afternoon heat. With about 8 miles to go, Dad was victim to the second flat of the day…this time his front tire. We found some shade and cold drinks and went to work on replacing the tube. In doing so, we realized that we only have two spare tubes left, so some patching is definitely in order. As usual, we managed to stretch even our shorter days into longer ones. We crossed into Washington and were disappointed to see the “Welcome to Washington” sign absent opposite its Idaho counterpart. The closest gas station provided some much needed drinks, and air for the tires. McDonalds looked like the only option for dinner, so we headed over there…some of us a little less excited than others. Finally we made it to the hotel…though I am not sure were the day went…it’s almost 8 o’clock! Tomorrow we will see our first glimpses of the Cascades as we begin to tackle our final map, and our final state!

Maggie





August 1

1 08 2009

Day 56:

Goodbye Montana!! I say with great enjoyment that we are no longer in Montana. North Dakota and Montana (except for the rockies) were the most PLAIN stretch of country I’ve ever seen. We were welcomed into Idaho with a more conservative speed limit (55mph) as opposed to Montana’s speed limit of 70mph. Today’s ride took us 70 miles from Libby the small town of Clark Fork, Idaho. There were a few hills but nothing we can’t handle. And of course we saw a few bikers including a man who is en route to Bar Harbour, Maine.

When we got into Clark Fort the nice people at the motel in town let us camp on their lawn and use the shower facilties. Thanks to Bob and Freda for the hospitality. We would of preferred to stay in the motel but it was full up. Thanks to those good folks! Tomorrow should take us 64 or so miles into New Port, WA, where we will look ahead to the Cascades.

It’s weird to think that our trip is almost complete…

Zach





July 31

1 08 2009

Day 55:

Spectacular. That is the only word to describe today’s ride. I am ahead of myself however as spectacular also describes the massive thunder and lightening storm we watched as we camped last evening (for free! ) at the Frontier Campground in Rexford, MT.

Shortly after settling in for the night the rain began in earnest and the show began. The sky was live for about 45 minutes. During the ensuing downpour, we heard the sounds of others setting up camp next door to us. In the morning we awoke to a little village of tents all around us.

After our camp breakfast (thanks to Linda, Leyton and Alex for the hot coffees) we started out for Libby under a brilliant sun in a cloudless sky. A short distance form the campground we crossed the Koocanusa Lake Bridge and traveled carless route 228 along the spectacular shoreline of the glacial blue lake. No cars also means there were no services on this route and our regular snack stops were absent today. As a result, the lack of both a substantial lunch and robust breakfast took their toll on our energy levels. There is no denying that today’s 70 miles were some of the most grueling of the trip but also among the most beautiful. We enjoyed our lunch on a high promontory overlooking the lake and an Osprey nest compete with 3 young and very noisy birds.

At the end of route 228 we stopped at the Libby Dam (this dam created the lake) and got some badly needed refreshments at the visitor center. The rangers on duty told us that we were just 3 and ¼ down hill miles from food at the River Bend Restaurant and Saloon. We all felt better after having a meal and realized once again what a small world it is as our server (Rita Ouellette) is originally from Dover, NH. This week we also met people from Concord and Epping.

We were about to start out on highway 37 for the 14 mile ride to Libby when a local mountain biker Damon suggested on alternate route. Thank you Damon. We enjoyed a carless ride on the shady side of the river to Libby and checked into the Venture Motel where we were rejuvenated by the hot tub.

Brian





July 30

1 08 2009

Day 54:

After a very enjoyable stay at the Pine Lodge in Whitefish, we woke fairly early and grabbed a quick breakfast and set off. The road was fairly rolling with still some nice downhills. At Olney, we had a nice snack at the local mercantile and then headed off in the direction of Eureka. With Fortine only 22 miles away, we decided that would be our lunch destination. The local bar/saloon/café was soon spotted, right on the golf course, which made for a nice spot for a few minutes in the shade after lunch. By then it was quite hot. Not sure if we should make Eureka our final destination (20 miles away) or go on to Rexford, we set off debating the pros and cons of each. Eureka had motels and Rexford had campgrounds. You know which way the boys were voting. I was of the mind to get a few extra miles in today so tomorrow would not be too long. I find I function best when the mileage is around 70 or less. Arriving in Eureka late in the afternoon, we called the two motels. Again, we were faced with a dilemma. One had wifi but no cots, the other had cots but no wifi. Also, the price was a bit steep. The only other consideration was the weather, which was calling for scattered thunderstorms possibly. Not fun if we camped. We grabbed some cold drinks while deciding what to do. Finally, we decided to go the extra 7 miles to Rexford and camp near the marina.

Just one mile down the road, we had a quick rain shower (the boys were not amused) but it quickly passed. Then, Jake who was behind me, shouted “flat tire”. I yelled to Brian and Zach and Maggie who were ahead of us but they did not hear. So, Jake called Zach on his phone and had a truck flag down Brian to tell him to come back and help fix the flat. In the meantime, Jake and I took his wheel off and waited. (Brian has the tools after all) The local sheriff stopped to make sure we were ok and then Brian and the others arrived back up a hill. The tire was changed in record time and off we went.

Of course, there was a big hill entering Rexford and we soon found ourselves at the Frontier RV Park. Brian entered the Bar and Grill and inquired where we should set up camp. The manager was not around, so the girls in the bar just told us to set up on a nearby grassy patch around the corner. We set up camp and headed over to the bar for a great dinner of chicken and salad. The bar also has a shower, so after dinner we took turns cleaning up. Pretty good set up for a bar. As I write this sitting in the tent, Brian and the kids are visiting with the people next to us in an airstream trailer. They are from Cranbrook, BC. I saw several other BC plates in the park. Lots of stories being told.

Tomorrow, we head off to Libby where Brian has already booked us into a nice motel, complete with pool and hot tub. Should only have 60 miles tomorrow so we’ll hope the rain doesn’t continue into the day. Time for sleep.

Carolyn





July 29

29 07 2009

Day 53:
The night in the cabin was nice! It was so nice that we didn’t end up leaving the West Glacier KOA until almost 11:00am. We enjoyed a downhill ride out of the campground and just as we got to the bottom a group of three on touring bikes passed by us. Almost immediately after seeing these guys go by us a group of about 15 bikers flew by us on racing bikes… I wonder if we could go that fast without our gear? There was no catching them. However we were able to catch up to the smaller group. Of three. After catching up to them we discovered they have quite a bit of experience in the biking field. Check out the adventures at http://www.bikebums.com (I love the domain haha). My (Zach) and Jake’s bike needed some repairs so when we arrived in Whitefish (only 30 miles from West Glacier) the bike store was the fist order of business. Apparently my bike has different sized spokes in it.. that’s not good. Well they are still in there because we would’ve had to have my entire rear wheel rebuilt which we don’t have time for and with about ten days to the finish line (even though it’s not a race.. until the last day!) During lunch we made our hotel reservations. I had our first hotel lined up where I had to struggle to negotiate the foldaway bed. As Jake I walked to the hotel Maggie, Dad, and Mom road ahead of us and checked out the hotel. Needless to say the place smelled like CRAP. We passed on that dump. The Pine Lodge right across the street was more than accommodating and is one of the nicer places we stayed at an affordable rate. Dinner took us to a happening spot where we enjoyed large servings of lasagna.

30 miles, and a poolside afternoon + DQ for desert, makes for a pretty easy day.

I’m going to miss the rockies as we head further West… but I am sure excited that were getting closer to finishing the trip.

Zach





July 28

29 07 2009

Day 52:

Logan Pass, 6646 ft above sea level… done!

With our biggest climb ahead of us, we woke up early with hopes of sunny skies. The forecast for the afternoon wasn’t great, but with blue sky all around we decided the ride was a go. After packing up and enjoying a pancake breakfast at the KOA, we headed two miles down the road to the entrance of Glacier National Park in Saint Mary, Montana. We paid the daily fee and began to ride the “Going to the Sun Road” leading us to the top of Logan Pass, along the continental divide. Anxious (some more nervous than others) and excited, we had been thinking about this ride through the Rockies for almost the entire trip. With seventeen miles to the pass, we headed out beneath clear skies. The first five miles went by quickly, and were not much of a climb. In fact, we actually rode downhill a few times. Usually we would welcome the down-hills, however, with two thousand feet to the pass, we knew going down was only going to make things harder. Finally, after turning the corner and seeing our first hairpin turn we began to climb. Stopping often to take in the gorgeous scenery, and rest of course, we took our time going up. The climb was surprisingly gradual, compared to the mountains we tackled in Vermont and New York. With just a few miles to the pass, the dark clouds moved in quickly, and the rain began. We took shelter along the side of the road (people driving by took pictures of us!) until the storm passed, then put on extra layers and continued on. But not to long after putting the layers on, the sun broke through, and we had to stop and remove them. We continued alongside the beautiful waterfalls, beneath the rock overhangs, and around corner after corner. Finally, with the visitor’s center in sight, we turned the last sharp corner and climbed to the top. Just before getting their we received a little encouragement from a family we met last night at the KOA, who were riding down in a tour bus. We had reached the top of Logan Pass, and the continental divide. Eager to sit down and eat our lunch, we parked ourselves outside the visitor’s center and plowed through almost all the food we brought..Jake’s panniers are surely getting lighter. After admiring the view from the top, we layered up for the 32 mile decent, and took off down other side off the 6.5 percent grade “Going to the Sun Road.” Immediately, we spotted the wildlife we had been waiting for, in the form of white mountain goats. We flew down the mountain, around the very sharp turns overlooking the valley and snow covered mountains. The view was spectacular and we were very happy to have traveled westward and saved the best for last! More importantly, Dad was happy to be able to ride on the inside of the road, as his fear of heights is not a good match for small guardrail and steep drop-off into the gorge. Also, there was a good deal of road construction on the way down, something we would not have wanted while climbing. We enjoyed cruising along effortlessly (though using our brakes a lot) and enjoying the vast expanse of mountains, above, below, and beside us. Determined to have a snowball fight in July, we stopped at the first sign of reachable snow to hurl it at one another. We continued our decent, until reaching the Lake McDonald Lodge for and early dinner. The food (and dessert of course) was great! We attempted to make reservations at multiple motels, but they were all full so we set our sights on the West Glacier KOA, 14 miles away. We continued descending the “Going to the Sun Road” around the gorgeous turquoise lakes and streams, until reaching west glacier and climbing the one mile hill to the campground. It’s not a complete day if we don’t end with a hill! Dad surprised us with a cabin for the night (though I am convinced he is just afraid of the bears) and we are happy to have a roof over our heads. A short soak in the hot tub for our legs, and warm showers felt great after a long day. Proud of our day’s accomplishments, we are getting settled in for the night. We look forward to making quick work of the rest of Montana!

As embarrassed as I am to do so, I feel compelled to end today’s post with a quote from the song I had stuck in my head all day…

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb!

Maggie





July 27

28 07 2009

Day 51:

We awoke to a beautiful sunny morning in Waterton National Park. Waterton is often referred to as the most beautiful of the national parks and we can certainly see why. We started out today with a ride through the village among the deer / elk and along the lake surrounded by majestic mountains. Truly an inspiring sight. Leaving the village we stopped for breakfast at the Prince of Wales Hotel, which sits high on a hill overlooking Waterton Village. We enjoyed an incredible view from our breakfast table.

After a substantial breakfast and requisite pictures we started to climb. We climbed for most of the day and followed the Chief Mountain International Highway across the border back into the US. A couple driving in the opposite direction stopped to advise us of mother and baby bear a few hundred yards ahead. However, when we arrived they had disappeared. During a trip today though we saw even more cattle as they roamed freely through the mountain forest and on the highway, which was traversing an Indian Reservation. We got a few laughs watching the cows react to various comments.

Continuing our climb, we arrived at a scenic overlook with a commanding view of Chief Mountain. Maggie correctly translated “scenic overlook” to mean “ downhill from this point on” and with few exceptions we cruised swiftly down the highway to a late lunch (4:00 PM) in Babb, Montana. We then traveled the few remaining miles to Saint Mary, our destination for the night, which is located at the entrance of the “Going to the Sun Road”. We are camping on the St. Mary River at a beautiful KOA with a wonderful hot-tub and pool which we welcomed after our day of climbing through the Rockies under brilliant sunshine. Our “biker tans” sparked numerous conversations from strangers who ask what we have been doing to have such “unusual and dramatic” tans.

Late night Pizza and numerous other snacks and we need to get well rested for our climb to Logan Pass in the morning.

Brian





July 26

26 07 2009

Day 50:

With cloudy days forecasted for the weekend, we decided to add a day to ensure better weather once we reach Glacier National Park (we have been told it is well worth the wait) and to avoid weekend traffic. So we planned two shorter days before the BIG climb; to veer off the route towards Waterton, Alberta today, and then head south to Glacier tomorrow.

We all took advantage of the short day ahead to sleep in and enjoy a late breakfast (though it took a much longer than anticipated). We didn’t leave Cardston until close to 11 o’clock, but were eager to knock out today’s forty miles. With the Rocky Mountains visible behind the clouds, we continued to climb the gradual hills, interspersed with some nice down-hills too. We cruised through the first 15 or so miles, winding around the farms and green mountain sides…a great ride! Zach and I stopped outside a general store, and waited for the others. Having broken my second spoke on the way down the previous hill we went to work on the quick repair before grabbing snacks inside. From there we headed out for the last 18 miles to Waterton Lakes National Park. Our ride was briefly interrupted by thunder and lighting, so we pulled over and took shelter under our bike/tarp fort. We waited it out then continued on, just as the rain began to really pour and the thunder picked up…and the cows went crazy. The storm didn’t last long, but the dark clouds lingered over the mountains as we approached the park. Upon arrival, we climbed up to the beautiful Cameron Lake and then coasted downhill into the village. Even with the cloudy skies, the mountains were very impressive, and we can’t wait till the storms pass and the skies clear…hopefully tomorrow! We arrived in the village around 3 o’clock to deer casually walking the streets and wandering about in front of the hotel. We checked in to our room, cleaned up, and headed into town for an early dinner. The food and the view at the Bayside Inn was fantastic! We wandered around town for a bit then headed back to the room for a relaxing night. Tomorrow’s short ride to the base of Logan Pass will allow us to begin exploring the Rockies and preparing for the big climb.

Maggie





July 25

26 07 2009

Day 48:

Knowing we had our first real “uphill” day since New Hampshire and Vermont and there was actually nothing between Cut Bank and Cardston, we got an early start because of the day ahead of us. After a good breakfast we started our trek towards Alberta, Canada. We made quick work of the first 15 miles because of the little wind we had to fight, but once again Zach had to slow us down. Pulling over to the side of the road we learned Zach had not one, but two broken spokes, I think he’s broken more than me by now. The four of us quickly fixed the spokes (Maggie was up ahead because her ipod was way to loud and she couldn’t hear us calling her) and got back to what we have been doing for 48 days, biking. Stopping at the 30 mile marker we had a quick snack and then continued the rest of the 8 miles we needed to cross the border.

Talk about a welcome to Canada! The two border agents pointed us to a shaded grassy spot for our picnic lunch (we had a 73 mile stretch of no services today ) and called the US agents to let them know that it was OK for us to lunch in “no-mans land”. Apparently there is a 10 foot wide strip of land on either side of the border that does not belong to either the US or Canada but is the responsibility of the “International Border Commission”. The agents also kindly filled our water bottles and took our picture in front of the “Welcome to Alberta” sign.

The great road and riding conditions … NO WIND … smooth pavement … only 20 cars over 73 miles … brilliant sunshine … 70 – 80 temps … started in Cut Bank and continued on our climb into Canada and the Rockies. Our real Canadian welcome came near the end of our ride as we neared our destination of Cardston, Alberta. We stopped to chat with 90 year old Dr. BJ Larson riding his bike on his “regular” 12 miles loop. It was a pleasure to chat with him on the road and a wonderful surprise when a called our hotel room a few hours later and then came to visit bringing with him some wonderful cookies baked by his wife Lois. We all enjoyed the chance to chat with the Doctor and needless to say the cookies were gone in no time. Dr. Larson is a great Ambassador for Cardston and provided a great welcome to Canada. It was our privilege to get to know him.

We had a great view of Chief Mountain as we entered Cardston this afternoon and are looking forward Waterton Village tomorrow.

Jake & Brian





July 24

24 07 2009

Day 47:

Today was an unplanned half day. We started the trek heading west with the notion that we would be in Cardston, Alberta tonight. What we thought would be a nice 100 mile run turned into a slow crawl as we began our ride. We had expected easterly winds to push us up the mountains but we ran into exactly the opposite. After making it 16 miles we felt the rain coming (very dark clouds in the west) and with the wind so fierce we were forced to stop on the side of the road. Moving all our bikes together in a circle we created a barricade like structure where we took shelter for a while. Dad, Maggie and Jake even took out their sleeping bags and made themselves comfortable. When the rain started pouring we took out our tent ground sheets and tarps and quickly went to work constructing a ceiling. We spent the rest of the storm in the comfort of our make shift fort… sitting 10 feet away from the highway. When the storm finally passed we made our way into Cut Bank where we saw the rocky mountains equipped with snow and all for the first time this trip, and the first time ever for most of us. The wind today is too much to handle and on top of that we are all pretty tired. Once in Cutbank, the team took our lunch and during this time we decided to stay the night. There is a 73 mile stretch of NOTHING on the climb to Cardston so making any further progress today was out of the question. Tomorrow we begin our adventure into the rocky mountains! For me this is the most exciting part of the trip as the landscape thus far has been rather dull (speak for yourself zach!) Mom and Dad are stocking up at the grocery store for our long day tomorrow as we won’t have any services until we reach Cardston, and the rest of us are watching TV, reviewing the maps, and uploading our pictures.

Cheers
Zach





July 23

24 07 2009

Day 46:

Sleeping under the stars, without the rain fly was a great idea! With the cool breeze, we enjoyed a great night’s sleep, especially those of us who managed to sleep through the train whistles. We woke up to the sun rising beside our tents, and quickly packed up our gear alongside Sue, who was doing the same. She headed back to Mike’s Bar for breakfast, and we followed soon after. After polishing off some microwaveable breakfast sandwiches while sharing info with Sue, we headed off in opposite directions. It was nice to get an early start to the day but after just twelve miles the heat and the sun had caught up once again. We found a small bar in Inverness to refuel on drinks and snacks, and get out of the hot morning sun. The wind began to shift to the North (crosswinds for us) late in the morning and we made better time along highway two until reaching Chester for lunch after twenty-six miles. We enjoyed our Subway lunch and stocked up on drinks for the next forty miles, through small towns with no services. Though another hot afternoon, we were thankful for the diminishing wind, and managed to cruise along in the afternoon. After another twelve miles, Zach and I found shade beside some large farm silos where we waited for the others to arrive. When you’re really hot and need some shade you realize that there are absolutely no trees here in Montana. I guess that why they call their “gophers” ground squirrels. After another ten miles a small maintenance shop was a very nice surprise, for cold drinks and cool AC. Anxious to get to our destination we made good time on the last twenty miles. There were plenty of trains to keep it interesting and even some nice downhill stretches. Coasting was a nice change from working against the wind on the down hills. Finally we made a long descent into Shelby, MT where we headed through town to the Comfort Inn…which is of course is at the top of a hill! Showers, laundry, and dinner down the hill, finished off a seventy-mile day. With northeasterly winds forecasted for tomorrow, we will try to take advantage of the tailwind and log some bigger miles. We are hoping for great weather as we approach Glacier National Park in the next few days!

Maggie





July 22

23 07 2009

Day 45:

As I write this, we are camping in the town park at Hingham, MT. I had a feeling I had overextended myself doing yesterday’s 95 miles into Chinook but was game to try 80 today. We had a great start to the morning (after repairing Zach’s umpteenth broken spoke at the hotel. We set out for Havre where there was a bike store and zoomed through the 21 miles there in an hour and three quarters. After leaving Zach’s and Brian’s bikes at the bike store (Brian minor gear problem) we walked over to a bar and grill for lunch (no bread so sandwiches were not an option). Bikes were done when we finished eating so headed out for Chester, another 60 miles. Unfortunately, the wind had turned and the day had heated up greatly. We gamely set off having to stop and re-hydrate every ten miles.

Stopped in a very very small town of Kremlin where our maps said there was a gas station. It turned out to be just pumps with a drink machine out front which we didn’t have enough dollar bills. Fortunately, the owner was there (Neil McCormack) and invited us into his office building where he raided his son’s fridge for us for drinks and even gave us some dollar bills to use the machine. Neil has 14,000 acres of wheat which is just about to be harvested. He was kind enough to let us stay and cool off out of the sun for as long as we wanted (some of us wanted to pitch the tent right there). However, we headed out again in the sun and realized soon after that we were probably not going to have the energy to get to Chester where Zach had booked us into a very nice B & B. We stopped after another 10 miles at the town of Guildford. As we turned into the main road, a car pulled up and a very nice woman informed us that the general store was just down the road where we could get more cold drinks and snacks (she and her husband owned it).

Off we went and ended up in the Guildford Mercantile, a very old business now run by Laura and Ted (sorry, didn’t get the last name). They have quite a story about originally living in California and, due to some major health scares, decided to make some major life changes and ended up packing up the family and moving to Guildford where they bought the Mercantile. Very nice people. Laura treated us to freeze pops and went on line to print out the weather and wind forcasts for the next several days. They had some great information about our upcoming miles to Glacier. One of the things Laura told us about was Hingham, just sixe miles down the road (although at that point, six miles seemed like a lot). She called Mike at the local bar and grill and obtained his hours and the information about camping in the town park. (sprinkler system operates on odd and even dates – one side gets it then the other). Also, Mike has showers available (most of the time for the harvest workers) but anyone can pay $3 for a shower. So, we bid goodbye to Laura and Ted and headed off where we enjoyed a nice meal and some great conversation with everyone at the happening spot. Ran into Sue (www.afterphdbeforetenuretrack.blogspot.com) who is traveling alone going east on her bike. She is also camping here at the park and we’ve had some laughs sharing stories. Zach had an interesting chat with a gentleman from South Africa who spends 7 months out of the year traveling the countryside working at a farm hand and sending the money home to his wife and children. You never know who you’re going to ended up talking to on this trip.

So, here we are and everyone else is tucked into their sleeping bags except me. It is a beautiful night with a light breeze blowing so the vote was for flies off the tents to fully enjoy the sleeping outside experience. And thus ends the day. Goodnight.

Carolyn





July 21

22 07 2009

Day 44:

I am very impressed with the resilience and determination of each family member. After a couple of demoralizing days of battling strong winds we caught a break today. We were not so lucky as to get a tail wind but we had the second best thing … an almost windless day.

Everyone rose to the challenge as we pounded out 95 miles under sunny skies and in high 80 degree temps. 68 of these miles were after lunch! I have given up trying to get the kids on the road early. Even the argument that the winds are lighter in the morning does not budge them.

Carloyn impressed me ( yet again ) by staying with the pack all day. A century a couple of days ago and now 95. Not bad for a newbie.

We got spaced out a bit this morning and shortly after Zach, Maggie and I pulled over a couple of couple ( we would later learn they were Greg and Jane of Minneapolis ) pulled up in their car to say that a young man ( Jake ) was a ways back and had some kind of problem. They said that they had spoken to Carolyn on their way by and they kindly offered to drive me back the couple of miles to Jake. I collected my tools and went back to meet up with Jake and repair what turned out to be a flat tire. Resourceful Jake had taken his panniers off his bike and was carrying his bike on one shoulder as he walked west carrying his panniers. Many thanks to Greg and Jane for your help. Your timely stop and kindness were a big part of us getting our miles in today. I hope you enjoy your time in Glacier and safe travels back to Minneapolis.

I am not normally bothered by mosquitoes but they grow them really big and aggressive here in Montana. Their swarming today resulted in a record time for what has become Zach’s daily spoke replacement. This would actually be his first of 2 broken spokes today.

We have now passed through a couple of Indian reservations and have learned and seen of some of the challenges facing these people. We had the pleasure of meeting Gerald on the Fort Belknap reservation today and enjoyed our discussion and his hospitality.

As we now see more trains than cows, I have replaced my mooing at the cows with getting the train engineers to blow their whistles. They are very obliging and I can’t help but wonder if it s the same engineers who are traveling with us across the country.

Easterly winds are forecast at least for the morning…..think the kids will be up?

Travel points:

Breakfast: OB’s cafe in Saco. It was like watching a Neil Simon play to see the pissed off cook handle things until the waitress arrived late. Very entertaining.

Lunch: West end truck stop in Malta…the mosquito capital of the world. Within a few minutes of standing outside there were at least 15 on my back.

Dinner: Late but at the motel (Chinook Motor Inn ) … and then bed…nice.

Brian





July 20

20 07 2009

Day 43:

It is seriously day 43.. wow. So we are all hunkered into our $45 a night motel in Saco, Montana and we just discovered there is wifi!! Do you realize how important that is?! The very second we found out the password Dad whips out his iphone and connects, Jake jumps on my ipod touch, and Maggie and I open up the macbooks.

Today was pretty exhausting… and frustrating. The day started off with a nice cheap breakfast in the Casino / Restaurant (everywhere around here seems to call itself a casino) and headed West. About 20 miles deep into the day we arrived at the Bar / Cafe in Hinsdale, Montana. We were 10 minutes late and the cafe was closed. :( However, Jennifer took care of us by heating up a few pizzas, filling all our water bottles up, and even offered to drive us all the way to Malta. We denied that amazing offer because that would be cheating. When someone decides to actually take that shortcut I’ll let them know in Seattle that they didn’t actually bike across the country. bahahaha !!

Anyway – We only made 43 miles today after leaving Gasgow. 43 miles seems like nothing compared some of the long days we’ve put in on flat land but today we were combating 30 mile per hour head winds. This is extremely frustrating because you work so hard only to move 5-9 mph. Even on hills we had to down shift. Dad is still working out the mileage for tomorrow as the winds should be a little less intense. Apparently we are in “mosquito valley” where the mosquitoes can turn a white horse black. Wish us luck!

Shout out to Kenny for looking up the weather and wind conditions for us as we all had very limited cell service. Dad’s got AT&T which apparently has no service anywhere out west so far, and we all have verizon which is pretty reliable. Just enough for a phone call! Thanks Kenny!

PEACE
Zach





July 19

19 07 2009

Day 42:

Having ridden our first century yesterday, we had planned for a shorter ride today. In fact, we needed to log just 50 miles, only half of yesterday’s milage, in order to reach our destination. Sounds easier, doesn’t it? Well, let’s just say the wind and the weather can turn an easier ride into a difficult one. We woke up after a great sleep and headed back to the Old Town Restaurant for breakfast…the motel’s continental doesn’t quite cut it! From there it was back to highway two once again (bustling with RV’s today). The further we got, the stronger the headwinds grew and the more the temperature rose. Counting down the mile markers was a slow process process today. With temperatures pushing 100, it was definitely our hottest day. After about 15 miles we knew it wasn’t going to be the “easy” 50 miles we anticipated/hoped for. We took a break on the roadside and made a reservation at a motel in Glasgow, MT. The next 18 miles to lunch were most definitely a struggle. I honestly expected to look behind me and see Mom lying on the side of the road. At the very trying 2 week point she is surviving some tough days, rides that are certainly testing the rest of us! Hot, dehydrated, and hungry we battled the wind until finally arriving at Bergie’s Cafe in Nashua, MT. Upon arrival Mom said, “If I had seen a trough at one of those farms, I would not have thought twice about jumping in.” It was hot! Straggling in, we grabbed cold drinks from the cooler before finding a seat. Our meal got interesting after this as our waitress was, well, not very pleasant. I don’t think she said more than 10 words the whole time. It was good for some laughs, that’s for sure! While there we ran into two guys from NH/VT heading east and enjoying that tailwind. Finally, we got up the energy to head back into the blistering sun for the remaining 14 miles. Though slowly, we rode along beside the bypassing trains, and stopped frequently to get everyone back together. Finishing with a slow climb, and finally a long downhill, we rode into Glasgow towards the nearest gas station for cold drinks. One block down we found the La Casa Motel and headed inside for some cool air. Though riding only 50 miles, we finished only two hours earlier than yesterday; I think we all agreed that we would rather have ridden another hundred miles in yesterday’s conditions than today’s 50. Dinner across the street at Eugene’s Pizza (Mom said she would’t walk more than 200 yards) put life back into everyone pretty quickly. The good news is that tomorrow should be less windy and much cooler! Not surprisingly, we will be in bed early tonight and up early to avoid the worst of the wind.

Maggie





July 18

18 07 2009

Day 41

Waking up to numerous pillows and even a bible being thrown at me, it’s hard to believe that we finally achieved something we hadn’t done the whole trip. We totaled 100.1 miles from Williston to Wolf Point making today our first “century” day! Though we had to take a round about way to dinner in order to squeak out the last 2 miles. It’s amazing after only 14 days Mom managed to do something we weren’t able to do until day 41, many props to Mom for keeping up and not quitting! With only around 20 miles to the Montana border from our Hotel we were able to eat a filling breakfast and get there by 10:30, but because of the time zone changed we gained an hour putting the clock back to only 9:30. 20 Miles by 9:30, I think that’s a new record! Even though to cross the border we had to go through a bit of construction, the view the other side was worth it. Looking up to what seemed like an endless sky we knew we had entered Montana (Only three states left!). Another record soon followed because we squeezed in 45 miles until we stopped for Lunch at a local pizza place in Culbertson. Knowing we still had 55 miles to go we tried not to spend to much time relaxing in the air-conditioned restaurant. We even managed to replace a broken spoke on Zach’s bike while pizza was cooking. 20 miles later we came face to face with Brockton, a town we had been advised not to even slow down in because of the high crime rate in the area. After cruising through Brockton, we arrived again at a town we had been warned about, Poplar. Even though Mom and Dad stopped at the convenience store there, this was still a town we had been told to keep our heads up in. Dying of thirst, we stopped 15 miles later at a bar and grill to rehydrate on Pepsi’s and Mountain Dew’s. As we sat there drinking, a local at the bar informed us that the county we were in had the second highest crime rate in the country….awesome. He told us that Poplar had guns and Wolf Point has knifes (and the next town has bats), luckily we got to go through Poplar but had to stop in Wolf Point, I suppose knifes are better than guns. We got to enjoy a nice dinner at the Old Town Grill before we went back to our Motel and called it a night. We need a good night’s sleep in order to get back on our bikes tomorrow and head towards Glasgow.

- Jake





July 17

17 07 2009

Day 40:

Another great day in North Dakota! We logged 71 miles and are now within 20 of the Montana border. It was hard getting up this morning, at least for the three of us who had to endure Mom and Dad’s snoring all night! But, we made it to Joyce’s Cafe on Main Street (music playing through speakers on street lights was a nice surprise) for breakfast and were on the road by 9:30. The sun was shining, the wind quiet, and the temperature just right at 70 degrees when we headed out. We cruised through the early miles until lunch at the Ray Cafe, with almost 40 miles behind us. Lunch was great and we enjoyed chatting with waitress Anna (see picture). After refueling, we were once again on highway 2, enjoying our nice wide shoulder and beautiful rolling hills, noting the mile markers counting down to the Montana border. Though we didn’t take many breaks, it was nice to finish a long climb and take a little break in the sun once in a while to get everyone caught up. Usually Mom and Dad headed off first, while we enjoyed our extended road side rest, until heading out to catch up. We continually passed oil pumps on either side and were cheered on by the honking of truck drivers all day…no wonder all the hotels are bustling with oil workers. Luckily, we had made a reservation in Wiliston, where we arrived around 5:30. Hungry as usual, we headed next door for an earlier than usual dinner at the Trapper’s Kettle Restaurant before settling in for the night.

I have to admit, I had my doubts about North Dakota…I expected the endless, hot plains, desolate flat roads, and fierce headwinds. Well, after our last day in this state, we have been pleasantly surprised. First off, the terrain is not at all flat. We climbed long gradual hills and enjoyed descents equally as long, where Jake demonstrated his “no handed” riding! At the top of every hill was a gorgeous view of the rolling hills surrounding us, as well as the never ending landscape in front of us. Never did I ever expect this from North Dakota. And, with the wind almost nonexistent today, we made very good time. With tailwinds forecasted for tomorrow, he have planned our first century ride (100 miles)…wish us luck! If all goes well, we will be entering big Montana with some very big miles. With a long day ahead of us, we are all ready for some much needed rest.

Maggie

P.S. Thanks again to the Lothrop Family for looking after Tracker!!





July 16

16 07 2009

Day 39:

Today was a great day. We had the pleasure of starting the day by having breakfast with Stuart and Caren (www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/4900 ) and very much enjoyed getting to know them and swapping facts re the trails that are in front of each of us. We hope they will visit us in New Hampshire when they complete their “seaside to seaside” in 2010.

The day started off cool like a late September morning but with brilliant sunshine with few clouds in the huge blue sky. Despite the sunshine, the day never really warmed up enough for us to take off our “high viz” jackets.

We left Minot via Route 2, which is off the Adventure Cycling route but based on info provided by previous tourers and reinforced by Stuart and Caren we opted to take it. We will remain on this route for a few hundred miles!

Route 2 is a four lane divided highway and for most of today it had a wide and clean paved shoulder. Although there is a moderate amount of traffic most drivers chose to pass us in the far left lane leaving plenty of room. We were particularly lucky today as we came across a 10 mile stretch that was newly paved but not yet open to cars. Even the still strong but no longer demoralizing winds on our starboard quarter could not take away from the great feeling of cruising on the open road through the hills (yes hills!) of western North Dakota.

Just prior to lunch we met local resident Duane Jussero while taking a quick break on the highway. Duane kindly provided me the “Will work for food sign” you will see in the pictures. Based on the food budget so far on the trip it may come in handy! Thanks Duane! Duane also recommended the “Tumbleweed Café” in Berthold for lunch and we really enjoyed meeting the owner Jean. We then relaxed for a while in the sunshine on the broad porch of the café before setting of to our final destination for the day, Stanley ND. Beautiful country along the way with numerous small lakes and ponds punctuating a landscape of yellow canola flowers and the purple flax. A beautiful sight with lots of wildlife. Apparently a very wet fall, abundant snowfall this winter and a wet spring have contributed to this year being especially prolific. This area of North Dakota (about 80 miles south of the Manitoba / Saskatchewan border is also very active with oil activity and as we headed to Stanley we saw a number of active oil wells.

We had a great dinner …and service! … at the “Palermo Bar and Grill” in Palermo and great conversation with our waitress and owner Della Johnson.. Like many of these small towns (think population of 200 on a busy day ) this is the only game in this town or in this case in any of several surrounding towns.. Based on the advice of previous tourers we stopped for a great dinner before proceeding to Stanley and checking in at the Painted Horse Motel. Apparently we were lucky to get a reservation at any motel as all of the oil activity is has the rooms taken by the oil workers.

Our pit crew was in action today and replaced another broken spoke in Zach’s rear wheel in no time. Mom was in her 10th day on the road today and like we all did before her today she “bonked”. She has done a great job to date and will fight her way through the next few days. Hopefully the wind will give us all a break as we now near the end of our ride through the ‘Midwest’ and head for the “West” which begins at the North Dakota / Montana border.

Brian





July 15

15 07 2009

Day 38:

I guess since we took a day off I should write the blog…I love my days off!! Let’s see…I slept in :)! watched T.V in bed all morning, ate lunch at subway next door, followed by Dairly Queen dessert of course. Then the rest of the afternoon was spent in front of the tv and computer…just a little taste of a normal summer! The rest of the gang headed downtown to the bike store to pick up Maggie’s bike and get Zach’s checked out. I of course stayed at the hotel to do what I do best…NOTHING!! When they all came back we headed up the hill for dinner and are back in the hotel getting ready for bed early. It will be another windy day tomorrow so we will be on the road early to avoid the worst of it…

Jake

A few things I missed:
Thanks to Rory at Val’s Cyclery for all his work and advice. Your service was great and fast!! We got maggie’s gears tuned up, and stocked up on a few extra things for the long, empty road ahead. While there we ran into Stuart and Caren McDowell who are headed east, and also staying at the super 8 tonight -it was great to chat and we are thankful for your advice, but jealous of your tailwinds!

Harold and Norma: Mom really enjoyed talking to you this morning, thanks for your interest! Enjoy the reunion!!





July 14

14 07 2009

Day 37:

Where to start about today…In short, today was hard work. We managed to get a fairly early start after a quick breakfast at the Econo Lodge. It started raining lightly as we left so we all donned our rain gear. Maggie’s bike seemed to be running quite well on Brian and Maggie’s repair job. I’m still impressed. The morning ride was not too bad even with the light rain. We had planned to stop in Towner (Cattle capital of ND) for a quick snack – 20 miles. Just as we were pulling into the gas station, the rain started coming down hard so we ran fast for cover. The rain stopped while we enjoyed some drinks and snacks so we headed off for Granville where we would stop for a late lunch. The wind had picked up to around 20 mph so it was late when we arrived at the War Veteran’s Memorial Diner (45 miles) in Granville, a very small town. The food in the diner was great. Just like real home cooking. We even took a few minutes outside in the sun to digest lunch before heading out again for Minot. By then, the wind had really begun to blow – 25 mph or more. We tried to do some serious drafting, especially for my benefit and we were somewhat successful. Brian says the wind slowed down our speed to 6 mph. Chicago may be the windy city but ND is the windy state. We tried to make light of the wind but at times all you could do was put your head down and try to pedal.

As we neared Minot (about 10 miles out) dark clouds came in and with them heavy rain. Brian, Maggie and Zach were ahead of Jake and I and took cover under a semi trailer over to the side. I barely heard Maggie calling to me, and Jake didn’t hear so he kept peddling over the hill. Fortunately, the rain stopped almost as quickly as it started so Maggie quickly caught up with Jake. We took a quick pit stop for drinks and to catch our breath. Brian assured us we were getting close so we headed off on a rural road to Minot. The wind was so strong, that we had to shift down to pedal down hill. I thought a couple of times I was going to have my bike blown right out from under me. We made it to the Super 8 after 69 miles and had to carry our bikes up to the 3rd floor, as there was no room for them downstairs. We then walked up behind the motel to another hotel (Grand Internationa) for a great dinner. Now to get some sleep and get Maggie’s bike to the shop tomorrow to finish the repairs. We are taking tomorrow off as the winds are forecast even stronger than today. My knees and quads are happy with that decision.

Carolyn





July 13

13 07 2009

Day 36:

I was told I did such a good job yesterday that I should do this again today. What a line! We all had a good sleep last night in Minnawanken (one of my personal best) and managed to get up before 7:00. Breakfast down at the Bait & Tackle before heading out in a beautiful tailwind. Maggie was plugging away on her three gears, hoping to get to a bike store in Rugby at the end of the day. Rain was forecast for later in the day so we set a pretty quick pace trying to out ride it. We arrived in Esmond after 26 miles where there was supposed to be a small restaurant. The restaurant was there but closed on (you guessed it) Mondays. We were directed to the village park where there were picnic tables and public washrooms where we set up our camp stove and cooked up some ramen noodles for Brian and the boys while Maggie and I made do with pretzels, peanut butter and trail mix. Not much of a lunch but it got us going again.

Heading out for what should have been an easy 30 miles to Rugby, Maggie was hit again by more gear problems. Her gear cable pulled free. When she and Brian caught up to the boys and I, Brian had rigged the cable somewhat but needed to make some adjustments. I have been quite impressed with the ingenuity from Brian and the kids with regard to repairs, etc. I don’t know how Maggie retained her composure through all this nonsense. After some adjustments, she had access to 15, 25 and 35 which Maggie said was better than what she had. Fortunately, the wind was still in our favor and the hills were gradual so we cruised through the last 24 fairly easily and arrived in Rugby (supposedly the “geographical center of North America”) around 4:00. An early end to the day by our standards. Pulled into the Cottage Café with fortunately an hour before closing for an early dinner (or really late lunch if you don’t count our snack earlier). The food was great and they had really good coffee for a change. While we were there, Brian called the local hardware store to see if they possibly had any bike parts. They said they had some, so he and Maggie left the three of us to go check into the Econo Lodge while they picked up some parts for Maggie’s bike.

As I write this, Maggie and Brian and working diligently away on her bike. Let’s hope it works. Minot is 70 plus miles (the last place with a bike store for awhile we’ve been told). And, we just heard a forecast of SW winds 25 mph or higher. We better all get a good sleep tonight. Tomorrow will be a long one. Wish us luck with the repairs everyone.

Carolyn





June 24

24 06 2009

Day 18:

Another very, very hot day in Michigan today, definitely the hottest we have experienced so far. Leaving the cool motel room for breakfast we felt the heat right away. A few wrong turns at the beginning forced us to backtrack a few miles, but we had a pretty easy ride throughout the rest of the morning. Finally after 13 miles, we arrived at a small gas station for cold drinks (water doesn’t stay cold long in this heat) and a short break. From there we began the 25 miles through more farmland and very little shade until we reached Bay City. We stopped and asked a local biker for a place to eat lunch and he quickly pointed us towards the Stock Pot Diner just a few blocks away. Lunch was great, and the staff was wonderful. Thank you Michelle, Vince, Cindy, and Joy! They were genuinely interested in our trip and we enjoyed our extended lunch break in the cool restaurant to chat with them. While at lunch we made reservations to stay in Midland…first priority being a hotel with a pool. After a good meal, ice filled water bottles, and pictures with the friendly staff (see photos) we set our sites on a hotel in Midland. The afternoon heat was brutal and we stopped often for short breaks in the shade (under bridges, beneath trees, and behind buildings). With about 5 miles to go, we experienced our second flat tire. This time a thumb tack was lodged in Dad’s front wheel. Stuck on the side of the highway, unshielded from the heat, we replaced the tube in less than 10 minutes. Shortly thereafter, we arrived at the Hampton Inn in Midland. The staff was awesome! We quickly guzzled the ice water in the lobby and they offered to put some cold water pitchers in the room, an offer we could not refuse. Storage for the bikes, dinner coupons, and a dryer for our laundry were added bonuses. As soon as we unloaded the bikes, we headed for the pool. After a refreshing swim, and lounge outside, we showered and headed next-door for dinner at Damon’s. We are once again tired and ready for bed early. We will finish up laundry tonight and plan tomorrow’s route – we need to get to a bike store in the morning and stock up on spare tubes. Even after today’s struggle in the heat, we all agree that the heat is much more preferable to the wind and the rain.





June 23

23 06 2009

Day 17:

On days like today it is hard to believe we are lugging around the weight of warm clothes. Today was HOT! After a humid night sleeping in our tents we woke up to a dry, sunny morning! We left the Emmett KOA campground and found breakfast in the next town after 6 easy miles. Brief stops for cold drinks became routine today. We managed to get in 30 miles before lunch, but the heat was getting to us. Hitting 90 F we were happy to sit at a nice air conditioned Subway for lunch, even if it meant the same thing two days in a row. After lunch we stocked up on cold water/gatorade and headed to our final destination, Caro. Even with the heat, we made good time in the afternoon. With about 6 miles to go we were forced to take a detour down a pot hole ridden dirt road, which just about did us all in. Soon after, we arrived at our motel having completed 70 miles today. The air conditioning was already cranked for us when we walked in! We quickly showered and walked our sore bodies over to the Dairy Queen for burgers and ice cream! It was delicious. After that, Dad and Maggie walked next door to WalMart to replace Maggie’s Camera (victim to a swim in the washing machine the day before we left NH). Back in the room everyone is fading fast. It’s 9:30 and Dad has begun snoring away already (I could easily join him) but we woke him up when we called Mom :) WE MISS YOU MOM! We also miss Tracker (our blind yellow lab) and hear that he has been showing signs of loneliness around the house.

Bed is crying my name so I’ll end tonight’s post.

More to come as another scorching day across the Michigan blacktop awaits us….





June 22

22 06 2009

Day 16:

After such a long day yesterday, an easy ride, early finish, and relaxing afternoon were in order. We slept in a little more than usual, ate a great breakfast nearby (ran into a fellow bike tourer yet again), and headed out, unsure of our destination. After 10 miles, we knew it was going to be a short day. Having started later than usual, we were riding in the heat of the day. No complaints about the sunshine however. After 20 miles we stopped for a Subway lunch in Memphis and took some time to plan the days ahead. The time to meet Mom is getting closer, and we need to begin making and sticking to a schedule for the next week our so. We can’t wait till you join us – we all miss you (and Tracker) very much!! It was there we decided that a chance for some down time was just what we needed. From there we set our sights on the Emmett KOA. Arriving around 4 o’clock, after just 40 miles, we looked forward to a relaxing afternoon. A swim in the lake, outrageous tan lines and all, was a great way to spend the afternoon. The campground staff was wonderful, thanks to Chris and the gang for their welcome! Hot dogs over the fire and cereal were a nice change of pace for dinner. The campground is nice and quiet tonight, and we are hoping for a restful sleep and a dry morning (don’t jinx it!). With a few long days ahead, we hope to cross Lake Michigan on Friday.





June 21

21 06 2009

Day 15:

Our time in Ontario was short lived. Eighty miles (our longest trip) got us across the border and into Michigan. A good sleep at the B&B was just what we needed to get going again. After tuning the bikes and packing up, we headed for breakfast just down the road. With the sun shining once again we hit the road and headed for the border. With Dave’s advice in mind, we decided to take a more direct route (different from the northern tier route), one that would get us to Michigan a day earlier. The first 20 miles went by quickly, despite a few dirt roads and a some hills at the very beginning. After a short snack break we logged another 10 miles before our early lunch in West Lorne. From there we spent the afternoon cruising through farming territory, interrupted only by a few innocent wipeouts and minor road side repairs. The final 35 miles were spent riding along one flat, straight road. One of the very few cars to pass us drove alongside Dad for a few minutes to talk about out trip! At around 6:30 we reached the ferry terminal and awaited the boat’s arrival. We crossed the St. Clair River and cleared customs on the other side – nice to cover distance without pedaling! Hungry and thirsty, we ate at the closest restaurant, right next to the ferry terminal. With the help of a few locals we found vacancy at a motel just down the road. Very pleased with our day’s progress, and the weather forecast, we look forward to making quick work of Michigan.

Happy Father’s Day!





June 20

20 06 2009

Day 14:

Ending the day at a bed and breakfast is heaven, just what we needed having completed the first two weeks of the trip. That’s supposed to be the hardest part right? Having spent yet another night camping in the rain, we have all decided that we need to avoid that whenever possible; packing up wet gear in the rain is not fun. Add the mosquito invasion, and we were off to a rough start. As soon as we woke up we were treated to a nice surprise…the space between the tent and the rain fly was covered with tons, I mean tons, of mosquitos. It was absolutely disgusting. Perhaps the only thing that got us out of the tent was knowing that today was going to be a short distance day – planning to ride just 45 miles. Fixing Zach’s flat tire in the rain was less than ideal, but we managed to replace to tube and everything seems to be working well. We stopped for breakfast after leaving the campground, and the rain slowed down. However, as soon as we returned to our bikes it picked up again – just our luck! Shortly after we began riding we witnessed out first real crash. Zach, attempting a single handed maneuver, lost control and was sent sliding into the middle of the road. Luckily, there were no cars around and he got up with out any injuries – I think we may have even laughed at him. From there we continued just 7 miles until we were caught in a downpour. We sought shelter under an unused fruit stand before continuing on. We didn’t get very far, as a General store just around the corner was a good place to dry off and have a snack. Thanks to Mike for his friendly welcome – it was just what we needed! When we left store, the rain picked up once again. We continued along the lake shore, though you could barely see the water, as the storm continued to come in off the lake. Storm clouds continued to threaten, but the sun began to poke through as we arrived thoroughly soaked in Port Burwell for lunch. From there we continued through miles of tobacco farms and wind farms (a little ironic that the environmentally friendly initiative is paired with the tobacco industry). The wind turbines were really neat, and we came to realize why they are where they are. The head wind was the most extreme we have faced so far. We began practicing drafting techniques, which seemed to work well, though we have some work to do. Jake’s one legged pedaling technique gave us all a good laugh. After 23 more miles, we arrived in Port Stanley where we planned to stay the night. Despite logging just 45 miles, our late start and battle with the wind made it seem like much more. Checked in to the North Shore Inn (free from the rain and the mosquitos!), with our laundry in progress (thank you Flory!!), we are enjoying a late dinner once again. Thanks to Dave for the directions too! Hopefully things will dry out tonight, and we will be ready to complete a long day tomorrow – we hope to get within a morning’s ride of the the border.





June 19

20 06 2009

Day 13:

We woke up anticipating another rainy day, but were pleasantly surprised when the sun came out just before noon and we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon. It seems like we finally got our schedule figured out today. After an early, and quick, breakfast at Tim Horton’s we got on the road and knocked out 20 miles along the north shore of Lake Erie before an early lunch in Selkirk. After lunch we continued along the shore for another 20 miles until we reached Port Dover, in time for a snack at Tim Horton’s (can you tell we are trying to cram in all the Tim’s we can before we return to the U.S?) In the final 20 miles we faced a few hills, nothing like the mountains, but still our first real hills in a few days. We arrived in Port Rowan where we had planned to spend the night. Again, we debated going further, but decided not to ruin our first day of starting AND ending on time. Also, there were no other places to stay for another 20 plus miles so we decided to call it a day at 65 miles and head towards dinner and the campground 5 miles down the road. Chicken dinners at “The Coop” and an easy ride to the Long Point Beach Provincial Park finished the ride. Just before setting up camp, we realized Zach had a flat tire, but are waiting to fix it in the morning. After warm showers and a walk on the beach, we headed for bed. If not for being tired, the mosquitos would surely have gotten us in the tents early – they are everywhere and enormous!





June 18

18 06 2009

Day 12:

Today we left the manicured lawns of Niagara Falls and headed towards the farm lands on the northern shore of Lake Erie. We woke up to another rainy day in Niagara Falls, but were happy to see the rain slow down and stop just after lunch. At breakfast we met a fellow biker from Vermont who is also headed west, albeit solo and at a little slower pace. After a final viewing of the misty falls, we continued on the Niagara River Recreation Trail, along the Niagara River, until we reached Fort Erie (18.5 miles). We decided to stop in at a Steve’s Place, a bike store along the route, to have Jake’s bike looked at yet again. Turns out his rear sprocket needed replacing, and a previous repair was not completed properly. Steve solved the problem quickly, and Rex pointed us in the right direction for our afternoon ride. Thanks guys! With our tires pumped up, we headed down the street for Chinese food, a great recommendation from Rex. With our rain gear back on we followed the Friendship Bike trail towards Port Colborne. The rain stopped early in the afternoon, and we made decent time on the trail. When we arrived, we crossed the Welland Canal, an access for ships to the Great Lakes. We hunted down the nearest Tim Horton’s for a snack and debated our final destination. Though some worried about what we would find in the next 20 miles and wanted to call it quits after 40 miles, Maggie was able to convince the group to continue on the the next town, 23 miles away. We were all happy to have done so; the ride was fairly easy though corn fields and farm land and the rain held off nicely. We arrived in Dunnville just before seven o’clock and were able to find a motel (dinner next door) for the night. Having completed 65 miles today, we are getting closer to consistently meeting our daily target. Weather permitting, we hope to exceed our longest trip tomorrow.





June 17

18 06 2009

Commercial vehicles only … Cars only …Buses only… 6 lanes of traffic and they couldn’t find room for the lowly bicycle? We crossed the Lewiston – Queenston Bridge early afternoon and cruised through customs to enter Canada. Then we were pulled aside at the tollbooth with 18-wheelers in front and behind … we had to pay the bridge toll of 50 cents per bike!

We had a great day cruising along the Erie Canal after, for the very first time, getting an early start to the day. It might have been the enticement of breakfast at the Albion New York Tim Hortons that got everyone moving a little more quickly or it just could be we have started to settle into more of a routine.

Continuing today along the very flat Erie Canal Trail we traveled through more small towns that all ended in “port” like Spencerport and Middleport. After enough of the dusty crushed gravel, (hard to maintain speeds greater than 15 mph ) we left the Canal Trail at its terminus in Lock ”port” and enjoyed a hearty lunch … with milkshakes all round of course.

Although overcast, the rain held off as we covered the final miles to Niagara Falls. We donned our wet weather gear as the rain started to fall just as we entered the “on ramp” to the bridge to Canada and Niagara Falls. The view over the bridge (very high up!), and way down into the gorge was spectacular. Even with tractor-trailers rushing by us it was worth the 50 cents per bike price of admission. Once on the Canadian side we began following the Niagara Trail system “up” the Niagara River towards the Falls. There are many scenic look offs along this beautiful paved trail. After dropping our gear off at the motel (Too soggy to camp tonight) we went to view the falls and then to dinner at a restaurant referred to us by locals. A big shout out to Denise and Stephanie at “Basell’s” – Great to meet you tonight! Back to the motel to clean up and remove the road grime. Looking forward to exploring the North Shore of Lake Erie over the next few days and hoping we can ride out of this rain tomorrow.





June 16

16 06 2009

Today the group woke up early after a late night of pizza and soda. We ate a delicious breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant where we arrived extremely underdressed. Not only were all the business executives wearing shirts and ties but so were the waiters. After breakfast we packed up and headed to Towpath bike for repairs and maintenance. While Dad was having his spare tire put on (his back tire had a lot of miles and was extremely worn down) Zach, Maggie, and Jake made sure the tire pressure was up to par on all our bikes, and that all the rack screws were tightened properly. Jake purchased a new set of gloves and is now flossing a nice pair of Pearl Izumi’s. Thanks to Scott and his staff at Towpath for the great service. He has a great location right on the canal path. Scott has some New Hampshire connections as he went to Proctor Academy and was intrigued by Maggie’s St. Paul’s experience. We started to rack up the miles following the Erie Canal (a neat slice of history ) when trouble came knocking at our door… Jake’s chain broke. Dad immediately breaks out the repair kit and quickly went to work to get us back on the road. Although the chain repair was successful, Jake was unable to shift into certain gears making keeping up very difficult for him. After exhausting all options, looking for bike stores close to our location using our blackberry, iphone, and GPS, some locals helped us set our destination on another bike shop in Spencerport, NY some 10 miles away. Once we arrived the guys at Sugar’s bike shop (Thanks Dan and Damien! ) went to work on Jake’s bike. It was here we discovered Jake’s chain had other problems and needed to be replaced. We also discovered at this time was that Jake was sporting a bent rim and broken spokes. To quote the guy at the shop “Did you get hit by a Truck?” We took this time to eat lunch, at a restaurant conveniently located right next door. After a couple of tweaks we had things working properly and we set off down the canal again. The canal made for an easy ride but became rather boring at times – haha. I’ll take boring for a while if it means avoiding hills and mountains.

Unfortunately the problems with the bike set us back big time and we were unable to reach our target mileage despite having flat terrain the entire ride. We had dinner after about 40 miles and change and decided it was in our best interest to spend the night in Albion. We found a motel to crash at for the night and aim to be on the road early in pursuit of Niagara Falls, Ontario.. Eh? Cheers.





June 15

16 06 2009

Day 10:

After early morning thundershowers, the skies cleared in time for us to wake up and pack things up. The quads were screaming as we left the campground and stopped after just a mile for breakfast number two. Some of the group agreed to have hit the wall and the outlook for the day did not look good. Breakfast at the Hardware Cafe got us going enough to make the steep climb out of Fair Haven. The hills continued along the beautiful shoreline of Lake Ontario through peach orchards and vineyards until we stopped for lunch at the Sodus Point Golf Club. Having only logged about 30 miles we stopped just a mile after lunch, this time for ice cream. Dad bought, and devoured, half a strawberry pie, large ice cream cone, and almost a half gallon of milk. We could have all agreed to stay longer and sit in the sun, but it was four o’clock and we had only gone 30 miles. After our extended stop, we continued with an easier ride through farmland and orchards until we met up with the canal trail. We followed the trail for a while until we ran into Shawn and Jake, father and son. After a few more miles we met up with them again, and they offered to escort us to a nice hotel a few miles away. Thank you! We arrived at the hotel just before 9 o’clock! A long day for sure during which we logged 70 plus miles – we have sunburns to prove it (sorry mom, we will start wearing more sunscreen!) After a late pizza dinner, we returned to the luxurious room for a much needed rest. Tomorrows ride will take us along the canal trail for most of the day.





June 14

15 06 2009

Day 9:

Today we happily traded the logging trucks and forests for tractors and farmland. After sleeping in a little bit, we had breakfast at the restaurant next to the motel (the same place as dinner the night before). Again, we were not on the road until around ten o’clock – we are a slow moving group. Thankfully, the morning ride was mostly downhill and the sun was shining. After fifteen miles we took a short break and were happy to finally have cell phone service. We were all excited to talk to Mom and can’t wait till she joins us! The change in terrain/scenery was greatly appreciated and we cruised through increasingly developed towns. Unlike the previous few days, we had multiple options for lunch. We decided to stop at a local chicken shack (it smelled great) where we enjoyed a full chicken and salt potatoes. The rather easy ride continued for most of the day; we stopped briefly for ice cream and again at a market to grab fruit for tonight. Though we were happy to be out of the boonies we quickly realized how much we had enjoyed the traffic free roads. With 15 miles to go we stopped for dinner, though we weren’t terribly hungry for a change. We headed towards the campground excited for a clear night of camping. Of course we couldn’t get off with too easy a day as we ended with some very steep climbs. We arrived at the Fair Haven State Park where we climbed an extra hill for a campsite overlooking lake Ontario. The sunset was the perfect end to a beautiful day. Despite our 62 miles, we are not as tired as usual and even enjoyed some Frisbee after setting up for the night. It seems that everyone is getting used to the routine and finding the biking less difficult. After spending all day in the hot sun our shorts/gloves tan lines are becoming more and more obvious. But, we’re not complaining, the weather today was perfect and we would love to enjoy similar days more often. We are excited to ride the bike route along the canal as we head towards Ontario in the next few days. Dad will most likely have us up early and on the road before eight, so it is time to get some rest; if we stick to the plan, we have some long days ahead.





June 13

15 06 2009

Day 8:

After an exciting hockey game (go pens!) and a restful night, we woke up refreshed and ready to go. Despite waking up early we weren’t on the road until 9 – we really need to tighten up our morning routine. We made great time on the first ten miles around the gorgeous lake scenery, and stopped for breakfast number two in Old Forge (The boys are always hungry). The sun was shining and we enjoyed a great ride along the Moose River until we reached Boonville where we stopped for lunch at the Boonville Hotel after a recommendation from a local. With thirty-five miles logged, we still had a ways to go in the afternoon. Zach was exhausted and we were unsure if he would last the day – but of course, he just stopped talking and managed to keep up. Despite a few tough hills right after lunch we continued on a nice run, making great time, as we headed towards Osceola. We made quick work of the winding road of rolling hills as we stopped briefly ever 5 miles. We arrived in Osceola and were greeted by some motorcycle riders we had met at lunch. They laughed as they warmed us about the hill ahead. We finished the steep climb just as the rain began. With ten miles to go, we cruised through the rain into Redfield, NY where we had planned to stay the night. Desperate to avoid another night of camping in the rain, we passed the campground and stopped at a small motel instead. After our longest day so far, at 71 miles, we all got a taste of what our average mileage will be eventually. Exhausted as usual, we are headed to bed early.





June 12

13 06 2009

Day 7:

We woke up early to yet another wet morning. After packing up the wet tents and eating a quick breakfast by the fire we hit the road before 7:30 (Dad can get us up early when we camp because we have no idea what time it is). We were all sore, tired, and unsure how we would manage 50 miles. Fortunately, the rain let up, and we were relieved to see far fewer hills as we began to leave the Adirondacks. By lunchtime, we had reached Long Lake (the only place for food in 20 miles) and took a break for food at the Cyber Creek cafe. The sun was shining and we looked forward to a more relaxing ride to our destination. After a nice ride, mostly downhill for a change, we arrived at the Marina motel in Inlet NY around 3:30. We took advantage of the warm afternoon to let our tents dry in the parking-lot. The motel owners Jamie and Henry were fantastic. They offered to drive us to a Laundromat/dinner. We could not pass up the opportunity for clean clothes and a solid meal (especially after last night’s dinner). We did our laundry and enjoyed a great meal. Thank you Jamie/Henry!! Ironically, the owners of a bike shop in Rochester, NY are also staying at the motel and offered us a pump for our tires – thank you! Everything seemed to work out perfectly tonight. We are looking forward to a longer, but easier ride tomorrow as we head towards Rochester, NY. Everyone keeps telling us that it is downhill from here, so we are hoping to finally increase our mileage. A week into our trip, we are excited to have warm beds, and a chance to watch game seven tonight!

Something we forgot to mention…

During the trek today I (Zach) was in front of a excavator coming down the side of the road. All of a sudden I hear what sounded like trees falling.. it only took me about a second to realize that the excavator had run into the POWERLINES causing them to crash down right behind me. I was frustrated for two reasons..

1) I was worried the power to the nearest town would be out causing us to miss out on eating. Eating is important.
2) The powerlines ALMOST HIT ME.

That was crazy.. but to top it off this guy gets out of the excavator and proceeds to pick up and MOVE the power line with his bare hands like he had experienced this before. That bit of excitement jolted my adrenaline (laugh it up) and we made it to the fully charged town.





June 11

12 06 2009

June 11

Day 6: We’re posting this a day late because Newcomb has nothing. Seriously.. no grocery store, no general store, no gas station, no cell service, and absolutely no where to eat. Needless to say I am not a big fan of Newcomb, NY. – Zach

Anyways..

Today was brutal. Thinking that the worst of the mountains were behind us for a while, we left Ticonderoga this morning on route 74. Immediately we were proved wrong. We began to climb a steep road bustling with logging trucks. This hill was far worse than those we faced in Vermont the past two days. We were all happy that we did not continue this far last night looking for a place to camp. Finally we arrived at the Paradox General Store for lunch (our only chance for food all day). After a great lunch, we continued on. Zach appeared to be in another world today. He didn’t talk; he just continued to ride. It seemed like he was past the point of fatigue and his willpower had taken over. Needless to say, he led the way a lot today. In fact, at one point he cruised so far ahead that he missed our next turn. We stopped and sent an oncoming utility truck to send him back. They offered him a ride back to us, and he did not pass it up. After waiting a little while, the truck pulled up along side us and the driver yelled, “I think we have something that belongs to you.” Zach jumped out of the back with a smile on his face. At this point we were faced with a dilemma. We could disregard the looming thunderclouds and continue the 20 miles to our destination or camp where we were (the middle of nowhere with no place to eat) after just a short day of riding. We decided to get the next climb out of the way and head to Newcomb. We had no idea what was in store for us. The next 10 miles were all uphill and further and further into the boonies. At the top of a particularly tough climb we stopped to rest at a Buffalo Farm, where we stocked up on snacks. Just when it looked like we were beginning to decent, we turned the corner and began to climb once more. This pattern lasted the whole 20 miles and took every last bit of energy…and then some. Finally we arrived at the Lake Harris Campground (also the middle of nowhere), but were without a place for dinner. We decided to set up camp and finally test out our freeze-dried backpacking food. The mashed cheddar potatoes, sweet and sour chicken, and teriyaki chicken were good for a few laughs. We were physically and mentally exhausted at the end of the day. To say the least, we rode through many deserted towns today, with very few places to stop. The rain held off until after dinner and we headed to our tents. We are hoping to find a hotel tomorrow so we can enjoy game seven.





June 10

11 06 2009

It is amazing low many different styles there are in attacking a mountain. There are at least three that we saw today as we crossed the Appalachians via the Brandon pass. Jake’s style is to attack it head on by getting a up a huge head of steam and then pedal as hard as he can until he comes to a complete stop . . . a fine style if you make it to the top but it can be problematic on the longer climbs. Zach’s style is much more methodical using the granny gears from the beginning and staying in the saddle for the majority of the climb. This makes for a longer climb but as they say slow and steady often wins the race. Dad and Maggie share a similar style using as full a range of gears as possible and a combination of seated and standing climbs. I am sure we will all continue to refine our styles as the trip continues.

We had perfect weather today and with the boys short hair they are all now sporting stripes on the top of their heads from sunburns through the vents in their helmets. We enjoyed the best of Vermont as we traveled from Rochester Vermont following route 73 through the Green Mountain National Forest and along the shore of Lake Champlain. This was a change from our original plan based on a recommendation from Dan at the bike store in Quechee. Thanks again Dan!

After crossing the Brandon Pass we enjoyed the decent (may have broken the 35 mph speed limit) into town where we stopped for lunch. The sun came out after lunch and we headed for NY. The afternoon was full or gorgeous farm lands and rolling hills, in addition to some pretty steep climbs as well. With 6 miles to go until the ferry we saw a sign indicating that the last trip was at 5:45 and we picked up the pace to ensure we made that crossing. We got there with plenty of time to spare and met someone else loaded up and headed to California. After we crossed lake Champlain we continued into Ticonderoga were we found a motel for the night. We had hoped to camp because of the nice weather, but found nowhere to do so…but, we won’t complain about another night in a motel.

Dad says he needs to redo the food budget as we are all consuming ENORMOUS quantities at every opportunity. Both Zach and Jake are starting to order two entrees as one doesn’t quite do it. Our waitress tonight just watched in disbelief.

Tomorrow we start to explore New York.





June 9

10 06 2009

Day 4:

The day started off slow and wet, very wet. As always, Dad was up early and he made some temporary repairs to Zach’s front wheel as it had seized up on a late dinner run the night before – Nice job getting us rolling again Dad! We packed up in the pouring the rain and we thought the day would be a wash (no pun intended). We did get out of the rain and fueled up with breakfast at a small diner in Quechee and headed to Woodstock to have Dad’s repair checked out by a pro. The guys at “The Start House” bike store in Woodstock were great! Gavin made sure Zach’s wheel was good to go and Dan convinced us to keep going to Rochester. His directions, advice, and encouragement were awesome. Stop in and visit them if you are Woodstock. From there, we started an 11 mile climb but were soon rewarded by a nice downhill to the General Store for snacks and a continued decent to Bethel where we stopped for lunch. The miles seemed to fly by as we were all in good spirits and laughing the whole way. After lunch, we lost the rain and enjoyed an easier ride to Rochester. With the help of a Stockbridge car dealer ( another tip from Dan ) we checked into the Huntington Inn Bed and Breakfast to dry out and rest for tomorrow. Our Innkeeper Anna provided warm beds and hot showers which are much appreciated. Given our late start, we are pleasantly surprised with our day’s progress – somewhere around 42 miles. Once again, we are exhausted at the end of the day and will watch the hockey game until we fall asleep. As we head for New York we have a tough climb ahead of us tomorrow and will take advantage of tonight’s rest.





June 8

8 06 2009

Day 3:

After enjoying a quiet night, we all fell asleep early and woke up early too. The four of us packed things up, had a quick breakfast, and were on the road shortly before eight o’clock. Had we known what was ahead we probably would have eaten much more. There was no time to warm up as we were immediately met with dirt roads and very steep hills – not to mention a few dogs chasing us. We all knew it was time to eat/rest when we were braking behind dad’s tires. Around noon we finally found somewhere to eat (Grafton Town Store) and we stopped for lunch after logging 30 miles. After a much needed rest we headed back onto route 4. All of our spirits were brightened at the sight of a moose and a few downhill stretches. Those didn’t last long and we were again faced with continuous climbing. Determined to reach the Vermont border we continued to climb the hills and finally called it quits in Quechee Vermont where we found the Quechee Pine Valley Campground and set up for the night around 5:30. Despite the long day, we logged just 54 miles – 54 miles of hills! After a nice swim and warm showers, we are all off to a well deserved dinner.





June 7

7 06 2009

Day 2
The five of us left the driveway and headed west before 9am. After a fairly slow start, Ironman Brian set the pace and things started looking up (figuratively and literally). Who knew NH had so many hills? We arrived at the 1000 Acres Campground in Franklin, NH just after 2:30 and set up for the night. After a well deserved pizza dinner, we are ready for bed, despite the clock reading 5:30. Hal came to pick up Mom (she will meet us again in three weeks). Thanks again Hal. Surely we will be in bed early tonight, and head for VT tomorrow.
49.22 miles.





June 6

7 06 2009

Day 1: After dipping our tires in the Atlantic (thanks to Hal and Gretchen for taking pictures), we rode the short distance from Newcastle Beach to Dover for our last night at home, stopping by Dover Cyclery to say goodbye to Wayne and Mike and to thank them for all their help. After that it was a nice steak dinner, last minute packing, Pens vs. Wings, and off to bed.
Distance 19 miles.

Maggie





Track Our Trip

3 06 2009

Follow our trip and our exact location. Click on the map on the top right of the page to see where we are. Check out the hybrid map for a satellite image of our location.

Enjoy!





Almost Ready

3 06 2009

We leave in less than 3 days. We will be biking from the beach (yet to be determined) home on saturday and then early sunday morning the real trip will begin when we ride out of the driveway and head towards Franklin NH. It still seems like we have a million things to do but we are very excited to begin after all this planning and waiting.





Two Weeks

25 05 2009

Less than two weeks until the family heads west. Our Plans have changed slightly; we are going to leave on June 7th and will be starting from our own driveway and heading east to west.

Suggestions for the blog? We hope to have it updated daily when the trip starts.





California Coast: Final Day

28 05 2010

We made it! While Maggie and Dad enjoy the massive pool and hot -tub, I am sitting outside on the patio overlooking the Pacific and a spectacular sunset and will reflect on today’s journey.

After pumping up our tires at a local bike store we found out there that between Lompoc ( Lom-Poke ) and Santa Barbra there is nowhere to eat. That scared us so we stocked up on food and drinks for today’s ~60 mile ride.

Shortly after we started into our trek Maggie noticed her gears were not shifting properly, and then it happened  – her entire right gear cable snapped. The last time this happened was out on the prairies… and experience is an amazing teacher. We happened to have one extra gear cable and quickly got to work. In only about ½ hour we got things working again and we all shouted for joy… especially Maggie who remembered hauling over 200 miles last summer with only 1 usable gear. Good thing too because we had a few big climbs coming up.

Half way through our first big climb we decided to take a break and eat our “lunch” which consisted of chips, rice krispies, and chocolate bars. We also took a little snooze J I got a great pic of Dad getting some zzz’s.

After the descent we were greeted by a sign for Santa Barbra (30ish miles away) and Los Angles (130 miles away) and we headed down the freeway. (Side note – riding on the freeway is not fun)

While still on the freeway we made our way back to the coast. Riding high over the Pacific Ocean we continued south on Route 1 to Santa Barbra. We eventually got off the freeway and onto a bike path that took us directly through the campus of the University of California Santa Barbara. The campus has an amazing bike system, including round-a-bouts and parking for hundreds, if not thousands of bikes. This school also overlooks the Pacific Ocean and had a beach about ¼ mile from it. (Why wasn’t this place on my list when I was applying for schools 4 years ago?)

We followed the bike trails into Santa Barbra where we grabbed some quick burgers and chatted up a bike store about getting our bikes either shipped home, or packed up to take on the plane with us – we’re going to figure that out in the morning. For now we are relaxing at the Double Tree in Santa Barbra overlooking the Pacific and are ready to call it a night. Well, I’m still hungry so we’ll have to track down some snacks, and aloe because these sunburns are hurting!

We’ll continue to blog the California trip until we’re home late Saturday night. Stay tuned and thanks for your support along the way! Looking forward to some quality vacation time on the beach/by the pool tomorrow!!

Cheers,

Zach





California Coast: Day 6 – Ahead of schedule for once!

27 05 2010

I don’t think we have ever known what it is like to be ahead of schedule. But after our 55 miles today, we are only another 55 miles or so from Santa Barbara. So when we get there tomorrow, we will have a day to relax and enjoy the city. Today’s ride was mostly inland and away from the coast, but was still a great ride. We dropped the rental truck off at the airport, grabbed breakfast next door, and headed on our way. It was our warmest day so far, but still only mid 60’s (Meanwhile its pushing 100 degrees at home)! After about 20 miles of rolling hills, easy riding, and a brief stop in Pismo Beach, we stopped for lunch near Oceano, CA. The afternoon ride took us back to Route 1 once again.

When we reached Guadalupe, we were feeling pretty good and decide to put in another 28 miles to get us within a day’s ride of our destination. Shortly into the ride Zach recorded the first flat tire of the trip, and then just a few miles later, the second. We repaired the tubes, and even replaced the tire the second time to get us back on the road. Anticipating a few steep climbs near the end, we cruised along before taking a brief rest with the final climb ahead of us. We made pretty quick work of the winding two-mile climb, very reminiscent of parts of the Rockies. When we reached the top we could see our destination, and we took off down the hill. We picked up speed on the very nice five-mile downhill and were on the outskirts of Lompac, CA in no time. We rolled into town and spotted a deal at the Motel 6, so we checked in, showered up, and headed down the street to a Chinese Buffet. We are looking forward to a challenging, but enjoyable ride tomorrow as we head into Santa Barbara. Tired and sunburned (sorry mom), we are ready for bed early once again to prepare for our final ride tomorrow – this week has flown by! (Maggie)





California Coast: Day 5 – Truckin

26 05 2010

This morning we woke up early to the sound of Dad calling up a couple rental car agencies, which was AWESOME. The one thing we didn’t get to do much of when crossing the country last summer was experience the towns we stayed in. This time around, in sunny (hah – not so sunny today) California we did just that. With poor weather just around the corner and three 80-100 mile days lying ahead of us we decided it was just not going to be fun or practical to bang these miles out. That, and the terrain is intense (see pictures). This drive reminded us a lot of Logan pass and our trip through the Rocky Mountains. After our breakfast at the Holiday Inn we road our bikes to Enterprise and rented a truck. With the rest of the morning to kill we ditched our gear and road our bikes around Seaside and Monterey. This is a beautiful city and we explored in the daylight what Stuart had highlighted for us last evening including the coast of Pacific Grove and the opulence of Pebble Beach. I found myself, once again, falling in love with this part of the country. The mansions on the beach, deer freely roaming about, and the endless bike trails kept us in awe.

Making it back to our hotel and checking out of our room with one minute to spare (11:59/12:00) we hit the road south bound to San Luis Obispo, CA. This is a wild and beautiful coastal area. About half way through the drive we saw a biker riding through the rain. I shouted out the window with words of encouragement. We stopped at the top of this mountain and waited for her to get to the top. It turns out Kylie (tell us if we spelled your name wrong) was heading to the same place we were and was considering her options for the night. Those consisted of hunkering down without a tent or tarp (keep in mind it’s pouring) or finding a nice hot spring ??? to spend the night in. Needless to say Kylie threw her bike in the back of our truck and jumped in with us. Kylie was a delight and we really enjoyed her company. If you’re ever out east look us up!

About 40 miles outside San Luis Obispo we saw hundreds of elephant seals grunting away on a beach (pictures taken). These things are huge, loud, and disgusting. This had to be one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen. The seals were fighting each other and were piled all over the beach.  Just look at the pictures and video – LOL.

As the terrain leveled out and we travelled slightly inland. We dropped off Kylie in San Luis Obispo and we checked into a Holiday Inn and grabbed dinner at a place called Firestone. Firestone had some great food and has an amazing college vibe to it. Dad loved it and took a few pictures of the place on his phone. San Luis Obispo is a pretty neat city, with every store you could imagine including an Apple store in the heart of downtown.

With a huge leg taken out of our trip we look forward to our ~40 mile days which will allow us to finish the trip as planned, arriving in Santa Barbra on Friday. We will return, at some point when we can allow enough time, to bike the route through Big Sur.

Cheers,

Zach





Day 4 – What a day!

25 05 2010

What a day! You would have thought that after 9 weeks of all 5 of us riding we would have dealt with almost every possible scenario. But, we were never faced with illness or injury…until today. When I woke up at 8:30 (after 12 hours of sleep!) to see Brian still sound asleep, I knew he must not have been feeling better. He managed to get up and get ready to go, but was still not feeling up to riding. Zach and I went to work fixing my broken spoke, something we haven’t done in a while (Jake, we really could have used your help). By the time we were finally ready to go it was 10 O’clock, and we headed into town for breakfast at a local diner. Despite ordering just a single egg and toast, Dad was unable to stomach any breakfast, or even watch Zach and I eat ours. We contemplated renting him a car while Zach and I continued on to meet up with him later, but in the end he decided to give biking a try. We took things slow and headed out of Santa Cruz before finding out way back to highway 1. A fairly easy ride through strawberry fields and country roads brought us to a late lunch on the water. By this time dad was feeling better, and his appetite was improving (we are attributing this sickness to dehydration). We enjoyed our lunch in the sun before heading back out to meet up with a bike trail. We rode this trail for the rest of the day, through small towns, along the coastline, and through sand dunes before calling it quits in Seaside, CA at the Holiday Inn. Though feeling much better, dad was still fading fast and was ready to call it a day. We caught the end of a disappointing Hab’s game before walking next door to dinner at Chili’s. Just before dinner, we arranged to meet up with Stuart (who we met last summer on our cross-country trip when he and his wife Caren were heading east). Unfortunately, our plans were so last minute and Caren was unable to join us – Next time! He met us at dinner and then took us for dessert and a tour of Monterey. Thanks so much!! This was most certainly the highlight of our day and we really enjoyed catching up and trading stories from the remainder of our trips. We wish you guys the best of luck next summer when you complete your trip! Having completed another short day, we are hoping to spend some time here in Monterey tomorrow, riding and seeing a little bit of the area, before renting a car and driving some of the coast to ensure we make it to Santa Barbara on Friday. It is nice to really be able to enjoy some of the places we visit on this trip; something we didn’t get to do a lot of last summer. Though the day certainly started off a little slow and we were not optimistic about our progress, it certainly ended on a much happier note. It’s been a long day so we are off to bed, ready to enjoy some vacation time tomorrow!

(Maggie)





Day 3 – Increased hills and decreased fluids.

23 05 2010

Today we made our way to Santa Cruz, CA. As I write this it’s 8pm PST and everyone is asleep – we are exhausted! 60+ miles today.

We left Pacifica early and were immediately greeted by a huge hill. After powering up the hill we took a short stop and enjoyed the view. Each hill is tough (easy compared to NY, VT, & NH) but is very rewarding because the views are just flat out AMAZING. Check the pictures out on the flickr feed to your right. Today’s ride was 99% ocean view.

Staying on route 1 and most of the bike trails the entire way  allowed us to be no more than 100 feet from the beach for the entire day. We took advantage of this and stopped frequently to take it all in – and also nap ☺

Somewhere along the way Dad’s stomach stopped agreeing with him and he lost his appetite. I think its dehydration. The problem with the weather here is it’s not warm enough to warrant constant drinking of water – so we often forgot to drink. Dad skipped on dinner and went straight to bed as Maggie and I found dinner at a nice (we were very underdressed, as per usual) spot in Santa Cruz. Maggie and I put down 2.5 pitchers of water during dinner, so I guess we were all a little dehydrated – I don’t think any of us felt 100% today. Dad is still not feeling well and I just put him to bed with some ginger ale and crackers. Get better old man.

Tomorrow morning we will rise early to take on some more miles, but not before doing some bike repairs. Maggie broke a spoke coming into Santa Cruz today and fell asleep before we could get to fix it, and Dads bike and mine could use some tuning. I guess we forget that we need to treat these bikes like fine tuned instruments. Beautiful California awaits us in the morning and I’m falling asleep. Good night everyone, and if you’d like to drop some tips of how we better share our experiences email me @ zwoodward at Comcast dot net

If you want hourly updates on the trip as it’s happening make sure to follow twitter.com/sumwhereonabike

Also check out youtube.com/somewhereonabike to view all the videos from the trip, updated daily.

Cheers, Zach





Day 2 – A little more vacation and a little less mileage

22 05 2010

Well, we have really begun to turn this bike trip into a vacation. After a great night’s sleep we woke up to the sunrise over the San Francisco Bay. Despite the late night, we were up super early because of the time change. So we enjoyed a relaxed start and a great breakfast at the hotel. After some basic repairs we killed a little time in Sausalito while waiting for the bike shop to open. The people at Odyssey Bicycles were able to get Brian’s gears running smoothly again, and we stocked up on a few more gear links (just incase…). We grabbed a quick snack then caught the ferry across the bay to Pier 1 and Fisherman’s Warf. The view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the city, and even Alcatraz were unbelievable. We wandered around the city for a bit before catching up with the bike route (this city is packed with bikes). Again, we were ready for food so we stopped for another snack before finding our way back to the bridge, where we started our route south. It was obvious that we were not going to knock out the 80 plus miles we had planned so we took our time and enjoyed the nice ride out of the city, plenty of steep hills though! The scenic route along the coast was incredible, and we followed it until calling it an early day at the Holiday Inn in Pacifica, CA. After grabbing dinner, and catching the Habs game we are all ready for bed, though it’s only 8 O’Clock here.  Hopefully we will be up early again, ready to get ourselves back on schedule tomorrow.

(Maggie)





Day 1 – Mission to the Golden Gate Bridge

22 05 2010

Day 1

Today we rode across the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. (shoutout to Brian, (not our Brian) for helping us find out away across!)

To start the morning we flew out of Boston at 9:15am and arrived at San Francisco Airport just before 1pm PST. In hand we had 12 panniers and three disassembled bikes on the plane. Upon arrival the first thing on all our minds was food, and we quickly attacked a burger joint in the airport. Once fed it was time to get down to business and put our bikes together. When we arrived at the luggage claim all that was left was three boxes with a ridiculous amount of tape on them – our bikes J

One at a time we put the three Fuji touring bikes back together and got our gear together. After we changed into our bike gear it was time to head North – we started IN the airport. Somewhere downtown San Francisco Dad lost his chain… it broke.

I thought we were screwed – the last time this happened was in New York last year on Jakes bike. Once again though Dad fixed it, and we were on our way.

We just finished up dinner, at 10pm PST, and are crawling into our beds in one of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever seen.. Sausalito, Ca

We’ve all almost been up for 24 hours and it’s time to sleep. Pictures and video tomorrow.

Tomorrow we head South to start the trip to Santa Barbra… well hopefully.. Dad’s bike is screwed up pretty bad and we’ll need to find a bike store.

Seeya tomorrow,

Zach








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