Elevation Gain 3,000 feet
Moral – Grin and Bare It
I got a terrible night of sleep! The weather forecasted rain, heavy at times, wind gusts up to 40 mph with temps in the mid 50’s. That had me concerned. Mike was going to drive me out at 7:00 AM. I set the alarms because we were right on the time zone change - in mountain zone now. My watch changed and reflected correctly but both my iPhone and iPad kept bouncing between Pacific and Mountain. So that kept me up as well. Mike and Cookie had to make breakfast for their guest so I couldn’t be late!
7:00 AM came and Mike drove me out to SR 200 and politely waited in the rain to make sure I was okay. So nice! I had to adjust fender because of a rub and off I went for the next 62 miles up route 56, which I am sure is a beautiful road but this is all I saw:
I wish I could have shot a few photos but it was miserable, wet & cold, headwinds, uphill and couldn’t see above a couple hundred feet….
If these rains represent baptismal water my soul must be cleansed of every sin I had ever and will ever commit. It just rained, rained, and rained. I didn’t stop anywhere because I knew once I stopped I would be chilled and even more miserable. My fingers were so cold and the iPhone was so damp that it was inconsistently functioning making the day even more frustrating. I got into Libby and spent five additional miles looking for the U-Haul place. Finally found it then changed into dry clothes but feet were so cold that they were stinging like needles hitting them from all directions. NOT A FUN DAY!!!
Drove over to Columbia Falls as I couldn’t get a room in the local places. Even the 100 mile drive was rain and no visibility. This area is so beautiful but the weather was hiding it. I checked in and immediately start the routine: charge the electronics, wash the clothes, and figure out a dinner plan.
After some research I decided to walk over to Three Forks Grill. Very neat, small, and friendly place. I had cauliflower pakoras with lemon Tahini sauce - which was yummy - followed by an elk burger with pickled onions, cheese, and special sauce. My waitress grew up in Twisp where I was held up a week ago - intersecting lines. While eating at the bar I met a couple, Linda and Jon. They live in East Glacier and we started to share stories and learn more about the area. They were very friendly people. As a matter of fact, when I go through East Glacier later in the week I will either stay with them or at least have dinner with them. I had to perform the Betty Jo penny joke which they and the staff enjoyed. Who wouldn’t?!?
Even though the ride was ugly, really ugly, I was rewarded with a great, great meal and new friends and delightful conversation. Nice day over all.
1,500 Elevation Gain
Moral – Missed Opportunity
The weather was unkind with low clouds and plenty of rain. I am sure that when the sun shines Lake Pend Oreille is spectacular but not for me. At about mile 26 in Grand Forks I had a Gatorade, hoping the sun would break through but to no avail…..As I sat at the table drinking the gatorade 4 guys come fully dressed in cameo, guns at the hip, getting bear licenses. I told them that my friend Bryan got one last year up in Maine. Gene, the leader, said he wasn’t interested in bear meat because the taste and the bacteria they can carry. Somehow we got talking about my trike and why I ride a recumbent trike.
I told him the story that for the better part of 1994-2001 I was suffering four times a year with chronic prostatitis (UTD’s) and that all the doctors masked the problem with CIPRO or some form of penicillin. After all those years of suffering I went to see urologist whose first question was what form of exercise do you do. Well...I bike everyday. Immediately he said, "That’s it get off the bike!!!!" I talked to some friends and just about everyone said get a recumbent - which I did! Ever since I got onto a recumbent I have never had another episode. Apparently Gene has a similar condition and should check into a trike.
Got back onto the trike and was told that Amber Bear Inn was down the road about 12 miles and that about 3 miles before their driveway the road is packed dirt & gravel. Needless to say with all the rain I was hoping for more gravel than dirt. MORE DIRT! When I turned down Amber’s drive the mud was thick and challenging. Probably about a mile off the road and way out of sight. As soon I got off the trike I noticed mud everywhere - derialier, panniers, seat, etc. Everywhere.
The second thing were peacocks strolling around. Up on the deck in front of the place was Mike - co-owner - and a guest enjoying a drink on their beautiful porch….I asked Mike if there was a place to wash my trike and he said underneath. My next question was more of a favor..."Tomorrow morning could he drive me out to the road so I wouldn’t get that mess back…?" Thankfully he agreed.
I stayed in a bungalow about 50 yards off the main building. The main building has four slot machines, a little bingo room, full service bar, and restaurant. The entire business seems to be run by Mike and Cookie - his wife. Lovely people. Wish I had more time to learn their story! Obviously they are hustling as this is an oasis in the middle of nowhere, They are in a spot where they could charge far higher prices they are actually cheap! the food was delicious. Mike and Cookie bought the property in 9, retirement from tech, and built the place about 2003. The main clientele were parents of students who been sent to these private, very exclusive schools as a choice of either this or jail. Who knew that these even existed and apparently in numbers I never knew?!
Anyway, this clientele base was not desirable as they just had a very negative attitude. The schools have closed recently - some financial mismanagement and other reasons. One of these schools had 1:1 staff to student ratio.
With a full tummy and beat I went to my bungalow to get rest. On the way back this one peacock was strutting his stuff….had no idea they spread about 15 feet in diameter…..
After the peacock, there was Shelby in the pasture who walked over for a nice head rub.
In the evening the elk return and visit the pond
And then apparently every evening the elk return and visit their pond
Everybody walks through the property - bear, coyotes, elk, lions, and many hummingbirds.
3,000 Ft gain
Moral – Somebody is watching over me!!!!
The weather forecast had rain projected from about 9 - 11 a.m. and storms starting at 2:00 p.m.
I decided to hit the road at 6 a.m. to try to get to Newport - 50 miles by 9:30 a.m. & wait for rain to pass then heading Sandpoint, ID. Most of the start was flat - finally a flat start! Finally got a chance to see some wildlife. I saw a fox running across a pasture full of cows resting. Next was a skunk in a ditch a bit ahead. At about mile 30 I came up on a crest and down the road was bear about 200 yards up. I immediately hit the brakes and got the camera out.
“Wait….don’t be stupid….think…..photo or be breakfast????”
Decided to turn the music up to full blast and wait for the reaction. I am happy to say he responded by running into the woods. Whew!
I got into Newport and sat in McDonalds for about two and a half hours as the rain came. Inside were two retired guys, probably 70’s, who obviously meet regularly to chat. They asked a few questions and one gentleman left. The other guy, Bill, and I started talking about the trip, where we lived, and life experiences. Bill was born in Seattle and did a stint in a smelting plant in Pecos, TX. When that plant closed he came back up to Everett and worked at Boeing for 20+ years. Bill learned how to be a diviner - a skill he utilized in building his house. Of course - where to dig the well?! I didn’t realize besides locating water it can also predict flow. As we were talking about the route ahead, Bill suggested I stay on the north side of the river even though the traffic will be heavier and faster speeds. The proposed route had a lot of tight curves and traffic could be challenging. He mentioned that a young woman who was visiting out here and jogging tragically was hit by a logging truck. I listened to Bill.
As I pulled out of McDonalds I threw on the rain jacket. Ten minutes later it poured for about 10 - 15 minutes. Again while traffic was heavy most were courteous. About two hours later I pulled into Sandpoint. I went to the hotel - took a quick shower and took the camping gear that I had shipped here to the post office & shipped it to Iowa. I think I can make to Iowa in mid-June without that gear - plus it saved me a couple hundred dollars for not getting the trailer!
Coming out of the post office I walked a few blocks over to the downtown area and discovered the gem. Check out the photos on instagram and FB! I went into a gallery and bought a gift for PIF. A surprise!
Well - like all the other days I was hungry and thirsty. I walked into microbrewery called MickDuffs and settled into a nice beer. I ordered fried calamari steaks that were fabulous and equal to the brew. I started talking to Scott, who was raised here, spent time up in Alaska working in oil drilling and now is back here doing the same. He spends a lot of time traveling over to North Dakota doing rigging work. He was very helpful with the route planning. At some point I had to do my new favorite joke that Betty Jo taught me! It went over well. Then I had to share it with Julie, the manager. At first she was apprehensive but we got a smile out of her. Very nice place, food, brew and staffs were the best so far!
I thank every person who decides to put a smooth road surface in. What a difference it makes!
And last THANKS TO PIF, FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND SUPPORTERS.
If you have been following the story and haven’t donated please do so. Next week the CAA students will be having their talent show in the QC. Please go and support these talented students!
Elevation Gain 3,000 Feet
Moral – Reflections
Now at the end of day 7, 6 Biking, 375 miles (better than 10% of the way). Elevation Gain 29K Feet
Day started rough - within 1st mile my gear shifter become disengaged. Quick call back to “TEAM AMLINGS” and Kevin helped me get it back together. Whew…
Again, the climb started at about mile 2. What is it about these early climbs? Are they testing me? Honestly I struggled - had to practice patience and keep my mind focused on the long haul not my immediate speed. Somewhere around mile 14 a local bicyclist came up on me and we started talking.
Greg moved into the area 2.5 years ago. He hung around for a mile or so talking (me breathing heavy.) He is a pastor in the 7th Day Adventist Church and has two churches up here. It was pleasant to have company. Quickly he sped ahead as he had commitments and I lumbered on. At about mile 16 I was feeling okay, did a check and realized I had already done 80% of the climb. Boosted my spirits! So at mile 30 the downhill was going to start - stopped to take a picture of what is now my favorite sign.
It was at this point when I heard the song from Mike and the Mechanics, In the Living Years, come on. I was blessed with great parents! As I started down the hill I was singing at the top of my lungs the lyrics - almost welling up with emotion as I know not everybody is so lucky. When I thought I about the lyrics, I felt I had to SHOUT OUT…..MOM I LOVE YOU AND THANK YOU FOR SETTING MY ETHICS, VALUES, CONFIDENCE, SPIRIT!!!!
Got into the hotel - what a great spot. Town is about ¼ mile away.
Walked into town and had lunch/dinner at Block Bar and Grill - great burger. Met the silent partner Betty Joe.
Betty Jo, grew up here, married at 14 and she and her husband moved to Alaska and raised a family. She and her grandsons now run this place. Her spirit reminds of my mom's. She takes no BS and is straight forward and has some interesting tales. She is young at 87!!! Just like someone else I know.
After listening to her stories, she is also a Leo, and the woman barely into the picture is a Leo and expecting a Leo birth.
Betty Jo tells me a joke with two pennies on the table - coins Face up.
"Do you see 2 cars?"
I say "No."
"2 Lincolns, she says."
She flips the coins.
"See any snakes?"
"No," I say.
"2 copper heads!!!!"
She then looks at me and says… "Do you see any sex?"
.....I say, "No…"
She replies, "For two cents - you never will!!!!!"
See? She has the same spirit as the Queen of Canton, Md.
Truly intersecting lines!!!!
The hotel - River View is exceptional - great place to stay! Owner is friendly, room great, wow!
Elevation Gain 5,300 Feet
Moral – No U Turn….Forward
The trip out of Republic was just like the other days, except 1. Two miles then the hills!!! Miles 2 - 19 were up and up and up. I thought I was going to be beaten, but what I realize is every morning the first hour or six miles, it must be my body adjusting to the demands again. After the adjustment things just start to settle in.
Beautiful scenery. Just keep pedaling and don’t worry about speed per mph - its a tough lesson to keep repeating. Most of the gain in elevation was the first 19 miles. Hit mile 20 and the Geico Pig comes out!!! It was so cold at the top of Sherman Pass had to put a jacket on anticipating the down hill. My fingers and feet were numb about 45 minutes later. Stopped along the flat part and saw some info areas about the CCC and the era.
Got into Colville and my hotel was very suspicious, even more so than Monday’s. The owners - a young couple - were very accommodating as they had to change the bed layout and furniture so I could get Velo into the room. Took a quick shower rested and went out for groceries and lunch/dinner. Lunch/dinner becoming a theme as it is about 4:00 PM - too late for lunch and too early for dinner, but I am a whipped puppy!
Went to place called Oak St. Grill but may have also been Stephani’s Pub. Anyway, the place felt like my grandfather's bar but only the music playing was Pink Floyd, then ELP and then I heard the theme from Pink Panther - how appropriate! Turns out Renee, who is the bartender, has as broad a taste in music as I do. She's worked here 13 years. She recommended the potstickers which were out of this world - the sauce = to die for. I complimented the pot stickers with a philly cheese steak that was equally delicious. Spoke to another gentleman at the bar about the area. He is a logger. Apparently the wildfires were bad here in 2015-16.
Anyway by 8:30 I was singing the zzzzz.....
Moral for today – Confidence ( believe in yourself)
Why 40 miles….combination of apprehension and logistics
Apprehension because it was climb that almost mirrored Saturdays, long climb 30 miles with and elevation gain of 4,200 feet.
Thankfully I could rely and draw on Saturdays experience and just focus on forward. The trip was what I had hoped for a couple days ago. The climbs were challenging and long but in between were plateaus of several miles to reset and catch my breath. Heavily traveled by log carriers. Most drivers were respectful.
Moral – Around every bend the hill continues
Twisp River Hotel Suites is a gem! Besides great room, staff they also provide a very nice breakfast, couple quiches, fruit, and cinnamon rolls from the local bakery. While at breakfast Keith, day manager, and I were talking about various subjects and one of the guests joined us. She are her husband and traveling around the Cascade route by car. She had an interesting story about her daughter who served in the military, was POW in Korea (last 7-10 years) and all the trial tribulations that her daughter is going through. She sounded incredibly talented but the miss diagnoses almost cost her life. But she persevered. Finally graduated college. Due to her illness caused by her service to our country she needs to find employment that will her to work from home. These people sacrifice so much for our country and their treatment is not acceptable. Keith was in the Navy and actually was a photographer, born in Illinois and moved out to the west around 10 years old. Apparently while we were talking a man named Jesse overheard some of conversation and quizzed Keith about my adventure. He went on the website donated and pledged his support! A successful morning….
The first 13 consisted of 2 flat and 11 up, elevation gain north of 2,600 feet. Climbing out of Twisp, a mist started and continued for the entire uphill. That uphill was deceptive as I looked at the tree line and would keep thinking I topped out. But no it just kept going…..Yesterday I said I had giving back elevation gain with intermediate downhills but would have accepted a small one today. When I crested another joy ride! About 17 miles of downhills and flats. Top speed down was 42 mph. When I go down at these temps my eyes water up and then create blurriness so on go the brakes. This part of the trip had me going through apple, cherry and other fruit orchards. Had great BBQ pulled pork on Okanogan. Recharged the legs and lungs and onto Tonasket the next 30 miles.
The hotel in Tonasket has the look of one of those fly by nite motels that you see in crime stories like Law and Order. Interesting owner and strange collection of autos from the guest. Well what do you expect for $54 total. Important thing was shower was warm and I could sleep, with the bike against the door.
Dinner was at Shannon’s. Great deal!!! Food was pretty good and prices were very reasonable… Ate outside and a beer and went back to the motel. I was asleep by 8:30PM.
WE GOT TO GET THE DONATIONS ROLLING IN!!!! Pinky is yipping in my ear all the way.
Adversity – Plan B
Goal Winthrop – Tonasket. 70 miles
Achieved 8 miles to Twisp
PIF left this AM to go back real world….I'm going to miss her in so many ways…..
Pulled out of Winthrop fully loaded and eager to get to next…. Was fighting pedaling… Couldn’t get any speed...were my legs spent? Did I over do day 1&2? So I turned off my music and heard a rubbing sound and could sort of smell a burnt smell. Well the camping gear was resting on the fender and that was rubbing the rear tire… It actually melted the fender and the bag a bit….a local guy saw me and asked a couple of questions about bike and trip…mentioned a trailer would probably be a solution…. Sat in parking lot for about two hours thinking and came up with a solution!
Order a trailer and ship it to a point where I’ll be 5 days out! Ship gear today. Don’t lose the waiting for it here…not necessary for next 5 days… Only problem is post office is closed until tomorrow….
So got to explore Twisp….very small and cute and friendly town….booked a room at Twisp River Hotel/Suites. Wow! Great place right on the river….great staff. Cycled to grocery store for fruits and sandwich. Actually can & did laundry here… It needed to be done. Met a lovely lady and her parents who have moved into a new gallery space called Methow Art Alliance that is opening May 23! They have an Edward Curtis Photo Exhibit. Worth viewing……tonight I had to box up gear to ship it out tomorrow… The night manager at the Inn was most helpful… Got into talking about the trip and the CAA and Leslie was ecstatic… she called her former students who were basically gifted as our CAA team “squirrels”…..
I think this was meant to be!!!!!
Tonight, even though there is a great bed in the room, I will sleep on sofa listening to the raging river flow by.....
Even a setback has a positive note!!!!
MORAL FOR DAY
Never underestimate team and loving support!
Day 1 was easy except for dealing with the rain.
Day 2 I knew was going to test! The forecast was 70 miles altitude gains of 7,500 feet. A long climb of ( first thought was 25 miles) 40 miles. The first 6 miles consisted of a 1,000 ft gain. Why after you climb do you have to give it back on a downhill to take it back? At mile six I was apprehensive about the journey. This clearly is why I was doing treadmill work practicing patience. However it felt like I was fighting something but just didn’t check. Ugg. At mile 25 switched out batteries as it was almost dead. Didn’t exercise the battery that much just conserving energy. As I approached mile 35 I heard a rubbing sound and stopped flipped the trike and noticed the right parking brake was occasionally rubbing……Ahhhh that explained so much…. Disconnected parking brakes and onward to mile 40…..it took almost 6.5 hours to climb 7,500 feet and go 40 miles…. The next 30 miles I felt like that pig in the Geico commercial screaming Weee out the Window!!! It only took about 1.5 hours to get to Winthrop. I topped out at about 45 miles an hour with my brakes on around some of the bends….
Winthrop is a beautiful touristy town. Main Street looks like a scene out of an old west movie. Several dining options, all of them packed as the Canadians are down here for a long weekend, Victoria Day. We are only about 50 miles from the border.
Review of the day… Beautiful scenery, fantastic fragrances from the forest, wonderful waterfall sounds, and while challenged and sometimes frustrated onward. They claim this trail is equivalent to going through the Alps. Just stunning!!!
So the moral…. Day 2 was very special and made possible by my Partner in Fun (PIF)…. Laura was very supportive and waited patiently during the day to make sure I was okay and support/ cheer. At various points she would be on the shoulder screaming support. Very reassuring knowing someone has your back! To take a full day and just follow me up and down the road stresses the importance of teamwork and loving support. She has a demanding job and this day and her sacrifice was a testament to love. At one point she ran into the town ahead, Mazama, grabbed a fresh sandwich and recharged a battery for me just in case.,
The bike shop on the west side of Winthrop was very helpful getting me a brighter helmet to lessen PIF’S concerns about visibility and also helping me with my Osprey bladder. I didn’t know there was an ability to turn them on and off. I also noticed I had a small leak in a bladder that I had to solve.
The results of the 1st 2 days is I am 1 day ahead of schedule.
Couldn’t wait to get a bite and sleep….Made it with the help of PIF!!!
Tomorrow is promised to no one.
Sometime in early February between phone calls about job opportunities and what’s next for me, I began to think about my life, family, friends, and experiences. I have had a blessed life with loving parents, brother, wife and friends. I have seen more of the world than 95% of the global population. I have also had too many friends and colleagues who saved or delayed that special trip or experience thinking that tomorrow will be there only to be dealt a hand that was unforeseen. Right now, Laura and I have very close friends who are experiencing just such a situation. This couple, despite their challenges, continue to inspire us and others around them with optimism and the strength of their love for each other and family. It is with this backdrop that I kept coming back to my dream of wanting to cycle from the west coast to the east coast. This would be a trip to experience people and appreciate the beauty of our country! SO WHY NOT NOW!?!?!?!
I started Googling maps and bike routes from west to east. Should I go the southern route, shorter by 500 or so miles and I could get an earlier start like April? I selected the northern route because I wanted to avoid the spring storms, tornadoes, and eventual heat. I also love the mountains and snow-capped peaks! So with the help of the Adventure Cycling Association, I am cycling across Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, down to Iowa and then across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and eventually back to my hometown Baltimore. The trip is ending up close to 3,500 miles.
I downloaded the ACA app and started the detailed planning. The app supported my ability to determine miles per day I could cycle, elevation gains and losses, facilities, points of interest, and just what was possible. I most likely looked at the plan on my excel spreadsheet every day with Google Maps and Rand McNally. I was constantly tweaking it even up to this last weekend. Did I want to come off the trail and go a little south to see the Coulee Dam? That would have put me on a busier road however I decided to remain on the direct trail. I can always change my mind on Day 3.
As I started the detailed planning, and shared my dream with Laura, she responded with, “Well, if you are doing this ride, you should do it for a cause and for something you really believe in…something local…not a national cause.” Without hesitation, I immediately responded that I would dedicate all fund raising efforts to the Creative Arts Academy (CAA)! I have followed the CAA and the founders from inception. The level of passion the faculty, staff and students is infectious! Shortly thereafter, after a James Taylor concert at the venue in the Quad Cities, we hitched a ride with Joel and Diane, the CAA founders, and we brought up the idea of doing this fundraiser. Since it was late at night, Mom and Dad, as I affectionately call them, responded, “Oh. That’s nice.” It was not until the next day that it hit them what we had mentioned and immediately followed up with us to see if we were serious. We responded favorably and they were equally excited to do this with us and more importantly they committed to enlist the help of the CAA students!
We quickly developed a small but fierce team to start planning the fundraising. The team consists of Joel and Diane Franken, Jessica Taylor, Caitlin Amburn, Laura and me. We had weekly calls and assignments, discussed social media content and ads, direction, fundraising events, soliciting the help of a core group of students (affectively called The Wolfpack), talking to local QCA media, tv and press, for interviews. We set a goal of $100K!!! Just like in my career, if you are going to go after something make it worthwhile!
I watched many YouTube videos of people who had done extensive bicycling treks over long distances, especially Bicycle Tour Pro. His trips were informative and very helpful. The others were very informative as well. These videos covered everything from what to pack, tips for selecting camping locations, setting expectations and other tidbits.
I also talked to several friends and experienced cyclist about their experiences and what to expect. Particularly helpful were my good friends Dave and Denise (11) Hausler. They are avid cyclists and very knowledgeable.
In mid April I flew to back to Chicago to Amlings Cycle to get a crash course from the guys on how to maintain the trike. Josh spent the better part of 4 hours helping me do everything from flat repair, chain fixing, fine tuning and just general tidbits as he treks days at a time as well. I walked out of the store with new friends and a pair of sandals for biking plus a spare battery. I spent the evening with my great friends Ed and JaYne Carpenter reminiscing, having a great burger and then Ed beating me at darts….always good to spend time with them…..
Physical & Mental Prep
At the early stages I extended my treadmill time per day. I jumped it up from 30 minutes to eventually 2 hours. Just to teach myself patience…. I know there are going to be days where it will be 25-40 miles of a gradual elevation gains of 6,000 feet and the pace will be slow and will have to just grind it out….. I’m not the most patient person so this was a challenge……
In March started to cycle….10 mile trips grew into 20 then 30 and then 50….always at one clip…..my first trip with the panniers had me questioning my saneness…..on about mile 2 of that trip I was struggling….. Cursing myself, calling myself an idiot for undertaking this adventure….I was making a fool of myself….When I got home after 25 miles I was unloading the panniers and noticed I did that trip with parking brake on….After laughing at myself I felt reassured….Pinky had very dirty feet from the rubber burn off though…….