|Dates:||4 Jun 2017 - 2 Oct 2017|
Starting from Seattle in mid-June 2017, I'll be aiming to ride the Adventure Cycling Association's Northern Tier bicycle route with two other riders, Jim and John. We'll be self-supported, riding touring bicycles with pannier bags. My wife, Kate, will be joining us in early September to finish the ride with us.
Jim's riding to raise money for Parkinson's disease research as a tribute to his late father.
View from Cadillac Mountain
Well done boys! A fantastic achievement. Relish in it. As we are coming to the end of this part of our travel adventure we recall: SAYINGS along the way: i) 'the need for a stealth pee.'The boys had many more than Kate. If nothing else, it was a lot easier for them. ii) 'speaking with absolute confidence & no knowledge!' iii) 'time for a second breakfast' (just like Bilbo Baggins) AMUSING FOOD BRANDS: Smuckers ; Snick a doodle; Get along little doggy. THINGS We WONT MISS: The incessant noise of passing cars on Highways No 1; unnecessary, complicated shower taps with annoying water saving shower heads; light switches where on means off; alligator cracks on the road every few feet (these are caused by frost heave, which means parts of the road rise up or drop down resulting in very annoying and sometimes dangerous gaps.) THINGS That DO Your HEAD IN: signs that say 'you have reached the town line of Belfast' Yes we may have but this in fact means, 'suckers, you have at least another 15 miles with lots of hills yet to go before you reach your destination!' LASTING IMPRESSIONS: so many wild apple trees, pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere, missing out on the moose calling competition, the lovely aroma of passing fresh washing on the line...perhaps influenced by not being able to do laundry as often as desired! The smell of oil of many pine trees, the humus of the woods; trees, trees, trees, beautiful,coloured foliage, lakes, lakes and water everywhere. Finally, and most lasting of all, the brief, spontaneous, lovely encounters and conversations with so many friendly people along the way: Mike who is cycling the circuit of America; Brenda and all the beautiful bike angels like her. Brenda who called out to us from her window on the hottest day and at our lowest ebb, to invite us in to have cold drinks and the warmest hospitality; Brother ? A member of The Shakers - a small religious group, who carved out the most beautiful bowls from hardwood; the tow truck driver who was amazed at how far we had travelled and wanted to buy us something & give us a lift to the next town. Kate wanted to, Noel, of course, didn't. The young mum who apologised for Trump and thanked us for giving Americans the benefit of the doubt....to name but a few. Travel emphasises many things but most of all, people are overall, good and just want to get on with their lives, love & do what's best for their families and live peacefully. If only the guys at the top could accept these plain, simple and powerful facts.
P.s there will be another blog or waypoint or two.
We met up with John again which was great as we had not seen him for nearly 2 weeks. We also had the pleasure of meeting his wife Deb. We lunched together before John, Noel set off for their 20 mile Victory run with Kate in tow.
We finally made it to Verona John & Caroline!
Cool bridge to Verona Isand
Lots of flea markets today. Here's a new project for you Ross!!
Stopped for lunch at historic Belfast. Noel was approached by a number of people who were in awe of the fact that he had biked so far. It was nice.
Ok. It's official. Noel has arrived at the Atlantic, the other side of the USA!
This is Dickens, the friendly Scottish terrier belonging to Martha, our lovely host
Oak Gables B&B feels a bit like Cruden Farm. Kate couldn't be happier. Not so sure about the cat.
This is more like it! A much easier day and trip to Damariscotta. ( don't these names get you?!). At last, we got in early so a chance to be slack tourists.
Get your 🎃 for Halloween.
Weather much more benign.
In Brunswick @ the Daniel Hotel after an epic day in very trying conditions- around 28c but very humid and relentless hills. Might not have got here but for another bike angel - Brenda. She asked us in for a drink after we'd stopped outside her home checking the map. Give us a chance to cool down. Thanks Brenda and her cute cat.
This gives you an idea of how damn hot it was. Who says cows are not smart?
Definitely has been a Cleaves Trip! Perhaps just different spelling. Speaking of which, another piece of trivia.... 'll' does not seem to appear in American grammar eg: jeweler, counselor,chili.
Beautiful sunset this evening at Naples.
Noel 's birthday today. I had nothing to give him so had to think laterally. Gave him 2 red fallen autumn leaves, I really bad coffee from local diner and razor blades from right aid chain pharmacy store. ( he really needed those) . Also sang "Happy birthday to you" for most of the day. What more could he want?! Speaking of songs, we've had a number along the way. To name one; "All the leaves are brown & the sky is grey "(mamas & the papas). Tried to get Noel to sing the echo bit...not too successful. Again v warm day so set off early to head to Naples. Hit Sweden before that (weird names I know). V hilly leaving Sweden. At one point we were at the crest of a hill and before was a hyperbolic curve (complete U shape) of the next hill laid out before us . GULP!!! Lived to tell the tale. Re the photo: people put the most amazing and often kitch ornaments in their gardens. Sometimes, though they seem very real, particularly from a distance- like this 🦌. .. should've gone to spec savers!
Scenery keeps changing - rolling hills and rock fences
We've entered Maine - last state on the northern tier route!
Hung around the white Mountains youth hostel that we have to ourselves. Can now appreciate Yoko and John wanting to b sloths in bed for a month. We have been watching Yes Minister, lost in space and Shaun the sheep on YouTube! This is the life. This is my default position!
Ok Noel finally revealed the elevations to me on this map. At this point I passed out.
Staying in Conway
Some relief from the hills. Wanted to jump in but just stuck my face in. This just before we flew down the mountain for 4 miles. Sense of freedom as you fly down the middle of the road , assuming there are no cars behind you of course.
OMG 😲 we made it. I actually had tears of sweat 💦 streaming from my helmet and down my back!
Beautiful viewing from the top rather than from the bottom looking up!
Absolutely beautiful country
A hot day in the 90s, cycling through many beautiful woods.
And slowly up we go through forests..,
On the Kancamagus Hwy...
Staying in North Lincoln. Tomorrow, the Kancamagus Highway!
We crossed the Appalachian Trail this afternoon
Scenery continues to be great
Up early for breakfast at a diner on a cool morning. Then rode via Piermont, Haverhill and North Haverhill where climbing really started in ernest.
Ok. An editorial comment or two. It does our head in, the amount of plastic used here in the States. I asked for a glass; non existent. Yesterday we ordered two cokes from a roadside diner and could not believe that despite the Cokes being in cans, before we realised it the young woman had poured each into a plastic cup complete with lid and plastic straw wrapped in paper for us to drink from for a few minutes then to dispose. We are always mindful of trying to minimise our footprint as tourists but here it is very difficult. When we were at the fort a few days before and we saw exhibits of 16th Century intricately decorated pottery plates and cutlery, it struck me that in the future, others will look at relics of now. As they glance at polystyrene cups, plates, plastic cups and cutlery, don't think they will be as impressed. I'm sure the comments will be about how dumbed down civilisation was at this time; wanting immediate gratification only to dispose of it almost instantly.
Very cool place to have dinner before heading a mile or two outta town to Fairlie drive in hotel, our bed for the night. Yes, if there was a movie to be screened we could sit and watch from our bedroom window. We have a speaker in our room. Very 😎.
Magic autumn day, not too warm, being showered by falling autumn leaves, riding alongside brooks, streams, rivers, waterfalls. Absolutely beautiful and to top it off, the covered bridges that I remember from the movie, Bridges of Maddison County with Merryl Streep. We stopped for lunch in a small country town and met a delightful young woman; new mum of a 7 week old baby. She sat with us and like so many before her, wanted to know about our travels. On leaving us, she stated that she was currently embarrassed to be an American with Trump at the fore and thanked us for giving Americans the benefit of the doubt. We informed her that if it was any consolation, Australian politics had dumbed down significantly too
Two huge days of riding and climbing. Feels like boot camp when Noel sets alarm for 6.30 to start riding before 8am. First day, mother of a hill outside Middlebury. Climbed 2000ft! Today less so but still lots of hills. 12% grade. Going so slow up a hill, I get up close and personal with all the critters on the road. Amazingly coloured 🐛 orange & black, translucent. They can move quite fast but can't help but think they are on a death mission trying to cross the road. Must be like crossing the Nullaboor for them. I wish them well. Huge hills, huge distances , huge pumpkins. Nothing is small in 🇺🇸.
Cold and foggy start to the day but scenery still fantastic
Staying in bed and breakfast in Bethel
At the end of the climb was this sign...yeah
Robert Frost memorial (more about him later from Kate)
The general store at Ripton
Stopped for a break at a great general store in Ripton...complete with a very old post box system
Up early and up a hill towards Middlebury Gap....saw this sign but couldn't work out what it was trying to tell us
Noel just finished reading John Steinbeck's 'Travels with Charley' about Steinbeck's travels across the USA with Charley, the dog.
Highly recommended as it still described many unchanged aspects of the USA. Great book.
Ok, this is our kinda town....really lovely rural Middlebury in Vermont. Sign says it all really. Having a rest day. YIPPEE! Being a regular tourist. As you know, the writer's aspirations are not high. We are staying at a lovely, self contained 2 storey unit with lots of attention to detail and home comforts. Oh I am not ready to leave. Noel will drag me out of here tomorrow morning at sparrows as he sets the alarm for boot camp. It bothers me that he has bought lots of snack supplies. OMG, this means it's gonna be tough. It's gonna be like those 6.15am Monday morning spin classes where Caitlin yells over the doof doof music...."what are your goals?" "What are you here for?" "Dig deep". Guess what, I'm really happy being a shallow person! I said to my beloved Noel today, "I so love and respect your tenacity....I just don't wanna share in it!" Oh well, best I make the most of lard arsing on their lovely soft couch tonight watching crap T.V before the harsh Woody Allen reality sets in tomorrow. I read a local mag today and it quoted speaker Bill McKibben who gave the hopeful graduation speech to the MIIS graduates. By the way, the word graduation comes from the Latin 'gradus', meaning 'step'. (Noel's dad would've known that for sure)... anyway, as usual, I digress....back to the speech: " As you step out into your new lives, you are stepping into a world with dark shades of reality and light flashes of hope. You must step up, there is work to be done! " Good luck with that you graduates. Best I take that on board as I step out , onto my bike into the harsh reality of hills and more hills. Let's hope there are light flashes of hope I.e more downhills than up!
Otter Creek falls
Rest day today - bike maintenance, laundry and sightseeing. Here's a bit of history about John Deere
Despite all the hills and the heat....oh and I must add, my two lovely male companions were usually quite intent on having detailed conversations about the topography of the places we were about to embark on. I reckon there are two types of people in the world; those who want to know when they're gonna die; what challenges lie ahead, what obstacles they are to face, what hills, (literally), they are gonna climb and those who don't. I am the latter!! Things however did get much better after we arrived at our air B&B in Middlebury - a really comfortable, homely self contained unit in an interesting University or as they say here, College town with somewhat of a conscience, it seems.
Another scenic cemetery - divided by religion as usual
Somewhat amazingly we are now in Vermont!
We precisely followed these instructions. If only! Once off the ferry, It was a relatively inauspicious introduction to Vermont....The sweet smell of rotting apples, the smell of farms and a piggery and of course, a mother of a hill and it was hot. It felt a bit like when someone arrives from OS and drives down the Tulla to Melbourne city. It can only get better!
Crossing Lake Champlain by cable ferry to Vermont
Kate finally spat the dummy at the fort!
King's Garden @ Fort Ticonderoga
Spent last night in the Super 8 motel in Ticonderoga. Had a great meal at the Wagon Wheel restaurant nearby complete with cab sav and Paradox beer!
Arrived in Paradox this afternoon. Things are not what they seem here! An unseasonably warm day. We Crossed the Hudson River earlier today and passed many beautiful lakes as still as mill ponds. Just like mirrors. Stunning. As beautiful as it all seems, it gets to 4.30ish and I've had enough. After 74km and one mother of a hill that reached to the sky, I ask , How much further? 4 miles. FOUR MILES?!! Oooo things start to get ugly. At this point I'm so wishin I am home, sitting on Mavis' couch, having a cuppa with her and watching 'Good chef, Bad chef. '
After a hard 3km on loose dirt we came to this point
Our first moose..,,
In a bed and breakfast in Newcomb
Custard's last stand
Lunch stop after lots of hills on a hot day
This barn stands out....
Stopped at Blue mountain lake to have a coffee and demolish another of Betty's jelly (jam filled doughnuts) OMG, they are the best. They leave Sth Melb market's hot jam doughnuts for dead! There was the annual antique fair in the Main Street. Nothing special really but what was particularly abhorrent was the stall that had heaps of heads of deer, stuffed raccoons, bears, bison. Awful. What is even more bizarre is "Booth'sWildlife Creations" which "brings your hunt back to life." Would've been best to leave the wildlife alone in the first place. Have managed to take quite a few photos of deer up close. Gosh what an easy target they must be as they stand absolutely still, hoping you won't notice them.
Stopped in Blue Mountain Lake for a coffee and a look at an antique festival
Met this delightful guy, Mike who had been on the road since Jan 1st. He is doing a circuit of the States. He has done over 10,000 miles. Truly amazing! He worked as a vet in his own practice and sold it to begin the most amazing venture. We get to meet some incredibly inspiring people. John was telling us that once graduating from College as a vet you come out with a qualification and a $500,000 debt!!
Day continues to be tough. Cleaned our chains ..... now for Kate's scrapbook and oh, there's wine
Kate fuelling up carefully ahead of tomorrow's ride with the world's best jam filled donut
Noel busy working at Raquette local library. Planning the next few day. Wifi fast!
Staying in Raquette Lake Tap Room - rest day tomorrow
We're now in the Adirondacks
Leaves are ripe
Not long after leaving Boonville on a beautiful autumn morning
Didn't take long for the Cleaves to trash the room though with our washing. Definitely go back to basics with being so exited to be able to do the laundry. Pity I don't have so much gusto back home. We head for the laundromat and so begins the introductory course 101 for DFTs. (dumb f....er tourists) except we needed remedial. Two lovely women who looked like they had spent the day doing the washing....they had heaps!! We gave them many a laugh. Task 1 to complete: get change. OK that was easy. Competence achieved. This unit was definitely created to establish confidence in the DFT learner. Task 2: Course objective:to achieve getting really serious about "Learning about Laudromats Course 101" now. i)Place washing into machine.tick. ii) Close lid. Tick. iii) put quarters into coin slots (trick unit to sort the smart tourist from the dumbos ...unfortunately we're the latter. How many quarters does it take to make up $2? OK 8. Yeah correct. There are only 4 slots. Lively debate began amongst the Cleaves.... so you must do it twice and quickly...Yes? No? After the laughing subsided, the women came to our aid as the Cleaves began to argue and things heated up! Guess what you put 2 quarters in each slot! DFTs have to repeat this unit at a later time to ensure competency is achieved and fighting stops. Also choice of delicates cycle questionable as damn clothes were not spun AT ALL and no seperate spin cycle available. On to 2nd stage of course: Ability to Use Dryers - ok here we go. i) Put (sopping wet) clothes into dryer. Tick. ii) put quarters into slot. Ah ha learned from previous unit , we put 2 quarters in each slot. OMG nothing happens, it's not working, we've just used all our coins!! Only to finally realise that DFT (who shall remain nameless) had put coins into wrong dryer. Empty dryer working beautifully. Totally exhausted and dying for a drink, we say goodbye to the delightful women who spent the whole time laughing. They wished us well on our journey and thanked us for making their day.
We stayed at The Victorian Country B&B - very classy. A standard to which I am more accustomed and a long way from the tent & one burner stove for Noel.
One of the many log cabins along the way whilst biking thru upper NY State. So so quiet. When you stand still, you hear nothing. The silence is deafening. I love the solitude of the woods but I know I am definitely a city slicker when it is sooo quiet that I begin to feel slightly anxious. Also think I've seen too many scary movies of what might happen in the woods! Had a lovely night with our host Lenora who offered to take us to a diner when we realised the local bar was closed. We were saved from having cheese sangers for dinner. Thank God. As we got into her Subi, I sank my derrière into her leather seats. OMG I was in heaven! Take me to the moon and back! We sailed up those hills ..the ones I laboured up today.
A magic Autumn day of riding along The Moose River road. Autumn leaves already magnificent. Reds, amber, sunflower yellow, burnt orange. Beautiful. ( Jan, you would love it.). Colours grow richer as the afternoon sun mellows. Wild apple trees on the side of the road with apples hanging like ornaments. Picture perfect. I ride each day with the picture of my darling mum, close and darling Mavis with her mate, Jan. This picture taken recently on her 97th birthday.
We are like hobbits.We have Two breakfasts. Our first is from our food supplies - porridge or muesli. Our 2nd is when we hit a diner. Love the diners. Like Happy Days and / or stepping back to the 50's ..not that we remember that!
'World famous Osceola Hotel'
Really warm day 26degreesC. Humid. Less kms but lotta hills. Walked up 2. I was in the lowest gear for those I managed to ride up. Thank goodness I have good balance, Like a tortoise, literally inch by inch. I could walk up faster. Why is it so that, always when on the crest of the hill and aiming to steer straight whilst in the lowest gear, a car, sounding like a Mac truck comes roaring up behind?! Went through Amish area.
Fall is coming...
Amish community have their own schools and children often have to walk often up to 1/2 mile. Parents do not have cars and do not take children to and from school. Must be hard in Winter!
We made it to Mexico!
The writer rode to her limit both yesterday and today. 8.30am start and 5.30ish finish with closing comment of "where the f&@$k is this place? Really starting to lose it !! OMG, amazing how a hot shower, glass of red and food replenishes the body and the soul. Beautiful end of summer/ Autumn days, 20ish degrees C. Great for riding. Some observations: back home there is a pub on every Cnr, here...a CHURCH: To name a few: Baptist bible church, Reformation Lutheran, Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word, Tabernacle Gospel, Church of Trinity Emmanuel etc etc ... WILDLIFE seen so far: 8 dead snakes, 6 barren geese, 5 squashed frogs, 4 live bambies (simply beautiful), 3 dead turtles, 2 black squirrels, 2 eagles, 1 live beaver (that was such a buzz), 1 live skunk, not within, nose thank God, one dead skunk in the middle of the road (like famous song) and of course.... a partridge in a pear tree!
Kate's first baaarrrn - complete with pond and ducks
Sign to Hannibal - think we'll hold off ordering fava beans from the diner.
Not all is rosy in this tourist town / lots of things shut or for sale
Small town politics....
Spent night in Sodus Point.
Fairpoint, a beautiful town on the canal
Rochester - Ramada Hotel Airport
Great afternoon spent at the Clothesline festival - an annual festival supporting the local Arts Museum. About 350 stalls displaying paintings, craft, clothes etc... some kitch, some outstanding. Every second person seemed to have a huge bag of popcorn. It finally got the better of me and I bought a small bag. As Marg would say, Deeeelicious! Like Lolly Gobble bliss bombs. To top it off I received an 'I love New York' show bag complete with badges and stickers. What a day! Rochester is an interesting city a bit bigger than Geelong. Currently undergoing major infrastructure works. Trip home on the bus this evening was interesting... we entered a poorer black area to see police cars everywhere. Something was definitely going on. One of the other passengers informed us that one black woman had tried to shoot another in the head. Certainly brings guns front and centre.
Walking along University street, we saw this notice. Notice they don't include the 'i' for intersex.
We were engrossed in a very powerful photographic exhibition , "Spark a Conversation" by Eugene Richards at the Kodak museum. Over 45 yrs of his career he entered people's lives in an incredibly personal way and captured poignant, painful moments of hurt, pain, poverty, despair. Most poignant for us were the photos attached to a project named "The knife & Gun Club" titled after the nickname given to ER@ Denver General Hospital....candid epiphanies relayed in the 1st person by those who witnessed life & death in rapid succession everyday as part of their life. Secondly, his time spent in a psychiatric hospital in Paraguay, of which he says, " The kinds of cruelty we'd witnessed here as well as in Kosovo, Hungary,Argentina, Armenia & Mexico; it is as if there is a kind of world agreement that once people are classified as mentally ill, you can do things to them that you can't possibly do to other people.
A great day of playing tourist as we took the bus from outside our hotel into downtown Rochester. Bus system is easy to navigate and daily ticket cost all of $3. We comment many times that Oz is soo expensive. We headed to the Kodak company headquarters in and home of George Eastman, the founder.Really great to see all the old cameras..box brownies and Leica cameras were a Beautiful design. One of the deluxe models had a matching compact and lipstick case! University street where had a sculpture walk which we loved. The area is a bit like Parkville.
We are staying in a good hotel near the Rochester airport about 5 km out of town so we went into town on the excellent bus system to a very good predominantly vegetarian restaurant called the Owl House.
Tonight's accomodation.....only joking!
A nice place to sit....
A classic old American church in Spencerport
We continued riding along the Erie Canal
We got back to our hotel mid afternoon on a mission to do some washing to which our delightful front desk person Liz of "Dollingers Inn & Suites" assisted. She allowed me to go into the laundry behind the front desk and use the washing machine. I commented on the amount of washing & folding of linen she had to do. Whilst waiting for our washing, I decided to help. It was a novelty for me. Perhaps I can add this to my resume!
A good day of easy cycling to Morton to explore the area where Noel's brother, Ross and his family lived for a year in 1978. Ross was on a teacher exchange program and taught at a high school in Rochester where he had a very unfortunate experience of having a gun pointed at him by a student. Fortunately it ended well.
During our journey of 35 km,round trip we rode past many corn fields and apple orchards. All the houses we passed were as characterful and neat as Ross & Helen's (pictured previously). Love the fact that no houses have fences and there are rolling, lush green lawns, nearly always with lovely trees - fir, pine, oak to name a few. One out of every 3 houses we see has an American flag. The patriotism blows me away.
Kate buying apples on way back from Morton
Morton Baptist Church - Morton is a very quiet little hamlet. It must have been a bit isolated for Helen when Ross and the girls went off to school each day
The house where Ross, Helen, Janine & Di lived - we think?
And another one
More photos of the house
Unfortunately about a km from last photo Noel had his first puncture of the trip. Buggar!
On the way to Morton
Back to those 74km....all good except for feeling of bone on bone in my butt and chaffing to go with it. OUCH!! All tolerable until...we hit our destination, Brockport. "Where's the hotel?" I eagerly ask Noel. 2 miles outta town is the reply....Not so happy at this point; in fact not happy before that...knackered actually. Lost it when the last two miles were uphill. Quite ugly in fact. 'Beauty' and politeness not regained until after hot shower, belly filled and a glass of red. Warmth towards all humanity absolutely regained when our delightful Uber driver, Anthony, all the way from Rockport, picked us up & returned us to the hotel & insisted on giving us protein bars as well as not charging us for the trip.
We left our B&B, "DeFlippos" in Lockport @ approx 9am. Place was built in 1870 & taken over by this Italian family who over 70 yrs & 3 generations ran an ice business, followed by a restaurant/ b&b. Dominic & his 79 yr old dad were v hospitable & we got to enjoy their meat and veggie lasagna with the secret homemade sauce. Went to the cool cafe as previously mentioned and finally set off for the next 74 km along the Eire canal. Beautiful day going through a number of historic towns & locks. Flat riding (thank God!) One of the lovely aspects of travel are the many brief encounters along the way. We rode with David & Andrew, long time friends heading for New York, we chatted about travel, work, family, philosophy on life. Then we fared each other well. Like Noel I am blown away by people's friendliness & generosity, wishing us well, 'God blessing us' & overall,politeness. Not so sure this would happen back home quite so much.
Kate's got her morning flat white and yes...the cup is that big!
Inside a cool cafe in Lockport alongside the canal where the barista is making Kate a flat white in a real cup and she's very excited
First look at Erie Canal
Can you imagine 'religion' being part of any local Government or other organisations' values in Oz?! Pretty amazing. I am struck by so many nuances and differences having been here all of 3 days. Firstly, everything is upside down or the opposite. Light switches are off when they are on, doors open the opposite way, street signs in one street actually indicate the name of the adjacent street, and horror of horrors, they drive on the wrong side of the road...very disconcerting when riding a bike. My brain is addled! All good for my first day of riding. Unfortunately, already resorted to being annoyed with Noel, who so carefully checks and re checks directions except when we headed down; flew down a steep hill going through an Indian reservation only to find that we had to return and go back up steep hill. NOT HAPPY JAN!! Thank God my spin classes paid off. Also disconcerting was going through Canada/USA border in a car lane with trucks one side and cars all around. Felt v. Exposed. I had to wait behind the line,a good distance away from Noel as he went thru check point. This took ages as customs guy "interrogated " Noel and Noel is gesticulating. What the hell ? What's the issue? Oh God Noel is gonna be detained and I'm left on the god damn bike?!.... All good, guy was v interested in Noel's travels!
It's me folks. I finally made it to Niagara Falls. I didn't even need to do a "Paddington bear"'with a string around my wrist with instructions to get here. Have to say Niagara Falls is really v impressive. Jan, I didn't do the speed boat but did the slow boat and it was amazing. The volume of water constantly flowing is incredible . In fact, Niagara has the highest volume of water of any waterfall in the world. Being back in a youth hostel was interesting. My first thought was,"I'm over sharing bathrooms and toilets", but after my initial negativity, it was fine. It's kind of nice being with other travellers.
Desoto on way to pub
Kate at Hershey store
OK it's still Noel blogging until Kate gets over the jet lag.
First part of the day was slow / lazy breakfast at the hostel with John and then we all went to fro pic bikes at Pedlers bike shop nearby. All was good except for reinstalling Kate's handlebar mounting. Mechanic tried for ages but couldn't work it out so Noel will have a try tomorrow night and if all else fails we will try another shop in Rochester in a few days.
Then we walked up and down the quiet shopping strip near the hostel finding a box to send Noel's camping gear to New York. The strip is either in decline or recovery but it's hard to tell which. Lots of closed shops etc.
We took the boat out to the Falls and got duly soaked. So much water constantly being pushed down.
Also walked through the tunnels behind the horseshoe Falls which gave you an even greater appreciation of the power of the water.
Last bit of tourism for the day was to have a look at the flower house which was great. Photos of some of the sights to follow.
Dinner nearby back at Tap brewery complete with a great musician.
We went into the centre
Busy day....John and I walked into falls area with clear skies and warm weather, so many tourists from all over the world. Lunch then back to hostel to wait for Kate. After a long wait she finally arrived- very exciting to see her after so long.
Assembled her bike in a fashion and will get bike shop to do the rest tomorrow. Our room was trashed in a remarkably short time.
Back into town for. Great Indian meal and then over to Falls to look at flood lights. Again it was very busy but heavens opened so we headed back to hostel by Uber.
Kate will be taking over the blog from tomorrow so be warned....the language may deteriorate depending on hills etc.
Photo us of one of the stately homes overlooking the falls.
We made it to Niagara Falls! So many people from all over the world. Good atmosphere. This is the lead in to the Falls
Reconstructed Fort Erie
Cycled Trail was good - spotted this along the way
Rained pretty much all night. John got up at 7 tried to wake me but I was dead to the world. He packed up in the rain and then about an hour later I woke up when it had stopped raining! We rode on the bike path to Fort Erie expecting rain but it didn't come. Spotted a few modern houses like this one before Fort Erie
After lunch we cycled in an excellent if a bit boring cycle path to our campsite a few miles before Fort Erie.
We sprinted the distance to beat a rain shower which we did. Tents up ready for next downpour overnight. Looks like some entertainment under a big tent tonight which suits us.
We're aiming to get to Niagara Falls tomorrow so I can start to pack up the camping gear to post to New York.
Some thoughts on my camping gear;
Tent: Macpac Microlight - very happy with it. Great bathtub floor which is typical of Macpac. USA style tents have a thinner floor and need an additional footprint under the tent. I like the kiwi style better.
Stove: my 30 year old Trangia performed as it always had - perfectly! I used Yellow Heat which is an anti-freeze for fuel as you can't buy metho here.
Trangia fuel bottle: great design - very happy
Thermarest Prolite Plus sleeping pad - ok; as with similar products I've used over it works fine. I used Jim's thicker bigger and heavier thermarest once and I'd look at that next time as it was amazing. John had an REI copy of the neo air which had a bad leak which he's fixed multiple times.
Sea to summit inflatable pillow - just a Pass - it has a slow leak and isn't that great anyway.
Mont Helium 300 sleeping bag - loved it! I Sea to summit silk inner sheet / love it.
Watching a good country band inside a marquee tent and it is freezing.
Stone on the facade is quite different to others in area
Nice ride through Lake Erie coastal towns like Dunnvile, Lowbanks, Barnaby, Camelot Beach.
Having lunch in Port Colburne. We loved this sign - reckon it could have been placed in Montana to describe the next 3000 miles!
Camping outside Dunnville in a conservation park. We have the camping routine pretty well down pat now - it is really cold at night so Im tucked up inside my Mont Helium sleeping bag
On the same stretch we cycled through another tunnel of trees
The road we cycled on after lunch was one of the trips highlights- quiet, not too rough and for the first time in Canada, adjacent to lake Eirie for the entire time. Lots of water birds....
More wind turbines
Nice to pack the tents up in dry conditions this morning but it was seriously cold - 5C.
Shorter day than for a long time but between sons headwinds and mean hills from shoreline back to ridge it was harder than the 40 odd miles suggested. Staying outside Port Ryerse in a Christian Campground with great facilities right on the lake
Port Burwell lighthouse after leaving our camp this morning
Camping in Port Burwell after 79 miles
Lots of wind turbines like these. We were taking photos when an engineer drove by and asked if we wanted a tour - really good to see them close up
Port Bruce - weather looked ugly but gradually improved
Rode down into Port Stanley (photo) and then up the steepest hill of the trip. Very reminiscent of Cornwall
Lots of evidence of British heritage, this home was in New Glasgow
Up early. Could be an 80 mile day unless a warm showers host pops up in a closer town. Lots of huge wind turbines on farm land. Lots of the farms had solar arrays that tracked the sun
Camping after a very long day - 77 miles. Countryside nothing to speak of until we arrived at Lake Eire. Roads often pretty bad and more highly used by vehicles than we'd like. Tough day....
Rode along the new Trans Canada Trail....hmmmm?
Crossed into Canada for the next ten days or so
Rode to Marine City and now waiting for ferry to Canada
Had lunch with my 'cousin' Lisa and her two children. She had the letter shown in the photo that my dad wrote to what she can only assume to be a relation. She found the letter in her father'a effects. I explained Dad's passion for family history in the latter part of his life. Great to meet her.
Lisa drove me around Marysville but nothing to see other than Canada's industrial side across the river. Then went to nearby Port Huron which had a bit more life but really there was no one out on the streets on a cool grey day. Found a great cafe eventually - Raven.
Marysville school - a bit bigger than the one Dad taught at
A Marysville mural
I did make it into Marysville - sadly not quite the same lovely village our family lived in when I was very young
This is the ex-shopping mall I mentioned - now re-purposed as a storage centre
Epic day - 91 miles with much of it into slight head or cross wind. 8.5 hours on the bike.
We had only intended to ride 65 miles but the motel was booked out so pushed onto the outskirts of Marysville! We're staying in a great motel but the outside car park and adjoining buildings look like the set from the 'walking dead'. Directly opposite the motel is a large building formerly used as a shopping mall with huge car park. The mall closed and is now a self storage centre.
Even water engineers have a sense of humour/ another water tower
I love these buildings - no idea whether they are protected by planning laws but suspect they aren't
Downtown Vassar picture theatre
We stayed at Yellowstone Campground- RVs squeezed together and a crappy overflow camping space but they did have a statue of Yogi
Camping in Frankenmuth - sort of like a mock German village....nsmes of streets, building styles etc. Packed with tourists
Interesting morning cycling along cycle paths then farming land and some of the worst roads we've seen. We were zig zagging trying to not disappear down the cracks and potholes. Got lost coming through Bay City where bike path disappeared. City is reinventing itself with a focus on the river which runs through it but there's lots of work to do. Photo is of my milkshake being made on an old machine
What a great day!
We saw Amish; cycled in clear skies; ate great food (including from the Cops & Donuts bakery) and then managed to talk our way into staying at a Christian Campground as the only campers.
On the way to our campground
All day we saw signs of the Amish
Spotted this in Clare - 9 cops bought a historic bakery that was closing, renamed it and it's been a boom
Pere Marquette Rail Trail in Farwell
Barn of the day. Coldest morning so far - 5c....glad we were in motel
Sign outside the motel
Staying in LeRoy in very basic but welcoming motel. Good days cycling, farewelled Frosine. Cool conditions.Photo is of car outside the motel. Saw some Amish ride by in carts.
These must be the best maintained barns in USA
This barn needs red paint
Small town of Free Soil with three churches. Ride had been good - lots of road kill sadly. Saw a large hawk sitting on a deer carcass about to have breakfast.
Downtown Manistee after a fast and cold pack up from campground- 79 miles to go!
Camped outside Manistee in a busy marina. Big day tomorrow as John and I try to make distance through Michigan
One for Jon D: looks coastal erosion but its on Lake Michigan!
Hard to imagine this is a lake - Lake Michigan
Camping at Platte Lake Campground
More from Empire
Weather improved throughout the day. Last village of the day was another stunner - Empire.
Barn of the day
Sutton's Bay shop - after our first ride in the rain in over 2 months of riding. Mainly on very good bike track/rail trail
Leaving Traverse City under a very cloudy and threatening sky
Traverse City oozes cool
Rest day in Traverse City: just dropped bike into store for a well deserved thorough clean to get rid of grit and sand
We're camping in the Traverse City State Park Campgrounds. A very nice campground wedged between the bike path we rode on for last 8 miles and a busy road and the airport.
Not every night is a highlight - tonight's was riding 3 miles to a laundrette and having subway for dinner.
fields of gold....
Another classic 100 year old barn in a farming area
Probably the only moose I might get to see.....
Modest cabin on Torch Lake
Camping in Eastport
Great bike track between the Uber flash and cool towns of Harbor Springs, Petoskey, Bay Shire etc
Our lovely hosts - Mike & Charr ....& Jethro
Arrived at our warm showers hosts for the night in Petoskey
More homes along the tunnel
Houses along the Tunnel of Trees were amazing
Tunnel of trees - 30 km of narrow beautiful road
Sand dunes along Lake Michigan
Late start to try to miss rain showers.....barn of the day
Had lazy rest day in Mackinaw City. Mainly around the motel with short trips out to the main strips for a huge buffet brunch and dinner. Frosene joined us again tonight and will ride with us tomorrow along the west coast of the Michigan mitten. Highlight tomorrow should be the 'tunnel of trees'
Caught the ferry to the 'mitten' - the major land mass of Michigan shaped like a mitten. Staying in a motel in Mackinaw City because we expect bad weather tomorrow- rest day!
Huge hotel overlooking the lake
Lots of horse drawn carriages on the island
Picture postcard homes
It's hard to realise that the immense water body is a Lakeview- Lake Michigan & Huron. We rode our bikes around the Island
More images from Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is Uber touristy but incredibly picturesque one nice day. No motorised vehicles but a million bicycles being ridden in all directions by people who haven't ridden off for a while. Made the logging trucks seem safer...
Took ferry out to Mackinac Island
Mackinaw bridge - supposed to be longest suspension bridge in world at 5 miles
After donating a significant volume of blood to the Michigan mosquito Air Force we headed off again. Easy ride at first and then into a headwind. Cornish pastors are big here....
Lake Michigan from our campground
The amazing Lake Michigan - last 5 miles to campground were a bit like Great Ocean Road. We got to ride on our private bike track - actually US highest 2 because of roadworks which we could ignore.
Lakefront home on Lake Michigan
Barn of the day as we cycled along US highway 2
Farewelled Frocine as she takes a rest day while we head off. Photo is of Manistique lighthouse on the Hyde Lake Michigan
Celebrating our riding with Frocine from Washington in Manistique in Marley's bar
Lunch stop in Rapid River
1st lighthouse of the trip along Lake Michigan from Escanaba
John enjoying a second breakfast in Escanaba.
We're heading across the upper peninsula of Michigan for a few days before catching a ferry via Mackinac Island to Mackinaw City in Michigan's 'mitten'
Staying at a lovely warm showers hosts home in Escanada after a great cycling day on good roads in nice weather.
One of the features of the last few weeks has been the number off all terrain vehicles we've seen - these were outside a pub
We entered Michigan today - also managed to get lost lost twice...
Our hosts dog - Bob
Arrived in Crystal Falls and settled in the campground for the night. Good ride on rollers but roads varied from ok to terrible.
Kate asked about politics discussion last night - Tara's friend (Jennifer) is pretty like minded - not a Trump fan; loves twitter.
Forgot to say that we saw a few bald eagles this morning / very cool.
Here's a photo from their house of the lake.
The amazing Tara cooking us breakfast
Just had the most amazing night with our hosts Tara & Darren and their friend Jen in Tara & Darren's house in Phelps.
We're in this self-contained cabin shown in the photo.
Dinner was great food and wine and great conversation ranging from Tara and her two young boys amazing Transamerica trip on a trandem cycle. Great stories. Lots of politics talk.
County Road K
On the way into Boulder Junction
On the road again in better but still cool weather. Rode about 10 miles and then moved onto the 'heart of Vilas County Bike Trail' which seems great
Rest day in Mercer: I was beginning to think we'd been over-reacting to the weather forecast when the heavens opened up so am now pretty happy with the decision! Found a cafe that did a very fair version of chai. Watching 'I, Robot' on TV which is actually one of the first times we've used a TV on the trip. Dinner at a German restaurant- for me if was a big pretzel, veggie pizza and red cabbage plus a German beer
Arrived at our destination for next 2 nights - Mercer and staying in Loons Nest Motel. Loons are a duck like bird.
Photo is of Main Street.
Ride continued to be hilly with lots of turns but not the navigational complexity of the last few days,
We got within about 4 miles of Mercer when the road had been ripped up and replaced with very loose gravel. Apparently it's only been a few days like this and I'd expected to be Tarmac soon but for today it was the worst road I've been able to bike through. Rear wheel keep out and when we got into Mercer I noticed John's rear wheel had a big chunk missing. He has a spare so well change it tomorrow.
Thunderstorms due soon and over tomorrow,
I've mentioned the road surfaces a few times / here's why!
We came upon a road crew patching the deep cracks in the road with bitumen dripped into the crack and then covered with what seemed to be toilet paper. The cracks were every 1-5 metres and so you end up with a chess board for a road. The patching doesn't seem to last long leaving more deep cracks which we ride over...
Great ride through a national forest on both sides of road for about 14 miles - sadly still no elk.
Stopped in Glidden for a break. Loved this shop and car...
Staying in Clam Lake Motel. We rode 69 miles with a bit less elevation than yesterday but still lots of climbing. We didn't get away until after 10 because of hassles doing our laundry in the morning. Ride early on was through some farms carved out of the forests. Later it became forests winding through lakes ancient lakeside homes. Last part was through an elk crossing area but sadly didn't see any. Heard something though. Weather perfect but storms are brewing. Ate dinner in a bar hence the photo....
Today's lunch stop - seemed appropriate given we're in an Indian reservation
What a great day!
Awoke to steady drips from the saturated trees above my tent. We packed up pretty quickly in heavy fog and with lights blazing headed back towards Taylor's Falls. We had to climb out of TF but what we hadn't reckoned on was roadworks. There was only one lane going up and no shoulder plus huge deep cracks in pavement. I got honked a few times and abused them back as e had nowhere else to go as it is the only road. We bailed out when we could and turned into StCroix Falls for breakfast. Fog lifted but we weren't going up that hill. A bike angel turned up who said he'd go home and get his car and show us how to get into a bike track. The track was great; climbing slowly with lovely trees. Route took us through complex turns which made navigation hard. Saw lots of deer; osprey including one carrying a large animal.
Staying in Birchwood Motel drying out tents etc. nice room before we trashed it...
Another great barn...
Balsam Lake - countryside getting hillier
Met a guy in StCroix who was on a bike. He went home abc got his car and led us to this track.
Stopped for breakfast after a damp pack up and ugly ride on a very foggy morning. Breakfast tasted pretty good though - beats the tortillas and peanut butter we had for dinner last night because of the rain!
Oh, and we entered Wisconsin.
Photo is of St Croix River. We're camping at the interstate park - river is border with Wisconsin. Our perfect record of not getting rained on was dashed tonight. I'd just spoken with Kate and was putting up my Macpac Microlight tent when the heavens opened as had been threatened for a few days. I got my tent up quickly bug Johns MSR takes a lot longer so I fear it is soaked inside. We're bunkered down in a kids game room at the moment but rain has stopped and it's just spitting. Send🍷
Arrived at our destination for tonight - at the suggestion of Donn - Taylor's Falls via a short cut which saved us 27 miles.
Photo is of a classic drive in restaurant with window service
Today's lunch spot was recommended by Donn - shows the strong Swedish background
Typical old grain store and barn
Hard to leave Donn's amazing bunkhouse but we finally managed to leave at 9. Roads continued to be tough on the bike and my fillings.
Staying in the Dablo Bicycle Bunkhouse which is a converted barn on a farm. Around 10 years ago the owner was asked by two cyclists if they could camp on his farm and it just took off from there. It's the best I've seen - he doesn't want money - just happy for if to bc used. Amazing man.
Earlier today I had just walked into a cafe and noticed John talking to a guy outside. Nothing unusual- we attract attention everywhere. What was different was that he came into the cafe and put $20 on the table for our lunch and said welcome to his town.
Mighty Mississippi River which starts in this state
The view from our campsite in the town park of the cafe where we ate last night. Lots of interest in our ride.
After we ate and then put our tents up I went across the road to the town bar. I intended to try to charge my phone and read my book whilst having a beer. John was writing postcards back at his tent.
I walked into the bar and asked for a beer - immediately a guy asks where I'm from and then offers to buy me a beer. We ended up talking about Trump, gun laws and health care. He was the local mayor. He voted for Trump, mainly because of job promises; has over 100 guns. Had a great night talking with him and his wife.
Woke up this morning to an incredibly heavy dew which soaked the tents.
Arrived at our destination for today - Bowlus. Cool cafe.
Great sculpture at Holdingford
Our first covered bridge
And the bike path rolls on...past small towns and open farming country
West Union / a tiny but cute place on the trail
On the road again; this time on the Lake Wobegon Trail
Rest day in Alexandria started off really cold with max temp of 15c and rain easing to drizzle.
Looked trough a museum dedicated to a rock tablet with runes that was found here proving the Vikings came here in 14th C.
Arrived safe in Alexandria around 530pm on the bike path. We literally ran into Harold and Jennifer (our warm showers hosts) on the path. They were out exercising two of their 5 dogs.
They cooked us a great meal. Great way to finish the day.
We spoke with Jim at lunchtime and he is with his family which is great.
On the Central Lakes State Trail.....surprisingly gradually uphill
Stopped for a snack in Fergus Falls
The countryside is changing - more hills, loads of lakes and many more trees
Classic barn- riding on quiet fresh Tarmac off the main roads
Photo of our camp site by Pelican Lake.
We had terrible news this afternoon - Jim had been struck by a car on his way to his son's house in Rochester. He is in a ED with a broken collarbone but thankfully seems to be OK in other respects. He is hopeful of returning to the ride after he recovers at home. Our thoughts are with he and Meg.
Jim had been riding in a direct route for Rochester ie off the Adventure Cycling Association route maps. Whilst there's no guarantees, the ACA does try to pick roads that offer the best visibility, shoulders and traffic. John and I generally stick to the ACA route.
For example, our ride tomorrow features a long stretch in a rail trail.
We also all try to be as visible as possible - bright clothing and lots of reflective strips etc plus rear lights.
Please don't worry about us - we'd prefer you send good vibes to Jim and Meg
Arrived in Pelican Springs for the night after about 54 miles of nice riding through farming country and lakes.
Fence on the way to Cormorant
Today's water tower - in the small town of Sabin, Minnesota. We're back on the road after a relaxing rest day in Fargo and the day trip to Detroit Lakes
Our bike shop in a former railway station
Downtown Fargo....,very vibrant. Nice old buildings gradually evolving into loft apartments
Enjoying our rest day / currently sitting on a deck chair overlooking one of the Detroit Lakes at John's cousins apartment. Photo is from earlier in Fargo
Out for breakfast in a very cool city - Fargo.
Lots on as shown by the cafe notice board
Our room at Moorhead with a few friends...,
We made it to Fargo! John and I are staying in a lovely, eclectic warm showers home full of people, cats and dogs. It's actually located in Minnesota although only a few miles from downtown Fargo. Jim, as usual, headed off on his own and we met for lunch but he told us he'd decided to leave us and head asap for his sons home in Rochester, Minnesota (I think).
We'd talked about hiring a car in a few days time to do a flying trip there for his granddaughter's birthday but he decided he'd rather ride. He'll join us in a week or do.
The ride into Fargo was long as we tried to find bike tracks with the aim of dropping our bikes off for service tonight. We'd given up when a guy rode by and introduced himself as the owner of the shop we were heading for. In a city the size of Geelong the odds of that happening are high. He arranged for the shop to stay open. We ubered to Moorhead.
Today's ride was around 67 miles. Weather getting more humid but still pretty hot.
Photo is of Sheyenne River just past our campsite at the Little Yellowstone Campground.
We rode about 61 miles.
I loved most of the ride, particularly the first half. We were riding on a good road, cool conditions and fairly flat and dead straight roads past fields of gold (wheat) on one side and green on the other (soy beans).
The straight roads go with the land parcel system here which divides land into sections where each is one square mile. The toads off the highway are numbered from the last town but called avenues even though most are dirt.
Had to hold about 2 miles up hill to get a signal so i could talk to Kate and Mary tonight.
Ps watch out for the Bernie Sanders speech in US senate where he contrasts US and Australian health systems and outcomes.
Tomorrow we are aiming to get to Fargo and Minnesota. Rest day in Fargo!
Today's hill. We've had a really enjoyable ride so far....
The area is particularly dry.....
Arrived in Gackle - our destination for the night where we are staying in the Honey Hut. It is a bike hostel run by a young family who also run a honey farm!
It's another quiet town with a a small store, a small cafe and a bar.
We did about 40 miles today with a crosswind.
Today's route through a largely flat plain with intermittent rolling hills. Lots of lakes although lots dry
Arts grant perhaps?
Arrived in Napoleon. Staying in a DIY motel. Doors were open and we have to leave cash on a table!
Left gear there and headed to only restaurant in thus small town.
We did about 81 miles today. We actually had to wear our raincoats a couple of times.
And the road rolled on....with bumps every 10 m because of cracks that have been poorly sealed. Shakes the fillings out of our teeth.
Field of sunflowers
Benedictines saved me again! Left Bismarck with a bout of Johns diarrhoea. Stopped st a supermarket for some stoppers and off we went through the sprawling city of Bismarck. Needed a toilet badly and found the University of Mary Benedictine centre
Photo is of the Missouri River from a high point once used by the Mandan tribe.
We walked back into town and had lunch in an original 1930s restaurant. Guys ubered back to the apartment but I stayed in and walked around some more. Very spread out once you left the CBD.
We took Mark out for dinner to another cool bar/restaurant for dinner.
Outside the Cspitol building . Sculpture is made of rebar steel
I like Bismarck! It has a really good feel - bars, pizza places, hipster shops and set out well ......but too spread out in parts.
John was crook for most of the day with a gut problem. Jim and I had breakfast in a cool diner after we'd dropped Jim's bike off to get spoke fixed, new tyre and drive train cleaned. As Jim says 'these bikes take a pounding!'
We all took an über into the centre to see the State Capitol building (like our state parliament and administration combined) - somewhat amazingly the two branches only come together to sit every second year).
Photo is of an internal corridor in the Art Deco building.
Arrived in Bismarck after close to 80 miles in cooler conditions and either a strong or neutral side wind. Had lunch near the buildings in this photo. Staying in a warm showers hosts one bedroom apartment. Bags and bikes everywhere!
Great experience staying with the Benedictine monks - Father Odo a highlight. Ate breakfast in silence - my kind of place.
Assumption Abbey, Richardton
Very tough morning for me at least. Headed off early to beat heat and wind aiming to get at least to Richardton if not beyond. Felt fine early but with about 15 miles to go to our lunch stop at Dickinson I ran out of energy despite eating and drinking. Every time I had another energy bar it would work for 20 minutes if so and then I'd be flat as a tack and struggling to turn the pedals. Lots of hills and a cross wind most of the time. Temperature pushing 100 again. Literally limped in to the lunch stop but after three cups of coffee, 4 slices of toast and a large frittata plus a fruit said and a slice of Lemon merengue pie I had energy! Next 25 miles weren't a big deal. I think we did around 65 miles to get to Richardton where we are staying in the Assumption Abbey. As soon as we arrived the Father in charge of lost tourists swept us into a huge cafeteria to feed us. It's the somewhat usual story - Benedictine monks here but few new ones and certainly not enough to keep the 2000 acre property as it once was managed. The photo here us of a sculpture on the road here.
We had to work hard but we did find someone to drive us through the national park. Scenery was great but I was a little disappointed that the buffalo we saw were in very small herds. Still great to see them though - also saw large prairie dog 'towns' and wild horses.
John and I went to 'Medora- the musical' in a 3000 seat amphitheatre overlooking the badlands
Arrived in Medora - staying at the Campground
More stunning scenery
Getting closer to Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The road to Medora just kept getting better as we entered the badlands....and the road surface got better with freshly laid bitumen and a strong tail or slightly crosswind.
And my bum was pretty good today!
We entered North Dakota with a howling tailwind
Lazy day in our amazing warm showers hosts house before she took us out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner and then drove us to the Makoshika State Park - eroded sandstone badlands.
Just arrived in Glendive after less than 4 hours delightfully easy riding 49 miles with a nice tailwind. Just had a large chocolate malt milkshake and am contemplating a second. Think we're staying with a warm showers host tonight...
What a difference a day makes! Wind favourable; early start and 19 degrees Fahrenheit cooler. Country moving into the badlands.
This is the sign on the motel where we are staying
A couple of images from Circle
To quote Robin Williams today was 'hot damn hot'. A hard day at the office- about 52 miles and 300 hills in some of the hottest conditions I've cycled in. Hot dry wind which seemed to be dehydrating us by the minute. Bum was giving me grief today as well which didn't help. The hills were rolling - up then down and straight back up again and then repeat! Wind was either cross or head wind. But....we got got to our destination of Circle.
Lunch stop on a hot day - the only shade for 30 miles
Arrived in Wolf Point after a fairly long hot day travelling around 85 miles through sparsely farmed country and an Indian reservation (Fort Peck). Wind was in our favour. Temp close to 100 again.
Staying in a motel partly because we'd heard lots of warnings about the town. After seeing if tonight I think it was a good move. Just Hac to go to the supermarket after dark and there were a lot of disheveled people out and about plus a lot more police than I'd seen before.
And then the dinosaurs moved into the bar......
'Bike angels' stopped us in the form of 2 guys investigating the route for an tour they are organising next year. One guys works in a Manhattan bike shop in Soho. They stuffed our pockets and bags full of Clif bars and Pringles!
Israeli bikers doing the Northern Tier from east to west
Sitting in a bar - let's paint the picture...
Sitting at the bar are three guys wearing 10 gallon cowboy hats, starched white shirts, blue jeans and cowboy boots. Music is predominantly country but out of the blue comes Divinyl's 'I touch myself'.
Constructing a veggie meal was an effort / toasted cheese sandwich, baked spud and a green salad which didn't fill me up so waiting on fries.
It gets better - a man and two boys walk in - Hutterites (pacifists who in this area travel around selling great produce)- selling potatoes and peas!
Our campsite for the night in the very small town of Hinsdale. If has five churches, a magic cafe where I had the best thick shake, a gun shop and a bar. The campsite is a town park with a war memorial. Tough day today - only did 40 miles - hopefully better winds tomorrow.
Our lunch stop at Saco after 25 miles in about 4 hours due to a strong headwind. Country has been open grasslands with very small numbers of cattle. Intend calling it a day soon in Hinsdale and hope for better winds tomorrow.
One of the du things has been the long trains carrying containers or coal that goes past close to the road. We wave at them down they often toot the horn which we love.
Another faded glory...
Just finished a great pizza and had a great conversation with a young American kid and his black lab! They are travelling around the country hitchhiking. While we were talking a ute started spraying for mossies in front of us.
One of the features I love is the classic old neon signs - this one is at our motel
Just arrived in Malta! Around 89 miles through a wide range of terrain ranging from farming country like you might see in VICTORIA through to something more like the Yorkshire dales.
We didn't have any supportive winds today, in fact we had a light head wing of cross wind at times.
One of the features of this trip is how many businesses have closed
All day today we rode near a railway line which comes into Havre. We saw massive locomotives towing huge numbers of bogeys as well as one passenger train. This photo shows a maintenance area near our motel
Amazing....we are now sitting in Havre waiting on our Mexican food after riding 127 miles (204 km). About 8 hours actual riding in amazing conditions- strong tailwind.
Chester for lunch after a sometimes very fast ride and sometimes slower when the wind dropped for a while. We've done 66 miles and my bum confirms it! The trip was a bit like the road through the Mallee - railway line parallel to the road and lots of farming activities. We met the guy from Yorkshire and his US mate. They are on fast road bikes and carrying no gear with the support of the van we saw yesterday. They are doing at least 100 miles a day.
On the road - flying along
Arrived in Cut Bank about 315 after leaving camp around 7am. Another scorcher but this time we had wind - headwinds, crosswinds and finally (and joyously) tailwinds! We pushed through to the border town - Del Bonita. It consists of a general store and possibly one other somewhat dubious store. The general store pictured was a gem. A place stuck in time. We walked in and nearly tripped over the oxygen tube to the owner's dad who was sitting in the window. Nice guy running it kept providing drinks and food until we were done. I drank a litre of coke and a huge chocolate bar. Desperately needed both. We went outside and checked the temp - 97 at around 11.
Crossed the border with no major hassles other than a few more questions.
Scenery changed during the ride from distant views of the Rockies as we rode through farming country - either flat or more commonly, rolling hills. Photos follow. Some of the highlights - loads of prairie dogs poking their heads out of holes in the road; no trees in sight; canola crops against the black sky as we headed to our destination; dodging a massive thunderstorm; rolling hills and a strong tailwind for the last 7 miles. Not sure where we're staying yet but we've decided not to have a rest day and push on tomorrow.
Distance today 73 miles and 2532 feet gain.
Some of the prairie scenery
Arrived in Cardston around 1 after nice ride through open country. Here's a view of the Rockies as we rode away from them. Ps My ankle is much better and 'go bombers!'
Note to Ross: here's breakfast!
Having breakfast in an early opener before the short but mean haul out of Waterton and then what should be a short day to Cardston. Photo us from last night looking out over the lake. Feels like town is in an amphitheater surrounded by mountains. Campground was full of prairie dogs which look like squirrels but act like meerkats. They dig mean holes which I kept avoiding. Ankle feels much better.
Rode into Watertown Lakes via tough hills and the meanest bike track I've seen. Scenery worth the pain..,,
Crossed over into Canada - was a little worried I might have got it wrong and did need an ESTA but the customs guy was more interested in my Brooks saddle. Then had a funny moment at the Alberta sign where some Chinese tourists wanted photos with us and hung a flag off my bike!
Day started with a heavy dew - wet tents! Found the two socks and headband I lost last night! Then managed to twist my ankle when I stepped out of the porta potti in the campsite straight into a hole. Luckily between John and Jim it's like an episode of 'Breaking Bad' so Jim gave me a swag of anti-inflammatory tablets and off we went. I thought it'd be a tough day and I was right. Stunning scenery as we rode by Chief Mountain.
Staying at Chewing Blackbones Campground run by a Native American tribe. Tomorrow we cross into Canada!
Wow....what a day! Today was the best day so far - we woke again at 430 and were riding at 530 to beat some of the tourist traffic heading up the 'Going to the sun' road to Logan Pass. We decided to split up thinking it would be safer for cars to pass us if we were on our own. I set off last and early on the road was OK but as we started climbing the road became narrower and narrower with our shoulder. The cars started coming up much earlier than we anticipated but were pretty good at avoiding me as I climbed up at 3mph! Road variety in slope but was very steep at times. The views were exhilarating as you'll see in the images. Lots of people made positive comments as they passed me and not one had a negative word. At one stage I though I was getting near the Pass when I looked up and saw the road seeming miles above me. The final push was fantastic as lots of people who had driven up congratulated me and urged me on until I hit the Pass. About 4 hours climbing. What a buzz! At 6664 feet it is the highest Pass we've climbed.
Lake McDonald Lodge and the famous red shuttles
Arrived at Avalanche Campground inside the Glacier National Park at 11 after getting up at 430am. It felt like a race to get here on two fronts - first, part of the Going to the Sun Road is closed to bikes after 11 and secondly, the campground fills up fast. 46 miles and 2600 feet climbing. Even in overcast conditions the mountains are spectacular. The campground is a bit up the mountain so tomorrow we have 16 miles to climb to get to Logan Pass - our last major Pass. Took a shuttle bus back down the mountain to Lake McDonald for lunch. Torrential rain whilst we were in a restaurant but it then cleared up fairly quickly. Loads of tourists in and around the 1930s LM lodge.
All pretty tired after this morning which was very taxing because of the need to push so hard. We're all nodding off at any opportunity- in odds off waiting for the shuttle down to LM and John woke me up to get on the bus and I jumped up so fast I left my hat on the bench. It's one of my late fathers cricket hats so I was a bit sad thinking I might have lost it but when we returned a few hours later there it was..waiting for me.
Campsite basic but nice - definitely need to use the bear boxes to store food overnight.
Farewell to Brenden as he heads to Seattle
Team Fox plus Brenden
Arrived in Whitefish around 1 and met up with Jim and Brenden from Boston. Brenden is cycling the Northern Tier from East to West. Jim had secured a great warm showers host. Sort of like Airbnb but free for cyclists. Problem was the hosts had gone away for weekend so we could camp in back yard but no toilets of showers. After three hot days without showers John and I decided on the hostel. We'll move to Jim's site tomorrow arvo. Lots of washing, shave and shower later we are now in local brewery! Major League Baseball is on the TV - world is good! Met lots of cyclists today. Some weekend warriors, some on USA/Canada trips and one brit on a big north/south trip.
Started seeing impressive entrances to farming properties
Stunning farming country on way into Whitefish
Hmm...it's either an osprey chick of a bald eagle chick or .....
Packing up - this is where we spent the afternoon yesterday. Camp next door. They shut the building over night so we had to use the ports potty on the 8th tee this morning. One of the more scenic spots for a crap..... cold overnight and heavy dew this morning so wet tents to carry
Ok....feeling satisfied now. Two beers, packet of chips, veggie burger and chips and this desert!
Arrived in Fortine around 130 - temp had risen dramatically so we headed to only shop which is a golf course club house. They also had a basic campground and the lure of staying here in an air con bar was too much. We'll put the tents up later when in cools down.No showers again....wet wipes come in handy!
Enjoying a cold beer at the moment!
Arrived at Eureka - lunch at a Mexican restaurant before we do the last 20 miles to campsite
On way to Eureka from Rocky Gorge Campground- left about 0710. No visits from the camp beat
View from near Libby Dam
Map of area
On the road around 720. Nice ride to get to Libby Dam in cool conditions. Then started climbing but the grades very generally good and beautiful scenery - Lake Koocanusa - helped. Arrived at Rocky Gorge Campground after around 42 miles and xx feet of climbing. Stunning view of the lake from our site. No showers here but we had a swim in the lake to cool off which was great because temp was probably over 100 again. Had a snooze under a tree which was great, Surprisingly there isn't much time for that sort of thing. Saw a bald eagle swoop down and grab a fish which was great. Had a brief sunshower late in the day. Photo is of Libby Dam.
Arrived at Libby around 2 in 98 degrees. Headed for Maccas to cool off. Great ride today (52 miles and 3462 feet of climbing) through stunning scenery. Camping on a town campground again. Place doesn't have showers but as often happens the local laundrette offers showers. All a bit weird but it works. Town is full of eagle sculptures and is tremendously spear out, also had lots of casinos - not sure what they are / police machines perhaps. May head to one for cooling ale later after we cook dinner. Heading off early tomorrow morning.
Kootenai Falls - lunch stop
More scenery from this morning
Arrived at tonight's stop just after the turn off for the start of the trek through the Rockies around 3ish. 46 miles 2363 feet elevation. Pretty comfortable and scenic ride. Saddle sores much improved but had my first spill of the trip- luckily at zero speed. Foot and then wheel slipped as I was taking off and bike's weight just took me down. No major damage - just some skin and lost pride! Staying in a cute little cabin in pretty RV park. Got very excited at the only shop for miles selling pizza so we ordered a great veggie one and in horror realised they sell 'take & bake' ie you're meant to cook it yourself. John asked the park hosts if they'd cook it for us and tony amazement they did and it was great. We spoke with Jim who had ridden around 170 miles in the last 2 days to get to Eureka where Meg will pick him up and go back to Whitefish for 2 days. He said the hills have been very tough. As a result I re-thought our plan to get to Glacier National Park. I just know we can't ride the distances that Jim can in these hills and heat. New plan is for us to get to Libby tomorrow night (6th) (51miles), ride to an unnamed Campground the next day (7th) (47 miles); ride to a Campground after Striker the next day (8th) (50 miles); ride to Whitefish the next day (9th) (31 miles) and have a rest day the next day on the tenth before heading to Avalanche Campground in Glacier NP on the 11th. Jim's on a very different schedule which will see him back in Eureka during Friday 7th and probably cycling to Whitefish. Starting to think Jim might get his days to explore Glacier NP before we get there. I think we'll end up 2 days behind my projected itinerary but I don't think that's a problem unless it continues to blow out.
Big sky country indeed!
Left Idaho and entered Montana - 'big sky country' where we'll be for a while because of its size. Moved into 'mountain time' putting our watches forward an hour. Already the countryside has changed - big hills and probably foothills of the Rockies, thick forests and beautiful rivers and lakes.
Hmmm? A huge number of old trucks in a huge rock quarry.
Just leaving Clark Fork after stuffing my face with carrot cake
Even the local brewery gets involved!
Happy 4th July! Woke up early to help Jim get an early start on his sprint to see Meg in Whitefish. We continued to snooze after he left which was great. Got up eventually and joined the expectant crowd along Main Street for the parade. I wasn't disappointed. Real community feel to it with every group you could think off plus lots of small businesses celebrating their role. Here's a few of the photos.....
Did planning for next week - John and I will aim to do in 4 days what Jim will do in 3 stopping after Heron, in Libby and Eureka along the way.
Every day brings new challenges and so many things happen it's hard to keep up.
We left the crappy overpriced Campground about 0630 and had breakfast at the nearby Macca's. Love the hot cakes! Good fast ride early; bit too fast because we missed our turn off and did about 14 extra miles including hills as a result. My bum was giving me heaps at this stage; quite difficult to sit on the saddle. We turned back and eventually found the right road which took us along a beautiful road along the lake. At some stage when I'd spent all my petrol tickets I stopped for a break and realised my saddle was loose and also had turned off centre. This probably explained why the ride had been so hard. I've got a couple of saddle sores which I've been managing with John's sage advice but the saddle changed did me in. It was much better after I tightened it up. I started taking antibiotics last night as one of the sores seemed to be infected. Good morning to those eating breakfast.
We closed in on Sandpoint and rode along a bike track for 6 miles including a bike bridge which was cool. I took previous photo from the bridge.
We're staying in a bit pricey but great motel with multiple rooms and a small kitchen - luxury.
I had a quick shower and then we dropped our bikes off at a great bike shop. I was keen to find out what a metal sound was - turned out to be my bell reverberating! The other guys had a few issues - in both cases they needed new tyres. I bought a burrito sized tube of bike butter for my butt.
Bike sorted I went in search of a fix for my saddle sores at an urgent care clinic. Turns out our diagnosis and starting antibiotics was a good decision. Hopefully it'll clear up in a few days. In other news I take blood pressure meds and was light headed on a rest day in Republic and checked blood pressure at chemist and it had dropped to 104/64. I reduced my meds a little and today it was even lower. I'll keep getting it checked but the doctor suspected I could even go off them whilst in the trip. I'll stay on them but keep cutting down the tablets. Proof exercise does work. My weight has also dropped by about 3-4 kg's as well.
Whilst waiting to see the two nurses and doctor I realised I'd stuffed up the itinerary between here and Whitefish. Jim's wife (Meg) and son are coming to Whitefish and we were hoping to meet up but there's no way John or I (& my problematic bum) can do the distance in time so Jim is going to do a sprint to get there in time. John and I will follow the day after tomorrow and meet him in Whitefish. I not worried about the overall itinerary but meeting up along the way with family is hard to make work.
We did 48 miles today and climbed around 2000 feet. Weather not super hot, probably mid 80s.
Sandpoint is a really nice town full of restaurants and bars and beautifully laid out. Will add more photos tomorrow but here's a cute Alice in Wonderland hare.
In answer to my brother, I've only seen a few Trump posters so far. Suspect that might change in Montana onwards until we get to New England.
Just arrived at Sandpoint after a tough morning
Today was great early; lovely cycling alongside lakes/rivers. Huge lunch and then ride into Newport. Another hot day pushing 99. Struggled to find accomodation because of 4th July long weekend. Ride 4 miles out to find a Campground on mean, steep gravel roads only to find it was full so we had to ride back. Staying at a fairly crappy private Campground in town. Rode 60 miles and climbed 2956 feet. Photo us of Team Fox's office at Macca's booking motel in Sandpoint where we will have a rest day.
One state down....many to go!
Great ride on mainly flat quiet roads alongside a beautiful river. Entered an area controlled by the Kalispel tribe who own the restaurant that were about to have an early lunch
It's a tough life.....
Now happily sitting in an air conditioned motel in Ione, post-dinner. All is good. Photo is from the motel. What a day! We started early, up at 5ish but the Council worker had locked the toilets, now none of us had a problem with the odd stealth pee but doing a number 2 on the pitch where the little kids play soccer seemed a bridge too far. We packed up and then found an early opening breakfast place and all was good. The kids can play soccer safely....
We rode a diversion through Colville and the scenery was lovely / farming land, nice valley etc but if was a bit hilly. The hills were the theme for the day. We expected hills to take us to a plateau and all in all an OK day. How wrong we were! The hills didn't stop - sometimes really steep including one wrong turn that was the steepest climb of the trip. Sometimes we thought the road was flat but in fact we we were still always climbing. We were chased by a dog at one point. I outsped it but then was faced with a steep climb when I was spent. We were also running low on water at one point but asked a young woman in her house for water which she was happy to provide. We climbed on, getting frustrated as to why we all felt so tired. Eventually and quite dramatically came the huge descent to Ione. When we checked the ride stats we found why we were tired - we'd ridden 58 miles and climbed 4675 feet in 90 degree weather.
After climbing out of Colville
Home for tonight - will sleep well after 47 miles and 1251m of elevation.
Arrived Kettle Falls in the heat of the day. Strangely the town is well away and up hill....from a lovely lake. Camping tonight but first priority was a milkshake!
We made it - Sherman Pass! Last Pass for the Cascades!
Lunch stop with around two more miles of climbing and 400 more feet of elevation
Early stop after around 6 miles
Tomorrow we aim to cross Sherman Pass at 5575 feet - our final Pass in the Cascades. Not sure if you can read the elevation map but it shows the various passes and the grades. We'll be aiming to hit the road early to get as far up the #%### hill before it heats up. Aiming for Kettle Falls tomorrow night.
A great rest day in Republic. Had a leisurely 2.5 hour breakfast on the motel terrace followed by doing our laundry (including drying it out the front of the motel because the laundry dryer didn't work). No one batted an eyelid. This is a seriously chilled western themed town. The small amount of traffic stopped If you thought about crossing the street. People were particularly nice as well.
Tonight's dinner - huge and I finished it easily!
Arrived at our destination, Republic, at 2pm after 40.6 miles and 3989 feet of climbing over our third Pass. Felt pretty good except for a very sore bum. Will have a rest day before we tackle the last Pass in the Cascades. We decided to stay in a cheap motel in town rather than camp 5 miles out. Here's us drying off our tents which gig a bit damp overnight.
John at Wauconda Pass. Climb big as hard as we'd expected bug it was great to start early to beat the heat
Lunch break at Wauconda. A big of a ghost shop/ once had a restaurant but now has a very basic post office and a fridge to sell cold soft drinks. Even though weather not quite as hot as it's been we still appreciated the cold drinks.
Munchies break after 6 mile climbing to this valley with cascades in the far distance
A surprisingly tough 28 miles today with 1094 feet of elevation saw us get to Tonasket around 1ish after an 8am start and breakfast in Omak.
The countryside is hilly but really dry and unfortunately we head a fairly strong head or side wide for the whole way.
Tonasket has a nice visitors centre and allows cyclists to camp at the rear. The nearby laundrette has really good showers.
Lunch in a very nice cafe under a tree escaping the 93 degree heat. Photo shows Jim and John working on blogs etc.
Arrived at Okanogan around 4pm after 78 miles. It was a mega diversion necessary because of the blocked Loup Loup Pass. Camping in American Legion Park.
Escaping the heat in the only shade for miles
Massive orchard area irrigated from this lake. Temp = bloody hot
Pateros- our brunch stop at 1030 after 42miles. Country became much dryer after we crossed Washington Pass, some of the countryside today has reminded me of Kiewa Valley
Carlton after 20 miles. Left at 0630 to try to beat the heat.
Our first rest day- yeah! The hostel in Winthrop is one of the best I've stayed in - great lounges etc and a good kitchen which we've used a lot. Had a nice night last night drinking a few beers and talking with Henry - a young bike mechanic from Minneapolis who is walking the Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mexico ala the book and movie 'wild'. He's the first southbound walker this year so he's had to contend with thick snow and icy slopes.
We cooked up a big breakfast of eggs and potatoes to start the day. We had a look at an arts and crafts market and then looked in a great book shop before being seduced into a camping store. I bought another water filter because the weather is so hot that we will need to top up bottles in the Passes that we still need to cross. Spent the rest of the day in the hostel reorganising our gear. More ice cream around lunch, reading and resting up. Tomorrow we were due to go over the Loup Loup Pass to Omak but the road is washed out so we have to divert a long way south before coming back north. We think we need to cover around 75 miles tomorrow along river valleys aiming for Okanogan.
Arrived in Winthrop around 12 after easy 13.5 miles. Damn hot / around 34 again. Staying in a very cool hostel. Did bugger all this afternoon other than our washing. About to have beer and veggie spaghetti. Winthrop is a themed town modelled on a western town eg Deadwood. More photos tomorrow.
Arrived Mazuma at 6pm after an epic 55miles and 6087 feet elevation gain. Free camped in a disused town Campground. Dinner at only restaurant- food and beers equally glorious after today. Amazingly I didn't cramp at all. Ive been taking magnesium tablets but needed more - this is where American Mustard came through. I think I sucked a whole bottle dry. Quite tired now......
Arrived at Washington Pass (5477 feet) at 5pm. We had a mild or so descent from Rainy Pass and then the steepest climb of the day which is where I dropped down to second and finally first gear. Trust me when I say most tortoises would have passed me on that stretch.Lots of stops, more muesli bars and more water and then we arrived at Washington Pass at 5pm.
OMG!!!! Today was epic. We set off at 0800 to beat some of the 25C heat as we would be climbing for all bar 45 minutes today. Scenery is breathtaking, rivalling Kashmir. Snow capped mountains, green rivers and countless waterfalls. Did I say it was hot...... I changed my cog/sprocket combination over early this year after realising how ##### steep and long the first 5 mountain passes will be. I had low gears before but added about two more lower gears. I used them today. The grades peaked at 10% but were often 5-8% for 30 miles. This is not a typo. Mostly I rode in 3/14 gear up to Rainy Pass (4875 feet). Dehydration was a real issue - I carried about 4.2 litres water but needed John's filter straw to get me all the way. Ran out of energy early but then ate some muesli bars and I think lunch helped - English muffins with peanut better. Arrived at Rainy Pass around 3pm (see photo).
Arrived at Colonial Creek Campground ( see photo if TeamFox). Beautiful setting in trees on a Diablo Lake. Got in late and phaffed around trying to find vacant campsite. Pretty weary but felt much better when group next to us offered us a beer.
Arrived in Newhalem, weather hot; gradual climbing about to get not so gradual.
Scenery spectacular; weather sunny and hot.
Cramping an issue - Jim swears by mustard so we've stocked up on small bottles to suck on as we climb. Bizarre but if it works then magic. Mobile coverage for AT& T sucks.
Scenery along the way
Arrived in Concrete where every northern tier cyclist takes a photo of the wheat silos.
Aimed for a camping site but it was closed so we hunted around and eventually settled on the Cascade Mountain lodge which is a small motel and a Korean restaurant run by a young Korean couple. They were so accomodating with our bikes. Jim and I went into restaurant for a beer and she'd brought out Korean popcorn followed by honeydew melon and three bottles of mineral water.
It was a great day cycling - nice weather and distant views of the Cascades and cycling next to a big green blue river with forests around us.
We all felt pretty good today and terrain was friendly and a tail wind for parts. We covered 51 miles and 1400 feet elevation.
We're heading to Colonial Creek Campground tomorrow night as the 'staging ground' for the assault on Washington Pass the following day.
First view of the Cascades....knees started trembling at the thought of riding over them
Team Fox in the Cascade Trail
Brunch - amazing!
Good morning cycling through some flat (yeh!) farming land. It's pretty exciting to be finally on the way east. Arrived in Burlington and having lunch at this great little cafe. Here's Team Fox about to fuel up...
Spending the night at Pioneer Trails RV Camp ins basic cabin surrounded by the biggest RVs I've ever seen - bit like being in the land of the giants.
Today's ride was great. We covered 34 miles and 2386 feet of elevation plus around 6 miles on a ferry. Not sure whether it was having breakfast at the camp or a chocolate shake in a fantastic soda shop near the ferry terminal at Port Townsend or the 2 huge baked spuds and salad at Wendy's in Oak Harbor but I seemed to have more energy!
The day had a bit of everything. Port Townsend had some magnificent stone commercial buildings in the Main Street. Ferry to Whitney Island was short but it looked like we were heading into wet weather. Quite cold today with a head wind at times that was quite strong. We actually had to pedal down one exposed hill at one stage.
Then we rode past the naval air station and were overflown by F-18s.
We crossed a very cool bridge over Deception Pass: see photo.
We decided not to head to the traditional starting point of the northern tier - Anacortes. Instead we are heading to intersect the route outside the town.
We seem to have entered the part of the trip where I keep looking for things. Last John nicked my headlamp thinking it was mine which sent me into a frenzy of emptying bags in my very small tent whilst it was raining. Today it's the sponge I use to clean my stove ...gone!
Nice to be a warm room tonight with lights as we've been hitting the tents around 830/9 each night because it's been cold.
Also on the positive side I don't seem to be cramping like I was last - cramps suck when you are trying to get inside a one man tent or a sleeping bag.
Lunch stop at Oak Harbor after 17.5 miles riding.
For those interested Jim's local TV station in Omaha did a follow up story on the trip:
Arrived at Port Townsend Fort Worden State Park at 5pm after 35.9 miles and around 3100 feet of climbing. Lots of climbing before breakfast which wasn't part of the plan. Had brunch at Fort Ludlow resort around 1130, running on fumes. Lots of interest from manager of resort which was nice- apparently we will be in a newsletter she sends out. John sent some gear home. I'm going to see what I can do to lighten my load as well- hills are hard carrying a tractor. Nice scenery for most of day as we rode above or next to water including a nice bike path into Port Townsend.
Hills....,here's John struggling up the 10th hill of the morning before breakfast
Some reflections on day 1 and of hostel life:
Leaving the hostel was a bit of an ordeal. Luckily all of the other people in my 4 person dorm were up at the same time. The dorms are male/female which was kind of nice - less belching and farting which is how I remember hostel life. I shared with two German girls who were partying every night and sleeping late, an Israeli guy driving around USA and two young American girls. Definitely more conversation than you'd get in a motel or hotel and great common areas abc kitchen. I even managed to sleep really well last night.
Leaving involves packing up 6 bags, dragging them downstairs and then finding a worker to open up a laneway to access my bike and then trying to get all the bags onto the bike.
Ferry ride was very pretty - going through narrow straits with houses dotted in very thick forested areas.
Following the maps worked ok with only one moment where we resorted to google maps.
Campsite is great, even a hot shower. Everything is new so there's lots of cursing as we look for the glove we just took off and find it buried under another pile. I expect packing up tomorrow won't be pretty either but we will get better!
Arrived at Kitsap State Park after a great ride through green trees on both sides of the road. Lots of hills - around 1500 feet of climbing and 24 miles. Lots of minor gear issues during the day. Bags not being closed properly, Jim's chain coming off a few times etc.
First lunch stop for the biggest burrito I've ever seen. We've only ridden around 9 miles so far so couldn't manage to finish the burrito.
And so it starts...waiting for ferry to Bremerton. Bike feels like a Massey ferguson tractor without the motor!
Ok, it's getting real now. Met up with Jim and John at the Green Tortoise. Great to finally meet up. Bit of talk about gear, training (I haven't done enough), what we like to do outside of cycling. Jim handed over the Team Fox cycling gear - bit like a footy guernsey ceremony!
Then walked back to velo cycles to pick his bike which had also sustained some damage during the flight. Bought another cycling top - thankfully I think that's it for gear.
Walked around town getting to know each other and ended up under the space needle. John is on left and Jim on the right.
Then back to our hostels to try to get packed up. Whilst I'd been fairly organised in packing at home, the packing for the plane threw that out the window as I had to empty most bags to fit everything into the two cartons. It's all over the floor at the moment.
We are aiming to catch 10am ferry to Bremerton tomorrow to start the journey.
A good day. Walked miles looking to pick up last bits of cycling gear. Turns out I have big feet even in the USA! Eventually found rain booties to fit me at the REI store.
Went to Pop Art museum near space needle- pretty cool place. Features on Star Trek, sci fi, horror, music and fantasy. Funniest part was having a phone conversation with Kate whilst watching a serious discussion about significance of Texas Chainsaw Massacre film.
Picked up my bike. Brake problem was due to a cable being damaged in the flight.
Spoke with Jim and he also had bike problems but the same shop fixed his bike as well. We're all meeting up tomorrow for breakfast and expect to be starting the trip on Sunday.
Some reflections on Seattle - City of.....:
Not as many Tatts, beards or graffiti as Melbourne either!
Just visited REI central - for Aussies its like paddy Palin the size of Myer. Amazing - has an outside cycle track to test bikes and this huge indoor rock climbing wall.
Seattle has a great food and general market above the waterfront- Pike Place Market. Teeming with tourists on a damp day. A lot like Victoria Market in Melbourne but didn't hear them needing to glam Pike Place up (unlike Melbourne Council).
Amazing Amazon employee playspace being built here with dog walking park! Bike is put back together - just dropped it at a bike shop to check it but all good which is a nice feeling
Happiness is ...... my bike and gear making it to Seattle!
Ps still can't get emails working properly. Can send and read within USA from phone but after that not sure.
Ok... back to the unpacking
Made it to Seattle! Not without some hassles. Bike didn't get on same plane as I did from LA but I've been promised it'll be delivered to City hostel tonight. Had intended to stay at Green Tortoise but I managed to book wrong month! Never mind, city hostel also seems good. Fingers crossed the bike turns up. Not sure my outward emails are working yet. Have got a usa phone though.
Seattle has a very Melbourne feel in parts - loads of bars and people enjoying the sun sitting outside in cafes etc. Loads of hipsters and the music grunge feel.
Last training ride and first with all of the pannier bags. Just need to fit a motor!
|Dates:||4 Jun 2017 - 2 Oct 2017|
Starting from Seattle in mid-June 2017, I'll be aiming to ride the Adventure Cycling Association's Northern Tier bicycle route with two other riders, Jim and John. We'll be self-supported, riding touring bicycles with pannier bags. My wife, Kate, will be joining us in early September to finish the ride with us.
Jim's riding to raise money for Parkinson's disease research as a tribute to his late father.