|Dates:||24 Jul 2013 - 5 Oct 2013|
|Duration:||2 months, 1 week|
Self supported solo tour from my home in Seattle, WA to my hometown of Cottekill, NY. Planning on camping and Warm Showers-ing most nights. Taking my 2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker (named Minnie) with front and rear panniers.
I'm following Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier route with a detour to Chicago, and another to Pittsburgh. Jumping on the GAP and Canal Trail to DC, then the Atlantic Coast route to NY.
5,099 miles and 74 days later, I made it.
Some final stats: I camped 34 nights, slept indoors 39.
I stayed with 20 Warm Showers hosts.
I took one shower in a gas station.
My longest day was 132 miles, my shortest, 9 (not including the 2 days I did not bike at all).
I had 10 days of 100 or more miles.
I had 13 "rest" days--where I stayed in the same city/park/didn't really bike a significant distance to a new destination.
I had 2 flat tires (one in Canada, one here), bought one new tire, and had one day of riding in the rain.
I visited 18 game stores, 10 Trader Joe's, and spent time in 16 states.
I spent about $2,000.
I created a lot of memories, met many generous people, got a fancy titanium spork, and smiled more times than I could count.
I had a lot of fun.
My pinky is still numb.
I wanna do it again.
Day 74: Clarence Fahnestock State Park, Carmel, NY to Cottekill, NY (46/5099)
Well, the trip I had been thinking about for a few years and quit my job to take is over. What a summer.
Nice short day of riding--started out with some tough hills but then we were on railroad grade for a dozen miles or so. It was fun crossing over the Walkway Over the Hudson and the Rosendale Trestle...I spent a few days playing around on the trestle when I was living here--both illegal and dangerous so it was great to be able to soak in the view safely.
Gotta give big thumbs up to Jon for putting in 120 hilly miles over 2 days--really glad we were able to ride up together, and riding into my hometown and then up the driveway brought a few tears to my eyes.
When I was on the road day in and day out, I don't think I was really processing what was going on. It was: Get up early, pedal, find a place to sleep, and repeat. It wasn't until I got onto some familiar roads here that it began to sink in. It was everything I imagined it'd be and worlds more.
I'll probably do one more summary post with some numbers in the next few days...it's going to be so strange not pedaling tomorrow. I'm pretty sure I'll get out on some rides the net few days--I haven't biked around this area too much, might as well do it on Minnie.
Picked up pizzas at the Crossroads Deli.
Rosendale as seen from the trestle.
Miss you guys.
Not the same mountains as Washington, but pretty nonetheless.
About to cross the Hudson again!
Biking on the Dutchess Rail Trail.
Day 73: Manhattan to Clarence Fahnestock State Park, Carmel, Ny (71/5053)
This is my last night! Passed 5,000 miles on the trip today. My original estimate was 4.200 so I went a bit over:)
My brother Jon is riding the last two days with me, and I have to hand it to him, he did great today. I thought we were doing 60 miles and it wound up being 71--went a bit over again. It was a very hilly 71 miles at that. Once we got to Cold Spring, it was another 7 miles to the park, most of it uphill and some quite steep.
We decided to bounce around from the east and west sides of the Hudson, so we took the GW Bridge out of the city and then basically followed 9W north to the Bear Mountain Bridge. Both bridges were beautiful, and the rain held off!
The park is located very close to the AT, and the park ranger hooked us up. He said they usually let trail hikers camp free, and we were basically trail hikers, so free camp site! Dad drove down to deliver a tent and sleeping bag for Jon to use, so we went out to eat in town.
A very nice last full day on tour. Can't believe it's almost over.
Having dinner in Cold Springs with my brother and dad...dad drove out to deliver a tent and sleeping bag for Jon to use tonight.
Crossing over the Hudson again--Bear Mountain Bridge.
Part of my 5,000th mile.
About to cross the GW.
Day 72: Manhattan and Brooklyn (35/4982)
I had a nice day of unloaded biking in NYC. I rode around Central Park and went over the Brooklyn Bridge which was fun and provided great views but I could see it being frustrating if you had to do it every day--very crowded.
Went to probably my last TJs of the trip--the Brooklyn store has 30 cash registers and 40 foot ceilings. Stocked up for the last 2 days of the trip! Afterwards I played pickup ultimate in Central Park for an hour or so, and then some back to Jon and Maroussia's for some games. They had some friends over and we played Hanabi and Space Alert. I always enjoy introducing people to that game, even if it doesn't always go smoothly. Still probably my favorite game.
Tomorrow Jon and I are heading north--looks like we might get some rain but shouldn't be too bad!
Looks like Citibike is getting used. 30 stalls, 2 bikes.
Brooklyn Trader Joes. Fancy.
More park riding--this time Prospect Park.
Biking over the Brooklyn Bridge. Staten Island: Take notes.
This lady's been around. Spending the morning biking around Central Park.
Day 71: Hillsborough, NJ to Manhattan, NY (72/4947)
Well today was interesting. Rita made a hearty breakfast to see me off, and then it was lots of suburban and urban riding the rest of the way.
I rode through Westfield, NJ where two of my Seattle friends grew up, so it was fun to update them on my whereabouts and to get snack suggestions.
Google maps had me taking the Bayonne Bridge into Staten Island. When I arrived, I learned that the sidewalk on the bridge was closed for construction. There was a clear "no bike" sign posted as well. This left me in a dilemma. Either turn around and get to Manhattan by some other means, or try it anyway.
The bridge looked a little scary to ride on, but there was construction cones blocking off the rightmost lane--I decided to take a chance and bike in that lane, and riding that way it was actually fine riding. I exited the highway and stopped to walk back and take a picture of the "Welcome to NY" sign which wound up being my undoing.
A squad car was coming down the highway with lights on--he flagged me down and asked why I rode over the bridge. I tried explaining that I wasn't from the area, was on a cross country trip, didn't know how else to get into Staten Island, apologized, but no luck. Got an $85 dollar ticket for "Failing to obey a signal". He said it was that or arrest me.
There was a second officer who came on the scene as well--I was chatting with him as officer #1 was writing my ticket. I asked if there was only one bridge on to the Island and he said no there are many. I then asked if I could or should have ridden over any of those bridges to which he replied "No, the Bayonne was the last one you were able to".
It's sad that apparently the only way to get a bike on to Staten Island is on a car, or a ferry. He didn't think the buses had bike racks either. Oh well. Lesson learned. Screw Staten Island. The officer mentioned that the ticket would add 2 points to my license. I should have told him I don't own a car or have auto insurance so who cares.
The ferry ride over to NY was pretty (and free--I guess people need a cheap way outta that place), and it was a lot of fun riding through Manhattan to meet my brother. We walked from his office to his apartment and then went out to dinner with his fiancé Maroussia. The pizza place wasn't too much to look at but we were deceived--great food.
We ended the night with 2 games of Hanabi--13 and 19...not so great. Looking forward to riding around NYC on my rest day tomorrow!
Coming into Manhattan on the Staten Island Ferry.
Great store...they have 2 other locations in NH. Rewards club system, very clean...a little too chatty but that's ok.
Last state! Also got a ticket for riding on the Bayonne Bridge. Whoops.
Sydney and Havalie biking from Bar Harbor to the West Coast. First touring cyclists in a while!
Stopped in to Buona Pizza at Lauren's request. She asked me to say hi to the owner, Rocky. He hooked me up with a slice--I forget how good east coast pizza is.
Second breakfast at Bagel Chateau. Thanks to Lauren for the tip. East coast does bagels right.
The calm before the storm.
Day 70: Philadelphia, PA to Hillsborough, NJ (72/4875)
Today started out great; Ann made some great French toast and rode down to the Schuylkill Trail to see me off. On the ride north I met Grant who turned around to ride with me a few miles and chat about touring.
The riding today was along country roads--I was back on the ACA Atlantic Coast route and they did a good job of keeping me on quiet streets. It's starting to really feel like fall--the foliage is beginning to turn, still a little early though. I crossed the Delaware River into New Jersey and then it was a quick ride to Hillsborough and my Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Rita's place. I hadn't been to his house in years, and his 2 sons Jimmy and Ryan have grown quite a bit.
It was great to catch up--I think I blew his mind with the concept of Warm Showers:) They took me out to a calorie-laden dinner and I'm settling in to watch some Breaking Bad.
Tomorrow: New York.
Another lil' path Google showed me.
Just passed by this shop--sadly, going out of business. They had a nice puzzle selection though.
State 15. One more to go.
Coffee break in Ambler. I've had more coffee on this trip than the last year of my life I think. Hopefully I'm not hooked.
Day 69: Lancaster, PA to Philadelphia, PA (83/4803)
Well, one more 80 mile day...and tomorrow might be one too. But then they'll get shorter!
Had some nice riding through Amish Country and then 20 miles on the Schuylkill Trail. After visiting the obligatory game shop and Trader Joe's, I met up with my Warm Showers host Ann in downtown Philly.
Technically she is a Warm Showers host, but we actually met 2 weeks back outside of Ohiopyle on the GAP. She was in the area for a blacksmithing workshop and was out on the trail for a day ride and after I stopped to chat she told me she's on Warm Showers in Philadelphia, so I took her up on her offer. She also recommended my campsite in Loft Mountain in Shenandoah.
I had one of the best meals of the trip with her and her roommates, and I got to check out the cityscape from her roof after a precarious climb. It was one of the most natural and welcoming WS experiences of the trip. Can't believe I'm still up at 10 PM, time for bed!
Redcap's Corner in Philly. Lots of table space, open til 10 PM and a pretty good selection of games. Adam the owner says one of his goals is to get out to Seattle and visit Card Kingdom!
More trails! Thanks Google.
Gary came and sat down with me at breakfast, real friendly guy.
Day 68: Baltimore, MD to Lancaster, PA (83/4720)
Today was the last 80+ mile day of the trip, I think. Sorta sad, realizing that. Rode through some gross distribution centers and strip malls for the first 15 miles, but then hit 50 miles of trail.
I took my time riding, taking lots of breaks, and chatting with a few different groups of people--seemed everyone had lots of questions for me today. I also rode through some sort of organized trail race--got yelled at by a jackass to wear my helmet, to which I responded "I've been doing this for 10 weeks, I think I know when it's safe to go without one". Not the best comeback, but better than nothing:) I have been riding without my helmet on almost all of the rail trails, and it does feel pretty great.
After riding the GAP/C&O and now the Heritage Trail/NCRR, it's obvious Pennsylvania puts more money into their rail trail surfaces than Maryland. It is immediately obvious when I'm riding in PA vs. MD--much smoother ride in PA.
Tonight I'm staying with Katie, my Warm Showers host in Lancaster. We went out for burritos, and had a beer in her backyard. She's got a great space in downtown Lancaster--thanks for putting me up!
I'm sure I was the first person to think to do this.
Some sort of tourist train.
Taking a snack break before setting out on the trails...should be 40-50 miles of it today!
Day 67: Vienna, VA to Baltimore, MD (70/4637)
Once again Google Maps gets an A+ for routing. I found myself on some pretty nice bike paths and didn't expect to. It was a pretty mellow day of riding, not too many hills, and I made it to Baltimore around 2 PM.
Had some amazing crab cakes at G&M...which bills itself as a restaurant and lounge. It was sort of a weird place--there was a sign on the door that prohibited sleeveless shirts...I'm not sure where spandex fits in on their dress code but nobody seemed to mind.
I spent some time around the inner harbor, checked out a game store that wasn't impressive, and had a delicious Nutella topped donut at a cozy coffee shop. Also, I lost one of my Crocs, so threw the other one out. They were due for replacing anyhow.
I'm staying with Alan tonight, the beginning of my last Warm Showers stretch. We went out to dinner and chatted about all things bike related. He's got me itching to try RAGBRAI one of these years.
Oh, my friend Sarah in Seattle wrote a little blurb on me and my trip on her blog, if you're interested in reading. Lots of Bob publicity the past 2 days! Thanks for the nice words Sarah!
Baltimore's best game store! Baltimore has some work to do.
When I was in Teddy Roosevelt Park, Larry and Hilde recommended G&M in Baltimore for their crab cakes. So here I am.
I'm pretty sure they were less than thrilled with my spandex.
Reallocating bikeshare bikes.
Second flat. Not sure how many flats the tire liners prevented, but they caused 2.
Day 66: Barboursville, VA to Vienna, VA (94/4567)
Riding out from Beth's this morning was a treat. Nice rural country roads, little to no traffic, and a cool mist that had yet to burn off. Google maps took me on a bunch of gravel roads--and then one not so pleasant road where I had my dog run in.
Hard to believe I made it 60+ days without a dog encounter, but I survived it!
In other news, the interview I did for the Plaid Hat Podcast back in Toledo went up today, here is the link (fast forward to the 20:20 mark):
If it doesn't work, just Google Plaid Hat Podcast Episode 107. That's my 5 minutes of gaming fame. Let the mocking begin:)
I'm staying with Justin and Meg once again--the first time I've stayed at a place two separate times on the trip. Meg made an awesome southern dinner, and we listened to bluegrass to celebrate my time in Shenandoah.
Looking forward to steady northward progress!
Taking a much needed break after my first real dog chase of the trip. German Shepard darted across the highway and chased me a few hundred yards. Got a "Nice hustle" from a passing car after the dog gave up.
Lots of gravel roads today--back on some bike routes!
Horribly backlit, but that's James Madison's house.
Day 65: Loft Mountain CG to Barboursville, VA (69/4473)
Today started with a screaming descent from the campground and didn't let up for a while. I had some of the longest, fastest, downhills since Montana, and when I reached Charlottesville the sun came out in full force. I enjoyed my time in Shenandoah--it was some of the most challenging riding of the trip but there's something special about being in a National Park. I also had most of my close calls in the park--dumb squirrels not knowing which way to run!
I'm also glad I got to see a bit of Charlottesville--lots of history here and some gorgeous buildings on the UVA campus. The pizza and pizza dough pretzels I had for lunch didn't hurt either.
Tonight I'm staying with Beth, a Warm Showers host with a beautiful 200 year old house in the Virginia countryside. She's got a son in Boston and a daughter in Seattle, so we had a lot to talk about.
Tomorrow, heading northward for the final stretch!
So good. Thanks for the tip, Pierce.
Stopping by the University of Virginia.
Bye bye Shenandoah. Also notable for being the southernmost point of my trip!
Nice quiet morning heading out of the park. A little rain last night, road is a bit damp, but the mountains are still there and still beautiful.
Day 64: Mathews Arm to Loft Mountain (Shenandoah NP) (63/4404)
The hills were rough today, but not as bad as I thought. It seemed like there was more down than up, and some of the descents were nice and long. I made sure to eat more as I rode, which also helped.
Last week I met Ann outside of Ohiopyle on the C&O. She had just been to Shenandoah on her bike, and recommended the Loft Mountain campground. She had high praise for the hosts. When I arrived and told the hosts Ann said hi, they seemed genuinely happy. Ann is also on Warm Showers, and will be my host in Philly!
The site has an almost view of the mountains, I spent some time writing postcards looking out over them from a rock outcrop not too far away. Hard to believe today starts my third month out...if all goes well, I'll be done Oct 5!
I met Woody at my lunch stop--he's hiking the AT and is thinking about a bike tour next year. He left July 7 and figures he's got a month more to go.
Oof. These eastern mountains don't mess around. Up and down, up and down.
Day 63: Vienna, VA to Mathews Arm Campground, Shenandoah NP (88/4341)
As I'm typing this there is a black bear cub munching on acorns 50' up a tree in the next camp site. Welcome to Shenandoah.
Had a quick breakfast with Justin (some sweet Stone Ridge raspberries courtesy of his brother Ethan) and set off around 7 AM to the chilliest morning since Erie, PA. It quickly warmed and I ditched the puffy jacket and full fingered gloves. The first half of riding was adjacent to highway and not very scenic but the latter half was gorgeous.
I made it to the start of Skyline Drive around 2 PM, and then spent the next 3.5 hours going the 22 miles to camp. Whew. These hills are relentless! One of the highlights of the ride was after scarfing down some food at an overlook. I was probably a little dehydrated and under fed, so after the sugar hit my blood I felt like a million bucks. I had just started a much appreciated descent when I scared a hawk from its perch. It flew along side me for what seemed like minutes but was probably seconds before veering off into the woods. I had my music blasting, I was feeling great, and that bird just made my day.
Well, until I got to camp and then Liz and Steve made my day by letting me shower and feeding me:)
I'm a little apprehensive about the 60 miles I have planned for tomorrow...lots of ups and downs in between!
As I was setting up my tent, Liz was walking by and I asked if there were any showers around. She said no, but invited me to shower in her RV. She then proceeded to make me dinner, give me a beer, and chat with me. Her husband Steve came back from a hike with their dog Rufus and we chatted some more. On my way back to camp, she handed me a bag of lemon bars.
So wonderful. Thank you.
Lots and lots of pullouts along Skyline Drive. Also, I underestimated how hard the ride was going to be. Almost bonked at mile 80 today. Nutella to the rescue!
KJKC, these next 2 days are thanks to you.
Day 62: Indian Flats Camp to Vienna, VA (70/4253)
Hit my 14th state today (and first District)! Started out on a bumpy section of the towpath, and saw a slow moving rider up ahead. As I got closer, I could make out the giant messenger bag--it was the same crazy underprepared biker from the other day. He's just about the only person on this trip I had bad vibes from, so I passed him quickly and kept on pedaling.
Im staying with my friends Justin and Meg tonight, and Justin sent me a text asking if I wanted to meet him in DC for lunch. I hadn't planned on riding in to DC until after Shenandoah but I had the time so we met up.
He works for the Federal Reserve, so I was near a bunch of the monuments, and after we ate I snapped some pics of Minnie in front a few of them. Then it was off to TJs to restock for the next few days.
From DC, I was on bike paths pretty much the whole way out to Vienna. I met Bode, Justin and Meg's son--he was obsessing over my pedals. Might have a future bike tourist on your hands! Meg made a ton of food--looking forward to dinner Saturday night already:)
Heading out to the mountains tomorrow--hopefully I'll have service to update!
Trader Joe's in Arlington, VA. State 14!
Labyrinth Games. Closed Modays. Oops.
One of the few times on this trip I've been able to use the "Monument" option. DC!
Falls Island. Seems like it'd make a great water park.
Gary and Joyce from Tuscon, AZ. Flew to Pittsburgh, train to DC, now biking back to Pittsburgh on the trail.
Day 61: Hancock, MD to Indian Flat Campground, MD (84/4183)
Perfect weather for riding today--I was worried the trail was going to be a sloppy mess but it was fine to ride on.
I rode along the Potomac all day, the highlight being the section that was recently redone. They put in a nice cement boardwalk type thing right along the rocks sloping into the river; it made for beautiful scenery.
I was on the Appalachian Trail for a bit, and I crossed over into West Virginia to check out Harper's Ferry briefly. Saw some rock climbers and a bunch of kayaked and rafters.
I'm camped at one of the free hiker/biker sites along the C&O...they are spaced out every 5 miles or so, and each one has a ports potty, pump with iodine-infused water, fire pit, picnic table, and trash bag dispenser. It's a pretty nice setup.
Outside of Harper's Ferry, not too much traffic on the trail. Wonder what it's like on a weekend in August...
One of the neatest coffee shops I've been in. Beans in the Belfry, in Brunswick, MD. Cathy in Cumberland: Great recommendation.
Maybe I'll lock the bike up and head to Georgia...
This section of the trail just reopened recently and I'm glad it did--it's pretty nice.
One of the many locks along the C&O Towpath.
Chuck, Darlene, Brian, Cheryl, Larry, George, Vicky, and myself getting ready to hit the trail in the SUNSHINE!
Day 60: Cumberland, MD to Hancock, MD (67/4099)
With heavy rain in the forecast for the afternoon I got an early start. I had heard of a bike hostel in Hancock, so that was going to be my rain refuge.
A few miles in to my ride I met a strange young man. He was biking from Pittsburgh to DC on a bike with no racks or water bottles in order to deliver $700 to his sister. He was carrying a huge messenger bag and little else. He also spoke in steam of consciousness and jumped into the canal at one point. That's when we parted ways. I hope he got out of the rain tonight--it started pouring a few hours after I got to the hostel.
I wandered around Hancock for a bit in the drizzle...there was a festival winding down. Live music and the Lions Club were selling 1/2 chickens for $5, but by the time I got there, they were priced to move--half off! I bought 2:)
A group of 6 riders plus George, their SAG driver are also staying here. I met them on the GAP yesterday so it was fun seeing them again. They are older, and they treated me to dinner. Somehow I ate a steak after the whole chicken
Lots of this today. I was surprised at how few people I saw for a Saturday--maybe the forecast kept them off the trail. I beat the rain, but just barely.
State 13, just cuz.
Day 59: Ohiopyle, PA to Cumberland, MD (78/4032)
Gorgeous day for riding today...the trail was in excellent shape, and there were blue skies most of the day. I met 3 gentlemen on their weekly ride and wound up having breakfast with them--fun guys to BS with.
Went through a few tunnels today, and descended about 20 miles to end the day. I was surprised at how few people I did see. There was a group of 6 on a supported tour and a couple from Pittsburgh, both groups were stopping 15 miles before I did. Being off the road these past 2 days has been so nice--I'm able to let my eyes wander more without fear of veering into traffic.
I'm camping out at the YMCA...what a deal. It's $10 to camp and I get access to all of the facilities. Just got out of the sauna. I might wind up exploring Cumberland tomorrow if the rain comes hard and steady. I'll decide when I wake up. I love being able to do that:)
Cathy from Maryland. She's biking in the other direction. Turns out there were a lot of similarities between us. She grew up in Howard Beach close to where dad did, lived in Seattle, and her husband is a math teacher!
4,000th mile and 12th state today. Maryland!
View from the top of the Divide.
A lot easier than the last Continental Divide.
Well today's off to a good start. No rain, and I rode with Joe, Norb, and Jack until Confluence, PA, where we had breakfast together (my second breakfast). Thanks for the meal, Jack, I hope I'm riding like you guys in 40 years!
Oh and there was a blind cyclist riding on a tandem (which is about the only reason to ride a tandem).
Day 58: Pittsburgh, PA to Ohiopyle, PA (85/3954)
The day started out right with a hearty breakfast courtesy of Rich. I picked up some groceries at TJs and Target, got some camp fuel at REI, and was off on the GAP.
The first 15 miles or so were pretty urban. Bike paths and protected bike lanes for most of it. Once I got out of the immediate suburbs, the trail really took shape. I was riding in the woods the rest of the day and it was great.
There were a lot of people on the trail and many had panniers...it's different than passing people on the road though--there's less of an impulse to stop and chat, possibly because it's easy to assume where people were coming from and going to. That natural conversation starter isn't there. Maybe things will change, it's only the first day.
As I was heading toward the showers in Ohiopyle State Park, I ran into Leigh, who was chaperoning her high school seniors on a 2 night camping trip. She invited me up to say hi and have some food, so after I cleaned up I rode over to the group site.
She teaches at the Key School, which is an independent school in Annapolis, MD. I met a few other teachers and chatted with some of the students, all while devouring burgers and dogs.
It was a great meal after a long day on the bike, and it was fun to be around so many people with so much energy!
Baked bean eating contest between the seniors of the Key School in Maryland. They invited me over for dinner--nice group of kids.
First trestle crossing on the GAP.
Stopped for a snack along the Youghiogheny River. The trail is pretty serene.
Neato bike rack outside TJs in Pittsburgh. When is 137 getting these?
Day 57: Mercer, PA to Pittsburgh, PA (76/3869)
The day started out great with Merilyn's tasty breakfast, and then I set off into more hills. Lots of beautiful country roads today--I opted for Google Maps over ACA maps once again, and I was happy with the roads.
I hit 3 game stores in Pittsburgh and spent some time talking to the owners in each. All 3 stores seemed to fill a niche, I could see why they can all coexist.
I was hooked up with Cherry and Rich (and their dog Itchy) through my friend Dennis who also works at TJs. They've been great hosts: I'm sitting here watching Nova...I haven't watched TV in weeks!
I start up on the GAP tomorrow--looks like there's some rain in the forecast for the weekend...all good things must come to an end:)
Chatted with Kiley from Games Unlimited. He bought the store a few years ago--was fun talking to him about how the hobby has grown and his plans for the store. Plus, his favorite designer is Vlaada, so he has good taste;)
Also stopped in Phantom of the Attic but forgot to take a pic!
Game Masters, owned by Phil, the only blind game store owner in the world and a really nice guy. Talked games with him for a while.
Cute little drinking water spring built in 1931 by Harry, in honor of his mother.
Day 56: Erie, PA to Mercer, PA (81/3793)
8 full weeks on the road--still going strong. This morning was the coldest of the trip...I passed a sign after about five miles that listed the temperature at 42, I can only imagine it was a bit colder when I woke up. I should probably start getting used to that as we move into late September.
After 10 AM, it was great riding weather, and the terrain was nice and varied. I'm back to riding hills! I didn't realize how much I actually missed the ups and downs, but they do add a lot to the ride. It's nice to not be able to see for miles ahead, and working up a hill gets the heart rate up. Plus, descending.
I arrived at my host's house around 4:30, and was greeted my Merilyn and her son Ethan. Merilyn is friends with Darla and Betty, who I met on the road yesterday. They put in a call, and just like that, I had a place to stay.
I had a great time chatting with Merilyn, her husband Ted, and Ethan. Ethan just had an accident and was preparing for knee surgery, so we had a lot to talk about, while Merilyn just got back from a bike trip that took her from Albany to NYC, passing just east of Rosendale.
We went out for an amazing dinner, and I was able to get my chocolate peanut butter pie that the restaurant last night was out of. Thanks for the meal, the bed, and the company!
Tomorrow will be my last day of roads until DC!
When it was 40 degrees this morning I never thought I'd be stopping for ice cream, but here I am.
Ooh, hills! Welcome back.
Day 55: Madison, OH to Erie, PA (71/3712)
Great biking weather for my birthday riding. Overcast and cool, but the rain held off. The route hugged Lake Erie for most of the day and unlike the previous 2 days, I was able to see the lake for most of it.
It was nice to run into some other bike tourists today--Betty and Darla actually hooked me up with a place to stay tomorrow in Mercer, PA. Us cyclists look out for one another!
I arrived at Sarah's Campground around 2 PM and spoke with Alice behind the desk. She informed me that the site was on her--no charge. And that was before she knew it was my birthday:) It's a nice location, I'm right on the beach. In the summertime I imagine this place is nuts but it's fine this time of year.
My friend Vanessa (Chicago Dave's sister) drove down from Rochester to take me out to dinner--I hadn't seen her in a few years. It was great catching up, and I was able to show her my knee scar and pictures of the wound...she's a PT, so she appreciated it.
So glad I got to spend time with a friend on my birthday. I'll remember my 34th for a long time. Another day in this ridiculous trip!
Second Ellsworth of the trip! Vanessa drove all the way down from Rochester to say hi and take me out to dinner--so great seeing her!
Ryan and Colleena are camped next to me on the beach, and they brought Ticket to Ride. I'm going out to dinner or I would have joined them.
They love them some Oliver Hazard Perry along Lake Erie!
Betty and Darla, making a loop around Lake Erie--they are super sweet and the first cycling tourists I've seen in a week or two!
Bye bye Ohio, my first tent-less state.
Pennsylvania: Number 11.
Having a snack on a bluff above the lake
Day 54: Cleveland, OH to Madison, OH (58/3641)
It was going to be a short day of riding so I didn't start out until 11 or so this morning. John and Kelly rode out to the Brown's stadium with me which was nice of them.
I was back on the ACA Northern Tier route both yesterday and today. I had been following Google's directions ever since La Crosse, WI, and it was nice to be able to look at a map and see where the next services were going to be.
I'm still blown away by the Google Map bike directions--I used them a little bit today, and they took me down a street with a "No Outlet" sign. I thought for sure Google had finally led me astray. Then, when it told me to make a right directly into a house, I was about to turn around. But then I saw it: a teensy gravel path in between two houses. Sure enough, I followed it and it led to a lake that I was able to bike around on a path and I was back on my way. Well done.
I arrived at my WS host's around 6 PM. Tim, his girlfriend Josie, and his dog Byron are putting me up for the night. He's into motorcycles more than bicycles but we still swapped touring stories, and Josie made a delicious tuna casserole. Perfect food for a cool, overcast day.
Tomorrow on to Erie and state #11!
Not a game store, but a second hand toy and clothing store that's a nostalgia trip.
Rock and Roll, baby.
Day 53: Port Clinton, OH to Cleveland, OH (85/3583)
Today was some of the best riding weather of the trip--low to mid 60s and sunny. Felt like a New England fall day. The day started out with dad leaving at the ripe old hour of 4 AM...gotta wonder about him sometimes:) Then, breakfast with Walt and DJ, and I was off.
Now Walt had mentioned that bikes were not allowed to cross Sandusky Bay on Route 2. My alternate routes were to bike an additional 30ish miles to Fremont and then head east, or to catch a ferry to Kelleys Island and then another to Sandusky. I was curious about this illegal bike crossing, so on the way to Cedar Point last night, we looked for any signs indicating no bikes allowed. The only thing we saw was a "No pedestrians" on Westbound 2, so I decided to chance it and ride across. If I got stopped, I'd ask how I was supposed to know no bikes were allowed. The shoulder was the same as it was the rest of the highway--plentiful. Luckily, no one stopped me and I was on my way. I even got to hop over the road closure a few miles down.
I thought I'd have nice Lake Erie views today but most of the coast was private property with fancy houses blocking the lake. When I arrived in Cleveland I went to Melt Bar and Grill to try the Melt Challenge I had seen on Man Vs. Food when I was staying with Paul in MN. It's a double decker grilled cheese with 13 kinds of cheese and an enormous side of fries and slaw. Without the pile of sides, I would have been ok, but I couldn't finish it, even with a 75 mile ride. I did stop eating before I felt gross though, so I was fine the rest of the night.
I'm staying with John and Kelly, Warm Showers hosts. Or I should say I'm staying in their second house next to theirs. They were fun to talk with, and John did a little interview with me, my second of the week! Thanks for hosting me!
Oof. I lost the Melt Challenge. Did somehow finish most of the cheese though.
Ben and June. Just about the sweetest couple I've met on this trip. Mom, she told me to be safe for you:)
Snacking on the beach. There's not a ton of access to Lake Erie along the shore. The bathrooms at Lakeview Beach Park are to die for. Free private showers in each one!
Passed by the Lake Erie Zombie Mud Run.
Day 52: South Bass Island and Cedar Point (0/3498)
Second day of zero miles. I spent the day exploring South Bass Island via a golf cart with dad. We took the ferry over, ate our meals at the places that weren't closed for the season, and visited the Perry Peace Monument. I don't remember knowing anything of Oliver Perry before this trip, and now I've been to his monument and also a giant exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art on the Battle of Lake Erie.
We puttered around the island checking out the parks and sights, and then came back to Walt's for a quick nap before hitting Cedar Point. At first I was disappointed that it was only going to be open from 6 PM til midnight on the day we went but it turned out great.
The short hours combined with the overcast and chilly temperatures meant short lines, and it turns out I'm about ready to leave after a few hours anyway. We went on a few roller coasters, and that big freefall ride where you sit on the outside of a giant column an they hoist you up a hundred someodd feet. I took my phone out right as we started climbing up and they actually stopped the ride and had me put it away. Oops.
All in all it was a great early birthday visit with dad. Glad he came out for a few days and got a Warm Showers experience, now that he is signed up to host. Surprisingly he's already had a few cyclists contact him. I'll be interested to see if he gets more hits as the rail trail system expands in NY.
Heading up the first hill on Gatekeeper at Cedar Point with dad. Great early birthday present!
Perry International Peace Memorial.
Day 51: Toledo, OH to Port Clinton, OH (58/3498)
That's me with my Warm Showers hosts: DJ, Allison, and Walt. Oh, and my dad.
Yep, he drove out to meet up with me so we could go to Cedar Point together. I had contacted Walt a few days back asking if I could stay Wednesday night but his house was closed off for a few days for radon testing so it wasn't going to work out. He asked where I was planning to stay Thursday and when I explained I was going to meet up with my dad and we were gonna go to Cedar Point, he invited us both to stay with him.
Before I arrived here, I went to the Toledo Museum of Art which houses an impressive collection. It's a fine museum, and totally free. The riding today was pretty uneventful...a bit cooler which was nice. Tomorrow and the next few days are going to be in the 60s.
Tomorrow's a rest day--going to check out one of the islands in the lake and ride some roller coasters!
Stopped in the Toledo Museum of Art on my way out of town.
That's my buddy Bishamonten behind me.
Day 50: Pettisville, OH to Toledo, OH (45/3440)
Wow, day 50. Crazy. Another hot one. Jenny made a great breakfast and after discussing my dynamo setup with Rebecca, I was off. It was going to be a short day of riding, and I wasn't sure what I was going to do with myself in Toledo all day. First stop: Game store!
Some back story: If you are reading this, you know I love boardgames. I also love listening to boardgaming podcasts. Yes, those are a thing. Especially on this trip, it gives me a little outlet into my gaming obsession--I can (and do) spend a lot of my time on the bike listening to strangers talk about the games they've been playing. I know, it's weird.
One of the podcasts I listen to is the Plaid Hat Podcast. Plaid Hat Games is a company that makes boardgames, their most well known is probably Summoner Wars. I don't really even play many of the games they make but I like the personalities on the show, and I've been listening to them for as long as they've been around.
As such, I know their HQ is in Fremont, OH which is on my route, so about a week ago I emailed them telling them about my trip, that I'm a fan of their podcast, and asking if they knew of any places I could play games while I was passing through. I got a response the next day that basically said they are super busy this time of year with conventions and thanking me for supporting them. No problem, it was a shot in the dark, I just thought it'd be fun to game with some of them.
Fast forward to today. I stop in Checkmate Games in Toledo to check out the store. There are a few guys in the shop, setting up a game. In order to explain away why I am in spandex and sweaty, I tell them about my trip and my game store visits. We introduce ourselves, and I meet Mark and Alex. For some reason I brought up that I had emailed this nearby game company called Plaid Hat Games to ask about game store advice, and Alex says "I'm the Alex on the Plaid Hat Podcast."
So weird. So this guy puts together the podcast every week, and as he starts talking more, I completely recognize his voice. He starts asking me all sorts of questions about my trip, and then tells me he is going to run home to grab his computer so we can record an interview for the podcast. He then proceeds to do just that. I might be on their podcast next week, which is pretty neat.
So that was my over-explained highlight for the day. We also played some games--I was in the store for about 5 hours. They brought in pizza, it was a good time.
Eventually I needed to pry myself away from my boardgame celebrity sighting and meet my Warm Showers hosts Dan, Wendy, and their daughter Sarah. Once again, great hosts, super generous, and fun conversation. There was a dead chipmunk, coffee cake, a downpour (first rain since Glacier but I don't really count it since I wasn't riding and was in a walled structure), and lots of laughter.
Whew. Long winded update. Another short day tomorrow!
Checkmate Games in Toledo. Met Alex from the Plaid Hat Podcast who recorded me for a possible segment and played a bunch of games with him and Mark.
This is where Google Maps took me this morning. So peaceful.
Day 49: Goshen, IN to Pettisville, OH (102/3395)
I think today was the hottest day of riding I've had all trip. Luckily, it was flat, and I had a decent tailwind most of the day.
Google maps took me on some gravel roads through Amish Country, but the lack of traffic was worth it. I think I saw more horse drawn carriages than cars on the dirt roads. Also, lots of bikes. The Amish like their bicycles!
The highlight of the day (other than that miracle gas station) was my Warm Showers host. The listing was for Rob, but every time I called, I spoke with his daughter Rebecca. Se assured me it'd be ok to stay. I felt a little odd not speaking to an adult but what the hell.
When I arrived, I was greeted by her mom Jenny, who told me that her husband Rob had passed away from cancer last year, and that I was their first Warm Showers guest since. He and Rebecca had done many tours together, including biking to Virginia to send her off to college, and biking in the Finger Lakes region of NY. Now that Rebecca is back living at home, Jenny felt it was time to start hosting again. She said Rob always enjoyed talking to the cyclists so much, he would have wanted her to continue to host them.
Well, I was moved by that story to say the least. We shared a great meal--Jenny was born in Bolivia and she knows how to make the best rice and beans I've ever had. I spent a lot of time talking to Rebecca about touring, bike culture in Seattle, and biking in general. I immediately felt comfortable around them, and Jenny said the same of me.
A big thank you for opening up your home once again to a stranger biking through your town.
Thank you, Village of Edon Shamrock Station, for being the first gas station I've passed today, and for supplying me with ice cream, Gatorade, and chocolate milk.
It is brutally hot.
Also, Ohio! State #10!
It's a hot one. John was nice enough to let me fill up on water at his house. He also picked some apples for me, and put ice in my jersey pockets. It wasn't weird.
Been living most our lives livin' in an Amish Paridise.
Day 48: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to Goshen, IN (92/3293)
The riding today was pretty unremarkable other than my first spill...took a turn too tight on the trail this morning and went over some loose rocks. Minnie went down but I was only going about 5 MPH so we were both fine. One of the front panniers came loose but nothing major.
Two other events of note (3 if you count the warm temperature): I snuck into Michigan for my 9th state, and there was a mix up with my Warm Showers host. I had contacted two potential hosts yesterday: John and Angie. Left a message for John, and connected with Angie and confirmed I could stay, so when John called back, told him I was all set with a place.
Well, I didn't have Angie's address so when I sent her a text today to get it, she replied that she would be in a meeting until 9 PM and she gave me her daughter's number to contact. All fine and well, except the number she gave me was her own number. When I tried to contact her back, she must have been in her meeting.
I was in Goshen and it was starting to get late so I called John and explained the situation and he happily re-offered to host. Problem solved. Except it turns out he lives 7 miles outside of town and it was already dark. Night bikes! I got to make full use of my extraordinarily bright headlight as I sped out to his place. I got it just after 9, had a shower, was given a beer, and watched MNF.
It turned into a good night after all. I'm pretty tired and have another long day tomorrow and it's supposed to be in the mid to upper 90's, which means an early start!
So thankful for Warm Showers and the generosity and flexibility of strangers! I don't even remember John's friend or girlfriend's name, it was such a hectic night!
Doesn't look like much, but it's Michigan...snuck in for a few feet just cuz. Also, now I'm in Eastern Time!
Day 47: Chicago to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (81/3201)
Back on the road. Chris and Dave rode the first 20 or so miles with me to the end of the Lakefront Trail. We said our goodbyes, and then I was off, alone again. It was so great being around friends the past few days--it might take me a day or two to adjust to the solo life.
I did ride with 2 more people today: first Bob and then Doug. Both were eager to show me the way. I'm still very impressed with the Google bike directions. I had no idea I'd be on so many bike paths today. Now I am thinking I will just stay north and head due east to Ohio rather than riding south to reconnect with the Northern Tier. Google has given me lots of freedom!
I'm camped at the National Park or monument or whatever it is. I think hiker/biker sites might be but a memory for the rest of the trip. Got a Warm Showers host lined up for tomorrow!
Walking along the beach...feels good to be back on the road.
Met Bob on my way to the Sand Dunes. He was nice enough to ride with me for a while and show me a good route. He is in town from Arkansas researching a route around Lake Michigan for his next book. His first is "Bicycling Guide to the Mississippi River Trail". Go buy it:)
Also, I'm in Indiana, state #8!
Got an escort to the end of the Lakefront Trail. Back on my own again!
Day 46: Chicago (5/3120)
Last day in Chicago...it's been a fun Inception Vacation but I'm ready to be back on the bike and get back into my riding routine. Thanks again to Dave, Chris, and Kristen for both entertaining and humoring me.
Today was a lazy day--spent some time at the German Fest in Lincoln Square. More beer and brats. I might be done with encased meats for a while. I then spent some time trying to cram all of my goodies into my panniers. Both my mom and dad sent me care packages which was sweet of them...between the 2 packages couldn't quite fit all of the snacks in my bags. Dave got the leftovers as rent payment:)
I was going to accompany Dave to see Local H at the Metro tonight, but the show was sold out. Whoops. Probably for the best as I'm pretty tired from wandering around today. I'm planning on staying at the Indiana Sand Dunes tomorrow night--looking forward to camping!
Wanders' Refuge in Dave's neighborhood. Tiny store but more games than I thought they'd have. Unfortunate name.
German Fest in Lincoln Square with Megan, Dave, Chris, Kristen, and Ramona.
North Center TJ's in Chicago. Thanks for the gift card mom!
Day 45: Chicago (16/3115)
I had a great time riding around the city with Chris and Dave today...it was a little surreal; I was riding my own bike around a city all day with 2 friends, but the city was Chicago, and the friends were people I went to high school with and hadn't seen in years. It was almost a normal scene, but just enough was different to remind me I'm on vacation.
We went to a Cubs game at Wrigley, then to Dice Dojo to play some games. First nerd games of the trip, including Ricochet Robot, my first. Followed that with dinner at Pequod's Pizza, then ice cream at Margie's. A little too much dairy--I'm feeling pretty full right now.
Tomorrow is my last day in Chicago, it's been a ton of fun, but back on the road Sunday!
Back to Dice Dojo for some gaming! Roll Through the Ages pictured here. We might have played more but were intimidated by the impending Friday Night Magic.
Minnie made it to Wrigley!
Day 44: Chicago (26/3099) I had a lot of fun riding an unloaded Minnie around Chicago. I rode down with Chris to watch him teach his Calculus II class at Columbia College; pretty neat watching your friend teach a college class. I sort of remembered the material.
Afterwards we rode to a game shop and then up north to have lunch at Hot Doug's...pretty tasty encased meats (bison sausage!). I met Chris' daughter Ramona for the first time, and then met up with Dave--he's training for the NYC marathon (for the 4th time...hasn't been able to run it yet) and I joined him on his run. It was a big deal for me since I hadn't run much at all since April...knee felt great.
We all met up again for dinner where I was able to try some of Chris' homebrew, as well as homemade cider courtesy of Justin in Portland. Even though I had one of the lower mileage days of the trip, I'm wiped out and about to pass out.
Just finished my first city run since the surgery, knee felt great! Thanks for the run, Dave.
Cat and Mouse Games...not a ton of play space but a good selection, and an impressive children's game section.
Riding in downtown Chicago with Chris--really the first time I had ridden with anyone for any length of time since Kevin all those weeks ago. I almost forgot how much fun it can be to bike around the city with a friend.
Sitting in on Chris' Calculus II class.
Day 43: Lake Bluff, IL to Chicago, IL (53/3073) Made it to Chicago, which arbitrarily seems like a milestone!
The ride down was mostly on trail; the Chicago lakefront was a real treat. Getting off trail, it took a while to get back in the swing of riding in a hyper urban environment. Chicago streets are a far cry from the Elroy-Sparta trail.
I spent most of the day swimming and biking along the lake and then met up with my friend Dave, who I am staying with. We had dinner with his friend Megan, and Chris, another good friend of mine from high school. I ate about 2 pounds of fries. My diet here might rival the MN Fair:)
I am excited to be on another Inception Vacation for a few days--not too much biking in the immediate future, but lots of reconnecting with old friends.
Chicagoland Games/Dice Dojo. Great selection and lots of play space in the Dojo.
New TJ's hasn't opened yet--Sept 6th. Also, Chicago!
Day 42: Milwaukee, WI to Lake Bluff, IL (75/3020) Couple of milestones today: Surpassed 3,000 miles, hit my 7th state, and had the best restaurant breakfast of the trip.
Christopher and I went to Blue's for breakfast and it was tasty. Corned beef hash with poached eggs, still warm Monkey Bread, and amazing hash browns. Hit up a game store and a TJ's with him afterwards, and then rolled out. Getting out of Milwaukee was a little hairy due to some construction, and the bike path came and went along the route but overall good riding today. The weather was perfect once again--low 70's.
Stopped by Illinois Beach State Park to snack and dip my feet in Lake Michigan, and then arrived at Marcus and Beth's place. They prepared a delicious curry dinner (and possibly even tastier eggplant dip appetizer), and it was fun chatting with them and their 2 girls Rosie and Izzy. Another Warm Showers success, thanks again for letting me stay!
Board Game Barrister in Milwaukee. Probably the nicest game shop within a mall I've been to.
Day 41: Madison, WI to Milwaukee, WI (100/2945) Wisconsin: You are killing it with the bike paths. Day started out with a nice breakfast courtesy of Anne and Ack (homemade yogurt!), and a 7:30 departure. In terms of temperature, today was the coolest day I've had in weeks. The high was in the low 70's and it was overcast with a slight wind from the northwest, which made for perfect riding.
I was able to ride from Madison to Milwaukee on bike path for about 90% of the day, and the last bit was along Lake Michigan. 100 miles on trail is infinitely more pleasurable than 60 on roads.
I just missed the big party in Milwaukee: Harley-Davidson was celebrating their 110th anniversary in town, but by the time I arrived most of the fun was over. I did ride right by their museum--I had no idea they were a Milwaukee company. I also watched some of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee ultimate tryouts--the first ultimate I've seen on the trip.
I'm staying with Christopher, who I met on WAM...we just finished dinner which was amazing. Salmon, quinoa, and a strawberry avocado salad. One of the better meals on the trip. Tomorrow I'm going to check out a game shop here, and then head south along the Lake to my Warm Showers host--then it's off to Chicago!
Made it to Lake Michigan!
I just stopped to chat with a group of young, friendly cyclists heading from Milwaukee to Madison but I forgot to take their picture. Instead, here's another bike-with-a-sign photo. These Wisconsin trails are a treat!
Day 40: Louis and Val's to Anne and Ack's (17/2845) A little slow going this morning:) Got to drive a car for the first time since the trip started, to unshuttle all the vehicles from the start of WAM yesterday. Resupplied at TJs, and spent some time walking around State Street and the Taste of Madison festival that was happening. There were tons of people there and it was getting quite hot so I made for Anne and Ack's place on the north end of Lake Mendota, stopping for a quick swim along the way.
20 minutes after meeting them, I was playing Anne in Cribbage, so we got off on the right foot. Ack made some delicious potato salad to go along with ribs and salad salad. It was nice to have some fruit and veggies after last night's gluttony.
We then took their boat out on the lake to watch a lighted boat parade, but a lightning storm over Lake Michigan stole the show. It was a perfect way to end my stay in Madison--Jo, thanks for setting me up with them, and Anne and Ack, thanks so much for the memorable night! Off to Milwaukee next!
Taste of Madison.
Day 39: Reedsburg, WI to Madison, WI (62/2828) Oof. Missed the usual evening update. I blame Walk Across Madison (or WAM).
The ride down from Reedsburg was fine--the early morning was on beautiful country roads with lots of rolling hills. Once I got to the state highway I was on a bike path into town. Again I am impressed with the bike paths, and how many casual riders are out using them.
The 2 game shops were fun to stop in, but the real highlight was getting to Louis and Val's house, right on Lake Monona. For the last 4 years they have been part of an event they call Walk Across Madison, which is a 12 mile pub crawl. This is the 5th year and it was happening the day I got in. What a fun way to see the city. At its peak I think we had 19 people, most in matching WAM shirts.
I experienced Wisconsin fried cheese curds from 2 bars, a Wisconsin Old Fashioned, brats and Babcock ice cream (Blue Moon and orange chocolate chip) from the University of Wisconsin student union, a Plaza Burger, soft pretzels from Essen Haus (and a free T-shirt from ordering so many boots) and a bite of Bob's Bad Breath Burger from the Weary Traveler. Then it got a little hazy.
I've had a lot of fun in Madison. Thanks Joe, for hooking me up with everyone. Dave, Easton, Gretchen, Val, Christopher, John, Louis, Brian, Kristen, Brooke, and Elliot (not pictured: Liz and Josh. Still sleeping).
4 brats, 2 large Babcock ice creams, a few cheese curds, and one Plaza Burgers later, the Wisconsin State Capital.
At the University of Wisconsin student union for a pub crawl. We have matching shirts.
15 minutes later, Pegasus Games. Less impressed. Not as friendly, though they are having a garage sale today, if I was local I'd have picked up Oltre Mare for $10.
I'm Board! Games in Middleton, WI. Impressed with their selection, and their discount program...if its your birthday week you get 20% off, and if you bring in your report card , you get a discount based on how good your grades are. As much as I love Card Kingdom, I wish they did stuff like this.
Day 38: La Crosse, WI to Reedsburg, WI (85/2766) Well so far I am very happy Ed persuaded me to head to Madison. The riding today was some of the best of the entire trip; I was on trail for about 81 of the 85 miles and the scenery was beautiful. The trails are maintained exceedingly well--I must have crossed 2 dozen bridges, and the crushed limestone is super smooth. Farmland, wooded areas, streams, and the highlight if the day: the 3 tunnels I rode through. I could feel them approaching as the air dropped in temperature.
The first one had massive doors they would shut to keep the water from icing over in the winter back when trains used the tracks. It was 3/4 of a mile long--long enough that when I was in the middle I couldn't see light from either end. My lights worked like a charm and I was able to pedal through all of them no problem. I saw a few cyclists with headlamps on but they were walking their bikes.
I stopped at the police station in Reedsburg to see if there was anywhere I could pitch a tent and they directed me to the city park. First night in my tent in a while.
Next time I will be sure to check the bathrooms out before I resort to filtering my water. I thought they were pit toilets from the look of them but turns out they have flush toilets, sinks, and electrical outlets. Oh well, at least my filter got some use.
Tomorrow it's back on the roads to Madison!
3/4 mile long tunnel. Glad I had my lights:) Gotta get out to the Snoqualmie tunnel when I get back.
Mmm...banana, PB, Nutella sandwich.
Ed escorted me to the trail and let me take his bike for a spin. First recumbent experience. Tricky to ride at first!
Day 37: Wabasha, MN to La Crosse, WI (72/2681) Oh man. Ed is a great Warm Showers host. He rode out to meet me on the Great River Trail on his recumbent and escorted me to his place. He took me out to dinner downtown, and we spent some time looking over my route and decided that I need to see Madison, WI, so that's where I'm heading next. It'll save some miles but more importantly, I'll be on trail all day tomorrow and I've heard great things about the city. I've got a few leads on places to stay so hopefully one will work out, though I'm a little nervous because it's Labor Day weekend.
And as I'm writing this, Joe calls me with not only a place to stay in Madison, but to inform me that Walk Across Madison is happening, which is a giant pub crawl. So things are looking up:) Thanks Joe!
As for the riding today, it was great. Spent a lot of time on the Great River Trail which had a lot of trees that blocked the sun and the wind. I'm excited for my new plan and to go off route for a few days!
And I just got a text from Mitch in Seattle letting me know I've got a place in Rockford, IL. I love this trip. Thanks Mitch!
Loving the shade on the Great River Trail.
Having a snack and swim at Merrick State Park. The water's so warm! As a side note, the number of arguments I've witnessed between couples at boat ramps outnumbers the total of all of the arguments I've witnessed anywhere else on this trip. Just a warning to boat owners out there.
Got to meet Terry, my Warm Showers host, as I was eating breakfast.
Day 36: St. Paul, MN to Wabasha, MN (98/2609) Nice to be back on the road! Jim woke up at 6 with me and accompanied me for the first 6 or so miles out of town. Very nice of him. So glad I met him in Glacier all those weeks ago. Encountered a detour on my way to Afton but decided to continue on anyhow. Detours on bikes are tricky because you never know how far out of the way they will take you, and there's a decent chance you'll be able to sneak around whatever is causing the detour anyhow. Well, in this case the road was totally torn up and there was heavy machinery in use everywhere so I had to backtrack and take the detour, which sent me in the same general direction so no big loss. The riding today was fun, lots of ups and downs--I took the advice of Jim and a few others and stayed on the Wisconsin side of the river for most of the day. I felt surprisingly strong after the few days off and the fair food diet. I sweat like a beast though, it was in the mid 90's and humid all day. The accompanying photo is taken from my WS host's patio. Terry (who I haven't met yet) has quite the house in Wabasha. I'm staying in his pool house, and his property is right on the Mississippi. There's a hot tub but it's too warm out for it to be appealing. Hoping I get up in time to watch the sun rise over the river!
Met Jon and Mary while I was waiting for my Warm Showers host Terry to get home. After making sure I wasn't trying to break in, Jon invited me over to his place for a shower and beer while Mary warmed up some leftover ribs to accompany corn and salad. What a welcome to Wabasha!
Stopped for a swim in the Mississippi. Think I've drank more water today than any other day of the trip!
Roger Hall. 65, retired, picks up cans along the highway on his bike and donates them to the local school.
State #6! I'll be back And forth from Wisconsin and Minnesota for a bit.
Breakfast on the St. Croix River.
Day 35: Minnesota State Fair (24/2511) Well, the fair lived up to the hype. I ate a bunch of unhealthy food, went on some rides I am too old for, saw lots of livestock and vegetables, and experienced some great people watching. Also got to see another game store, went on a quest to acquire a new phone charger, and ate a burger injected with cheese, topped with bacon, roast beef, and more cheese. Hit up my second TJs of the trip, an spent the night doing laundry and talking with Jim and his mom for a few hours. I am so happy I decided to spend a few days in the Twin Cities--it has been refreshing to live in a city again, and I am recharged and ready to hit the road early tomorrow. It probably diminishes the phrase if I keep using it, but Minneapolis and St. Paul have been 2 more highlights in a trip full of them.
The Source Comics and Games near the fairgrounds. Best store of the trip so far! Met the owner at the fair, and Jika recommended the shop as well. It's huge! Ran into the Vice President of the store, Nick Post, at the 1919 Root Beer stand at the fair, which he owns. He used to own the 1919 company but sold it under the condition that he still own the stand at the fair. Now he uses that money to give college scholarships. He also helps run 2 of the big comic conventions in the Twin Cities.
Made it to the fair. Makes me appreciate the bike I'm riding.
Day 34: Minneapolis, MN to St. Paul, MN (38/2487) Took a day to ride around Minneapolis, which was a joy due to all of the bike paths. Less of a joy due to the near 100 degree temperatures! Rode around the U of Minnesota campus, saw the sculpture garden outside of the Walker Museum, swung by Target Field, and took a few dips in Cedar Lake.
It was great riding around on an unloaded bike for the first time I a while, and to explore a new city on bike. It really is a wonderful was to see a city, especially one as bike friendly as Minneapolis. The heat was getting pretty severe in the afternoon so I went to see The World's End. It felt good to do something urban for a change:)
Staying with Jim and his girlfriend Carly, who I met in Glacier. My debit card made it here so that's a relief. Jim owns a bike shop in Minneapolis and it's one of the few shops in the city that carry dynamo hubs and lights. I'm glad I happened to share a site with him a few weeks ago!
Tomorrow, it's State Fair time. Food on a stick!
Wowzers. Getting hot. Had a couple of swims and then took Paul's advice and ate at Quang for lunch. Met Peter, Britt, and Mallory, who invited me to eat with them. Thanks for the conversation!
Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Gallery. Museum's closed on Mondays. Also, forecast is for 100 degrees. Time to head to the lakes!
Day 33: Ramsey, MN to Minneapolis, MN (46/2449) Short day of riding, much of it on trail along the Mississippi and in the city. Restocked at TJ's, and took a dip in both Lake Calhoun and Harriet. Also I bought some lemonade from a girl trying to save the tigers. Got to have a beer with Jika, a friend from Seattle who happened to be visiting friends in St. Paul. It was nice to see a familiar face after all these days. Ed Ewing, who runs the Major Taylor program at the Cascade Bicycle Club connected me with his high school friend Paul, which is where I am staying tonight. We went out to dinner and he drove me around the city and was a great tour guide. Looking forward to exploring Minneapolis by bike tomorrow!
Second game store! Deals mostly with miniatures but they have a small boardgame selection.
Snacks on the Mississippi.
Day 32: Onamia, MN to Ramsey, MN (71/2403) Well. It was hard to leave the Sahlstrom's, let me tell you. Betsy made a wonderful breakfast: sausage, toast, and eggs from the hens outside. They took real good care of me. Thanks again. Once I got on the road, I was greeted with pretty fierce headwinds. What should have been a fairly mellow day turned into an all day battle...I got in to Ramsey around 4 and after refueling with 2 chocolate milks and a Dr. Pepper, spent 45 minutes trying to figure out how to access the Mississippi. I rode through a housing development right out of the opening credits of Weeds, and even though I was mere feet from the River, couldn't get close. I finally Googled "Ramsey MN river access" and discovered an article touting a new boat launch. Seems the town realized that river access was an issue. Took a nice bath, and made my way to Hansen's Christmas Tree Farm, where I am pitching my tent. The owner Mark lives in St. Paul and is a Warm Showers host there but he also allows cyclists to tent at his tree farm. Not sure why anyone would be cycling through Ramsey though--there's not much here. A boring suburb with lots of office complexes and not much else. Looking forward to my stay in the Twin Cities starting tomorrow!
Bath in the Mississippi!
Snack break in Milaca. PB Nutella banana burrito!
Day 31: Albany, MN to Onamia, MN (61/2332) A month out on the road! And palindrome mileage! Today was pretty great. Had a tasty breakfast at Jordie's Trailside Cafe. They are right off the Soo Line Trail and get lots of business from cyclists. The owner is in the process of building a bike camp, complete with showers, to host bike campers next year. Used Google Maps to get to Nat's family's place...put me on a few gravel roads but nothing too bad. This was the first time I had used the navigation on Google Maps and was impressed with how easy it was to just listen to the directions. I'm probably years late to the party, but I'm excited to use it again tomorrow. Let me just say that staying with Nat's family has been yet another highlight. Betsy is an amazing cook, and Nat must have warned her because she was prepared. Delicious burgers and potatoes for lunch with all the fixins, and chili with cornbread for dessert. And the cookies. She even made me extra to take with me tomorrow. I'm so lucky. I spent some time in the woods with Nat's dad Kevin and his uncle Kris, helping plot out a future garage site, and was rewarded with a swim in the Rum River, complete with rope swing and bridge jump. I couldn't have asked for more--Nat, thanks for suggesting I stop by, and Betsy and Kevin, thanks so much for everything! I won't forget my night in Onamia any time soon.
Hey, it's the Mississippi River!
Ooh covered bridge.
Day 30: Underwood, MN to Albany, MN (97/2271) 97 miles today, 90 of which were on bike paths! Nice, flat riding. Thought I might see more cyclists--probably only passed 2 dozen all day and none of them were touring. Got to camp with the intention of jumping in the lake to cool off, but the lake was pretty swampy so I did a spigot shower which still felt great. I'm staying at a County Park that doesn't have camping other than 3 bike-in sites.
Tomorrow I head up to Onamia to stay with Nat's parents which I'm super excited for! Then it's the Twin Cities and the MN State Fair!
Where the cycling is above average.
Whew! Made it! What a great trip. Thanks for reading!
Odd Todd, Ken, and myself...getting ready to head out onto the bike path!
Day 29: Fargo, ND to Underwood, MN (108/2174) Ah, Minnesota! The trees! The lakes! The bike paths! Great day of riding--not too hot and when it did start getting toasty there are lakes everywhere to cool off! I stopped in a nice bakery in Fergus Falls...they model some of their baked goods off of Voodoo Donuts in Portland. From there, hopped on the Central Lakes Trail, which, if the mile markers are to be believed, goes for at least 180 miles. It was so refreshing to be on a legit bike path--only 10 miles or so today, but all of my riding tomorrow will be on it. As I was pulling into WS host Ken's driveway, another cyclist pulled up. Todd from New Mexico. Ken has had one previous WS guest, and now he had 2 in one day! It was fun swapping stories, and Ken made a delicious meal. Minnesota sweet corn! I'm liking this state already.
Todd from New Mexico. We pulled in to Ken's driveway at the same time from opposite directions.
First swim in weeks!
Baked goods and coffee in Fergus Falls. Almost done riding for the day!
Well, I was hoping for a "Welcome to Minnesota" sign, but these sodas will have to do. State #5! Thanks to Ann for suggesting I stop in at the Sabin General Store. Neat shop.
Day 28: Enderlin, ND to Fargo, ND (63/2064) 4 full weeks on the road! Pretty close to halfway done, I think. I was told today was the hottest day of the year so far in Fargo--hit 96 or so. Luckily I was done riding by noon and had time to wander around downtown. I checked out the bike shop which seems to be in an old train station--it's quite the building. I also checked out my first game shop of the trip, Paradox Comics and Cards. They had a small selection of boardgames--thankfully I don't have much extra space, so I wasn't tempted to pick anything up. Ann and Ed, my Warm Showers hosts, were great. I spent the night talking with Ann about her family and bike touring. Dinner was fantastic, and Ann donated a bunch of leftover energy bars to my ride. Another wonderful WS experience. Tomorrow, into Minnesota!
Wasn't prepared for a bike shop of this caliber in Fargo.
Daycare bike train!
Snacks halfway to Fargo!
Day 27: Gackle, ND to Enderlin, ND (102/2001) Well. My wrong turn put me over 2,000 miles so I guess that's something! Planned on 75ish miles today, but stupidity led to 100. Wrong turn and all, North Dakota has been a wonderful riding experience. Had some side and tail winds today so the mileage didn't feel so bad. It continues to be HOT. Mid to upper 90s today with the same forecast tomorrow--it gets hard to bike when there's absolutely so hade anywhere. I stopped in to the Trio Bar in town and was treated to a few shots and some leftover brisket from a BBQ they had yesterday. Feeling a bit tipsy as I write this. Tomorrow should be an easy day--Fargo is only 60 or so miles away, and I have a Warm Showers host lined up. I'm going to pay more attention to where I'm going from now on so hopefully no more bonus miles!
Some relief from that wrong turn. Thanks, Trio Bar.
North Dakotans are killing it in the giving me space category.
Somehow took a wrong turn on a day with no turns. 20 bonus miles!
Just got off the phone with Bank of America--they are sending a new card to Jim in St. Paul. I met him in Glacier. Hope the timing works out!
Day 26: Bismarck, ND to Gackle, ND (116/1899) A long day of biking, but with some tailwinds for a bit! Felt good to be going 20 MPH+ on the flats. Started seeing more water now that I'm getting into Eastern ND, and a TON of sunflowers. North Dakota has really surprised me--I didn't have high expectations but the scenery has been varied, and I've gotten the highest wave/head nod/thumbs up percentage from motorists so far. I'm staying at the Honey Hub which is a cyclist-only lodging run by Jason and his family. Their basement is set up for guests with laundry, WiFi, showers, and even some energy bars. Jason is a beekeeper and his father started the Honey Stinger brand of energy snacks. What a great place to rest for the night, in Gackle, ND of all places. Figured out my first big planning blunder: My debit card expired last month...gotta figure out how to get a new one on the road. That should be interesting! Adventure!
Taking a break by the sunflowers.
Day 25: Richardton, ND to Bismarck, ND (82/1783) Started the day off with a silent breakfast with the monks, then hot the road. Had a south wind most of the day so the riding was pretty good, but it was HOT. Mid 90's by the end of the day. I was running out of water (my bladder had some but it was probably 100 degrees from sitting in the sun), so I stopped at a gas station just outside of Bismarck and drank a Powerade and 2 chocolate milks. Mmm. Made it to my Warm Showers host around 6 PM, the Broken Spoke Bike Shop run by Tyler and his parents, Steve and Dawn. Steve took me on a mini tour of Bismarck and made some pizza for dinner. He also came to the rescue with white gas which I haven't been able to find outside of 1 gallon containers. Some cyclists had left their extra with him. Continue to be amazed by the hospitality of strangers. Tomorrow I'll be staying with at the Honey Hub in Gackle!
Crossing the Missouri again.
I took Sophie and Gilles' advice and stayed on 139 through the gravel rather than hopping on I-94 and it was worth it. Zero cars, beautiful country. Twin Buttes in the background.
Central Time Zone! Also I thought this hawk or whatever was fake until it flew away.
Nancy, me and my unwashed hair, Brother Odo, and Greg after our silent breakfast.
Day 24: Medora, ND to Richardton, ND (68/1701) Ah, the wind shifted a bit today and blew from the south! Instead of pushing me backwards it was pushing me into the road, but that's preferable. Easy day of riding today. Ran into Nancy and Greg from a few days ago; I had mentioned the Abbey as a possible spot for them to stay, and that's where they were heading. We rode the 6 miles from Taylor to the Abbey together. What a crazy experience it's been here. We were welcomed by Brother Odo and he made us feel at home. All of the guest rooms were full so we pitched tents outside, then went in for service, and followed that with an amazing salmon dinner...probably the most well rounded meal I've had since I left. We were not shy about getting seconds and thirds:) After dinner, I had my first shower since the gas station in Circle, and went to my first Vespers. Pretty great night t the Assumption Abbey. No idea what to expect when I got here, but it's been fun hanging out with the monks. Tomorrow I should be in the central time zone!
Passing by sunflower fields en route to Richardton.
Sam from England traveling around the US...starting and ending in NY. No phone, no tent, raising money for 3 charities. Crazy. On Facebook: New York to New York Cycling Challenge.
Day 23: Same camp (27/1633) Well, I moved camp across the path to be on the river, but didn't do much else. Took a ride around the scenic loop in the park--saw 2 bison up close and personal, tons of prairie dogs, and a bunch of wild horses. This Teddy Roosevelt NP that I didn't know existed a week ago is pretty nice. The highlights came around dinner time. A herd of bison walked through camp--probably 30 or so in all, about 25 feet from my tent. And then, Larry and Hilde invited me over for dinner. They are from Baltimore but are road tripping out to a conference of zoo volunteers, which happens to be in Seattle this year. I told them to eat at Paseo, they told me to eat at G&M when I get to Maryland. Great conversation and tasty pasta. Tomorrow my Warm Showers host fell through, so I'm staying with Benedictine Monks...should be interesting!
Well, I saw my buffalo.
Prairie dog doin' his thing.
Day 22: Glendive, MT to Medora, ND (75/1606) Took my time again today--75 miles really does seem to be the magic number...I get into camp and actually have energy and time to do things! There was a pretty nasty storm running along side me to the north this morning but it never came close enough to bring rain. It felt good to make it to North Dakota; Montana is huge. I enjoyed my time there but am mentally ready for a new state. I'm staying at Teddy Roosevelt NP today and tomorrow, a rest day will do the body good. I'm enjoying the comments, keep 'em coming--they help a lot! After the park, I've got two Warm Showers lined up, haven't been in a bed since before Glacier! Getting to be a pro at setting up and breaking down camp! Gonna head off to the Ranger talk tonight--when you're by yourself you gotta fill the time:) Also the weather is supposed to get quite warm by the end of the week--I've been spoiled in that it has been a bit cooler than usual. Guess that's a trade off for the wind.
Greg, Celeste, Hanna, Janna, and Nancy out touring from various places. Thanks for the sandwich!
Heading into state #4. That last one was a doozy! Met a young couple that stopped so I could take their picture by the welcome sign. They are from Wenatchee and left last night. That is mildly depressing.
Well, here I go! Freeway ridin'!
Day 21: Circle, MT to Makoshika State Park, Glendive MT (58/1531) 3 weeks on the road! Crazy how the time has flown by...except in those headwinds. Then time seems to go backwards. I took my own advice and had a pretty relaxed day of riding--short mileage, lots of breaks, plodding along at 9 MPH into that wind...it's gotta break eventually, right? Makoshika State Park is beautiful, but pricey...I attended the reception welcoming the new Park Manager and naturally told him he should think about adding some hiker/biker sites. It'd be a nice plus to have that added to the Adventure Cycling Map. As it stands it's $20 and there's no water at the camp sites. Whee! This is probably my last night in Montana--there's a lot I will miss about my stay here, but the wind isn't one of them. Bring on North Dakota!
Hobnobbing with the Makoshika Park elite. Reception for the new park manager--once again met some genuine folks, and got lots of food:)
Crossing Yellowstone River in Glendive. No cars allowed!
Scott from Bismarck, having a self described midlife crisis, biking up into the Yukon.
Day 20: Glasgow, MT to Circle, MT (105/1473) A day of 2 halves: First half, 50 miles of headwinds, second half 50 miles of hills. Not sure which I preferred. The scenery is getting a bit more diverse--tomorrow I'm staying at a park that is the badlands of Montana, so looking forward to that. After my gas station shower, I arrived at the town park to find Sophie and Gilles, 2 cycling tourists from Belgium heading to Seattle...and they started their trip in Poughkeepsie of all places! It was great to share a camp with someone again--apparently there are 2 separate cyclists heading east a day or two ahead of me, maybe I'll catch them eventually. Though I gotta slow down, these 100 mile days are messing with me!
Gilles and Sophie from Belgium, on their honeymoon...biking from NY to Seattle! Shared a camp with them in Circle.
First gas station shower!
First sighting of the Missouri River!
Dinner at Eugene's Pizza. Could have had another half a pie.
Day 19: Malta, MT to Glasgow, MT (75/1368) Well I had hoped to make it a bit further today but the Montana headwinds had a different plan. And unlike Friday, I decided to call it quits, and I'm glad I did. Met some good people at the bar, as well as a couple heading to Pittsburgh for a while to visit their new grandbaby. They offered a place to stay when I arrive. Continued to be amazed at the generosity of strangers. I was invited in to the local hospital to wash up after I set up camp (again in the town park, this time next to a pool). Today's the first time I've noticed the mosquitoes, probably be a recurring theme. Maybe make it to Circle, MT tomorrow--I'll at least make it past Wolf Point...apparently it's not the nicest spot.
Met Ben, Michaela, and Janine at Montana Bar. Lots of fun, and a pretty friendly place.
Stopped to eat just outside the Bowdoin Wildlife Preserve. I would have eaten in the preserve, but apparently wildlife = bugs.
Day 18: Havre, MT to Malta, MT (92/1293) Much easier day today. Less wind, and still flat. The scenery was a little more varied since I was following the Milk River for much of the day--there were some trees to be seen. As I was eating a bagel at camp, my neighbor invited me over to have a hot dog. I don't turn down food on a regular day, let alone on tour, so I went over. Turns out he and his wife, along with their 9 kids, are Born Again Christians. In addition to hit dogs and ice cream, I also received the Gospel of John. This trip is so great.
Just missed the kids rodeo next to the campground...caught the awards ceremony.
Mike from Nova Scotia, heading to Anacortes.
Good to go.
Milk River. Don't know why I haven't ha a bag of cherries in my handlebar bag this whole trip, but I'm going to from now on.
Day 17: Cut Bank, MT to Havre, MT (132/1201) I have learned to respect the Montana headwinds. I had planned on a long day today with the hope the wind would push me east, but I was riding into a strong headwind the whole day. I shouldn't have been so stubborn and stopped earlier but I had planned on getting to Havre, so that's what I did. I need to remind myself that this trip isn't about endurance, and to be flexible. 130 miles is doable, but with wind in my face, totally unpleasant. Man, that wind was so frustrating. Sometimes it was a struggle to do 9 MPH, and I was pedaling during the few downhills. On the bright side, I had 2 delicious double cheeseburgers and a tasty chocolate shake to treat myself. And, they let you camp for free in the city park, so that's nice. Right now there are a bunch of kids playing superheroes--it's pretty adorable. In keeping with flexibility, not sure where I'll wind up tomorrow, but I know it'll be closer than 130 miles from here.
130 miles of headwinds leads to this.
Lunch in Chester. The only shade I've seen today. Reapplied sunscreen. Getting toasty.
Snack break. At this place. Looks similar to the last 65 miles.
Up early heading to Havre!
Day 16: Waterton to Cut Bank, MT (109/1069) Whew. Long day today. Lots of milestones. Passed 1,000 miles on the trip, completed the 2nd Northern Tier map, and got my first flat. Ironically, it was the Kevlar strip I put in that caused the puncture. Whoops. Drastic change in the scenery. Gone are the mountains and rivers, now I'm heading through plains. Lots of plains. Saw a few oil rigs and wind turbines. Met Joan at Albertsons when I was stocking up on groceries and she invited me to stay at he place. I set up my tent next to a vacant cabin she owns--had shower and kitchen access. What a nice lady. I continue to be amazed at how generous people have been, and how easy it is to strike up a conversation when you're lugging a bunch of crap on a bike. Another big day tomorrow--trying to get to Havre...another 100 mile day if all goes well. Bedtime!
Bye bye mountains and bears. Hello oil rigs. Also the Del Bonita border crossing is one desolate place.
Stopping for coffee and a cinnamon bun in Cardston. Cloudy, chilly morning but no rain so far. Still got a ways to go to Cutbank. Sugar!
Day 15: St. Mary camp to Waterton Town camp (66/960) Wow what a day. The riding and border crossing were pretty uneventful, and then I got to Waterton. Met Charlie from Ohio riding his bike into town, and not 5 minutes later we almost ran over a bear on the bike path. I didn't know what to do with myself after getting coffee and internetting, but luckily I met Catherine and Ian who told me I should go look for bears up a side road. Saw a momma bear with her 2 cubs on the way there. Then met Mac from Florida who chatted me up about my trip, and after leaving him saw no less than 8 bears. Came back to the campground to say hi to Charlie again, and met Wendy and Eric, who graciously invited me to set up my tent next to their car. I didn't have many expectations for Waterton but it was one of the more memorable days of the trip so far.
Mac and I, about to head into bear country.
Not the greatest pic but finally saw a bear! Almost ran it over on the bike trail in Waterton.
Made it to Canada!
Day 14: Same place (0/894) Didn't get on the bike for the first time this trip. Went on a great hike from Siyeh bend, and met a bunch of fun people at the campground. This trip just keeps on getting better. Heading to Canada tomorrow, back on the bike!
John, Colleen, their son and their tandem, touring through Glacier from Bellingham. I kinda want to be like them in 10 years.
Jerry and Sharon from Iowa City. He's been touring for 25 years--they gave me beer and offered to host me when I roll through town. I'm meeting some great people.
Post hike swim in Sunrift Gorge. Just missed a bear on the trail.
Hiked up to some unknown-to-me peak off of Siyeh Pass and saw this little guy. Just as adorable as Washington marmots. Also saw a coyote but too far for pics. No bears:(
View west as I'm making my way up the pass.
Day 13: Avalanche camp to St. Mary camp (36/894) Left camp early to climb Logan Pass. I was hoping all of the hype was overstated and that some of the Washington roads would be just as nice but the Going to the Sun road is probably the prettiest road I've biked. Granted there was lots of traffic and some construction on the descent, but in terms of scenery it's at the top. Took a quick hike to Hidden Lake at the pass, and then met up with Nick who is out bike touring for a month. His setup makes me reconsider mine. So minimalist! Another day of from biking tomorrow, then getting into Canada on Wed.
Met Nick who is biking for a month and traveling super light. I'm impressed. Big difference between our bikes. I couldn't keep up with him.
And with that, I'm done climbing passes on the trip. Looking forward to the downhill!
Minnie and Heaven's Peak. Beginning the climb!
Day 12: Apgar Campground to Avalanche Campground (16/858) Decided to get a little closer to the climb, since you can't have a bike going up Logan Pass between 11 and 4. Went on a pretty serious hike to the top of Mt. Brown. Hope my knees don't blow up tomorrow. Weather's been great since Friday's rain. Jumped in Lake McDonald to wash off after. Probably have 2 more days in Glacier before I'll end my Inception Vacation (what the Illinois guys called my stop in Glacier. Vacation within a vacation).
Oof. On top of Mount Brown. Probably coulda done with stopping at the lookout.
Hiking up to Mount Brown. Thankfully not one of the Olympic Peninsula aggro goats.
Deer on the trail up to Mount Brown lookout.
Lake Mcdonald in the morning mist.
Day 11: West Glacier, WA to Glacier NP (9/842) 9 whole miles! Went for a short hike up to Avalanche Lake. Felt good to move my legs in a different way for a change. Met 3 recent high school graduates from Illinois on the shuttle. So adorable, they were doing a week in Glacier together as a last hurrah before going off to college. Then I met Ray, Rich, and Doug at the campsite. Also from Illinois and all 6 of them took Amtrak here. Makes me think about taking the train back to Seattle after the trip...more hiking tomorrow, Logan Pass on Monday I think.
Hanging out with Rich, Ray, and Doug at the hiker/biker site, playing Hearts. First game of the trip! Hopefully I'll stay with them in Illinois in a month.
Lunch at Avalanche Lake. First hike of 2013!
Made it to Glacier! Vacation time!
Heading out to Glacier--thanks to Katie and Vin for their hospitality! BBQ, bar (almost a bar fight), and breakfast.
Day 10: Rexford, MT to West Glacier, MT (94/833) A big, wet, day of riding. Lots of miles in my rain gear. Lots of wildlife, too. I definitely needed a break by the time I got to Whitefish--hung out in the coffee shop for an hour or so, temporarily drying off. Stocked up on groceries for my stay in Glacier. I'm staying with friends of friends tonight--their house is beautiful and only a mile or so off route. It's almost midnight now, this is the latest I've been up since I left. Gonna hopefully sleep in, as I'm only a few miles from the park. I don't plan on biking much these next few days--just playing around in Glacier. A vacation from the vacation. Weather's looking better...I'm excited for Logan Pass--the last one of the trip!
Passing over the Flathead River, then 2.5 miles on wet gravel/mud. My drivetrain has seen better days.
Noted. Do panniers count?
I have been thinking about this since mile 3 today. Made it to Whitefish. Wettest day of riding I've probably ever done...still got 20 miles to go:)
Found some relief from the rain. Got dumped on pretty good in Eureka, and it's been raining all day. Not great for picture taking...but I did see a herd of elk and about 2 dozen deer on the back roads along 93. Should be in Whitefish in a few hours!
Me and my Warm Showers host Richard. Sweet guy and great host. Thanks for everything!
Day 9: Libby, MT to Rexford, MT (74/739) Lots of solitude today, and the first rain of the trip. Took the West Side Alternate Route along Lake Koocanusa, and for 45 miles saw 8 cars. Had to put the rain jacket on for about 5 minutes--probably gonna need it more tomorrow. I'm staying with Richard from Warm Showers--wonderful host. Second night with a bed! Heading to West Glacier tomorrow!
After close to 40 miles of deserted road, was able to spot my link back to the world of more cars than deer. As well as the wall of rain beyond it.
Snack break above Lake Koocanusa. Been heading up the west side of the lake for 15 miles and have seen 2 cars. Rain's holding off so far.
Should have brought my discs.
Minnie at the Libby Dam. Not sure it was worth the elevation loss:)
Heading out of Libby, next stop Rexford! Fingers crossed the storms wait until I get there.
Jim, construction worker/chef extraordinaire.
Carpenter Jim made me some tasty dinner. First fresh veggies I've had in a while. Also note Kevin's titanium spork I'm borrowing.
Day 8: Annie's Orchard, Clark Fork ID to Fireman Campground, Libby MT (73/665) A mellow day of biking after a great nights sleep at the Orchard. Montana has been beautiful thus far. Took a nice swim in Bull Lake, and just did a shower/laundry combo in the creek. Gonna have dinner with Jim, my camping neighbor. Hippie carpenter who biked XC in '81. Bike tourists everywhere! Weather looks like it might change tomorrow--thunderstorms in the forecast...I've arranged to stay with a Warm Showers host outside of Eureka so at least I'll have a roof over my head!
Took a quick walk down to Kootenai Falls. Tempted to jump in, but didn't wanna drown.
First swim in Montana. Bull Lake.
Another bike tourist! David's heading from Boston to CA, then taking the Southern Tier back east.
Bull River. Met a lady on a bike named "Thunder". It's killing me that I didn't get her picture. She warned of fires to the east, and bears to the north. I'm heading north. So far, no bears.
Took a side road so no sign, but made it to Montana! Only indicator I'm there is the lack of pavement. Idaho, I hardly knew you.
Crossing the Clark Fork after a breakfast burrito at Annie's Orchard.
Took a dip in Lake Pend Oreille. So warm.
Day 7: Pioneer Park, Newport WA to Annie's Orchard, Clark Fork ID (72/592) First night at a Warm Showers host and its been great. Camping under an apple tree, picking raspberries, and swimming in the lake. Tomorrow, into Montana!
Crossing over Lake Pend Oreille into Sandpoint. The pedestrian/bike path on the bridge is as wide as the traffic lanes! And now I'm done with my first map!
This guy. Adorable.
Bye Kevin. ::sniffle::
One state down.
Day 6: Colville, WA to Pioneer Park outside of Newport, WA (89/520) Last day in WA! Nice flat day of riding. These 89 miles felt infinitely better than yesterday's miles; easiest day so far. Went for a great swim in the Pend Oreille River, warmest water yet. A little sad to split with Kevin tomorrow--it's been fun riding with him. Back to being single.
Pend Oreille River from the Pioneer Park campground.
Stocking up on groceries in Ione. Nutella! Clif Bars! Herring!
Passed a supported tour with 20 riders going from Bar Harbor to Seattle, raising $$$ for MS. We must have looked pretty slow to them.
Day 5: Tonasket, WA to Bike Hostel outside of Colville, WA (103/431) Another giant day--lots of miles and 2 passes. Kevin's Garmin had us at 8,500 feet of climbing. Next pass isn't until Glacier. We're staying at a free bike hostel that a couple built using an easement on public property. It's pretty sweet-4 rooms, 2 bathrooms and most importantly showers! It was fun reading through the guest book, seeing all the different folks that have come through here and all of their motivations/destinations.
Deer in the fields outside of Colville.
Oof. Such a slog, everything's backwards. Even my scowl looks like a smile.
Met Dan who is heading west to the coast, then turning south. Still no eastbound bike tourists...
Kevin's first casualty.
Day 4: Dani and Ray's place to Tonasket, WA (72/328) Free bike camp set up behind the Tonasket Visitor's Center. How cool is that? Pretty mellow day of riding. Stopped in the bar and met Cerdova, who told us bikers take up too much space on the road, and then promptly bought us beers once he realized how far we were going. He then drove away drunk, which was scary. Lots of climbing tomorrow: 2 passes, Sherman being the tallest one yet. Still having a blast, can't believe this is happening.
Met Larry and Martha. They are biking from DC to Anacortes on a tandem. Shoot me.
Descending into Okanogan, where we were greeted by Anna's uncle Dan who flagged us down and gave us nectarines. What a guy!
Today's pass done! Enjoying my complimentary coffee cake while wearing my too-cool-and-slightly-small-for-me cap courtesy of Blue Star coffee. Thanks Ray!
Heading out of Twisp--more climbing! Also, birds.
Day 3: Gorge Lake Campground to Dani and Ray's place outside of Winthrop (76/256) So Kevin and I are getting along swimmingly. We ride great together and having the company is wonderful. Think he'll be with me for the next few days before splitting off south. The climbing today was hard but manageable. Passes every day for the next few days so my legs better get used to it! We were rewarded with a swim in the Methow River and tasty pizza in Winthrop. Thanks to Dani and Ray for letting us crash on their lawn.
Laurel stopped by on her way to Mazama, and she brought beer:)
Floating in the Methow.
Kevin at the Washington Pass overlook. Went through lots of water. What a view.
Lunch with Kevin at Rainy Pass.
Day 2: Deception Pass State Park to Gorge Lake Campground (104/180) Made it to Diablo. Bigger day than planned--probably wont do that again for a while. Met my first "trail angels" in Ron and Lolly who cooked me dinner, gave me wine, and chatted for hours alongside Kevin, another bike tourist. He's heading to Spokane. Also, didn't spend any money today. Under budget! Tomorrow Kevin and I are going to try and climb Washington Pass together, though he is traveling much lighter than I am, so we'll see how that goes. This trip is going to be so great.
It's about to get real pretty. And hilly.
Back on the highway!
Snack stop along the Skagit River. Been paralleling Highway 20 for a while, pretty nice having the road to myself.
Clouds burned off--sunscreen break. Finished the first map panel of the first section of the Northern Tier!
First US Bicycling Route sign (with a Swift Industries tag)!
Day 1: Seattle to Deception Pass State Park. 76 miles (76 total).
Made it. About ready to pass out but it's too early. Had a few riding buddies today--thanks Bill, for braving the Mukilteo Speedway and Chet, for taking me away from the ferry traffic on Whidbey. Saw about a half dozen bike tourists today--all heading the opposite direction though. I'm sure I'll run into plenty more!
Milestone: First roadkill. Poor guy
Off to Whidbey for some island riding! 24 down, 4176 to go.
Well...time to head out. Excited, scared, nervous...feeling all the feelings this morning.
|Dates:||24 Jul 2013 - 5 Oct 2013|
|Duration:||2 months, 1 week|
Self supported solo tour from my home in Seattle, WA to my hometown of Cottekill, NY. Planning on camping and Warm Showers-ing most nights. Taking my 2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker (named Minnie) with front and rear panniers.
I'm following Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier route with a detour to Chicago, and another to Pittsburgh. Jumping on the GAP and Canal Trail to DC, then the Atlantic Coast route to NY.