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Eastern Oregon bike adventure!

Well. I’ve been back from my two-week (12 days, really) bike adventure to Eastern Oregon for a few days now, and have been absolutely at a loss at to how to write about it. Partly, I’ve been trying to create a map that I could post showing my approximate route, but I’ve been arguing with Google maps and, for all the work I’ve put into it, still don’t have a map to show. So partly I haven’t written because I’ve been (unsuccessfully) holding out for a map.

Also, I’m partly at a loss as to how one encompasses twelve whole days of amazingness into one wee blog post. This trip was phenomenal. Despite some pretty craptastic weather at times, there is nothing that beats getting up, getting on your bike, biking/hiking/seeing new things all day, and then bedding down somewhere beautiful in your tent at night, just to get up the next day to do it again. SO AMAZING.

(the sun rises on Smith Rock State Park on my 3rd day)

I have so many stories of wonderful people, fantastic biking, inspiring hikes, ridiculous weather (how many times did my rain fly freeze solid?!), absolutely breathtaking scenery… it’s impossible to write about it all in one go. On the other hand, I think a lot of it is worth writing about. So I think I may go the way I did with my trip down the California coast, back-posting about each day as I have time for it (but before I forget the details:) So stay tuned about more specifics.

In the meantime, I have posted my pictures over yonder on flickr. There are many of them (way too many to hold your attention I’m sure;), all accompanied by mini travel narrative. Feel free to whet your appetite over there for as long as your picture-viewing stamina holds out.

(just another day on the John Day River:)

As is usually the case, most of the people I ran into were pretty surprised that I was out there by myself. Older women especially seemed really psyched about it, though, which was sweet–like I was living the emancipation they didn’t get to enjoy when they were younger. And bike travel always makes me remember how much I like people. I get shy, especially when I don’t necessarily have to interact with people as was the case for much of this sparsely-populated trip. So it’s nice when folks want to know where you’ve come from, where you’re going: an instant ice breaker and excuse to chat. Being an obvious bike traveler is a great way to meet the utterly lovely people in the itty-bitty towns that you’d never really stop in if you were driving.

I kept track of how much money I spent so I could get a real idea of how much bike travel costs. Ready? For 12 days of vacation, food, lodging, everything, I spent a whopping total of $134. Most of which was food. That’s probably way less than I even spend just living my normal life in Portland, much less “going on vacation.” Granted, sleeping in a tent in undeveloped national forest land (which is free) is my idea of fun for a vacation–I know it isn’t everybody’s. But damn! It definitely makes me think that long-term bike travel is more feasible than I thought.

And now that I’m home? I can’t believe that was 12 days of travel. It was over in a blink, and there’s so much more to see. I’ve already got ideas for twenty million more trips I could take. But on the other hand, I’m also so happy to be back in Portland. I feel like my city has already wrapped around me like a comfortable blanket, full of the things and people I love. You know life is good when you’re happy when you’re away and you’re equally happy when you’re back.

(this helped me feel pretty welcome, too:)

So yeah. Stay tuned for more if you’re interested in the actual details of an Eastern Oregon bike adventure. Maybe I’ll even have a map someday:) And again, pictures are here if you want to check those out. And while you’re waiting, get the heck out there on your bike, your feet, whatever it is that helps you enjoy the world around you. I know I’m enjoying the feeling of my spunky little bike sans trailer:)

Bike Club kiddos save the day!

Yesterday, my co-teacher Lale and I taught our Bike Club kiddos how to fix flat tires. We spent some time reviewing how to take off a wheel (which we’d already taught them); they practiced putting patches on tubes and putting everything back together again; everyone felt pretty confident. Satisfied, we set off for Pier Park.

About 50 feet from the entrance to the park, I ran over a thumbtack. My tire duly disinflated as I shepherded our little class through the last turn.

“We’ll have to stop for a second,” I told them, walking my bike the last few feet. “My tire’s flat.” And sure enough, one of the girls pointed to the silver thumbtack still sticking out of my back tire in a way that never, ever happens in real life.

“Soo… now that you guys are experts,” I asked, “does anyone think they can help me fix my flat?” And sure enough, they walked me through the whole process, and my tire (and our ride) was saved. Thanks, Bike Club kiddos!:)

on getting better

If you had asked me in high school–when I was sometimes riding the 2 miles to school on my bike–if I’d like to go for a 70-mile joyride, my itty-bitty high school self would have thought you were crazy. Heck, if you asked me in college, when a bike was how I got around, if I could ride for 70 miles, I still would have thought you were crazy. I probably would subsequently have done it (especially if, in asking, you intimated that you thought I couldn’t do it;), just because I’m feisty like that, but I would have never thought to do it on my own, unprompted.

I’ve been thinking about that since I went for a ride to Multnomah Falls last weekend. Asta, Theo, and David, three lovely people I’ve met through randonneuring, were pre-riding a 100k route, and, ever psyched for a pretty ride, I managed to invite myself along.

(Crown Point, one of many reasons why this ride is so pretty)

Since it was only 100k–see? That’s what I mean: somewhere along the line, 62 miles, something that in high school and even college would have been unfathomable to me, is a short day’s work.

How does that happen? How does one get from biking two miles to school, then biking 5 miles to downtown Portland, to biking 62 miles or 100 or more, to craving the feeling of biking all day?

What I decided while I was biking today is that I didn’t do it by myself, nor did I even mean to do it at all. Like anything in life, biking long happens in increments. I can still remember the first time I biked to the gorge, with a post-college suitor. It seemed like such a long ride, and I was so proud of myself for doing the whole thing. Since we only went to Latourell Falls, the first thing you get to once you go down the hill from Crown Point, it probably wasn’t any more than 40 miles, but at the time it was amazing. And I only did it because someone else did it with me.

It was the same thing the first time I ever biked 100 miles: I signed up for Reach the Beach, a fundraiser for the American Lung Association, and rode the 100 miles from Portland to Pacific City with a whole host of other people. I can still remember how overwhelmed I felt when I got within 5 miles of the end and realized I was actually going to do it, I was actually going to have biked 100 miles. But again, I don’t think I would have done it by myself, without the support of an organized ride. And bike camping? The first time I ever went bike camping by myself, an experiment to see if I could do it, I only went to Ainsworth State Park, maybe 35 miles away, and was so scared all night that I hardly slept. It’s funny to think of these things now, since 100 miles or a solo camping trip or anything else seem so normal, but each one at its time was a new milestone, a new challenge to overcome.

(so glad I proved to myself that epic bike camping is possible!:)

That’s what I mean when I tell my grandma, always scandalized (though I think secretly proud) that I bike or run or walk so much, that it’s no big deal. To me, it really isn’t, because I’ve worked up to where I am now in an organic and logical way, one step and then another and another. To jump from my 4-miles-round-trip high school commute to a 300k brevet would have been ridiculous, just as jumping to a 1200k ride right now would be:) But all the intervening rides and people and challenges have bridged the gap, just as they will bridge future gaps.

So I guess I’m feeling thankful today, thankful that my choices in life and the people I’ve known have brought me to where I am right now–which, though hopefully not the best it ever will be, is pretty damn awesome. But more than that, I’m feeling indebted. Whether it was my college boyfriend buying me a helmet so I’d stop riding without one, or some guy in the Bridge Pedal teaching me how to draft, or someone showing me that it’s not actually that hard to change your tire, or a suitor showing me I could ride to the gorge, or friends encouraging me to go further, the fact that I am able to bike for anything I want to do now is so dependent on others. I hope that someday when I look back on what I’ve done with this gift, I realize that I’ve actually been able to repay the favor.

(Multnomah Falls ride pictures here)

Breitenbush 300k

I suppose that sometimes I am a cocky bastard. After the Molalla River 200k a few weeks ago, I wrote that it was not as hard as I thought it would be and that I was psyched for the 300k coming up because–I think these were my words–maybe it would be more of the soul-crushing challenge I was hoping for.

I swear, how do you guys even put up with me? :)

But that being said, yesterday’s Breitenbush 300k was not, in fact, a soul-crushing challenge. It was actually quite lovely! The 6am fog shrouding our start burned off after a few hours, leaving nothing but glorious sunshine. It seemed like everyone was in pretty high spirits. I hope so, anyway, because otherwise my uber-exuberant comments about how amazing and beautiful everything was and how much I loved life probably got annoying pretty fast.

Until the hills around Detroit Lake, I spent a good portion of the morning with some variation of this group:

(pictured here are Kevin, Ian, Michael, Ed, and John; not pictured are David, Asta, and Theo)

We split up a bit once the road started climbing more, and I made the hike up to Breitenbush (and most of the rest of the ride) by myself. I was actually kind of excited about that. It was really nice to bike with lovely people for the first many hours, but I also sort of wanted to prove to myself that I could do this kind of thing even if I’m not being entertained by conversation with others. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I wonder sometimes if I actually have the mental fortitude (or whatever you want to call it) to do hard things if they’re not made easier by someone else’s presence. So I was psyched for the chance to spin along with only my own thoughts to keep me company. Just to prove to myself that I can.

(though it’s easy to enjoy yourself when you’re biking by this kind of thing. Mt Jefferson and Detroit Lake)

This was an out-and-back ride. So when I got to the control in Lyons on the way back, at 132 miles, I’d gone as far as I’d ever previously biked in one day. And though I was kind of nervous about the next 60 miles, it turns out that they were totally chill. Aside from 30 or so miles of super intense stomach cramps (if anything, that was the almost soul-crushing part;), I felt pretty spunky. And when I managed to will the cramps into submission with about 25 miles left to go, I was definitely feeling spunky:)

(close to the end and the sun’s still shining!:)

This isn’t anything that I haven’t said before (probably millions of times:), but there is something so rad about getting on your bike in the morning and knowing that you’re going to be biking all day. With short distances, you worry about how long it’s taking you or what you’re going to do when you get there, or any million number of things–but with a ride like this, where you’ve already committed to it taking all day, you just sort of settle in and enjoy it. At least, I do–maybe I shouldn’t speak in universal yous:) But it’s so fricken awesome. And even though I’m still a total newbie to this (all these fools I was biking with who have done ridiculous distances like 600, 1200, whatever k at a time are so inspiring), I seriously can’t imagine anything better.

(though next time I’m going to remember to put on sunscreen)

Now that I know a 300k is totally possible–even thoroughly enjoyable:)–I guess there’s nothing left to do but sign up for a 400k. And then maybe a 600 and 1200;) Bring it.

(more ride pictures here)