Monday, November 22, 2010

Touring in late fall

In early October I stated my desire to ride to the annual tech in Ed convention in Rochester, NY from Nov. 21st to the 23rd. People nodded and smiled. She'll give up on that idea; she forgets it's cold in November. But 32 degrees isn't so bad. As a matter of fact, it was 40 when I left. 94 miles. The thing that almost got me was the day length. And the fact that you can't average 18mph on a limestone trail. But I did it. It took 8 hours.
I got away with a long sleeved silk top, long sleeved smartwool top, wind resistant gloves and the brilliant Foxwear leggings. I also was never quite able to lose the thinsulate beanie. But by the time the sun was going down I had to add in a fleece and was reaching for the rain coat.

Behind me note the "bridge", which is the remnant of an aqueduct which long ago carried the Erie Canal over the Genesee River. Yup. Though some rivers were utilized for the canal, this one needed to be avoided to keep clear of a major elevation change. When the canal went kaput, the city capped the aqeduct and turned it into a bridge.

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Do they know who they're dealing with?

November 1st? Are they kidding? It was November 20th and I was out there daring a snowplow to run me down.

BTW- the white SUV in the photo belongs to a guy who turned around and came back because he thought I took a spill while riding on the sidewalk. In truth I was just lying on the ground trying to set the camera up for a timed photo.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My apologies to the person (iz) who tried to post a comment/question: What do you mean under the FAQs "How did you feel when you finished?" when you answered, "Overwhelmed by the complexity of life". I moved that whole post to become a separate page and lost the comment. But this is probably important enough to make a whole post about.
So here goes: When I returned, I had been on the road for almost 3 months. For 3 months, there was no real schedule, no commitments, no appointments and very few choices. I carried 3 sets of clothes: two cycling outfits and one for civilization. If one cycling outfit was dirty, there was only one choice. In a grocery store, there were not too many choices. Frozen foods were totally out, anything which required an oven was out, meat was out and extremely perishable foods were only choices if they would be eaten quickly.
When I got home, I had a closet/dresser full of clothes from which I could not decide. The morning after I got home, I went to work for a half day. Opening the closet reduced me to an idiot, who stood trying to make a decision. It took me 15 minutes. The total amount of "stuff" in my house was unnerving. I wanted to get rid of everything. That morning, since the only thing I had in my panniers was a bag of dried apricots, that was breakfast. It did not even occur to me to look in the cupboards, even less the fridge.
I couldn't even go out with my friends I was so overwhelmed by the decisions which needed to be made and the tasks which needed to be accomplished. Simple things, like cleaning and making dinner or having the tires rotated on my car (yes, I actually have one) were like life altering decisions. As funny as it sounds, it was quite serious. Thinking I was just bizarre, I spoke with others who have left home for extended periods of time, such as Peace Corps volunteers and other cycling tourists. They had all experienced the same phenomenon.
Did I recover? Now back 2 months, I still haven't fully recovered. I am restless and have purged my house of many of my possessions. I go out on long day rides. I long for the next tour expectantly. I have made attempts to simplify. Not all negative.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Funding for improved bike trails and lanes is covered under the Federal Highway Trust Fund. AAA Mid-Atlantic has asked Congress to remove the allocation for funding geared towards these improvements, even though out of 89 Billion, only 1 billion is earmarked for improvements for pedestrians and cyclists. I would encourage people to sign the petition to AAA to censor their Mid-Atlantic branch in its attempts to press on with this endeavor. The Rails to Trails organization has done a great job of gathering the facts and accurately quoting details from the controversy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Portland for 5 days before heading home

I spent 2 days driving around with my whole family, then 3 more days just with my daughter. Portland would be such a fabulous place to live, if not for the weather and lack of jobs.
What makes Portland so fabulous? The whole bike culture. In Buffalo, if you needed to make a left turn, you would wait until traffic cleared or proceed to an intersection, then use the light to make your left. In Portland, you stick your arm out to signal your intention to turn left from the bike lane on the right. Even if there are three lanes of traffic going one way behind you, they all stop so you can pass in front of them. Story #2: Five of us with bicycles needed to get on a 3 car train, the stop after the location of the Italian Festival at 5:30 at night (no comments on the choice of stops). We broke into 3 groups to get into separate cars. I pulled forward into the car with my bike and realized my daughter and I were not going to make it: too many people. As I looked backwards to begin backing out, then forward again, the whole mass of people had parted to let us get to the hooks in the train to hang our bikes. Just like that. When we got to our destination, all 5 of us had experienced the same phenomenon. It is not that every driver and pedestrian was fabulous, but that the majority were. It made Buffalo pale in comparison.
Here are some pictures of the special bike boxes to protect bikes locked in one place for an extended time (one rents most of them):
Here is my Bike Friday leaning against a rental bike box. This one was at a park and ride lot. I suspect you can leave your bike there, then take your car or the train the rest of the way home.
This one is a hinged device, which swings down onto your bike and "skewers" your diamond frame and each wheel. It locks the main components, but is really only good for a day, not an overnight.

This cover is hinged and drops down over your whole bike, then locks into position.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Manzanita to Astoria, OR 46 miles

Last morning of packing up.

There was a cyclist with a BOB trailer modified to carry his surf board.

Left with everyone: Janelle, Bill, Sara, Ted, Jamie and Heidi with the special addition of Marissa, whom we met at the campground last night. Marissa was doing a loop from Portland (a Lewis and Clark student) to Tamarook to Astoria and back to Portland. She was a new cycle tourist using borrowed equipment and discovering that her bike did not really have adequate gearing for touring. She was doing phenominally well considering.

We lost Sara while taking a shortcut. Sara's shortcut cut off more than ours, so while we waited for her, she was ahead of us with Ted and Janelle, who had missed the shortcut entirely.
Silver Lining: Bill and Heidi got to get coffee while we waited and Marissa caught up!

At an overlook, we commented on all the imaginary wildlife and creatures we saw swimming in the ocean and fog, while Bill talked on the phone.

Heidi rang Bill's bell to notify him we were ready to move on, but he didn't take her seriously, so I rang it a gazzilion times. It was very inordinately funny at the time.
This section of the route included a tunnel.

There was a button to press which lit up a warning sign to drivers that there were cyclists in the tunnel, but fortunately no cars came along while we were in the tunnel. I don't know if Marissa shared the same luck. She doesn't have to be in Astoria until Friday, while we are due in by today at 3pm.
Along a really busy section of 101, Jamie said her knee really hurt and asked to stop. So we did. Right there. To multi-task we pulled out lunch stuff. This also gave Marissa a chance to catch up. She sat on the road with us against the guard rail and ate an apple, then proceded to toss the core behind her. What are the odds a car would be coming up the on-ramp that happened to be on the other side of the guardrail?

A southbound Pacific Coast cyclist stopped and commented on our lovely choice of lunch stops and it turned out he, Jamie and Heidi have mutual friends.

We decided to regroup in Seaside with Janelle, Ted and Sara. While trying to find each other, Janelle mistakingly thought we were in Astoria, because she was reading a text from her husband and thought it was from me. This led to some funny conversation as we tried to sort out who was where. Seaside's boardwalk proved a challenge to negotiate, given all the bodies, dogs and small children darting out. It was amazingly busy, considering it was quite cool and foggy.
When we moved back to the streets we tried to take the lane since traffic was moving so slowly, but it was difficult to hold nine cyclists together. We held together until the last big hill identified on the map, when we divided into 2 groups.
The directions included things like this: At water treatment facility, continue straight across private road. I did manage to take the correct roads and was followed by Janelle, Ted and Marissa for most of the way. Bill, Heidi, Sara and jamie went the wrong way, but ended up in the right place anyways. They asked to regroup in a certain place, but since they were not on the route, we missed them. A little comedy of errors.
Finally, we were able to regroup at the Astoria City border. Our little Peleton worked its way toward the finish line, but one of the roads we were supposed to take was barricaded for the first 50 feet. No Problem. We just detoured through a parking lot to get around it. A DQ parking lot. NO WE ARE NOT STOPPING, EVEN IF WE HAVE GONE 30 MILES!!! Next up? A really steep hill. Oh, cruel fate. One of the steepest hills on the route. Two of us had to walk it. Fortunately it was pretty short. Up and around, twist and turn, through center of the city and... ViolĂ , the Maritime Museum!
None of our peeps were there, but a tourist recognized what must be an important moment in history and took several pictures of the group, promising to email them to Jamie and me.
Bob, Dwight, Elliott, Rachel and Aaron showed up shortly and then there was a giant photo op.

It didn't seem right that Bill had no flats this trip, so I thought I might fix that.

Ted, Janelle and Bill ran off to ship their bikes, we said goodbye to Marissa and everyone else made for the restaurant, were we made merry until quite late and drank champagne, compliments of my parents.

Last order of business was to drive Jamie back to Bay City to retrieve Sara's car. It was fun to drive back part of the route.
What an exceptional adventure. This was the best group ever and we were very lucky to have such great support from our families. I will miss you all until we hopefully meet again.
Thank you.

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Pacific City to Manzanita, OR 67 miles

We rode together, conquering some serious hills until Netarts, where we parted from Ted and Janelle. They took the shorter alternate to Tillamook to get to the library with time to work on blogs, while Bill and I went to Ocean City for second breakfast.

At the restaurant we watched people flying rc planes. It was pretty much perfect weather; cloudy with no wind. I must admit that we have experienced far less wind than Heidi, Jamie and Sara seem to have experienced.
The two routes both had 2 big hills, but our route had a horrible road surface with deep potholes and dappled shade, making it difficult to see the holes. As a result, a nice potential 31mph downhill was stalled to about 15 mph for safety as we desired to remain on our bikes rather than under them.
In Tillamook we reconnected again briefly with Janelle and Ted at the library, but since they had just eaten, we decided to stay in town for lunch.
Outside the library we Met 3 pacific coast travelers, headed for Venezuala, Panama and one striving to go as far as possible by Sept 8th.
At Bay City met back up again with Ted and Janelle.

Jamie, Heidi and Sara had driven back down to finish the ride with us, though technically they finished several days ago when they made it to Florence. They still wanted to go all the way to Astoria.

We drafted for quite a while, but then lost Janelle and Ted until the Manzanita grocery. Jamie, Heidi and Sara had gone towards the campground, but Ted, Janelle, Bill and I decided a pub was in order. We rode to Nehalem campground in our own personal fogs.
The hiker biker site was far superior to former examples, including sand tent pads and multiple picnic shelters, as well as flat ground.
Last note of the night is a great quote of Heidi:
How do you tell if pasta is cooked? By how it feels when you swallow it.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Springfield to Rickreall, OR 68

It was pretty cool in the morning. Our jackets and shirts were on and off as we froze and sweated.
We slinkied all day with Janelle and Ted, catching up, then passing or being passed.

In Corvallis we located a bakery with fabulous choices for snacks and lunch, but snacks won out. We ate pie and drinks.
Desperate for a bathroom, i was passing several before I screamed to a halt at the very last set and was too lazy to go back 100 feet to another. The one I chose was devoted to spiders. I had to reach through webbing that rivaled horror movie effects in order to open the door (which looked as though it might have been nailed shut at one time), then I had to make space for myself on the seat and relocate several spiders to take some toilet paper.
The route was actually pretty level today, which might spoil us for any future hill endeavors.
Saw another Datsun!
We hit a headwind at end of day, but survived. We ended up at the county fairgrounds and found a sign that indicated the camping was closed to the public. I voted for just integrating into the existing private campers, but Bill asked the supervisor, who said, "fine".

We helped dismantle waterfowl exhibit tents. Here Janelle, Ted and Bill move a mobile cart full of folding chairs.

The only event going on after we were finished was Dockdogs, a competition to see which dog could chase a thrown toy furthest off a dock. They had a portable dock and pool!

If there were a museum for antique playground equipment, most of their equipment would have been repressented, though it would be roped off do to safety concerns.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rickreall to Pacific City, OR 64 miles

The road was busy and not incredibly pleasant. We stayed on it (18 to 101) anyways, even though the route veered off, because we figured it would be shorter and less hilly.
We saw our first mileage sign for Astoria.

I don't know why we were all smiling at the top of this hill. Maybe we were all thrilled to be closing in on the coast or maybe we were all slap happy...

Dance moves?

Pacific Coast! We were told that sunny and 70 degrees was atypical for the Oregon coast, that cool and foggy was more typical and that we were lucky.

Lunch was a mix of store bought sandwiches and stuff from our panniers. It was so serene and we relected a lot on the impending end of our trip.

The group split temporarilly at Pacific City. Ted and Janelle went to the library while Bill and I went to scope out accomodations. I checked the campgrounds and Bill checked hotels. Peak vacation time: you can probaby predict what Bill found. I found the private cG full, but the county campground was almost empty. What I noticed first was the proliferation of feral domesticated rabbits.

And finally, ice cream, then pizza for dinner and a surprise photo before bed, a VW bug with a surfboard on top!