Well, if you have read up until now, you'll know that today was a very late start. After we got our bikes back with their new drivetrains, and we got them loaded up and hit the raod. We left Sherri's house with deli sandwiches in our bellies and happiness in our hearts. It was about 2pm so we knew we were not going to get far. The bike path leading us out of Portland was nice, but there was a slight grade most of the way, like a slight rubbing of your wheel brakes, we just couldn't get into a cruising mode.
Along the path a very fit rider asked us where we were going. Usually, when I get this question I assess the subject or situation and answer accordingly. If we're pressed for time, or the inquisitor seems like "the answer may not compute," I answer a place that we're riding to an upcoming town. If they seem like they would "get it" and specially in a case like today where this person was biking in the same direction, I answered "Boston." This of course slowed her down and she had a few follow up questions, and some helpful tidbits.
She mentioned that the town 6 miles after the bike path ended had a food truck section. So, we planned to go there for an early dinner, and perhaps ride another 15 miles or so to the the national forest, where campgrounds start to crop up. But when we got to the food trucks, we were not really hungry, but, we didn't feel that we could make it 15 miles up without food. So we lingered at the roadside station to "rest up" an appetite and figure out a place to crash.
Slight panic set in when we looked at the map and there seemed to be no where to camp that was within our energy level. So we looked at hotels, which were both booked. We considered other "free" options but it was too populated for that. So we got an Airbnb! Oh the comforts that a credit card and a cellphone can provide. While all of this was transpiring, we all became hungry. So we ate while we waited for the Airbnb host to send us instructions on how to get to our rental.
With our bellies full again, this time with Thai, Indian, and burritos, we rolled up the 0.8 of a mile to our home for the night. As I type, Netflix plays in the background, devices recharge, and soft beds await to lull us into slumber. We are enjoying this tonight as we know these comforts will not be so readily available as we head into eastern Oregon.
Well, we've done it now. We are temporarily stuck in Portland. We had hoped to have some gears changed by the shop in Astoria but when that was not going to happen, we did contact a few places in Portland and scheduled the work to be done yesterday. However, that depended on how early we could get the bikes to the shop so they could have them ready for us the same day. Let's just say we didn't make it in time! We'll blame the heat and the huge climb coming into Portland from the west. Both were energy killers!
Luckily for us, we had hooked up with Sherri through a bike touring site prior to all of these issues. The site is called Warm Showerrs. Now, I know what you're thinking, "didn't the founder have anyone to bounce ideas off of when selecting a name? This site matches people who want to host and cyclist looking for a place to crash. Sherri has been amazing! She picked us and all of our gear at the shop and brought us home like stray dogs, where we got to meet her awesome pooch, Mister! We've had great conversations, shared food, and slept soundly, and in fact Anna and Isa, are still asleep! So, here we wait, hoping for news on the expanded gears so can collect our bikes and continue eastward. Shop opens soon!
This will make it all but impossible for us to get to our planned destination for today. This was already going to be a tough ride, concluding with our first camping night. We had 59 miles and about 4k feet of elevation gain. Still, as soon as our bikes are ready, we'll saddle them up and see how far we can get. We'll hope to make up the miles slowly over the next few days.
As much of a pain as this delay may seem, unexpected events like these are what make bike touring great. You never know when you're going have a wonderful suprise due to a little bit of discomfort. In our case, I already knew Sherri was awesome. She went out of her way in providing us multiple routes for the safest passage into Portland, even testing the routes on her spare time. She's chuck full of ideas and advice for what's down (really up) the road. We can only hope to encounter more "Sherris" along the way
Today, I'm tired and ready for bed, so I'm just going to note the bullet points of the first day's ride:
It has been over 20 years since since we were last in this predicament. I can't say I remember much about the process back then, but I do not remember it being this arduous. But then again, we didn't have kids, full time employment, or even a permanent place to live. We were tour guides living out of a bag and traveling the world. We only had ourselves to worry about and our gear was ever ready. So we rolled easy and untethered.
This trip will definitely break those chains for a time being, but boy has it been work getting here, and a ton of work the last few days. We flew from Boston to Portland, got the rental car and ran all around town getting a few items from a bike shop and REI. We battled hungry kids, lack of sleep and frail emotions and at the end of the day we crashed early and hard. And we woke up today to do it all over again, but this time, after getting to Astoria. The bikes were mostly put together when we got to the shop, but we had to jump in and help finished them off.
It was just after 6 when we finally left the shop. We went out to get tacos and headed to the motel to finish packing. After we could not pack anymore, we headed up to the Louis and Clark National Historic Park on a tip from a local resident. She said we had to go up and see the sun set and she wasn't wrong! What a sight it was. We felt very lucky to be there, that overlook justified all the hard work.
As the evening rolled on I kept thinking about what laid ahead for us and felt that the last few days have been all woth it. In this Evve before, I know I'll sleep soundly and wake ready to hit the road.
A friend of ours who’s really into the trip told us she wants to see the entire trip, as she put it, she wants EVERYTHING, the good, the bad and the ugly. So that got me thinking, this should be a recurring theme for the blog. Welcome to the first installment depicting our packing adventures on the day before departure!hu
We didn’t kill each other! We navigated through packing for one common goal, all while maintaining four separate personal needs, desires, and ideas. As you can imagine, emotions were high, aren’t they always with teens? But we are now packed, and we are almost ready for bed, and in general, we’re all still civil to each other. More of less, but I still take that as a win. The fact that we stayed ahead of hunger and saw some friends for a quick farewell, that helped. The fact that our next-door neighbors and my riding buddy came by to get the lowdown on plant watering and just in general taking care of our house while we’re away, that didn’t hurt either.
All week, we’ve been getting everything ready for packing, but it seems like that never happened. It seems like we started this morning, and we finished a few hours ago! It was like all the preparations we’ve been undertaking never took place. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve done a trip like this, and our daughters never have, but man, it took all day to pack! It’s not like we decided today on what we’re bringing, we’ve known this for a very long time. But when some people in the family still need to do laundry and get homework done, it really prolongs the day.
I can’t find one of our headlights. We used our office as our gear room, and everything was here this morning. But tonight, when we were finally ready to pack, only one headlight was there. As you know, we have two tandems, so, WE NEED TWO LIGHTS! That’s how I was feeling inside. I wanted to scream, but I knew that’s not going to do any good. Still, when we got a text from our friend checking in on us, Sarah replied “tension high.” I thought I was holding it together well, I thought wrong. I’m still not holding it well; I know this light is here in our house somewhere. If only it could start blinking to send a beacon guiding us to its location…if only.
Woke up this morning and the first thought that came to my mind was how in a short week, we will be on a flight to Portland, OR. I guess it’s a good thing that the emotion after that wasn’t sheer and utter panic! Surprisingly, I was able to still lay in bed and relax for a few minutes before starting my Sunday.
This is not to say that we are not questioning our sanity and this entire endeavor. Sarah and I have been audibly asking ourselves at least once a day, for a few weeks, “are we really doing this; are we crazy? Funny how we never really answer each other when this comes up. We know it will be hard, but we know we can do it.
A week from today we will be going to REI and other stores in Portland to pick up stuff that we either didn’t need or want to inspect before purchasing or stuff that we can’t fly with. Some of the stuff we didn’t need to inspect are fire starter matches, can opener, sporks, (look them up if needed) bike water bottles, and a few other items that now escape me. The stuff that we can’t fly with are gas for our stoves, knives, (hopefully just for cooking) bear mace, and a few other stuffs for personal use and/or protection.
But all in all, I think we’re almost ready. This week, here at home, there will be a few trips to REI and perhaps a hardware store visit. But mostly, the remaining of the prep will be family meetings to make sure that everyone has everything they’ll need for the journey and make sure we’re all ready logistically and emotionally—physically??? we’ll, that’s what the first week is for, right?
Some of the gear we have ready to go. Clothing not yet added to the ever growing pile
In the last few months, we have been buying a good amount of gear in preparation for this trip. For a while now, backing out would have cost us a bit of already spent money. But If we were to chicken out now, we’d probably never see our bikes again! So, we soldier on….
This weekend, we spent a good amount of time packing up our bikes, and getting as much of the gear that the bikes will have on them, in the boxes, so that the shop in Astoria can build them back up. We’ve been collecting packing materials and boxes for a while now. It’s amazing how the simple fact of putting two bikes in boxes seems so long and stressful. I mean, what’s there to stress about? But it was, and there’s a sense of relief now. We have done our needed tasks, and now it’s up to the Gods of FedEx to deliver—literally. Cue the thunder!
Next time we see those tandems, we’ll be riding them to the beach to dip our rear wheels, as is customary. Travel safe bikes, and see you in about 2 weeks!
I had been looking online for a bag that would really serve us well for our journey. The issue that I kept seeing is that handlebar bags all seem to be designed for people who will not mount anything else on their handle bars. But we wanted a GPS, lights, etc. Then, I came across Route Werks and I was exited—for about 5 seconds!. While the bag looked awesome, they were all sold out! Nooooooooooo!
I took a chance and emailed them to see if they may have stock before we departed on our trip, and Thor replied with a fantastic offer. They would let us use two bags for us to test on our trip across the country. After they received stock, Thor braved the Boston traffic on Friday evening and dropped off and installed the bags. The bags do not disappoint! We are excited to use and test them and are confident they will serve us well.
Thanks KB! You really set us up for a better chance of success, or some would say, “great success!”
We drove down to our buddy’s bike shop, True Cyclery in New Haven, CT to get properly fitted for our trip and our training rides. Everyone was measured, the bikes were set up, bike parts were ordered and will soon be delivered to have the best possible fit. This may not be such a huge deal for the girls, but Sarah and I will surely benefit. We are not as young, flexible, and resilient!
Thanks again KB!!
So… we completed our first training ride! Not going to lie, it wasn’t easy! We went to the town of Concord and did a loop ride out of there. And we did that for two reasons. First, the we thought for the first ride we would go somewhere with less street traffic. So that was great! The second reason was because the girls didn’t want to be seen in our town, on our tandems, by their friends! So, this time, we gave them a pass.
BUT, the good news is we completed it, and we didn’t even get into any family feuds. The takeaway from this ride was that while the 25 miles did seem tough, it was still doable, and considering that none of us had been on a bike for months, I consider this a great start. Having trained for double centuries in the past, I can attest to how quickly I think we will get in shape for our start and continue to get in shape once our trip starts.
And yes, we are aware that there’s thumb in the picture, but getting everyone picture ready would have been like herding cats. And lastly, yes, we do have two tandems inside our minivan.
The first post is to celebrate the start of our digital trail, however small it may seem. Like the mileage we'll put on, we hope this grows as immensely as our mileage and experiences. Staring this June, (exact date yet to be decided, depending on how soon our kids are let out of school), we will be biking across the country on our two tandems. We will depart from Astoria, OR and traverse the US all the way back to our home, just outside of Boston, MA.
We will probably never look this clean on our journey, so...