Blue sky, shinning on me. Nothing but blue sky, do I see. That old saw was definitely written about this morning. Last night it was nothing but low overcast gray clouds spitting rain, and this morning, yes this morning has an entirely different beauty.
We were up at 6:30am, putting up our rain gear, munching on a few health bars, packing our bags, filling the water bottles, and getting the bikes ready. We were on the road at 7:30am. The temperature was 54 degrees so I had my leg warmers on; wow, talk about a nice warm feeling in my leg muscles. I can’t get over how comfortable this recumbent bicycle is: just lean back in the bike seat, scoot down and rest the head on the rest. and peddle away. Reclining in a Lazy-Boy couldn’t be better.
The cafe had a warmth and charm you don’t find in the synthetic franchise places. The tables were full of people talking about the weather, and flooding, and crops, and a Schwann’s driver was taking food orders over in the corner.
There is a lady there with her seeing-eye dog. Her name is Sharon and she has only had this dog a few months. Seeing-eye dogs go through a lot of preliminary training, but I didn’t realize the recipient must then train the dog for their specific life and traveling routes. Sharon still had some eyesight when she received her first dog so training the dog wasn’t so bad, but this time around things were a little more difficult. Sharon’s smile made up for any lack of eyesight; I know it sure warmed me up.
Then there was Jerry. Jerry seemed to know every road in this neck of the woods. He was very interested in our ride and the ‘odd kinda bicycles’ we used. He kept asking, ‘You guys really rode through Deep Creek Canyon?’ After the third time I was beginning to feel like Superman for having ridden through that area.
After an hour we finally had to move on, either that or start ordering lunch. Next stop: Ryegate. This is an ice cream stop only 14 miles down the road. As it turns out, the cashier at the store is Shirley, a lady that was in the Shawmut cafe an hour earlier. It was kinda of like meeting an old friend in the middle of nowhere. At this point Tom kindly suggested that I might consider using some sun screen; there was some comment about me changing my name to Cherry. Note to self: put on sun screen lotion when we start out in the morning.
Lavina was only 16 miles down the road and a good place for a lunch stop. Seems like we are kinda eating our way across the country, doesn’t it. By now At this we have ridden 47 miles and had three food stops. Billings is just another 33 miles. In the middle of the day, having ridden mostly down hill, and with a full tummy, we decided to push on to Billings for a 90 mile day. There is a fool born every minute! The next 13 miles was a a 600 foot climb; not all that steep but a long slow grind.
Broadview was a 15 mile cold ice tea stop, and it was needed after the just finished climb which was done at 5-6 miles per hour. By now I had the great idea to call Margie and ask her to fix us a nice steak/asparagus/cherry pie dinner; obviously a carrot at the end of the stick. Next stop: 16 miles to Acton.
The Acton Bar and Grill was certainly a welcome sight even though the ride was fairly level; temperatures now in the high 80s. Lou (left) has run the bar for quite a long time and offered us glasses of ice cold water and frozen chocolate chunk ice cream desert which was her treat to us. I would have to take my shoes off to count all of the wonderful people we have already gotten to know. Small world note: Tom camped out in Lou’s back yard back in 2008. Diane (right), filled us in with some interest facts about the area then showed us an old wagon that her husband was restoring.
Back on the road for the final 14 miles. We were both a little war weary and somewhat beat but hope springs eternal, either that, or we were to tired to know any different. The thought of a nice steak and cherry pie with ice cream continued to loom in front of us.
On our trip across the country we need to average 60-70 miles per day to stay on plan. Some days we will do a lot less due to weather or road conditions and some days we will need to do more. This trip was a definite confidence builder. Can we get up 6-8% grades with all of our stuff: yes. Can we ride in miserable weather: yes. Can we maintain our humor: YES! The question about being able push ourselves, our bicycles, and all of our gear was answered; we can average 63 miles per day.
I need to develop patience. At my age and weight and carrying all of my gear I cannot ‘attack’ the hills like a Tour de France rider. I am slow and overweight. No way around it. Riding up a 15 mile 2% grade at 5-6 mph, sometimes a low as 3.5 mph, is not exciting. Ah, but going down the other side is quite a rush.
What would I change? Certainly I can mail my ‘cold weather’ gear home at some point which will save about 2 pounds. Considering the availability of small stores I could carry less food which will save another 2-3 pounds. Other than that, I felt the advance planning paid off. I can’t begin to thank all those individuals that offered ideas and suggestions on bicycle set up, gear choices, and food selections.
Tom and I will be heading out from Seaside OR in two weeks. We agreed to doing this trip back in September: 10 months ago. Now, June 20th will be here before we know it. Blessings to all of you who will be following our trip and offering us your well wishes. Talk at ya’ later.