Wednesday, June 30, 2010

AAN Day 10 - Boise to Mountain Home, ID

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: 53.4 miles Average Speed: 18.4 mph
Vertical: 1733 feet Depart: 8:09 AM Arrive: 11:21 AM
Calories: 4045

There are days when riding is even more fun than usual, and today was certainly one of them. We fairly quickly got on the bike path for the Boise Greenbelt, which we took for 6 miles or so. It runs generally along the Boise River, shown below. This was certainly the greenest it got all day.
After we left the bike path, we headed up our only significant hill of the day, where we got some very nice views back towards Boise. This one gives you some idea of what we saw, but doesn't really match seeing it yourself.
A few more miles in, I got connected with Jeff Douglas of Newtown, CT, Mark Weisbarth of Toronto, and Joe Schroeder of Jasper, GA. They had a pretty good pace line going, and when we got on I-84, we had a terrific tailwind. We were keeping well over 20 mph going slightly uphill, and when it flattened out, did several miles at over 30 mph. It was terrific fun. When we got to the SAG, Mark said "How old are you, anyway?" I think I surprised him a little in hanging in there, especially on an uphill where Joe dropped him and Jeff. At any rate, here we are celebrating our good time.
I rode in the final miles a little more easily, because we may not have such good fortune tomorrow, and I would like to have a little in the tank. We did hook up for the final 10 miles or so, but did not get back to the same breakneck pace. Overall, the easiest day so far.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

AAN Day 9 - Day Off in Boise

Daily Statistics: 0 bicycle miles and lots of calories consumed!

Boise turned out to be a great place for a day off. As the first photo shows, some people spent some initial time cleaning and adjusting their bicycles for the next leg. Mike Munk, our ride leader, is showing Dan and Gerard a few fine points. Our mechanic, Jim Benson is in the apron to the rear. Both he and Mike can do almost anything to keep a bike on the road.
I spent the day doing laundry, taking a very nice trolley tour of the town, going to Knight and Day with my roomie, and generally relaxing before we head out tomorrow. I promised to start introducing some of the riders, so I am starting with some of the ones I have already talked about.

The first and most important is my roommate, Bill Bibler, 65, a retired 30 year Navy man (also retired from the schools) from Colorado Springs.

I mentioned John Langhans, a 65 year old retired actuary from Northport, Maine, who is here with his wife, Dereka Smith. I had a good time on the 117 mile day riding with him.

Next is Gary (53) and Margot (50) Weinstein. I have ridden with Gary a couple of days, and Margot has joined us when she slows down. Gary works for an equity firm, buying up companies, improving them, and selling at a profit.

I mentioned our father and son team, Matt (16) and Michael (40's) Louis. They are from Redondo Beach, CA.

I caught our Swiss contingent on a day they were wearing the colors. Daniel Bieri and Bruno Schar are very capable riders (they pass me a couple of times a day) who I peg to be 40ish. Daniel is married to an American gal.

I will finish this group with Gale Kerns and Carl Heltne from Duluth, Minnesota and Barnes, Wisconsin respectively. I know Carl is 63. They left us today, as they only signed up for this segment. They are physicians, and were great guys, who were generally in the back of the pack.
I can't end my segment on Boise without a shot of the Boise State Stadium and the famous Smurf Turf. It is as blue as it looks on TV. Enough for my day of relaxation. I will update you on the riding tomorrow, as we head to Mountain Home.

Monday, June 28, 2010

AAN Day 8 - Ontario, OR to Boise, ID

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: 64.5 miles Average Speed: 14.3 mph
Vertical: 1875 feet Depart: 7:26 AM Arrive: 12:13 PM
Calories: 4135

I had not realized it when we came in yesterday, but only 0.6 miles into our ride today, we crossed into Idaho. We finally leave Oregon behind after a lovely week with a lot of great riding. You should see 8 more of these (7 states and 1 province) before I arrive at the coast. It was not real convenient to put someone in the photo, so I will save that for the next opportunity.
The ride was pretty much through rural backgrounds in farm country. We were slowly gaining a little elevation, but it was pretty smooth overall. They grow a nice variety of crops in this area. I show a corn field that is certainly not going to be knee high by the fourth of July. I am sure it will be fine, however.
We eventually wound our way into downtown Boise, and by the state capital building (shown in a photo the sun made a little hazy). The traffic was pretty busy as I tried to turn into the hotel, so I had to go down to the corner to cross the street and come back to it. Boise looks like a nice town to have a day off in. We are losing 2 riders here, but are not adding any at this stop. The two leaving are doctors from Minnesota. I know Carl was just my age.
At any rate, the legs felt more than ready for a day off the bike. I was pretty pooped as I came into town, in spite of the easy ride. I should recover nicely tomorrow and be ready to head out again on schedule Wednesday. I promise some rider photos tomorrow.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

AAN Day 7 - Baker City to Ontario, OR

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: 84.0 miles Average Speed: 15.5 mph
Vertical: 2115 feet Depart: 7:02 AM Pacific Time, Arrive: 2:11 PM Mountain
Calories: 5087

I thought I would start today with some data for you on how to follow this ride besides my feeble efforts. I know Jon Bradford will need this data. Go to: "", click on the "my links" on the left of the page, and there are links to at least 15 blogs from different people on the trip. I especially recommend Helen's blog. She takes great pictures, and leaves me wondering if I was on the same ride, I missed so many great things. The other resource that I recommend is "", click on the 2010 ride journals, then North photos, and North. Mike does a nice job taking interesting photos with great captions. You can always come back here to find if I am still going, but the other folks are publishing some great stuff.
The other thing I am starting the day with is a photo of our morning ritual, which is to line up for the bag load. It is your responsibility to put your bag on the back of the truck, and sign the sheet certifying you did so. We also sign in at each SAG, and at arrival at the motel, so they can track that everyone is making appropriate progress through the route.
The ride today was a lot of fun. I rode with Gary Weinstein again today, and he is great to go with. He is a little slower than I am, but this kept me from overdoing after a week on the road, which is what I wanted. My roomie, Bill Bibler, also joined us for a stretch, as did Gary's wife and a few others in and out.
Gary took this nice photo of me riding from his bike. I tried a few of other riders, and did not do nearly as well. We also had our first stretch of riding on an Interstate today, with about 10 miles or so on Interstate 84. It had a wide shoulder, largely separated by a rumble strip, so I don't think anyone felt too unsafe.
About 55 miles in we left US 30 for Rt 201 for the rest of the journey to Ontario. This brought us along the Snake River, which is shown in the photo below. As you may note from the daily statistics, there was not as much climbing today. so it was easy sailing for the rest of the way in. I had fun doing sprints with various folks, and generally just enjoying the ride. I actually felt better on arrival than I did when we left in the morning. My butt is also finally starting to adjust to the large increase in hours in the saddle over what I do back home. Tomorrow should be an easy run into Boise, and then we get Tuesday off. I plan to use the off day to introduce photos of some of the riders you have heard me speak of.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

AAN Day 6 - John Day to Baker City, OR

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: 82.1 miles Average Speed: 13.5 mph
Vertical: 5191 feet Depart: 6:13 AM Arrive: 12:55 PM
Calories: 5525

After being apprehensive about today, following a very tough day yesterday, I felt pretty good when we left. When we left town we started a slow climb immediately, and about 15 miles in started to climb seriously. About halfway up, there was a viewpoint with the Conestoga wagon shown here. That was a REAL tough way to travel. With that in mind, I headed back up to the top of Dixie Summit (5277 feet). There was a nice cruise down to the base for the next SAG, where there was a small cafe where I had a lovely blackberry cobbler.

After the SAG, we started climbing again, to the top of Tipton Summit. I stopped on the way down to take the following photo, which is a good idea of the lovely scenery we had most of the way. White capped mountains in the background, and forests, first with fir and pine, then just pine, made for a very nice day on the bike.
After one more climb over Snall Summit, I finally got to the next SAG. The second SAG was at a lovely site on Phillips Lake. I had bought a lunch from the cafe in John Day, which was waiting for me at the SAG. It was great to sit at a table in the shade and eat a nice sandwich, chips, apple and cookies. The road then followed the Powder River much of the way into Baker City. Here I show a couple of guys fishing in the river. It had a lot more rapids in many spots, and I love flowing water along the road as I ride. It makes me feel good.
The final miles into the city were pretty easy, although a slight headwind was not really appreciated. I got in in time to watch the overtime of the US World Cup game. They had chances, but it was not to be. See you tomorrow!

Friday, June 25, 2010

AAN Day 5 - Prineville to John Day, OR

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: 115.7 Average Speed: 15.0 mph
Vertical: 5472 feet Depart: 5:55 AM Arrive: 2:28 PM
Calories: 7691

Today was a long, but very interesting day on the road. I spent the first 65 miles riding with John Langhans, a 65 year old retired actuary from Maine. He said he most recently worked for the PBGC, and the worse things got, the busier he was. Anyway, we started out with a slow gradual climb for about 30 miles to the top of Ochoco Pass, at 4720 feet. The grades were very modest, but it was just setting us up for the next one, about a 7 mile ascent up to Keyes Summit, at 4369 feet. Here the grades were in the 5-7% range. It was a good workout getting to the top. The photo shows the look back down the hill, to give you an idea of the climb. John wanted more time than I did at the second SAG, so I continued on my own the rest of the way.

At this point we were proceeding down a nice little canyon, with interesting rocks on both sides. This photo doesn't do the terrain justice, but it gives you some idea of the variety of scenery we had during the day.
When I got to the third SAG, the cafe across the street where I had planned to have lunch was closed, but a little store behind the SAG supposedly sold sandwiches. They didn't look very good to me, so I opted for an ice cream sandwich instead, and headed to town. It was about 30 miles of pretty tame terrain, mostly flat without much to report on. This picture was at the SAG, which was in a very pretty spot.
The good news is we were just short of the advertised 117 miles. Tomorrow is supposed to be another tough one, with 3 good climbs. Check back to see if I made it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

AAN Day 4 - Kah-Nee-Ta to Prineville, OR

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: 59.6 Average Speed: 13.6 mph
Vertical: 3395 feet Depart: 7:40 AM Arrive: 1:10 PM
Calories: 4087

I am going to keep this pretty short and sweet today. As you can see by the picture below, it was a beautiful day on the road. A little warm for my liking, but I don't think it got above 80 while I was riding. You can see me posed with Mt Jefferson in the background. You will also note we are definitely in a high desert terrain. I tried to take it fairly easy, because tomorrow is a 117 mile day. I rode about half the day with Gary and Margot Weinstein from Connecticut. Gary got the trip for Margot for her 50th birthday. He will cut out here and there to tend to business, but will be with us most of the way. He is with an equity firm. They buy companies, try to make them better, and sell at a profit.
I thought it would be useful to show the activity at one of the SAG stops. You can see the support van, our sign in sheet on the table in the foreground, and the riders milling around getting food and water. We only had one today, due to the relatively easy route. There are 3 scheduled for tomorrow.

Look for the story on how tomorrow goes. We are loading at 5:20, with breakfast immediately after, and will then get on the road.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

AAN Day 3 - Welches to Kah-Nee-Ta

Daily Statistics Mileage: 67.1 Average Speed: 13.4 mph Vertical: 4835 feet Depart: 6:15 AM Arrive: 11:58 AM Calories: 7447

Today was a terrific day on the road. Very shortly after we started, we headed up a 12 mile climb. The grade was very comparable to Mt Lemmon for my Tucson friends. The first SAG was on 13.4 miles in, at the top of the climb. The following photo shows yours truly at the sign in the area. It was only a 3995 foot summit, but we started about 1200 feet, so it was a pretty good haul. We descended about a thousand feet, then went back up to just over 4000, down 500 and back up. We finally leveled out and rolled for a good ways easily.

After spending the morning in Douglas fir and other large trees, we made the turn to Kah-Nee-Ta and promptly were in high desert. The trees became scrubs at best. The nice part was a number of mountains in white in the distance. This shows a group called the Three Sisters near Bend. It better shows the typed of vegetation, or lack thereof.

The one thing we did have was an abundance of wildflowers in purple, yellow, and white. They are having a good season for wildflowers, as the following photo shows.
After riding along a plateau for a while, we had a screaming, winding 5 mile descent into the valley. It was a nice reward for a long day of tough riding. Everyone seems to have remarked how great it was.
Speaking of everyone, here are a few more facts about the group before I close for the day. We have 5 couples on board, a father/son, a mother/daughter, two Swiss, two Englishman, two Canadians, and a US citizen who has worked the last 16 years in Asia. My roommate is a 65 year old retired Navy man, also retired from keeping a school's computers in order. We seem to be doing well together. More on the group as facts come clear.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

AAN Day 2 - St Helens to Welches , OR

Daily Statistics
Mileage: 76.1 Average Speed: 14.0 mph
Vertical: 3085 feet Depart: 5:53 AM, Arrive: 12:30 PM
Calories: 5262

Today was a fun day on the road. We left St Helens on Hwy 30E, and it was about 20 miles until we hit the north side of Portland. I stopped on the bridge and took this shot looking toward the downtown area.
We were eventually routed on some great bike paths which took us north of the Portland airport, directly between the airport and the Columbia River. We were probably on the river for about 10 miles, which made for nice if not real speedy riding. For those of you who want a riverfront lot, these folks have it figured out. They live right on the river. I believe these are actually on the Willamette, but I saw quite a number on the Columbia as well. The ones I saw on the Columbia had a garage door to let the boat in.

After the second SAG, we started a gradual climb in the general direction of Mt Hood. Much of it was on a nice rural road (Bluff Road). Initially, Mt Hood was largely hidden in the clouds, but as the day wore on, the clouds lifted and we got some spectacular views. I have included the most distant, but it is a good looking peak.

After passing through Sandy, OR, there was a place called Calamity Janes, which the staff had highly recommended. I stopped in, and was met by a great old guy. I was there about 5 minutes before they open, but he let me wheel my bike through the restaurant to the patio for safekeeping, and sat down for a lunch of a pastrami hamburger and banana shake. He told every customer the same jokes, but they were kind of cute. He claims they have been rated to have one of the top 10 hamburgers in the country. It was very good. So was the shake. I then had to mush in the last 15 miles to the hotel. I took the following picture of the Salmon River for my Arizona friends. You can have a stream with running water this time of year.
We are staying at probably the nicest accommodations I have been in on my 3 trips with America by Bicycle. It is called the Resort at the Mountains in Welches. Very nice.
I tried to ride slow and easy today, and expend as little energy as possible. Tomorrow is supposed to be a big day of climbing. We shall see!

Monday, June 21, 2010

AAN Day 1 - Astoria to St Helens, OR

Daily Statistics:
Distance: 71.3 miles Average Speed: 14.3 mph
Vertical: 3867 ft Departure: 6:57 AM, Arrive: 12:29 PM

As you can see, the real activity started this morning. We had our first load by the motel. The picture shows my old friend, Carl Hagen, from Junior High and High School, who honored me by coming by to see me off in style. He is making sure that Mike and his team get the truck loaded in the proper fashion.
The ride today was perfect for the first day. The route was somewhat challenging , but not too much so, and the weather was ideal, starting around 52 degrees, and ending about 61. The sky was overcast the whole way, so it was my kind of day.
Early in the ride, I think I was the only one to take the short detour to the Astoria Column, a 1.3 mi side trip up a very steep hill. The column is a tower built by John Jacob Astor's grandson, I believe, in 1926. There are 164 steps in a circular staircase to get to the top, and once there, the views in all directions are spectacular. I have included the one looking down on the bridge over the Columbia River to Washington.

There really is not much to say about the scenery the rest of the way. We were generally along the Columbia, but not much exciting to photograph or report. We did have our first SAG at the Gnat Creek Hatchery, which was somewhat interesting. Here you see one of the workers in one of the ponds full of fingerlings.

Now that I have had a little time on board, I should report on the riders. We have 47 of us going the distance, and an additional 7 who are with us for the first one or two legs. We have a staff of 6 supporting us. The youngest rider just finished his sophomore year of high school, and is riding stoker on a tandem with his dad. He had the most memorable quote of the introductions: " I have been training real hard for this for a couple of weeks now." There is also a young lady of 18 who just graduated from high school. Most of the crowd, however, is in there 50s and 60s. Haven't got a handle on the oldest yet, but I am guessing pushing 80. More details as I figure everyone out.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I am bring this wonderful blog back on line. I am just over two weeks from starting across the country again, this time on America by Bicycle's Across America North. You can check their website ( and find the route, and the ride leader will also be doing a blog accessible from the AbB site.