Wednesday, December 24, 2008


so, the trip out west has concluded.
back in athens the next order of business is livelihood.

enrolling at Athens Tech for the winter so that i have access to a full machine shop just 10 miles from home.

time to prototype some bicycle component ideas and hopefully come up with something that's worth manufacturing.

any ideas are welcome.
carl dot laniak at

commentary on life:
i used to think the only universal human truth is greed.

deepak chopra apparently said that people are going to do their best, given their level of awareness.

so, is this the path towards hope?

it's so important to desire new experiences beyond our comprehension because they expand awareness and make our "best" better.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


final trip report to follow soon....
for now mother road experience here:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

idaho to montana, and back!

the camper van~

crooked river trail, ID

first view of BIG SKY

Missoula Valley from Rattlesnake Rec Area

montana snowflake

over the edge? on stuart's peak trail

bull trout pulled by a rooster tail from the blackfoot!

ready to run along hungry horse!

le grizz finish

getting out the warm clothes bag

south fork, flathead r.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the race report you haven't been waiting for...

The race report you haven’t been waiting for, and the one you’d expect, too.

Some of you may recognize that I am borrowing part of the subject line from one of our other posters. It struck me that there could be no better title, so I hope he doesn’t mind that I use it, even though my reasons are different.

Before you get excited, the race report one would expect:

On Saturday, oct 11th I had a great time with like minded crazies up at hungry horse reservoir near hungry horse, Montana.

I had always had a desire to visit Montana, it was the first place I ever thought, “hey, that sounds like my kind of place.” I was really young. Like not even 10 years old, I would guess. So when I found myself in Idaho for the past couple months, I decided there could be no time better than the present to head up to big sky country, and run the Le Grizz 50.

Well, my training has been stellar, and I was excited after doing some fishing and running near Missoula on my way up.

I started the race with about 6-8 of the 90 starters ahead of me, and I figured that given the fact that I am in the best shape of my life, a PR of 7:50 was a reasonable goal. In my hopes, I thought 7:20-7:30 was reasonable, and anything under 7 hours would be a great accomplishment.

It was a cold morning, right below freezing, so luckily not cold enough that I had to wear long pants. I cruised a little uncomfortably to the 10 mile mark in 1:24. the first aid station (a water jug) appeared at 12 miles, and then finally at 17 miles I got my first calories of the run. I was holding it together there for the first bit, because I had guessed there would be Gatorade at the 12 mile mark….but it was ok. I hit 20 miles in 2:50. This equated to a steady 7:05 finish time. I was happy and thought if things went well I could maintain and nail my 7:20-7:30 goal.

At halfway, I glanced at my watch and had sped up. Hitting 25 miles in 3:30.

Each aid station I would drink 3-5 small cups of coke, grab a bite of beef jerky, and fill up my water bottle with Gatorade. These aid stations occur at 17, 27, 32, 37, 41, and 47 miles.

I should mention that the scenery at hungry horse is phenomenal and at 25 miles the sun came out, to expose some more views, and to get things slightly above freezing.

30 miles was hit in 4:12, and 40 miles in 5:42.

At this point I started to think about sub 7. I needed to run the last 10 in under 78 minutes to get there, but I was keeping things together well, and thought I’d shoot for it. When I hit the dam with 3 miles left the aid station folks said I was in 3rd place, which was exciting, and I looked across the dam, asking, “but I’m not gonna get #2 because I don’t see him?!?!” they replied that there was no chance of that happening. However I needed the last 3 miles in under 27 minutes or so to make sub 7, so I took right off. Coming in to the finish at 6:56 I was well pleased with my efforts. I knew I saved some in the tank for mother road, but was still pleased with my fitness and the confidence/experience running sub 7 gave me.

The post race festivities were fun, and delicious, although it was freakin freezing when the sun went down!!! I actually ran (jogged) 49.9 of the 50 miles. Very cool. I am almost an ultrarunner!

Unfortunately I had to leave before the awards ceremony because I only had one offer of a ride back to my vehicle at the start, 50 miles away. I hope everyone enjoyed their time!

Now the story you didn’t see coming:

I camped out Saturday night and did some easy fishing Sunday. Then I headed a few miles down the road to the spotted bear campground and had a nice fire before camping again. Monday morning I had decided I would stretch the legs out by hiking to Spotted Bear Mountain and the Lookout on the way. I was nervous about grizzly bears, but many of the Montanans had stifled my main concerns, so I decided if I wanted to see the real Montana I was gonna have to climb up some mountains. This 13 mile round trip was a gorgeous hike, and the skies cleared while I was up at the peak for just a bit. I took some nice video and photos of the views, and made my way down. This peak was around 7500 feet, certainly no 14er, just a nice day hike.

I then drove the 50 miles down the lake to hungry horse and treated myself to a big dinner at the grill. Next I headed several miles back into the woods, to camp at the trailhead for the climb of Great Northern Mountain, which I believe is the highest in the immediate area, and tops out at 8560 ft.

This morning, (Tuesday) I awoke and lay in the comfy minivan camp til nearly 10am and then scrounged up a large cookie for breakfast. I packed my daypack with a couple top layers, some waterproof pants, my gps, a camera and video camera, my compass, map, an extra hat, some gloves, 2 sandwiches and 2 bottle of water, along with a couple other odds and ends.

This hike is a 8 mile round trip, but climbs and descends more than 4500 feet. 1000’ per mile is a serious slope, so I knew this one would be tough, but worth it.

The first 1.5 miles is straight up from hungry horse creek to the ridge, it climbed almost 3,000’ – that is steep! 2,000’/mile. For OVER a mile.

Next I traversed the ridge leading towards Great Northern. The peak hidden in the clouds, but I could see the route up pretty high, and figured if things cleared at all towards noon I might go all the way. Above tree line the trail is really on the edge of the ridge, and the sub freezing winds were something to contend with, the views were expansive, and although I was high up, I was ready to extend my comfort zone a little, heck, I was in grizzly country and alone up high! The ground was covered in a light snow, so that the path was visible, and really with the ridge as sharp as it is, there is only one direction to go anyway.

I continued upwards, and began getting views of the steep snow slopes on the northeast side of the mountain, along with the sparsely snow covered western basin of scree. I traversed the ridge, higher and higher, finally needing to kick in for foot holds in the snow. I came to the pinnacle, only to realize that the clouds were still obscuring the peak, some 300 feet above me. I was really happy to be at the top since the snow and wind was at the edge of my comfort zone, but here, the sun came through and assured me I was almost there. I said, “awe shucks” and continued up. Another 150 feet and I came to a spot where continuing seemed dangerous. There was 10-12 feet of snow covered trail without handholds, and it was exposed to the steep scree/snow field below, surely over 1000 feet to the basin.

I took one step and decided it was not worth the risk. I came down several steps and pulled out my camcorder to record the moment. I stated that I was nearly to the top, probably only 150 vertical feet, but “life is good, and it would be best to keep it that way.” Then I said I would head down, with the comment that, should I see a better approach there might still be a summiting today.

I descended about 80 vertical feet ( I know this because my gps was tracking me) and then I looked back up, only to realize that right next to my previous route there was a safe looking way up. The skies cleared, and I turned back upwards. I quickly regained the ground I had descended, and was up and over the obstacle.

However, as soon as I was over it, I found myself in a precarious spot. What had looked stable from below was nothing of the sort. I instinctively pressed all four limbs against the snow/rocks, and tried to evaluate my best course of action.

As I thought, the snow underneath my feet slipped, I looked down and saw the thousands of feet of scree below me. I looked for a hand hold, but saw none, then the snow slipped 6 inches, and before I knew it, I was starting to slide. I said, “oh shit” and tried to grab anything, but nothing held. I was sledding down a steep snow and rock face, gaining speed. I bumped and slid, so fast that I couldn’t keep up with what was happening. I desperately tried to arrest my fall using my feet and hands.

The thought in my mind was, “you are going to break your legs, and, IF you maintain consciousness you are going to freeze to death up here tonight. More likely you will crack your head open and die without knowing what happened.” It was a terrible feeling. My speed increased and I felt certain I would start to tumble and have my body broken.

Somehow I stayed vertical, head up, feet down, although I have injuries on my front and back sides, so I’m not sure of my orientation throughout the fall.

Amazingly I hit a bump and my speed diminished just enough that at the next bump my body stopped. Wow, I am trembling a little as I write this.

I couldn’t believe I had stopped. I immediately felt my limbs and realized that while I was banged up really bad, nothing was broken. I still cannot believe that is true.

I was light headed, but had no head injuries, my adrenaline was on full force. I panted and tried to compose myself, knowing that passing out was not an option. As I tried to compose myself I tried to figure out what I could do.

I looked up, down, left and right. “O fuck, I am alive, but even my best effort isn’t going to keep me that way,” was my thought.

I was very precipitously perched on a spot that was incredibly unsafe, I felt as though at any moment my dazed state was going to betray me and send me careening off again, to sure death. I felt my left leg bleeding, but knew that getting to a safer spot had to be the #1 priority, because falling again was the worst possible thing. Even worse that an open artery. I felt as though several of my finger tips were broken, but I had gloves on, and with the adrenaline I couldn’t be sure. My elbows and butt were beaten, but not broken. Amazingly my head was still attached and unscathed.

I turned over and began to move, my first thought was to traverse the slope, maintaining my elevation. This quickly proved harrowing. I tried kicking in to the snow, but there was nothing below me to hold. I had fallen 300 vertical feet (again, mr gps was happily clicking away in my bag, not that I pulled it out to check!!!)

I thought to myself, as soon I had perched myself on a spot where I could think, “ok, you are alive, so you must give it your best effort, but the likelihood is that you are going to fall again. There is no good way out of this one.” Despite the negative tone I began searching for a route. I could only see 20-30 feet above me, because some large slabs blocked the view up to the ridge, I really had no idea how far I’d fallen, just that I needed to get back to the ridge and safety.

Every step was an effort, I would kick in for a foot hold, only for the snow or scree to fall away just before I trusted it. Then I’d dig with my hands or a rock to find another spot. After traversing 20 feet I was stopped, I reluctantly went back, to find another route.

I looked down. “hell no.”

I looked right. “hell no.”

I knew up was the only way, but there was nowhere to go. I went anyway, fully expecting to slip and die. I really didn’t want to fall, but I couldn’t fathom a reality where I made it safely. I couldn’t even SEE my destination!

I went up and around and back down, and up. All so slowly it was unreal. I still really can’t believe I am alive. It doesn’t make sense. Many times it would take minutes to find the next possible movement.

It was freezing cold and the wind was howling, my fingers were barely functional, and at times they were holding me almost exclusively. My left leg was dripping blood into the snow, and my shoe was red. My mind was lucid, so I knew I wasn’t loosing that much blood, but when I got to one safe spot I took out my water bottle and guzzled. I knew if I lost blood, fluid would be necessary, and why die because I was dehydrated?!

I ate a bite of my sandwich here too, but figured with all the stress on the system there was little chance that my stomach would be functioning to transport of the sugar to my muscles. I looked around, wishing I’d brought my cell phone. In the woods all week the phone didn’t work, but here at 8,000’ I could see the town of Hungry Horse 20 miles away….sure the phone would’ve allowed me to get some help. I thought about that for a minute….how I really would hate to put people out just because I over stepped my abilities in a risky venture, but if I’d had the option, I would have called in a heartbeat.

I kept moving, even if it was only back and forth. I was concerned that my fingers would go numb and I’d lose the chance to climb. I didn’t know how long the adrenaline would last, and that was definitely the only thing going for me now. If it wore off and I got cold, my chances would go from zip to zilch.

I started up again, looking for anything worth trying, I figured I was a goner, but it was my right as a living being to give it a freakin try, as hard as it was.

Finally, after a long time, I saw my foot prints from earlier. They were 25 feet above me. I didn’t realize it, but I had been trying to rescue myself for over two hours. From the time I slipped until I saw my prints was from 1:49pm til 3:50pm. All that for 300 vertical feet.

I still didn’t think I could possibly make it safely. It was another 10-12 foot sheet of snow on loose scree. I was so close. But so far. I tried to reign in the enthusiasm, once almost going a step too quickly. I said to myself, outloud, “whoa buddy, you are this close, don’t die now!” I almost chuckled, but took an extra moment to compose myself, then stepped. Two more steps and I was back on my original path.

I looked up and saw the peak through the clouds. “ok, now the shit starts.” I thought to myself.

I was damaged, winded, exhausted, amazed, and still riding the uncomfortable adrenaline high that made me a little light headed. I began descending.

Throughout the descent I came to areas that had seemed reasonable on the way up, but now in my altered frame of mind I wished I’d been way more cautious on the way up. Every step over a slip point made me think that I needed to be on my “A” game, if I wanted to get out with my life. I just kept moving, watching the blood drip out of my pants leg, and hoping that I would make it safely.

After another harrowing hour on the ridge in the snow and wind, I got to the tree line and out of the wind. I had thought to myself that this would be the spot to eat and drink, to keep myself from passing out on the steep (although MUCH safer) descent through the trees. I ate and drank ravenously of my pbj and water. I then got out my video camera, something I was loathe to do when I was on the marginally safe ridge line. I panned up to the peak, and described my ordeal, breathing hard and still unable to believe that I wasn’t lying somewhere below with broken legs, freezing to death.

I closed the clip with the comment, “thank god I’m alive.”

Now I really wanted to be down. I thought about cleaning my wounds and perhaps getting a hotel for the night, considering the circumstances. I wondered about grizzlies smelling the blood and hunting me while I descended. Needless to say I made a bunch of noise to dissuade them from this!

After 5 o’clock I got back to the car. Now removed my long pants, and saw a quagmire of dried and wet blood from a gaping wound just below my knee cap. I realized quickly that it would be in my best interest to have a professional deal with this, so I pinched the wound shut with my left hand, while I drove the 18 miles of forest service road to the town. I met a FS ranger and asked where the closest doctor was, and headed there. They were closing, and since I was walking and had driven myself they sent me down the street.

In my current shape I really looked like a crazy person who had attacked himself with a chainsaw. My leg was completely covered in dried blood, and my torn clothes and wild hair helped the illusion.

I made it to the urgent care center this side of Whitefish, and managed to make my way inside to a room.

The nurses were exceptional. They cleaned and cleaned and I just sat there telling them I couldn’t believe I was alive and I didn’t care how much they scrubbed the wounds and gave me shots, because anything felt better than the thought of freezing to death with broken limbs.

After 12 stitches and plenty of scrubbing, I was set to go, but then I removed my shirt and found another gaping wound on my elbow. This one had hurt, but didn’t bleed as much so I didn’t realize it was so deep.

That one got sewn up and then I paid and was on my way. It was now dark. This was about 4 hours ago, now as I write.

I filled up my gas tank, wobbled into walmart and grabbed ointment and bandaids, and then stopped at papa johns.

While I was in the ER, I talked to my brother, and he listened to my tale as I drove to my errands. I felt like I should tell my parents in the morning, since that might ease the stress I’m sure they’ll feel. I called my friends in Idaho, and said I might come home a little earlier than expected, but really, my Montana fishing license doesn’t expire for 4 more days, and THAT’s relatively safe, right?

So, there’s my story. It is what it is.

I was at the edge of my comfort zone, in a risky situation, and I nearly paid for it with my life. I have always said that I liked ultrarunning because you get to “push yourself” in a relatively safe way, and I wondered why mountain climbers went so far and high to push themselves. Now of course most climbers are smart and don’t push the odds, and they earn experience and knowledge over time, so I’m not saying climbing is over risky, it’s just not my favorite hobby, and maybe I’ll respect its dangers a little more from now on. I sure wouldn't do it the same all over again, and I hope some of you will take a lesson from the Bearenstein Bears, "this is what you should not do."I imagine i'll take some gentle and some harsh critisism, but like I said, it is what it is....

It’s good to be alive.


From the super 8 in Kalispell….

Friday, September 12, 2008

The return

Day 9 (ride day 6)
On Tuesday morning, I thanked Scott for the unbelievable hospitality, and took his advice for a route that would take me 130 miles up to Portland. This ride would bring me through the Willamette River Valley, highlighting many of the areas farms, orchards and vineyards, and hopefully delivering me to Champeog State Park, just south of Portland.

north from eugene

Well, this trip did not disappoint. Scott started the ride with me and rode the first 12-15 miles up to the north end of Eugene, vastly improving the safety and efficiency of my trip through the city. It is much easier to stay on the less congested streets when you know where they are.
As I got out of town, the route snaked its way back and forth across the river, and several times I missed turns. Fortunately I had my gps, so I could zoom in on the smaller roads and find shortcuts back to my route. I enjoyed this aspect of the trip immensely because if every navigational error I made had resulted in backtracking the trip would have been much less enjoyable.
The steepest hill of the entire trip was on a road called Orchard Heights, the climb was probably only 2-3 miles long, but it was definitely an effort to keep pumping the pedals. I was a little frustrated with the difficulty on the way up, but once I reached the summit I looked out over the valley and across the river at Salem, OR….it was WORTH IT. What a view!

oregon 08 046

The descent was also a great reason to have climbed so high. This road was so smooth that 40+ mph felt relatively safe. Some roads, due to their roughness would make 25 mpg feel dangerous, but not this one. As I neared the bottom I was really getting thirsty and wanted to get to the next town for a late lunch. I checked out the gps and found a short cut. After going a mile down this shorter route I encountered the reason for the suggested course taking a long cut….there was a very steep, ¾ mile long gravel road to negotiate. I contemplated turning around, but decided I would give it a shot, even on the tiny road bike tires I was rolling on. It was hairy. A local went by in a pickup and literally laughed at me out his window. I kept going down, slamming on the brakes the whole way, just to stay in moderate control. When I reached the bottom I got all excited about that little mini-adventure, screaming out in happiness that it had worked out.
A little way down the road I found a self-serve road side pear stand, where I deposited a Quarter and took a nice ripe pear to enjoy. A couple miles later I came into a small town and had a personal pizza at the local pizza shop. I also grabbed Gatorade and batteries at the gas station. After enjoying a 20 minute conversation with my brother Todd, I headed out again.
The next waypoint was a crossing of the river on a Ferry. I was curious to find out whether or not and how often the ferry was running. It was after 5 o’clock and I figured I might have missed my shot. Not the case, as soon as I rolled down the hill the ferry was hitting our shore, and within 2 minutes I was on the boat, and found that bicycles and pedestrians crossed free of charge!


The river was only a hundred yards wide, so I was quickly off on the other side and riding again. The next couple of hours were riding through a bunch of fields of hops. These plants, that I only recognize from beer commercials, grow on strings strung straight up 20 feet in the air. Every 15-20 minutes a truck would go by piled high with the vines and the road was literally scattered with them. It was during this stretch that I first noticed Mt. Hood, 100 miles to the north east. The haze of 100 miles meant the image wasn’t clear, but I could make out the profile of this awesome mountain. It was very cool to notice it.

cool shadow

After a while I ended up at the last convenience store of the day, and ate several snacks and grabbed my extra Gatorade for the evening/morning. 5 more miles brought me to the state park, with a solid 45 minutes of light left. For the first time on a camping day I was treated to a shower. As an added bonus this state park had a hiker/biker specific campsite that only cost $4, more than reasonable. I enjoyed this evening, with the hot shower and comfy temperatures.
Day’s Mileage: 120 Miles
Cumulative Mileage: 755

Day 10 (ride day 7)
This day began with a nice shower again…why not? Then I packed my things and got underway around 7 am. The first miles were on a side hwy, and I really had no great plan for how to enter and cross Portland. My Oregon cycling map, that Scott had given me, showed that it was legal to ride on the interstates, except for in downtown Portland and a couple other spots around the state. So when I reached the freeway, I turned onto it, just to see how it was. Well, it was before rush hour, and really the freeway felt safe. The breakdown lane was very wide, and the debris on the side of the road wasn’t so thick that it bothered the ride. I cruised along at 20 mph for a number of miles, hoping for a good breakfast spot to pop up. I found a spot on the map one exit before bike riding became prohibited, and decided to shoot for that. Before I reached it though, the traffic picked up such that it was annoying to wait at the entrance ramps for the streams of cars to allow me passage, and the exit ramps felt less than safe…with the discrepancy in speed between the cars and I. I resigned myself to dismounting for these intersections, and walking safely across them, but then someone drove by and screamed at me to get off the freeway. I am sure that I was legally riding there, but the animosity shook me up just enough that I decided to get off and find a surface street route. Luckily there was a McDonalds at the bottom of the ramp and I thoroughly enjoyed a large breakfast. This was one of only two trips to fast food restaurants on the whole trip, and although I ate a lot of junk at gas stations, I did attempt to eat at least one meal a day at a café or diner where I could get some salad and veggies.
Unfortunately the surface streets I chose to navigate were much worse than the interstate had been. After a couple miles of bike lanes, I entered a 10 mile stretch where the shoulder was non-existent and the school buses were passing every couple of minutes. I don’t like being the bicycle holding up traffic, but I didn’t have any better ideas for this section, so that’s what happened. Next I came to 172nd street, which was closed for road work. Lucky me got to take a long detour up over a really big hill. Then I finally got on the greenway that I had been shooting for for about an hour, and within a mile there was a bridge out for repair. This detour was even worse, I went at least 6-7 miles out of the way. The road was nice though, and despite the fact that I thought I’d be all the way across Portland by now I was in decent spirits. Reaching the greenway again I found another section closed and navigated my way around by asking several locals for help. Then I finally, after a solid 50 miles across Portland, arrived in Troutdale, the start point of the Columbia River Scenic Highway.
Now, the Columbia River Gorge is known far and wide as a stellar area, and it did not disappoint. As a cyclist you have the option of riding on historic hwy 30 in Oregon, interstate 84, also in Oregon, and hwy 14, across the river in Washington. The interstate offers the flattest ride, while the Oregon hwy passes through several small towns, and the Washington road is fairly deserted.

gorge view

I first chose the Oregon hwy since that’s where I was standing. The first 10 miles or so are a steady climb to a small town. This climb was tougher than I hoped, but when I reached the lip of the gorge the view was again worthwhile. I could see Mt. Hood, much closer now, as well as the river at least 1000 feet below, and all the way off into Washington. Continuing on, I started the awesome descent to the water. This was surely the most scenic descent on the trip….several state parks and viewing areas were positioned on the hill, most prominently Crown Point. There were also many spectacular waterfalls along the road, some of them falling hundreds of feet from the lip of the gorge.

oregon 08 068

After the most awe-inspiring of these falls I caught up to another bicycle tourer in his mid-fifties named Christopher. He told me that we were at the very end of the touring season, and that only 2 weeks ago the gorge was teeming with cyclists. We road together for a good 40 minutes, where the hwy merged with the interstate momentarily, and stopped at a hydroelectric dam because he recommended a visit. After a short visit to the dam, where we saw a fish hatchery and a pool of Sturgeons, I thanked him for the tour guiding, and headed on my way. For the next hour and a half I cranked my way down the gorge at 20+mph, due to the great tailwind, and ended up in the town of Hood River. This place is a hot spot for kiteboarding and windsurfing because in the summer months there is a nearly constant 25mph wind going through the gorge. I had a burrito and a local Full Sail Ale, and went into the local bike shop to top off the pressure in my tubes.

full sail and burrito

Heading out I decided that since the last bridge to Washington for quite a while was just ahead, I would go over and try that road out.
Unfortunately the bridge was closed to pedestrians and cyclists, so I stood there for a few minutes waiting for a truck with a man driving to come along. As soon as one did I stuck my thumb out and the driver obliged me a ride across the bridge. This guy told me that it was fairly recently that the closed the bridge to bikes, and that the next bridge, some 50 miles east, was closed for repairs. He lamented that I wouldn’t get to see the “real” Washington, because I wasn’t headed up to the forests, so I promised that someday I would make it up that way. After thanking him and jumping down out of the Dodge 3500, I began pedaling again.

oregon 08 085

I reached a small town after another hour or so, and stocked up on my regular calories. Then I looked at the map and tried to figure out where I might camp. Basically the road stayed close to the river, and there was a cliff on my left, and the railroad on my right, with only a few feet of brush and no good camping spots. The first state park I came to, where I hoped I might camp, was just a windsurfing spot, and prohibited camping. I worried a little but then continued on. A few miles down the road I came across Horse Thief Lake State Park, and I happily cruised downhill to the campground. When I arrived, I found a windy area with a bathroom and no showers. Plus a $12 camping charge. What a rip! Oh well, there didn’t seem to be any other options, so I set up camp, and was reprimanded for being 20 feet outside of my zone by a ranger. I then headed to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Imagine my excitement when I found that there WAS a shower in there. I quickly stripped off my clothes and ran into the stall. Now, imagine my dejectedness when I realized that the shower was a quarter machine, with a $0.75 cost. I ran back to my campsite and dug through everything to find…..2 quarters.

oregon 08 093

So I walked over to the outdoor water faucet and took my aquafina bottle with me. This shower had the double bonus of cold water AND windy weather. I hurried as best I could, and enjoyed going back over to brush my teeth. Being clean of the road grime I picked up was always worth freezing water.
Walking out of the bathroom, I found a couple that was motorcycle touring. They were having a couple budlights, which I almost asked them to share. Instead, they chatted me up for a solid 30 minutes about who I was and what I was up to. It was a fun conversation. Victoria, the woman, tried her best to get me to come up to Spokane and meet a girl she was opening a bistro with, apparently she is a big excerciser and a triathlete. I said if I ever got up that way I would look them up on route 2 just north of the city. They also gave me some great info….tomorrow morning I might have another 80 miles on no breakfast situation brewing. Doh! I had 2 bottles of Gatorade, but they insisted that I take some beef jerky and cheese sticks, recommending that I “drink plenty of water.” They were great folks, I hope I run into them someday up in Spokane.
Hitting the hay was great this night, the stars were great, I was clean, and the wind was dying down.
Day’s Mileage: 140 Miles
Cumulative Miles: 895

Day 11 (ride day 8)
Waking up at 6:30 I was ready to go, and I even started thinking about the end of the trip. Luckily 14 miles down the road there was a little cabin with biscuits and gravy on the breakfast menu. These two folks had just opened a little store, with a tiny consignment shop and a little café. The only thing available for breakfast was muffins and the aforementioned biscuits and gravy. Since I believed I had 65 more miles to get food again I happily waited while captain Ron bumbled around the kitchen microwaving my breakfast. I have no doubt that this store will be out of business soon, which is sad, but these folks had no idea what they were doing. I wished them the best and headed out, a little miffed that it had taken over 40 minutes to eat a simple meal, but happy to have had it anyway. Another ways down the road I found out that the bridge I had been told was out for repairs was actually still open for 3 more days, so I took the opportunity to return to the more inhabited Oregon.

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I crossed over to Biggs, OR and continued on my way. A couple hours down the road I pulled off of an I-84 exit and got a pint of my new favorite Ben and Jerry’s flavor….Half Baked. Just like my trip it was awesome. When I reached a rest area in Boardman, OR I stopped for a bathroom break and was surprised to find a senior citizen’s club set up in a little camper offering coffee, lemonade and cookies to travelers. I thanked them for the hospitality and answered their questions about my trip. One of them asked, “what do you do about cabbage hill? Do you just walk it?” I told them I had not had to walk up a hill yet, but if that’s what it took I would do it. I inquired about the hill and they told me it was a 15 mile continuous climb up to the plateau east of Pendleton. With the new found knowledge that there was a beast of a hill that “the semi’s have real trouble with.” I headed out again, destined for Pendleton.
I arrived, after a long down hill to the Umatilla River in Pendleton, where I got a foot long subway sandwich and some cookies and soda. After a couple phone calls to family I saddled up and started looking for the climb. It was my intention to climb the whole thing without putting my foot down, if possible.
Cabbage hill, as they call it, really is a beast. Luckily my legs and lungs were able to metronome their way to the top, and I even snapped a couple shots of the view west as I climbed. The late afternoon sun was heading downwards as I climbed, so the view was spectacular.

on the way up up up

When I reached Dead Man’s Pass, I stopped at the rest area, where I quickly made my way to the vending machines. I got a mountain dew and then turned around to find a huge dude standing behind me. This guy, whose eastern European accent and facial structure gave him away, peppered me with questions about what I was up to, and “Do you carry weapon?”
I uneasily said that no, I could take care of myself without anything more than a knife. He told me that for the bears and lions he would carry a gun. I asked where he was from and he told me he was Ukranian. I said, “seriously, my name is Laniak, my great grandfather came from Ukraine.” We hit it off even better now….He told me, “I have Russian name, Babinov!”
When he asked me how I kept going all day I showed him my mountain dew and said, “rocket fuel!”
Since I’d finished my snacks I bade my new friend goodbye, and pedaled eastward.
On the next stretch of road, way up in the hills, I noticed that there was a side road paralleling the interstate, and I decided to try it. Wow! It was out there. After a while I was well out of ear shot of the highway, and began thinking if it weren’t for the bears up here this really would be a great place to camp. A few miles down the road I passed a cabin. As the sun set I would not have been surprised at all if Ted Kazcynski himself walked out and struck up a conversation with me.

come on!!!

I was uneasy, and knew that if anyone confronted me I better exude some fake confidence, because this was not the place where folks who like lycra clad cyclists hang out. As the sun set I put on my headlamp and tail light, and made my way down a long downhill many miles to the next place where this road crossed the interstate. Now I was in the zone again, heading downhill in a controlled way, watching for any patch of gravel that might ruin my day, and keeping in mind that there was a State Park just before La Grande, down the road. I arrived at Hilgard’s Junction State Park an hour after dark, and found a campsite for $8. This time I took my shower in the sink. Luckily there was a drain in the concrete floor, so the little water and soap I used and dripped all over the floor was able to make its way out. This “shower” was pretty unsatisfying, but it was what it was, and I felt a little refreshed. I set up my camp and read my book for a while, staying up relatively late, around 10:30 I think.
The night got pretty cold, and I think the combo of it being cold and being excited about finishing the trip with a final day of 180+ miles was getting to me, so I did not sleep very well.
Day’s Mileage: 171 Miles
Cumulative Mileage: 1066 Miles

Day 12 (ride day 9)
After a few hours of restless sleep in what must have been mid thirty degree temperatures, I woke up at 3:45 and had the feeling that I was going to lay there awake til I got up. After 20 minutes of that I made the decision to just get going. I was excited to finish the trip with an extra long day, and I figured the sooner I started the more likely I’d make it home for dinner. I packed all my gear, and literally put on ALL of my clothes. Shoving off at almost 4:30 in the morning was kind of cool, I had not yet started a ride before dawn, and this was a new experience. The night was cold and dark, and the interstate was basically dead. I started the ride with an hour long downhill into La Grande, where I hoped to find a 24 hour diner for breakfast. When I rolled off the interstate and onto hwy 30 through town, things were really cool. The town was deserted, but all the business lights were on, and as I passed the Town Hall building I felt like I was back in Jasper, TN nearing the end of the Vol-State Run. I cruised through town and when my road rejoined the interstate there was a Flying-J truck stop. I locked up my bike in the pre dawn, and headed inside to warm up and snarf some breakfast.
Finishing my all American breakfast, with French Toast, I headed out again, expecting a big climb up and out of La Grande. I was not disappointed, and a couple miles down the road I was stripping a few layers off in an effort to cool down. Reaching the top of another plateau, I was again on a high elevation road with flat ground and a relatively good tailwind. Cruising along for another hour or two, I had a slight mechanical issue when I shifted into the big ring and my chain came off and twisted itself inside out. Jumping off I literally spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to correct this mobius strip chain situation.

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A rancher came by on his ATV and offered me a ride to town (which was a solid 20 miles away) but I told him I just about had it fixed up. I knew that even if I couldn’t unwrap the chain I could always disconnect and link, unwrap it and then reconnect. That method would have been giving up, and very unsatisfying. This was one of those situations where I knew what the chain had done, but I didn’t believe it was possible, so I exhausted ever OTHER possibility before I addressed my first instinct. It was an interesting waste of time, and finally I trusted my gut and man handled the chain into obedience. Ah, back on the saddle!
Cruising along again without incident for several hours, I arrived in Baker City. Here my made my second McDonald’s stop of the trip. I loaded up and headed out again, realizing that it was about 11am and I was closing in the on the last 100 miles. I believe it was aan hour down the road that I saw the first interstate “Mileage to Boise” sign, and it read 107. This perked me up and I renewed my vigor, realizing I had a slight chance of getting home before dark. I went hard through Pleasant Valley, Durkee and Weatherby, back in the high heat of the slightly lower altitudes. When I reached Huntington I was out of food and water, but I wanted to go another couple of exits before stopping for refreshment. Whoops! No services for quite a while. 20 miles further down the road I got off at the exit where I wanted to leave the interstate for good, and again…no services.

hot again

I was holding things together, but another 30 minutes would mean bonking, so I was very hopeful that the sign for an RV campground a few miles down the road would mean a chance to get some nourishment. My new friends at the campground had a refrigerator full of green powerade and cokes, so I took in about 80 oz, and left with 2 full water bottles. I was less than 80 miles from Boise, and feeling good.
I cruised on down the Snake River Valley and up and over a few hills, thinking about getting to Weiser and eating a meal. A little ways down the road I saw a sign that read, “Rough Road, next 1 mile.” In my mind I chuckled, thinking “haha, yeah right, this ain’t rough compared to where I’ve been!”
Without exaggerating, I can honestly say that that thought had not finished being thought in my brain before I heard and felt a “PFFFSSSHHHH!” directly underneath me in my rear wheel.


Almost 1200 miles without a flat tire, across some really rough roads and many patches of broken glass, and here I was with a flat less than 100 from the end. Ok, cool, this is why I brought 2 spare tubes. Let’s do it! I quickly removed the rear wheel and peeled off the tire. Shoving a new tube in I began pumping it up….only to realize that the casing of the tire was torn in several spots, and as I pumped the tire became misshapen and skewed. Doh!
I knew if I put the pressure too high I would balloon the tube out of the tire, so I settled on an intermediate pressure and hoped for the best, since I was almost 20 miles from the next town and it was getting really hot out. I began rolling extra slowly, just hoping to hold things together to the next town where I might find a new tire. I was happy but cautious, not daring to exceed 10 mph, in hopes of keeping things happy. Dang! Now I would have no shot at arriving in daylight, but of course I knew this was a great story waiting to be told. About 5 miles down the road I passed a farmer out on the edge of his field, I asked him which fork in the road I should take up ahead if I wanted to find a bike shop and he said to head to Ontario, OR, because Payette, ID probably would not have one. I thanked him and again started slowly rolling. 100 feet later the tube went again. I knew my last tube wasn’t going to get me the 14 miles to Ontario, so I walked back and asked the farmer whether he might be able to help me out.

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“Could I ask you to store my bicycle for me for a day or two?” I asked, explaining my trip and my desire to finish it under my own power. Ideally, I would have asked for a ride into town, but I did not want to impose on this guy’s afternoon of work, so I figured I should just leave my bike and run it in.
Roy Munsdale obliged me some room in his barn, and I changed from my bicycle clothes to my running shorts, shirt and hat. I packed my tiny waste belt with my credit card, cell phone, passport, and camera. I knew it was less than 9 miles to Payette, Id, but Roy told me it was “70 miles to Boise from my farm.”
“Ok, I thought, here is a great chance to run really far and push yourself, while at the same time upping the ante on the story of your trip to the Pacific and back.”
I took a water bottle with me and jogged out into the late afternoon heat. Onion field after onion field passed by, and after a couple hours I was hitting the Snake River and crossing in to Idaho. I’d decided I’d wait til hitting Idaho before calling anyone to tell them I was running late. But when I got there I was so weak I decided to wait a little longer, lest I be tempted to ask Will and Diane to come retrieve me and end the effort. I stopped in a store and bought a pint of Haagen-Daas ice cream, hoping to get some serious calories and feel better. I knew if I didn’t feel better soon I could probably find a motel and finish the run the next day, but I was tired enough that waking up the next morning and have to run 100k was not the option I was looking for.
Another mile down the road I found a little sandwich shop, and walked in looking like a serious homeless person. I had road grime coating my skin, and I was really tired and weak. I ordered a hoagie and went across the street to check on prices in the little motel there. $40 a night seemed reasonable, but despite my weakness I really wanted to hold out and see if I could resurrect the situation and run all the way in tonight.
After eating my sandwich I just couldn’t fathom running 60 more miles, so I called my dad who was worried about me, and Will and Diane to let them know I was fine, but might spend the night in Payette. I sat there feeling dejected for a bit, mulling over the possible ways I could have fixed the tire on the bike, and other means of getting home without running, then went inside to maybe order another sandwich. The toughest part about thinking about continuing was knowing that I would need to go more than 30 miles without any gas stations or resupply points, all through the middle of the night. I just didn’t want to leave this motel opportunity facing a night like that.
Well, here comes good luck again, when I started inquiring about possible stores on the roads ahead the kid who made my sandwich told me that before the road got desolate there was a wal-mart and hotels off to the right about 2 miles south and 1 mile west. So here I was ready again….3 miles to a wal-mart and chance to sleep sounded a hell of a lot better than 60 miles and all night with nothing. I decided to get to wal-mart and then reassess.
Jogging down the road again I make it to wal-mart just after 8 pm. I had decided that my best course of action would be to go in wal-mart and get supplies for an all-night run to the finish. I bought a little camelback type backpack with a 2 liter fluid bag, and a handful of snickers bars and a protein drink. I also go a small LED flashlight, since I knew it would be pitch black out.
As I walked out of wal-mart, and jogged back across the Snake River, the sun did its final setting, and I settled into my work. I jogged down the sidewalk the 4 miles to the end of town, and walked into a gas station at the interstate crossing in hopes of grabbing a longsleeve shirt for the chilly night. I have spent several cold nights alone with just a t-shirt on, and I really hoped that I could avoid that biting cold and depressing situation. Lucky for me this Shell station had some, and for $15 I got a Boise State University shirt that I hoped would keep me relatively comfortable. Here I also checked a map and found that the interstate was 5 miles shorter than the back road way I was planning to travel. I knew it was illegal to walk on the interstate, but I asked the attendant if she knew whether or not it was ok here in Idaho. She answered in the negative, and I resigned myself to a longer run. Heading out I had a thought, maybe I could dial 411 and get an answer, Roy Munsdale had acted surprised when I told him I wouldn’t run on the interstate, so I had a little hope that the interstate might be a viable option.

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The operator said they didn’t answer that type of question, but she asked if I’d like to be connected to the Boise police dispatch. Imagine my joy when the dispatcher told me that yes, so long as I didn’t cause a hazard to motorists it was in fact totally legal to hike on the interstate here in Idaho!
“Sweet! You just saved me 5 miles.” I said, and hung up.
Score one point for persistence and problem solving.
I started down the interstate at 10:35pm, thinking I was now about a 50 miler from home. I figured after a 120 mile bike ride and already running 15 miles, a 10 hour 50 mile would be the very best I could dream of, so I started thinking about pushing for home by 8:30 in the morning.
I figured that to maintain form I would need some walking, so I decided to run 30 minutes and walk 30 minutes while snacking. This would allow 3 miles of running and 2 miles of walking, if I could keep up the pace. I did this for an hour, but then I decided that I wanted to push things. I have been lucky enough to spend time around some of the really strong (physically and mentally) runners in our sport, and I continuously wonder what it is that makes them so good. I feel like physically I am not as talented or genetically gifted as some of the runners out there, but there should be no reason why I can’t train my mind to be just as tough as theirs.
Normally when I am in a difficult situation I try to set a reasonable goal, such as, “run 30 minutes and then you can walk.” When things get rough I will make a goal like that and usually get a little ways down the road and decide it wasn’t so reasonable after all, and start my walk at 19 minutes, for example. Well here on my run through the Idaho night I decided to do things a little differently. A few weeks earlier I had crewed for Vol State King of the Roads Kevin Dorsey, and I had been amazed by he and Tracy Thomas’s ability to keep moving even when the finish was impossibly far away and they had already brought themselves to the edge of their endurance. I decided that for me to do something similar I would have to set a reasonable goal, and then push BEYOND IT, rather than shooting for it. The next hour I ran through my 30 minute goal and on, to nearly 50 minutes.
This was a cool challenge and I believe the lessons I was learning will serve me very well at the upcoming mother road and across the years races I am attempting.
Throughout the night I attempted to keep this strength of mind up, and shoot for a good run. Just after midnight I was really getting tired, and I passed what turned out to be the only exit before the outskirts of Boise. There was a hotel. I thought how nice it would be to lay down and sleep, and I thought surely I could run less than 50 tomorrow to the finish…but then, I had worked myself up to get this thing done, so I took a pull on the Gatorade and pushed on.
I had grabbed a protein drink in wal-mart as a last minute addition to my kit, and I remembered that late at night protein was something that can help keep you alert. I took a swig of this drink about once an hour, and I would feel more alert for about 20-30 minutes….just enough to get me thinking I could make it to the next hour.
I worked on maintaining effort and only once did I stop all night. I laid down under an overpass and raised my feet against a concrete stanchion. This I learned from Dan Thompson at the vol state a few years ago, so relieve some fluid pressure from your legs and feet. Honestly, this has never really worked for me, but I was tired so I gave it a try. After about 5 minutes I got back up and continued on. I didn’t notice any real relief, probably because I was putting my mental strength into relentless forward motion….which is the only way to get somewhere.
As a side note, around 3 in the morning, with the only a truck passing every few minutes or so, I decided that since I might never get the opportunity again, I should run naked down the interstate. This I did for about 50 yards, and then hurriedly put my clothes back on. I wondered how much trouble I would get in if I was caught, but when you are on an INTERSTATE that is empty in the middle of the night you start getting ideas. I found it hilarious, and chuckled about it on and off for the rest of the night.
Around 4 in the morning I finally reached the middleton exit, where I was going to exit the highway and hopefully find some food. I was BEAT. Unfortunately the 24 hour store advertised at the interstate ended up being 4 miles towards Boise. I had less than 20 miles to go, but 4 miles to a warm place sounded daunting. I began to walk. About a mile and a half further on, I was greeted by my first cop of this all nighter. When he asked me what I was up to I told him I had a story that would take a while, but the short version was I was headed to Boise. He inquired after a little more detail, and then I bade him farewell. 50 yards further on he pulled over and said, “why don’t you get in and I’ll give you a ride?”

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Well, I have never ridden in a police car, and I was definitely already dirtier than even the most vomit covered drunk, so I thought, “hell yeah I’m getting in!”
2 miles down the road I was dropped off at the 24 hour gas station, much to the nervous look of the young girl manning the register. I walked in and told her my tale, and asked whether I might rest here for a bit and drink some hot chocolate. She said her boss would be in soon, so hopefully he wouldn’t kick me out, but yeah, it was fine.
As tired as I was, and as cold as it had gotten outside, I really didn’t want to go back out, and I ended up sitting there on the convenience store floor for two and a half hours. I wondered about a taxi or calling Will and Diane, but here it was 5 in the morning, I would just have to wait. Later, I decided that at sunup I would need to head out, it was reasonable.
When light finally came, I reluctantly thanked the gas station attendant and walked out. My knee was stiff and frozen up, so when I saw a diner just opening a quarter mile later I jumped inside and thought, “whew, I wasn’t ready yet, here’s another waiting spot.”
I text messaged Will and Diane, “if you happen to wake up early and read this I am 15 miles away and I really would like a ride.”


I ate a big breakfast at the diner and then picked up the Sunday paper. I was super tired, but looking like I did I didn’t want to fall asleep and give problems to everyone who would think that there was a dead homeless guy in one of the booths.
Another 2 hours went by and I decided that surely I could manage 15 miles, I mean I was THIS CLOSE! I text messaged, “nevermind” to my friends and walked out the door. This time my knee was really screwed. I thought there might be a chance that it would loosen up, but at this pace it would take all day to cover 15 miles. As I passed the Middleton fire department, I spotted some cash on the sidewalk….$25!!! I walked inside and inquired as to whether anyone had lost some money. The answer was no, so I pocketed the bills. Nice! I had actually had a reoccurring thought throughout the trip that I was going to spy a bag full of $10,000 or so on the side of the road in the middle of the desert, and I figured that while this was no fortune, it was pretty damn cool.
Another half mile and I was really hurting on this knee. The sun was up and people were bustling about their Sunday mornings, I had a thought…..I need to find some kid who wants $25 more than he wants his bike.
I became an eagle-eye looking for garage sales or any kid with a crappy old bike I thought I might get my hands on.
About a quarter mile further down the road I spied a bike in a front yard. I wandered over and looking in the window. I teenage girl was eating cereal at the dining room table, so I knocked on the door. I inquired whether she knew who’s the bike was and if they might be willing to sell it. She said to wait and she would get her dad. I stopped her and said, “if he’s asleep then don’t worry about it, please don’t wake him up.” To which she replied that he was awake, and just wait a minute.
When Poppi came out I said, “I have a crazy story for you, but I’m wondering if you’d be willing to sell or rent me that bike.”
He looked incredulous but I have him the 30 second version of the story and offered him $25 and offered to return the bike.
He said, “you just want to borrow it and bring it back? Go ahead, take it.”
I held out the money but he insisted that I just take it.
I told him it meant a lot to me, and that I’d return it this afternoon.
With my new found bounty at the hands of a generous stranger, I rode down the road.
I wasn’t out of the woods yet, however, because I still had a ways to go and this bike SUCKED! The shifters didn’t work, the wheels wobbled and it was way to small for me. It’s one endearing quality (the most important one) was that it ROLLED.
The next 2 hours were a sleep deprived blur, desperately wanting to arrive, and recognizing that I wasn’t yet close. With 2 miles to go I was wondering if I could make it without rest. I thought perhaps the smartest thing to do would be to take a nap under a tree and refresh for a bit before continuing. I used great mental concentration to focus on staying to the right of the white line ahead of me, and watching for the turn into the apartment complex, lest I pass it and end up in downtown Boise.
FINALLY, I arrived. I walked in and sprawled out on the floor. Diane said, “that’s not the bike you left with?!!?”
I mumbled that I would explain later, and fell asleep in the middle of the floor. It was noon, I had ridden 120 miles, run 50-odd miles, and then biked another 14 or so. I was exhausted but I was home.
I woke up a few minutes later and ate a huge plate of lasagna Will heated up for me, took a shower, and then passed out on the couch.
At 6 I awoke and Will and I drove the borrowed bicycle back to Middleton, where I told the teenage girl once again to let her day know how much it meant to me that he’d leant me the bike. Then we traveled the distance up north of Payette, and arrived at farmer Roy’s place. Roy had been a little curious about whether I’d make it, and he seemed a little impressed when I told him how it’d gone, even though I had ridden the last 14 on wheels…
He showed me his wood shop and metal shop, and we exchanged views on the satisfaction of working with you hands. I paid my way through college making parts in the prototype machine shop, and he had been around farms his whole life. Farmers are extremely self-sufficient and experienced people, I really like most of them that I’ve had the privilege to meet.
As we left, Roy insisted that I stop in if I ever came back through. I promised him I would.

On the drive it really hit home how far I’d come on foot. I was amazed. It had been quite a trip, and every minute was worth it.

Day’s Mileage: 188 Miles (134 on bicycle, 54 on foot)
Cumulative Mileage: 1254 Miles in 9+ days of travel.

To the ocean

Day 1
Tuesday morning, August 26th, I got up and ate a leisurely breakfast, packed the essentials in the saddle bags, and took off west out of Boise. I had my digital camera, cell phone and a gps in my handlebar bag….along with $300 and my license and credit card. I took my passport, you never know.

start in Boise

On the rear rack I had a one man tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, one change of clothes, minor toiletries, a nearly complete tool kit (just in case I was caught 90 miles from anywhere and had to make the bike work), a book, one meal of instant broccoli and noodles, an emergency reflective blanket, and a couple empty aquafina one liter water bottles. I also had some rain gear, enough that I would be able to survive, but not thrive, in the worst possible conditions. Luckily the only rain I was pelted with was on a 5 mile sight seeing trip during my stay in Eugene.
The first 50 miles were relatively uneventful. My butt started to hurt, my wrists were uncomfortable, and the back of my neck complained about holding my head up, but other than that it was just a bike ride. It took me several hours to get used to the extra weight on the back of the bike, when I stood up to pedal the rear end would flex and wobble. Only after a while did I figure out the smooth pedaling action required to stand up and ride with the added 20+ lbs of gear on the bike. I stopped for a lunch of grilled chicken and salad and fries in Parma, ID, and was looking forward to reaching Oregon. Riding west again I pulled out the GPS and found some small farm roads to take me to the Snake River (the state boundary in these parts). Crossing the bridge was cool. It took 4+ hours, but the trip finally felt “under way.”

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Whenever you cross a river, that means you’ve been going downhill for a while, and now you have to climb back out of the valley…so entering Oregon that’s just what I did. I made it up to the small town of Adrian, which although it was basically a Main Street and nothing else, ended up being one of the biggest settlements I saw for the next several days.
By 5pm I reached Vale, which actually had two main streets, and was the last sign of real civilization til Bend, more than 200 miles down the road. Vale was also where I got on Hwy 20, the road that would take me all the way through Bend, to Sisters, OR, before I climbed the Cascades.

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I had a big meal in a diner, and headed off. An hour and a half later I reached Harper, OR, where the only buildings are the County School (kindergarten through 12th grade) and Coleman Service Station. I had covered about 96 miles, and was just getting to the Malhuer river, which highway 20 follows for quite a ways. The sun was setting, and since I was riding west, it was right in my eyes, so when I entered the store I was happy to see that they sold baseball caps with the store name on them. A perfect utility souvenir! The guy running the place sold me a pepsi and some beef jerky, and I inquired about the local happenings of the day. He told me that the principal of the school stated that traveling cyclists were welcome to camp on the school grounds, and that there were no towns for quite a ways (68 miles to the west was the next store). Since I still had an hour and a half of light I was hesitant to end my day, especially since I hadn’t hit that magic number of 100 miles yet. I told him I’d probably just camp on down the road and ways, and he wished me luck. The hat I bought proudly displays the name and location of Coleman Service, and I told him and his welder buddy who was there that I would be going to the Ocean and beyond, to which his buddy replied, “oh, they’ll recognize that hat all the way to Portland, everyone in this state has taken out credit here at Coleman Service!” It was hilarious.
I rolled on down the road, climbing a couple of minor passes in the late afternoon heat. As the evening wore on, I entered the River Canyon and enjoyed the spectacular show of the sun setting in a mountainous place, where as the sun set the bottom of the canyon gets darker as the east canyon wall is still brightly illuminated.

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When the last of the direct sunlight was gone I noticed a cool low spot in the land, a couple hundred yards off the road, down by the river. Most of this country was just scrub brush, but there was a stand of taller bushes and trees down there, so I hopped a fence (between tiny “no trespassing” signs….come on! There had only been one house for the past 20 miles) and pushed the bike down to the spot. I set up my tent behind the trees both to shield myself from the occasional tractor trailer noise, and to keep from being seen from the road. Next, as it was getting really dark I walked over to check out my bathing options. I found the river to be about 2-3 feet deep near the edge, so I stripped down and waded in, dunking my body in the cool, but not too cold, water. I soaped up with my biodegradeable camp soap and rinsed off. Now, in the semi-arid desert of eastern Oregon, it gets quite hot in the day, but also quite cool at night, so I was glad I stayed a little warm from my exertion of the bike ride until I took my river bath. It’s tough to be cold and bathe in cold water, but when you are warm it’s really enjoyable.

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Since I was cooled off now, I bee-lined it back to the tent and crawled into my sleeping bag, looking up at the stars since I had the luxury of a clear night and no need for the rain-fly.
As I lay there, I wondered about what animals were spooked by this intruders presence in their little habitat, and whether rancher Bob was going to awaken me by shotgun clicks in the morning. I also just laid there in awe of the 50 billion stars and several shooting stars I was watching move across the sky. Life was good, even if the ground under my minimal sleeping pad was hard.
Day’s Mileage: 116, Cumulative Mileage: 116

After a somewhat restless night, I awoke to a chilly morning in the low 40’s and the sun creeping down the canyon wall. A new day! Time to get on the bike!
I put on my wet shoes, (big mistake, I had bathed with them on, and now my feet were going to be COLD) bicycling shorts, t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, and rain jacket. I also put on my wind proof fleece gloves and my fleece hat. I kept the helmet off since the traffic was almost non-existent and my fleece hat made the straps not fit around my chin. Since I had ridden several hours after dinner the previous night, and just had a water bottle of apple juice to drink on the road for breakfast, I was looking forward to getting somewhere to buy food. I hoped that the next town, Juntura (a ways down the road yet), was bigger than Harper. Well, it wasn’t much bigger, but at least the single store in town was a diner/gas station. I ordered the two pork chop breakfast and proceeded to thaw out my extremities. After breakfast the sun was fully out and I started shedding clothes. With already some 28-30 miles in the bank for the day, life was good. The countryside was vast and gorgeous, and just as empty. Again mountainous sidewalls and scrub brush were the order of the day. Climbing out of Juntura I quickly became hot and no longer had to think about being cold. One of several 1000+ foot climbs made sure of that. After the climb came a descent and then a 20 mile crossing of a valley.

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Unfortunately this valley, from Buchanan to Burns, had a serious easterly wind. I pedaled hard on flat ground for over two hours to go 20 miles. I kept looking up and not feeling any closer to the mountains on the other side of the valley. When I finally made it, I cruised into Burns and went to subway, devouring a foot long sub and numerous glasses of coke, and then some cookies. Since it was again late afternoon, I pulled out the map and curiously searched for obvious camping spots I could shoot for. The Chickihominy Reservoir was far enough away that I thought it might take 4 hours to get there, and there was a gas station a couple miles before it, so I could stop and get my last calories for the day there. As I left Burns, the temperature was high, and I was going into the sun.

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I broke out my new hat, and the sunglasses in order to stay comfortable. After a couple climbs and a long flat section, I reached the gas station in Ripley. Yet another town that consisted of a gas station, and nothing else at all…I got another Gatorade, an apple juice, and an orange sherbet ice cream bar. Next I headed out, continuing on Hwy 20, looking forward to the state park and perhaps a shower a few miles down the road. Unfortunately when I reached Chickihominy there were signs posted prominently declaring that all camping in the park would require paying a fee, whether you used any facilities or not. All I wanted to do was jump in the lake and set up my tent, surely that should be a free proposition since there were no showers or bathrooms available, just a few picnic tables! Well, day use of the park was free, and since there were still probably 15 minutes of daylight left I went over to the small fish cleaning building and turned on the faucet. “oh good, freezing cold water,” I thought. So I got out my two 1 liter aquafina bottles and started filling them up and dousing myself with the icy water. It only takes a couple bottles of really cold water for this to get old….so I stripped down to my shorts and lathered up with my camp soap again. I’m sure the other campers were thinking, “hey good idea, why didn’t I think of that!” Anyway, after rinsing off as thoroughly as I could stand I dried off and put my shirt and shoes back on, and headed out. It was getting dark, but I was in the middle of nowhere, so surely I could find another place to camp that wouldn’t charge me…and sure enough, about a mile down the road there was a sign that said, “OPEN RANGE, NEXT 18 miles.” This is public land, where I believe farmers can range there cattle for free or reduced cost, in exchange for allowing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to research what goes on on the land and in the cattle. I turned down the next gravel ranch road, and started looking for a nice camouflaged spot. After a few minutes of scoping out the area, and finding the ODOT’s stash of salt rocks (for spreading on the road in the winter time) I settled on a nice little spot on some dirt behind a few trees. I had to peel some petrified cow dung off the ground with a stick, and remove a few dead limbs, but it was a good spot. I set up the tent and laid down just as the stars were getting bright. This was one of those spots, like the previous night, where there is no artificial light for many many miles, and there are a lot more visible stars that I am used to. It was a glorious place to sleep….I just hoped no herds of cattle moved in before I woke up?!!?
Day’s Mileage: 108, Cumulative Mileage: 224

Day 3
Waking up in the morning I packed up in the early dawn and narrowly avoided being seen by a dude in a huge F-350 who drove down the gravel road I’d used. I have no idea how he’d have felt about finding me there, but I didn’t really want to find out, so I ducked behind some bushes, and when he was safely out of sight I jetted for the main road. Once again I had a ways to go before I would get any breakfast, nearly 40 miles. Well, in fact, the town of Hampton, OR (shown on my map as existing) was actually just a ranch and a closed down gas station, out of business for some time as far as I could tell. Yikes, I was hungry and thirsty, so luckily I had my stove and that one broccoli noodle meal. I found a picnic table underneath the awning of the now defunct store, and using the last 8 or so ounces of my water, I cooked up a little 500 calorie breakfast.

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I had emptied one of my 1 liter bottles of water early that morning, looking to save weight, but I was regretting that now. I had enough water to cook the noodles (thank goodness) but none to drink. It would have been pretty uncomfortable to ride the next 20+ miles with no water or food, but luckily I had given in and carried the stove and food, just in case. Had I known the infrequency with which I would see reliable stores and facilities I would have carried more, but I’m glad it worked out the way it did. It was fun to do this trip with no idea about what would be over the next rise, or around the next bend.
20 miles further down the road I reached Brothers, OR. The story behind this town is that all the homesteaders who tried to work it’s land failed. Apparently it was usually a 5 year process of building a cabin, fencing in an area for cattle, trying to work the land, and then quitting and returning to live with relatives somewhere else. The high desert of eastern and central Oregon is really very hot in the daytime, the temperature was over 90 each of the first 3 days, until I reached the Cascades. Speaking of the Cascades, it was around this point in the trip when I started to notice some mountains on the horizon. Ironically, I was in the high desert and looking up at those mountains (which turned out to be the Three Sisters) I was thinking, “I guess that whitish stuff on the those mountains is sand, they must be huge mountains covered in sand.” Well, a day later I realized that in fact the whitish stuff was snow. It seemed so obvious once I was climbing up to 6,000 and 7,000 feet that it was snow, but earlier when I was out in the heat, it had just not occurred to me.

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So I stopped in Brothers and had a burger, and chatted with a couple that was motorcycle touring about where I was headed. Then I headed out again and on towards Bend. On the way to Bend I had a couple more medium grade climbs, and a monster descent, but then the valley stretched out and it took a couple more hours of pushing to get into civilization again. There was yet another defunct town where I had hoped to replenish my fluids, but was disappointed by the run down and closed old store. After being dry for a while and holding things together, I finally got to Bend, and promptly sweated a bunch of sunscreen into my eyes. I was looking for something good to eat, and luckily I held out for Main Street, where I quickly noticed the Deschutes Brewery.

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I walked in, and due to my solitude and dehydrated-eyes-watering look, I think the waiter was taken aback. I stared at him for a few seconds, and finally said, “I’m looking for some food, can I sit over there and watch my bike out the window?” to which he replied in the affirmative. I sat down, looked at the beer menu, and ordered a Shasta Golden Ale. When the waitress brought out my 22 ouncer I ordered a grilled chicken BLT, and started on the beer. Although the food was really quick, I was ready for another beer when it came out. God it was good! Surely Between the two large beers and the food I ate at least 2000 calories. The beer was glorious. When I was done I walked out and got on the bike immediately. I felt no effects from the beer, so I headed off down Hwy 126.
I was headed up into the mountains. I figured I would stop in Sisters, OR for a couple drinks to get me through the evening and the morning, and I would camp out somewhere in the Deschutes National Forest. That’s exactly what happened. Before I got to Sisters, however, I saw a flash of chrome in the dirt on the shoulder, and circled back to check it out. It turned out to be a sweet SOG multi-tool plier, and a few yards away was a little leather case for it. I stuffed it in a saddle bag…Score one for the road!
Another mile or two down the road a bridge crossed an irrigation canal. This small river was about 10 feet wide and two feet deep. Perfect cleaning station! I climbed down the embankment and jumped in. The water was freezing cold, so I soaped off as quickly as I could, and enjoyed the refreshment. Then I got back on the bike and headed towards Sisters.
I saw a sign for the public library, and decided I would go check my e-mail. Before the trip I had sent a note to an aquaintance from Brevard, NC, Scott Wolfe who had moved to Eugene, OR just over a year ago, to see whether he had any suggestions on what to see while I was in Western Oregon, and whether he might like to meet up while I was passing through. When I checked my e-mail in Sisters there was a note with several recommendations about what to see and where to stay, and an offer of a place to crash, if I desired. Bonus! With Scott’s phone number in hand, I had a tentative idea of where I would sleep the next night.
Crossing through town, I grabbed some odds and ends at the store and turned into the wilderness. As it go dark I was looking for a campground shown on my map, but it didn’t appear for several miles after I was looking. Again, no facilities and a camping fee, so I got back on the road and went another half mile and walked the bike back into the woods and set up camp.

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I was a little nervous about bears in these dense woods, but hadn’t seen any warning signs, so I figured life would be ok. Sleeping well through the night, I woke up to dawn and a chilly morning. I put all my clothes on and started riding.
Day’s Mileage: 125
Cumulative Mileage: 349

Day 4
Had I camped another mile down the road I’d have found the extra clothes unnecessary, because the 7-mile climb to McKenzie Pass started. This is a really cool place.

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Climbing for miles to the crest of the Cascades, you are enveloped in the very large trees that must be 150-200 ft tall. When you near the pass, you come around a bend and are present with an awe-inspiring view. A 20 square mile lava field stretches out in front of you. It is all crumbly black rock that formed millions of years ago, and pushed it’s way out at the top of this range.

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The CCC built an observation tower out of the stone that looks like a castle up at the top of this pass. It is really quite amazing. As I climbed the tower in the observatory, a voice from behind asked whether I was the cyclist they had seen yesterday. Indeed, it was the same motorcycling couple I’d seen out in the desert in Brothers. We talked about where they had been (to Portland and back, if I remember) and where we were headed. It was a cool coincidence.
Just past the observatory, I turned off the road and locked my bike to a tree in the woods. This was the intersection of hwy 242 and the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. Knowing some folks who have hiked and run on this trail, I felt compelled to explore it a little bit.

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I took off north from the road and did a 7 mile round trip hike up past Little Belknap Mountain. Half of the hike was over the lava fields, and it afforded a great view of the North Sister, a 10,000 peak that I had seen from the high desert yesterday. There were a few snow patches in the shade, but it was again hot, even up at 7,000 feet. After the hike, I saddled up and headed down the extreme downhill that would last me basically the rest of the day. From the pass it is something like 20 miles down to hwy 126, which follows the McKenzie River all the way to Eugene.

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I again had just a bottle of Gatorade for breakfast on this day, and after the couple hour hike I was really getting hungry and thirsty. The long downhill really got my neck and wrists worn out, from leaning forward so far for so long. So I was really looking forward to getting some food and drink. Scott had recommended a Café in Vida as a great southern style diner to grab lunch from, but it was still a ways out, and I was famished, so the first gas station I got to on hwy 126 saw me spend about $12 on food and drinks. My usual stop (1-2 times per day) would entail 32 oz of gatorade, a 20 oz pepsi, a small bag of chips, an ice cream bar, a fill up of water bottles, and maybe a little debbie size pecan pie. Here I added a couple microwave Hot-Pockets and a banana to that equation. Whew! Satisfaction.
As I continued on down the river I took any small parallel roads that would keep me on the river banks, and even rode through a couple covered bridges, which are always fun. I wanted to eat at the Vida café, but it was within 90 minute’s ride of my huge snack fest, so luckily there was another Scott Wolfe recommendation in my path. I turned up the road to Blue River Reservoir, hoping to kill some time. Lucky me, the reservoir was absolutely gorgeous and I had the boat ramp area all to myself. There was a 18” diameter tree trunk, that had been notched and set on the shore to keep from rotating, sticking 50 feet out into the lake.

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It was the coolest diving board I have ever used I swam around and dove and did cannon balls for a while, enjoying the cool water. After a bit, I had had enough and climbed back on the bike.
Down, Down, Down, I arrived in Vida, and took a seat at the café, ordering a club sandwich and a root beer. The sandwich was huge, so I called each of my brothers and had a conversation as I ate. Tanked up again, I headed out.
As I continued down the McKenzie, I enjoyed the afternoon, and wondered how it might go with Scott. We had met just once in Brevard when I moved to Greenville a few years ago, and Scott had shown me some of the local trails.

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When I arrived in Springfield (the next door neighbor of Eugene, I called Scott and got his answering message, I was discouraged because I thought he might not be around and I’d have to find a hotel, since it was late afternoon and I was in the middle a city, with no idea about good camping options.
Luckily, as I pedaled down the road again, he called back. I told him where I was, he gave me an address, and welcomed me to stay at his place. I navigated by a large scale city map towards his house, and was lucky enough to serendipitously emerge right in the center of the U of O campus and run right in to Hayward Field.

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The history surrounding this place has a gravity to it that only we runners can appreciate, so it was really cool to just happen upon it. I snapped a picture and headed towards Scott’s. When I arrived, Scott’s longtime girlfriend Siiri answered the door and I introduced myself, and was invited in, since Scott was not yet home from work. Beer was offered and accepted, and then a grill was started and range fed steaks were cooked with some awesome salad.
Scott and I made a late night trip to the bike shop that he manages, and he hooked my up with a specific tool that my kit was lacking, just in case I had to replace a drive side rear spoke. On the post midnight ride back to the house, I missed paying attention to Scott’s arm turn signal, and I wiped out in the middle of the road when my front wheel clipped his rear wheel. As it was happening all I could think was, “oh man, this guy is showing you all kinds of hospitality, and you are about to knock him off his bike!” Luckily, Scott kept himself upright without too much trouble, and when I went over the handlebars I executed a near flawless parachute barrel roll landing. Unluckily, my wrist was hurting pretty bad and my front shifter/brake combo was misaligned and shredded. I got up out of the road and we made some quick repairs (we paid a little more attention to the adjustments once we got home) and managed to get home. Although the wrist and my knee were banged up, they were usable.
It was late, and I needed a plan for the morning. I hoped to ride to Pacific and back. By the shortest route, it was about 65 miles to the ocean, but Scott said that way was too trafficky, and he had a gorgeous route for me to try. By his directions, it looked like it was going to be 75+ miles to the ocean, so I kept the contingency in mind that I might ge a hotel at the ocean and ride back the following day. I also decided I would leave the bulk of my kit at Scott’s Place, just carrying some warm clothes and my tools, and leaving the tent and other over night necessities there.
With a plan set, I went to bed.
Day’s Mileage: 100 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 449 miles

Day 5:
Waking up early Saturday morning, I wanted to be out the door and on my way. Scott offered to make some oatmeal with blueberries for me, which sounded good, but I said I’d rather get on the road and just grab some stuff at a convenience store. Had I known that the first convenience store I would pass would be 80 miles away, I might have chosen differently, but alas, I was not aware of that fact…nor had it ever occurred to me that that was possible this far west, where towns are relatively close together again.

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As I pedaled out of town and into the country, I kept an eye out for stores, but when I was getting out in the boondocks, I realized that might not happen. I was a little perturbed, wishing I had not turned down the breakfast, and especially unenthused about the fact that I hadn’t packed anything except one bottle of water for this ride. After a monster climb on Wolf Creek Road, I stopped and filled up my extra water bottle with blackberries. I was still hopeful at this point (25 miles into the ride) that some store would appear before too long. No such luck, I continued further and further into the boonies, on old logging roads through some of the most beautiful countryside on the trip.

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Unfortunately after a few hours I was no longer excited about the scenery, I was begging for some freaking food and drink.
After several tough climbs, each seeming all the tougher because I was chilled in the shadowy forest, and exhausted from the long ride without much nourishment, I reached Smith River Road, a meandering path through rural lands, with some beautiful waterfalls and a slightly downhill slope.

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As dehydrated and hungry as I was becoming, I really didn’t appreciate this section too much. I even got off the bike a walked 40-50 yards a couple times. The flat ground pedaling was too much! I snapped a picture of Siuslaw Falls, and another one of myself in mid-bonk.

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Finally, after 78 miles, I reached the first sign of civilization….a small convenience store. Inside were several locals, kicking back beers in the mid afternoon. I had expected to be at the ocean for lunch, yet here I was 20 miles short of that goal, and it was already after 2 o’clock. I walked in and asked if they had any real food for sale, to which the reply was that they could start heating up the oil for some fried foods, but nothing was ready right now. I told the guy that time was something I had….and I wanted food. While I waited for my fried chicken and french fries I had a dr. pepper, a root beer, 2 mini pecan pies, and I believe a couple other small snacks. Once the chicken basket appeared, I set to work. A solid 25 minutes after I’d arrived, I pulled out with a gut full of fat, protein and sugar. Aside from being painfully behind my goal, I was fine again. I found out from the locals that Reedsport, the town 20 miles down on the beach, had several hotels, and I knew the LAST thing I wanted to do was ride 96 miles to the ocean over all those hills and then turn around to go back….into an evening and night of darkness. However, the second to last thing I wanted to do was wake up in the morning and have to go back over all those hills with the fresh memory of how difficult they were in my head. So I decided I would ride 25 miles north on the coast, and get to Florence. From there it would be just a 65 mile trip tomorrow to get back….and over roads I hadn’t seen yet. That sounded possible, unlike making a return trip over the same roads I had just negotiated.
Well, hwy 101 on the coast was a pretty tough cookie itself. Very hilly, with a southerly wind, I worked hard for more than 2 hours to get to Florence, where I found that I needed to go across town and still travel 4-5 extra miles to get out to the end of the jetty where the actual Pacific was. Through more tough wind I fought, and as far as it seemed I started to wonder if some higher power just didn’t want me to make it to the beach. Finally, I turned onto the road that went out to the beach, and cruised into the parking lot, only to find a solid 500 yard walk over sand dunes necessary to reach the water. When I finally arrived I called my family and Will and Diane to let them know that I was standing in the Pacific!

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Since it was around 6 o’clock, I hurried back to town, and went to a drug store, where I got some new sunscreen (I had emptied my first can in just 4+ days) and asked where I might find some good seafood. I headed to the recommended spot next, and quickly ordered the fish tacos and pepsi. Honestly I was disappointed by the meal, but it replaced the necessary calories, which was great. When I finished eating I asked the waitress if there might be a bus that ran from the coast to Eugene. I had been daydreaming ever since I reached the coast that I might still end up getting back to a comfortable bed tonight, and a bus or hitchhiking seemed like the only possible means to that end. When she offered to call and see, I had some slight hope, but alas, it was not to be. A nice couple who was eating next to me overheard our conversation and generously offered that they were camping 8 miles north at a campground who’s name I have forgotten in campsite 18, and said they had an extra tent and sleeping bag. I thanked them profusely, and said that if I couldn’t find a hotel close by (since it was labor day weekend) I might show up and take them up on it. I walked next door and inquired about a room, only to find that they wanted $100 for a single room. I nixed that idea, and rode another mile or two towards hwy 126. As I rode, the sun began to set, and I realized that I had several options: the offered campground spot, which was truly a generous offer from some quality folks, the hotel, which would be REALLY comfy right about now with 120 miles on the saddle so far, or I could just ride back now. I had a decent headlamp and blinky tail light, and just enough clothes to stay warm, I figured.
I considered putting a sign on my back that said “EUGENE” and starting to ride, hoping for a ride, but opted to just start riding and see how it went. The dinner had given me some energy to think that I could make it another 65 at night.
As the sun set I broke out the lights, only to find that they were relatively dim. This fact was disappointing, I thought I remembered that the batteries were fairly new, but they were barely adequate, and another 4-5 hours wasn’t going to be safe. I rode on a little farther, wanting to see if the next town might have an open shop. When I arrived, I thought all there was was a post office, but at the edge of town was one little store. I walked in and announced my thanks for their being open. They told me it was the last Saturday of the season when they would remain open past 7 o’clock. What luck! I got new batteries for both lights, a butterfinger and a snickers bar, and bottles of Gatorade and Mountain Dew (rocket fuel).
Heading out with new found confidence (due to the poor lights I was almost thinking I would have to stay the night back in the PO Box room at the post office) I pedaled on and up into the coastal mountain range, which was milder here than it had been on my way out to the ocean. I rode on and on, climbing a couple minor passes, and I stopped to call Scott and let him know my plans.
It was a beautiful night, although chilly, and I enjoyed the stars and dark sky. I also enjoyed the adrenaline shot from a couple tunnels that I went through. The sound of a car in the tunnel coming towards you is VERY loud.
I was “In the zone” for the last several hours of this ride. It was a great time. The focus was on enjoying the moment, utilizing all my senses and skills to remain safe in a hazardous environment, and reaching the end happy and healthy. I was almost sad to arrive back in Eugene after midnight, but when I hit the pillow, life was perfect.

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Day’s Mileage: 186 miles
Cumulative mileage: 635 miles

Days 6-8
If I go into too much detail about my stay with Scott and Siiri, I will undoubtedly start longing to return to Eugene, so suffice it to say that my stay was immensely enjoyable, and as an awesome added bonus, they were headed to Crater Lake on Monday (Labor Day) to participate in a customer appreciation ride around the lake with the bike shop folks that Scott works with. I got to go for the ride, and enjoyed a beautiful cold day up at 7,000 feet with some like minded crazies. I also spent a day wandering around Eugene, doing a 10 mile run on some locals trails up to the Butte south of town, and checking out Pre’s Rock.