Once I got the bike together I felt a little more bad ass about this experience. I was on time, showered, packed, checked out and en route to Union Station in Portland at 8am. My bus to Astoria was at 9:30. I just wanted to give myself plenty of time so I wasn't stressed. Super easy to cross the bridge to Union Station and I had time to take photos and find a coffee shop. Finally got to experience Stumptown coffee and a delicious bagel.
The bus to Astoria was super pleasant, it's weird but parts of Oregon reminded me of the south of France. The wheat fields were the same color and there were similar enough trees around the fields to make it look the same. The landscape changed as we got closer to the coast, with more of the typical triangular shaped douglas firs that one ASSociates with Oregon. It was foggy and gray, not unlike San Francisco.
Arriving in Astoria was super, the nice bus driver gave me a lead on a bike shop a couple of blocks away. I wanted to have them double check my work just to help me feel confident about the bike before we set off for 200+ miles. Fortunately Ben called and said Zeke needed a bike shop as well, and we met at Bikes and Beyond on Marine Street.
So I will tell you that I was not the only one who was moved by Zeke's story. The first time I got to witness his effect on people was at Bikes and Beyond. They had a two week wait on repairs but they somehow squeezed us in that afternoon. Luckily they were right next to a lunch place and I sat down with Ben, Zeke, Lindee and their 1 year old baby Jessica. Lunch was delicious and I got to know Ben, Zeke's 5th riding partner. Ben was a mountain biker and before this tour he had never ridden these kinds of miles. He borrowed a friend's road bike to do this trip. So he had a lot to say about riding for this kind of distance. This sort of conversation usually involves chamois butter.
I guess this might be a good place to start at the beginning of Zeke's story. Zeke started out with the idea of going border to border using the Adventure Cycling Association maps. He's very loyal to these guys, but while most folks go North to South to take advantage of the tailwinds, Zeke didn't want to end in dirty old LA. He wanted to end in the great Pacific North West (PNW), all up in that nature.
Right, so Zeke's blog is called Headwinds R Us because he's riding against the wind. Cue the music. His trip started in June at the Mexico border with his 1st riding buddy, Jonnie. I was his 6th assistant.
So anyway the dudes at Bikes and Beyond are awesome. I think I met Andy and Mike. If you ever find yourself in Astoria go there for bike maintenance!
It took us a while to get on the road, I had a false start and my fender bolt was rubbing. Later realized that the Bikes and Beyond folks pumped up my tires more than I usually do, so that's why it was rubbing. They cut down the bolt and all was well.
Eventually we got on the road, it was fine to have a later start because we were only going about 25 miles to a camp site called Gnat Creek.We wanted to get farther along so that Sunday would not be as long. We headed out on a gorgeous trail along the Columbia river and down some busy roads to Gnat Creek.
That first campground was nice, minimal facilities and no water, and we were right next to a creek that provided some wonderful white noise. The only hard part about this camp ground was there was a killer steep pile of stairs to get down to our camp site. Dude. We were lucky there were no injuries or bike repairs needed after that one. It was my first night camping and I usually don't sleep very well the first night, we were up at 5:30 and on the road by 6:30-7.
We took the ferry from Cathlamet to Pueget Island and had second breakfast at a place that served killer blueberry pancakes and eggs and coffee. We were joking that they should just close down the restaurant after we arrived as we were going to eat ALL the breakfast. I recharged my phone and we set off on a 75 mile day.
I feel like I get something like 'riding brain' when I'm riding day after day and experiencing the landscape. Afterwards, town names and the order of things become not so important and I what I remember more are instances of singing and joking and standout parts of the landscape.
I really loved the Oregon landscape. It was foggy in the morning, with dark earth and rich green trees. I enjoyed the hillside shapes, again covered in those distinctively Oregonian trees. One of my favorite landscapes was on the Columbia river, we came around the bend and could see light icy gray blue water reflecting the sky with a dark cliff at the corner. The cliff was a neutral block of navy. Very solid with triangles of trees on top. It was a very unique and distinctive shape. Something I felt like I had never seen before.
We did stop through Castle Rock for lunch and a woman named Nancy tended the flowers on Main St, she bought us lunch to donate to Zeke's ride! Thanks for the photo Nancy.
Another strange Americana phenomenon:
Zeke on the other hand knew exactly where we were every stroke of the pedal. His ability to devour maps and mountain ranges and water passages is impressive. I kept joking that it was a good thing that I brought him along to navigate.
Right right so I do remember stopping in Toledo for groceries and landing in the Lewis & Clark campground that night. Another lovely site where we had dark red earth with a canopy of kelly green surrounding our site. It was quite lovely.
We discussed whether we were going to scamp/bandit camp/stealth camp the next night. I made a bargain with Zeke that if I could shower that night, I would likely be willing to scamp the next night. But if I couldn't get a shower, then I would be happier with a hotel.
I scouted out the bathrooms and success, there was a shower! But then…it only took tokens.
And by that time I was nakie and checking out the situation. It looked like it was going to be a cold shower. Ugh. Yes it was as bad as you can imagine. The worst part of it was that a lady came in when I was brushing my teeth and told me that I could get tokens right outside. Sigh. THEN I got a hot shower.
To be continued...