"SO! Where ya goin'?" You can't be an introvert on a tour bike.

If you're an introvert that doesn't like to talk to people, don't get a touring bike.

Next weekend I'm going to be riding in the Chicago "Tour De Cure", and only doing the 30 mile distance 'cuz I wanna have fun. But to make it a little more challenging, I'm going to be riding it under "Tour load". the pic I put with this is me last summer riding said Marrakesh from Seattle to Milwaukee. (that's another story tho...) so you can get an idea of what a "fully loaded" tour bike looks like.

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"The Tank" (as I call it) slimmed down a little, but it still has a trail weight around 90 or so pounds. 30 of them is the bike alone, and the rest is "everything I need to live on ad infinitum". Shelter, bedding, food, water (And Nuun, gotta mention that...) cookware, clothing, camp stuff, wet weather gear, comfy sandals... I even got a kitchen sink in there. Hence why I call it "The Tank", with the bags on she looks armoured.

One of the things I learned is that you can't just jump into hard mode, you need to practice and train. And I've gotten used to my Warbird (a much lighter, more nimble beast), so I need to ride the Tank again, and load it down to tour weight. Today was the day to do it.

Plotted a local route that was vertically enhanced (side note, ow...) loaded up my bike, and went. And a 37 mile route took me almost 6 hours. Why? The Tank is a conversation starter.

The usual opener is "Where ya going?" And fair enough, you have this much luggage on a bike you're probably going SOMEWHERE. And it also leads to the "So what do you have going on in here?" (IE : What's in the bags, and why is there a USB port on the stem?) And then logistics. "How much chamois cream do you use?" "Where do you sleep?" "Where do you eat?" "You're seriously carrying full camping supplies in there?" "How do you change a flat?"

The winner of today's "Out of nowhere question" award went to an older gent who asked me how liked riding an electric bike. I told him it wasn't electric. "So what's the solar panel for?" So I had to explain that it was charging a battery for my electronics when I got to camp, and that I was doing a lot of remote camping so I couldn't always get to a power source. And he seemed satisfied with that, in the context of the rest of the bags and the 2L of water I had on me too I obviously was ready to go "off grid".

What I'm saying is you get a LOT of questions. And I don't mind answering them. Cycling around here, and I'd venture almost everywhere in the US, is focused on races, speed and aero. Those who aren't are mostly family people, riding bikes with the kids as a weekend activity. Anyone who has a bag on the bike is usually commuting to work or school. So you get someone with the full "armour plating" and it stands out. And it makes people wonder "What's that about?"

But I think there's another factor too. As I said, the focus at most bike shops to higher-end consumers is speed. Get the aero helmet, the carbon bike and wheels, go tubeless to save watts, get the skin-tight-skivvies to cut the air resistance... Then I roll up. It's like driving a Hummer into a Ferarri parking lot, and none of the other people in the lot have ever SEEN a Humvee only heard legends of one.

That in mind, I think that when people ask questions, it's not just idle curiosity. A few weeks ago at a shop event I rode the tour bike with the bags only (no weight), and a couple were asking me some VERY specific questions. Logistics, where to get gear, how I planned routes, where I slept... And I could see the gears turning.

Once they see a tour bike "in the flesh" (so to speak), it's almost like a door to a new challenge opens. "Could I ride EVERY DAY?" "Could I pedal myself over the Rocky Mountains?" "Could I live off of a bicycle?" And it's always fun when you see the dawning realization they have of "I could do that."

In a way, I get why EVERYONE wants to talk to me when I'm riding the Marrakesh fully loaded down. But, in another way, I'd love to see so many tour cyclists out there that it's commonplace enough that they really don't have to. But for now, I don't mind fielding the questions. If I can inspire one person to try it? Mission accomplished.

About the new banner ads

You may have noticed a lot of new banners popping up.  A lot like this one: 

There's a reason for that.  I'm currently an Amazon affiliate member.  So what this means is that you can support the River Otter Cycling Club doing what you do already.  If you use our affiliate link to shop on Amazon, we'll get a percentage of the sale.

And it'll go to all sorts of things like, I don't know, food is nice.  And so are brake pads, tires, all that.  So I know, nobody likes ads.  I'll do my best to keep them as unobtrusive as possible.

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We begin in 3 days, and I'm not ready for this.

You ever get that feeling before an event...  "I'm not ready."  I got that, right now.  Pretty badly.  And it's very justified.

The brief history.  I've decided to enter into a few 62-68 mile events this spring figuring I wanted to try out some more remote gravel style events.  And I knew I had all winter to prepare.  And I did what I could, and it's not enough.  Past expirence, and this last weekend is proof of that.

The truth of things is I can't "Zwift" more than 1 hour, 2 if I really endure the bad pain.  (different than "good pain", you know what I mean.)  So my indoor rides have been 1 hour of riding, and then 45 minutes of setup/teardown.  Oh, umm, because of my living arrangements, running "Zwift" in my place is like furniture origami.  I only topped short of creating a "Murphy Bike".  (I'll be pleased if any of you get that...)

I tried some outdoor rides, and well...  that was memorable when I could get out there.  Not a great winter for cycling, and I was trying to ride.  It doesn't help that my gear isn't "winter" rated.  At best it's "chilly" rated.

Now combine that with trying to dial in a gear combo that works for me, and yeah it's frustrating.  The other day I did a 40 miler into that port-a-potty tipping wind, and ended up full body sore.  But I was also trying a backpack with 3L of Nuun mix to prevent frozen bottle syndrome.

Bright side, water stayed warmer.  Down side, it made my back, shoulders and arms absolutely ache because of the weight of it and the foul weather gear on my back.  Not worth it, looking at alternatives.  With less than 4 days to go.

And speaking of that, alternatives.  The rule of thumb is to not change ANYTHING 2 weeks before an event, right?  I just bought a new saddle.  The absolutely stupidest thing I can do, but it has to be better than the stock one, and more comfortable than the road saddle that doesn't like the gravel bike.

And lemme see, changing the outfit, adding leg warmers then knee warmers than thermal layers, trying to work a wind layer that doesn't make me a 1-man portable sauna system, trying "wind proof" socks (they exist) and helmet / bandanna / cap combos...

And dammit, I can't get comfortable.  There's no combo of anything that feels "right".  According to "Zwift" I'm wattage stronger, but I certainly don't feel it.  And now it's WAY too late, 'cuz I do know that "cramming" workouts in will only hurt me on the day.

So I've got 4 days to figure out....  everything.  Like how to store water on a self supported 62 mile ride without freezing.  I've got some soft sided coolers from the roadtrip, I might be able to cram some kind of hot-hands and foil thing in there.  I can also pull a trick out of my bag, in that the ride goes through 2 towns and I might be able to get warm water from a gas station.  I'm watching weather reports like a hawk and planning to stuff a weekender bag full of stuff.  Need to get out on the new saddle to test it.  And oh yeah, my normal "day job" too.

There's an old idea, I wish I could tell you where it came from but it's a mindset I'm gonna be carrying for the next month of events.  "When your bow is broken, notch the arrow and fire anyway."  I'm going to the events.  I'm going to "race".  I'm probably going to finish in the bottom 5%.  But I'm finishing it.  Mostly because the point isn't to win, it's to compete and prove that an old, broken, big slow guy can do it.  And through that, some other old, big and broken person might say "ya know...  I could too."

So no, I'm not ready.  But here we go anyway.

Ride update, 3 weeks too late, but here we are.

 

Well, I have a ride update, 3 weeks overdue, but it's an update.  The ride is over, and not as glorious as I wanted.

Tyger on the Amtrak

The last thing I had mentioned was being in Sandpoint.  What I didn't mention was the problem that I'd been dealing with.  See, a month before the ride, I changed one detail.  I changed shoes.  I wasn't 100% happy with the ones I had, so I replaced them with Five-Ten clipless shoes.  They were tight, but not any worse than my Shimanos when I got those.  In the two weeks pre-ride I thought they would break in.  I was wrong.

The problems began on the second day of riding when the shoes were rubbing against my foot in a way to make it irritating.  It never got better.  By the time I had gotten over 4 climbs and 700+ miles, the blisters had gone bloody.  It all reached a point of no return outside of Mizzoula Montana when I hit a rumble strip and almost fell off the bike in pain.

Years ago I'da ignored it.  Duct tape my body together and keep going because I'm stubborn.  I can't do that anymore.  I'm a diabetic, and one of the things that was hammered into my skull was foot care because I guess diabetics have poor circulation in their extremities.  So foot injuries can deteriorate quickly.  A friend of mine who was a T1 Diabetic had to have her leg amputated due to complications like this.

When you do anything this huge you accept there will be discomfort and pain.  And to that end I sucked up a lot of problems up to this.  On day two I also had a massive nerve damage hit in my left hand that made it so I can't feel three of my fingers, and I'm still dealing with that now a month later.  Normal knee and back pain, that's acceptable too.  But hitting anything on the road causing that level of pain, that was my limit.

Hence the picture above.  I'm happy I brought camping sandals because that's the only thing I could wear on my feet.  With the help of my warm showers hosts and trail angels I managed to make the 100 or so miles to Whitefish, where I caught a train home.

It's been three weeks or so, I've only recently managed to get normal shoes back on.  The blistering is slowly healing, it's still angry looking and not good.  I did manage to get my old, more comfortable shoes back on for a ride the other night but it may have set my recovery back a little more.  It's driving me insane, but I'm just trying to heal up.

The stubborn part of me is saying "heal up, get back out there, pick it up again." but I really don't know if I'm just going to set myself up for another injury like this again.  I know what it took financially to pull this off, and I literally can't afford another failure on this scale.  And ultimately, that's what this was.  A failure.

And before you try to cheer me up, it's been tried.  "Look what you accomplished!" "Look how far you got!" "You tried your best!"  Which is all good, but it's still a failure.  I barely made 25% of the distance I set out to do, and that's a truth that's hard to swallow.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do from here.  I've been just hanging out, waiting for this to heal up enough that I can actually DO Things again, but right now it's driving me insane.  It's been three weeks since I stopped, and all things being equal I'd rather be on the road still.  But, to use a phrase I absolutely hate, "It is what it is."

So a thank you to everyone who poked in and looked, thank yo to the people who supported the ride, and a thank you to people who donated to PanCan.  The donation page will remain open, and my goal still remains.  Hopefully, well we'll see what happens next year.  Meanwhile, I'm just going to be here, healing up.  It's not fun, but it's the best plan I can have.

Day 9 through 13. Wow, I'm late on updates

Phone. Dictation. Language problems. You know the drill

  

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Day9. Day9. I ended up leaving the hotel a little late. Well a lot late. Mainly because I've been exhausted. I'll get into why much later, but because of it I was lollygagging. 

I I ended up traveling back on the routes and going to the bacon bike hostel. The climb up was as severe as was promised. When I got to the hostel, it was empty. The door was open, so I went in. And after debating for about half an hour, I decided to call them up and find out if I could stay. Nobody else was scheduled to come, so I did.  

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In this in this picture you can see the maps on the wall. What people do is they write their name and their Hometown, and then pin it to the board where they're from. It's kind of amazing to see. 

I I ended up making myself dinner there, because the people who owned it were nice enough to drive me down into town to buy some groceries, so I could cook myself dinner. I ended up cleaning up the place a little bit, doing a little bit of laundry, and gawking at some beautiful cars that were parked there. I hope they're being worked on. 

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Dayton Dayton I intended to start early. I did wake up early, but not so fast to roll out. I'm finding this is a problem with me. But I did leave a future guest a little bit of a present.

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From from here my goal was to get to Ione Washington. The only issue with that is there are wildfires going on in the area. Specifically the Noisy Creek Fire. So Ione is completely slammed with fire fighters who are staying there. This leaves people like me high and dry, but under the circumstances understandable. I did however stop at Tiger Washington. And eventually I'll post a lot more pictures, but for right now, have some cute kittens.

 Technically, if you ever wanted tiger cubs, free kittens and tiger Washington! 

Technically, if you ever wanted tiger cubs, free kittens and tiger Washington! 

Because because of the wildfires, I really didn't have much choice. Instead of turning left, I went right. And I just cuddling. Eventually, I stopped...  I just I just had to look it up. Cusick Washington.

Everything everything about the stop felt wrong. It was a campsite attached to a County Fairground. A County Fairground that's going to have a fair this weekend. When I pulled up, I didn't know where to go. A couple of people setting up exhibits directed me to the caretaker's house. The caretaker informed me that it was technically Fair week, technically nobody but fair exhibitors were supposed to be in the campgrounds, but a rule could be bent here and there. 

I I ended up essentially camping in the caretaker's backyard. I got a good shower in, so at least I got that. Unfortunately for me, here's where some of the expert advice given to me on the road is biting me in the tail. Remember how had sent back that bear container? I was also convinced to send back my winter clothing. This was a bad decision. 

UC you see, I'm set up for summer camping, not cold. So when the temperatures dipped down to 35 degrees Fahrenheit at 3 a.m., it didn't go so well. I woke up to find my Garmin telling me that my pulse was 30. I also could not see my breath. And nothing I could do to warm up was working. I was in trouble. 

I I couldn't sleep, So eventually I rolled out of the tent to just try to warm up move around and repack the bike. Oh, and the rain fly was completely soaked with moisture. Not surprising, except that it left both flaps open to try to prevent this. Oh well. 

I I decided to just start rolling. What little gear I had try to stay warm didn't work. What I have is a rain jacket, a summer weight Jersey, Long Camp pants, flannel sleep pants, Mechanix gloves, and my long socks. It kind of worked, but it didn't stop the cold. It took me 2 hours of riding before I felt comfortable enough to start shedding any layers. 

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Through through persistence, I made it to the Idaho border. I also stalled here, taking an extended break at McDonald's so that I could at least check email and other internet stuff. I then started to just crank towards Sandpoint.  

 Fortunately fortunately for the other trees on this bridge, I happen to carry a 5-liter bucket. So they all got watered not just this one

Fortunately fortunately for the other trees on this bridge, I happen to carry a 5-liter bucket. So they all got watered not just this one

It it took me a while, but I finally did reach Sandpoint. My exhaustion level was off the scale, something that you can easily see if you take a look at my live stream that I did from the motel I stayed in in Sandpoint. I did end up going to a bike shop called Syringa Cyclery. The gentleman there help fix my helmet. I did go to one of the other bike shops in town with the same problem? They kind of blew me off.

I I did chill out in Sandpoint, did some laundry, and eventually had dinner at a place called The Hound. If you're in Sandpoint, I do recommend them. They're good Folk. 

Yet another yet another late start out of Sandpoint, and my intention was to make it to the border by the end of the day. I ended up only getting about 35 miles before everything just gave out. My legs, my soul, my spirit just broke. I've been pushing hard this entire trip, and I really don't know why. Partially it has to do with the lack of towns. If there was a place to stop every 30 to 40 miles, I would. Unfortunately, there isn't. So most of the time, I have to push 50-plus miles to get to where I can stop. 

Here's here's where the hardcore audience is going to yell at me. Because in theory I'm supposed to throw the 10th anywhere and just wild Camp. Problem is, I'm not that good yet. Maybe in a month? But reality is right now I'm not that good. That and the entire Northwest is a Tinderbox. If I make one mistake out in the woods? I could cause a forest fire. And I don't want to do that. 

So I ended up in Clark Fork Idaho. And honestly? I felt miserable. Nothing's going right, I don't like being snickered at because I'm the noob. I don't like a lot of the attitudes that I'm getting from the hardcores. But last night? I made a conscious decision. This is my trip. Not theirs. So what if I'm a little heavy? Just ride. 

I I happen to have food with me, so I just made what I had. Which was couscous with chicken chunks. Hey, you give me access to a stove? I can make food. It doesn't hurt that I also happen to carry with me seasonings, Tabasco sauce, and olive oil. At least I try to be civilized. My now we get to this morning, and the big news. So I did start early today! At least Arlee for me lately. On the road by 7:30 a.m. I pushed all the way into Montana, but not until I found the longest construction project I've ever seen in my life. Seriously, this thing must go for at least 10-15 miles. 

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Then, then, suddenly, Deli. 

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Seriously, seriously, middle of nowhere, Delicatessen. Absolutely beautiful wonderful Delicatessen. With incredibly fair prices on food! I paid $0.75 for another box of couscous! 

So so as I was eating my corn beef sandwich, one of the locals started asking me questions about the solar panel on my bike. This led to a conversation about my route, and when I showed him the map he said "well... That certainly is scenic..." 

Okay, okay, I can read between the lines. So I asked him what the better route to Missoula would be, and he told me just to say on the road I was at. So after he left, I decided to call an audible. I called a couple of friends, and finally got in touch with Nero. 

Just just for the record, Nero is the person who got me back into cycling. So, this entire trip is partially his fault. So I sent him a text, and then gave him a phone call. Reason is, I could get cell signal, but no internet from where I was at. He, however, has internet. 

So so we quickly worked out that the route that I had intended to take would add somewhere in the neighborhood of three hundred miles, and possibly two to three extra days on to the trip. The audible worked, I decided to make a straight shot in Missoula. 

Which leads me to where I am right now.  I'm I'm stopping tonight's in a place called Thompson Falls Montana. And yes, I'm staying in another motel. I can't really afford to do this, but I needed internet so that I could plan my next couple of hops. That, and I'm still a little spooked about camping based on the last incident. I'll get over it, but in the short-term I'm more than a little concerned.

So so as I'm dictating this, I have a belly full of pizza. I have my next two jumps planned, and I'll be in Missoula by the weekend. I'm planning on taking a blank in Missoula, mostly so I can get my stitches removed, but also I have a feeling I'll need it by then. 

Tomorrow's going to be a tomorrow is going to be a 70 day, so I'm going to try to get some sleep right now. Should be an interesting week. I'll update next time I can. 

 And as always, if you're enjoying this, I asked if you please donate to pancreatic cancer Action Network. You can find the link on my tracking page, or I'll place it below

http://support.pancan.org/goto/TygerTour2017

Day eight : Triumph and failure.

General warning, dictating to phone, you know the drill.

Today today starting extremely early. My warmshowers host graciously let me sleep in their house, and stored my bike in the garage overnight. I'm incredibly grateful to them, and to all the warmshowers hosts. And once again, I'm not naming names because of privacy issues. If they wish to speak up, they're more than welcome too, but I'm not going to do that to them. 

Anyway anyway, today started at 9 a.m.? I really don't know. I set my alarm for about 6:30. It took me awhile to get moving though. I did finally get on the road and rolling properly by 9 a.m. For me, that's impressive. 

The road out of Republic wasn't so bad. It was a nice flat warm up until I got to the 10 plus miles of climbing hell. I posted something on Instagram earlier stating that I think I figured out what hell is. If you believe in hell, I think that hell is 6 degree inclines, on twisty roads, with no Summit. Seriously, every time I came around a corner thinking that the big climb is over? More climbing. 

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That that isn't a pretend face of Agony. That's real. Every time, seriously every time, I came around a corner thinking"this has to be it", nope it was just more climbing. 

I I think I was trying to Summit that damn thing for almost 3 hours. I was getting very saddle sore, I was stopping constantly to refill water bottles and to eat something, it was The Nightmare. 

 

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Finally, finally, I reached the summit of Sherman pass. I'm not out of loud howl, much of the surprise of the three other cyclists who are already there. One was a couple just on the edge of finishing their New York to Maine trip, and third guy I don't know. He kind of left before I really settled down. 

Yes yes, I stalled a little long at the top, mostly because I reached it and I wanted to enjoy it. Then The Descent. The Descent of Sherman pass was amazing. I didn't pedal for almost 10 or 11 miles. And according to Strava, my top speed is 45 miles an hour. That's impressive, considering my age, reflexes, General well-being...

Unfortunately unfortunately for me, the honeymoon ended. The route takes you through Kettle Falls, and the map route immediately Shucks you off the main Highway into rural roads.  And up and up steep hills again. I really felt awful.

I I had a very long debate with myself whether to stay on the highway or not. It looks shorter, but I had to deal with traffic. I ended up following the map route. And it landed me in Colville. 

I should I should mention this to. One of my main goals for today was to make it to the bacon bike hostel. It was another five miles. I just don't have it in me. I reached Colville, and I really could not continue. 

As as it is right now, I'm sitting in a hotel room. I really can't afford to do this too often, but tonight this is what I needed. A hotel room, a shower, a little alone time, and pizza. The great lie of cycling, Pizza. 

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I'm I'm also running into some fairly serious physical issues. My legs hurt, but that's to be expected. However, what I didn't account for was how much scrapes and bruises my shins and calves would take. 

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The the photo doesn't do it justice, it's a hell of a lot worse than what it looks like. And I can't figure out why, because I'm not hitting anything, and most things are being deflected off of me, so I don't know. The other issue, and this is what people who know me understand, my elbow. 

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I've I've had this swelling on my elbow for a long time. Yes, I've seen a doctor about it, he said he's not worried about it. Then again, this is the same Doctor Who told me he could cure my diabetes so take that at face value. But you can see in the picture? My elbow is swelling up from the riding. 

It's starting to get painful, yes. But what can I do? I thought about taping it up, or using some kind of wrap, but I think that would just make the problem worse. At least it does when I'm not cycling. So, I'm kind of just rolling with the punches here. 

Tonight tonight, all of my stuff is exploded out onto the bed. I want to repack it, again. I'm trying to find the most efficient way to do this. So far, no luck. I also want to take a look at my route again, because the last several days just destroyed me. I've already taken a zero, so I don't want to do that again. But we'll see. My next schedule stop Is a small town called Ione. But I need to find out what's there because I don't want to roll into a place that is a nothing again. 

If if you want to get an idea of what I mean? Look up Wauconda Washington. I was hoping for at least a gas station? The town is a post office. 

That, that, and I just want to sleep. I could be just as happy laying in this hotel room sleeping until Sunday. I can't afford that, but I'd be happy with it. 

 

I want I want to make a quick mention before I go, if you're enjoying the blog and the live tracking, please donate to pancreatic cancer Action Network. My goal is to raise $5,000 by the end of my tour, I would love to double that. So you can follow the link in the upper right hand corner of this page that says track tiger or, here's a link to directly donate. 

http://support.pancan.org/goto/TygerTour2017

Day seven: massive hill climbs and Trail angels

Dictating into a phone, you know the drill.

Today's today's route was kind of long. When from Omak to the town of republic. Honestly, I'm pushing myself too hard. But I really want to get through some of these Hills. And the only way to do it, is to do it. 

During during yesterday's down Dan Omak, I stopped at the Walmart Supercenter to pick up A 2 liter cooler to fill with water. This with the two Nalgene bottles brings me up to about 5.5 liters of water that I can carry with me.  Originally, originally, I thought this should be enough. I was wrong.

Draining of Omak draining of Omak was actually fairly Bland. The only thing I did differently was ignore the maps advice, and took the more direct route across what is essentially desert. Again, I was warned that it would be desert. I didn't think it would be this Stark. 

I I passed through the town of Riverside, not much there that I could see. The next town was Tonasket. (Incidentally, I'm impressed that this voice software knew that name) it was here that I had run out of water for the first time. I stopped at Subway for lunch, and ended up filling my water bottles in the subway. Yes, they said I could. 

I also stopped at the Tonasket Visitor Center. It was already noon, and the temperatures were over 100 degrees. The woman at The Visitor Center recommended that I just stay, because they had free bike camping behind the visitor center. Me being stubborn, I decided to go for it. There's another man there who was from Sweden, and I just explain my actions as being an irrational American. He got a good laugh out of that. 

From from there it was just one very long climb basically over Wauconda pass. Not many breaks over the 30 plus miles. I actually begin to run out of water between Tonasket and Wauconda, and I kind of hope that Wauconda might have something for me. 

Fortunately fortunately for me, another Trail angel came by. He pulled past me in his 4 x 4 truck, and pulled over about a quarter mile up from where I was. As I was slowly cycling up hill towards him I said to him good afternoon he extended two liters of cold water and asked "do you need any water?" 

Yes, please, thank you. 

He explained that he was also a cyclist, him and his wife ride tandem cross country. And he understood that on a day like today, he would love to have somebody pulled over and hand him a couple of cold drinks too. And all reality, I would not have made it to here without his help. 

With with his two liters of extra water, I rolled into Republic completely dry. My hopes for finding something in Wauconda were optimistic. Wauconda Washington has nothing. Seriously, there's nothing there. The post Office closes at 3 p.m., and that's the only thing on the road.  

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I I got into Republic what I would consider late, and begin to look for my hosts for tonight. One of the reasons I don't mention hosts names is for privacy sake. If one of them wants to speak up, I'll be more than happy to let them. But this is their call, not mine. So I was reaching for my phone to call her, and somebody else in town saw me, and asked me specifically opposed looking for her. And then offered to give me directions to the house. This is one reason I love small-town stuff. 

I ended up I ended up having a drink, two handmade sodas, at the local Brewery. Absolutely wonderful, I would recommend them if you're in the area. Came up here and now it's now.

Tomorrow tomorrow I have another ambitious day, and an early rise to it. I have to climb Sherman pass, which is the highest point of my route. From there I'm hopefully going to be traveling 60 miles or so, and visiting a place that is a bike hostel specifically for cyclists only. I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm looking forward to the ride. 

 I think that a really good dissertation / psychological paper could be written about Trail angels and Trail Magic. There's something to this. I don't know what it is, but there's a draw. People just want to help. People just want to do good things. Especially when they see somebody attempting something, for lack of a better word, Epic. But I think I'm going to see how many things happen during this ride. Because honestly? I'm kind of Blown Away at the kindness of random strangers, and people who I've never met.

A lot a lot of times people say that they do by trips or thru hikes and it renews their faith in humanity. I think this is one of the reasons why. 

 

And and really quickly, if you're enjoying the blog, or enjoying the tracking feature, I would like to ask you to please donate the pancreatic cancer Action Network. If you can't, I understand. Please pass the link so long! Even doing that, putting more eyes on the story, helps me out a lot. I would really like to make my goal, I would like to even more double it. So if you can share, please do! 

Or or you can just outright donate if you'd like, and here's the link. http://support.pancan.org/goto/TygerTour2017

Day 6-7 :Trail Angels come in more than one form

Once again, dictating into the phone. So by now, I think you know the drill. If it doesn't make sense, read between the lines, something should at least be readable in there.

Yesterday yesterday begin at the Bike Barn and I had a very slow morning. Granted, they're all slow, but in this case there was purpose to that. One of the other Riders to the barn, a writer named Brian whose information I can't find, help me lighten my pack. The bear canister story will have to wait till I get home. But in the short-term let's just say that it, the winter clothing inside of it, the lock, and a few other things jettisoned about 8.2 lb off of my bike. 

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So so of course you have to do something with it, you can toss it on the side of the road, leave it behind for another Rider, or send it back. I ended up sending it back by literally taping the bear canister shut and taking it to the post office. 

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Two to side notes Here. The first one is Winthrop Washington is basically the old west town that you think we should remember? The downtown is so photographically kitschy it's amazing. But that said, I'm very grateful that there was an outdoor store there, because I had to buy a couple of emergency supplies. More on that a little later. 

The the other is that I'm noticing as I'm writing the Northern Tier route I'm seeing a lot of other cyclists doing the same going the other way. Not really a sense of community, as much as a sense of camaraderie. Whenever you see a cyclist and we're stopped at a town like this, there's always a quick conversation of what's up the road what's going on how's things looking? It's a very interesting dynamic. Because we all have one thing in common and we have one goal in mind, but none of the friendships really last it's just there. I don't really mind it though. 

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The the road out of Winthrop was actually very calm and flat. I had a lot of fun writing on those back roads. There was somebody in a post office truck who is delivering mail that I was playing tag with for five miles. Then the road took a really hard left hand turn, and I was introduced to the Loup Loup pass. 

And and here's where we get to the title of this episode. Loup Loup pass, or at least the ascent up to it, is brutal. I say this as somebody from Wisconsin who does not have to deal with mountains on a day-to-day basis. But getting up to the top of Loup Loup was hell. According to Strava, it took me over 3 hours to do the seven and a half miles to the top of Loup Loup pass.

Not even not even halfway up, I ran out of water. And I did something smart in Seattle. I have a water filtration system with me. On one hand this is good because I can get drinkable water through it. On the downside, it usually involves scrambling down a mountain pass to get to the actual source of water. So imagine my surprise when I see this: 

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I was I was tired gazing so hard I almost missed it. But there it is, I start work from cooler, and the words cold water, and a plea of please be safe. 

There's there's a phenomenon that happens on thru hiking trails like the PCT and the AT. People will just help. People will offer assistance to people who are doing these kinds of thru hikes, and apparently two people doing through rides. The act of kindness is usually referred to as Trail magic. The person doing the act is referred to as a trail angel. 

The the cooler was filled with Frozen water bottles, most of them about half melted. There was enough in there that it got me most of the way up of the mountain. There was also a guest book inside of the cooler. And most of the messages read very similar to what I had written. Thank you, so very much thank you.  I I wish I could find out the address of the people who live there, I would love to send them a Christmas card.

Unfortunately unfortunately for me, this was several miles from the top. And Trail Angels Came again, in the form of construction workers about 2 miles from the top. When I was slowly rolling past them, I asked them if there was any source of water anywhere nearby. They said no, but they had a gallon of water in their trunk, and asked if I would like some. 

Of of course I'm going to say yes and I'm going to thank them profusely and I'm going to be incredibly grateful if they were there. Because, to tell you the truth, I was down to about 4 oz of water with two miles of climbing to go. 

I I finally did get to the top of Loup Loup pass, and then The Descent. I have never in my life had a downhill that long, that fast, and that scary fun at the same time. I have GoPro footage, when I get home I will upload it raw. (Well maybe not raw, if I do that the music that might be heard might trigger YouTube) 

I I finally rolled off of that hill, and into this small organic Goods / homegrown stuff shop. What it was doing in the middle of nowhere, I have no idea. But I'm happy it was there. Because the moment I got past the mountains the terrain changed. No longer wasn't lush green forests, it was Desert. I was warned about this, I didn't believe it will be that Stark. 

Eventually eventually arrived in my final town of Omak Washington. I am very happy that I found a place here. There's something going on called Stampede. It's a big rodeo, and one of the things that they do is this downhill horse race. I will employ you to Google it for yourselves, I'm not going to go watch it because I really don't feel like fighting traffic. But suffice to say it's a big deal. And it's quite the spectacle.  

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My host my host here allowed me to stay for one extra day, which help me out immensely. Rest days are important, not only to recharge your body, but also to replenish supplies at you need. And that's what I did today. 

I ran I ran into town to check out the Museum's, I took a quick glance at the rodeo, they have an entire Village set for Native Americans for camping there. (And before you ask, most of them are using teepees, but a bunch are using modern tents) 

And and one dumb thing happened we'll talk about this another time. But I now have three stitches in my right forearm, because I did something stupid. It's one of those situations where I'll deal with the repercussions when I get home. I don't know if my insurance will cover it from here. But, in 10 days, I get to go find an urgent care clinic wherever I am and ask them if they can cut them out. 

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But the but the fact that I found a very nice doctor, a very competent Clinic, and it happened here. I count that is Trail Magic. Had this stuff happened out on the road, it would have sucked a lot more.

My my plan for the remainder of the night? Fine Food, repack on my gear, and get some sleep. Tomorrow is supposed to be over 100 degrees. And if history is any indicator, the roadways going to be even hotter. My only hope is that going over a mountain pass might make it cooler. But, I'm really looking forward to getting over the next Hill. Because and that's one more I don't have to do. 

And one and one more quick note before I go. If you're enjoying this blog, if you're enjoying the feed, if you're enjoying the live streams I'm doing over on Facebook, I implore you to please donate to the pancreatic cancer Action Network. Use the link that is on the track tiger page, and please give. This is a very personal fight for me, the whole reason I'm out here. So whatever you can do, whether it's donating, or even sharing the links. Everything is good and appreciated. 

All update all update when I have internet connection again! 

Tour day four, five : ho boy we've got a story to tell

Once again I'm dictating into a phone. So if it doesn't make sense, just kind of read between the lines, it's the best I can do from where I'm at.

Day 4 begin the small sleepy town of Concrete Washington. It really strikes me as one of those towns that rolls up the sidewalks at a certain time? Possibly just a tourist kitschy town. But, clean room, great shower, decent television! I'll take it. 

The the road out was actually not that bad. It was relatively flat, which is what I expected. Some strange stuff though, for some reason there seems to be a lot of these Blue Fish on the road and I don't know why. But, sometime when I get home, I'll look it up. It'll bother me until then

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The the big milestone was getting to the North Cascades National Park. This is where I knew the climbing would actually begin. I prepared as much as I could back home, but to be honest, nothing prepared me for this. 

 

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The the opening day climb was about 2,000 feet total. I pretty much sucked it up in granny gear for the entire time, desperately looking for landmarks that match the map so I knew exactly how far I had to go. Honestly though, I don't know if it helped. I eventually did get over the Ridge, and got to my Campground which I chose because it was the last Campground along the way. Meaning less climbing for today.

Now now, something about this trip that's been freaking me out ever since I planned it. Bears. 

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This is is as close to a bear as I ever want to get. Yeah, Taxidermy, but still! So a lot of my decisions in the last week leading of this tour was made in fear of bears. I have a bear canister. I have sent proof bags. All of which was highly recommended to me.

I'm I'm getting a feeling I don't need any of it. 

But but that said, when I got into the campground, my Campground had this wonderful thing all the way in the back, about 20 ft away from the tent pad. 

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That that brown thing behind the bike? That's a bear vault. You put anything in there that smelly, and bears can't open it. So pretty much everything I owned on the bike went into that thing, I would have probably stuff the bike in there if I possibly could have. 

Come come to think of it, I would have slept in it if I could. 

Ends up ends up the night was very uneventful, really nothing happened other than early morning. Made breakfast this morning, piled everything on the bike, and went. 

 

 Well, well, except this little thing kept on yelling at me. 

Well, well, except this little thing kept on yelling at me. 

Today started today started the real grueling climbs. I knew I had two of them to conquer, did not account for the false one at the beginning. And the problem started right away. 

It it really feels like something in the mechanism of the bike is Gummy or sticking or something. I'm down Hills I have to Pedal in order to gain speed. This shouldn't happen. I got about 15 some odd miles Inn, and I realize that the problem was not going to go away on its own. The problem is, there's absolutely nothing out there. No gas stations, no rest stops, no nothing. 

This this also serve to be a problem, because I also ran out of water. Thankfully, my paranoia before the ride cause me to buy a water purification system. That came in handy today and may have saved my tail. But it still had a major problem, mainly the bike was almost impossible to Pedal. 

So so just before the second major climb of the day, I decided to walk the bike. And I sent a text message through the satellite GPS that just said hope for trail angels. And I got one. 

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Technically, technically, I got two. These gentlemen are from Spain, and they're touring the parks of America. When I put my thumb out they pulled over immediately we piled the bike in, they made more than ample room for me, and they hauled me over the major climbs of the day. I can't tell you how absolutely grateful I am that they did this. 

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They actually they actually took me to The Bike Barn that I'm at tonight. They said they were doing it to put more Good Karma into the world? I cannot express how grateful I am I did.

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 It ends up that just outside of the Bike Barn, there's a place in Mazama that has all these organic homegrown stuff. So I picked up some food there, and after being dropped off at the Bike Barn, I put it into the mini fridge at happens to be here.

I I didn't take a picture of it yet, but this place has an outdoor shower. If you have any modesty, toss it out the window when you go bike touring. 

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All in all, today was a very interesting, long, but good day. I'm currently sharing this location with another gentleman who just rolled in. He's a longtime tour cyclists, so he might be helping me shave down my pack. All I know is tomorrow, I'm rolling into a major town. They have a bike shop, I'll have them look at the bike. And I might stop at the post office to jettisons some stuff. I'm not sure yet.

So so I'm going to have dinner, which is going to be ssandwiches. Going to be drinking a metric boatload of water, and getting ready for tomorrow. I may take a blank day tomorrow, depends on what happens at the bike shop. I really don't know.

But but I will ask one thing, if you're enjoying the blog, or enjoying the live streams I do on Facebook, or enjoying the tracking, please share this stuff? It would mean the world to me if this just started to take off and I could make the goal of $5,000 donated to the pancreatic cancer Action Network. The best way to do that, is to share the tracking link and encourage people to donate through that. 

 

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