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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Day two, three. Tactical blunders, and leaving the ocean side.

Once again, I am dictating this into a phone. So if things don't look right, just work with it. I'm really not in the mood to edit.

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D2 D2 was a massive tactical blunder on my behalf. Mainly, I misread the maps. What I thought would only be 60 some-odd miles ended up being 80 some-odd miles. This made for a very long day, and I wasn't even sure I could continue for day 3. But, you take your Simple Pleasures where you can. Like finding gas station food this actually pretty good. I ended up rolling into Anacortes very late at night, and my warmshowers hosts we're still waiting for us. 

 I say us, because I wasn't the only one staying there that night. There was a nice couple from I believe France, and another from Canada. And we all camped out on the lawn overnight.

In in the morning, my hosts had to go to a thing in downtown Anacortes, so I followed them around like a lost puppy for a few moments. But I had to wait until noon to get to The Bike Shop in town, so I could fix my kickstand which got loose on day two. So when and Anacortes during Art Festival, Festival!

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After after a little bit of a pep talk for my hosts last night, I hit the road for what ended up being a relatively flat day. Which was exactly what I needed. I was going to stop at a campground, but when I got there the campground was full up. So frantically I called ahead to the town of concrete and found a hotel in town here. Very interesting phone call, mainly me being completely out of breath, pedaling like crazy, and trying to explain that I'm on a bicycle a couple of miles away and please hold a room for me. 

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I ended I ended up finding this little gem of a hotel in the middle of what feels like nowhere. Honestly, Concrete, Washington feels like a tourist trap town, without all the kitch. Spent the nights in a clean, Memory Foam bed. Had a wonderful shower, and now it's back on the road.

If if all goes well, tonight I will be in the North Cascades, somewhere around the Diablo campground sites. Hopefully, all of my bear prep will come in handy right here. I don't think I'll have WiFi tonight, so no updates. But I will update when I can. Meanwhile, everyone stay safe. 

Tour day 1, hurry up and wait

I'm currently laying in a bed, dictating this to my phone. So if there are typos, or something licks wonky, that's going to happen. (For example, that was supposed to look wonky)

 Today was officially the first day of the tour. Although, I didn't get nearly as far as I wanted to. The Amtrak train ran late into Seattle. Another train, or bus, or something arrived simultaneously and they didn't have sufficient crew to unload the baggage of our train. Amtrak has this interesting deal where you can roll your bike onto the train, no boxing needed. But you have to pick up the bike yourself from the baggage car. Well, rather than wait for a baggage attendant, one of my fellow cyclists just tested the baggage car door, opened it, climbed in, and casually asked me "so which one is your bike?"

Lesson lesson learned come rules are meant to be broken. 

 So, baggage was late. So late in fact that I was worried about missing an appointment. If you don't already know, I am an ambassador for Nuun hydration. And I went to their Seattle headquarters today. I was actually worried about missing them, because it's Friday. But, they let me come in, and actually assemble all of the parts of my bike. For that, I am incredibly grateful.

A a couple of friends of mine recently moved to Seattle, so they met me there. We walked over to the cafe, and had lunch. I wish I could remember the name of the place, because they made really damn good burgers. I didn't want to leave, but we had to. I'm not going to see them for a while, so it was kind of sad. But, eventually, I got to keep going

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I then attempted to I then attempted to find REI. Not as easy as you think, cuz there's a lot of construction going on in downtown Seattle. That, and it was uphill a lot of away. I ended up finding a small outdoor store and buying one of the supplies there before finding REI. Picked up a bunch of stuff that I couldn't carry with me on the train (you know, things like bear mace!) Then attempted to find the Bremerton ferry

I I say that because finding it as an outsider? Not a as easy as you think. I actually found a police officer and ask him how to get to the Bremerton ferry. He grinned, and said "you've arrived!" He then told me to will my bike into the station to get a ticket. When I got up there, one of the regulars said I shouldn't have my bike there, and I should just take the road and board my bike like a normal vehicle.

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This ended up being the best call. I got on the next ship out. It's at this point that the story takes an interesting turn. There's an app for Tour cycling called warmshowers. It's definitely worth looking up if you are a tour cyclist. The first hosts for me on this trip are Janice and Gary, too incredibly kind-hearted people who are letting me stay at their home tonight. 

Knowing knowing that I was running super late, Gary actually pick me up at the terminal. We stopped my bike on to his vehicle, and drove to hear. We had dinner, a nice conversation, and a lot of really good advice that I'm going to be heading for the next two months.  And and for that, I will be very grateful for.

Tomorrow tomorrow was a big push day. I'm going to attempt a 70 Miler up to Anacortes. I'm not sure what to expect, but I do know it's going to be quite warm so I'm planning accordingly. All of that said though? I'm just grateful to be here. I also know that the trip really starts tomorrow. We'll see how it goes. 

So so with that, I bid you all good night. 

T-2 days and counting.

Amtrak view of Wisconsin

Amtrak view of Wisconsin

Right now this is outside my window. I'm on an Amtrak going through Wisconsin. And this is my home for another 36 hours.

 The sleeper car is surprising soundproof. I can't hear the wheels at all from here. Down side is my door doesn't want to close. But it's nice in here.

Tomorrow I'll work on the mapping . Right now I'm enjoying the quiet and lack of having to do stuff.

The most terrifying piece of gear I own is a plastic jar.

This is, officially, the most terrifying thing I own.

Bear Canister

This is a "bear canister". You can guess the size of it from the 3 cans of chili / stew inside it, as well as the single serving spam and tuna packet, 2 freeze dried meals, 7-8 tubes of Nuun as well as 1/2 of a pouch of performance, a jar of peanut butter, 4 packets of instant oatmeal, box of quinoa and rice and so on already in there.

It's designed to stop bears from opening it to get at your food.

Full stop, repeat.

It is DESIGNED... to stop BEARS... from getting at your FOOD.

And I am required to have one of these as per the North Cascades NPS rules. Ok, that isn't ENTIRELY true, the rules to have one of these things is for backcountry hikers specifically. But when I called the NPS ranger station there, and explained what I was doing, I could hear "that tone". The sort of "I can't tell you what to do, BUT....." tone?

The man on the phone said that they have black bears, so I might be able to get away with just a hanging bag to protect my food and myself from wandering bears.  This was a relief, a small hanging sack is lightweight and I can easily use an on-site locker, no problems.  I asked him if bear mace was important too.  He said probably not, as the black bears really aren't that aggressive and.... he paused, and asked "Are... you going through MONTANA?" Yes, yes I am. "Ok, in Montana they have black bears AND grizzly bears that are a little more aggressive and..."

Ok, got it. Bear canister, bear mace. Got it, will get it, will carry with me clear through to Minnesota.

But as a result of this, well it's more weight. The thing only weighs about 2 pounds empty, but it's size is dictating my pack now as I have to work around it. Yes, they make smaller ones but they're only stubbier, not actually SMALLER.

So I'm jettisoning my camp chair, and replacing it with this bear canister to make it a camp stool. A bear can jump on the thing, I think it'll hold my weight. And instead of carrying my food in a front bag, that bag is now completely empty and will probably become a utility bag for...  I don't know what yet. Laundry detergent? cold weather clothes?  I have no idea yet.

But, yeah. I now own a thing that prevents bears from getting my food, because I'm biking through a section of country where WILD BEARS can get at my food.

I'm... kinda terrified about that....

T-4 days 'till my train ride out.  That's how long I've got to put the packing for a 1/2 continent bike ride puzzle together.

The tour ride featured in Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's site!

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The great people over at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has run the story about the upcoming ride!  You can read about it on their page, right here!

And while you're there, you can also read about what they're doing to fight pancreatic cancer too.  Right now, the 5 year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is 9%.  This needs to change, and the way you can help MAKE that change is by supporting them with donations.

How do you turn a paved trail into a CX track?

...just add rain.

Glacial Drumlin Trail, July 2017

Glacial Drumlin Trail, July 2017

We had some storms last night, and I didn't think it was all that bad 'till I went for a shakedown ride with my touring bike.  This is about 1/4 mile from the access path.  I'm not kidding when I tell you that the main trunk of the tree on the left was wider around than my body.  This went down HARD in the night.  Obviously, this isn't the norm, but we were making our way around it as best we could.  I BARELY fit my bike under the tree on the left side there, which is good as I sure as heck couldn't lift the 60+ pounds of bike/gear OVER it.

I decided to stay here a while and call the DNR after some guy on a full tri-bike setup almost barreled into this at full tuck speed.  At least I could warn the speed riders who weren't used to going full cyclocross on this run.  While I was on hold, the WI DNR truck rolled down the trail with chainsaws in tow, cutting away the other downed trees on the path further up.  They had this mess cleared in about 10 minutes.

A lot of people give me a hard time when I say that I pay $25 a year for a rail-trail pass.  But the WI DNR is really awesome when it comes to clearing the trails.  It's well worth $25 a year.  And I should mention, if you need some firewood, there's a big 'ol pile of logs at about mile marker 1 on the Glacial Drumlin Trail right now.  But be warned, they're heavy.