WWT II Daily Blog Part 2

This is the second part of our blog from Day 25 until we reach the Pacific coast. By day 25 our bodies have become accustomed to the daily big mileage with a heavy bike.  Our bodies feel strong and are getting stronger each day.  We are in the groove of the tour and our routines are fine tuned.  Little do we know this feeling of utopia will come to a quick and abrupt end just as we are about to reach the "good stuff."






Day 25

Monday August 15, 2011

Miller, SD to Pierre, SD

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The Midwestern cyclist poem……

“When the wind blows and nothing is higher than wheat

You’re going to get beat”

Not much of a poem but you get the idea, we got beat and beat badly today.

At 7:30 AM just before we departed the wind speed was already at 20mph according the weather channel. Not a good way to start the day but we expected this in South Dakota. We accepted the punishment and pushed forward.

We have started seeing the exodus of bikers from the Sturgis Rally. Sturgis a small town above Rapid City, SD that attracts over 500,000 people. We planned our journey to just miss this major motorcycle event.  We did not want to have to compete with a half million people for hotel rooms, restaurants or roadway.  Imagine cruising down a peaceful back road then have 100 roaring motorcycles pass by over and over.  It may be cool to see a couple times but it could get old after a while.  <<<Insert Sturgis>>>

Around mid-day we spotted an airplane hangar and a few crop dusting planes that were getting refueled. We just had o stop and ask questions. The hangers and surrounding area was spotlessly clean and set up nicely. The specially designed aircraft cost over a million dollars each. The small planes have over 1000 horsepower and can each carry 500 gallons of chemical. This particular operation  sprays over a half million acres within a 40 mile radius.  The owner offered some cold drinks and was happy to talk about his business. He said crop dusting pilots have to be the best of the best.  About 20 minutes after we left the owner of the aiel spraying business  made a low fly-by and dipped his wings at us as he headed off to spray. Real cool!    <<<Insert photos and movie>>>

The flat landscape we have seen for the past few hundred miles changed to again to rolling hills as we approached the Missouri River and today’s destination Pierre. <<<<Insert River>>>>>

The Missouri was still badly swollen from weeks of rain last month.  Thousands of sand bags had been placed along the banks and around buildings in the area and were still in place. <<<<insert sandbags>>>

Tomorrow we will be staying at a cabin that is in the middle of no-man’s land on our the Badlands.  There is no place for us to get food so we made arrangements for the owners to make us dinner and breakfast.  I hope tey know how much we can eat after 100 miles… we are impressive.

78 Miles

2735 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 68- 80 degrees





Day 26

Tuesday August 16, 2011

 Pierre, SD to Philip, SD

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It was already blowing 25 mph at 7AM and we knew it was not going to be an easy day. Our plan was to make the Triangle Ranch a Bed and Breakfast outside Philip, SD over 100 miles away.  A few miles out of town we spotted a sign that said “Next Services 66 Miles”.  <<<<insert Photo Sign>>>>  Well I can tell you for certain now that they are not kidding when they say no services.  For the first 35 miles we did not even see a farm house just rolling hills of sunflowers and grass.  A simply beautiful landscape as long as you do not break down and your water holds out.

The wind picked up quickly and soon a 30 to 35mph wind was beating us up badly. Our average speed was down to just 8.5 mph! Do the math, the trip to the ranch would take us over 12 hours!  That would not work for us because the owners of the ranch were going to make us dinner also.  We could not be rolling in 9 pm and expect the women to start making us food.

After a few hours of severe punishment our route changed direction for 28 miles.  Now for the first time we had the wind at our backs! FANTASTIC!  It did not take long to see why 95% of the cyclists ride west to east.  With the push from the wind we could move our heavy bikes at 18-20 miles per hour UP the hills.  It was almost like having a motors on the bikes! This 28 mile run pumped up our average and our spirits.  When the route turned back into the wind it seemed like it may have fallen off a bit.  This is very unusual for the Midwest.  On our last trip as on this one, we found the wind normally peaks in speed from 3pm until just before dark.

It looked like we would not been that late for dinner after all.  The thought of no dinner terrified us and who want to miss some home cooking after 25 days on the road eating garbage.  Another break came our way when Joe looked at his cell phone and realized we crossed into Mountain time picking up another hour!!!!  Soooo nice! We definitely won’t be late for dinner now.

The Triangle Ranch is part of what was a 8000 acre family spread that is well out of town.  You have to ride down well maintained gravel road fro 8 miles to reach the ranch. Once there Ken and Lyndy made us feel right at home.  Lyndy cooked us a fantastic chicken dinner which we complemented with a bottle of wine. The dinner was followed by coffee, apple crisp and ice cream. We all sat around after dinner and talked until it was way too late. Breakfast was at 7AM and again spectacular.  We ate until we could eat no more then headed out for the Badlands.

106 Miles

4951 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 70- 80 degrees








Day 27

Wednesday August 17, 2011

Philip, SD to Interior, SD

Day 26

Tuesday August 17, 2011

 Philip, SD to Interior, SD

 

Today we rode through the Badlands. It is one of those places that is hard to describe with words and photos do not do justice.  But they do say a picture is worth a thousand words.  So instead of me ballbing on about the Badlands I will let to pictures do the talking.  And again photos do not do the place justice.  It is just beautiful.

 

67 Scenic Slow Miles

2910 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 80-95 degrees









Day 28

Thursday August 18, 2011

Interior, SD to Rapid City, SD

Our stay at the Circle View Guest Ranch was great.  The ranch sits high up on a plateau outside the Badlands and covers 2000 acres.  The views were spectacular when sitting on the patio sipping coffee early in the morning. Too bad after one cup it was time to eat breakfast and get the metal ponies ready to ride.  Speaking of breakfast it was delicious.  We had a nice selection of food including wheat pancake that were made from wheat grown and ground right on the ranch.

South Dakota is plagued with grasshoppers at the moment.  At first we did not think anything of them but after a while we began to understand why the locals hate them so much.  They actually are disgusting little creatures.  First of all you have to understand there are bazillions of them all over the place. (bazillion is a zillion cazillion) When you are riding they are bouncing off of us like ping pong balls.  They land on you or ricochet off the bikes. There so many of them on the road our tires rolling over them sounds like a popcorn machine working.  The dead grasshoppers litter the road and the other hoppers are cannibalizing the carcasses. It is really sickening.  

The ride today seemed uneventful compared to yesterday’s trip through the majestic Badlands. The first leg of our route was without any services for over 50 miles.  When I say no services I mean NOTHING.  No stores, houses, farms people or stop signs.  Just miles of rolling hills of grass and bright sunshine to suck the moisture out of us.

We spotted a rattle snake on the road not long after we left.  Be nice little snake...no biting. We don't have cell service and if we did who would we call for help? Buffalo Bill?  Snakes are plentiful in this part of the state along with deer, prong horn and prairie dogs.

Our day ended in Rapid City staging us for tomorrows ride through Custer State park and by Mount Rushmore on our way to Nebraska and Wyoming.

76 Miles

2160 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 80-93 degrees





Day 29

Friday August 19, 2011

Rapid City, SD to Hot Springs, SD

Today we rode the Black Hills of South Dakota past Mount Rushmore and through Custer Stare Park.  Back home we would call the  Black Hills the Black Mountains!  Those little hills had over 7000 feet of climbing in 76 miles.  Those are some fairly “lumpy” hills in my book.

While in Custer we saw buffalo and other wildlife roaming the park freely.  One of the bison was right on the side of the road grazing as we rode by. They almost look tame and friendly but signs along the roadway remind you they are not. We cut the huge animal a wide berth while riding by.

At the top of one of the “hills” we were at almost 6000 feet above sea level and it was a chilly 59 degrees.  After the weeks of riding in 90+ degree heat anything under 75 feels cold to us.  For the downhill runs all of us had long sleeves or jackets on. Higher elevations and colder temperatures are coming quick I think the call them the Rockies.

Again the location of a place to sleep dictated the days mileage.  We always shoot for 100 miles but sometimes it does not happen.

76 Miles

7026 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 59- 74 degrees






Day 30

Saturday August 20, 2011

Hot Springs, SD to Somewhere in Nebraska

Saturday was our 30th day on the road. You have to remember if you want to call this a “vacation” it would have to be called a “working vacation”.  We do see some interesting sights but we can barely stop to enjoy them.  On the average we are only off the bikes for around 90 minutes each day.  During that 90 minute period we have to restock our bikes with fluids, find food and make  a few stops to water the plants on the side of the road. Basically we are riding for 8 to 10 hours a day.  When we do stop someone is watching the clock knowing the longer we linger the less time at night we will have to sleep. No days off so far.

When we arrive at the motel at night we all have work to do. Unpack bikes, shower and of course again find food within walking distance of the motel.  After we are fed there is laundry to do and mapping. We need to look days ahead so we can be sure we have a place to sleep at the end of the day.  Unlike in a car having to ride an additional 20 miles out of our way on a bike is a big deal. If we go 20 miles off course to find a sleep spot that means the next day we need another 20 miles to get back on course.  That is 40 miles and in the hills or heat that is huge.

We also have to gather all our photos and then prepare our daily report for the website. After that work is done uploading with very slow internet connections can be agonizing slow .We are lucky to have Kelley one of the team riders there to receive the data and turn it into our daily blog that you are reading now.

When our alarm goes off at 5:30 AM the process starts again.

Today our route took us over some difficult terrain. The road into Nebraska was unpaved loose gravel for 15 miles. With our narrow tires and heavy bikes this made for some slow going.  Once in Nebraska our road turned back to blacktop and a speed increased. We passed our first official “ghost town” of the trip.  It is almost like being in an episode of the Twilight Zone when you ride through one of these places.

The only place we could find to spend the night was a place called The High Plains Homestead.  We were not sure what this place was like but we knew it was 18 miles off the paved road and the only thing available. So again we found ourselves on loose gravel.  This road was would not have been too bad in a pick-up but on bikes it was terrible.  It took well over two hours to complete the ride to the Homestead. Now this place is so far out in no-man’s land you may as well be on the moon.

Once there we were very surprised.  This was one of the coolest places yet.  The owners had bought old building from ghost towns and other places disassembled them and then reassembled each building creating a little town.  The land surrounding theis little village in the middle of nowhere is spectacular.  They told us this is the Badlands of Nebraska.

They are open most of the warmer months and serve dinners cooked over a fire pit.  When we arrived there were 15-20 people sitting at tables outside waiting for dinner which is served between 6 and 7pm.  Some had drove over an hour just for dinner and had no plans to spend the night as we were.  Only one other couple was spending the night here as far as we knew.  This couple had lived and worked in Connecticut for a short time at Pfizers so they knew our home turf.

The food they cooked was fantastic and we could hardly stop filling our faces. After eating our dinners we had them grill up an additional steak so we could split it up. We are true “chow-hounds”.

 Our room had a bunk bed and two other beds and was very comfortable.  The only thing you cannot do here is drink the water,  It has an unbelievably high sulfur content.  All you have to do is open the tap and it will stink up a room with the smell of rotten eggs it is that bad.  We have found just about everywhere you go in these parts the ware has very high mineral content.  Something we are not use to and take our great water for granted.

The rough ride in on the gravel road was worth the effort. This place was unique.

75 Miles

3450 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 50 - 84 degrees






Day 31

August 21, 2011

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Somewhere in Nebraska to Lusk, WY

Today our little wagon train entered the least populated state per square mile in the continental USA Wyoming. Only Alaska has less people per square mile. Back home in Connecticut the population density is over 738 people per square mile Wyoming less than 6. 

We do not expect to find a Starbucks on every corner out here.  We may not even find any corners!  Because of the limited population we need to be sure we have plenty of water between cities.

The day was actually uneventful and somewhat short only covering 76 miles. We did have to negotiate 12 miles of unpaved roadway in the morning leaving the High Plains Ranch.  The 45 miles of off-road riding we have done in the past 2 days has made a mess of our bikes.  The chains, sprockets and frames all had a coat of Nebraska dirt covering them.

When we arrived in Lusk, WY we stopped at the local coin operate car wash and gave our machines baths. Tomorrow we have a 110+ mile day planned and with plenty of climbing.

76 Miles

3358 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 70 -95 degrees





Day 30

Saturday August 20, 2011

Hot Springs, SD to Somewhere in Nebraska

Saturday was our 30th day on the road. You have to remember if you want to call this a “vacation” it would have to be called a “working vacation”.  We do see some interesting sights but we can barely stop to enjoy them.  On the average we are only off the bikes for around 90 minutes each day.  During that 90 minute period we have to restock our bikes with fluids, find food and make  a few stops to water the plants on the side of the road. Basically we are riding for 8 to 10 hours a day.  When we do stop someone is watching the clock knowing the longer we linger the less time at night we will have to sleep. No days off so far.

When we arrive at the motel at night we all have work to do. Unpack bikes, shower and of course again find food within walking distance of the motel.  After we are fed there is laundry to do and mapping. We need to look days ahead so we can be sure we have a place to sleep at the end of the day.  Unlike in a car having to ride an additional 20 miles out of our way on a bike is a big deal. If we go 20 miles off course to find a sleep spot that means the next day we need another 20 miles to get back on course.  That is 40 miles and in the hills or heat that is huge.

We also have to gather all our photos and then prepare our daily report for the website. After that work is done uploading with very slow internet connections can be agonizing slow .We are lucky to have Kelley one of the team riders there to receive the data and turn it into our daily blog that you are reading now.

When our alarm goes off at 5:30 AM the process starts again.

Today our route took us over some difficult terrain. The road into Nebraska was unpaved loose gravel for 15 miles. With our narrow tires and heavy bikes this made for some slow going.  Once in Nebraska our road turned back to blacktop and a speed increased. We passed our first official “ghost town” of the trip.  It is almost like being in an episode of the Twilight Zone when you ride through one of these places.

The only place we could find to spend the night was a place called The High Plains Homestead.  We were not sure what this place was like but we knew it was 18 miles off the paved road and the only thing available. So again we found ourselves on loose gravel.  This road was would not have been too bad in a pick-up but on bikes it was terrible.  It took well over two hours to complete the ride to the Homestead. Now this place is so far out in no-man’s land you may as well be on the moon.

Once there we were very surprised.  This was one of the coolest places yet.  The owners had bought old building from ghost towns and other places disassembled them and then reassembled each building creating a little town.  The land surrounding theis little village in the middle of nowhere is spectacular.  They told us this is the Badlands of Nebraska.

They are open most of the warmer months and serve dinners cooked over a fire pit.  When we arrived there were 15-20 people sitting at tables outside waiting for dinner which is served between 6 and 7pm.  Some had drove over an hour just for dinner and had no plans to spend the night as we were.  Only one other couple was spending the night here as far as we knew.  This couple had lived and worked in Connecticut for a short time at Pfizers so they knew our home turf.

The food they cooked was fantastic and we could hardly stop filling our faces. After eating our dinners we had them grill up an additional steak so we could split it up. We are true “chow-hounds”.

 Our room had a bunk bed and two other beds and was very comfortable.  The only thing you cannot do here is drink the water,  It has an unbelievably high sulfur content.  All you have to do is open the tap and it will stink up a room with the smell of rotten eggs it is that bad.  We have found just about everywhere you go in these parts the ware has very high mineral content.  Something we are not use to and take our great water for granted.

The rough ride in on the gravel road was worth the effort. This place was unique.

75 Miles

3450 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 50 - 84 degrees



Day 32

August 21, 2011

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Lusk, WY to Casper, WY

It was a tough day for the riders of the Wild West Tour.  Maybe Wyoming does not like the three urban cowboys dressed in their tight spandex shorts and fancy shirts riding into town on their metal ponies.  Whatever the reason we received a beating during our 12 hours in the saddle.  The hot sun was blaring down on us and the wind blowing hard in our faces.

This peculiar part of Wyoming looks like a barren wasteland of dried grasses and weeds. Other than a few prong horn antelope there is really nothing interesting to look at as the wind pushes you backwards. Even the antelope are not that exciting anymore because they seem to be everywhere.  All you really want on a day like this is for the day to end and get off the bike.

Late in the afternoon we came upon a huge wind generator farm. We would have enjoyed the giant turbines a lot more if we approached them with the wind at our backs pushing us swiftly by.  Instead it seemed to take forever to finally reach the 400’ tall spinning pinwheels as we crept up the ridge at 8mph.

Looks like we can expect more wind and heat tomorrow according the latest weather forecast. Like I have said before what determines the distance traveled each day is the availability of a place to sleep. Today the space was 113 miles tomorrow it looks like it will be over 120 miles.  Hopefully it will be more enjoyable.  One other thing we see some “bumps” off on the horizon….. does anyone know what these bumps are??

113 Miles

3980 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 85 - 98 degrees





Day 33

August 22, 2011

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Casper, WY to Riverton, WY

Wyoming handed out another severe beating to the Outlaw Spandex Gang once again.  A sustained, unrelenting torturous 20 to 35+mph head wind punished us from the moment we hit the road. 

Our bikes were loaded down with extra liquids due to the distances between watering holes.  We were told not to expect any services for almost 100 miles. The extra weight made the wind barrage that much more enjoyable as we climbed the hills against it. As we tried to pedal up the hill the wind kept trying to shove us back down.

Even with the extra water the heat and hot wind blowing on us made us consume more water than expected. When we rolled through the town Power River Ken stopped at a house to ask for water.  <<<<insert Water>>>> Like the other two towns we went through today there are no stores, gas stations or stop signs. >>>> insert small town>>>

So far we are not impressed with the scenery in the state of Wyoming.  All we have seen is grasslands and weeds. Nothing else.  I hope it will improve because the locals say the stiff winds are here to stay.

Put today on the top of the same list of crummy days as that yesterday is on.  We were on the bikes just under 14 hours arriving at our motel at 10:30PM after some fine dining at Wendy’s Hamburger.

What we thought was low clouds on the horizon was actually smoke from large brush fires in burning in Dubois and Jackson Wyoming.  The setting sun was partially obscured by the low smoke.  <<<insert Smoke on Horizon>>> Our wagon train is headed for both of these cities and road closing could be a concern.

123 Wind Blown Miles

3780 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 85 - 95 degrees




Day 34

August 23, 2011

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Riverton, WY to Dubois, WY

Today’s riding conditions were truly spectacular. The temperature was reasonable and the wind was nowhere to be found. Yesterday we were wondering why were even doing this bike insanity and today we glad to be riding. What a difference a day can make.

Instead of creeping along at 8mph suffering we were able to travel at 15-18mph with ease.  It is how it is supposed to be. The bleak landscape was replaced with mountains striped with layers of reds and browns.<<<<insert Mountains>>> <<<insert Joe>>>

About 55 miles outside of Dubois, WY we came upon a cyclist pulling a loaded “bob”.  A bob is a small trailer you pull behind your bike with your gear instead of the panniers that we use.  Each method of hauling has it’s pros and cons. We choose to use the saddlebags.

His name is Dave and he was a cool dude to talk to.  If you think we are crazy for riding cross country this guy has been riding for over a year and has covered 9000 miles so far. Retired from the Air Force he swapped airplanes for a bike. He uploads his journey to YouTube daily and has a big following.  He pulled out his HD video camera and asked us a few questions about our trip for upload to his site. <<<<Insert Three Wheel Journey>>>> His site is on You Tube and is called Three Wheel Journey.

At a small store we ran into a FEMA employee Mark who was helping with the rebuilding of roads washed away when the Wind River overflowed its banks on the local Indian Reservation. The conversation stared as he asked us about our cross country adventure.  When we told him we started in Connecticut he asked if we lived near New London where he spent time as a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy. He knew a good friend of Ken’s also.  It is a small world.

Just as were enjoying the sunny windless day when a thunderstorm rolled in over the mountains and with it winds gusting up to 40 mph.  That is enough to blow us right off the shoulder of the road and it did!  We could not believe the perfect day was now going to be spoiled by wind and rain. Well it did not rain on us and after about a couple hours of strong winds and dark skies it disappeared.  This was Mother Nature reminding us not to take her for granted.

While we were battling the wind a motor home pulled off the road in front of us.  It was a couple touring the country with their two dogs.  They stopped to see if we needed any cold water to drink or anything else they had onboard. Once again good people doing good things for others.  <<<insert Good People>>>> They have a blog of their journey as seen through their two dogs Daisy and Gabby’s eyes. http://www.daisyngabby.blogspot.com/  Check out the site.

Our day ended in a western style town called Dubois.  A real interesting little town with good food and nice places to stay. We secured a nice little cabin for $105.  <<<<insert Cabin>>>>  <<<<insert Dobois movie>>>

The waitress at the restaurant got a chuckle when we placed our order. First it was tacos for an appetizer.  Followed by three dinners and salads and along with our dinners and extra dinner to split.  After polishing that off we ordered deserts with extra ice cream.  It is nice to be able to eat all that food and know you will burn it off the next day.

Mountains for breakfast tomorrow. <<<insert mountains>>>

79  Miles

4332Feet of Climbing

Temperature 85 - 90 degrees







Day 35

August 24, 2011

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Dubois, WY to Moran, WY

Today should be the shortest travel day we have on the tour.  The availability of motels in the Yellowstone area is the reason for our short day. Knowing we had less than 50 miles to ride we did not get moving too quickly in the morning.  We still woke by 6AM but did not rush to get out the door a usual.  And once on the road we did not push.  <<<< Day 35 views>>

A couple miles out of town we ran into a cyclist with a fully loaded mountain bike with knobby tires. His name was Mike and he lives in New Zealand.  He traveled here to ride the Great Divide off-road route from Canada all the way to Mexico! Only 10% of this 2500 mile route is on a paved road.  This was one tough dude.  <<<off road rider>>>

A few more miles down the road we stopped at a store for some water and met three motocross riders that were doing the same 2500 miles off-road trip by motorcycle.  What a pounding that has to be day after day.  They carried extra fuel and supplies on their bikes. The incredible part is that two of the riders are over 60 years old and the other is over 50!  More tough dudes.  <<<motocross photos>>>>

The skies threatened rain for in the morning but it never happened.  The wind was not a big factor today as we were in the mountains.  We have basically one big climb to a little over 9500’ that took a few hours to complete. You begin to notice the tinner air as you cross over the 8500’ mark.  Not bad but noticeable.

48 Miles

3351 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 75-85 degrees 



Day 36 and Day 37

August 25-26, 2011

 

Moran, WY to West Yellowstone

We should be enjoying the journey through the Tetons and Yellowstone but instead we are all concerned about the Hurricane that has its crosshairs on our hometowns.

We crossed the Continental Divide a few times and entered Montana.

117 Miles

6314 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 40-70 degrees


Day 38

August 27, 2011

 

West Yellowstone to Rexburg ID

Knowing everyone is safe and damage is minimal was a big relief to all the riders. Being 3000+ miles from home knowing we could do nothing to help was hard for us to deal with.  In our minds we fabricated all types of scenarios of what we could do if disaster struck.  None of the options we had were very good or productive.  We had to rely on our family and friends to do what we should have been doing. Lucky for us all these people handled the situation very well and bailed us out. THANKS!!!!

Today we crossed into Idaho the 17th of the 20 states we will enter during this tour.  The weather out here sunny and high 80’s  was much better than what was still happing in New England. 

Not soon after crossing the border we started on a long steady downhill was fun going down but we all know the old bicycle saying…. “what goes down must go up”.   We will give up even more elevation as we head due south towards Twin Falls Idaho just 50 miles north of Nevada.

In our quest to “tag” as many states as possible on this tour we need to get our wheels into the state of Nevada. This little deviation will cost us almost 300 miles and thousands of feet in elevation which we will have to regain.

Tomorrow we will ride to Arco the first city to ever be illuminated by nuclear power.

86 Miles

2212 Feet of Climbing  We lost almost 4000”!

Temperature 70-85 degrees



Day 39

 Monday August 29, 2011

 

Rexburg ID to Arco ID

I have said it before, and I will say it again…Wind is a 4 letter word.  And it is a dirty four letter word to a cyclist.

We were fooled early in the morning when the sun was shining and the wind was light.  It sure looked like a nice easy day was in store for us. But by noontime the fantasy was over as the wind turned on like a light switch. A steady 20 to 25mph wind became a 40mph wind in your face torture session by 2pm. This kind of riding really sucks and is no fun at all for any of us. 

Giving it all you had on the flats would only develop 7mph against the wind.  It was a battle just to keep our bikes on the road as higher gusts blasted in making you wobble into the soft shoulder.

Days like this make you wonder who’s idea was it to ride across the country anyway??!!

The Idaho we entered in the mountains was beautiful. Tress, rivers and beautiful scenery.   The Idaho we rode today in the plains was terrible.  The plains in any state are not made for cyclist.  We are back to the same old view of scrub brush, weeds and unrelenting wind. No place to get away from the sun or howling wind.  Give us the mountains any day no matter what the climb.

As most of this journey the roads we picked were nearly traffic free and that was a positive on a negative day for us.

To add to or enjoyment huge dust storms were forming all around us.  Some of these were miles long and miles wide.  Passing through one of these dirty brown clouds will suck the breath right out of you right after it coats your eyeballs with dust blinding you.

Arco, Id is a tiny town that has some history.  It was the first US city to be illuminated by nuclear power. It was also the area where the first “meltdown” of a nuclear reactor took place.  I is also the only place in the US where people died from a meltdown. Team rider Herb Petersen may know more about this as he is in that field.

The first thing you notice when entering town is the conning tower of a submarine!! Just outside of town is where the reactors for all our modern warships was developed.  They still have an 850 square mile top secret site here with Homeland Security making their presence everywhere. 

Tomorrow will be another day in the plains and of course that means another day with the wind.  Our plan is to get out early and log in as many miles a we can before noon.  The locals say the wind always picks up around noon and blows until dark. The trip between Arco and Twin Falls is over 110 miles. This will stage us for our out and back trip on Wednesday to Nevada to tag the state.

Once we leave Twin Falls and start heading north we should be protected from the wind by the mountains.  We will not complain that for the next three days we will be regaining all the elevation we gave up when we left Yellowstone. Like I said give us the hills any day over the wind.

87 Miles

3212 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature 85-90 degrees




Day 40

 Tuesday August 30, 2011

We were up and out the door early to try and beat the afternoon winds. The forecast for the Arco area ( Atomic City) was for 25-30 mph winds while Twin Falls was only 10mph. <<<inert Atomic City>>>If we could get 50 or 60 miles south before noon the heavy winds may be avoided.  Well the plan worked and we covered today’s 112 miles quickly.

We passed a place that is called Craters of the Moon National Monument. It is a huge expanse of cooled lava flows that looks like the surface of the moon.  <<< insert lava and Craters of Moon>>>

When we arrived in twin falls we crossed the Snake River Canyon not far from where Evil Kanevil made his failed jump. The canyon is absolutely beautiful and deep. <<< insert Snake River>>>

Once on the other side Joe spotted a guy folding what looked like a parachute. We walked up to him and found out he was a base jumper.  We had just missed his jump off the Snake River Bridge. <<<insert Brdge>>>  Here in Twin Falls it is legal to base jump off the bridge or any of the cliffs.  According to the jumper people come here from al over the word to make the leap into the canyon.

<<<insert Jumper>>>

To all of us it looked truly insane to jump off that bridge.  Imagine driving up in a car not knowing you have entered the base jumping capitol and see a person leap off the bridge hand rail!

Tomorrow we will make a round trip run from Twin Falls to Nevada and back.  This will add the 1th state to the tour.  A suggestion was made that we could strip the bikes of our heavy wind catching saddlebags to make this 100 mile blast to Nevada. We have trained and rode for over 3 months with a heavy bike.  Pull off the bags and for a few days we will be Super Riders on light weight machines. We could blast off the run to Nevada in record time.  It would be great!!  BUT it would also be “cheating”.  The decision was made quickly.  We will ride to Nevada fully loaded.

Special Thanks to Kelley Behrens for posting our blog using a generator due to the power loss from the hurricane.  Thanks KB!

Arco ID to Twin Falls, ID

112 Miles

2246 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature 85-95 degrees


Day 41

Wednesday August 30, 2011

Twin Falls, ID to Twin Falls, ID

The wagon train was shut down today as one of the riders picked up a food borne ailment.  Team rider Ken went down hard and fast after eating a delicious dinner at a local restaurant. It could have been an apple or some other tainted fruit he ate earlier in the day as the other riders were fine.

This was a VERY ugly situation that came on around 7:30 PM just as they were getting ready to retire for the night. The team had planned the Twin Falls to Jackpot NV run scheduled for the morning.

It was serious enough that Ken was considering a trip o the local medical clinic if there was any way to get there. One thing Ken figured out as an experienced and well trained plumber is that you cannot puke and (excuse my French) shit at the same time on a toilet.  It will only accept one nasty thing at a time.  So when bent over the bowl to vomit you are in serious trouble if your rumpus cannot hold back the brown tide.  No need to get into the fine details I am sure you can figure out the rest.  Unlike at home when he can yell “Debbie” for help calling for the other bikers to cleanup would be a waste of time.

Still weak almost 24 hours later he is improving and should be able to ride in the morning.

The riders are still concerned about the situation of no power and roads shut down at home.  It is the main topic of conversation all the time. What is hard for us is we cannot do anything to help and that is difficult for us to deal with. Hopefully the next storm will stay out at sea where it belongs.  You know it is bad when the National Guard is on the town streets helping with clean up. Our Families did what they had to do and did it well.

Now if everything goes as planned we will be in Nevada by noon Thursday and finished with the tour 10 day after.  Our bicycle boxes are being readied for shipping.  Capt. Joe at All Quality Spares will help us with that issue. Thanks Joe!

0 Miles

0 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature Perfect…..inside motel with AC




Day 42

August 30, 2011

Twin Falls, ID …forever???

And another one bites the dust! Wild West Tour rider Tim Picard succumbed to the dreaded 24 hour grip that took out fellow rider Ken Silvestri the day before. Uncontrolled vomiting and the Hershey Squirts have sidelined the crew for another day in Twin Falls Idaho. Our bid to add Nevada onto our list of conquered states has been put on hold once again.

Because this is the holiday weekend it is imperative that we find book our rooms in advance which we did.  When Ken fell ill all our plans and booked rooms had to be changed. Joe handled the 2 hour process of rerouting and rebooking accommodations for the crew.  Now that Tim has gone down the plan has to be changed again. Joe and Ken spent time in the lobby reviewing the route options and motel availability.  <<<insert ReRoute>>>

Yesterday while Ken was held up in the motel room recovering Tim and Joe went to the site where Evil Kinevel made his failed attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon. On the way to the memorial launch site Tim’s mirror clipped a traffic cone and before he knew what happened he had crashed hard onto the ground. His road rash will heal but the bent front rim will not recover so easily. Ken and Joe took the twisted rim to a local bike shop Cycle Therapy for repairs.  A great bike shop with all good people saved the wheel.

“IF” rider Tim recovers by morning and “IF” rider Joe does not fall ill we should be able to reach Nevada by noon on Friday starting the final leg of our long journey.

0 Miles

0 Feet of Climbing 

223 Trips to bathroom

Temperature Perfect…..once again inside the motel with A/C






Day 43

August 31, 2011

Twin Falls, ID …STILL !

Knowing Tim would still be very weak from the same uncontrolled vomiting and diarrhea that plagued Ken the decision was made the 100 mile trip to Nevada would not be possible.  We hate to not tag the state as planned but Ken and Tim’s bodies have taken a beating with this mysterious sickness.  Ken is feeling better and even for him who has had an extra day to recover the 100 mile journey would be difficult.

Time and money are running out so Nevada is now off the list of states we will ride to. We all miss home and have commitments to families and work that have to be considered.

Both riders are still dehydrated and have lost weight from the ordeal and are having trouble eating. Again plans and routing had to be changed. This is the Labor Day weekend so booking a motel is not easy.

We decided to only ride 50 miles and then tie back into our original route. At least we would be making forward progress to complete our tour.  The rerouting took a couple hours and a room was booked. While this was going on Joe who had felt fine for the past three days ran to the bathroom and vomited. He blamed the salad he had had the night before and assured the others he felt better after throwing up and was ready to ride.

We packed all the bikes and prepared to get on the road when Joe said maybe he was not feeling as good as he thought earlier.  It did not take long to see he was going downhill quickly. Ken reminded him once we leave he is committed and if he is sick it would be an ugly ride.  Unlike the northeast there are no trees to hide behind if Mother Nature calls.  You will be taking a crap in the wide open spaces or puking with an audience of holiday passerby’s.

Everyone was dressed and ready to go as Joe pondered his fate. He decided to go and take a test ride on the bike to see how he felt. Tim and Ken stayed in the room and only had to wait a few minutes for his return.  Joe returned and said he was feeling too crummy to ride even 50 miles. Again we would be sidelined and condemned to the motel room for at least another day.  Tim was happy because even 50 miles would have been difficult for him.

Joe was spared the constant uncontrolled vomiting as it seemed the illness was not taking aim on him as hard as it did for Ken and Tim. Regardless we were shutdown for another day in Idaho.

Even though Joe was spared the worse of the sickness by midday he was still feeling week and in bed. We had made the right decision because it was clear he would not have been able to ride 50 miles in his condition.

By the end of the day both Tim and Ken were able to eat small amounts of food and it seemed to make them feel better.  Joe sipped Gatorade and ate some yogurt.

We will try again in the morning to leave Twin Falls.

0 Miles

0 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature was easily controlled by the room’s thermostat again.





Day 44

September 3, 2011

Twin Falls, ID to Sun Valley, ID

The crew was on the road by 7:30AM and headed north for Sun Valley. It was a chilly 50 degree morning but sunny and without wind. As we came up on the bridge over the Snake River Canyon we spotted a couple of base jumpers getting ready to leap off the edge.  These guys are CRAZY or have balls the size of watermelons we figured!!!  It was real cool to watch them climb over the rail and take the plunge into the deep canyon.

It was soon obvious buy our pace on the windless flat plain that we were all still a weak still from the past few days of illness.

It was almost impossible to get the bikes up to what would have been considered a reasonable speed for the conditions.  But at least we were riding and making forward progress. We made a stop for a needed rest after only 30 miles and wondered how long it would take our bodies to get back the horsepower we had 5 days ago.  It always goes away much faster than it comes back when you get out of bike shape.

The flat plains turned into a steady gradual uphill towards Sun Valley. We were told as we head north we will be in “rich man’s country”. When rode past the Hailey airport there were more private jets parked than cars at a Super Stop & Shop. Hailey only has a population of 6000 people too.  It looked like almost every family had a jet or private plane parked on the tarmac. Actors like Bruce Willis and other own land in the valley we were told.

By afternoon it felt like the power was coming back to our legs once again and the pace picked up. We will need all the power we had back for tomorrows climb to Galena Pass at almost 9000 feet! Ouch!

We were lucky enough to come across great Rails to Trails bike path called The Wood River Trail that took us the last 12 miles of today’s trip.  It was loaded with cyclist and more like a bicycle superhighway than a trail.

We stopped at a nice picnic table by a trout stream to rest when a fisherman walked up to us.  He quickly corrected Ken when he called what he had in his had a fishing pole.  It is a “fly rod” not a “pole”. He had a beautiful saying we cannot remember when he corrected Ken.  If your reading this blog let’s hear it again….text us.  A great guy and a serious fisherman who even offered us all a place to sleep at his house if we wanted. How cool is that?

When we arrived in Sun Valley a staged Wild West shootout was happening on Main Street for us to watch.

Dinner was real tasty and after a few days of not eating we filled our faces.  Ken had native trout, Joe elk and Tim salmon.  All the meals were delicious.

The forcast at this elevation is for sun but only 39 degrees in the morning.  That is going to be a nasty way to start the day.

80 Miles

3210 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature 50-80 degrees




Day 45

September 4, 2011

Sun Valley, ID to Stanley, ID

Today we continued north deeper into the Sawtooth Mountain Range of Idaho after leaving Sun Valley.  As you can see from the profile it was basically one climb up to Galena Pass then a long downhill to Stanley.

This part of the state has big temperature extremes this time of year.  It was a COLD 37 degrees when we left Ketchum.  As soon as that sun cleared the peaks it warmed to 80 in no time.

We came upon the birth place of the Salmon River just past the summit at Galena. This river flows more than 420 miles in Idaho before tying into the Snake River and heading to the Pacific. The salmon that come to these head waters to spawn travel over 900 miles upstream against the current and over 10 dams. You realize what an amazing feat of nature this is when you look at the stream it happens in. 

Once off the summit the river crossed the road a few times.  We stopped to look into the crystal clear waters to see if we could spot and fish. It did not take long to see the huge trout and salmon in the shallow water,  We saw one bright red salmon go down river and many what we think were trout lingering behind cover.  Some of the fish we estimated to be at least 24 inches long were in water so shallow the top portion of their bodies were out of the water.

All around us were towering mountains with the jagged peaks that give them their name.  Idaho is truly a beautiful state and a place we would all like to come back to.

63  Miles

3220 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature 39-80 degrees





Day 47

September 6, 2011

 Crouch, ID to McCall, ID

<<<insert map and profile>>>>

Today was payback day for yesterdays freewheeling 50 mile downhill run.  We opened up the morning with a 30 miles of uphill then we reached a high plain where the sun was blaring.

As yesterday we followed a leg of the Payette River.  They difference is yesterday we were riding down the mountain in the direction of the rivers flow today we were riding against the flow and up the mountain.  After careful examination we came to the conclusion riding with the flow is much easier.

The road up to McCall was busier than what we have been used to lately. For thousands of miles we have been spoiled with traffic fee roads.  Now even having a few cars go by seems like a lot to us. The roads shoulder was a little small but adequate. The sights were not as picturesque as yesterday so you had more time to focus on the fact that you were climbing.  It is better when you can focus on something else.

We came upon a group of people who were jumping into the icy cold rapids and floating towards a calm pool that they “must” swim into or the would be going for one hell of a ride that may not be as fun.

Sadly an uneventful day makes for an uneventful blog post…..sorry.

77 Miles

3506 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature 47 - 85 degrees




Day 48

September 7, 2011

McCall, ID to Oxbow, OR (Hells Canyon)

<<<insert map and profile>>>>

Well out in the outer boonies of the outback you will not find any WiFi.  Don’t look for a Verizon store because you will not find one. I did not see any “texters” tapping their phones while walking down the road. With no cell phone towers out here they do not have a need for a fancy iPhone and iPoneys. You will not find anyone who is hopelessly addicted to their Blackberry. Maybe that is a good thing too. Remember when we survived without these items?  Now we are all like puppets waiting for someone to pull one of our electronic strings. Because of this the team has been incommunicado.

The morning when we left the mountains surrounding McCall Idaho it was a nippy 42 degrees.  The mornings in the higher elevations always start off cold then quickly change to hot.  Nothing in between. We start off with every piece of clothing we have on and 5 miles down the road we start peeling it all off.  This is the scenario we have been playing out for a couple weeks now.  By 10PM it is near 80 and by noon in the 90’s sucking every drop of moisture out of us.

Out of McCall we started another one of our long downhill trends.  Other than a few “spikes” we went downhill for over 45 miles.  We wondered “how low can we go” as we went deeper into the canyon towards Oxbow which is just over the border in Oregon. When we reached the river we were just below 1500 above sea level. We have not been there since we were east if the Mississippi! We all would rather stay up high in the hills because no matter what we will have to pay back the “loan” of the downhill with big payments of “uphill”. Just like at a bank if you borrow some elevation you will have to pay it back with interest.

Repayment of the downhill came via some serious installment payments as we entered Hell Canyon National Park.  As you can see from the day’s profile

Near the end of the day we entered the next to the last state of the tour Oregon.  <<<insert Oregon>>>

Now let’s pronounce the state correctly or the locals will jump on your chit quickly. it is NOT pronounced Or-e-gone  it is Or-e-gin.

Idaho is a beautiful state with unbelievable sites but after 9 days we were ready to move on to.  Wyoming lumped us up with wind,  Idaho tried to poison us with food.  Oregon will love us….. ahhhhh nope. Oregon must have seen the WANTED posters the other states posted for the Notorious Spandex Biker Gang.  Just after snapping a photo at the state line Tim’s front tire went flat. He changed out the tube rolled a few feet down the road and his rear tire went down.  A couple miles further down the road Joe’s front tire went flat and Ken had a tire getting soft. <<<<insert Flat Tire >>>>

On the way to the motel we stopped for dinner. After we finished eating and returned to the bikes you will never guess what….yep Tim had a flat!!!

In the morning when we woke up we had another two more flat tires on our bikes! What is going on here anyway?   Now we are out of tubes and that could be a major problem with forward progress if we get another flat.

106 Miles

4445 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature 42 - 90 degrees

Day 49

September 8, 2011

Oxbow, OR (Hells Canyon) to Enterprise, OR

<<<insert map and profile>>>>

The climb out of Hells Canyon was simply beautiful.  We passed huge mountain lakes and many fast moving streams. It seems so odd to be in such an amazing place of beauty and have no cars on the road.  We had the road to ourselves almost all day long.  

Normally solitude on the road while cycling is just a dream.  Here it is not a dream it is reality. For nearly 50 miles no cars, no people and….. no water.  By midday the big climbs had started and temperature had reached the mid 90’s. The super low humidity dries your throat quickly as you are gasping for air making the 8 to 12 mile climbs. Soon we were all critical on water and nobody had enough to get out of the canyon.   <<<<insert climbing>>>>

You really get nervous when you are exerting a lot of energy in high heat and have no water. We decided to pull off the road and wait for a rolling convenience store to come by. In such a beautiful place one has to go by soon.  They always have all you need. 

You never heard of a rolling convenience store?  Well let me clue you in should you ever find yourself in the same pickle we are in. A convenience store is an RV.  Oh yea!  They always have water and other goodies. We waited on the side of the road for a while and then there it was.  A big Chevy pickup truck pulling a tandem wheeled camping trailer.

Ken tilted his head back and acted like he was drinking water without a glass. The driver spotted the universal “I need water” sign and pulled over immediately. Remember 99.9 % of all Americans are good people and here was another example.  He was happy to pass out some bottles of water to the dehydrated crew.

<<<<insert Followin’ Movie>>>

78 Miles

6634 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature 42 - 95 degrees



Day 50

September 9, 2011

Enterprise, OR to Walla Walla, WA

We woke to perfect cycling conditions the sun was shining and it was warm. First order of business will be to find a tube repair kit or even better a bike shop and some new tubes.  The problem is finding a bike shop may be nearly impossible.  In the past 4000+ miles we have only seen 4 shops and only 2 that were open. Today we had a 100 plus mile day planned with a couple of big climbs.

The crew is nervous because we do not have any new tubes on board.  We were able to patch a couple tubes with our repair kit before we left the motel though.  At least we have something should we have a problem. Most of the time you can get away with a patched tube but not always.  New is always better but when you have nothing a patched tube is great as long as they hold.

Should we have another one of those freak days with 6 flats we will be out of business. Actually we don’t need a freak day just a couple flats and we will be walking the bikes to Seattle.

The towns we passed through are so small the City Hall the Town Library and the Fire Department are all in the same building. <<<Insert Day 50 Small Town>>>  

Most towns we go through do not even have a single gas station or even a stop sign.  Take Cottonwood for an example.  <<<insert Tiny Town>>>>  For sure they do  not have a Starbucks, or a Macy’s.  And you can also bet they do not have a pro bicycle shop with the tubes we need.

As we were riding through one of these towns a car pulled up alongside Ken and Joe and asked where we came from and we were headed. The car had a couple of road bikes on the roof.  Cyclist!  Ken told them we came from Connecticut and were heading ro Seattle. He then asked them if they knew where the nearest bike shop was. They pulled over and said Walla Walla had a bike shop but  that was 50 miles away. When they found out we needed tubes they opened their bicycles tool bag and pulled one out for us. 

<<<Insert Tube>>> Perrrrfect as long as we have one new tube we most likely NOT get a flat.  If we had no tubes you can be 100% sure we would get a flat.  The cause of these flats is a small thorn that in the southwest they call “stickers” and here they call  ”goat heads”.  They are a cyclist nightmare.  Check out this clip on You Tube.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E95lxyZkGw

We made it through the day without a flat and entered the final state of our tour around 5PM Pacific Standard time. Washington! <<<Insert Washington>>>>

108  Miles

5077 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature 55 - 95 degrees





Day 51

September 10, 2011

Walla Walla, WA to Grandview, WA

<<<INSERT MAP AND PROFILE>>>

We woke to the unmistakable sound of a high horsepower engine rumbling outside our room at the Best Western. Looking out the window we could see overnight a fleet of muscle cars and street rods had arrived. Who knew Walla Walla hosts a huge hot rod show on Main Street just a couple blocks from our motel.  Some of the participants had stayed here overnight and already were leaving to secure a good spot at the show.

Some of the stunning machines were definitely magazine quality with perfect paint jobs and enormous engines loaded with chrome. By 7:30 AM they had all left and already were lined up on Main Street.

First order of business after hitting the road was to take a quick look at all the cars downtown. It would have been nice to spend a couple hours checking them all out but we had a 100 mile day ahead of us so a “quick look” down the street is all they got.

<<<<INSERT CARS>>>

Today’s route is a completely new and not part of our original planned cross country route.  The reason for the change is the availability of places to sleep for the next couple days. Even being that is no considered “off season” in this area all the rooms are booked along our original route. If fact we actually started to veer off our route yesterday afternoon. We will be staying at a B&B in Grandview tonight.

After only spending 15 minutes to look at 200 cars we headed west to get back on route.  Up ahead we could see a huge fog bank had settled onto the roadway.  The fog was so thick the cars vanished almost like magic as they entered it. We pulled off the road and turned on our lights before we entered the foggy area.  That is when we noticed the smell of smoke. Looking again at the fog just ahead we resized that it was not fog but smoke from a distant wildfire.  Lucky for us we only had to endure the choking smoke for a couple miles as our route turned upwind to the cloud.  <<<INSERT SMOKE>>>

It did not take too long for another sticker to find one of our tires and pop a hole in the tube. Tim called out on the radio the dreaded word “Flat”.  We still have not procured any new tubes except the one we got from the two cyclists yesterday so the situation is still critical.  Even if the towns we arrive in at night had a bike shop it would most likely be closed when we roll in at 6 or 7 PM. Hopefully that was our last flat.

During our travels today we spotted a new mower that Team Rider and landscaper Al Nebelung may find handy.  He can get his lawns cut and a ride in at the same time.  We got the guys phone number and he said he will ship it to ya.

<<<<INSERT MOWER>>>

This part of Washington is dotted with vineyards and wineries. The climate and soil here supports the growth of wine quality grapes. I have been told most of the wineries in this area only sell within the state of Washington. The wineries we saw are on perfectly manicured estates. With well maintained buildings.

 The now ripe grapes fill the air with their aroma as you ride by.  It was impossible to continue to pedal by row after row of bright purple grapes without stopping to sample the fruit. Tim leaned his bicycle against a utility pole and ran to one of the vines and took a small bunch off to sample. Oh were they sweet a simply delicious. We could have eaten a huge bowl full of them but we knew better than to tamper with the vines anymore.  Just a taste for the traveling road crew.

Ken has been snagging apples off of trees since the trip started over 50 days ago. We have passed quite a few apple trees along the roadway with ripe fruit. He hardly miss any of them either.  Hells Canyon road for example was loaded with wild fruit trees at the lower elevations there for the taking.

Washington is apple country. The apples trees we are looking at now are not on public land though. Apples were everywhere you looked. Billions of them.  Bright red and begging to be tasted. Hey didn’t that get Adam and Eve in a jam?? Like the grapes grabbing an apple off one of these trees is stealing.  But they are so close to the road and we only need 3 of them. Our mouths are dry from the heat and one of those tasty treats would hit the spot. Joe held Ken’s bike as he ran to pluck three of the forbidden fruit from one of the roadside trees. After quickly eating the evidence we were happy to see our bikes did not turn into pumpkins and no lightning bolts came out of the sky at us so maybe it was not all that bad of a thing to do. Anyway they sure tasted good.

As you can see from today’s profile the route was a little choppy with plenty of small hills.  We did get as low as 300 feet above sea level today before climbing back up to only 800 feet. In the back of our minds we all know we have one more mountain range separating us from the Pacific Ocean and the end of our journey. That means we will have to climb to near 6000 feet in the next couple days.

If all goes according to plan the Wild West Tour riders will arrive in Seattle on Tuesday.

101 Miles

2459 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature 65 - 95 degrees






Day 52

September 11, 2011

Grandview, WA to Yakima, WA

Click Here to View the days Blog and 

Lucky for us today will be another very short mileage day do to availability of motel rooms tomorrow. First we all got to sleep in a bit late because the B&B we are staying at is not going to feed us until 8AM.  I guess most people that stay at a B&B are not in any rush to get going in the morning. We basically had an entire house again not just one room to sleep in. We had a full working kitchen two bedrooms and even a hot tub we did not use on the deck. The beds were comfy and the place was spotlessly clean.

For the past couple nights we have been looking at return flight information. Like everything else the prices have increased quite a bit since we first looked at them over a year ago during the planning stages of this journey. We also need a flight that will get us home at a reasonable hour so we can get a volunteer to pick us up at the airport. Having to go to the airport is bad enough, doing it at midnight is terrible.  That is when Ken’s uncle had to pick us up last time. We want to avoid that this time.

As you can see from today’s profile we were on a steady uphill trend for almost 30 miles. The climb was not difficult but it lasted for a few hours. Tomorrow will be the big climb over Whites Pass and the last range of mountains separating us from the coast. Then we should have a great downhill to the long Interurban Rails to Trails bicycle patch that will take us into Seattle.

Just after we left the B&B we started going past miles of tall aromatic vines hanging from strings tied to cables high above. 

The air was filled with a perfume type sent. The tall green vines are one of the main ingredients in beer, hops. We pulled into one of the farms for a quick look when one of the family owners Stacy Puterbaugh came up to us. 

Ken asked a few questions and the next thing we knew Stacy was taking us on a personal guided tour of the family operation.

It was an amazing site of farmer’s ingenuity in action. Custom made machinery, tunnels and conveyer belts stripped the precocious hops off the vine and sent them to a drying area.

 The naked vines entered a shredder before they were dumped into a pile outside to spread on the fields for fertilizer.

Because of the lack of available motels we only traveled 51 miles today.  It was great actually to be honest.  Riding only 50 to 60 miles a day would give you the time to enjoy a few minutes looking at a working farm or some other point of interest. It was a pleasant break in our normally rushed days.

Along our route today we passed other crops of apples, peaches, pears and grapes. They were all soon to be harvested. Ken snagged a few pears and peaches all were good but just not quite ready yet but still tasty though.

We passed a sign that looked interesting.  Possibly a new business one of our followers or team members may be interested in starting on the east coast.  Pooper Patrol.  Oh yea, own your own business and become rich and famous. Any takers??

Tomorrow we will not be as easy as today was on us.  We will have to cover twice the mileage and four times the climbing to go over a mountain range separating us from the west coast .Early to bed and an early wake up will be the order of business. Whites Pass Washington ………….Team Eliminator is heading your way.

51 Easy Miles

1648 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature 65 - 100 degrees







Day 53

September 12, 2011

Yakima, WA to Randle, WA

We got underway early today knowing we had to clear White Pass today which is at 4500 feet above sea level. It is a long steady 55 mile climb to reach the pass. After clearing the summit we will be treated to a near 45 mile downhill run returning back to the 900 foot elevation.

Yakama’s forecast was for record heat approaching 100 degrees again today. We would be high in the Cascade Mountains where it was cooler by the time the heat was turned up.

For the pass for a few days we have been worried about traffic on RT12 the only road going over the pass.  We have been told it can be dangerous and loaded with tandem semis hauling apples. The crew was mentally prepared for some white knuckle riding.

But to our surprise RT 12 was nearly traffic free! After all the horror stories we are riding on an empty road. We had a few things going for us that we were unaware of.  First the apples are about a week from harvest.  All the empty apple crates have already been delivered to the orchards eliminating that traffic.  Since the apples are still on the trees the trucks that haul the fruit are parked waiting.

And now the big thing that helped us, there is a road construction project going on near the summit. They can make traffic wait as long as 45 minutes to get through.  All the locals and trucking companies know this so for now they are avoiding this route. PERFECT!  We did have to wait a few times and once for over 30 minutes but it was worth it.

It was midday with bright sunshine when we reached the summit at White Pass.

<<<<INSERT WHITE PASS>>>>>

All they way up we kept looking for Mt Rainier. Where is that big bump in the earth anyway? The road we were riding is buried in between mountains peaks so we could not see anything. As we headed on our 45 mile ride down the mountain we came around a bend and BOOM, there it was Mt. Rainer.  A monster of a mountain completely covered in snow.  In fact we had planned to ride the access road to Paradise on Mt Rainer but the road has been closed since September 6th. They still have four feet of snow up there.  <<<<<INSERT RAINER>>>>>

The wagon train rolled into the tiny town of Randle where we planned to spend the night at another B&B.  Finding motels in these small towns can be impossible. The Hilton is not planning on building a motel in Randle population 350 or so for a while I guess. First order of business after we arrive in town was dinner.  Randle had two small eating establishments if you do not count the gas station that had snacks. We sat at our table looking at the menu when one of the locals asked us about our trip. When we roll in with our loaded bikes all wearing the same jerseys it makes people curious. They all have the same question where are you going, where did you come from, is it for a cause, how many miles do you ride a day ect.

They offered us congratulations when we said tomorrow will be our last day on the road. We ate our fill and when it was time to pay the owner of the restraint told us the people in the booth who congratulated us had already paid our tab!  They slipped out before we could even thank them.  How cool is that? Another great example of good people doing good things for people they do not even know. We were flabbergasted.

Tomorrow if everything goes as planned we should reach our final destination Seattle.

93 Miles

4816 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature 65 - 90 degrees



Day 54

September 13, 2011

Randle, WA to Seattle, WA

<<<<INSERT PROFILE AND MAP>>>>

When we left in the morning we knew only 100 miles separated us from our destination of Seattle Washington and the end of our tour.  It felt good to know we were going soon to accomplish our task but the task was what it was all about. After our last cross country trip in 2008 we all suffered from PTBS better known as Post Traumatic Bike Syndrome.

Your body and mind has been focused on only one thing, a daily chore of pedaling and pushing forward. I guess you could call it a routine of sort. But this routine is unlike the normal daily routine we all have at home. Pedaling a bicycle to places you never heard of and on roads you know nothing about is an adventurous routine that has you attention all the time.  Around the next bend in the road could be a long flat straight road or a monster hill to climb. Any hard exercise is including cycling is 50% physical strength and 50% mental strength. Because of this you cannot let your mind talk you body off the bike. You need to keep your mind in check at all times or you are finished. If the wind is blowing 40 mph in your face you can easily become mentally defeated well before your muscles give up.

Your body is also constantly talking to you as you ride. It is always worried about keeping hydrated and fueled and will not let you forget. Just getting low on water becomes stressful when you are a long distance from the next watering hole. You legs are always asking for a rest they cannot have. It may be a routine but not a normal routine.

Today’s ride would end with a thirty plus mile ride on a Rails to Trails bike path that will keep us off the busy streets of Seattle.  This is called the Interurban Trail.  <<<<<Insert Interurban>>>>>

All along today route instead of apples and pears we rode alongside wild blackberry bushes that would continue even onto the Interurban Trail. Miles of the ripe and delicious berries were everywhere.  We stopped and munched on them every once and a while. It was incredible the amount of berries we passed. It seemed like someone could start a blackberry pie and jam company just picking from one section of the wild crop.

One of the signs we would see during the day is not one you will find back home in Connecticut but is important here. 

<<<Insert Volcano>>>

Some of the areas we rode through were buried under feet of ash after Mount St Helens exploded.  It was hard to imagine what it would have been like living through that terrible mess.  We were choked by a little dust and smoke on our journey west. What would the air be like after that explosion happened? Not just when it happened but for week and months.  Every puff of wind must have stirred the ashes into the air again. How do you ever clean up after a mess like that? Where do you put all the ash?  I am glad we missed that one.

Someone asked us which cross country trip was better. Well they were both better if that makes any sense. Each was different and unique. We had more of the unknown on the first trip because we had less experience. The added miles and days made for a longer workout and that was better. Both tours were fantastic and gave us a feeling of accomplishment. Now being in the somewhat small group of people that can say they cross the USA by bicycle TWICE is a cool thing too.

We covered over 4560 miles with bicycles weighing nearly 80 pounds. The team lugged these heavy bicycles over countless hills and mountain ranges with over 188,000 feet of total climbing.  That would be like scaling Mount Everest from “sea level” more than 7 times!  Over 1/3 of our cycling days were “Century Days” that is a day of 100 miles or more. Even figuring in the 6 “easy days” we had (65 miles or less) we still averaged over 88 miles a day.

Our bodies feel strong and not worn out after this journey. All of us could easily continue riding another 4500 miles if we had to.

This whole excursion could never have happened without the most important thing of all.  Something we did not mention on the web or in the blog. This was not because we forgot, but because this was so important we wanted to save it for the end. We did not want the most important thing to get lost in our daily adventure stories.

This cross country cycling trip would not have happened if we did not have the full support of our families. We all fully realize how lucky we are to have families that understand and were willing to do without as we rode our bikes. Lucky is the wrong word I guess, because there is no luck involved. We have great families backing us up.  How many wives in the USA would let their husbands take off for nearly two months to ride a bicycle?? Well we only know a few and we are married to them. Anyone got a few names to add to that list…..I did not think so.  Let’s not forget our kids that also had to do without as we rode.  Thanks everyone! Hopefully somehow we can repay everyone for their sacrifice.

Also let’s not forget our friends that helped us train and also supported us. We would not have a website or blog if we did not get help and our lawns would  be 4’ high.  We always knew if one of our families needed something we could count on them to be there.  That made our ride less stressful.  Thanks guys.

Without all of these people and more behind us this ride would just not have happened.  Because of them all we had to do was the easy part ….pedal our bikes.

<<<<INSERT TWO MOVIES>>>>

100 Miles

3074 Feet of Climbing 

Temperature 55 - 80 degrees

The Wild West Tour II  “The Northern Tier”

TOTAL DISTANCE  4559.7 miles

TOTAL CLIMBING   188,030 Feet