Stage 1: The idea, opportunity, and beginning leg of the trek.
|Ferry to Southworth|
The idea came to me after meeting so many baggage laden riders while on weekend rides and family vacations. I often approach fellow bicyclists and inquired about their trek. It’s astounding to hear how far they have come and I am always in awe when I hear of destinations like Cape Horn, Mexico City and New Orleans. Curiosity prodded me to explore traveling by bike over long distances and the Pacific coast seemed to be the most realistic trek based on well documented ride reports, magnificent sights, cool summer temperatures, and plenty of campgrounds and cities along the way. All I needed was an opportunity. That golden opportunity arose after being laid off from my job and landing a new one with a start date three weeks out. There were fifteen days between my wife’s birthday and my good friend’s 40th (neither of which I could miss), so I planned for that window. I had been riding mountain bikes and commuting thirty miles (each way) to work on a regular basis the six months prior; this riding would pay high dividends on the trek I was about to make.
|Ready to Rumble!|
Considering my physical condition and days allotted, I came up with two options: start in Vancouver, BC and end in San Francisco, which would take about fifteen days if I traveled 100 miles/day; or start in Seattle and travel seventy miles/day to arrive in San Francisco in thirteen days. I discovered that forty to sixty miles/day was the norm for most bicycle tours along the Pacific coast, and I estimated I could increase the mileage by fifty percent if I traveled reasonably light and gave myself plenty of time each day to complete the task. I bought a one-way ticket on Alaskan Airlines ($150 plus $50 to check a bike in a box) and the plan was concrete. My favorite bicycle shop, The Bicycle Business (thebikebiz.com) gave me a bike box, helped set up my bicycle for the long haul, and offered many travel tips. I bought my reserve food, tires, tubes, bell, rear view mirror, a bright tail light, seat bag, and multi-tool there. My goal was to travel light but hold enough gear to camp comfortably.
|My load and a Washington state wildflower called Foxglove!|
These are the items I brought:
- 3 sets of bicycling shirts/shorts
- 1 cotton t-shirt & shorts
- 1 Long John base layer (top and bottoms)
- 5 Clif bars (reserve food)
- 5 Hammer Gel packets (end-of-day boosts)
- Sun screen (SPF 30)
- 2 pair of riding glasses (one dark, one clear)
- Mini MP3 player
- Flip phone
- Road maps of Oregon and Northern California
- Oregon coast bicycling map (free online at http://cms.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/oregon_coast_bike_route_map.pdf)
- 6-foot cable lock
- LED tail light & head light
- 2 tubes and a patch kit (for the inevitable)
- 5 and 6mm nuts & bolts
- Tylenol, band aids, first aid cleaning solution
- Clean wipes (pack/25)
Day 1: Sacramento, CA to Shelton, WA
Distance: 65 miles
Leaving, the Sacramento weather was so inviting. It was 105°F that week. I imagined southerly cool breezes pushing me along the coast line. On the plane I sat next to an Air Force Airman who was coming home from his duty station in Dubai, where it was 135°. As the plane started to descend, the dark clouds over Puget Sound were imminent. It was sixty degrees and raining in Seattle but I was okay with that. I quickly reassembled in the oversized luggage claim area. The airport baggage agent offered to watch my bike while I filled up my water bottles and to throw away my discarded cardboard box. I also met a cyclist who had just flown in from Iowa and was meeting his brother in Astoria the following day to ride across the States to Vermont. We gave each other sincere good wishes for a safe trip, and I was off.
|Disc Golf anyone?|
Stay tuned for more!