TransAm Days 78, 79, and 80 28th, 29th and 30th of July

Tom writes:

Mitchell to Redmond: 109 kms

redmond

Redmond to McKenzie Bridge: 124 kms

McKenzie

McKenzie Bridge to Eugene: 93 kms

eugene

So near but yet so far...
So near but yet so far…

Total number of punctures so far: 8 (Ami 5, Tom 3)

Total distance so far: 6650 kms

 

So we have reached Eugene, the second biggest town in Oregon and, coincidentally, also the penultimate stop for us on this at times seemingly never ending opus.

Right now I am lying on my hostel bed enjoying some peace and quiet and wondering gently to myself how I am likely to feel this time tomorrow. We have a good 120 or so kilometres left tomorrow before we hit the coast and some strange form of normality returns to our lives and after it is done I wouldn’t be too surprised if a tiny tear or two may be found in some lone corner of my eye.

On the plus side I know that we are both going to feel a real sense of achievement at the fact that forever more in our CVs we will be able to title ourselves “Conquerors of the Trans Am”. We are both fitter than we have ever been and the tiredness that we both absolutely feel is far more mental than it is physical. Churning out the necessary miles every day for three months does take its toll on the old psyche even though I personally really enjoy most of the time spent in the saddle.

The sadder bit is going to be the saying fair well to some people who we have really grown to like during this long period. These are folks who have fought the good fight with weird humour and a great spirit which breeds a little bit of an all for one, one for all vibe. We have certainly had some great laughs and the odd moment of sadness, but surprisingly few arguments which in my opinion is quite impressive considering how intensive everything has been.

The sad fact of the matter is though that however much you try to stay in touch the chances are that we will probably never see most of these people ever again.

To all concerned, we are going to miss you.

From left to right top row: Ami, Dave, Karla, Tom, Jack, Jared, Madison, Zoë and Ronny. Kneeling: Johnny and Christi.
From left to right top row: Ami, Dave, Emily, Karla, Tom, Jack, Jared, Madison, Zoë and Ronny. Kneeling: Johnny and Christi.

(Embarrassing admission: I just updated this photo as I just saw I had forgot to name Emily in the group picture. No slur was intended, just a simple stupid error. Sorry Emily.)

I continue now with an embarrassing admission. In my last diary post I said that we had seen some of the famous Central Oregon painted hills but I realise now that this was bullshit.

On the evening after penning this our lovely host from the Spoke’n Hostel, Mitchell (and once again if you are in the neighbourhood support her business, it was in the top three of places we have stayed at on this trip) took us on a little excursion to see the real Painted Hills that the area is so famous for.

And they were unbelievably spectacular.

IMG_20160727_204238

IMG_20160727_205130

IMG_20160727_204227

When you get up close you see that the surface is like caked, dry mud; someone in the group compared it to unpopped pop corn. Apparently the effect is caused by ancient climate change that even the major oil companies can’t be blamed for. You can read more about it the geology behind it here if you are interested. All I can say is that it is amazingly beautiful.

Three days of riding followed though the usual glorious countryside (which isn’t, as Stephen Fry suggested, another word for the extermination of Piers Morgan). We took our final real climbs of the trip and the last one, McKenzie Pass was quite an experience.

The climb wasn’t that steep, although it was pretty long, but as we neared the top we suddenly found ourselves in a lava field left after the eruption of a nearby volcano about 1500 years ago.

IMG_20160729_121737

IMG_20160729_124648

I don’t know if I would describe it as beautiful – although on second thoughts I probably would, in a similar way to the Dungeness coastline in Kent, England being beautiful. Not lush, green and soft but jagged and harsh.

I loved it.

Descending the other side we dropped a total of about 4000 feet (1200 meters) which was particularly glorious as the landscape we now were whizzing through had for some reason best known to itself turned itself into a rain forest.

It is not often you see a scene change like that in such a short distance. Apart from the fact that poor Ami was stung by a wasp at speed on the way down, it was an exhilarating few minutes in the saddle.

IMG_20160729_134311

Not much more to report from the rest of the rides except that Eugene seems quite a nice sort of town in a hippy kind of way and that Ami’s mum has turned up to ride the final stage with us tomorrow.

My good wife will I am sure write a bit more about that at some point.

Nearing the end now.

Auf Wiedersehen.

Advertisements

Meet the Triangular Impalas 10

Tom writes:

Time for the most improved cyclist of the bunch, Emily, who has shown what grit can do combined with a steady, consistent 11 mile an hour pace both uphill and down. 🙂

040

Name: Emily

Age: 45

From: Saratoga, California

How I got into cycling: I started by boycotting the greedy gas companies. I wasn’t going to pay four dollars a gallon for gas.

Favourite moments when cycling: Seeing other cyclists on the road, especially the self contained people. I think I am struggling but when I see them I realise I have it good.

Cheese or chocolate?: Chocolate.

Biggest disappointment or negative moment when cycling: The commercial traffic around me and impatient drivers that put their needs before my life.

Say something funny: I am going to reenact it for you. Imagine a self contained rider meeting one of our group.

“You cream puff, you and your ice and your ice chest. Patchoo (spits derisively over left shoulder). You disgust me…”

Cycling ambitions:I want to lead a ride, in my cycling club, The Western Wheelers.

If  you were to strap a piece of bread and jam with the jam side up onto the back of a cat and drop it from a high building, how would it land?: The cat will land on its feet, because you said the jam is strapped to the cat, thus the cat is the host and the jam the parasite.

MusicGloria Gaynor, I Will Survive

FilmApollo 13

Five people you would like to have at a dinner party:

George Lucas

Alan Greenspan

Ruth Ginsburg

Chris Rock

Tom Hanks

 

What would you serve: I would serve each their go to meal when they were in college.

 

Thanks Emily for the well thought out and telling answers to my stupid questions. Take care of yourself and keep on rolling.

Meet the Triangular Impalas 9

Tom writes:

It is now Karla’s turn, our grand forever young lady with the wicked sense of humour. (Even though I in all honesty don’t understand the lettuce joke she told here…) 🙂

.008

Name: Karla

Age: 76

From: Annapolis, Maryland

How I got into cycling: I cycled as a kid, but when I hit 40 I decided I wanted one with shift gears. At about the same time I attended a lecture about going on with your life. At that moment I decided that I wanted to ride my bike across the country.

Favourite moments when cycling: This whole trip even though I have hated parts of it.

Cheese or chocolate?: Chocolate.

Biggest disappointment or negative moment when cycling: Feeling that I couldn’t do it in the beginning of this tour. Also having to walk up hills.

Say something funny: A man was in the grocery when two produce guys come in and one says to the other, “do you believe this asshole asked for half a head of lettuce”. The man turned around and said, “this gentleman ordered the other half”.

Cycling ambitions: None, but I want to do my old 22 mile ride and see how I fix it.

If  you were to strap a piece of bread and jam with the jam side up onto the back of a cat and drop it from a high building, how would it land?: The cat will always land on its feet.

Music: Everything by Creedence Clearwater Revival

FilmThe Graduate

Five people you would like to have at a dinner party:

George Washington

Abraham Lincoln

Barack Obama

My granny

My husband

What would you serve: Fried chicken

Karla, it has been an honour to get to know you. What you have done on this trip is an inspiration for anyone.

Take care of yourself.

TransAm Days 73, rest day, 75, 76 and 77 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th of July

Tom writes:

Halfway to Baker City: 87 kms

Baker

Baker City to Prairie City: 108 kms

Prairee

Prairie City to Dayville: 72 kms

Dayville

Dayville to Mitchell: 62 kms

Mitchell

We can almost smell the ocean...
We can almost smell the ocean…

Total distance so far: 6324 kms

 

First to a point of order.

I received a complaint from a reader who shall remain nameless but obviously has too much time on her hands (due in the main to the fact that she spends most of it in various South Sea paradises), that I spelled the word hail/hale wrong in not one but two of my previous pieces.

This is of course the fault of the English language generally and The Oxford English and Webster dictionaries specifically and can hardly by any stretch of the imagination be attributed to your humble correspondent in any way whatsoever.

To those among you who may feel the need to comment on similar vulgarities in the future, I recommend a course of genuflection and a dozen hale maries until such time as you realise the error of your ways. 🙂

OK back to the business in hand.

We left you in limbo last time as we prepared to power our way into the amazing town that isn’t Baker City. My weird mind couldn’t get a certain quite good song made great by a phenomenal sax solo, out of my thoughts as I was riding but sadly there was nothing about the place that lent itself to such musical wonderment.

I was  reduced to vaguely hoping for Sherlock Holmes or even Danny the brilliant radio presenter to bring this cruddy place to some sort of life but sadly it was not to be.

We did play a solitary tribute round of the sausage sandwich game just for the hell of it though. It was a layover day after all and there was shit all else to do.

On the way there we broke the 6000 km barrier which we celebrated in the usual way by taking a stupid picture. We were for once at the top of a nice mountain at the time so there was a reasonable view for a change.

035 032

We are now three days into the last seven and I must admit that my enthusiasm for describing more routine examples of astonishing beauty is diminishing at the same rate that my thigh muscles are getting more toned after fighting and defeating yet another slope.

It is beautiful around here but I am no poet and can’t be arsed finding new adjectives to describe it.

This picture anyway is typical for the deserty and scrubby landscape that we see between the foresty bits.

Eat your heart out Wordsworth.

036

I am so uninspired right now that I just spent an hour watching chess on the computer which might sound geeky but really is.

But even someone who understands only the fundamentals of this honourable game (like me for example) should sacrifice an hour or so to see the brilliantly funny communicator and pedagogue, Jan Gustafsson playing banter blitz against patsies. (While discussing movies, basketball and other bullshit).

Anyway we stayed at our final campground a couple of days ago and I managed to grab quite a nice picture of an old railway station (I refuse to utter the word “railroad”).

044

We apparently have enough money in the kitty to stay indoors until the end now so the tent has been packed away and won’t be seen until sometime in another life if I have my way.

To be fair I have quite enjoyed sleeping under canvas and being woken by annoying birds but the pitching and unpitching part I can well do without.

What do you all make of this by the way?

046

Anyway we will skip to where we are now which is the nicest hostel we have stayed at so far, run by people who burn for providing cheap accommodation for velocipedes.

It is an ex church that is now half a church/half a hostel and is an interesting concept.

A lovely place it is, in any case.

061

If you are ever in Mitchell, Oregon why not give Spoke’n Hostel a try.

We got some pics of the famous painted hills and another gorgeous gorge but now it is time for some nourishment so until a later moment in my life, au revoir.

052

054

056

 

 

 

Meet the Triangular Impalas 8

Tom writes:

Here he is, the man you have all been waiting for, the dear leader himself, Kim Jong Jared.

The man who has supported and torn his hair out for us for over two months without ever showing an iota of irritation or stress.

(I am sure he has felt some though…)

20160727_070829

Name: Jared

Age: 40

From: Minneapolis, Minnesota

How I got into cycling: I am a born again cyclist. Five years ago I got into commuting to work tand then got the idea of cycling from brother Jesic in LA to friend Susan in DC.

Favourite moments when cycling: A day on the Kankamagus pass, it was Sunday morning and I got up early for a tough day. I met lots of people and it was very friendly. A great view down the hill and to top it all I met some guys riding Harleys who I struck up a great conversation with.

Cheese or chocolate?: Chocolate

Biggest disappointment or negative moment when cycling: Last August when hit by car for the second time while trying to cycle across the country. It was in Forest Grove, Pennsylvania at a stop sign, hit by a hit and run driver.

Say something funny: Billy Goat Ace Eater Alligator One

Cycling ambitions: To make it across the country without getting hit by a car. To cycle 50 miles in every state.

If  you were to strap a piece of bread and jam with the jam side up onto the back of a cat and drop it from a high building, how would it land?: If you did it you would create a perpetual motion machine. You wil have discovered free energy.

Music: Awakenings by Michael Allen Harrison

Film: Fifth Element

Five people you would like to have at a dinner party:

Joel Hodgson

Penn

Teller

Isaac Asimov

My brother Jesec

What would you serve: I would take them to the Travail Restaurant in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

 

Thanks Jared. It has been a real pleasure getting to know you. Hope to see you down under some time in the future.

Meet the Triangular Impalas 7

Tom writes:

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeres Johnny! Our leader since Pueblo, Colorado gives his amazingly insightful answers to my impertinent questions.

20160727_063313

Name: Johnny

Age: 39

From: Los Angeles, home of Lax airport

How I got into cycling: I rode as a kid up to high school, bought a car and forgot about the bike until 2008. I was then asked to join my company’s triathlon team, even though I can’t swim and fell in love with the bike again.

Favourite moments when cycling: My first day riding in Spain to France. It was such a milestone, a new country and a new language, the only thing that kept me going was the bike.

Cheese or chocolate?: Chocolate.

Biggest disappointment or negative moment when cycling: Not riding all the way to the Black Sea because my friend was fatigued. We weren’t having fun anymore and felt it was time to quit. I really wish I had made it.

Say something funny: What did the snail say on the back of a turtle? Weeeeeeeee!

Cycling ambitions: Go anywhere and everwhere possible with a bike. All  seven continents would be cool.

If  you were to strap a piece of bread and jam with the jam side up onto the back of a cat and drop it from a high building, how would it land?: I default to the jam side.

Music: “In Rainbows” by Radiohead

Film: Pulp Fiction

Five people you would like to have at a dinner party:

My dad

My mother

My sister

Both grandmothers

What would you serve: Mixed chinese vegetable dish

 

Thanks Johnny. Read all he has to say on the Milestone Rides blog. A bloody good read!

A Song for Every State 9

Tom writes:

This is the pits, it has to be said. Not only is it (as usual) in the wrong key, it is also in the wrong tense and to top it all almost impossible to hear.

“Idaho lot of shaking going on” was the effect I was looking for anyway which is unworthy of a state that has actually proved to be my favourite in this whole continent so far.

Here it is in all its patheticness:

Here is the original in a magnificent live version: