Bubs Trip Log

May 13, 2008

Welcome to the bubsbikeamerica.com blog. Our bike trip across America will start in June.¬† All posts and comments about the trip will and can be posted here.¬† Updates on schedules etc. will be posted on the ‘Trip Log’ as becomes available. Thanks.

Log Index
Western Midwest Eastern
First Day in Portland Dan’ View from Nebraska Indiana, Ohio Pennsylvania… Fast
Portland Airport to Reedsport Valentine NE Harper’s Ferry and Da-Da, dink, dink, dink
Reedsport to Eugene Report from Western NE Canal Trail vs Roadway
Eugene to Belknap Springs O’Neill, Nebraska Fast
Mmmm… Coffeeee…. The Midwest! It’s Over!
McKenzie Bridge to Bend Lectures to myself: the west
the big climb Fort Doge Iowa Post Ride
Dan’s View from Bend, OR Stuff
Overview Iowa: hot, windy, hilly Three guys and a gal
Reststop, Boise Ian’s 18th Birthday The final day in retrospect
Day Whatever #1 Iowa
Over to Nyssa Pounding through Illinois
Clarification on “Comments” A day in the ride – Illinois to Indiana
Peter’s Random thoughts- Western Illinois- one wild ride
Days whatever #2-4 Suffering
Fast and the Furious: Boise Edition Dogs of War and Peace
Idaho Falls Family Reunion Minus One
Dan’s View from Idaho Around Ohiopyle
Looking Down on Snow
The Tetons and Yellowstone
Jean’s Thoughts
St. Peter, Ian & other small observations

Our Trip log is below. Some entries are brief and others more lenghtly.

First day in Portland

June 7, 2008

Peter writes: Mom and Dad arrived in Portland this evening via the Bubmobile. About an hour later, I showed up at the airport. Problem number one revealed itself within 10 seconds of¬†his arrival: the van is WAY too small for this trip. Or, put another way, we have WAY too much crap. Unfortunately, the situation is about to get much worse, for tomorrow two more people will show up with even more crap. Our haul to date: two tents, four folding chairs,¬†one awning, two folding tables, pillows, blankets, four sleeping bags, mittens/hats/long johns, down vests, three bikes, two laptop computers, 20-25 pounds of Clif bars, powdered sport drink mix,¬†boxes of cereal, peanut butter, soup, baked beans, dishes, Mom’s golf clubs (seriously–that’s not a joke) and enough cycling gear to embarrass a bike shop. And, oh, tomorrow we get another bike, a bike carrier, more cycling gear plus even more luggage. And two additional human beings. Now all we have to do is, first, raise the van high enough off the ground so it will move, and, second, get it, plus all of us, down to Reedsport, Oregon, which is circa 2.5 hours from here. Assuming we make it, we’ll do the wheel dip in the Pacific. And the ride will begin tomorrow evening. All vehicular concerns aside, we’re stoked!

Day 0 – Portland airport to Reedsport

June 9, 2008

Today we picked up Ian and Brian from the Portland airport and drove down to Reedsport for the great kick-off to the ride. First, however, we had to figure out a way to get all 5 of us plus all the gear into the van, which as yesterday’s report indicated, wasn’t exactly a piece of cake. In addition to the two new gents plus their bikes, we added two large duffel bags, one more laptop, a large backpack, and Brian’s hard shell bike case. Hmm. The latter was one we hadn’t planned for. After much hemming and hawing, and some rejiggering of the van’s now-formidable contents, we managed to get everything in, albeit with bags on laps and various accoutrements sticking out just about everywhere. However, to make matters even better, the machine actually functioned, handling its duties exceedingly well despite the amount of weight (which, we are certain, now exceeds the recommended safe levels). In any case, we reached Reedsport at about 5 PM, unloaded at the Anchor Bay Inn (odd place but the beds are nice), and drove to the Pacific to do the rear wheel dip. To get to the water, we had to snake our way through a state park, and on the way we were stopped by an Umpqua Lighthouse State Park cop driving an ATV (complete with red-and-blue flashing lights — on top of the ATV!!). Turns out dad was doing 43 mph in a zone where we were legally allowed to 12.5 mph. Turns out the fine was $421, but of course dad saved our bacon by talking our way out of this fine by pointing out that we were clueless Midwesterners about to embark on this absurd quest. In any case, the officer was an exceptionally nice guy and let us go with a warning.

Another half mile later, and we were at the parking lot for the beach. Unloaded the bikes and began the hike to the Pacific, which was a good 300 yards across fine sand. Now, bear in mind that there were other people on the beach and that we consisted of 4 guys carrying ROAD BIKES down to the surf. After getting some strange looks flashed our way, we made it to the waves, took off the shoes/socks and waded in ankle-deep. Point number 1: the Pacific is freaking cold. Point number 2: we took shots as the sun was going down, so the photos look like a bunch of fence posts holding bicycles in the waves. Some photoshopping appears to be in the future.

The ride officially began Sunday evening circa 6 PM, as we started from the state park lot next to the beach. Did 13 miles, past Reedsport and onto Little Smith River Road. We were obviously psyched as we easily averaged 18 or 19 mph. So the ride was begun, although Monday was the true start of the trip, as we were slotted to do a full ride to Eugene.

Dan’s view to-date

June 10, 2008

Without question, I will defer to Peter, Jean and Ian¬†to provide the real commentary of this trip. However, you should know¬† Peter’s contribution to “stuff” (he did not mention¬†this?) is in¬†equal volumetric proportion to all that he took to Germany to live for a year.¬†¬†We are in Eugene, after some very memorable moments¬†to get us this far. I will let¬†others¬†tell the story. To-date¬†the entire¬†trip has been just fantastic! Certainly not what I would call “easy”.¬†Jean has made a HUGE difference. I doubt we would have made it to Eugene without her support. Yesterday, everyone nearly “bonked” at one time or another. Last night you would not believe all Ian ate! Today¬†our destination is Belknap Springs, camping?! ¬†More favorable conditions to riding; less climbing, smoother pavement, no rain and slightly warmer should help us all. Until later, thanks for your comments and support.¬†¬†¬† Dan

Day 1 – Reedsport to Eugene

June 10, 2008

Jean writes: The dip into the Pacific seems like weeks ago because so much has happened since then. To start with, we got off late this morning because the car had to be repacked yet again before leaving the motel. And of course, we all stood around watching while Dan wrestled with the luggage, ice chest, and other assorted things, hoping he could, once again, perform the same miracle he did the day before. Once accomplished, I drove them to the end point (13 miles into the trip), and made sure they had all the energy food they needed to finish this day’s trip. Was I optimistic! They stopped often and ate more, and then ate more again. This went on all day, fending off that “bonk” thing that bikers talk so much about!

The setting was beautiful – winding narrow roads, very large evergreens and assorted moss covered trees, lush underbrush and many, deep gorges and various waterways. Maybe a handful of cars passed us all day and two logging trucks. I was glad to experience this first day being as close as I was throughout the route. I’m exceedingly proud of their accomplishments but NEVER did I once say “gee, I wish I were on a bike!” Thank you everyone for your support.

Peter writes: Wow, what an incredible ride! That was epic. If every day is like that one, we will either become superheroes or never finish. I have only worked that hard once before in my cycling life, when I rode a century and wished for a morphine injection at the end. The day started at mile 13 on the route, where we ended up yesterday. Now, mind you, this part of the road was flat and the road surface was glass smooth. Once we got going, this happy state of affairs went on for the next 10 miles, tops. Then reality hit home: not only did we start going up much more often than we went down but the road surface turned into a kind of gravel-with-glue melange. This bumpy surface has two ill effects: it jars you and the bike non-stop and it slows you down dramatically (we estimated perhaps 3-5 mph).

None of this was too bad until we hit the second half of the ride (total distance today: 76.5 miles), when the combination of the road surface, the aggregate distance, and the increasing gradient began to be felt. We started climbing at a low but steady grade, and the road surface got even worse. This slowed us to a near-crawl. First Ian and then my father began to suffer up the grade, then at one of our frequent recovery stops I fell while not moving (I hadn’t clipped out of my right pedal, made a stupid error and went right over). My writhing agony on the ground proved that you can in fact hurt yourself while riding at 0 mph, but in the end I just suffered some bruises. In any case, shortly thereafter we hit an actual mountain climb. Not a hill, a freaking mountain. Of course, one should expect mountains in, um, the mountains, but still the length of the climb was a real eye-opener. We dragged our increasingly fatigued bodies over the top, enjoyed the nice long descent on the other side, and thought the worst of our day was over. Right. A few miles later, after turning on to a new road (which, thankfully, had much better pavement), we hit mountain number 2 for the day, and now it was my turn to suffer. The others quickly dropped me as my pace fell to 6 mph. I began to fantasize about climbing in the van and calling it a day. I was bonking, plain and simple. We stopped 2/3 of the way up and I begged for food. My mother, bless her soul, fed me a PB&J sandwich, which did the trick, and I recovered enough to get to the top. As on the first climb, Brian proved the strongest, dropping the rest of us with some ease. After this, we still had 30 miles to the end, but at least 6 of these were massive downhill runs where my speedometer topped 35 mph for long stretches. In any case, we managed to crawl our way into Eugene, completely exhausted but exhilarated that we had actually made it. THAT was epic!

As my mother said above, the scenery more than made up for these problems. As she wrote, the scenery was stunning: green, green and more green. Incredible, huge, moss-covered trees lined our route (including one particular massive redwood, the size of which I haven’t seen since I was a kid at Sequoia National Park). Our path followed a small river, which occasionally sported waterfalls. And then, of course, there were the mountains on every side of us. Supposedly these woods are crawling with mountain lions, which a local we ran into at the only general store along the route assured me were “harmless”. Nature never ceases to astonish.

Day 2 – Eugene to Belknap Springs

June 10, 2008

Peter writes: If yesterday was cold, rainy and windy, today was colder, rainier, and windier. In fact, the words “cold”, “rainy”, and “windy” don’t do justice to the conditions today. Perhaps there’s a hidden superlative out there that can do justice to the conditions, but I have no idea what that might be.

Our day started out reasonably enough, with a nice meander through Eugene. The first 7 miles were through the city and the attached suburb of Springfied. All of which was dry, I might add. And we had a huge tailwind. And there was an absoutely beautiful bicycle lane leading us due east out Highway 126. We were stoked! This was going to be an easy ride, a mere 65 miles with only a slight uphill grade.

Oh, how things change. Our beautiful lane ended abruptly at town’s edge, replaced within a few meters by the measliest shoulder in the history of road-building. I think the Romans might have built more impressive shoulders. Now, a 6-inch shoulder normally isn’t a big deal for a cyclist, save for two problems: one, there’s an inordinate amount of gravel in Oregon, the great majority of which appears to end up on 6-inch-wide road shoulders, and, two, there was a lot of traffic, including many large trucks. So the first few miles outside of Springfield were terrifying, to put it mildly. I’m not joking, we were all considering abandoning this particular route. Fortunately, after “only” about 4 or 5 miles of this, the shoulder improved to 2 feet in width. Frankly, that doesn’t sound like much, but to a cyclist the difference is enormous. On top of this, the amount of traffic subsided, for some reason.

The shoulder problem solved, we moved on to the rain-and-brutal-cold problem, one which started around mile 10 of the ride and continued, unabated, to mile 54. Frankly, if there is a cycling misery index somewhere, we found ourselves quickly at the top end. Yesterday’s physical pain was replaced by today’s extreme discomfort, as we slogged our way through many miles of the absolute worst, coldest rain you can imagine. Since we were trying to draft one another to save energy, we had the additional joy of having water spit off the wheel in front of you and onto your bike, face, jacket, shoes, pants and everything else. We were quickly plastered in muck and road grime, from head to toe.

There were, to be fair, three very good things that happened today. First, the tailwind stayed with us, which boosted our average and pushed us to an early end to the day. Second, the landscape here continues to be extraordinarily beautiful (trees, mountains and rivers). Third, we lucked into a wonderful little family motel, which gave us the chance to shower and get dry. We’d been fearing camping tonight, which would have been a mess.

Tomorrow we climb up to Bend, which is around 65 miles from here, most of which is uphill. As in, 30 miles of uphill. The locals here have all said we’re in for a long, hard day. At least the forecast is for sun and no rain. Of course, that’s what it said yesterday for today. We’ll see!

Jean writes – As Peter said, it was a cold, rainy day which, of course, didn’t affect me at all driving the bubmobile. However, I was concerned about the riders in this kind of weather so I would find an excuse to work my way back to see if they wanted a lift. Must be the mother hen in me but they always refused.

We were to camp this evening and use those tables and chairs we brought! And I was ready with the right kinds of food that I shopped for the day before. Secretly, (I learned later that everyone else had the same idea), I really wanted to find a motel and forget that tent thing in this cold weather. Luckily, about 7 some miles from the campground, I located a very nice place, relatively cheap where we bunked for the night. To save money, (this trip could possibly break the bank), I got a room with two beds so that the 4 of us could be together. (Brian, our friend, had the luxury of having his own place). Ian, being still 17 and without too much of a voice in the matter, was elected to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag. He continues to say he had a good night but I’m not so sure, looking at his face this morning. But it worked, so we probably will do this same sleeping arrangement across the country. Maybe Peter will offer to sleep in the bag some of the nights?

We are all so glad that Peter’s friend, Brian, joined us for this part of the trip. What a trooper he is! And what a great biker. Never complains, sense of humor, and willing to do whatever. Thanks for deciding to ride Oregon, Brian, and we’ll make sure you get to Boise on time!

All for now. Tomorrow is the big day with big mountains to climb and I’ve been advised to stay close. Maybe today I can get to reading some of those National Geographics I promised to read this summer. Talk to you from Bend.

Mmmm… Coffeeee…

June 11, 2008

Ian writes- Hello everyone!

Before i start, I must say that Oregon has lot’s of coffee drive thru’s, and I have now approved all of them… Delicious. Anyway, there is only one word that can appropriately sum up today’s ride in my mind, and that word is climbing. In fact, cimbing is indeed quite the understatement when I think about the hills back home in Wisconsin, oh wait, we don’t have any. Riiiggghhhhttttt. Anyway, there were quite a few interesting happenings today. For one, Peter suffered a flat tire not three miles into the ride, and upon fixing it we realized that the only spare we had on us was also dead. That was just the beginning. Everything was great after that until I stopped to adjust my leg warmers and Peter’s chain snapped as Brian and Dan were already riding away. Well, after waiting around for support for a while we finally made it to a safe stopping point and had lunch while we congregated around Pete’s dead bike. Needless to say I now know how to replace and chain and add or remove links as necessary, and I do believe that we are all very thankful for that now. Apart from some McGuyvering early on in the ride, today was really just jam-packed with the most spectacular views and climbs I have ever seen. Along with that, I also experienced all four seasons in one ride. The ride started in a spring/ fall type of climate down in the misty valleys, then we ascended into winter and were literally riding alongside snow and passing ski resorts. From then on, we descended straight into a cool and windy summer type of climate. Only one word can sum up the entire trip thus far; wicked. That’s all I have for now, it’s time for me to go watch the Colbert Report and settle into bed for the night. Bye Bye!


Mckenzie Bridge to Bend

June 11, 2008

What a day and what a climb the guys did. Impressive and they will tell you all about it. My role was to ‘appear’ frequently in case someone couldn’t make the uphill ride or had difficulties. As Ian wrote, Peter needed a new chain and innertube which was handled successfully. Many heads are better than one! And all made the mighty climb. At one point, I was off on a side rode reading but near the highway waiting for them to go by but somehow, I didn’t see them pass me. After a long period, I decided something must be wrong so made my way back many miles to find them, only to learn they were many miles ahead and I had to race to catch up. Ironic, for I’m the one with a car!

We’re now back at a very nice motel in Bend for only $50 bucks per nite. Again, we’re all (except Brian), in the same room and trust me, it’s getting very, very crowded and a little squirrely. For example, everyone had laundry to do. Bags of it. Due to impatience or just being extremely tired, they, the men, decided not to let everything get dry. Even though I warned them what had to happen, we now have clothes hanging everywhere…..from chandeliers, on bike handles and bike seats (yes, our bikes are also in our room), over the heater (and it’s so hot in here we’re sweating profusely), hanging from the lights above the only mirror and over backs of chairs. By the way, Peter gets the floor tonight but determined an air mattress had to be part of the deal. Smart guy.

So we have many laughs to keep us going and everyone’s in a great mood. But helping to keep us going are the great messages from all of you. We love reading them so keep them coming. We promise, soon, we will post pictures in the gallery and also, post your remarks. Harry, our webmaster, has sent instructions but we haven’t taken the time to decipher them. Sorry Harry. Goodnite and talk to you tomorrow!

P.S. the 2 girls that Peter so aptly described were something else – very, very nice and thankful they got a ride but I really don’t think they had a clue what they were up against. Again, the ole mom in me came out and wondered how their parents let them do this without properly researching the kind of journey they were on.

Day 3 – the big climb

June 11, 2008

Peter writes: Well, today’s ride redefines the term “epic”. I mentioned that day 1 (Reedsport to Eugene) was epic, but today’s ride beat that by a mile. Actually, in terms of miles, the rides were almost identical (76 on day 1, 77 today), but in terms of doing battle with the elements, including gravity, today’s ride over the Cascades wins, hands down. After a flat 7-mile opening to the ride, we began an ascent that was to last for the next 25 miles. I’m not joking. This first part, from Belknap Springs to the junction with U.S. 20, consisted of a steady climb at an average grade of 4-6%. Our speed wavered between 10 and 13 mph, which is about all we could muster over such a long distance. On the way, as my mother and Ian write in their blogs, I suffered a flat tire (a whopping 3 miles into the ride) and a snapped chain, at about mile 20. Nothing like standing on the pedals only to find that you no longer have a chain on your bike. Makes the thing useless, you might say. And by this point none of the other guys wanted to be around me, as they feared I’d been struck by some vicious cycling curse that might result in my bike snapping in half or my head suddenly flying off my torso.

In any case, after a lengthy repair job (thanks to Dad and Ian — yours truly has no mechanical skills whatsoever) we were underway again. By this time, however, we had climbed so far that it was really freaking cold. At the stop for repairs and lunch, we all began throwing on whatever layers we could find. I ended up with three layers, all of which were winter gear, which I quickly discovered wasn’t enough. Had I packed flannel pajamas for the trip, I would have ridden with them on. Swear to God.

We were feeling pretty good with ourselves at the juncture with U.S. 20, which is the highway that we’ll be on all the way to Sioux City, Iowa, which is maybe 15,000 miles from here. So it’ll be tough to get lost. Our elation at finding U.S. 20 lasted a few miles, when we hit the first of two REALLY BIG CLIMBS. I mean, these suckers made the climbs on the first day look like a couple of zits. The first might have been 3 miles in length, with an average grade “somewhere” in the double digits. Where exactly, I don’t know, because my entire attention was dedicated to two things: turning the pedals over just one more time so as not to fall over from my lack of speed, and not being hit by a truck. Oregon’s infatuation with gravel continued to make our lives miserable, as we were informed that the Oregon DOT just loves to shower the road liberally with gravel during the winter. Yes, that’s right, gravel. Red gravel, to be precise. And where does it end up? On the already marginal shoulder that is there to protect you from being hit by a truck. So here we are, climbing a couple thousand feet on a 12% grade risking our lives for gravel. I hate gravel.

Two really interesting things happened on the first climb (I don’t include agony in the category of “interesting”). First, about a quarter of the way up we began to notice snow, which only became thicker as we went to the summit. At the summit, the whole place was covered in snow. It’s June. Right now it’s 90 degrees in Washington, D.C. This is a big country.

Second, we ran into a couple of young women who had also reached the summit on their bikes. Turns out they’re sisters, riding across the U.S., just like us. Except they don’t have a support van, which means they were toting a serious amount of stuff on their bikes. Unfortunately they didn’t have money, either, which means they’re camping all the way. They also didn’t have any winter clothing because they didn’t think it would be cold in the summer — evidently they don’t have the internet where they live. They did, however, have a ukulele and a banjo, both of which come in very handy when climbing mountains. Or fending off bears. In any case, they were freezing (because they had decided to take a ukulele and a banjo instead of warm clothing) and were looking for a ride down to Sisters (a town at the other side of the Cascades). Good thing we came along, as they hitched a ride with my mother, instead of your random trucker. These girls really were trusting souls. Best of luck to them, may they complete their journey unharmed while enjoying many ukulele-and-banjo campfire singalongs.

Well, after a short descent off this snow-capped peak we immediately hit the second huge climb of the day (if you don’t count the 25 miles at 4-6% in the definition of a climb). Unfortunately for us, this climb really, really, really hurt. Did I say it hurt? I cannot begin to describe the agony. While the grade was no steeper than the first climb, the length is what did it. This thing was around 5 miles in length, which was not only two miles or so further than the first climb but more importantly was 5 miles of climbing after 3 miles of climbing, which in turn was after 25 miles of climbing. Well, after an eternity of suffering we all reached the summit, which of course was snowier and colder than the first. But we were elated, to be honest, because we all knew that this was the last big climb of the day. I believe the summit was 4918 feet.

The most exhilirating experience of the entire ride to date was the following descent off the mountain, which my odometer pegged at 7 miles. This thing was hairy. I won’t forget flying down the descent doing almost 40 mph while riding the brakes. Spectacular, to say the least.

At the bottom we hit the last 35 miles of the ride, which in retrospect shouldn’t have been doable. However, we received a gift from the cycling gods and were rewarded for our suffering over the mountains with both a beautiful 4-foot red-gravel-free shoulder and a massive tailwind. These things conspired to push us past Sisters and into Bend at what for us was a record speed. We must have averaged a good 22 mph for the last hour of the ride.

I can’t say enough about what we experienced today, collectively. To a man we were amazed by what we had done. We couldn’t believe we had ridden 77 miles over those peaks, in those conditions. I mean, it was freezing nearly the entire day (no rain though, thank goodness), and the amount of climbing is almost too much to describe. Brian proved he was strongest, again, although Ian is turning out to be quite the billy goat. And thanks again to my mother, who has proven to be not only the best at saving our collective behinds from various forms of bonking and mechanical breakdown, but who also appears to be having a genuinely good time.

Well, tomorrow we begin our journey into the heart of the high desert, and as a result we leave civilization. There are no cities or even big towns between here and Boise, which is something like 200 to 250 miles away. So we probably won’t be able to get online again until Friday, or maybe even Saturday, unless we can get wireless in our tent tomorrow night. Wish us luck!

Dan’s view from Bend, OR

June 12, 2008

YES!! We are in Bend Oregon tonite!

This was the best yet. The guys got it underway by 9AM (we are getting better). The day starts cold but dry no wind. I looked in front of me and I saw three guys blowing clouds of breath like a team of horses. Three miles into the trip Pete gets a flat. The spare I am caring (he does not carry a spare) had a hole in it. After the SAG wagon shows, repairs are made and off again. We start climbing. We climb steady for three or four hours then Jean comes roaring up and tells me that Pete’s chain broke (it’s brand new). So lunch was basicaly fixing Pete’s chain with sandwiches on the side. We climbed like none of us have ever climbed. We were always 1-2% and many miles at 6-8%. I saw 10% once. Climbing was the “name-of-the-day”. We started at 1,208′ and climbed to the highest point of 4,840′ according to my altimeter. Our total¬†climb for the day about 6,300′. The summit had snow on the ground. When I SKI in the mountains, I have nearly the¬†SAME amount of clothes on! Ah, yes, then there was going down the mountain! We have a policy of not exceeding 35 mph.. the brakes go on a lot. What saved the day was a beautiful tailwind when we hit the flatter terrain around Sisters. Had it not been for that it would¬†have been Sister’s and not Bend.

So what does the old man feel like at this time? Truely, I am lucky to be here. Certainly to be in Bend,¬†but mostly to be¬†on this journey. It’s great!¬†Am I tired? Yes. Sore? Yes.¬†I can not climb like these guys. I am always the last to top out and the first one to ask for a pace reduction. I do take my share on the point, I think. I am a very fortunate person! LIfe is good. The guys are great. Jean, as you would expect, is fantastic.

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