Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day One--Zion to Mt. Carmel Junction

Mt. Carmel Junction, UT

I can't believe they got all of that on/in there!
So far, so good.  After getting our bikes and loading the trailer in St. George Ut, we headed off to Zion National Park.  
Angles Rest

I've been there twice before, and it always feels like an awesome first time.  We had the choice of hiking the “Narrows,” which is basically wading upstream in a narrow canyon.  Or, we could hike five miles to way above the canyon floor to Angels Rest in the 95+ heat, which is what I chose.  Beautiful views and well worth it.

Zion Valley from Angels Rest trail
Fron the Angels Rest Viewpoint

At last we get started!  What a great way to start.
We finally departed the visitors’ center and drove up the steep road through the mile-long tunnel, which prohibits bicycles.  After the tunnel and at the start of another one, we finally got to saddle up and ride at the 5,300foot elevation around 3:45 when it was about 90 degrees.  Zion is so beautiful, so spectacular!  At 6-32 mph, with 180 degree vision and unlimited sky above, you can really see a lot, and it’s easy to pull over and stop for photos.  I still didn't stop and take as many as I would have liked.  We rode only 16 miles (mostly uphill), but that was enough.  

Along the road to Mt. Carmel Junction
A swim and dinner at the Best Western.  It's a really cohesive group of 15 so far. My dinner companion was a former Shakespearean professional actor.  He does computer support for HBO in New York City for his day job but his avocation is teaching and directing fight scenes for theater actors.   Our guide is French, who has lived in the States for 20 years.  He also guides bike trips in France off-season, and used to have his own French restaurant in France.  

Tomorrow, we ride 55 miles uphill to Bryce Canyon NP.  I can hardly wait!  So far, so good!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Let the Adventure Begin!

Tomorrow is the big day.  I arrived in St. George, UT yesterday and we depart for Zion National Park tomorrow.  It’s supposed to get up to 101 degrees today, so it feels good to stay inside, reorganize my gear, clean up my photo files, upload the daily route maps to my GPS, and write this.

By the big obsidian flow
Paulina Peak
As I said in a recent Facebook post, I am sooo done (aka burned out by) training.  Time for the real thing in the company of people, a support van, and new scenery.  I’m glad I invested five days last Thursday-Tuesday for some higher altitude training at East and Paulina Lakes in south-central Oregon.  Kathy joined me for the weekend, which made it a lot more fun. 

Paulina Lake, Thrree Sisters & Mt. Bachelor in background
Neither of us can believe that we've been in Oregon so long and have never been there.  At 6,300 feet elevation, Paulina Lake is over 250 feet deep and I think the 3rd deepest freshwater lake in the US.  The Newberry Crater is the largest in the Pacific Northwest.

We were told there was a “moderate” 20-mile mountain bike trail around the rim.  So on Saturday, we puffed our way up a steep dirt road to the 7,800 foot start near the top of Paulina Peak.  The trail was anything but moderate, and like our adventure at Steamboat Springs, CO in July, our skill level, fitness, and cross bikes were no match for the trail.  Fortunately, we got to bail out after 8 stressful miles.

After Kathy left on Sunday, it felt good to be back on my road bike on paved roads again.  Monday I rode 62 miles from Sunriver around Mt. Bachelor and back via the Cascades Lake scenic highway.  Lots of beautiful scenery, elevation gain, rough pavement, and winds.  I was pooped, but feeling pretty proud of myself.  Then I realized that I will need to do more than that almost every day of the ride, and more than double that on Day 5, with even more elevation gain.

Mt. Bachelor
The Sisters from Dutchman Flats near Mt. Bachelor parking lot
That said, I am so pumped and ready to hit the road, hang my Spokane friends Ron and Barb Douglas, and make new friends over the next two weeks and 885 miles.  Let the adventure begin!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

10 Days to Go!

“Dad, do you think it’s going to be any easier when you are 64 or 65?  You’re only 63 once.”  With those words from daughter Skyler, and the urging of my bicycling friends Ron and Barb Douglas from Spokane, I signed up for a two week, 885-mile ride from Zion National Park to Santa Fe, NM.  What am I getting myself into?

East and Paulina Lakes
With just 10 days to go, today I’m heading off to camp at East and Paulina Lakes (6300 ft. elevation) in Central Oregon for five days of getting used to cycling and sleeping at higher elevations.  Kathy is going to join me over the weekend, at least for company and an excuse to go camping.

On the Portland Century
We are both recovering from walking pneumonia.  Kathy was diagnosed and finally treated two weeks ago.  On Saturday I rode the 101-mile “Portland Century” with friends Jim and Debbie Miller and finally decided to see a doctor on Monday.  Fortunately, I never got the fatigue and congestion that she did.  We are so grateful to live in the 2st Century with access to modern medicine!

And speaking of modern medicine, it looks and feels like my March elbow surgery was a success!  I've even been able to resume swimming (with many stops to catch my breath).  Book sales have continued to be steady, especially following an article in the Statesman Journal about my experience of writing it.  

Kathy has been unbelievably busy with her Assistance League responsibilities at the local and national board level.  She will be at its national conference in Orlando during part of my bike ride.  

This year's Art Festival Treasure
In between everything else, we've had a very good summer since our return from Colorado.  The annual Salem Art Festival, dinners with friends, Saturday markets, and beautiful weather.  

As always, we’ll hate to say good bye to all of it.  We hope you've had a good summer as well.

Stay tuned for more updates and photos from the road over the next three weeks.