Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Days 83, 84, 85: To Portland and Beyond!

Rainbow, OR to Albany, OR to Salem, OR to Portland, OR (to Seattle, WA via bus)
Daily Mileage: 91.5 + 27.9 + 54.0 = 173.4
Total Mileage: 4,893.1
Average Speed: 13.8 / 12.8 / 12.4
Elevation Gain: 808 / 918 /1.346
 
 
 
60 degrees my ass. It is absolutely freezing in this forest! The good news is, no bear came to eat our pop tarts and peanut butter.
 
Wally and I desperately wanted to stay in our sleeping bags until it warmed up, but we have 88 miles to go today and needed to get a head start. We left at 8:30 and it was 39 degrees.
 
Morning view from the tent
 
 
My entire body was shivering for the first mile. My toes were already numb and my fingers also started to lose feeling. Luckily when we turned onto the main highway heading west, we got sunshine on our backs and that helped... A little.
 
I didn't gain feeling back in my toes until mile 27. It took Wally even longer, but eventually as we reached Walterville temperatures finally rose to what can be considered warm and we ran into another parade!
 
So a little background on the long day today. As you have read, it is all "downhill" from here. We are still coming off the final pass and closing in on the west coast. My plan is to get into Portland on the 12th where a bus will take me to my best friend, Jason, in Seattle. The 170 miles to get there could easily be split up into 56 mile days, but Week 1 of the NFL season starts tomorrow at 10 PDT, so I plan to ride only 28 miles to Salem on Sunday and arrive around 10 so I can kick back, relax, eat wings, drink beer and enjoy football!
 
 
Wally and I held out on lunch until we found a McDonald's at mile 52. I have been on the PBPT breakfast sandwich, tuna sandwich lunch and canned chili and Ramen dinner the last week so it was really nice to get some.... More crap in my stomach.
 
Naturally as we exit, my rear tire is dead flat. I can't take this anymore. I simply pumped it up and told Wally I hope that holds.
 
It held for 4 miles. Time for a change. This tube was punctured with a tiny hole, so I patched it up and threw it back on crossing my fingers like always.
 
The tube held the rest of the day, but of course, as elevation fattened out, Oregon became an uglier Kansas and we battled headwinds the final 18 miles. Wally jumped in front of me to take on the headwinds and I drafted close behind. I was losing steam fast, but reminded myself 18 miles ain't no thaaaang.
 
Baaahh
 
We arrived at Diane's place, our Warm Showers, for the night. She and her daughter, Amber, were so welcoming and laid back. They invited us to dinner downtown and even low on budget, I decided to splurg after a tough 91 mile day (it's always a few miles further than Google says).
 
Two beers, salty fries and a massive 8 inch tall burger later. I was happy and didn't care about this being my second burger of the day. Did Mac D's really count? To top it off, Diane wouldn't let Wally and I pay for dinner. Another amazing deed by another amazing person.
 
I am not jaded by all these things people have done for us along the way. Each one makes me feel so grateful and is as nice as the first and the last. 
 
That night I fell asleep on their couch dreaming about Seaside and my family while the cat snuggled up next to me. It was a perfect end to my final super long day.
 
 
Spoiler alert: This is mine and Wally's last ride together. I didn't know it at the time either. Wally was still unsure about his plans for the remainder of the trip and time was running out. That night at dinner he told me he would be heading Northwest toward Astoria (the official start/end of the Transam) while I made my way to Portland.
 
So for the last ride, I followed Google Maps to our Warm Showers host, Regina, in Salem racing to get there before 10 AM. Had I known it would be my last time with Wally, I would have slowed down and we could have ridden together a little more, but I guess we've done enough of that in 3 weeks and 1 day anyway.
 
 
It was the perfect fall day. I know it's not fall yet, but this part of Oregon is lined with apple trees and all sorts of other trees around each turn. Not only did you get the cool crisp wind against your face and legs, but every so often a wife of apples floated into your nostrils and you know fall when you feel it. The sounds of football analysis in my ears only amplified that feeling.
 
 
We arrived at Regina's just after 10 as her and her husband were working in their garden in the back yard. Actually her husband is building a shed which is where we will sleep tonight. The frame is up and the roof just completed.
 
We said our hellos and did my best not to be rude as I left all my crap on their porch and rode my bike to Buffalo Wild Wings. Isaak (stayed with them back in Blacksburg, VA) gave me a BWW gift card and I finally get to use it! I haven't had wings in over 84 days!
 
Football Sunday was excellent. I kicked my feet up at the bar and watched my Packers on the projector with a beer in one hand, wings in the other, and fantasy apps open on my iPad.
 
I found Wally at Starbucks around 4-5 and we rode back to Regina's. She welcomed us with beer and a vegetarian dinner that was so excellent. I almost exploded after seconds, this time I actually had to skip dessert.
 
Conversation at dinner was very entertaining. Regina's husband is a very funny and bright guy. We talked a lot about enjoying the moment you're in, not the destination or where you'll be in a week, but enjoying that very moment you're in. I spoke a bit about this in Council, ID as I watched the sunset. This is something I hope to take home with me; to slow down and attempt to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Manhattan... We'll see how long that last.
 
That's when Wally told me he'd be heading a different direction tomorrow. He continued, a little bashful, and spoke of how we have become great, close friends for life. He looked up at me, our eyes met and I couldn't help to flash my biggest smile back at him in agreement. We cheers'd to that and I echoed his sentiments. The last three weeks would have been really tough if I was alone and I couldn't be happier to have had Wally by my side through all the headwinds, cold weather and of course, the flats.
 
 
After an incredible organic breakfast including my first soft boiled eggs, Wally and I said our goodbyes making sure to get him on snapchat one more time. Good luck to Wally as he makes his way to the coast and figures out where/what he's doing after.
 
 
I am alone again for the first time since Tabernash, CO until connecting with David and Marion in Walden.
 
It's nice and I love it. Especially since I know I'm riding to Portland to hop on a bus to take me to Jason's house in Seattle. I don't feel lonely, only excited. This is my 3rd to last day of riding on this trip!
 
If you have been watching my Snapchat, strap in. All those stupid things I say to Wally or David or whoever, I will now be saying to you all. 
 
Farms and apple trees
 
I thought to myself as I rode away from Wally, maybe now the flats will stop!
 
The ride was very enjoyable. At times I feel like I am back in Connecticut escaping the city and surrounding myself with trees and falling leaves. Then I turn the corner and there is a cute farm and a view of the distance mountains. 
 
 
The enjoyment stopped as I reached the top of a small hill and felt a very hard lump in my tire. I looked down and saw my tire was flat, of course. But this time the flat felt like you were walking with a rock in your shoe. The Rock the size of a golf ball. Each rotation felt dangerous.
 
I literally jumped off Jasper to avoid injuring the rim. I felt my heart race as I have never felt anything like this before, I didn't know what to expect.
 
I am glad I left early because I didn't want to miss my bus and at this point I was expecting at least one flat. Matthew Michalek: Keeping the inner tube business alive since 2016. I undressed Jasper and flipper her over and found the culprit.
 
The last few towns of Oregon have been great for bikers. Seemingly every street has a bike lane. The only problem is they don't sweep the bike lanes so there is debris everywhere. Most of the time you ride in the car lane because you are avoiding rocks and the like in the bike lane. It is almost counter productive. Cars assume you are in the bike lane which can be dangerous when you're not. And when you stay in the bike lane... You get screwed.
 
 
I had to literally unscrew the screw from my tire because pulling it with a wrench was not working. I pulled a tube out of my bag that was going flat earlier, but I never found the hole so it was not patched. I changed this tube in under 5 minutes. A new PR. I am 8 miles away from Jason's friends house where I would store Jasper, please please make it 8 miles.
 
It made it 7 miles! I pumped the tube back up to ride the final mile. I don't care right now, I'll deal with this later. 
 
I made it to the drop off location and took a deep breath. Then it sunk in... On my god I made it to Portland!!!!!
 
 
It is pretty surreal, but it ain't over yet!
 
I parked my bike, took a shower, called an Uber and made my way to the bus station with a 6 pack a beers and snacks. I had no patients for a 4 hours bus ride so I watched an HBO series and enjoyed my 6 beers. Before I knew it I was in Seattle. Wow, 180 miles in 4 hours!! My mind couldn't handle that. For the rest of the day I kept thinking I was still in Oregon.
 
Alas, the moment I have been anticipating for a few weeks now. Jason pulled up and we embraced in the middle of traffic, no f@#ks to give anyone right now.
 
I am enjoying the days off in Seattle with Jason and his girlfriend Amelia Angela and their awesome cat, Amelia. This is my forth time in Seattle and it still hasn't rained. I'm starting to think the whole rain thing is a lie.
 
 
Jarmo and Amelia
Second cone in Seattle with Angela!
 
Jason is driving me back down to Portland where we will spend some nights out on the town and I will reunite with Jasper... where she probably has a flat rear tire awaiting me.
 
Seattle, WA
 
Then it is the last two days of riding, 116 miles to Seaside, OR!

1 comment: