Bike Ride Across America (BRAA) -  MAY

Brian and Pam Started their epic journey to cross the great United States on their tandem bicycle on May 18, 2009.   Their route includes Adventure Cycling's  Lewis and Clark Trail, the RAGBRAI , Adventure Cycling's Great Rivers Trail, and Adventure Cycling's Trans Am Trail.  This is the start of their daily diary of their ride.

Sunday May 17 We arrived in Portland Oregon to 80 degree weather with blue skies in the evening  on our one way ticket from Orlando, FL.  Monday - May 18, 2009

 Today we left Portland, OR, at 6:30 a.m. on our rental car exchange excursion…  They wanted $140 to rent a car one way from Portland to Astoria. No way! We rented a car for $35 in Portland and another in Astoria for $35. Then we found out that the six hours of driving back and forth from Astoria to Portland to save $70 on a rental car drop off one way was definitely not worth the monetary savings.  Lesson learned! 

 We picked up the bike from the bike shop, Bikes and Beyond, here in Astoria, OR, at 2:00 p.m.  The bike assembly went off without a hitch.  Brian did this in two hours.  We left our hotel at 6:30 p.m. to ride the eleven miles from our hotel in Astoria to the Pacific Ocean.  It was slightly sprinkling when we began our day’s test ride, and by the time we arrived at the ocean the sprinkling became rain and then quite a bit more.  We were able to get a few photos and some video of our “rear bike tire dipping” at the Pacific.  This begins our 4,600 mile journey across the U. S.!

 This is definitely Lewis & Clark country as you can’t ride even a few miles without seeing signs for various Lewis & Clark sites, parks, scenic drives, etc.  On our way to the Pacific we noted a Lewis & Clark trail site just outside of the town of Warrenton, OR.  The Lewis & Clark State Park is near Astoria.

Wow!  Something very strange just happened just a moment ago as I was writing this log (9:00 p.m.).  The rear tire on the bike just blew out!  It sounded like a firecracker going off here in the hotel room.  Not sure what caused the blow out as the bike was stationary (and has been since we arrived back from our test ride at 7:30 p.m.), and up on it's kick stand...  Better to get the flat out of the way on the first day!

 Day 1 Stats:

Miles - 11.2

Weather 51’F – Rain

Feet of climb - 102

Tuesday May 19, 2009

Daily Stats:

Miles today – 56.2

Daily ride time – 4 hrs 35 min

Average –  12.4mph

Daily Climb – 2,054

Total BRAA mileage – 67.3

Weather – Rainy and 50’F

Word(s) of the day – “Groundhog Day”. You know how on February 2nd if the ground hog sees his shadow how there is supposed to be six weeks more of bad weather, and if he does not see his shadow there is supposed to be a mild spring???? Well that is what we are hoping for since we definitely could not see our shadow and could use a few days of drying out for the next 6 weeks!

We started out our first (full) day of riding at 6:03 am, about a half hour after the sun would have risen if it were not pouring rain. The rain quickly did subside (for a while) and we had relatively few issues (for a while). We stopped at 7:30 for breakfast at “The Lumberjack Restaurant” and Brian ordered the He Man omelet, you know 5 eggs, filled with bacon, sausage, ham, green peppers, cheese, onions, tomatoes – you know – the works – with a side of cottage cheese. That hit the spot and off we went.

At 9:20 we arrived for the ferry to cross the Columbia River to find it only ran once an hour – at 15 minutes past every hour – just missed it! So we decided to get out of the drizzle get Pam some coffee at a restaurant a mile from the ferry. At 10:15 we had our very own private ferry to take us across the river for $1 – how do they do it??


We met up with Art Birkmeyer just before 11:00 who was riding his bike up the road to meet with us. Then at 11:20 we had our second flat tire of the trip. You know we normally only have a flat every 1,000 miles or so we only brought two spare tubes and now we have used them both and only 40 miles into our ride. Oh well…. Then at 12:05 we had one of our bike chain idler pullies just break in half. Now that we did not have a spare for and we had to do some creative engineering to get us the remaining 20 miles to Art’s house.

We arrived at Art’s house in Longview Washington just about 2pm but not before the last 30 minutes of totally downpour rain (Art tells us it does get worse) just soaked our bike and us. We looked like drowned rats. After throwing the clothes in the dryer and ourselves in the shower things started to get ‘normal’ for us again.

Art turned out to be one of my personal heroes – he has done over twenty rides of one week or longer including last year doing the Northern route across the US. (and in his 60’s!) He was a helicopter pilot in the Navy and we have been to many of the same places around the globe. Half a day was not nearly enough time to spend milking his great knowledge of long distance biking. (and other topics) Thanks Art!

Until tomorrow - Brian

Wednesday May 20, 2009

Daily Stats:                                                                                                                      Mount Hood from Portland as we turned onto Marine Drive

Miles today – 81.5 Daily ride time – 6 hrs 5 min Average –  13.6 mph Daily Climb – 1,043 Total BRAA mileage – 148.8 Weather @ Start cloudy and 48’F – Weather @ finish sunny and 65’FBright (well a little overcast) and early this a.m. at 05:56 we began our ride.  Thankfully there was no rain, and none in the forecast.  It was, however, 9 degrees Celsius so just a bit nippy.  We quietly left Art and Mary Birkmeyer’s home as they were still sleeping.  What wonderful people! 

We stopped for breakfast at the Country Inn located just outside of St. Helens, OR.  Great food, and our waitress, Connie, was above and beyond helpful and kind.  Just after leaving the parking lot after breakfast we noticed the rear tire was losing air… again!  Just before we ate breakfast we stopped at a Wal-Mart to pick up Slime for the tire.  So… Brian put the slime in the rear tire, and we finished out the day’s ride without an issue.

The Coventry Cycle Works was relatively easy to find in Portland.  We made our way there through beautiful residential areas in order to avoid heavy traffic.  Springtime in the Oregon/Washington area is OUTSTANDING with so many varieties of blooming trees, flowers, and shrubs.  Just before we found the bike shop we happened upon a Whole Foods store and decided to pick up some additional Chia bars as they are very hard to come by (had to get some G.T.’s Kombucha too).  The bike shop had the parts we needed.  They also recommended a pizza place around the corner that is bike friendly (kind of crazy sky diver/free fly looking staff, but awesome pizza).  This place delivers pizzas on bikes.  Very eco friendly.  Portland is the best bike friendly large city that we’ve ridden in so far.  The Adventure Cyclist map states this, and I believe it.  Lots of cyclists on the road this afternoon.

Outside of Portland on our way to Troutdale we rode for about 8 miles on a wonderfully beautiful bike lane just north of Marine Avenue right next to the Columbia River.  Mount Hood was visible in the background with lots of snow.  Gorgeous!  We arrived in Troutdale, OR at a Motel 6 around 3:30 p.m.


Thursday --- May 21, 2009

                                                                                                    Multnomah Falls  Daily Stats: Miles today – 73.4 Daily ride time – 6 hrs 15 min Average –  12.0 mph Daily Climb – 3,710 Total BRAA mileage – 222.2   ` Weather @ Start sunny and 46’F – Weather @ finish sunny and 81’F Today we find ourselves in a strange but beautiful place, strange in the sense that we are definitely not in Arizona anymore. We are finding ourselves immersed in the solitude of the forest; during much of our ride we have no sounds other than our bike tires and the wind whispering through the tall Oregon pines. When I had first read about biking through the Columbia River gorge I read that it was the most visited area of Oregon. Even though it may be just that, and due to the freeway, we still found at many times we were the only people on this historic Columbia River Highway. There were even stretches of time when we would go 20 or 30 minutes without even seeing a car. We felt as if we owned the road. We started our day eating breakfast right out of the gate since our route showed no towns with restaurants for the first 2-½ hours. So we did not peddle out of Troutdale until 7:05 am, a bit of a late start but since the sun does not go down until after 8pm we figured we would do ok. I also cheat a bit and check the aviation TAF’s (Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts) and the winds were forecasted as an 8 knot headwind until around noon and then they were supposed to turn and be a tail wind at 8 knots until sunset, so…..

Left to right;Ferns along the CRH

The official CRH sign.

Bike path made from old abandoned CRH - no Cars!

Immediately out of Troutdale we were in the deep forest of the Columbia River Highway. Pam and I had made a pact that we would stop at every point of interest along the way. Our average mph for the day reflects that since we were stopping and starting so much. During the first hour we must have already stopped a dozen times. Historical points of interest, waterfalls, Mount Hood, and scenes we are unfamiliar with (being from Arizona) keep making us both yell “stop, stop, stop…” We did not even seem to care that we had to climb over 1,000 feet in the first hour of our day.

As the day matured we were shedding the layers of clothes and by 11 am I was down to my Arizona apparel, my shorts, sandals, and light Underarmour shirt. Also at 11am we started to drive on our first portions of bike trails, section of the old Columbia River Highway that had been abandoned when the freeway went through. Then over the last few years the state of Oregon has repaved the road and now only allows bikers and hikers. These sections of our route were especially quiet.

At noon thirty we pulled into Cascade Locks for our first lunch. (When you are burning 3,000 to 4,000 calories a day on the bike you have to eat more.) As we rode past the Welcome to Cascade Locks sign both our cell phones beeped indicating we had messages (and now cell phone service) and we realized how nice it was on our own road, through the forest, with only the sounds we were making and the wind through the trees. (And Pam yelling “Deer, Deer, Deer…. Oh crud where’s the camera….”) The route out of Cascade Locks was freeway for the first 12 miles then off again onto the old Columbia River Highway.  This stretch of the highway would also prove to be a little too much for us, an eleven percent grade. Our peddling power runs out at around 6 – 7% up grade. So for ¾ of a mile we found ourselves pushing the bike for the first time. We rolled into Hood River at 2:30 and ate our second lunch at the Ixtapa Mexican Restaurant. Our waiter turned out to be from Cumpas, Sonora, Mexico which is only a ten minute drive from Moctezuma where our very good friends live and we visit quite often. He was flabbergasted that we knew the very small town he was from. In all the time he has been in Oregon people had not even heard of the state of Sonora let alone his little town. What a small world….. It had now heated up to around 80’F with no cloud cover so we decided to take the freeway the last 18 of 24 miles we had remaining for the day. In addition the weatherman was wrong (what are the odds) and now we had a 12 – 15 mph head wind. Oh well, it could be worse….. We rolled into our overnight town of The Dalles at straight up 5pm – ready for a shower at our Motel 6. We reflected on what we had  \\viewed during the day and then also found out we had taken around 100 photos – then it dawned on us how great it really was. I can’t imagine having a better biking day it is only the third full day of our planned 66 peddling days. What a ride! Until tomorrow, Brian 

 Friday May 22

Today was a day of rest in The Dalles. With 3 movie channels and two naps everything went as planned.


Saturday --- May 23, 2009

Daily Stats: Miles today – 21.0 Daily ride time – 1 hrs 25 min Average –  14.5 mph Daily Climb – 509 Total BRAA mileage – 250.0   Weather @ Start sunny and 74’F – Weather @ finish sunny and 78’F Today’s 21 mile ride went by in a flash!  At home we usually ride 25-30 miles every day, so today was a piece of cake.  We ate our lunch at the Ixtapa restaurant in Dalles, OR, at 11:00, and began our journey a bit after noon.  We didn’t want to arrive in Biggs, OR too soon, so we opted to relax a bit more this morning prior to our ride.  The first 10 miles (half of the day’s ride) was on I-84.  Lots of trash and debris along the shoulder of the road, what a shame!  Once we left the freeway, and entered highway 206, the debris lessened, and the peace and quiet of the countryside was with us once again.  We stopped for a few photos at the Deschutes campground (cyclist friendly) as they had a gorgeous area manicured for everyone’s enjoyment.  There was a covered wagon at the entrance, and lots of flowers.Photo at left:  entrance to Deschutes River camping area middle photo:  wildflowers at the Deschutes entrances

photo at right:  Brian (barely visible) standing next to the windmill blade.

While I was taking a few photos, a cyclist pulled up to talk with Brian.  He was from Portland, and was riding a four day tour with a group.    Once back on the highway we were only about four miles away from Biggs, our overnight destination.  We stopped on the way into town to take a picture and video of Brian and the bike next to a HUGE windmill blade on a tractor trailer parked in a lot along the road. At 1:38 p.m. we rolled into the parking lot of the Nu Vu motel in Biggs, where we were greeted by an extremely nice lady who was in awe of our bike ride. The Nu Vu motel turned out to be a gem of a motel, very clean, Direct TV, extra pillows, and oversized rooms to park your bike in. A final note before I sign off.  Even though the high temperature for the finish of our ride indicated 78 degrees the thermometer on our bike read 91 degrees.  The sun was extremely intense on our bodies today!  Lots of sunscreen in use, to say the least. Happy Oregon Trails! PamSunday --- May 24, 2009

Miles today – 85.2 Daily ride time – 5 hrs 42 min Average –  15.1 mph Daily Climb – 2,093 feet Total BRAA mileage – 336.8 Weather @ Start sunny and 68’F – Weather @ finish sunny and 81’F Woke up and checked the TAF’s and “surprise” winds predicted are 12 gusting to 24 knots – TAILWIND! So we started at 5:35 as the sun was peeking up over the hills. Our first 5 miles was over 1,000 feet of climb out of the Columbia River Valley at a painful 5% up grade. The 5 miles took us 48 minutes. At the one hour mark our average speed was 7.7 mph. We stopped to take our last photos of Mount Hood. We had stocked up on food and water today as our map indicated no services today and as we left town a BIG sign said next gas 84 miles. They weren’t kidding. Even though we were still following the Columbia River, we crossed over to the Washington side for 98% of our trip today and the two (so called) towns we went through looked like ghost towns. Each of the towns had a restaurant but since it was Sunday we were eating our own today.Photo left: One of the many Oregon Trail signs.

Photo Middle: Our final view of Mt Hood 70 miles East

Photo Right: Back into Oregon and the visitor center

Two hours into our ride the wind did pick up and we started to cruise at 18 – 20 mph – nice! And the wind was coming off the Columbia River so it was a very cold breeze as well. The topography has taken a change for the last two days – no trees. In fact the only trees we saw today were in towns or planted orchards. Quite different than the first three days of riding! The area in reminiscent of when we went to Daniel’s graduation in Oklahoma – it is very dry and now flat with only a few hills in the distance that remind us of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. The last hour the winds shifted out of the South so our tail wind turned to a cross wind so the average started to creep back down. We arrived into Umatilla at 12:30 and the first hotel we inquired at had a room ready for us. The hotel suggested a bar down the road for lunch and we had a taco pizza that could not be beat! Yoo-Hoo!

Side Note – Speedometer

As a side note – we had purchased a new speedometer for the trip – one with an altimeter, thermometer, wireless, the best $79 could buy. The thermometer has proven to be a very interesting tool. This morning before the sun actually hit us due to the cliffs of the canyon walls, it was reading 71 degrees when we crested a hill. We got to go down the hill at 35 mph and by the bottom it was reading 68 degrees which I believe it does account for wind chill.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, when the mercury is reading 80 degrees and we are biking in low wind conditions it consistently reads in the 90’s which I believe is the actual temperature we are experiencing with the direct sunlight and pavement reflection of heat. This tool has helped us to drink enough water for the conditions we are experiencing.

The real reason we bought the new speedometer was for the altimeter. It calculates the percent of climb of each hill we go up or down. That has proven also to be a great tool – especially as fatigue sets in. If I see us going too slow on a hill that we normally climb up ok then I know we are overdue for a break. It also helps with gear selection. So far the $79 seems worth it!

Until tomorrow!


Memorial Day --- May 25, 2009

Miles today – 59.8

Daily ride time – 4 hrs 26 min

Average –  13.7 mph

Daily Climb – 1,543 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 397.2

Weather @ Start sunny and 69’F – Weather @ finish sunny and 82’F

Today was the start of a glorious day!  We began our journey at 6:42 a.m. after a quick (and tasty) breakfast at the truck stop in Umatilla.  The Tillicum Inn in Umatilla where we spent the night proved to be an extremely nice, quiet and comfortable place to stay, so we were well rested.

As we climbed our way out of town, we were looking at a different topography than expected.  We thought the land would be an arid desert similar to what we’re used to in Arizona.  Not so.  There were still plenty of trees, shrubs, and lots of wheat grass blowing in the wind.  Tail wind I might add!  We followed the Columbia River for about half of our day’s ride.  At the Junction of highway 730 and highway 12, we finally said our goodbye to the mighty Columbia. 

This junction is where we met up with Holly, the reporter from KEPR Action News, Pasco, Washington.  She met us at a campsite located just off these two highways, and did an interview with us of our bike ride across the US for this evening’s news.  I asked how she found out about our ride (quite a surprise last evening when we received an e-mail from her for this interview), and she said someone (not quite sure of the name) had e-mailed her with our website.  I guess one of the people we’ve net this past week may have contacted her.  What a lovely lady!

See the video from KEPR - (click on the video icon below Holly's name)

After the interview we had another 30 miles to ride to Walla Walla, Washington.  We arrived at the Whitman Mission National Historic Site at about 12:15, and called Dan in Walla Walla so that he could ride out to meet us and escort us to his home where we will stay overnight.  He and his son Gus greeted us on their Burley tandem bike and the Mission, and we rode about ten miles to his gorgeous home in Walla Walla where we met his wife Alison and daughter Sonia.  Last year the four of them rode their two tandem bikes across the US!  Their second tandem bike is a Rans Screamer like ours. It is now dinner time, and I smell the burgers as I’m writing this log.  Yum!!!

Goodbye for now!


Brian’s addendum….  Dan and Allison in Walla Walla are two of my hero’s. While looking for stories of people who have crossed the US on tandem bikes I stumbled upon their blog from when they crossed the US last summer. The only difference is that they did it on two tandems and with their 9 and 11 year old son and daughter. They were wonderful people and my hats off to them for even thinking of doing such an endeavor. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 Miles today – 66.0 Daily ride time – 5 hrs 37 min Average –  11.9mph Daily Climb – 3,367 Total BRAA mileage – 463.2 Weather – Sunny, low of 55 and high of 74 Word of the day – “Hills”. We started out at 5:08 this morning to beat the heat, sneaking out of Dan and Allison’s house not to disturb the dog, cats, and people trying to sleep in after a long night of entertaining us. The hills just outside of  Walla Walla were brutal. 5 and 6% upgrades of LARGE long rolling hills. The RAGBRAI should be a piece of cake after traversing these monstrosities. In the first hour and 48 minutes we had only made it 17 miles. We both were stating how glad we were that we had started so early before the heat. Quote of the day - - after hearing some strange noises coming from the back seat…. Brian, “Are you ok back there??” Pam, “Yeah, I am just trying to burp without throwing up” Brian, “Thanks!” At  7:30 we stopped in at Waitsburg (pop 1,212) at ‘the’ restaurant, the White Stallion, and had one heck of a breakfast. Pam had ordered the side of ham and out came this 9” in diameter slice that the both of us had trouble finishing. It was well needed after the morning warm up.

After Waitsburg the climb went from rolling hills to just one LONG climb for the remainder of the day – except for one 3 mile stretch when we had a 6% downgrade and got to sail down at 43 mph – a much needed break I might add. But then of course we had to climb back up to Pomeroy where we are spending the night. Originally we were going to go on to Clarkston but since we are 4 days ahead of schedule we need to start burning days site seeing and resting. We had scheduled in so many rain days and the blue skies have been a pleasant surprise! Until tomorrow! Brian

10% of Route Completed!

We have now completed the first 10% of our route! Here are the stats from the first 10%:

Flat tires – 2

Time spent peddling through the rain – 4 hours (10.8% of peddling time)

Miles – 493

Hours Peddling Time – 37.0

Overall Route MPH - 13.0

Total Climb – 16,280 feet

I wanted to add a sidebar to yesterday’s riding experience.  After the bathroom break (actual rest area with bathrooms, not just a tree or shrub) just about eight miles east of the town of Delaney, we noticed an odd smell.  Not sure where this smell originated, but each time we smelled it (a mixture of burned popcorn and sage spice?) there was a small farm field with purple flowering plants.  The strong quartering tail wind was coming from this field direction.  Of course there were usually farm animals in and around these fields too.  Who knows?  Pam

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 Miles today – 28.2 Daily ride time – 2 hrs 12 min Average –  13.0mph Daily Climb – 754 Total BRAA mileage – 493.6 Weather – Sunny, low of 68 and high of 82 Today’s 28.2 mile ride seemed like a ride in the park compared with yesterday’s grueling hills.  We didn’t leave the town of Pomeroy until about 7:55 a.m., after we ate breakfast at the only restaurant opened at this hour… Donna’s Drive Inn.  We started our biking out of town with a ten mile climb (our total day’s climb in the first 1/3 of the ride), which is the way I like it when your feel fresh and ready for the hills.  We had to stop just on the outskirts of town to take photos of the steel animals that someone put out in front of their property.Take a look at the pictures as the animals are a bit difficult to describe in words… 

About two to three miles out of town we noticed a place where a semi truck and trailer had rolled off the road the night before.  The clean up crew was picking up all the 2 x 4’s and other pieces of wood that he dropped off the cliff from his trailer.

During our ascent we saw another snake sunning itself on the shoulder of the road (saw a couple yesterday as well).  We stopped to read a “heritage marker” sign about the Lewis and Clark trails that were still visible on the hills throughout our ride today.  According to the marker, the Nez Perce Indians introduced Lewis and Clark to these trails.  The Nez Perce had used the trails for thousands of years.  It was quite amazing that they were still visible in many places.  The hills in this area are arid, with minimal foliage.

Once we reached the top of the hill, about 2,800 feet, we started a 5-6 percent descent for the next five miles.  Wow!  Actually felt a bit chilly at this point.  We warmed up quickly as the next eight to ten miles into Clarkston were fairly level, and we had a bit of a headwind during and after this descent.

We rolled into Clarkston, WA, and met up with Laurie.  She has offered her Grandmother’s vacant home in Kooskia, ID, to us for tomorrow evening (and as long as we want to stay!).  We met her at a Mexican food restaurant in Clarkston, to get all of the details for tomorrow’s stay.  She lives in Clarkston, and offered her home here for us to spend the night tonight, but another fellow named Brad had offered his home first when Brian had e-mailed the warm showers organization last December.  I am so happy that we did get to meet Laurie.  She is a wonderful person, and she also leads Adventure Cycling tours occasionally.  We enjoyed our lunch with her chatting about our various biking adventures.  After lunch, we rode into Lewiston, ID, to meet Brad, our host for this evening.  He works at a bike shop, so we were able to get our chain lube too.  We made our way over to Brad’s house and were greeted by his three adorable cats.

It’s time to sign off now.  I’ll wake Brian up so we can head into Clarkston to look around the town a bit.

Until day after tomorrow…

PamThursday, May 28, 2009

Miles today – 78.2

Daily ride time – 6 hrs 16 min

Average – 12.6 mph

Daily Climb – 1,399

Total BRAA mileage – 581.3

Weather – Sunny, low of 58 and high of 82

Today we started bright and early to hopefully avoid traffic on hiway 12 and also because we like to ride early when the day is fresh. So at 4:50 we pulled out of Brad’s house being quiet so we did not awaken him or his son. (hopefully we did not) We found a Jack in the Box at the edge of town and ate our first breakfast before hitting the road. The sun crested the hills while we were eating and soon we were on the road.

The trip started where we had left off, almost no vegetation other than range grass on the hills that surrounded us. We followed the Clearwater River all day and it was flowing high and fast from all the snowmelt. It was incredible how much water was whisking by. Shortly after we began our trip a stiff head wind came in to give some pay back for the tail wind we had the other day. We found ourselves peddling at 8 – 9 mph on level ground and luckily the whole trip today was just following the river upstream so our climbs were minimal.

About an hour into our ride we started to see pine trees on the South side of the road and river. The further we pedaled the more trees came. We came across many people fishing for salmon and were able to witness some pretty big catches. At 10:15 we made it to

Orofina for our second breakfast (we were too early for lunch). After breakfast we went over to the museum but as luck would have it -  it was not open until 1pm M-Th. Back on the bike. Leaving Orofina the wind started to die down. I checked my speedometer; we had averaged only 11.8 mph – not too great. But the trees were multiplying and we could smell that fresh pine smell again. By 1pm we reached Kamiah (the last town with cell phone service and last town with over 1,000 people until we get to Missoula) and stopped off for a smoothie. I did not want to tell Pam but my thermometer on the bike was now reading 100 degrees. The head wind was hard to peddle but at least it was blowing off from the cold Clearwater River and it did feel a little nice. As we left Clearwater for the last 7 miles the winds started to blow again this time favoring us. We stopped off at a Nez Perce Indian tribute site called Heart of the Monster. There was a button to push while you would listen to a pre-recorded Indian story of how the mountains around us were formed. It was in the shade and we only had 4 miles to get to Kooskia (pronounced “Kooskee”). We arrived at Kooskia just after 2pm and quickly found the house where we are staying for the night. Kooskia (pop 735) is surrounded by pine trees and other trees and the house is on the bank of the river. When Laurie’s Grams passed away they left the house as it was and it is filled with all kinds of nostalgic items. Its almost like staying in a museum. We keep finding so many cool things from yester year – yup we have our entertainment for the day – they can keep their closed museum in Orofina! THANK YOU LAURIE! It is really great to know that somebody will offer their summer home for us to stay! Well Pam’s out of the shower and it is my turn so until tomorrow! Brian Friday, May 29, 2009 Miles today – 24.2 Daily ride time – 1 hrs 54 min Average – 12.8 mph Daily Climb – 692 Total BRAA mileage – 605.6 Weather Start – Cloudy 82; Weather Finish Sunny 85 Another short ride today.  We decided to ride to Lowell, ID, today, and stay one night to break up the long steady climb up to Lochsa Lodge and Lolo Pass.  We are now only about 120 something miles from Missoula, MT. We didn’t leave Laurie’s home in Kooskia until after lunch (around noon).  The scenery turned to pines shortly after we left town.  What a lovely, refreshing ride following the Clearwater River.  Even though it was quite warm in the sun, we experienced a cool breeze from the river quite frequently.  It felt like 70 degree air conditioning as we were pedaling away!


We stopped along the journey and took a photo of a cable car that led across the rushing river to a beautiful home nestled in the hills on the secluded other side.  We passed several of these cable car homes along the route today.  Art Birkmeyer, the gentleman we stayed with after our first day of riding, told us about a doctor from California who bought a cable car property up here in this area.  As the story goes, the doctor purchased the home from an elderly couple who decided to sell after they hung above the river for several hours when one of the two cables broke!  Apparently the doctor had a tough time obtaining permits (and a huge expense) in order to install a new system.  Guess he REALLY wanted this home!  

We arrived at the Wilderness Inn here in Lowell, and the sign in front read, “Population 24 23”.  Needless to say, we do not have cell phone coverage or internet access again today.  Oh well!  We are really having fun anyway!!! And today the one channel we get on our TV is CBS as opposed to Kooskia when all we got was PBS.

May the pine scent remain with us, and blue skies too!                                                                                  The view from our motel room in Lowell


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Miles today – 64.7

Daily ride time – 5 hrs 41 min

Average – 11.4 mph

Daily Climb – 2,235

Total BRAA mileage – 670.3

Weather Start – Cloudy 53; Weather Finish Sunny 85 (maybe in the shade!)

Woke up this morning at 03:51, ate our breakfast of cereal, fruit, and a Chia bar in our motel room, then set out peddling at 05:00.  We left early to avoid lots of traffic for the remaining 18 or so miles of road construction, and to ride in the cool morning climate.  It worked!  The last 15-20 miles of our ride today we reflected back on the cool breeze from the morning as the afternoon really heated up.  The bike thermometer read 90 degrees (maybe a bit more as Brian probably decided not to share this bit of news with me…).  Sometimes it’s better not to know.

After about two hours of riding, we stopped at a pull off toward the end of the construction area to eat a snack and rest a bit.  We rested the bike against a huge iron bucket from the construction crew, and stretched our legs while we ate.  The Lochsa River area is gorgeous!  The river here is running full force, as the snow is melting fast.  At times the water noise was loud enough to drown out just about any other sounds, including traffic.  Fortunately traffic was extremely light. After another hour and a half we stopped at another pull off, unloaded the bike, and put our plastic trash bags down on a bit of grass.  We used our luggage as head rests and stared up at the pines for a bit to just relax.  We ate another snack, and shared a little with the ants and other flying insects that came to visit.  Brian didn’t like the ants around our area, but this area is so remote there aren’t really any other choices for rest and relaxation.  We wondered where all the picnic tables went as the past couple of days we saw plenty available… but of course we didn’t need them at that time. We pedaled on, continuing to look for the elk, moose, or any other wildlife.  We happened upon a wild turkey earlier in the morning, and several geese walking across the road, but no large animals.  We’ll keep looking.  Today’s journey offered four “pack bridges”, constructed for hikers to access the many trails that this area has to offer.  We saw two entrances from Highway 12 for the “Lolo Trail” which is a 70+ mile mountain bike/hiking trail that the extreme adventure seeker may want to experience.  I’m sure that’s where all the wildlife can be found. We stopped another couple of times to stretch our legs and read some more historical markers before arriving at Lochsa Lodge.  And not a moment too soon!  The heat does take its toll, and with our steady climb on today’s ride we were both ready to end the biking day.  Fortunately we were in luck and they had lodging available.  Will stay here until Monday a.m.  Yeah! Until next time,


Sunday, May 31, 2009

A day of rest. No TV channels but they had a DVD player in our room and you could get a couple of DVD’s from the owner. We also met Brian & Pat from Ft Collins Colorado who the day after school got out decided to ride their bikes (not road or touring, just regular old bikes) to Portland. Brian & Pat had no money and would stop in at hotels and lodges and ask for a day job every day to get fed.  They both had one more year of college and did not know what they wanted to do but loved to travel. Brian had even spent last summer down in Honduras so had been to many of the same places Pam and I had driven to back in the 90’s. Lazy day and interesting people at the Lochsa Lodge!

Continued on JUNE page