I'm biking really really far this summer

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Day 25 (Arcata - Myers Flat 128km)

With a fixed up rear wheel and an early morning rise (I packed up all my stuff before the shop opened at 8:30am), I was confident I could make up any lost time and rendez-vous with Dan and Caedmon again. The day was great for riding, albeit very hot, but I still decided to take numerous detours to get away from the hectic highway 101 which was at this point a freeway with fast exits and onramps.

First I stopped in Eureka which I didn't think was very nice (Arcata on the other hand was great in my opinion). Eureka is known for its original Victorian houses, but compared to Cabbagetown I was really very unimpressed. I ended up getting a bout of consumerism and bought a PDA with wifi connection from Staples, so soon my blogging will go mobile, if only I can find a foldout keyboard for it.

Continuing on, the first detour took me down a beautiful farm road which reminded me of childhood summers in Sussex (mostly the smell of manure and hay bails). I devoured some poor peaches and nectarines next to a fruit stand and rode on with sticky hands. I passed through another Victorian town called Ferndale which I thought was nicer than Eureka and had a disappointingly small hamburger and fries at a diner that is authentically frozen in the 1950's. I managed to charge the PDA for 30 minutes out of the required 3 hour initial charge time. I had to climb some difficult hills to get back on track to Highway 101 and was sweating like crazy only getting cooled down during the bumpy descents. It was really enjoyable nonetheless and traffic was almost nonexistent so I could take as much pavement as I needed to.

After a short and very hot stint on the freeway I was so utterly relieved to enter the Avenue of the Giants which is a truly stunning road. 300 foot tall redwoods provided much appreciated shade and really slowed down traffic, which was thankfully light and not too oversized. I got a sore neck looking up so much and slowed down so I could take it all in. This was a perfect riding road in my opinion and would be an absolute thrill on an unencumbered road bike. After reaching Weott, which supposedly had a grocery store (it was a ghost town), I continued to the campsite suggested by the Pacific coast book. The campsite wasn't nice, and the bike sites were right up against the road, and since I was down to my emergency freeze-dried pasta primavera rations (which I have been carrying for almost a month now; thanks Mum!) I rode to the next town, Myer's Flat.

After stocking up with questionable food at the tiny grocery store I realized it was closer to the next campsite than the previous, so on I rode. On arrial, who should be there but Dan and Caedmon who obviously missed me very much. We shared couscous and pork rinds and that was the day!

Day 24 (Klamath - Arcata 105km)

Today I entered into Redwood country after climbing the second giant hill I missed the day before. It wasn't too bad and I wasn't full of food so that helped immensely. Morning riding was good, but eventually the road returned to the coast and it started to rain. As I understand it, when the weather is nice I will get a tailwind, and when the weather is stormy, I will get a headwind (obviously the reverse for northbound travellers), so I had to deal with the rain and a headwind and a broken spoke grinding along at 15km/h or so. It was mostly soulless freeway so I put my head down and rode as far as I could all the while trying to keep excess weight off my rear wheel and swerving away from bumps. I got lunch in the tiny town of Orick, which consisted of (the lunch; not the town) a huge chimichanga and torilla chips. I had to force it all down and was worries I might get some chimichange dizzy spells!

Evetually I rolled into the city of Arcata at close to 6pm and found a bike shop called Revolution cycles. I was a sorry state as I went through the door, but the guys were amazing and replaced the spoke on the spot and cut me 3 extras in case I break any more of them. They asked me where I was going to stay, which was the KOA campsite about 10 miles down the road and they immediately went on about how crappy and expensive it was and told me I could camp in the back yard of the bike shop. Awesome!

I pitched my tent and went into town for a super great Japanese dinner (don't ask how much I spent... I didn't have to pay for a campsite after all), and then read some more of my novel sitting under the bike shop security lights with a beer.

Day 23 (Brookings - Klamath 81km)

I started today fairly late in the morning, and said my farewells to Andreas who was taking a rest day that day. I rode along flat noisy highway 101 across the California state line to Crescent city rather uneventfully, where I found an internet cafe to amend my previous blog posts as they were below my standards of internet writing quality. I ended up spending quite some time there, and then crossed the parking lot to go get lunch at Denny's... I had a huge cheeseburger with onion rings on it and fries on the side, and a huge strawberry milkshake that the waitress made extra thick because you can get a runny milkshake anywhere. She also made it so big it wouldn't fit in the cup so she brought me the extra in the stainless steel mixing cup. I realized it was getting late so I ate this large quantity of meat and dairy and grease as fast as I could, going light on the chewing aspect of it. Then I rushed out the door to hop on the bike as I still had a good 30 miles to the campground, up the two biggest coastal hills in Oregon.

About 2 minutes into riding after lunch I realized what a mistake I made, and about 400 feet into the 1500+ ft elevation climb I started getting dizzy and had to pull over into a vista point, where I had what I call the cheeseburger and milk-shakes. I pretty much had to double over myself for the next fifteen minutes regaining my composure before I stripped down to the bare minimum of clothing and continuing on at a greatly reduced pace. I felt really drained. By the time I had crested the triple peaks of crescent city hill I was glad for the descent and decided to make up some lost time by hammering down the 3 mile descent towards Klamath, after which there would be another brutal climb.

Well, on the way down the road was really crappy and given the speed I was traveling at I popped a non drive side spoke on my rear wheel. After some cursing I got out my kevlar replacement spoke to do an emergency repair, and wasn't having any luck getting the wheel back into true. At this point I gave up the idea of finishing the day's ride and backtracked a mile where there was luckily a HI hostel that was very nice. They even had limited groceries and a bunch of free spaghetti since I was down to emergency rations at that point (freeze dried pasta primavera. Yum!) I spent the rest of the evening truing the wheel properly, cooking pasta, and reading a Haruki Murakami novel I have been lugging around since day 1. Strangely I was one of the only young people there, most other guests being families with young and rambunctious children. I left a message on Dan's cell phone telling him not to wait up as I was not optimistic about the strength of the kevlar spoke.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Summary of the State of Oregon

Amazing! At the US Bicentennial they created and official Oregon Coast bicycle route, and widened the shoulders in these areas. The terrain was great, the temperatures perfect, and drivers very courteous (despite an abundance of RVs). The route snaked along the rugged coast and through quiet floodplains skirted by forested hills. There were no gigantic clearcut areas as in Washington. The state parks charged 4 dollars a night which I was happy to pay compared to the gouging experienced in Washington. Logging trucks were few and far between, and best of all, I met a bunch of nice people riding bikes so we had lots of stories to tell and food to share. I really look forward to visiting Oregon again in the future.

Oh yeah, by my preliminary calculations I have done over 1700km/s so far this trip. There are way more to go though!

I will try my best to upload my photos of Oregon when I get into Eureka, California (I am in Crescent City California right now, the gateway to this very long state.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day 22 (Brookings Rest day 10km)

I took a well deserved rest day today. This was my first real rest day since Victoria so it was really overdue. I did various things that needed to be done, like updating this blog at the pubblic library within a strict 1 hour time limit, eat some disgusting dairy queen hamburger and gather firewood for the evening. Dan and Caedmon had upgraded to a yurt for their domicile of the night so we had dinner there eating hummus and pita, jalapeno bread, salami, two different types of couscous and some delicious merguez-like sausage cooked over the fire. In the evening Andreas rolled in so he joined us later on for the second half of supper. It was a well needed rest day.

Day 21 (Port Orford - Brookings 95km)

Today was another really nice riding day. Since Dan and Caedmon were MIA I juust rode at a comfortably fast pace and met up with a guy called Danny on the road who grew up in LA butu is now living in an Israeli settlement which I think is in the west bank. I don't know what he does there. Soon after meeting him we reached the climb to Cape Sebastian, and at 800 feet I dropped Danny like a hot potato, staying in the big chainring the entire climb averaging something like 15km/h the whole way up. At the summit I had a lunch of guacamole and hummus, and then raced down the hill at crazy speeds. I soundly beat my speed record with a new top speed of 72km/h. I maxed ouut on my biggest gear and had to lay on the brakes a little since there were strong side gusts that were pushing my wheels around.

At the bottom of the hill I jammed on the brakes because there were Dan and Caedmon who were at the side of the road! We said hi and I rode on with a really nice tailwind at my back, helping me sail along for the rest of the day to the Harris Beach state park. Along the way to the state park I stopped at half a dozen amazing viewpoints of rock arches and natural bridges, and also crossed the highest manmade bridge in Oregon, something close to 400 feet high. I hiked down to one of the naturual bridges on what I think used to be a path (it was so overgrown I had to crawl on sections), but once I got close to it I saw I would have to do some rock climbing with possible 200 foot falls and it was really windy, so I chickened out and headed back up.

I rode past the state park into town to do some shopping at Fred Meyers which was a really really gigantic superstore for being in such a small town as Brookings. After browsing for ages I told the cashier that the place was giant and she looked at me like I was crazy and said it wasn't big at all! The state park was really nice and decked out with all the amenities (if I had brought my RV I could have had a cable TV hookup!). At the campsite there were a total of seven touring cyclists, myself included.

Day 20 (Charleston - Port Orford 100km)

The say started off with rain. Dan and Caedmon got up as usual and packed up in the rain and headed off. I was feeling lazy and didn't want to deal with the rain and my wet laundry, which I had strung out on a line the night before. I told them I was taking the day off and they headed out. At aboutu noon the sun came out and dried my laundry and the day became really really nice, so I couldn't resist getting out there and riding. Plus since Dan and Caedmon had left at around 10am, they had a 4 hour head start on me, since I ended up leaving at 2pm, so I had a really hard goal to catch them up and get to camp at a reasonable hour.

This ended up being a great riding day, despite 2 redneck run-ins. The day started on Seven Devils road, named for the seven steep hills that go up and down along it. I was inspired on these hills and hammered over them as fast as I could, riding 25km for the first hour, and doing 40km in first hour and a half, all without any breaks; well except for two short ones: At the crests of one of the hills large vicious pitbull-like dog chased me and nearly took a chunk out of me; luckily it got my panniers instead. I had to juump off the bike a few times and start screaming at it. I was close to having to fight it or stab it or something but I managed to fend it off after it attacked me a second time. It's going to get run over any day if it keeps up like that. I guess the owners think its funny or something? Shortly after the hills ended I was riding along a quiet road when a pickup in front of me slammed its brakes and then quickly did a reverse burnout right towards me! He kept coming I had to scream at it to stop. The driver leaped out and said that he obviously saw me and wasn't going to run me over, and then told me to get the 'f' off the road. I told him to try to have a nice day and he said he was trying. Didn't really seem like it... What a dork.

I had a quick lunch of fish and chips in Bandon and then kept hammering the rest of the day, getting into camp at around 6pm, after a short grocery fun. Dan and Caedmon were nowhere to be found, so I shared a campsite with a couple that were on a really unique tandem bike.

Day 19 (Glenada - Charleston 105km)

All of today was spent going through the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area which while spectacular, was ruined by the fact that it was Satuday so all the rednecks were out with trucks and ATVs to have some good ol' fun. Traffic was bad, shoulders were narrow and drivers in pickups really resented the fact I wasn't burning any gas. As such it was not a great riding day. Maybe if I rode it during the week it would have been better, but I pertty much wrote this day off as travel... At the campsite, which wasn't all that great, Dan, Caedmon and I rode to the Cape Arago lookout in the evening and saw a baby grey whale spouting mist next to the reef. There happened to be some whale enthusiast/tour guides watching the whales so they gave us a commentary on the whale and on the other marine mammals in the area. I got a chance to ride my bike without any of the bags on it, and boy is it fast!

Day 18 (Newport - Glenada 107km)

Today was pretty flat compared to the previous days, but I took numerous opportunities to take detours and check out the coastal sea stacks and marine critters. I started the day with Andreas, the severely overloaded swiss guy on his gap year and we went to climb some sandstone stacks which didn't agree with his already sore knees. The views were fantastic and we watched people sandboarding rather unsuccessfully.

I kind of outpaced Andreas on the way to the cape so he told me to go on and said I was a monster on the hills which was nice! I saw among other things, harbor seals, some carnivourous pitcher plants and went through the last tunnel of the trip. The tunnels were really pretty easy, even thouugh the guiude book made them sound terrifying (while not mentioning a thing about the harrowing Astoria bridge!) After the tunnel (which was half way up a big climb) there was a great descent with amazing sweeping views but I was too into speeding down the road to stop and take them in. The state park I camped at was really nice and I met up with Dan and Caedmon again for supper.

Day 17 (Netarts - Newport 102km)

Today was a super duper awesome riding day. Oregon really spoils touring cyclists. The day started off right away with the highest hill on the Oregon coast, and I powered all the way up it, strangely relishing the pain! The descent was screaming but I didn't manage to beat my max speed. I took a detour on the second major climb of the day after passing through beatiful pastures and then passed Dan and Caedmon as I was screaming down the second descent! I waited for them at the bottom chewing on beef jerky and drinking a questionable pear smoothie. There were two labradors that belonged to the espresso stands owner and one was just like Barley, streams of drool and all. At Lincoln city I had a great sushi lunch, and headed for the last major climb of the day. I'm really starting to enjoy these climbs!

Day 16 (Nehalem - Netarts 66km)

As I was saying, I met my first pair of real touring cyclists the night before. They are Dan and Caedmon, who have a blog at http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/seattletoSF so check their page for their more complete postings and pictrues and stuff as they have a laptop and can take advantage of the wifi. I on the other hand, am having a very hard time finding internet access.

Dan and Caedmon left before me, but I soon caught up with them and sped off. This day was a great riding and I really enjoyed it, even though it was quite short. we met up and went to the Tillamook cheese factory, which made me like their cheese less, and not want to get a job there. My guide book talked of a scenic route that I wanted to take, but I ended up taking the high speed commuter route during rush hour by mistake... It was hard and not fun, but it was thankfully short! I missed the nice lighthouse and have heard good stories of the scenic route so I was kind of miffed...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Day 15 (Astoria - Nehalem 77km)

I started the day late, sleeping in and watching TV until 11am to make the most of my motel stay, then went to the Astoria Maritime Museum to check out some naval history. The people here were really friendly and let me bring my bike into the janitor's room so my stuff wouldn't get ripped off. The museum was great and I liked the sections on local fishing trades, coast guard rescues, the history of the mighty columbia river mouth and the over 2000 ships that have wrecked trying to cross the treacherous bar, and the historical naval section focusing on Gray and Vanbcouver's exploits. Then I wandered into the modern US military naval section and got kind of agitated because it was just huge bombs with captions enthusiatically saying "Over 15,000 of these 40 inch high explosive shells were rained on Iraq during the gulf war. One was said to have turned a forest into a 900 foot helicopter landing zone!" Oh god... I found it pretty frightening, as well as the vaguely racist exposition on the Japanese-American naval campaign of World War 2.

I had a terrible chinese lunch and then rode south along some very beatiful road, up and down hills large steep hills, across bridges and through bucholic flood plain pastures with mountainous forest backdrops to a state park where I only had to pay 4 dollars to secure a campsite (Way less than what RVs pay this time!). There I met my first real pair of touring cyclists!

Monday, June 18, 2007

My Summary of Washington State

Washington state is very beautiful. If BC has wildflowers, Washington has WILD FLOWERS. If you know what I mean...They grow from eveything. The air is fresh and crisp and smells like cedars. But thats mostly because the logging industry is totally out of control and logging trucks with fresh cut old growth trees are constantly buzzing you.

In Washington people drive trucks of various sorts. It seems they either have a ton of money for gas, or are total idiots with their heads in the sand. Or both. Here are my impressions:
Pickup trucks - They are huge come in red, white and black. People seldom carry much in them, unless they are really old and beat up, in which case they are smaller models and overflowing.
SUVs- Those who don't drive pickups drive these. I saw an ad on TV "WANT A SEDAN FOR THE GAS MILEAGE? BUT WANT AN SUV FOR THE EXCITEMENT? GET A HYBRID SUV!" Oh great... I guess it is exciting having a rollover while making a shallow turn.
TruckUV's - I invented this term for the monster truck pickups that are always black, and always really shiny with the roof covering the truck bed. They have super offroad tires so you can hear them coming from a mile away.
RV's - RVing, by my preliminary estimations is at least 9000 times more popular than cycle touring, as I have seen probably more than 9000 RV's of various sizes, ranging from van size, to coach bus size, and only one other cycle tourist. I could count the number of other regular cyclists I have seen on my hands and all were children. Hooray for gas! Funnily enough I have seen tons of bikes attached to the backs of RV's and trucks, but more common is to tow an SUV or large pickup truck behind the RV. These people seem to have a lot of money, but not a cent of taste. So utterly tacky.

As you go south in Washington, the people become more trashy and RV's become more plentiful. If you visit Washington, stay north. All in all it was a great state, and despite getting rained on and buzzed by either agressive or inattentive loggers and small truck drivers, I really enjoyed it.

Day 14 (Long Beach - Astoria 39km)

I had planned this day as a rest day, and decided to ride across the state line into Astoria to do some R and R. My Bicycling the Pacific Coast book pretty much said it was across the street from Long Beach to Astoria. This guidebook, I am noticing, is increasingly inaccurate and cuts out crucial sections, and makes some areas seem much harder than they are, while omitting altogether the really hard sections. Anyways, what I thought would be a leisurely recovery ride from the day before, turned out to be a full on hammer fest.

Right out of the motel I was faced with a 2 mile long uphill construction zone and the impatient drivers who had been waiting for the lane to clear for 15 minutes with me barley gave me an inch of space as I ground up the grooved pavement. From there it was 15 or so kilometers to the Astoria bridge (the book totally cut out these miles... they were simply unaccounted for...). The bridge also didn't make any mention of the hellish death-ride that is the Astoria bridge. It is a 4.2 mile 2 lane road with 6 inch debris strewn shoulders, huge sidewinds and an average traffic speed of probably 65 miles an hour. A couple of miles into the bridge is a large steep hump to allow ships to pass through. I surveyed the bridge and decided it was crazy so I tried to hitch a ride across but nobody was stopping after 15 minutes, so I just said 'screw it' and rode it anyways. I hammered along at a steady 42km an hour (this is insanely fast for being fully loaded on flat ground), dodging puiles of glass, garbage and lost car parts whenever there wasn't a logging truck 6 inches from my ear. When there was traffic 6 inches from me I just had to ride through the crap and hope I didn't catch a flat, which thank god I didn't because it would have been an absolute nightmare repairing one on that bridge... Once the hump came up I grinded along at about 15km/h sweating like crazy and wheezing. Finally I crested the top but it still wasn't over so I had to hammer down at close to 60km/h trying not to hit anything too large.

Once I finally got off the bridge I had to spend 15 minutes collecting myself off the pavement and got a triple espresso to try to steel my nerves. I then dropped my bike off at a bike shop to get the wheels retensioned and enjoyed a mediocre Japanese lunch and explored the town of Astoria, including a fully crewed and operational replica brig that was on its way to the Pirate Daze festival in Westport.

I looked for a hostel or campground but none were to be found so I had to stay in a motel again, so I ate some take out mexican food and watched Legally Blonde, the feel good movie of the year. I have to admit that I laughed a couple of times but the epilogue was really overdone and spoiled it for me.

So much for a rest day huh?

Day 13 (Westport - Long Beach 141km)

I started the day feeling really great, and wanted to cover a lot of miles since its not all that scenic. I tried calling Dad for Father's day but he ended up being in Bahrain and I wasted a bunch of phone card ending up talking with Mum! I got a flat soon in to the day and patched it while it started to rain. Then shortly afterwards the patch failed and I had to replace the tube (Thanks to whoever suggested glueless patches... they suck!). Someone leaned out of their car and yelled at me while I was fixing it. I decided to channel my grumpiness into riding and hammered all the rest of the day covering a total of 141 km. Later in the day after eating a hamburger (I think I'm on hamburger 20 or so at this point) I was in a better mood but I was still resolved to get out of the state and rode really hard and fast increasing my overall average speed by over half a kilometer an hour, which is alot considering thats an average from over 900kms.

I was totally spent by the end of the day and it was getting dark so I got an expensive motel room with a kingsize bed and had a nice seafood dinner ar Doogers, which happened to be half off because I am a man, and it was father's day. I guess I must have some children that I don't know about... I got to catch a crappy movie (Scary movie 3) and watch the Daily Show and the Colbert Report which was nice. There was a fire place thingy in the room so I washed my clothes and hung them around it to dry and went to bed.

Day 12 (Quinault - Westport 92km)

Today was another non-scenic day through miles of clearcut, raining on and off the whole day so it was a good opportunity to put in miles. I took a ferry from one super tacky touristy beach town to another super tacky touristy beach town and settled at Twin Harbours State Park where I had to pay 14 dollar for a primitive 'hiker-biker' campsite far from all the facilities(just 2 dollar less than the RV drivers who get water and power hookups and are close to the hot showers. Its just wrong!)

Day 11 (Hoh Rainforest - Quinault 92km)

After raking up grass for Jim in the morning with Kaita as our chore, I headed off down 101 again. There were tons of logging trucks and I seem to remember the road was fairly crappy, so I just put my head down and rode hard through miles of clearcut forest to the Quinault rainforest. The ride was really not memorable in any way.

Quinalt Rainforest was lovely though, and ended up being the first place I had to pay for a campsite (Washington State parks charge 12 dollars for each campsite and charge the same for RVs and cars as they do for bikes, which I thought was wrong, so I paid nothing!) It was 16 dollars for a site, the same as cars and RVs, so I tried to get away with paying 14 dollars but got caufght and had to cough up the remaining 2 dollars. I walked along a rainforest trail and then enjoyed some beers with a book again on a fallen log cantilevered over the lake. There was a really nice lodge/resort up the road and I visited the World's Largest Sitka Spruce tree, which had parked next to it the World's Largest Eyesore of a Gigantic RV. I really hate RV's with a passion, but more on that later.

Day 10 (La Push - Hoh Rainforest 82km)

I checked the tide charts the night before and saw there would be a very low tide at 6:30 am, because the solstice is quickly approaching. I woke up in time to explore the tide pools and appreciate the towering sea stacks and massive drift logs.

I saw more starfish, sea anenomies, mussels, barnacles and crazy jumping shrimp insect thingies than I can remember. There seems to be more life underwater, than above water. I walked through 'Hole in the Wall' which is an eroded passage through one of the headlands. After sleeping, and this little hike I was in a much better mood and headed off on the bike at 10am.

Along the road I passed through Forks and got Chinese food, and a miniature American flag for the bike in the hopes it would make cars pass me less closely.
The weather was dicey so I forgoed the exit to the Hoh Rainforest (apparently the most rained on place in North America). Further down the road I rode over a broken Miller Genuine Draft beer bottle with a huge CRACK! and started cursing the jackass drunk drivers who like to smash their bottles on the shoulder. After picking glass out of my tires I kept going and soon enought went right over ANOTHER MGD bottle with a huge CRACK! I was furious at this point so I cut my ride short and stopped at the Hoh Rainforest Hostel, which was owned and operated by Jim.

Jim is a funny character. He originated from Brooklyn, and came to Washington 19 years ago because of a woman, who now lives in California. He started the hostel soon after he got there, and its unlike any hostel I have been to before. Its basically his hippie commune, and the prices were super cheap ($8.50 a night), but everything else was an extra charge (albeit small and fair). 1 dollar for sheets (I got some awesome Ninja Turtle sheets I kind of wish I had), 15 cents for a scoop of instant coffee, 20 cents for an egg, 10 cents for a slice of bread etc. The price was supplemented by the fact that we had to do 15 minutes of chores each day.

The lodgings were all in his house, from his ancient and odd kitchen to his left wing boom filled livingroom, complete with a solar panel experiment. I was one of the two guests there (The other was Kaita from Japan who was a very nice fellow studying English), but he stuck us in a big 'summer boarding room' which was freezing at night despite his 3 other presumably more warm rooms within the house proper. The temperature in the summer boarding room was perfect for the culturing of his Kumocha bacteria fermented tea which sat in jars all over the place. He said it was for his allergies.

He was a huge hippie and left winger so we had very different conversations from the one I had had with the guy at the diner. Various anti bush, anti war and anti consumer posters, pamplets and propaganda proliferated throughout the house. The conversation was a little past Kaita but he listened as much as he could and we talked about Japan and North America. We made dinner and shared it with eachother and had some fudge I had bought in Forks.

Day 9 (Fairholme - La Push 71km)

I started this day and soon after it started raining again. I turned off of Highway 101 and headed east towards Mora and La Push to see the tide pools and sea stacks. Soon after the turnoff my wheels started making music and I thought my spokes were about to explode. I spent some time on the side of the road trying to retension them in earnest, and even considered turning around to get the bus back to Port Angeles to get them looked at by a bike shop. It was already 5pm by this time and the shops were closed so I couldn't call them, and I had a total of 4 dollars on me, so I just decided to ride on to the sea.

Once at the campgrounds I found a secluded site and set up camp and then went for a walk along the beach to see all the tide pool life and seastacks. It turned out to be almost high tide so all the sea critters were hidden underwater. I bent over to look in a pool and my camera fell out of my pocket and I almost soaked it, and got some sand on it. So I was in a bit of a foul mood that evening so I listened to angry music on the MP3 player to commiserate with. It was cold and misty and windy.

Day 8 (Elwha - Fairholme 60km)

After breakfast I was determined to go to the Elwha hot springs which was down the road from my campground. My guidebook said that it was simply 4 miles down the road. Easy I thought! Oh how wrong I was... The guidebook said nothing about the 1850 feet of brutal switchbacks and bumpy/potholed/gravelled road, and I had a full assortment of foods in my already heavy panniers. Needless to say I almost killed myself from overexertion by the time I got to the top, but it was a pretty road and I did have a treat when I got to the top.

From the parking area it was a two mile hike to the springs, since much of the path had been washed out by storms making it impossible to bring my heavy bike across, so I hid it behind a tree and covered it with branches. The springs were pretty sulphurous but almost completely deserted and the temperature was perfect, so after taking a soak in one of them I felt incredibly relaxed and reenergized despite the huge climb I just did. So much so that I spent half an hour making some smithson-esque earth art from stones next to the path. There was another hot springs down the road but its been all commercialized with resorts and tiled pools so this was much nicer. I had a screaming descent on the way back down which pretty much made up for the grinding climb.

I stopped for lunch at a roadside diner after it started to rain and talked with the waitress and one of the regulars. This regular seems like your standard working Washingtonite, who had very Bushy American politics. Among other things, he says that countries, like Iraq, want America to invade them because America rebuilds them so well, just like Germany and Japan. I decided not to challenge this totally boneheaded and false example, and he moved on to mexican immigrants and gas prices. He seemed a decent enough guy though.

After that I had to skirt Lake Crescent for 16km along a terrible winding road with barely any shoulder and agressive drivers. There was a sign advising cyclists to wait for the bus! I found this insulting so I rode it anyways, and quickly realized why the sign was there. Despite the big climb earlier, I put my legs in to overdrive and rode the section as fast as I could, averaging about 35km/h. By the time I got to the end I pulled into the great Fairholme campgrounds on the shore of the sapphire blue Lake Crescent where I made dinner, a campfire and read a book with a gigantic can of beer with a nascar driver on it while sitting on a fallen log cantilevered over the lake.

Day 7 (Victoria - Elwha 26km)

Christiane and I went for coffee in the morning after I had created a playground for her cat out of cardboard boxes and packing foam. After we said our farewells she went to do a presentation and I went to drop off my bike at a bike shop to get a new chain installed. The bike shop was sweet and their invoices were so detailed to the point that it said that my 3rd hardest cog had a slight wobble in it and might need replacement! A class act and they did it all while I had lunch.

After that I caught the 3pm ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, and while I was lined up noticed that my passport had expired. I made a panicked call to my mum in UAE and thought I'd have to stick around in Victoria organizing a replacement. As it turns out you can still cross into the US with an expired passport as long as it is a land or sea crossing. So when I want to fly back to Canada it might be a problem, but I will worry about that later.

From Port Angeles I rode a leisurely 26km to the Mora campgrounds in Olympic National Park where I met a very friendly family (I believe it was two brothers, their wives and sons), and as soon as I rolled in they offered me hot clam chowder and ice cold beer which was so appreciated (I feel I did not seem grateful enough since I was kind of in a muddle... I really really appreciated it! After dinner we had some of their tequila some of my Elixir Vegetal and talked about our homes and various other things. The next morning we had espresso from my mini express and then set off in our different directions. Thanks guys you were really great!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Forks in the road

I'm in Forks, Washington right now. Don't know where it is? Look it up on google maps or something. Anyways, I'll post some comprehensive updates when I get into a bigger town. Washington state is way better than Toronto!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Day 6 (Victoria rest day)

Since I woke up at 2pm with a bit of a hangover the day was obviously a writeoff, so Christiane and I went out and got a nice breakfast, after which she took me on a tour of Victoria (its really quite small). We went to go see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie at 7pm (we prepared by going to a bar to drink spiced rum). It was pretty good, but definitely more than an hour too long. Christiane basically went catatonic for the last half of the movie. After that it was past 10pm so we hurried to The Keg Steakhouse where I used the gift certificate I was given by the kind people at RED. We had a nice bottle of California wine, and an assortment of delicious hors d'oeuvres. It was past 12 by the time we were done so we headed back to Christiane's place for some sleep.

Today she has a briefing to make to city council about supervised heroin consumption areas so she was pretty nervous as its going to be filmed. I notice that my chain was broken (one of the pins came out and the plate was hanging off), so I took it to a bike shop and I'm waiting for the 3pm ferry to Port Angeles in Washington State. Bye-bye beatiful British Columbia!

Day 5 (Nanaimo - Victoria 127km)

I started out from the Painted Turtle hostel at about 9am, after not sleeping well becau8se one of my dorm mates was THE WORST snorer I have ever heard. The room was shaking with his snores; it was really something else. I'd have to put rock music on full volume on my MP3 player to drown out the sound, but as soon as the album would end he would wake me up again! I'd rather have just camped out in retrospect, but at least all my stuff was dry in the morning.

Not that that mattered since it rained the whole day! I never got soaked through because my expensive rain jacket proved itself and kept me dry without making me sweat like crazy (it's some crazy waterproof-breathable fabric developed for the marines). My wrists got a little wet because I opened up the cuffs for ventilation but apart from that my torso was dry and toasty. I let my legs, feet, hands and head soak through though and they were wet the entire day, but my feet stayed warm because of the wool socks I was fashionably wearing with my sandals, and my legs stayed warm because I was wearing fleece lined cycling tights. Both of these stay warm when wet so you don't really need to stay dry.

I stopped along the way and ate hamburgers (3 times!), and drank plenty of coffee. I took a detour through Chemainus (where I bought some delicious fudge) because I was bored of riding on the shoulder of highway 19 going south. While the shoulder is wide and smooth, the road is 4 lanes and the traffic goes around 120km/h. Since it was raining, parts of the shoulder were like a river, and every time I got passed by a truck I was enveloped in a cloud of water spray from head to toe! The road was pretty ugly and boring so the detour was a nice, albeit hilly and shoulderless ride. At least I could hear the birds and such. I ended up missing my turnoff and went 10km too far south and had to go to a Tim Horton's for directions. I have discovered that if you are lost, don't ask young women with hoop earrings for directions, ask older men with pickup trucks and faded hats. They were debating whether the turnoff was 6 miles or 6.5 miles away so I knew they couldn't be wrong! I ended up having to backtrack up the highway and eventually made it to Crofton.

From Crofton I took a ferry to Salt Spring Island and made my way south to the other ferry terminal. I passed through the town of Ganges were I was approached by a crusty old hippy.
"Hey you!"
"Uh, hi?"
"Do you want to have the most incredible drug free experience of your life?"
"Uh, okay?"
"Here hold my didge"
"Uh, okay?"
He produced a weird bow looking device with a wooden down attached mid way on the string. The dowel had two holes drilled in it eye-width apart. He asked me if I was epileptic, so I knew I was in for something special.
"Close your eyes"
I made sure my wallet was safe!
"Uh, okay?"
He then produced a flashlight, wound up the dowel and put it in front of my eyes and then shined the light through at me. It produced various flashing colours on my eyelids. Hooray, I guess... Then he asked me for money but really didn't feel the display was worth it so I went on my way.

Immediately after this was a brutal hill that I almost killed myself going up, and then I rolled into the next ferry terminal right after the ferry had departed, so i stopped at a pub and had a hamburger. I had decided since I was getting on the 5:50pm ferry, and that it was raining, that I would find a place to stay as soon as I got off the ferry. Once the ferry arrived I got on and met a couple from Sacramento who were also bike touring. They were very friendly. Once the ferry docked, the skies magically cleared and it turned into an absolutely gorgeous evening. I ended up riding with the couple down into Victoria on there absolutely incredibly amazing regional bike path system. It was such a treat to ride on bike paths like that compared to what I am used to in Toronto, and even what I've come across so far on this trip. They stopped at a hotel and I continued on to meet up with Christiane.

She lives right downtown and was half way through throwing a birthday dinner party for her friend Janice. Everyone was nice and full of cocktails and I quickly changed and stuffed myself with Christaine's amazing home made hors d'oeuvres (really amazing!) and then we went out to a bar called lucky. It took ages to get in but it was fun and DJ Longshanks, a local favorite was playing fun music. We ended up going to bed around 5am when we realized it was getting light, and woke up at 2pm. It was a really fantastic day and I totalled 127km over the day and still felt very fresh and energetic at the end of it

Friday, June 08, 2007

Day 4 (Courtenay - Nanaimo 110km)

I woke up feeling refreshed and was on the road by 9:30am. Highway 19A
south was pretty busy the whole day, but reasonably flat compared to
the day before with a nice wide shoulder most of the way. After lunch
the 19A merged into the 19 and I was on a full on freeway with trucks
passing me at 100+km/h sucking me along and towards them while I
shrieked. Still, its easy stuff compared to maniac toronto taxi drivers and SUV vigilantes.

I stopped every 20km to stretch and have some snacks, and diligently drank water or Powerade
every 15 minutes when my watch beeped. I also had plenty of caffeine in
the form of Starbucks (Thanks again RED people for the Starbucks
card!), and Japanese Black Black chewing gum which I think I am now addicted to.
Today I rode ~110km and I still feel nice a fresh. I also spent the
whole day on the big chainring.

BC is really beautiful with giant cedars everywhere, and an incredible amount of wildflowers pretty much covering everything thats
not occupied by giant cedars. So far my wildlife sightings include 2
woodpeckers, 2 deer, 1 raccoon, 1 garter snake, 1 large frog, and
various other pretty birds I can't identify. I also saw an old black
dog just walking around in circles in the middle of the highway so I
shoved him off the road so he wouldn't get killed. This happened to be
in front of an alpaca farm with loads of the dopey looking things frollicking around.

Tonight I wussed
out of camping and signed into a hostel because it may rain tonight and
I didn't want to deal with a wet tent and gear, and I'd like to walk
around downtown Nanaimo which I am about to do right now.

Tomorrow I
plan to get down to Victoria which is another ~110km and since its
forecast to be rainy I'll have extra incentive to be quick! I was
tempted to go to Tofino instead, (and still am) but I don't think it will
work out because its going to be rainy all weekend, and apparently the
ride over there is dicey with narrow windy roads with plenty of RVs, and a big fat long hill.
Also if I were to take the bus I'd have to deal with my bike which
would be a pain. Still, I know I'm going to regret skipping it, rain and bad roads or not.

Next update will be from the BC capital!

Day 3 (Saltery Bay - Courtenay 57km)

Right now its 2:00 and I am waiting for a 5:15 ferry to vancouver island, so I'm taking the opportunity to pay $6 an hour to answer my emails. . I'll probably have to find a campsite or motel as soon as I get off the ferry since it will be starting to get late, but after tomorrow I should be able to make it into victoria in 2-3 days. I have been taking plenty of pictures, but I am going to wait until I get to Victoria to post the pictures and other stuff since I can use a Christiane's computer for free and download my pictures on to it.

Some time passes...

After taking the ferry across the straight of Georgia, I rode in to Courtenay in the evening, found a cheap motel, and got some take out chinese food. I took the opportunity to have a nice bath, and then a shower (I can't clean myself in the bath for some reason, probably my height, so I always end up having a shower in the end), and then wash my clothes in the tub. There was a space heater in the room so I put it in the bathroom, cranked it up and closed the door. By the morning my clothes were clean and dry!

I hope everything is well back in the real world! I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Day 2 (Sechelt - Saltery Bay 67km)

It rained until about 11:30am today and I thought I'd be rained in but luckily it held off and I went another 67km to the next provincial campsite.

When I was waiting for the ferry from Earl's Cove to Saltery Bay I had a hamburger and beer at the wharfside watering hole which has just been bought a week before by an english chap from Newcastle. He offered me a job and lodgings but I had to turn him down because for now I am a man on a mission. It is gorgeous countryside and would be a lovely place to live though.

This area is called the Sunshine Coast, but I haven't really seen too much sunshine or coast, but its not so bad since I'm not getting overheated, so staying hydrated has been pretty easy. Overall, I'm not as fit as I thought I was, and the bike is really heavy compared to my sleek brakeless track bike I ride in the city (I have even sent home a few pounds of gear already!)so I grind along at 9-14km/h uphill. With all the gear the bike can be unstable, and then have to keep myself to about 40-45km/h downhill. I made it up to about 60km an hour on a nice stretch, but I felt the 'death wobbles' coming on so I had to reel myself back in.

Keith from cavern cycles was telling me "You're not going to need a triple crank with a granny gear! You'll do fine with a double!"... I think Keith overestimated my fitness because I have been clicking through every single gear with reckless abandon and wish the large gear range was even larger!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Day 1 (Vancouver - Sechelt 65km)

Well, off we go! Its pretty chilly and windy and looks like iot might come down at any second, and the weather reports confirm this so I might as well just get going. I'm heading north of Vancouver and taking a ferry to Vancouver Island.

Some time passes...

Everything is going well so far. I started out from vancouver reasonably early and the first day and ended up riding 65 kilometers to a nice campsite. It was dark clouds the whole way and it started raining right after I set up camp. The campsite was pretty nice and I spent the evening strolling the beach.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Rainy Vancouver

Well, the weather has thrown a curve ball at me and theres going to be lots of rain this afternoon so I have postponed my trip until tomorrow evening. At least it will give me a chance to repack my stuff, and see what I don't need (so I can get rid of it or send it back home). I may go to a museum this afternoon, or maybe a movie; its just that kind of day.

Yesterday I went for a ride with Lyle and some of the vancouver fixed gear riders. Solid individuals the lot of them. We did a loop through north vancouver and then back, and checked out some bike shops. It was an extremely pleasant afternoon and at the end of the day I had ridden about 80km, but I didn't have any of my heavy bags with me at the time.

So if the weather is nice I shall start the bicycle touring tomorrow. Hooray!

PS. Thanks again to everyone who came out to my 'going away party'. I really enjoyed seeing you all!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Go Sens Go!

I know I normally hate you, but for tonight, I love you. Pronger is going o have a very tough time for the next few games. Lets hope they keep on playing like they did today.

On a more bike-tour-related note, I picked up my bike from Dream Cycles today and everything seems to be in fine order. They told me they needed to retension the wheels slightly which I was glad to hear since keith from cavern already tried them last week and said they would need a retruing, but I didn't have enough time to bring it back to him. The Air Canada baggage smashers seemed to show mercy on my oversized cardboard bike box. I would like to extend a big thank you to the kind folks at Dream Cycles for reassembling and tuning my bike at such short notice, even if you did make fun of my frame bag. I will come tomorrow with Boddingtons for everyone if I can manage
my time properly.

I also met up with Lyle today which was nice but he was pretty busy and on a bike so i let him go along with his business. Maybe tomorrow I will get a chance to put in a few kilometres with him if he has time. The people that work at the hostel I am at were merciful enough to let me bring my bike into my room, since the hostel is located right in the middle of the tourist district (AKA Crack/Heroin town).

Tomorrow I am going to ride all around the city, since today I walked an astounding 20 kilometers! I never walk, so I was so tired I had to nap from 5pm to 7pm. My jet lag is actually helpful since now I basically feel tired after the sun goes down and wake up as the sun comes up so I'm all set for once I start camping. I will probably check out Granville Island and Stanley Park tomorrow nand try to find if there are any bugs to work out of my bike before I start the actual tour.

I also have a very nice German room mate in my 4 person dorm (there are just the two of us). His name starts with A but shamefully (and totally expectedly) I have forgotten it so I will have to tactfully ask him this evening.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Beginning

Hi everyone! I'm in Vancouver right now and so very close to the start of my trip. I went straight from the airport to a reccomended bike shop (Dream Cycles), and then pretty much straight from there to a reccomended hostel (The Cambie). Both establishments are pretty awesome in my opinion. Tomorrow my bike will be ready so I'll ride around town and make sure any bugs in my bike setup get worked out before I head out of the city. I'll take some touristy snapshots and upload them if I can fine a computer with a USB port on it (This is being typed from a coin slot internet console). I miss everyone from toronto already, and got a little bit emotional on the cab ride from my house to the airport. Russel and Carey, you two will always have a couch in my heart. Special thanks to everyone who made it out to our last miniute party last night, even if you didn't stay for long!

And so it begins...