September 16, 2016 – Suttle Lake Loop and US 20, OR to Sam and Kelly’s house, Silverton, OR

I found myself wide awake and deep in thought around 3 AM. It’s starting to hit me that the trip is almost over and I’ll be getting back to city living. There are many pros and cons with this, the obvious pro being that I can start having a consistent paycheck again. I doze back off an hour or so later and then hear the birds chirping around 7 and it’s light out. I cook my last MRE for a little breakfast and pack up camp. At about 8 I hear Kyle’s moped on the road and knew that he would be cruising in here to check out Suttle Lake. I run down to the road to grab his attention and he comes up to my camp site. Turns out he was at the spot we had talked about, he just went further into the forest than I expected and he couldn’t hear me shouting out his name when I had pulled in. Oh well. At least I’m a couple of miles closer to the top of the pass.

Kyle heads to the lake and I finish packing up. On my way out Kyle pulls up alongside of me telling me the Lake was no good. He briefly entertains the idea of pacing me as we climb over Santiam Pass, but I think once he realized I was going to be going maybe 7 miles an hour he wanted nothing to do with it. So I start the climb and it’s a good one. Nice views of Suttle Lake and Mt. Washington are to my left and I make the remaining 6.5 mile climb in just under an hour. On the way down it starts to get very cold. The sun hasn’t gotten high enough in the sky yet so the road is completely shaded by the mountains and trees. I quickly make it to the junction of US 20 and SR 22 and stay straight on SR 22 towards Detroit following the North Santiam River. There are 2 guys going in the opposite direction on touring bikes that are bundled up like it’s the middle of winter out here. I give the wave and yell out that it’s only 11 more miles to the top of the pass. No clue if they heard me or had any reaction to it, as I’m busy cruising on a low grade downhill stretch.

It’s quite nice to be back in the thick of a forest like this with rushing water nearby, makes me feel like I’m home again. A string of what I believe are Ford Model A vehicles pass by me, kind of highlighting the day for me. Each one has its luggage strapped on the back of the vehicle and is a fun sight to see. I pull into Detroit about 11:30 and spot Kyle’s moped outside of The Cedars Restaurant. He has already finished eating and I don’t want to spend a bunch of time here, so I cross the street to Mountain High Grocery and grab a few items from the hot case as well as some chocolate milk. We sit outside for a half hour or so and then start off down the road.

The downhill isn’t as drastic now as it was before Detroit, but the views are still great with Detroit Lake (actually a reservoir) and the Santiam River to the left of me during the ride. At some point I passed Kyle because he went to check out one of the many parks I’m seeing signs for. As he passes me again I tell him he should find a swimming hole for us. Sure enough maybe 5 miles up the road he is waiting at the entrance to Fisherman’s Bend Recreation and he takes me down to the river. The water is flowing very fast and is quite shallow, but I find a spot that is deep enough to kneel down in and then submerge my whole body. It is also very cold, very close to freezing I would imagine if a thermometer was placed in it. It takes a while to warm up since the sun is hiding behind some clouds but it eventually finds its way out. I quickly washed my clothes in the river, no soap, so my shorts and shirt are wet when I go to put them back on. I decide to just strap the shirt onto the top of my bed roll to dry out and ride the 15 miles to Stayton. Perhaps this will even out the serious biker tan I’ve got going on a little bit.

From Stayton I get off of SR 22 and head north on Cascade Hwy. I see Kyle’s bike outside of a bar in Sublimity, but decide to keep riding the remaining 12 miles or so to Silverton and just shoot him a text that I passed him. Cascade Hwy is quite hilly and there are a few fires nearby that have the fresh smoke disrupting my view and noticeably making it more difficult to breathe. I make it past these and get into Silverton a little before 5. Kyle makes it into town shortly after and we ride the remaining 2 miles or so to Sam and Kelly’s house. Brian, Toby, and Colin are already there and dinner plans are made to throw some food on the grill, so Kyle and I head to grocery store to grab food and beer. Adam and Becky join the party shortly after we’ve finished eating and then we spend the rest of the night relaxing and drinking. Kyle and I set up our sleeping bags on the back porch underneath the awning and I call it a night around 11.

98.53 miles
6:47:55 in the saddle
14.5 Avg. MPH
3848 feet of elevation gained
6791 feet of elevation lost

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September 15, 2016 – Buck Creek Road and US 20, OR to Suttle Lake Loop and US 20, OR

There were a couple of times during the night that I was woken by a bunch of coyotes howling at the moon. This was a pretty awesome experience and unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to record it on my phone. There seemed to be multiple coyotes howling from all different directions, but I was also just hoping they wouldn’t smell any of the food that I have on me. It got quite cold last night and I again found it necessary to mummy up completely in my bag. These hot days in the desert can certainly being some cold nights. I started moving at about 7:15 when I could see the sun shining on the mound of gravel next to me. Within minutes the sun was shining on my tent and it warmed up really fast. I ate a couple of tuna packets and some mixed nuts before getting out of my tent and tried to be as efficient as possible packing everything up as well as brushing my teeth.

On the road just after 8 and once I started moving I could feel the cold air much better. My whole body was cold for the first hour and a half as I passed through the one restaurant town of Hampton and further into seemingly no mans land. About 30 miles into my day a truck slows down next to me and shouts “I thought I recognized that face”. My friend Toby, who I stayed at a hotel with in Ellensburg a couple of months ago, was on his way back to Boise from Bend. He pulls onto the shoulder and we chat and laugh about the chance scenario for a bit. After thinking about it longer I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often. There are thousands of cars that pass me in either direction on most days, and some of the routes are near cities that I know a fair amount of people. The only other time I can recall this happening is on the baseball trip in 2011 in between Dallas and Houston when my cousin Kevin and his family saw me on a frontage road and pulled off the Interstate to talk to me. I hadn’t seen him in probably 15 years or so at the time, so that blew me away. Anyway, I told Toby if we were closer to Bend we should have a beer, but 45 miles away is not very close on a bike. I did hook him up with the hot spring location I stayed at the other night though, so hopefully he hit that up.

I stopped at a rest area in Brothers a few miles further up the road to discard my trash from last night and this morning. A couple of older guys chat with me for a quick minute, but this is just as I’m finishing my break and I don’t really feel like engaging much. It’s a pretty quick ride through mostly flat terrain to the ghost town of Millican 17 miles away. I start to lose some significant elevation after this and have a couple of long downhill stretches along with one pretty good uphill stretch as I’m entering into more forested land on the eastern outskirts of Bend. By the time I get to Bend it is shortly before 2, I’m hot and hungry, and I stop right away as I’ve already put in 70+ miles. I text my friend Kyle that is meeting up with me today to let him know where I am and he is in Sisters, about 25 miles away from me. He’s on moped so he can do faster mileage than me and I had planned on taking a dip in the Deschutes River anyway at a spot I found in Tumalo a month or so ago. So the plan is to meet there.

It’s a bit of a pain getting through Bend, a lot of traffic along US 20 and for a stretch there is no shoulder at all. But after that it’s a nice downhill stretch to the river and Tumalo. Kyle pulls in a few minutes after me and I’ve already gone for a dip to cool down. We drink some celebratory beers and shoot the breeze while wading in the river and eventually get back on the road a little after 4. It’s about 15 miles to Sisters from here and it’s quite warm. Kyle gets ahead of me right away and becomes a camera man at a few spots when I finally catch up. There is a lot of traffic through this stretch in both directions as it is during rush hour. I pull into Sisters a little after 5 and head to the opposite side of town to grab a sandwich and have an easy getaway to continue west afterwards. We spend about an hour or so at Subway charging up the phones and then chatting with a couple of guys that are hiking the PCT and have hitched a ride down into Sisters for supplies. Kyle and I map out a camp spot for the night, 11 miles down the road and a little uphill from here to get some of the climbing of Santiam Pass done tonight.

I leave first about 6:30 and again it doesn’t take Kyle long to pass me. Sunset is about 7:15 and I pull into the spot shortly after this. I can’t find Kyle, shout his name a few times, and since I didn’t pass him at any point I figure he must have gone further. He talked about fishing tomorrow morning at Suttle Lake, so I strap on the lights and ride another 2 miles to Suttle Lake Loop. I check out the area a bit, find an ideal camping spot, but can’t find him anywhere. I hang out along US 20 for 15 minutes or so and try calling him but his phone is out of range. I send him a couple of text messages in case he does try to find me and gets in service at some point, but also figure we are both adults and can fend for ourselves out here. So I set up camp in the moonlight on another clear night. I’m in my tent and ready to sleep by 9:30. I checked out the weather and it isn’t supposed to be as cold tonight, but I have the rainfly on still to give more shade from the moonlight and make sleeping easier. Tomorrow should be easy going with a 10 mile climb or so to start and then it’s mostly downhill from there.

109.31 miles
7:27:43 in the saddle
14.6 Avg. MPH
2336 feet of elevation gained
3432 feet of elevation lost

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September 14, 2016 – Juntura Hot Springs, Juntura, OR to Buck Creek Road and US 20, OR

It got quite cold last night and I needed to go full mummy in my sleeping bag in order to stay warm. I woke up a few times during the night because of the cold and then when it was light enough out to see I wanted nothing to do with getting up. When I did finally make it out of the tent is was nearly 8:30 and still very cold out. My sandals were still wet from crossing the river, so that wasn’t the most enjoyable thing to put on. Better than cold wet socks though. I wasted little time packing up my stuff and got offered a cup of coffee from Ralph and Kathy. I don’t drink coffee but thought about it for a second just because it would’ve helped me warm up, but I passed. I noticed a staple stuck in my back tire on the outer edge. The tire isn’t flat yet and I’m able to pull it out while keeping the tube intact. Changing a flat would be less than ideal at this point in the morning. I get packed up, wish my fellow campers well, and am on the road by about 9:15.

The sun hasn’t quite made it over the hillsides yet on all of the road, so I put my maintenance gloves on for some added warmth (first time I’ve needed to do that). I decide to forgo stopping at the Oasis Cafe in Juntura for breakfast and start climbing almost immediately. It is a long steady climb, lasting nearly 10 miles as I wind out of the valley, into the Pacific Time Zone, and over Drinkwater Pass at 4212 feet. A couple of miles of steep downhill are followed by rollers before it’s a steep uphill climb for a little more than 5 miles. The summit here is 4848 feet, which I imagine will be my high point for the day. Another downhill follows and I take a quick break at the convenience store at the bottom of the hill. Burns is 23 miles from here and the lady inside tells me it’s basically flat all the way there, which I’m looking forward to. Unfortunately now the wind has picked up and is blowing in my face, but I get the miles done and stop to eat in Burns shortly before 2 and a little over 60 miles in.

I take a pretty long break eating and refilling my water bottles. When I’m ready to get back on at about 3 my Garmin again takes a while to turn on and when it does finally start it has cleared my data. I looked before I turned it off and remembered I had 61.6 miles and about 5:15 of riding time, but my elevation numbers are gone. I call up the customer service for them again and this time get someone who actually seems to know what he’s talking about. He sends me an email with instructions on what to do, but unfortunately I have to wait until I can plug into a computer.

There are some rollers and consistent headwind as I make my way west. There is a convenience store and gas station where US 395 is no longer on the same path as US 20 and starts heading south instead. I stop here to get a break from the wind for a bit, pick up a snack, and pull up the satellite view on my phone to check on potential camp spots. I remember the last time I was heading east on this road I camped at the restaurant in Hampton and got out of there early to avoid being seen. I pulled off about 10 miles down the road from there to eat some food and get warmth from the sun, so I try to find this area because I know it has a large pullout and could give me some earlier warmth than I got this morning. This spot is about 30 miles down the road and I have about an hour until sunset, so I get to it.

The wind seems to have calmed a bit, but is definitely still there and I seem to be climbing more than I am descending. Traffic has died down a lot and the views are rolling hills with a lot of sage and the occasional tree. I end up riding until about 8:45 well after the sunset of about 7:10. It remains light on the horizon until about 8 and then the nearly full moon gives off plenty of light after that. I pulled into the spot I had in mind and crossed over the cattle grates to find a nice little area with mounds of old asphalt that is a couple hundred yards away from the road and also a little downhill from it. I set up camp, cook another MRE, and eat it maybe 100 yards from my tent in hopes of keeping any wildlife away from my tent. It is starting to get pretty cold out with the lack of clouds in the sky so I eat quickly, brush the teeth, and climb back into my tent shortly after 10. This is the first night I’ve felt the need to use my sleeping bag liner as an extra layer of warmth. Hopefully I stay warmer than I did last night.

117.4 miles
9:50:30 in the saddle
11.9 Avg. MPH
1614 feet of elevation gained
1217 feet of elevation lost

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September 13, 2016 – Jim and Gayle’s house, Eagle, ID to Juntura Hot Springs, Juntura, OR

I had a pretty awesome 10 days or so off in Boise. My whole purpose of coming at this particular time was to go to my friend Brandon’s wedding. In doing so I ended up hanging out with some old friends there and then spent the week doing different things with them and others. Activities included bike riding, bowling, frisbee, football, soccer, and drinking beer. I was able to spend some time my parents and see some family friends. I went back to visit Bishop Kelly during the daytime and saw a number of teachers I hadn’t seen since graduating 11 years ago. Pretty awesome time off of the road and it always has me debating moving back here when I have a visit like this. My upcoming plans are to make it over to Silverton, OR on Friday night in order to go to Oktoberfest on Saturday. It’s about 450 miles, so I’m giving myself 4 days to do it. This puts me as leaving Tuesday morning.

I was hoping to get a 7 AM start and get to Juntura well before sunset. My decisions on Monday night to have some beers and watch the football game made it so when 6 AM rolled around I wanted nothing to do with getting up. So I try (unsuccessfully) to go back to sleep until about 8 when I get up to shower, hoping that will help. It does and then I get packed up, fed, and say goodbye to my parents shortly after 9 AM. At least, in theory, there won’t be as many cars on the road at this time. I make my way along the back streets of Eagle before heading north a little ways to SR 44. Traffic is pretty heavy along here until the junction with I-84 (about 20 miles into my day). I briefly think about taking I-84 but decide against it because I really like the camping spot I have planned for tonight.

So I make my way to US 20/26 and take this through farmland and a couple of small towns before crossing the Snake River and getting back into Oregon. Vale is about 20 miles from here and about 63 on the day. I think about grabbing a quick bite in Nyssa, but decide against it to make my campsite with daylight still happening. I’m in the thick of onion country out here and it must be harvesting time because no less than a dozen trucks full of onions pass by me. There a number of onions in the shoulder as well. Would be a good move if I was heading into Boise to pick up some of these since I’d be able to cook with them.

Anyway, I get to Vale a little after 1:30 and stop at a place called Miracle to grab a burger. I end up chatting with the owner for a little while before getting on my way to bust out the remaining 55 miles or so. I try to maintain a 15 MPH average pace but encounter a 2.5 mile climb about 10 miles up the road that takes me out of the running to maintain the pace. Doesn’t matter that there was an equally long downhill that followed. This eventually put me into Harper and I stopped off at Coleman’s Service. I chat with owner Brian, who I’ve talked with before a couple times and he says he vaguely remembers me. I grabbed a couple of powerades and some beef jerky before getting back on the road. Maybe 6 miles up the road is a construction zone and I spend about 5 minutes talking with the Flagger while waiting for my directions turn to go. I’m going along the Malheur River now and the canyon that it created however many years ago.

It’s a really scenic stretch with the sun slowly starting to become an issue for cars that would be traveling west as well to see me. But the hills and winding road do help out with this quite a bit and then shortly before 7 I find my turnout just before Juntura and make my way back to the hot springs. There are 2 other cars here, which surprises me, but there is also plenty of room out here. I set up my tent before crossing the river to get to the hot springs on an island. A retired couple and a single guy are already in and we chat for a minute before they all head back. I stay for another 10 minutes maybe before deciding I need to head back in order to make sure I can still dry off without being too cold from the river. I suppose I could very easily use my towel and change my clothes, but I just don’t want to do that. When I get back I make an MRE that I’m thankful my Uncle Gary convinced me to take with back in Billings, MT. After dinner I go over to the retired couple’s (Kathy and Ralph) van to chat with them. We end up talking for the better part of an hour as the sunlight faded and now the moonlight is bright from an approaching full moon. Back in my tent a little before 10 and then I fall asleep just after 11 with the sounds of the flowing river maybe 20 feet away from me.

116.14 miles
7:47:38 in the saddle
14.9 Avg. MPH
2470 feet of elevation gained
2103 feet of elevation lost

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September 2, 2016 – Arock Rd and US 95, OR to Jim and Gayle’s house, Eagle, ID

I slept great but woke up with all of my mosquito bites itching pretty bad. It’s about 7:30 when I get out of my tent and the sun is already up and shining bright. Traffic is minimal along US 95 this early so it should be a pretty enjoyable ride into Jordan Valley. There are a few mosquitos still out this morning, perhaps the survivors of the night or the ones who didn’t get a chance to eat. Doesn’t matter much now since I can focus my full attention on each one that lands on me now and I’m able to kill the 5 or so that bother me while I’m packing up.

I’m on the road by 8 and ride through some rolling hills and quiet roads on the way to Jordan Valley to start my day and get 28 miles out of the way. I stop at Rockhouse Coffee, owned by my junior year high school history teacher Dave Skinner, in hopes of seeing him and also grabbing something quick to eat. I’m informed that he only comes by once a year or so, which is a bummer, but oh well. I grab a bagel and an ice cream cone which is a breakfast of champions if you ask me. A friendly family chats with me for a bit as I sat outside eating. The husband and wife did a cross country tour for their honeymoon and we trade some stories. They tell me there are a lot of rolling hills between here and the next services in Marsing, about 50 miles away. But there is a sweet downhill just before Marsing that brings me out of the mountains and into the valley, so I’ll be looking forward to that.

It’s a scenic ride as I quickly make my way into Idaho through the rolling hills and have a long uphill climb that puts me in the thick of the Owhyee Mountains. Not long after that I see signs for a brake check ahead and then for the downhill grade. I stop for a minute at the top to admire the view looking down into the valley. If my memory serves correct it was a 4 mile steep downhill followed by another 4-5 of a coaster to the intersection of US 95 and SR 55. I take the right turn onto SR 55 and shortly after am in Marsing where I take a food break a little before 3 PM. I happen to get into a conversation with a couple who was already there eating and had seen me on the steep downhill. They are from Sacramento and are up in this area visiting the grandkids. We talk about the route I took and they are quite familiar with the small mountain towns I went through in California.

My plan from here is to basically follow SR 55 all the way into the Boise area until it stars heading north on Eagle Road and instead keep going east. I’m heading to Bishop Kelly (BK), my alma mater, to watch a football game and to see my friend and current principal Mike Caldwell. Traffic turns out to be pretty bad through the Nampa/Caldwell area and the shoulder is pretty small, so I make my way onto Cherry Lane through Meridian and into Boise. I never seem to time my entrance into cities very good and end up dealing with rush hour traffic, this is the case again. It’s a lot of stop and go for me as I hit a number of red lights along the way. These seem to take much more of a toll on me just because I can’t maintain my momentum like I do on the open road. Instead I’ve got to start from 0 and with over a century on the day already it isn’t as easy.

I arrive to the game about a half hour early and am able to score a free hamburger at what I think is a alumni BBQ. Mike meets up with me shortly before 7 and gets my bike a safe place in the school and is able to find a vacant locker room for me to take a shower. I end up spending most of the game talking with Mike and Wes Worrell, my health teacher. As the game progresses I see some other old teachers and friends that I chat with and then make plans to meet up with most of the coaching staff (former teachers and classmates) after the game at a bar down the street. I hang out there until maybe 11 and get a ride about halfway to my parents home from my friend Chris. It’s a peaceful 6 mile ride home from here down Eagle Road and I get there around midnight. My dad is still awake so I spend some time chatting with him before eventually making my way upstairs to sleep.

113.32 miles
7:57:43 in the saddle
14.2 Avg. MPH
3950 feet of elevation gained
5154 feet of elevation lost

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September 1, 2016 – Sand Pass Road and US 95, NV to Arock Road and US 95, OR

A couple more vehicles pulled into Sand Pass Road last night, but didn’t seem to mind that a tent was set up right there. It was pretty cool out all night, eventually I had to climb into my sleeping bag for warmth. I woke up a little bit before 6 and I could see the sun was trying to peak over the hills to the east but I knew I had more time so I stayed laying down and dozed back off. More vehicles came in and the sun was now above the hills, so I figured I should get up. This was shortly before 8 and it was still a little cool outside so it actually felt good to soak up some of the sun. Two Humboldt County trucks pulled in as I was packing up my tent and waved at me but didn’t say anything. Yet another successful night of free lodging for me. I eat a little breakfast and get on the road by 8:30.

I’m really in no mans land out here now. There is a Chevron about 15 miles up the road, but I’m content and don’t feel like stopping yet. After that is maybe a 1.5 to 2 mile climb that I can see a couple of semis that have passed me way up ahead going around turns, so I know it’ll be a significant climb. It would’ve been a good move for me to have kept on going last night and tackled this climb in the late PM/early AM hours just to avoid the heat, but obviously I did not do that. I take a little rest at the top of the hill in the shade of a semi that is sleeping or something along a chain removal pullout at the top. The downhill isn’t as drastic as the uphill, which is nice because it goes on for longer and allows me to just coast in the low 20’s for a bit. There is a small town called Orovada that I roll into about 30 miles into the day and stop off at the Shell station in town to grab some food and cold drink. I end up spending about an hour here, feels nice to be out of the sun. An uneventful 35 miles from here through relatively flat land with some mountains in the distance to the east and west and nothing but dirt, sagebrush, and the occasional patch of green where a house is somewhere off in the distance.

McDermitt is the next stop and it’s right on the border of Nevada and Oregon. I stop at the Ideal Market grabbing a sandwich and some Gatoeade and then sit in the dirt and gravel along the north side of the building because that is the only place where there is shade. While I’m hanging out a couple of motorcycles come in and join me in the shade. They are wearing full padded suits and helmets and I can’t even imagine how hot they are out here. These guys grab a couple of beers out of their bags and proceed to drink them. I can’t imagine they are very cold since there isn’t really anything for about 70 miles north of here. They started up on Coeur d’Alene yesterday and are hoping to make it to Reno or Tahoe later today. I chat with them for maybe 15 minutes and then since the Rome Station is 70 miles away and closes at 8 Mountain Time and it is about 1 Pacific Time, I need to get going. It is a pretty hilly and windy ride for the first stretch as I climb over the Blue Mountain Pass at 5293 feet. Tumbleweeds kept blowing across the road and getting caught in my fenders and spokes, causing me stop a few times to get them out. After the climb I get some really good downhill and seem to make pretty good time in the process. I cross into the Mountain Time Zone maybe 30 miles before getting to Rome and I’ve got a little over 3 hours still until the Rome Station closes, so I figure I’ll be fine. I take a couple of breaks to grab some cold water out of my bags and end up finishing this water at Burns Junction.

It looks like there was a store/gas station here at one point in time, but it’s a ghost town now. If I head to the northwest on SR 78 it’ll take me into Burns and onto US 20. Staying on US 95 takes me to the East Northeast, which is more of where I need to be heading. Another 13 miles from here gets me to Rome and it’s actually quite scenic in comparison to what I’ve been through all day in here. There are some green sections in here and cliff sides as it appears I’m getting into the Owhyee Canyon. I pull up to Rome Station on a downhill stretch that nearly takes me all the way to the Owhyee River at about 7:15, plenty of time to spare. I order a burger and drink probably about a gallon of water and get all of my bottles refilled in the process. As I head out I think about stopping to take a dip in the river, but it’s getting to be the point in the evening that the mosquitos are out and about, and I really don’t want to deal with them on the river and as I climb at least a mile to get back out of the canyon.

My Garmin has again pulled an amateur hour move in resetting itself when I got back on the bike. I had just crossed the 130 mile mark before getting to the restaurant and then it couldn’t locate the required satellites for a while as I started to climb. When it did finally turn back on, my information was gone. This is the 3rd time on this trip that this has happened, and it’s starting to bug me. In particular since when I have called the customer service, the people I talk to don’t seem to have any idea why it does this. It particularly sucks because I don’t know what my elevation gained and lost was. I can constantly see how many miles I’ve gone and how long I’ve been riding, but I don’t have the elevation as one of the stats on my main screen.

Anyway, I end up riding a little over 5 miles and spot a campsite that I can’t pass up because I doubt I’ll find anything better soon. It is right at the intersection of Arock Rd and US 95 and there are a few mounds of gravel that create a blockade from either road. The sun hasn’t set yet and I start to set up my camp. In the process I get a few dozen mosquito bites, but also get the joy of trapping a few of them in my tent where they have nowhere to go and I get to kill them all. It’s been a little while since I’ve stopped riding this early in the night and feels weird laying in my tent with it still being light outside. Before I know it I open up my eyes to go to the bathroom and it’s a little after 11 PM with stars as far as the eye can see in this desert sky.

135.84 miles
8:34:18 in the saddle
15.8 Avg. MPH
436 feet of elevation gained
600 feet of elevation lost

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August 31, 2016 – EBARA International Corporation, Sparks, NV to Sand Pass Road and US 95, NV

At some point in the night a car drove back to the area I was camped. I heard doors open and shut multiple times, but sounded like just one person based on footsteps. I had my hand on my knife and was ready to defend myself if need be. It didn’t come to this point though, as after maybe 5 minutes the car started again and drove away. The sun rose a little after 6 and I had my alarm set hoping to wake up at 6 and get on the ASAP. I had a hard time finding the motivation to get up and moving though until a golf cart came driving through the area. It went in the opposite direction and couldn’t see into the nook I was camped in, but I figured people were starting to show up to work now so I should probably get on the move. This was shortly before 7 and then I hit the road within a half hour.

I was blessed with ideal conditions from the get go. The winds are in my favor and the sun is hanging out behind some clouds. That second part is a game changer, in particular because I’m heading east. If the sun is in the eyes of drivers it makes me feel a lot less comfortable riding on the Interstate. There is always the rumble strip protecting me though I suppose. The scenery starts off pretty awesome for the first 30 miles as it seems I’m traveling through a canyon and getting constant river views with the railroad tracks following and mountains on both sides of me. I pick up a flat tire from a staple about 20 miles in and hope that this doesn’t happen often today. 10 miles later I’m kicked off of I-80 and have to take the I-80 business loop through the Wadsworth/Fernley area. I stop here for some food since the stops are few and far between today.

After this I’m allowed back on I-80 and it’s pretty flat land with salt flats and not much in the way of vegetation for a while. It is heating up and this causes me to stop a couple of times to grab my hydro flask out of my pannier to drink some ice cold water. Just before the 90 mile mark on the day I pull into Lovelock and have some lunch just after 2 PM. At this point I know I’m putting in a big day as far as mileage goes and figure I may as well break my record of 167 miles. An hour or so off of the bike and I’m back on, with the winds even more favorable for me. I start completing 5 mile stretches in less than 15 minutes, which feels incredible. The scenery is beautiful out here in its own way, though I can see how people would grow tired of it very quickly. There are a couple of spots just off of I-80 to pull off at a gas station, but I just keep on going, hoping to make it all the way to Winnemucca, about 70 miles from Lovelock without stopping.

Eventually I start feeling dehydrated though and pull into a rest stop about 20 miles shy of the city. I drink my entire water reserves (1 gallon) and sit down in the shade for a solid 20 minutes. A couple of people inquire to where I’m headed and wish me luck through the desolate stretch I still have to go through. Back on the bike and when I get about 8 miles away form Winnemucca the wind shifts and I now have a strong headwind, which is a bummer but I’m glad I took advantage when I could. The sun sets just before I get to Winnemucca and I stop off for some food and to check out google maps satellite view to scope out potential places to stop for camp as I head north on US 95.

The wind has basically stopped completely around 8:30 and I figure this is my best chance to get the remaining miles in. It’s dark with little traffic as I start climbing up a hill on US 95. 11 miles later is the spot I picked out, along a dirt side road called Sand Pass Road. There is a large dirt area that has a lot of tire tracks in it, I imagine from turning around. I shine my light around to see if there is any wildlife, in particular rattlesnakes that might make my night unpleasant. All is clear and I set up my tent around 9:30. After I’m set up and brushing my teeth a couple of cars pull into the road and head back into the hills, I wave at both of them, but they seem to pay me no mind. Completely fine by me. It is very dark out here and there are so many stars in the sky. There is no threat of rain nor a threat of the dew point being reached, so I sleep without the rain fly on and fall asleep gazing at the stars with a light breeze.

172.25 miles
9:40:13 in the saddle
17.8 Avg. MPH
3159 feet of elevation gained
3104 feet of elevation lost

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August 30, 2016 – Strawberry Valley Guard Station, Plumas National Forest, CA to EBARA International, Sparks, CA

Kyle and Chelsea usually wake up at 6 and get on the road by 6:45, which works out great for me because I need to make up some mileage from yesterday if I’m to make it to Boise on Friday evening. So I set my alarm for 6 and lay there for a few minutes not wanting to get up. Kyle comes outside to make sure I’m awake though and then I start packing up my site. He offers me a bagel as well, which I accept and have a little breakfast before getting on the road a little before 7.

The road is quiet and it’s a slow mostly uphill climb for the first 11 miles to La Porte. The sun hasn’t made it above the tree line yet, so thankfully it’s still nice and cool for the climb. At some point I notice that my sombrero which was hanging on my handlebar is no longer there and there is no way I’m going to turn around to look for it. It was short and sweet having that to give me some shade and hopefully someone else is able to benefit from it. I get into La Porte at about 8:15 and stop by Reilly’s Saloon and Cafe because it’s the only place that has an open sign showing. Sure enough it isn’t open though, so I end up just sitting on the sidewalk for a bit to rest and eat some almonds. I’m able to get some wifi access here so I spend some time figuring out the best route from here and really there is only one good option, continuing on this road until Quincy.

So I set off on the road again a little before 9 to do this and man are there some steep hill climbs. The sun is also above the trees now and it has warmed up significantly, so I’ve got a pretty good sweat going as I climb up to the peak near where the Pacific Crest Trail passes. It takes me quite a while and a number of stops to drink more cold water out of my growlers because my water bottle just heats up too fast. From here it’s a pretty good downhill for 5 miles or so, very windy. The views out here are incredible, just layers of forested mountainsides. A couple of times I don’t anticipate how hard the switchback will be to make as I’m cruising in the mid 30’s, and I end up far in the oncoming lane of traffic. No cars were coming up or going down during this whole duration though. The road goes up and down for small stretches after this before intersecting with SR 70. I head a mile or so west into East Quincy to grab a burger at a local spot. I spend a bit of time debating on which way to go from here and ask one of the locals about the few different routes I can take to get towards Boise.

Based on elevation changes alone I choose to head east on SR 70 which is kind of backtracking since it goes south a bit. This will give me the options of taking US 395 or I-80. During this stretch I talk with my parents to help me get a feel for those 2 options. Both are less than ideal, but it seems I-80 is going to be the best. I stop in a small town called Portola for dinner and then get back on the road a little before 6 to bust out the remaining 60ish miles to Reno. It seems to be a bit cooler out now, and the wind is at my back, so these miles go by quickly. In addition it is relatively flat now with a high desert terrain of sagebrush and dry mountains all around me. I get to the intersection of US 395 shorty before the sun set and about 6 miles later cross into Nevada. Maybe 5 miles after this bikes are no longer allowed on US 395, so I take a series of frontage roads into the northern Reno area.

This is actually probably better given the time of night right now. There is typically less debris on these slower roads, and that debris is hard to see and react to when it’s this dark out. I make it into Reno and stop off at a Burger King, basically the first place I come across on my particular route through the city. I scout out some potential churches that are along my path east towards Sparks and start heading in that direction. At each place I check out there seems to be a car parked with people inside of it or someone sketchy looking walking around in the parking lot. So I keep rising and figure the worst case scenario I’ll find an undeveloped patch of dirt close to the interstate. I end up settling on a loading area behind a building called EBARA International at the very east end of Sparks. I set up my tent around 11 PM and try to get to sleep as quickly as possible to try to get an early start tomorrow.

128.24 miles
10:25:18 in the saddle
12.3 Avg. MPH
9990 feet of elevation gained
9186 feet of elevation lost

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August 29, 2016 – Kevin and Jon’s house, Sacramento, CA to Strawberry Valley Guard Station, Plumas National Forest, CA

I ended up spending 11 days and 12 nights in the Sacramento area. Kevin and I were college roommates and we seemed to pick up right where we left off having a bunch of fun together. Everyday that him and Jon worked (all of the weekdays) I went into the fitness studio and helped out painting, gardening, cleaning, or whatever they needed done. When the work day was done we would hang out and explore Sacramento. Baseball game with a couple of Kevin’s friends, concert with him and his dad Dave, BBQ and watching the UFC fight at Jon’s friends place, riding bikes around checking out the trails and swimming in the river, birthday party for a friend, movie and multiple meals with Kevin and his parents, and hitting up the night life Sacramento has to offer with Kevin and Jon. Along with 5 of Kevin’s friends we took a bike camping trip to Berryessa Brewing and stayed at a campsite out there. This was a first trip bike camping trip for all but the 2 of us, so I’m hoping it was enjoyable for them and something they might all continue to do. It was about 50 miles each way, and after we got back into town hit up the American River one more time for a swim followed by an all you can eat Japanese place that I loaded up on a bunch of sushi and shellfish. I had a little bike work to do before taking off, so took care of this late on Sunday. To top everything off about Sacramento and how much of a sweet time I had, I got offered a job. So I’ll be doing some thinking in the coming days about potentially making that my new home.

My hope was to get on the road by about 9, but it was a later night hanging out one last time and TCB. Kevin said he’d ride with me for the miles heading north out of town. We left shortly after 9, thanking Jon for the hospitality and then stopping by the fitness studio to thank those guys for giving me some work and to remind them I’d contemplate moving down here. We start heading north and stop off at a Mexican spot for a breakfast burrito and chips and salsa. This absolutely hit the spot this morning and I can immediately feel the energy increase when we get back on the bikes. Kevin and I part ways along a bike trail as he heads to work and I head basically due north. He has again looked into an alternate route for me to take, instead of going through Nevada along I-80 he’s sending me north to Yuba City and than northeast from there towards US 395. This route adds a few miles, but it does seem to have more services (towns) along the way which will make it easier for me. And I ideally won’t be spending as much time in desert like conditions.

My route is a bike path along a levee for the Steelhead Creek, which I imagine would have been my route into Sacramento if I ever got around to finishing that ride, which I did not. This is sweet and doesn’t have many people utilizing it. The trail turns into a road, which again is sweet because there are almost no cars using it. I also get some pretty cool views of wildlife along the creek and of the agricultural land around since I’m a bit elevated above it all. I miss the spot that Kevin picked me up by a road (1 road east of me), but intersect with that route a couple of miles north of it. Getting up to the bike path crossing the Yuba River is much more difficult than it was getting off the other day. I blame Google, but really at this point I should know not to trust the routes entirely. Instead I should use it as a rough guide and then use my own judgement. I stop off at a Burger King in Marysville, 50 miles in and just before 2 PM. A little later than I’d like, but whatever. I end up spending a bit of time trying to get caught up on journaling, which I ignored for the whole duration of my stay in Sacramento.

I’m back on the road just before 3 and from here am heading northeast into the foothills along SR 20. The climbing starts almost immediately, low grades initially, but once I turn off of SR 20 and get onto Marysville Rd they get pretty steep. This is about 65 miles in, and it doesn’t take long for me to start slowing down. I take a couple of breaks to check out the view and drink some water, and then take another break after picking up a goat head in my front tire. This is right before getting into Plumas National Forest, so at least after this point I know the camping will be plentiful and it should cool down a bit with all of the trees around. This is exactly the case and I slowly put in the uphill miles.

At one point a car pulls off into the dirt along the side of the road and waves to me as he gets out of the car. I’m a little skeptical of the situation at first since I’m all alone out here, but it ends up working out pretty great. The guy’s name is Kyle and he works for the National Forest out here. He’s done a couple of bike tours: Seattle to Yellowstone, and Niagara Falls to New Orleans. So he just wants to chat with me for a bit. He offers me a burrito and some water since he knows how hard it can be at times out here, in particular during the climbs like this. So I eat the burrito and we chat along the side of the road for maybe 20 minutes or so telling stories of our trips. He informs me of about 3000 more feet of elevation gain between this point and La Porte, where I was hoping to make it to tonight, so that will be fun. He stays at a forest station barracks about 6 miles up the road and offers to have me stop there to fill up all my water bottles. I will definitely be taking him up on this. Daylight is being lost pretty quickly with the dense forest around, so he drives ahead to let me get going again about 7:30 or so.

There is a good downhill stretch along the way, which is nice, but also have more uphill (much more than the downhill). I stop a couple miles up to put my lights on and then cruise down the road. The forest ranger station comes up on me quick, and I would’ve missed it had he not parked his car along the street. He did also shout out my name when he saw a lone light coming by. So I head in to refill my waters. In the process he offers to let me camp out here for the night, which I immediately accept as it is getting quite dark and will give me more time to rest without getting back on the bike and searching for a site in the dark. His roommate, Chelsea, is here as well and we hang out chatting in the kitchen for an hour or so maybe. I’m able to pawn my bear spray off on her since hers went off accidentally recently, and working in the forest everyday will have a higher likelihood than my maybe 1 more day of passing through the mountains here and potentially running into a bear. So I feel good about it going towards a good use, rather than potentially sitting unused in one of milk crates after this trip is all said and done. They offer to let me use the shower and some food, which I decline both. After setting up my tent later on though I decide I may as well wash all of this salt off of my body and start relatively fresh tomorrow morning. They both call it a night around 10 or so as I’m getting done showering and then I head out to my tent to lay down. With all of this typing and alternating what is getting charged I end up staying awake until about midnight. They are both out of here before 7 AM, so that will be good for me to help me get an early start and make up some miles. I’m hoping to get to Boise by Friday night, but with days like this where I’m not even putting in 100 miles, that won’t be happening. It’ll have to be larger days from here on out. I haven’t done the math at this point because I have no service and don’t now the exact distance, but I want to say it’s somewhere in the ballpark of 570 miles still to Boise, so I need to be doing some serious work these next 4 days.

96.16 miles
7:40:11 in the saddle
12.5 Avg. MPH
5728 feet of elevation gained
2014 feet of elevation lost

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August 17, 2016 – Lassen National Forest, CA to Kevin’s house, Sacramento, CA

After 10,000+ feet of elevation gain yesterday I slept great. I was thinking I may encounter some wildlife in the night since I’m camped around 7000 feet, but nothing disturbed me. Also didn’t hear any traffic driving by on the road, so that’s a bonus. The birds were out chirping around 6:30 and this woke me up after pulling into camp about 11 last night. I started packing up just after 7 and was pleased to find my bear bag I hung up down the way a bit hadn’t been investigated by anything last night. I quickly got everything packed with the intention of making it to Sacramento today so was on the road shortly after 7:30.

Downhill is how the ride started for a good long stretch. About 5 miles in I encounter another tourer going uphill. I stop and cruise over to his side of the road to chat for a while. He’s riding from the Bay Area up to the San Juan Islands and chose the central California, Oregon, and Washington route in the hopes of avoiding headwinds on the coast. In doing so he also added a significant amount of elevation gaining, which I’m not sure he was prepared for. Based on what I’ve heard though, the winds do typically come from the south in the Central Valley, so maybe he got some tailwind yesterday as I imagine I’ll be getting headwind later today. His goal today is pretty simple, just making it to the south entrance of Lassen National Park so he can gorge on food there since he’s tired of the food he’s carrying. He doesn’t seem too stoked about the maybe 6 miles of severe uphill climbing he has left to make this happen though. After chatting for maybe 10 minutes we go our separate ways, and at this point I unfortunately don’t remember his name.

My route takes me down SR 89 to SR 32. I figured I had maybe 50 miles to get to Chico where I could grab some food for lunch today, but found out otherwise when I see a sign about 20 miles in that it’s still 45 miles away. I pass by a little cafe that advertises serving breakfast, which I don’t want, so I proceed onward figuring there will be a convenience store at some point I can grab more lunch style food. In hindsight I’m sure I could’ve gotten a sandwich there, but also made an assumption that the miles to Chico were downhill, so I’d be fine. For the most part they were as I rode out of Lassen National Forest along Deer Creek, but towards the end of this stretch I got some good long multiple mile climbs that I wasn’t overly excited about just due to how tired my legs are from yesterday. It’s also starting to get quite warm as I’m losing elevation, causing me to stop a couple of times to drink the ice cold water left in my growlers. There’s a small town called Forest Ranch before I get to Chico that I stop at to grab some snacks and more cold water. From here it’s basically downhill, and I get into Chico about 12:30 and nearly 70 miles in. I navigate through the east side of town going south and stop for some burgers before getting out of the city. I stop for about an hour and hope to hop on SR 99 to get some fast miles in.

Apparently at this point though SR 99 is treated like a freeway and bikes aren’t allowed on it. So I follow Google’s suggestion and ride south through orchards for a while going through a number of small towns in the process before the route intersects back with SR 99 and it’s now legal for bikes to be on it. During that stretch the orchards thinned out and it became all farmland with no shade to speak of. And of course since there is no shade I pick up a flat tire. All of my tubes have punctures in them at this point as well, so I spend a fair amount of time on the side of the road patching all of my tubes. I get kicked off again via signs a few miles north of Yuba City and then navigate a bike trail that crosses the Feather River into Marysville. This is my dinner stop and the half way point between Chico and Kevin’s house in Sacramento. Kevin tries to convince me to let him just pick me up, since it’ll be probably 10 PM or later that I arrive in Sac and eventually I give in. I send him my planned route and will just ride until he gets to that point. Initially he was going to ride up and meet me in between Sacramento and here, but it took me longer than I hoped to get to this point.

I start to head south again and have to cross the Yuba River, again using a bike path (sidewalk) as bikes aren’t allowed on the road at this point. Another flat tire is picked up, and really I shouldn’t be surprised. My tires are wearing really thin and this debris out here is loving that fact. I fix the tire on the bridge with many a car blowing by me in the process. I start to ride down near SR 70 hoping I’ll be able to get on, but again the answer is no, so I take Google’s route and parallel it for the most part. I’m riding through a lot of agricultural land out here and it is definitely beautiful and pleasant as the sun is rapidly setting and the air is much cooler now. I make a brief stop to put on my lights and drink some water and get absolutely assaulted by mosquitos in the process. This is thick in orchard country, so now I know they like to hang out in these areas. Kevin ends up meeting up with me about 8:30 which gave me 2 hours of ride time from Marysville minus the flat tire. The mosquitos are still out in full force at this point and are biting both of us as we try to load my stuff into his car and strap the bike to the top.

I end up about 30 miles shy of Sacramento, which I may make up during the time I’ll be spending here while Kevin is working. The drive down is quick and we pick up some beer before going back to the house and hanging out on the back porch. His roommate Jon comes home from the bar with a friend, Marco, and after a few beers and conversation Marco offers me work doing some painting at the fitness studio he owns. I debate it, as I want to ride back up to the spot Kevin picked me up and finish the ride, but in the end figure I may as well work and make some money during my time down here.

133.06 miles
8:50:23 in the saddle
15.1 Avg. MPH
3448 feet of elevation gained
9918 feet of elevation lost

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