2012 Bike Tour – PDX to LAX

August 31st, 2012

About a decade ago, I first realized that I could travel with my bicycle for distances longer than I could ride in a day. Carry a few things with me, and I could ride almost indefinitely, seeing the country from a slower, more connected perspective, just as a casual ride through your neighborhood brings a wholly different perspective than a dulling drive out to work. The beauty of it is that I get to divide the days’ rides by pitching a tent and spending the nights just as in touch with the Earth as I spend the days. Before my first trip, I was pretty sure I would love the experience, and luckily, I did. Now heading out for my sixth multi-week tour, I love that I still love it.

For the third trip in a row, I’ll have a partner. My brother Joel will be joining me for the first week, finally turning to reality an idea we’ve talked about for years. We start near his home of Portland, Oregon, and will ride down the entirety of the Oregon coast from north to south. Near the California border, we will be joined for a night or two by our parents in their camper, in a nostalgic echo of the last family vacation we ever took, some 20 years ago, a drive in the reverse direction from California to Portland.

After we enter California, and after my family heads back north, I will leave the Pacific behind and head towards the mountains. I enter the Sierra Nevada range at Lassen Volcanic National Park, and will travel down spine of the mountains for the next three weeks, falling out the tail at Los Angeles. In between I will stop at Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park, and Sequoia National Park, hoping that gravity’s unceasing and ever-present war with me will do nothing to dislodge the affinity for mountains and forests that seems embedded in my soul.

My bike is already waiting for me in Portland, I fly out to join it tomorrow, and will be out on the road with my brother that day or the next. I intend to write a daily journal that I will post here, and I intend to see many things that will overwhelm my skills at photography, but I will shoot nevertheless. Bookmark the following link to keep up with the latest, and I will also post notifications on Facebook.

http://www.gregie.com/neil/words/category/bike/2012tour/

Thanks for reading, and I love to read comments from friends and family when I’m out on the road!


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2012 Shakedown Trip

August 25th, 2012

43.69 miles / 2:47:43 time / 15.6 mph avg. / 915 ft. climbing
Staying at North Branch Conservation Area

Some six weeks ago, I joined Dennis for his shakedown trip preceding his Rocky Mountain tour, which kicked off a month before my own upcoming tour along the Oregon coast and up and down the length (and height!) of the Sierra Nevada mountains through California. For me, that was just a “get in shape” trip (and I definitely need to get in shape for this one!), as I didn’t yet have all the new equipment that I would need to “shake down”.

What new equipment? Well, I’m leaving the solar panel behind for my electricity needs, and instead using my hub generator with a Pedalpower+ cable to charge my USB-powered devices. One of those USB devices is Nexus 7 tablet, which sits between my smartphone and my ultraportable PC in terms of functionality (and weight!) I’m using it to write up this post right now, and also used it to import photos from my DSLR camera, like this one:

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In that photo you also see another new thing, my JetBoil stove, which replaces my liquid white gas stove.

Between Dennis’s shakedown trip and the start of my tour, I began to get scared that I wouldn’t have a chance to do my own. One weekend I was attending (and photographing) my cousin’s wedding, another weekend I came down with a brutal cold, and all the while work was getting more and more insane. So any out-and-back trip would have to be short. But where is there a campground within 50 miles of Hoffman Estates?

When I did a 90 mile training ride a couple months ago, I learned about this new McHenry County conservation area at the end of the Prairie Trail near the Wisconsin border. It’s on the Grand Illinois Trail, a 400-some mile loop around Northern Illinois, and the County was cool enough to mow an area of grass near the parking lot and allow cyclists to overnight there. There’s water, a vault toilet, and some tables. Technically you’re supposed to get a permit, but there is no information at all about how to get such a permit (or how much it costs), neither on the Internet nor the brochure and information kiosk here at the park, which I interpret to mean they don’t give a crap. After doing a bunch of work, I rolled out of my house near 4pm (latest start ever!) and got here shortly before sundown. There were three cars in the parking lot, which slowly trickled out, and no one ever stopped by to ask for my permit (or even close the gate). 2nd free-camping shakedown trip in a row, woo hoo!

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