Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Saddle Up Again!

It’s been a while since I entered a blog post about a bike trip. It was Cycle Oregon 2022. Almost 2 years!!

It’s appropriate that Cycle Oregon was the last time I blogged about a bike trip. If you recall, which I’m sure you don’t as who wants to waste valuable brain cells remembering the trials and tribulations of Chris’ biking escapades. Let me refresh your memory…..  I was hesitant to do Cycle Oregon because it required participants to set up and sleep in tents. I’m an RV guy plain and simple. I gave up tents the day we bought the Bounder in 2000. For those who went to University of Washington, that's 24 years ago.

Well, I realized that setting up a tent has gotten much easier in 24 years and sleeping in a tent in the middle of summer isn’t too bad. Sooooo I decided to rethink this whole tent camping thing.

As you may also recall (again, probably not) I really enjoy being on my bike, exercising, and seeing new places and meeting new people. During the cross country ride, I had my MVP, Cheryl, drive the support vehicle. That was awesome and I am forever indebted to her for doing that with/for me.  But that was a lot to ask and I don’t want to ask that again.

Well, it’s been 3 years since the cross country ride and I am getting the itch to hit the road again. Couple that with the fact that Father Time has been whispering in my ear that I need to get moving. So I’ve decided to dip my toe in the self supported touring bike arena.

Self supported means there is no motorhome waiting for me with the A/C running and a cold beer in the fridge when I finish the ride. There is not even a support vehicle hauling my tent, sleeping bag and other stuff to the next stop like cycle Oregon. Nope, self supported means THE RIDER hauls all the stuff.  In this case, that would be me!  

It’s a thing!  They have these bags called panniers that strap on to your bike and hold all your stuff. There are also special “touring” bikes that have steel frames and extra screw holes for the brackets to carry your panniers and extra water bottles (you’re gonna need those).

So I did it. I bought the touring bike (steel frame and extra screw holes) and the panniers and all the stuff. Yes a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, solar charger. Yep, all the gear bro!

Now I’m ready. Ready for what you might ask?  Hell, I don’t know. I just wanted to hit the road on my bike and experience things up close.

I planned out a 480 mile ride leaving Hillsboro on 7/9, heading northwest along the coast and across the sound and joining the Seattle to Portland ride 7/12 and 7/13.

Turns out Haylie’s church wedding ceremony (she’s getting married!) got moved to Sunday 7/13 so I will need to have Cheryl pick me up in Centralia.  I actually feel pretty good about it as 100 miles peddling the tank is about all I can manage. I’ll look forward to riding the final 100 in the car!

Since touring is much much different than regular road biking, I figured I needed a dress rehearsal prior to the big show. So that’s what I’m doing right now!  I’m laying outside my tent in Vernonia (no surprise there for those that know me) writing the blog!

The ride to Vernonia was great as usual. I’ve made it probably 10 times. Funny, but this time I took a slightly

different route and couple that with the fact that I’m riding on a different bike on a new adventure so everything seems new. 

I took a little extra time to “stop a smell the roses” and realized what a beautiful area it is.   

As for the ride itself, I added some miles and climb to simulate what I will do on the actual ride. I put on 70 miles and about 2100 feet of climb. Good ride for sure. I think my stamina is ready!  Passed test number 1. 

Now for the next test. Setting up camp. I’m not sure if I’m going to be a long term touring rider, so I didn’t want to spend a fortune for all new gear. Remember, I’m on a fixed income now!  That’s where OfferUp and Facebook marketplace comes in. Gently used stuff for a fraction of the price. Ya I know, it’s a pain dealing with the crazy people sometimes but hey, “it’s all part of the experience!”  I got a nice REI 2 person tent, (being optimistic that Cheryl will eventually join me) that went up in a jiffy. Test number 2 complete. 

As for the pad. I am going to borrow one that Kenzie and Greg have, but we didn’t make the handoff and they are now out of town. What to do what to do….. I know, go to one of the leading stores for outdoor gear and get one. Thats exactly what I did. I went to Walgreens and bought a floaty for $10. I blew it up, rolled out my sleeping bag and BOOM!  Test number 3 complete.  

With camp all set up it’s time for a shower. I didn’t even think this was a test. I grab my stuff, walk to the shower hut and do my thing. Nope. Test number 4.

There was a sign on the door the showers require tokens and you need to get the tokens from the camp host. A little inconvenient but OK. I walked over to the camp host RV and saw a CLOSED sign. I’m in danger of failing the easiest test!  

No worries walk back to camp drop my stuff and go have a burger and a beer. That ALWAYS makes things better. 

Went to the local place (I guess everything is local in Vernonia) Cedar Inn pub and bellied up to the bar. I couldn’t read the menu because it was your typical no window pub and it was dark and I forgot my glasses. So I asked Lori the bartender her recommendation. Bacon Swiss burger with grilled onions was her answer and boy did she deliver. It was awesome!  With fries and two Migration IPAs my bill was $20. What?!?  I’m moving to Vernonia. 

I was able to call the camp host and got my tokens and a shower.  Whew that was close. 

The night was surprisingly uneventful. I got a couple snacks at the store and crawled into my nice REI 2 person tent with Walgreen floaty and slept great. 

I packed up in the morning pretty well but the Walgreen floaty didn’t empty very easily and my right front pannier was bulging a bit but I had the extra room. 

A quick stop for coffee and breakfast burrito at Black Bear coffee and the ride home. 

Dare I say it?  I think I’m ready!!!

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