Bike Tour 2011 with MJ

Oh it was epic!  Oregon and Washington are a good place to wander around on a bicycle. 

Eight days of cycling nirvana.  We started in Carson, WA rode the GP NF to Mt Rainier NP and then somehow wound up deep in Eastern WA.  Thankfully we crossed the columbia back to Eastern OR got totally sidetracked and eventually wound up in the Mt Hood NF for a pick up at Trillium Lake.  Thank you Beth! 
For some strange reason it never rained, I know... WTF?  We are in OR after all.  We got lost once following a dirty unicorn (MJ's fault) and almost died of dehydration but overall the trip was surprisingly smooth.  Oh ya, warning to all traveling cyclist, NEVER ride your bike between Yakima, WA and Umatilla, OR.  It blows... big time.  Busy roads, dust, trash, and depressingly impoverished towns.  Steer clear of Wampum, OR the dogs are scary.  We got jumped and chased by a pack of vicious miniature dogs.  No shit I almost crashed I was laughing so hard until one latched onto my rear pannier!  I lost a water bottle in that battle, scary place.  For real I think I'll carry bear spray from now on while touring.  To many close encounters with angry junk yard dogs on country lanes has left me emotionally scarred.  On the other hand you MUST ride the Sunrise road in Mt Rainier NP (early am) it is just amazing.  You top out with a fantastic view of the mountain and can hike to a glacier!  
Anyone who knows me knows how much I like to stay in Dufur, OR when riding bikes.  Well forget that because the new hot spot is Fossil, OR.  Coolest town in OR as far as I'm concerned.  Make sure to have breakfast at the Big Timber Diner! 

Bikes kick ass. 

Myself and MJ @ Mt Rainer about to reach the summit of Sunshine Rd.  Sweet!

MJ road this...

I rode this Hunter badassery. 

Before we ran out of food and had to forage in gas stations we feasted on SIN DAWG.

All sorts of legal track!  Coming from CA this is a freak out moment.  OR is awesome.

Gear musings...  Pretty much everything worked well and because we had excellent weather the entire time gear challenges were mimimal.  This is just what I liked/didn't like and NOT a gear review.  Proper gear reviews need to challenge the gear (possibly to failure) and the user needs a serious amount of time with each piece to fully understand the good and the bad.

What stood out amongst the junk I carry.

1. My new (to me) Rick Hunter dirt touring machine.  OMG this rig rocks! Check it out here.

1. MUSA (Made in the USA) shorts made by Rivendell Bicycle Works, link here.  These lack any fancy zippers, colors, padding, etc.  They weigh almost nothing have a seamless crotch, and dry super fast my three requirements in a touring short.  When I jump off the bike to swim in the river I can hop right back on and don't have to worry about a thing.  Somewhat dorky look but they are superb for touring.

2. Top tube bag made by Porcelain Rocket.  It's the Bento Box for the "hardcore." The bag provides a spot to put your snacks, camera, etc within easy reach.  No more fiddling around in the black hole of your handle bag bag or grabbing a sweaty half eaten Cliff Bar out of your back pocket.  I borrowed the bag from Daniel but ordered one for myself when I got home.  Awesome!

3. Therm a Rest Neo Air sleeping pad.  2 1/2" of fabulous sleeping comfort.  This is a somewhat flimsy, and expensive pice of gear you need to baby.  Is that a good thing?  No... but it is extremely light and super comfortable for summer excursions.  I like it because it's WAY more comfortable than my old Therm a Rest Z Lite and I prefer the horizontal baffles of the NeoAir to the vertical baffles of many air mattress.

4. Ortlieb Panniers.  This is a no brainer as Orlieb dominates the world of bicycle touring and for a good reason.  Ortlieb's give you a no nonsense, bullet proof, and dependable way to carry your equipment.  Mine have stood up to many years of abuse, are easy to patch (dogs, racoons, crashing) and keep things dry with a minimum of care.  Keep the fancy leather/waxed cotton hobbit bags for Sat morning cafe rides, Ortlieb bags deliver.  Ortlieb company website here.

5. The Obama stimulus plan.  We spent the entire trip in remote parts of OR and WA usually traveling and camping in USFS areas.  Both MJ and I were surprised to find new signs sans bullet holes, new chip seal on roads, new picnic tables, bathrooms, and many other general improvements to existing infrastructure.  From a tourist point of view things have been cleaned up! Thank you American taxpayer, dudes who did the work, and Obama stimulus plan.

What sucked.

1. Montebell UL Super Stretch #3.  The bag is constructed well, seems tough enough, and is super comfortable.  But... sadly is under filled and therefore runs cold.  So what?  Just wear long underwear and be happy that you are comfortable.  That's what I thought until I actually used this bag.  It is unacceptable to have so many cold spots where there in no down to insulate you.  I tried all the usual tricks to adjust the down but nothing worked.  The simple fact is that with just a few more ounces of down this could be the best in it's class.  Without those few ounces this bag just doesn't cut it.  Oh well. I'm currently exploring if a repair shop will overfill the bag.  So far all have said no because of the bags unique construction that makes it stretchy also makes it almost impossible to mess with.  We'll see...

2. Assholes in cars.  Nothing new to bike travelers and thankfully we didn't have to many problems.  I'm not sure why driving a car makes people impatient homicidal maniacs hellbent on destroying the peace but it does.  This tour just reinforced my hatred of busy roads and traffic.  I'll be taking a serious look at bike packing as a alternative to more traditional cycle touring.  In case you don't know what bike packing is check this out. 

3.  Freezer Bag Cooking.  Eating out of plastic bags... I'm over it.  In the future you will only see me choking down an FBC meal if I'm doing some kind of psycho endurance race.

This years theme was Pirates. It was funny out on the road now I don't get it?

My friend and touring partner Mike Johnson.  Even though he hangs on Grant Peterson's every word I love this guy.  Oh ya... the Umatilla NF has some crazy dirt roads perfect for touring.

Bromance W/Mt St. Helens in the background.  The descent to and from this vista is insane!

MJ found this spacey shrine to Bigfoot in some dudes front yard.  I love it. 

Our first nights campsite at Mt Adams. 

We started early to avoid the car traffic and the rewards were amazing.  A quiet road climb up to this site and then coffee and a hike.  

Just have to say it again... This stuff is legal in OR.  Good times. 

Parting shot.  Kicking it old school w/boozer back in the day.  DFL for life!

OR and WA are full of quiet roads both paved and dirt that offer a bicycle tourer many choices.  People are generally friendly in the small mountain towns and there are TONS of FS campgrounds.  Stoked to start planning your own trip to the backroads of OR and WA?  I found theses blogs useful. 

1. The great Alex Whetmore a legend in OR.

2. Dirt, fatbikes, dirt, fatbikes...