Bike Across USA blog

Traveling by Bicycle Across America

Month: May 2012

Omak, WA

We are in Omak, Washington tonight (Wednesday, May 30). This is about half way across Washington. Offical route milage so far 211.5. I have riden another 50 or 75 miles beyond that.

There was a lot of climbing yesterday and today. Tuesday was Rainy Pass, elevation 4855 feet and Washington Pass, elevation 5477 feet. Today was Loup Loup Pass, elevation 4020 feet. This is a lot of climbing for a flatlander. The Bianchi Volpe touring bicycle is heavier than my road bikes and I am using a handlebar bag that adds more weight. Translate this to slow climbing.

The grades have varied from more than 4% to 8.74% (I have a slope meter – the Garmin GPS units will measure this for you. My speed up hill has been from about 4mph to as much as 7mph. Today I had two long down hills, which were very short time wise. Coming down from Loup Loup was a 6% grade for 7 miles! Maxium speed is not impressive in the low 40s.

Grade for the curious is measured in percent – a 1 foot rise in 100 feet is 1%. Many of you are familiar with the football field – 100 yards, or 300 feet. The 8.74% grade for a football field lenght, rises 26.22 feet. Think of a three story house at the goal line.

I rode for a while with a fellow from Washington named Tim. He had a temperature function on his bike computer. It was 37 degrees F. at the peak of Washington Pass.

I have pictures on my phone. No cell service until two communities today – for three days. This has made logistics meeting Terry very difficult. You will probably read continual complaints about the lack of service with t-mobile.

Terry is taking a lot of pictures also. I will add pictures later.

I will add more later. The Nothern Cascades are beautiful. The have been called the American Alps. The route generally is following Washington highway 20.

Anacortes to Rockport, Washington

I started Sunday morning from Anacortes, riding to Rockport, WA. This is 66 miles of the route. I was off the route three times and Terry was not at Concrete when I arrived. Two fellows from New Jersey that I met earlier in the day, Randy and Jeff, were getting back on the road at Concrete. I rode with them to Rockport. I ended up riding the hills almost ten mles back to Concrete. Terry was waiting. She had left the place where I would have seen her to make a reservation at Grandy Creek KOA. My total for the first day was about 90 miles.

The ride was beautiful. After getting away from Fidalgo Bay there was a lot of agriculture. Later in the day I rode along the Skagit River valley. We are at the edge of the Cascade range. I took pictures with my phone, but I have no service here. I will post about my disappointment with t-mobile later. My camera stopped working in Seattle. Jeff suggested there might be a reset under the battery. The lens does not retract and it will not take pictures.

The KOA is very nice and clean. I had breakfast here this morning. I chatted for a while with Larry the owner. I still have to take down the tent and get back to Rockport to start the ride. I will be cross the mountain passes this afternoon. It may be 10:30am before I start riding.

Cyclist riding to Alaska

Joey and Emmy at Adventure Cycling Association

We met Joey and Emmy in Missoula, Montana this afternoon at the Adventure Cycling Association headquarters. They rode more than 3500 miles so far. They are headed to Alaska next. You can follow them on their website at http://joeyandemmysbicycletour.weebly.com

Pack to go

Van packed for the trip

My Bianchi Volpe is in the lower left corner with the front wheel removed. It took a long time to pack. This photo is just before we left yesterday. We will be in the black hills this afternoon.

Ride sponsorship and a special thanks

I discovered last week that the air conditioning in the van was not working. A friend gave me a card for SCC Automotive in Bristol, IL. I called him this afternoon and he was able to fix the air conditioning. I told him about my ride across the USA. He asked about sponsorship. He donated the repair and wrote a nice check for His Wheels International. Thanks Stan.

For people in the area he is at 2450B South Cannonball Trail, Bristol, IL. You can call him at 630-385-2318.

You can learn more about His Wheels International at http://www.HisWheels.org

 

Rides into the wind are always longer than rides with the wind at your back

Yesterday was my last training ride before I leave for Anacortes, WA. I only rode about 35 miles. With winds SW at 20 to 21 mph and gusts 28-30 mph, it was a tough ride. At one point a gust hit me, making it seem like someone put on the brakes. I was crawling at just 7 mph at times. On the way east – just about two miles – I could revive some. Going North was good until I got back to Plainfield Road. The wind had shifted to the West and the road runs NW.

My training has totaled more than 3100 miles this year. I am now looking forward to the Northern Tier roads.

 

Shular’s Bicycle Tour Across the USA FAQ

What rind of ride are you taking?

I am doing a self-contained bicycle tour coast-to-coast across the USA. Originally, I planned a supported tour. Plans have changed. I am gathering the necessary items to make a self-contained bicycle tour, adding front and rear racks to my touring bike to hold panniers, somewhat like large saddle bags to hold all of my gear.

Are you supporting a cause?

Yes, I am supporting His Wheels International. They have provided bicycles for people in 89 countries as well as a hand -powered trike to provide transportation with dignity for many people. You can learn more about His Wheels at their website: http://www.HisWheels.org . If you want to donate, please make your checks payable to His Wheels International, letting them know you are responding because of my ride.

How much gear are you taking?

I am hoping to keep the weight of my gear, including the bags at around 45 pounds. This may mean not taking any cooking equipment. I plan to order a Therm-a-rest sleeping pad. I still need to identify a tent of sufficient size for me and my gear that weighs about 3 pounds. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment.

What kind of bicycle are you riding?

I am riding a Bianchi Volpe from about 1996. It has a lugged steel frame, cantilever brakes, bosses for the racks and three water bottles. I have updated the wheels and drive train and I am switching to bar-end shifters. I’m adding fenders. If you ride very much in the rain, you will know that your feet get soaked. Fenders do help. I found this bike on Craigslist and discovered later that it needed more repairs than I originally thought. I haven’t been riding it, because it isn’t ready yet. I hope to have it road worthy this week.

What route are you taking?

I am using maps from Adventure Cycling Association. The route is designated the Northern Tier. It starts in Anacortes, WA north of Seattle and ends at Bar Harbor, Maine. The route crosses Illinois south of I-80. I do plan to stop a home on my way east.

How far will you ride?

The Northern Tier at Adventure Cycling’s site show a total of 4285 miles. I haven’t added up the total from each of the twelve maps to see if that reflects the changes now that the route no longer goes through Minot, North Dakota. One of the routes from Seattle to Anacortes shows just over 100 miles. Side trips and camping spots off the route will add more miles. I am expecting to ride about 4500 miles.

How far will you ride each day?

I am planning to ride about 6o miles each day. There will be one day that has to be longer, because no services are available for 76 miles. I know it will be slower in the mountains. It may be possible on more level roads with favorable winds to travel more miles some days.

How long will it take to reach Bar Harbor, Maine?

Until I actually get started, I have divided the total expected distance by 60, then added one day each week for a rest day. That comes out to 85 days.

How did you train for your bike ride across America?

I have prepared by riding a lot. My total miles this year (excluding hours inside on the trainer) is just over 2650 miles. A thunderstorm is passing as I write. I hope to get in 50 miles today. I have done longer rides on the weekends, and usually take off on Mondays. I have tried to ride up and down local hills multiple times at least once each week. On shorter days I frequently push the pace. Last year I rode a little more than 4000 miles, so you can see that I got an early start this year with the mild winter. Around 3000 miles of last years miles were with my friend Tom Simeone, on early morning rides; great training to get up and started every morning.

Is anyone riding with you?

Currently, this is a solo ride. My daughter Kate plans to bike across Illinois with me. If you can ride a day or even a few miles, I will be happy for the company.

How can I follow your progress?

I will be posting, pictures, video and updates here. I will also make some posts on my Facebook page . For those of you who use Twitter, I will try to do some tweets at @Bike_Across_USA .

How can I help?

Three things come to mind. Support His Wheels International, encourage me with your comments here and pray.

 

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