Our First Two Weeks of a Trans-America Cycling Tour

Reader Contribution by Rick Stiles
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Our sea-to-shining-sea bicycle trip started in the Pacific at Gearhart, Ore. While standing in the ocean, I felt its immensity but also the immense journey ahead. What had I committed to? What had I forgotten? What about family and friends left behind? 

Pat and Judy sent us on our way with coffee and rolls after Pat graciously allowed us to spend the night in her house. Next came Clatskanie, Ore., where Lofur allowed us to camp in his yard. He fixed delicious smoothies in the evening and hot chai tea in the morning. Nice people are everywhere you look.  Unfortunately, the weather was not so friendly— we rode the first six days in cold and rain; setting up and tearing down a campsite in the rain are no fun.  At least my tent stayed dry so I was able to “sleep tight.”

Riding a recumbent bike allows you to easily see what is around you, and the scenery has been beautiful.  When riding slow up steep hills, you can sit back and enjoy the view instead of staring at the road. Voila— before you know it, you are at the top.

We met Judy, who gave us cookies and coffee at a rest stop. There was Fred, Charlie, and Bob from “coffee drinkers anonymous.” They were very interested in our ride and our route. Actually, I think they were more interested in our sanity. And Vicky, the cookie temptress, who convinced me to take a few of her mismade
chocolate chip cookies— be still my beating heart.

Remember the saying, “Be careful what you ask for. You may get it”? Well, Day 8, in Walla Walla, Wash., started out with blue skies, shining above, nothing but blue skies, from above. Unfortunately, by noon, the temperature was over 100 degrees and it stayed above 100 for the next 6 days. We began getting on the road by 4:30 a.m. to keep from being consumed by the daytime heat.

Our water bottles were empty, it was 112 degrees and we met Carl. He gave us cold water from a deep well. At a different time and place Lester was the water angel. We met Woody, who had been on the road since April, riding 10,000 miles for autism. Fred (Connecticut) and Delmar (Germany) met on a biking website and were crossing east to west.

We attended Hope Fellowship Church in Kooskia, Idaho— enter Peanut and Bob. Peanut promptly informed me that she gives hugs, not handshakes, and it was a warm and generous hug. The people at that church were very generous with both love and friendship. 

For three days we climbed from a 400-foot elevation to the top of Lolo Pass at 5,280 feet. I have decided
 that long-distance bicycling is more mental than physical. If your bicycle is properly set up you can just gear down and physically climb almost any hill. But, when the going gets tough, your mind is what will get you through. Isn’t that true of almost any difficult situation?

Our first two weeks ended after 702 miles and a two-day stop in Missoula, Mont., to repair broken items and celebrate July Fourth.

Hey, take care, and talk at ya later.