Stranded in Paradise: Things fall apart

As Dani said in the “Our favorite things” post, we carefully chose our equipment for this trip. While the criteria varied slightly with each piece of equipment, we always placed a high priority on durability.

Or at least we thought we did.

Two and a half weeks into the trip, we’ve suffered a number of equipment failures. Some of them are less serious than others, but all are annoying.

We understand that even durable equipment wears out over time, but it is an understatement to say that we weren’t expecting anything like the number and extent of the failures we’ve experienced so far.

Without further ado, here’s a few of our things that have fallen apart.

Velocity Aeroheat touring wheel:

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We’ve covered this thoroughly, but boy was this a kick in the pants. A supposedly indestructible wheel that inexplicitly fails after only 6,000 miles. A shipping mistake that strands us for a week. This really shouldn’t have failed, but it did, and now we’re here.

Havaianas flip flops:

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Six days into the trip, Dani’s three-year-old flip flops gave up the ghost. This wasn’t the most shocking of our equipment failures, nor was it the most serious. But it certainly is cause for consternation when you only have two pairs of shoes and one of them breaks. Luckily, Dani was able rig up a temporary fix with a safety pin, and it’s holding up well so far!

Keen sandals:

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Dani really isn’t having great luck with her footwear on this trip. It is a little more understandable for these sandals to fall apart, because she’s had them for 10 years. That being said, we would have really appreciated it if they chose to fall apart either a couple of months earlier or a couple of months later. As it stands, the only functional footwear that Dani has is her bike shoes. (And those are currently soaked. More on that later.)

Pearl Izumi bike gloves:

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I can’t figure out if these belong in the “it’s understandable they’re falling apart” category or not. Yes, we’ve had them for a couple of years, but we haven’t really used them all that much. In any case, the area that most often comes in contact with the handlebar is wearing away and holes are developing.  We probably won’t replace these any time soon, maybe when we visit REI in Minneapolis.

Smartwool Micro 150 t-shirt:

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This one is inexcusable. We each bought a couple of these shirts specifically for this trip. They’re super lightweight and wool stinks a lot less than synthetic fabrics, even after multiple days with lots of sweat. They’re perfect for a long-distance trip on which we will rarely have access to a laundry machine. Well, they would be perfect if they weren’t disintegrating. Dani seems to have a new hole in her shirt every single day.  My Bemba is getting a bit rusty, but I believe the proper expression is that Dani alesepula. (Aside: one of my favorite parts of learning Bemba while we were in Peace Corps was how single verbs conveyed full sentences in English. I might not be remembering perfectly, but I believe this word means to be wearing rags/not be dressed in nice clothes.)

Big Agnus insulated air core sleeping pad:

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My sleeping pad has been suffering from a slow leak since the beginning of the trip. Again, it isn’t a terrible problem. We inflate it to full right before we get in the tent, and then it slowly leaks throughout the night. When I wake up early in the morning to use the restroom, it’s probably about 40% full.

I’ve become accustomed to sleeping on a half-inflated sleeping pad, but it is getting a bit tiresome. And I know that Dani probably gets a tiny bit annoyed when I try to scooch onto her tiny sleeping pad in the morning.

Sierra Designs Sirius 2 tent:

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It rained on our penultimate day in Many Glacier. It was a strong, persistent rain that started at around 8:00p and continued until 9:00a the next day. But hey, even though our tent may not be completely waterproof any more, at least it is water resistant enough that we didn’t get too too wet.

HA! Just kidding.

We spent the entire night trying to ignore the rain that was falling on our faces. By morning, everything that wasn’t in one of our panniers (which are waterproof) was drenched.  Our sleeping pads were just about floating in the gallon+ of water that was sitting on the floor of our tent.

The gallon of water on the tent floor broke the back of the proverbial camel. As soon as we emptied and hung up the tent, we walked up to the Inn (passing on the way, for what it’s worth, another Sierra Designs tent hanging out to dry), got online, and purchased a new tent, a new sleeping pad for me, and a new pair of flip flops for Dani. We’re having them shipped general delivery to a town a few days ahead of us. As long as it doesn’t rain in the next couple of days, at the very least we’ll be safe and dry in our tent from then on!

We’re not replacing everything, but hopefully everything else holds together for the rest of the trip!

Stranded in Paradise: A few of our favorite things

We’re still hanging out in Many Glacier, and we thought that since we’re not going to be riding anywhere until Ted’s wheel shows up, it might be fun to write a few non-recap posts about our experiences and lessons learned so far on the trip. First up, a few pieces of gear that we are really happy we have with us!

We were pretty careful about the gear we brought on this trip, and most of our things have some combination of durability, versatility, compactness, comfort, and low weight. When packing, we gleaned what we could from bike tour blogs and videos, and went rogue with some comfort-focused choices that would make (and have made) most bike tourists laugh.  Here are some of our favorite things we brought, focusing on things we wouldn’t want to replace with a similar item of a different type.

  1. Coughlihan’s clothesline. When I bought this clothesline, Ted sighed and asked, “why wouldn’t we just use our bear bag rope to hang clothes?” Now it’s one of his favorite things. This clothesline has two strands of fabric-covered elastic that are twisted together such that you can hang your clothes by sticking pieces of cloth through the two lines. Clothes never fall off and you don’t need clothespins. Genius. We wash a couple items of clothing every day, so this clothesline is in constant use.  
  2. Fozzils Origami Bowls. I’ve used these bowls since 2007, when I spent my summer backpacking in northern New Mexico. They are wonderful and I hope they never go out of production. These bowls serve as cutting boards and plates when not folded into bowls and store easily in the back pocket of a pannier.   
  3. Opinel Carbone knife. We bought this knife on a whim at an organic food stand in central Washington after Ted told me his main complaint about camp cooking was chopping vegetables with a tiny Leatherman blade. This knife is made from carbon steel, which means it rusts (which we learned the hard way), but you also never have to sharpen it. We didn’t know all of this at the time of purchase, but we met a Dutch couple who pulled out a larger version of our knife and said they had owned the knife for 30 years and wouldn’t go on a bike tour without it. It’s proven to be pretty great and has increased Ted’s willingness to help cook, so it’s certainly one of my favorite things!  
  4. Lezyne standing mini bike pump. We love our Lezyne floor pump at home, and the travel pump–specifically, the travel pump with the foot stand that allows you to pump on the floor–is the best travel pump we’ve used. We can get full pressure in our tires, which is almost impossible to do with most travel pumps, and it’s not nearly as arduous to use as other pumps we’ve used in the past.      
  5. Nemo Fillo backpacking pillow. Now for our luxury items. Some people don’t carry pillows on bike tours, which I think is crazy considering the value of a good night’s rest and the difficulty of getting that rest in a tent. We’ve both owned a few backpacking pillows in the past and all of them have packed down to the size of a jar of baby food. I love this about them, but they lacked comfort. For this trip, we opted for deluxe, inflatable pillows with memory foam and fabric covers that weigh over a pound and pack down to the size of a liter jar (a huge space / weight sacrifice on a bike). These pillows are magic. Ted is never able to sleep in a tent and he’s been sleeping well this trip. This is one of the times we prioritized comfort over all other practical considerations and we’re glad we did.    
  6. Sea to Summit silk / cotton sleeping bag liner. We didn’t expect to have regular access to showers, so we bought these sleeping bag liners to keep our sleeping bags fresh. We’ve found that we prefer to sleep in these liners every night, using our sleeping bags as quilts, particularly during last week’s heat wave. They also came in handy when we stayed in the Bacon Bike Hostel in Colville, WA, which didn’t have bedding and was too warm for sleeping bags.    
  7. Kleen Kanteen insulated water bottle. Again with the heat wave, it’s been nice to be able to keep drinks cold when we have access to ice or even when we have access to cool tap water. The insulation is high quality; we’ve kept ice in these bottles for over 36 hours. They fit perfectly in our water bottle cages, too, which is a rare quality among insulated water bottles. They also serve as our tea/coffee mugs.  
  8. REI Flexlite chair. Ted hates sitting on the ground. He blames it on his lack of flexibility. I’m not complaining because this hatred fueled our search for a comfortable, compact backpacking chair, which I would never have been able to justify purchasing if his hatred were only a mild dislike. These chairs occupy otherwise unused space on Ted’s rear rack and have been well worth their weight. Although we’ve been lucky to have picnic tables at most of our campsites, the chairs come in handy when we don’t have picnic tables, when the picnic table is in the sun on a hot day, or when we decide to take an hour-long break in a shady spot on the side of the road.

Day 19: Stranded in paradise, day 2

Day 19: Stranded in paradise, day 2

  
Today was a true lazy day, just how I like it. We woke up late, read in our tents until our bladders couldn’t take it anymore, cooked eggs in a basket, drank chocolate milk (it’s amazing/dangerous how close we are to cold drinks here!), and took our time cleaning up. Magical.

We spent the morning organizing things that had gotten out of order and reading. We ate quesadillas and PB&J for lunch, then headed to the Many Glacier Lodge for an Americano and a dirty chai. We drank those things while looking at the view above, reading, writing this blog post, and eating Chex Mix Muddy Buddies. Today might be the first day we are consuming more calories than we burn on this trip. Like I said, my ideal kind of day.

We also took a tour of the Many Glacier Hotel, a gorgeous Swiss-style hotel with a spectacular view of two glacial valleys over Swiftcurrent Lake. The hotel turns 100 on the fourth of July, and apparently various federal authorities have willed its destruction throughout the years. Firefighters managed to save the hotel from a massive fire in the 30’s and upon hearing that the hotel was safe, a senior member of the Department of the Interior asked, “Why?” Apparently folks in the federal government hoped it would burn in the fire because running the hotel was using up precious federal land management resources during the depression. We also learned that the hotel was seven inches out of plumb in the mid-90s, essentially falling into the lake. The federal government didn’t want to pay to fix this, but through grants and donations, Glacier raised enough money to pick the whole massive hotel up with an iron bar that stretched the length of the hotel and hydraulic jacks, and push the hotel up away from the lake without sustaining any interior structural damage. Pretty amazing!

   
      After the tour, we found a hallway with several partially completed jigsaw puzzles and spent some time contributing to one of them. We headed back to camp, cooked dinner, and were in bed reading by 8:30p. Nice.

Section One Superlatives

Section One Superlatives

We’ve divided the trip up in our minds into four sections:

  1. Seattle, WA to Glacier National Park
  2. Glacier National Park to Fargo, ND
  3. Fargo, ND to Niagara Falls
  4. Niagara Falls to Brooklyn, NY

We think these sections hold together fairly well in terms of terrain, population, weather, etc. Here are our superlatives for the first section.

Best day: Day 12, Clark Fork, ID to Libby, MT (so beautiful!)
Worst day: Day 13, Libby, MT to Eureka, MT (too hot!)
Best meal: Mike’s Four Star BBQ (those garlicky cheese fries!)
Favorite post-ride refreshment: Nantucket Nectars Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade, Tim’s Cascade Snacks Jalapeno Potato Chips, Hostess cupcakes (Dani), Darigold Whole Chocolate Milk, Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips, Peanut Butter Oreos (Ted)
Best pass: Logan Pass (those views!)
Best campsite: Sprague Creek Campground (perfect swimming!)
Worst campsite: Riverside Park, Sedro-Woolley, WA
Longest day: Day 10, Colville, WA to Newport, WA (86.2 miles)
Shortest day: Day 17, St. Mary’s Campground to Many Glacier Campground (23.4 miles)
Best beer: Republic Brewing Company Brown Ale (Ted), Great Northern Brewing Company Huckleberry Wheat Lager (Dani)
Scariest day: Day 7, Tonasket, WA to Republic, WA (so many dangerous drivers!)
Scariest vehicle on the road: trucks carrying gravel doing road work on Going to the Sun Road (95 percent of them pushed either us or oncoming traffic off the road)

The next two categories are broad generalizations, but are common enough to be notable. As with all stereotypes, there are plenty of exceptions.

Drivers that give us the widest berth: Idahoans, commercial truck drivers, Subarus, cars with bike racks

Drivers that seem to be trying to kill us: British Columbians, flashy pickup trucks (the ones with flashy paint jobs, fancy lights, lift kits, etc.), pickup trucks towing boats, pickup trucks towing long RVs, RVs towing SUVs, RVs towing boats, coach bus-sized RVs, logging trucks

We also met some of the most wonderful, generous people I’ve ever met during this section of the trip, whether through warmshowers.org or at a local brewery. Thanks to Sue and Lloyd on Bainbridge Island, Patty and Rob in Republic, Terry in Clark Fork, and Nikki in Eureka. We’ll carry your kindness with us for the rest of our trip!

Day 18: Stranded in paradise, day 1

We woke up around 7:00a to begin hiking what many have told us is one of the most popular hikes in Glacier, Grinnell Glacier. Seven in the morning is still late compared to our recent routine, so we felt refreshed. We made cheesy eggs, packed a bag, and set out to the lodge to find out if Ted received a tracking number for his wheel. Unfortunately, Ted got an email saying, “We dropped the ball!” explaining that they accidentally shipped the wheel UPS ground (!) and due to the holiday, the wheel is not scheduled to arrive until Monday (!!). This means we won’t be able to leave until Tuesday, putting us five days behind schedule if everything works out perfectly, which it may not, based on what we’ve heard about Many Glacier’s one-day package delivery lag (!!!). So, as happy as we are to be in the most beautiful place on earth, it’s not fun to be trapped here and use up every single one of the rest days we’d planned for the entire trip.

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We began hiking, a little downtrodden, but determined not to let it ruin our day. We spent the beginning of the hike trying to convince ourselves that this wouldn’t put us irrevocably off pace. Ted did some math and figures that we’ll have to cycle an average of 116 miles a day for eleven days in order to arrive in Minnetonka to visit my family on the date we planned to visit. This seems impossible to me right now, but Ted, optimistic as ever, thinks we might actually be able to do it given the flat terrain and prevailing easterly winds in eastern Montana and North Dakota. We really want to pedal the entire way home, but we might need to make some sacrifices. Visiting my family in Minnetonka adds two days to the trip and heading up to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan rather than taking the Lake Michigan ferry adds three days. These are two of the big highlights of our trip, so we’re going to pedal hard and long to avoid missing them. If we’re not making good time through eastern Montana and North Dakota—which we figure will only happen if we face headwinds, injury, or bike trouble—we are considering jumping on the Amtrak for a couple hundred miles through boring parts of North Dakota. This is a last resort! What’s the point of pedaling coast to coast if you’re going to cheat?

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Anyway, back to the hike. This was the most spectacular hike I’ve ever taken. Mountains carved by glaciers are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Glacial mountain ranges are characterized by U-shaped valleys that are lush and green at the bottom because of all of the snow / glacier melt, with layers of glacier-carved rock above the tree line and jagged ridges at the top. They are stunning and everyone should make their way out to Glacier to see these mountains while there are still a couple glaciers left (I think I read somewhere that there are only 21 glaciers left here as compared to 150+ a hundred years ago, but those numbers might be wrong).

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We started by hiking through a wooded forest and came across a scary sign after about a mile with a picture of a grizzly bear and a black bear that let us know that we were now in a bear frequenting area and our safety was not guaranteed, so we sang and talked loudly to let the bears know we were coming. Ted also reminded himself how to use the bear spray and accidentally deployed some (now we know it works!), and kept it in his pocket for the hike.

Once we left the densely wooded part of the forest, we hiked past Lake Josephine, yet another gorgeous turquoise mountain lake, and had mountain views all around. We then approached Grinnell Lake, which was equally beautiful. It’s wildflower season, so there were plenty of flowers in the grass. It couldn’t have been more beautiful.

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We only saw two other groups on the trail on the way up; apparently people get a late start around here. There was a very cold waterfall falling straight onto the trail, so we got a refreshing break a little over halfway up. We crossed paths with a couple marmots when we reached the top, our first non-deer wildlife sighting of the trip. After rounding a corner, we came within about 30 feet of six bighorn sheep snacking on some grass.

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The end of the hike, Upper Grinnell Lake / Grinnell Glacier (the melting glacier is pooling up to create the lake), was spectacular. The water in this lake is the color of Gatorade Frost, with glacier all around. We felt like we’d entered another world! We were just below/beside/surrounded by the Continental Divide. There was a nice couple from Baton Rouge, LA sitting by the lake who offered to refill our water bottle using their filter. The water was ice cold, as you can imagine, and we figure it must be some of the purest water on the face of the earth. We sat there for a bit, eating limited edition cinnamon roll-flavored Pop Tarts, watching five other bighorn sheep playing on the glacier, and drinking our fancy cold water.

Some clouds started rolling in and it looked like it was raining down the valley, so we figured we should head out since we didn’t bring rain jackets. On our way down, we came across a herd of 15 more bighorn sheep. They were everywhere!

We crossed paths with a ton of glacier-bound traffic and were grateful that we got such an early start, enabling us to walk up in solitude. Plus, the views were almost completely blotted out by the clouds and fog that had rolled in, so things weren’t nearly as majestic for the latecomers.

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We caught back up with the couple from Louisiana (Kyle and Cassie) and hiked the rest of the way down with them. They told us about some of their previous and upcoming travels and we added items to our growing list of places to visit. The world is too big and wonderful!

We got back to camp, drank some chocolate milk and ate Hostess cupcakes (as we do), did a few things on the computer, cooked dinner, showered, and crawled into our tents to read ourselves to sleep. Also, in an effort to clear out our pannier pantry, we melted old chocolate and peanut butter together and threw in some stale trail mix and peanut butter-filled pretzels to create trail mix bark. We’re letting it cool overnight for delicious desert tomorrow.

Day 16: A day of ups and downs

Day 16, Sprague Creek Campground, Glacier National Park to St. Mary’s Campground, Glacier National Park: 40.2 miles, 3,958 ft elevation gain, 9.5 mph average speed.
Trip Totals: 867.5 miles (57.83 daily average), 53,593 ft. elevation gain, 11 mph average speed 

Literal and figurative ups and downs today.

We broke a new record for leaving our campsite again, mostly because we knew Clive would be waiting for us at his lodge a mile up the road. We decided that we’d meet Clive at 5:45a partially because I was a little nervous about making it to Logan Pass by our 11a deadline, and partially because we heard the traffic gets worse and worse throughout the day and the cliffs are steep. Traffic + steep cliffs + tourists looking around while driving = potential badness. Dan and Gina were staying at our campsite, so we all left to meet Clive at 5:35a.

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Going to the Sun Road was spectacular. We started the day with 10 miles of very gentle climbing, then began a much steeper, but perfectly graded eleven-mile ascent. When the park service built the road in the 1930s, they aimed to create a road that traced the side of a mountain at a steady grade and provided spectacular views. In our opinion, they succeeded! The views got more and more spectacular as we ascended. There were endless, picture-perfect vistas, gorgeous waterfalls, etc. on the way up. Pictures won’t do it justice, but they will do a much better job than I at conveying the wonder.

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When we reached the top, we ate a bunch of food, drank a bunch of water, and gawked at the incredible views. After about an hour we headed down and hit a roadwork zone where they were only allowing use of one lane and alternating west- and east-bound traffic. The flagger told us that bicycles had to go last, but invited us to hang out in the traffic pull-off where he was standing. We waited there, baking in the heat, for no less than an hour before we were allowed to follow the cars down. The cars were moving at a snail’s pace, so we really didn’t need to go last. Plus, at this point, we already knew that Ted’s rim had a crack in it and he had a feeling that using his rear brake would exacerbate the problem (plus it made a terrible noise because the outside rim was bulging out), so he was relying entirely on his front brake. He planned to fly down the descent, rarely using his brakes, but because of the roadwork traffic, he had to brake constantly on the six-percent grade and was sometimes forced to supplement with the rear brake. This ended badly. By using the rear brake and compressing the rim, he made the crack worse and ended up getting a flat from the jagged, sharp metal crack.

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Because of the roadwork and the general narrowness of the road, there was no place to pull off and he had to walk his heavy bike down for 20 minutes to get to a pull-off where I was waiting. Poor Ted. This hurt his shins pretty badly because he was working so hard to keep his bike stable and because bike shoes are not made for walking.

We pulled his tire off to look at the crack and saw that it had nearly doubled in length since last night. Then it started raining for the first time on our trip. Comedy of errors. We applied a few layers of duct tape to the crack in hopes that it would prevent another flat, changed the tube, and headed down the rest of the hill. Unfortunately, although our map’s elevation profile made it look like we’d be descending all the way to St. Mary’s, we had rolling hills instead. We were happy to get to the campground with bikes and legs (barely) intact.

After setting up camp and taking free warm showers (all for $5 per person per night; take note, Montana Bike Hostel), we headed into what we believed was a town to find WiFi and get a new wheel shipped to us. Unfortunately, it was not really a town; it took us a long time to find WiFi and by the time we did, Velocity (Ted’s wheel manufacturer) was closed. Defeated, we headed back to the campsite, made dinner, and plotted our next move.

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Our trail friends picked up s’mores ingredients and beer and we had a “No s’more mountains” campfire (name credit: Dan and Gina) to celebrate making it through the North Cascades and Logan Pass. We met another bike tourist, Dave, who quit his job in Baltimore a few months ago and is making a giant loop around America. Very cool.

When Dan and Gina came back to the campsite, Gina was kind enough to let us use her phone (she has Verizon), so we were able to do some research, make a few calls and come up with a plan for Ted’s wheel situation. We don’t feel 100 percent comfortable riding very far with this wheel, but feel fairly confident we can make it 21 miles to Many Glacier, a gorgeous region of the park that we were planning to go to anyway. We plan to have the wheel shipped to the hotel out there so that, even if we’re stuck, we’re stuck in what many people have told us is the most beautiful place on earth. Depending on what happens when we contact Velocity tomorrow, we might have lots of time to test that assertion!

Day 4: The day of the granny gear

Day 4, Colonial Creek Campground to Barn Bicycle Campground (near Winthrop): 58.9 miles, 6,160 ft. elevation gain, 9 mph average speed
Trip totals: 250 miles (62.5 average distance), 15,572 ft. elevation gain, 10.63 mph overall average speed

Map and stats Part 1 (uphill) and Part 2 (downhill).

Remember that post a little bit ago explaining the granny gear? Today was our forth day riding, and for the first 32 miles (spread out over 7 hours) it was the day of the granny gear. Our first (and second biggest after the continental divide in Glacier National Park) climb of the trip and it was a doozy. We took care of the first eight miles/1,000+ feet of climbing at the end of yesterday, but the real climbing started today.

Our first stop, 1.7 miles into 34 miles of climbing.

Our first stop at Diablo Lake, 1.7 miles into 34 miles of climbing.

We started off from our lovely campsite at Colonial Creek Campground in North Cascades National Park. And then we climbed. And climbed. And climbed some more. There were a few short downhill interludes mixed in, but mostly we went up. 5,717 feet in 34 miles. It almost doesn’t sound like a lot when I read it back to myself, but it was steep. We lived in our granny gear throughout the morning and early afternoon. The scenery, again, was gorgeous, although I think we didn’t appreciate it as much as it deserved. We took lots of opportunities to stop and take pictures, though.

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We made it to the top of Washington Pass (the second and final pass of the day) a little before 4:00p. And then the fun started. We cruised through 15 miles of downhill riding, the first six of which were quite steep. Dani thought it was a little scary and was thinking about all the things that could go wrong, but I had a blast. Our average speed over the first six miles was 29.8 mph, and I hit a top speed of 43.6mph. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate finishing a day of climbing than to shoot down a mountain at 35+mph on your bicycle.

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We stopped in Mazama for what is becoming our routine of binge eating unhealthy food in the late afternoon before we get to camp. Today we went with chocolate milk, a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich, and a whoopee pie (aka, giant oreo cookie). All good decisions.

We’re staying at the Barn Bicycle campground tonight. A lovely man named Jim decided to open up the barn next to his house to touring cyclists. It is right on the route and offers a multitude of luxuries like electricity, a refrigerator with ice (and complimentary drinks), a solar-heated outdoor shower, a composting toilet, wifi, and soft grass on which we could set up our tent. And most importantly of all, the “campsite host,” an Australian Shepard named Stout who helped fill the dog-shaped hole in my heart (left by our dog, who is waiting for us to come back home to Brooklyn) for the evening.

All in all, it was a great end to a hard day. We’re taking it easy on day five, traveling 20 or so miles and enjoying some of the conveniences in the towns of Winthrop and Twisp.

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Random thoughts for the day:

(Dani) I wanted to mention that I took an inglorious fall into a ditch on Monday, apropos of nothing but my fascination with my fancy new rearview mirror. Today I ran into a guardrail (at an embarrassingly low speed, so no harm) after panicking about a pickup truck towing a massive RV that passed within a foot of my bike, despite the fact that there was no incoming traffic and he could have easily and safely gotten over a couple feet. The slightest turn of the handlebars with heavy bikes at low speeds causes a dramatic turn, so these climbs call for lots of balance and coordination that I seem to lose in moments of panic. Side note: if you or someone you know drives a massive vehicle, or any vehicle for that matter, tell them to give cyclists a little space. If there is oncoming traffic, it’s not that hard to slow down for a moment to avoid the other option of speeding past a cyclist at a close distance. It may take three seconds out of your day, but you could save someone’s life! Other than those two incidents, I’m getting the hang of biking around with 50 pounds of stuff.

(Ted) I think one of my favorite things about bike touring is that it really helps you focus on enjoying the journey rather than always focusing on the destination. When you’re on your bike, it’s ok to stop on a whim to take a picture, eat a snack, or even just sit around for a while. When I’m driving, I always feel a guilty for stopping unless I need gas because it’s inefficient. But biking across the country is inefficient by definition, so it’s not a problem. And when you’re riding uphill for miles and miles, any reason to stop is a good reason. My favorite stop of the day today was Dani deciding that it was just too darn hot and pulling off the road a couple miles before Washington Pass to dunk herself in a snowmelt waterfall coursing down the side of the mountain. The ice-cold water was perfect for a hot day of riding, and how often in life do you have the opportunity to just jump into a waterfall in the middle of the day?