CCTE: Brief Daily Summary
CREW: Glen Aldridge, Gary Bunting, Steve Greene
Glen: 2011 Trident Stowaway (blue), Lone Peak panniers & Radical Design side seat pods, Schwalbe tires (new design recently introduced), 3 flats in 57 miles
Gary: 2010 Catrike Road (yellow), Burley trailer, Lone Peak panniers & Arkel side frame pods, Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, no flats in 278 miles
Steve: 2007 ICE Qnt (red), Arkel panniers & Radical Design side seat pods, Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires with Kenda Q Tubes & EarthGuard tire liners, no flats in 980 miles
August 25, 2011 (Thursday): Three trike pilots meet face to face for first time, and have dinner at ICM fresh seafood restaurant in Old Town Florence on the Siuslaw River. Gary announces to everyone: “This is the best clam chowder I have ever eaten in my entire life!”
DAY 01: August 26, 2011 (Friday)
Florence, Oregon to Scottsburg, Oregon: 38 miles (38 thus far)
Met Glen Aldridge (from British Columbia, Canada) and Gary Bunting (from Alta Loma, California) at Bicycles 101 shop at 8th Street & Highway 101 in Florence at 7:30 AM. Local riding buddy Matt Jensen joined us for first 20 miles of journey to Reedsport, Oregon. Departed at 8:00 AM sharp. Met Paula and Beth Brown on Highway 101, who were touring part of state on conventional bicycles. Ate lunch at Matt’s favorite taco hut in Reedsport. Approached by Mexican-American lady with strong accent who informed us in great detail of our need to accept Jesus as our deity. Saw elk herd at Dean Creek Elk Viewpoint on Umpqua River (Highway 38). Pleasant cool ride under morning coastal fog and afternoon mountain canyon shade. Pitched tents on side lawn of Scottsburg Historical Society building. Met Rex Harrison, recently released from state mental hospital, who was touring state on his bicycle. Rex camped on lawn with us.
DAY 02: August 27, 2011 (Saturday)
Scottsburg, Oregon to Elkton, Oregon: 19 miles (57 thus far)
No hassles last night about camping on lawn. Foggy morning, cool. Rex struck camp and left early. Bathroom facilities for last night were simply surrounding woods. Stopped at Bob’s Market in Well’s Creek, 3 miles past last night’s camp, to get food and eat breakfast on convenient picnic table out front. Paula and Beth rode up as we were finishing. They had stayed at Loon Lake Campground last night (7 miles off Hwy 38). Talked briefly, and then packed up and pedaled on. Sunny and warmer today, shady portions of road are welcomed. Glen’s arthritis causes him discomfort at times, yet he is strong and keeps a good pace. Gary’s gross weight of trike, trailer, and body is around 350 pounds, and takes its toll, yet each day will bring improvement. Glen and I are not pulling trailers. I pulled a trailer on my 2009 trike journey, an experience I found laced with multiple downsides, so now prefer to travel light and fast with optimal maneuverability. Stopped at Elkton Community Education Center for Glen to use his wireless netbook. We rested, Gary got ice cream and snacks, and I posted update on Trike Asylum at library computer next door. Glen and Gary were desirous of waiting until later in afternoon to continue over the Coast Range, and then after a couple hours, decided we should stay at Elkton RV Park tonight. At camp, Glen had 3 flat tires from tube material failures, since bicycle shop had inflated his tubes to 180 PSI to seat the newly released Schwalbe tires onto the stock Trident rims, which reportedly have a known sizing incompatibility issue with certain tires. The Umpqua River is next to our camp area. Very scenic and relaxing. Glen decided to return to Florence tomorrow rather than chancing continued rim/tire/tube problems farther from any easy points of rescue. A somber ambiance falls upon the crew, realizing we will lose a member tomorrow, after only 57 miles of riding together. The two and a half days of bonding makes this difficult.
CREW: Gary Bunting, Steve Greene
DAY 03: August 28, 2011 (Sunday)
Elkton, Oregon to Tyee BLM Campground: 14 miles (71 thus far)
Glen got a ride at 10:00 AM back to Florence with campground host Marv Fredrickson, with his trike in the bed of Marv’s red Dodge Ram super duty dually pickup. Gary and I continued on without him to Highway 138. Very warm today compared to first two days. Full sun, no clouds, but still cool compared to what we will experience in upcoming desert regions like northwestern Nevada. A mile past Elkton, after turning off Hwy 38 onto Hwy 138, we encountered one of many long uphills, which began taking its toll on Gary’s left knee. Kept pace so that his knee would not get too painful considering all the uphills. Rode a half mile off our route to stay at Tyee campground on Umpqua River. Gary bent his rear derailleur arm in campground when attempting to ascend steep little rise in too high a gear, shifting down quickly, with chain sticking between two rear cogs, and then trike rolling backwards. Fixed bent arm fairly well on picnic table, and he got it shifting better than before with assistance of young fellow in adjacent campsite who happened to be an experienced bike mechanic (now homeless and living out of car). After midnight, Gary caught same man in our campsite near Gary’s trike and trailer. Very suspicious. Man had no acceptable reason why he was near the trike and gear. No further incidents remainder of night.
DAY 04: August 29, 2011 (Monday)
Tyee Campground, Oregon to Glide, Oregon: 36 miles (107 thus far)
Pleasantly cool and overcast from campground to Sutherlin, Oregon on Interstate 5. Coast Range now behind us. Stopped at Taco Bell. Gary got a broiled chicken burrito. I ate a late breakfast of Kashi 7 Grain Nuggets, raisins, and All Day Energy Greens. Nice rest after mountain ascent and descent. Stopped at Sutherlin visitor center and chatted with volunteer host. Remained cloudy next 5 miles to tiny town of Wilbur, along I-5 on parallel country road. Got bananas at Wilbur country store. Set out on County Road 200, called the North Bank Road, towards town of Glide, 17 miles distant. Road very curvy, with steep upgrades and downgrades in rolling barren hills with occasional oak and pine trees. All clouds disappeared as we began this section along Umpqua River. Turned hot in afternoon. Tough triking terrain and weather took toll on Gary’s knees. We sought shade anywhere we could find it. Pedaled into Glide early evening at sunset. Bought some food at convenience market. Told about motel up the road, which Gary opted for, passing up offer by local man to pitch our tents in his yard. Motel office closed by time we arrived, so ended up pitching tents behind local business building on east end of town, out of sight of Hwy 138. Circumstances caused Gary concern, and I slept fully clothed atop my sleeping bag just in case, but no hassles all night. Need a shower after today’s ride.
DAY 05: August 30, 2011 (Tuesday)
Glide, Oregon to Susan Creek BLM Campground: 12 miles (119 thus far)
Got up at first light to avoid any potential “illegal camping” issues with anyone. Struck camp and left forthwith. We had camped on the backside of a business called Mike’s Trikes, which was a motorcycle sales business. They apparently dump oil from motorcycle oil changes behind their building, which we smelled all night long. Glad to leave and get some fresh air. Cloudy. Stopped in tiny berg of Idleyld (pronounced: Idle Y ld) at convenience store for breakfast and chatting with locals at picnic table. I had a banana, V8 Juice, and bag of Nut Harvest trail mix made by Frito-Lay. Easy ride to Susan Creek Campground as we began mild ascent of western slope of Cascade Range. Pulled into campsite 14, same site I had in 2009 for the Death Valley Tricycle Expedition. Had early dinner from Gary’s campstove of Mountain House freeze-dried spaghetti. Still camping and riding along Umpqua River each day and night. Nice warm showers at Susan Creek … finally! Had campfire and relaxed.
DAY 06: August 31, 2011 (Wednesday)
Susan Creek Campground to Boulder Flat USFS Campground: 24 miles (143 thus far)
Had dream last night that both brake and shift cables broke within 60 seconds. Had 4 other people on trike with me, so they all pushed with their feet while I steered up the mountains. Trike supported all the weight. What a nightmare! Breakfast eaten and camp struck early. Hit road at 8:00 AM to begin challenging ascent of Cascade Range on Hwy 138, called Oregon’s waterfall route due to numerous scenic falls along way. Met Roy Hewson from Cave Junction, Oregon – fly fisherman, 66 year old vegan, very fit. Sunny day, lots of shade from heavy forest cover, which helped on difficult grades as day progressed. Planned on staying at Clearwater Falls Campground, which would have been a 40 mile day, but turned out to be too far at this point of Gary’s adaptation to this mode of transportation, so pulled in at Boulder Flat Campground after 24 miles, which was just adjacent to a highway improvement reconstruction area of several miles. Set early camp at 4:00 PM. Gary is getting fitter by the day, less need for long rest periods. Our campsite had our tents right on the Umpqua River, which again made for peaceful sleep and perfect setting.
DAY 07: September 01, 2011 (Thursday)
Boulder Flat Campground to Diamond Lake, Oregon: 27 miles (170 thus far)
Rode slightly more than 4 miles up mountain from camp before I ate breakfast while waiting for Gary to arrive. We have arrived at a couple of acceptable methods of progress: At times, I ride along behind Gary as we chat while riding, and stop to rest with him along the way as needed for his knees and fitness level. Sometimes this method causes Gary to think he’s holding me up, so he tells me to proceed on ahead, which I sometimes do. Then I ride about 3 miles, pull over to the side of the highway in a nice shaded wide spot, and enjoy the wilds of nature as he catches up. These methods allow us to always be within a mile or so of each other at the outside, and we can monitor our progress and needs frequently enough to stay on top of things. After this breakfast stop, the ascent becomes serious, so our pedaling is notably slowed. Six miles from the campground, the construction zone starts. Crews are resurfacing the highway, building wide shoulders for cyclists of the future, and putting in place huge concrete retaining walls to keep boulders from rolling onto the roadway and striking vehicles. It will be very nice when completed, but for now, it’s a mess! Finally, I came to a flag-woman with a stop sign, who informed me the law requires all cyclists to place their vehicles in the rear of the pilot truck, and ride through the major construction. I told the flag-woman another triker will be here in a while, and then got the ICE Q loaded into the bed of the truck (after first rearranging some jagged pieces of metal and wood) with the help of the motorist behind me, and sat in the bed to make sure the trike doesn’t shift en route. For 8 miles, I zoomed along in the morning sun, up some of the steepest portions of the Cascade Range, which in 2009 I rode after midnight with heavy snow on the ground, under a full moon and cloudy sky. After unloading at the upper end of the construction at Stump Lake (el: 3,875’), I waited for Gary to arrive in his truck. He didn’t take well to placing his immaculate Catrike in the truck, but realized there were no other options if he wished to continue the CCTE. I really didn’t like the idea either, but, there was no sense in resisting the reality of the moment. My crankset guard got a few scratches where it was against the front of the truck bed, but I just see it as a fond reminder of the trip, and won’t even touch it up later. That was a free ride of roughly 1400 vertical feet – that part made Gary a very happy trike pilot! Arrived finally at Diamond Lake at 6:30 PM, still plenty light with high sun since it was summer. Gary wanted to get a motel room after the uphill ordeal, which had a gorgeous lake view. Put trikes in room – hard to walk around, but they fit. Gary bought us dinner. I had a Cobb salad, chicken pot pie, and a Black Butte Porter microbrew from Bend, Oregon. Gary is hurting quite a bit from today’s strenuous climb. First week of CCTE now complete!
DAY 08: September 02, 2011 (Friday)
Diamond Lake Lodge to Broken Arrow Campground: 6 miles (176 thus far)
Short easy day. Only rode 6 miles so as to optimally position ourselves tonight for tomorrow’s very challenging ride up the side of Mount Mazama to Crater Lake. I realized the push to the summit would test Gary to the limit and beyond, and with his knee issues, today had to be quick and easy with a long rest before Saturday’s maximal effort. We took our time, did laundry, ate breakfast, chatted with people, and rode the bicycle path that circles the large lake rather than the auto roadway. Talked for a while on the path to a Eugene, Oregon husband/wife recumbent bicycle team, both 75 years old, who ride their bikes across the entire United States, as well as other countries abroad. Broken Arrow Campground sits at the southern end of Diamond Lake, and the bike path provided a shaded easy, and mostly flat, ride. Stopped at the south convenience store. Gary had a beer and crackers and cheese while he chatted with a couple of ladies about their dogs. I ate a Clif bar. We pitched our tents at 2:00 PM among the pines, with a great view of Mount Thielsen. Gary worked on his trike maintenance by placing his Catrike on the picnic table, then we had Mountain House freeze dried dinners and a campfire before retiring to our tents for the night.
DAY 09: September 03, 2011 (Saturday)
Broken Arrow to Mazama Campground, Crater Lake National Park: 28 miles (204 thus far)
Got up at just before first light to begin preparations for the day. Gary didn’t sleep well due to unknowingly pitching his tent on a mound, and was not too keen on my decision for such an early start. I informed him that come this evening, he would understand my rationale, however objectionable to it he was this morning. We only had 28 miles to cover to Mazama Campground, however those miles are as grueling as they come, right up the side of a volcanic caldera to over 7,000 feet elevation, with both the steepness of the ascent and the thinner air conspiring to slow progress on tricycles to a crawl. To top all this off, the air temperature upon arising and breaking camp was very frigid at 5,000 feet, making for a miserable experience for anyone not accustomed to this type of gypsy life. Left the campground at sun-up. Rode more than 5 miles to reach the entrance of Crater Lake National Park, the only national park in Oregon. Gary purchased a lifetime federal pass for only $10, one of the perks for aging in our society. My yearly pass was $80, but in another year and a half, I’m eligible for the lifetime card. Today is sunny and warm, with temps reaching the mid 70s by afternoon. Gary experienced significant difficulty on the day’s ascent, which seemed never-ending and steep beyond comprehension on trikes, necessitating rest stops every hundred yards or so on the steepest portions. Later in the afternoon, he indicated that the potential for seriously damaging his knees finally outweighed his goal to complete the CCTE, and that he would be renting a U-Haul truck once we arrived in Klamath Falls to return to Florence and retrieve his car. By 5:00 PM, he was in dire straits with very painful knees and a pounding heart, so I stopped and talked with some National Park Service law enforcement officers about campsite availability at Mazama Campground (Labor Day weekend). We had to get Gary into a restful state as soon as possible, but the campground was full. One of the NPS fire suppression officers, who was monitoring a nearby forest fire, offered to allow us to pitch our tents in a campsite they reserved for parking their equipment only, which we readily and graciously accepted at no charge (this is usually a $30 per night campground). After arranging this at the summit of the park roadway, we coasted the final few miles down the southern side of the caldera to the campground area, where we gorged ourselves at the Annie Creek Inn smorgasbord restaurant. By the time we finished dinner, it was pitch black outside, so by headlight, we pedaled to the campsite of the massive campground labyrinth (good thing I had camped here many times and knew the way). The fire truck blocked access to the tent area of the site, so I had to walk around in the dark with my headlamp to find a little slot in the trees where we could fit our trikes to get back into the trees and pitch our tents by headlamp (site E-18, of loops A-G). So far on the trip, we have been averaging 22 miles per day.
DAY 10: September 04, 2011 (Sunday)
Mazama Campground to Rocky Point Lodge: 40 miles (244 thus far)
Thanked National Park Service fireman for allowing us a camping option last night. He was happy to do so. Gary had a smorgasbord breakfast at Annie Creek restaurant. I ate out of my panniers. We left the campground at 9:30 AM after Gary had taken a shower. Riding off the caldera and down the other side of the Cascade Range over which we had so laboriously ascended the past few days, it was pure adrenaline joy to rocket through the forest, coasting at speeds of 40+ miles per hour into the little town of Fort Klamath in the valley below. We stopped, got some bananas, nectarines, trail mix, and V8 Juice. Gary conversed with a fellow motorcycle touring rider, and I conversed with an outdoors author interested in learning about my publishing company. Just prior to noon, the valley temperature reached 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Gary’s progress improved markedly, as the ground was primarily flat, with high gears used all the way across the valley floor. On the other side, we re-entered the mountain foothills, and with temps now in the 80s and full sunshine, things slowed quite a bit. Our triking duo rolled into forested Rocky Point Lodge on Upper Klamath Lake at 5:30 PM, where we acquired a tiny campsite that barely had room for 2 trikes and 2 tents, but it was right on the water. While we were setting up camp, a powerful squall rolled through, with ultra high winds and some rain. It was short, only lasting a few minutes, but it blew over people’s tents, and made our own activities difficult. I took a shower, and then met Gary in the lodge restaurant for some delicacies and gourmet dinner overlooking the water. Rain fly on tent for first time tonight. Short rain during night, but still quite warm. By Day 10 of my 2009 trike journey, my Achilles tendons were very much inflamed, a condition that had been developing noticeably since the fourth day, but this trip, these tendons are as normal as ever, a result of using proper cycling shoes and a pedal binding system instead of using hiking shoes and pedal straps as I did before. This is good news, because after the ‘09 trek, I wondered if I would be able to trike long distances, or if I had some inherent problem that would keep me off the trike except for day rides now and then.
DAY 11: September 05, 2011 (Monday – Labor Day)
Rocky Point Lodge to Klamath Falls, Oregon: 34 miles (278 thus far)
Got a great picture of the sunrise over Upper Klamath Lake. Had 7 grain nuggets and veggie/fruit powder, and headed out for Klamath Falls. Gary in high spirits, but we had a report from a traditional bicycle tourer who camped next to us last night that we had to traverse one really steep grade between here and Klamath Falls, called Doak Mountain (el: 4,776’). The ride to this pass was relatively easy during the early morning hours, but we had to pedal through several swarms of midge bugs, thousands of tiny white insects that were brought in many years ago to ride this wet region of mosquitoes (midges eat mosquitoes). Gary and I had midges in our eyes, noses, and mouths, even at our slow speeds – glad I wasn’t on a motorcycle. You could see the swarms before getting to them, as they were cloudy looking white masses that were suspended at trike pilot head height along the road. Finally we began the Doak Mountain ascent … in full sun, very warm temps, and no relief until the top … a “spin & grin” personal test we each eventually mastered in our own ways. At the top, I had a Bear Valley bar of 440 calories while waiting for Gary, who arrived about 40 minutes later. His knees were in agony, and I helped him off his trike and over to a huge boulder to sit in the shade for a while. It was on this climb we had our first views of Mount Shasta in northern California – very impressive to see the snow-clad sentinel from Oregon. It is so big, it looked very close, even though it was many miles distant. Cooling breeze at summit fortunately. Gary reiterated his need to take his leave of the CCTE once we reached Klamath Falls. I later hailed a Klamath Falls police officer to get directions into town for a motel for Gary. He got a fancy room at the Olympic Inn once in town, a motel with a lobby that gave the impression you were in a mountain lodge. We got the trikes in the rooms, cleaned up, did laundry, and partook of their complementary dinner. Gary got his small U-Haul van all set up, which was to be delivered to his room the next morning at 8:30 AM. That evening, he watched television while I checked maintenance needs on my Q, which, other than adjusting the left front brake after all our steep downhills, were nearly nonexistent. I’ll lube the chain tomorrow morning.
CREW: Steve Greene (now solo)
DAY 12: September 06, 2011 (Tuesday – schools back in session – full moon)
Klamath Falls, Oregon to Canby, California: 86 miles (364 thus far)
With Labor Day over, schools are back in session and summer vacation traffic has waned quite a bit. Combine that with the fact that today’s region, and those to come, are remote and lesser traveled anyway, and it makes for a quieter ride without so many automobile tires whining by the ears. Well, today was one of mixed feelings, as Gary said goodbye after our complimentary full breakfast at the motel, leaving me to trek the remainder of the journey solo. I know he has been in a lot of pain to this point, so I am happy that he can now begin a healing process, but after 11 days of riding partner(s), I kind of got used to someone to talk with while riding. So, around 7:30 AM, having lubed the drive chain on the Q, I waved farewell to Gary and began pedaling by myself through the heavy rush hour traffic the 6 miles out of town. Once on the rural agricultural/ranch route of Highway 39, traffic was light, amounting to people who were going to California, or to truckers. At about 10:00 AM, I crossed into California, and found the shoulder to improve dramatically compared to Oregon (no cracks or potholes). Hwy 39 becomes 139 once over the border. At 10:30 AM, I arrived in the small agricultural town of Tulelake, making rapid progress due to the flat terrain that allowed riding in some of my highest gears most of the way. My progress was easier this trip than in 2009, where I pulled a very heavy trailer laden with a lot of food and extra supplies. This trip, I took full advantage of Ma & Pa stores, convenience stores, and markets to keep my on board food supply to a minimum, and thus my gross weight down about 100 pounds from my prior journey on this road. Stopped at California agricultural inspection station once in the hilly portions of the Modoc National Forest, rested and chatted with Produce Inspection Officer (PIO) White from Tulelake, and guzzled tons of water from their sink because the day was heating up and low gears awaited me. I was passed by hundreds of bizarre vehicles going the other direction that were coming from the annual Burning Man civilization in the Black Rock Desert of northwestern Nevada. You can tell these vehicles from others due to the covering of fine white silt all over every inch of the rigs. Burning Man ended yesterday. Many of these folks gave me big “thumbs up” signs and smiles as they passed. I pulled into Canby, California about the same time of day that I did in 2009, but I arrived here from Klamath Falls in one day instead of two (longer summer days, plus my gross weight was much less, making the uphills considerably easier). I camped at Canby City Park, where I got hundreds of goatheads last trip, but since it was earlier in the season by a month, they were nowhere to be found. I pitched my REI Arete tent fully hidden from the highway, but on the concrete because the lawn sprinklers come on at 2:00 AM. Strange: no cellular service this year, but full service last time.
DAY 13: September 07, 2011 (Wednesday)
Canby, California to 38 miles north of Susanville, California: 52 miles (416 thus far)
Canby was the town where on my 2009 trike journey I was persuaded to alter my originally intended route by one of my supporters and Jack Freer, the man who was providing backup security for the trip. That year, the October decision was made to avoid the ultra isolated northwestern Nevada desert due to severe storm activity that was about to cause flash flooding, monsoonal rains, and extreme winds, and thus I ended up taking Hwy 139 to Susanville, California instead, where Jack picked me up for 5 days of rest and relaxation in an attempt to get my Achilles tendons back to normal. This year, having consulted with Jack via phone from Klamath Falls, I again decided to avoid the arid Nevada desert on Hwy 447 because the high temperatures of summer had not yet abated, and I doubted that the 248 ounces of water I carried on the trike would see me through to the next water refill area. My original reason for that route was to avoid the intense auto traffic of Reno and Carson City, along with the imagined troubles that go along with triking Highway 395 through there, but with heat still high, I figured I’d take my chances with too many people rather than too few and deadly heat. I left Canby just after sunrise, having used a porta-potty I happened to find in the nearly deserted town (ahh, they’re great when you need them). Took Highways 139/299 from Canby to Adin, a picturesque little berg out in the middle of nowhere, with a main street lined by huge cottonwood trees. Adin Pass was a lot of work to climb, but once at the summit, it’s a free coast down into Adin Valley, where high gears kept me going the 8 miles into town, where I spent an hour eating (2 bananas, 1 quart tomato juice, 1 pound of strawberries, and trail mix), refilling water, and making journal entries as I relaxed before heading out along the hot agricultural lands to another stint through the Modoc National Forest, which requires all my gears from L-1 to H-9. Last ride through here, there were hundreds of grasshoppers flying in front of me for many miles south of town, but it must have been too early for them this year. Later in the day, having climbed many hard grades, the sky clouded over near a lake and provided me some relief from the heat. Day getting short, started looking for place to pitch a primitive camp, which I found 38 miles north of Susanville. It had a large turnout, and a huge pile of gravel, enough to hide my tent from southbound traffic. For some reason, there was a large amount of bark chips next to the gravel pile, so I flattened out a 6×5 foot section upon which I placed the tent … a nice soft bedding. Breezy puffy clouds all about. Made for some nice photographs as the sun set and the moon appeared. For about 20 minutes prior to first light, a trucker pulled in to get some quick shut-eye – probably didn’t even realize I was there in my tent. It rained lightly and infrequently from time to time throughout the night, but due to the extreme arid air and the breezes, my tent was bone dry come morning. Total isolation and quiet out here.
DAY 14: September 08, 2011 (Thursday)
38 miles north of Susanville, California to 30 miles east of Susanville: 68 miles (484 thus far)
Up at first light and gone before sunrise. Waited to eat breakfast farther south, until it warmed up a tad, but by the time I was starving at Eagle Lake, the sun was baking my back like a mini furnace. It was working up to be a day in the 90s, but there was no shade, so I ate standing up from the trike as light traffic drove past. The air was full of sights and sounds: eagles, frogs, and pronghorns I adjusted again my left front brake, realizing there is a huge steep downhill with curves into Susanville that I will encounter later today. The grade coming up out of the Eagle Lake basin was a killer due to the increasing heat and precious little shade mid-day. Gary would not have liked it one bit, in fact, it took all my reassurance to remember that the challenging uphills are what makes me stronger, until I became one with the effort. This was like Doak Mountain before Klamath Falls … only much much longer! There was a cooling breeze in the shade of ponderosa pine trees at the summit, with a grand view of the lake far below and long away. It wasn’t the final summit however, and many false summits stood between me and the grand prize of a 6% downgrade for 4 miles into Susanville. How sweet that was! Where Hwy 139 ends in town is a library right next to Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, so I updated the Trike Asylum website with the CCTE progress, and then procured some fresh veggies, blueberries, and V8 Juice at the store. No one messed with the trike while I was in the library for about 40 minutes. The air conditioned library felt great – didn’t want to leave, with outside temps now past 90 in this town. I refilled all my water containers, which had dwindled down to nearly nothing, and it was only 2:00 PM. It would have been a big mistake to have taken the Nevada Hwy 447 route as originally planned … Hwy 395 would be much safer. I was told by a few folks hanging out around Grocery Outlet about a KOA Kampground about 15 miles east of town, so at about 4:00 PM, I set out to camp there, a decision brought on by the unsettling people who were talking with me, eying my trike, and just hanging around doing nothing (there is a state prison just east of town, and a federal prison a few miles farther on, so there is a high percentage of the inmates’ families that take up temporary residence in Susanville – it’s definitely not your typical country town). The day is so hot that every car and eighteen wheeler that pass me on Highway 395 at high speed is a welcomed event, as they provide a super cooling blast of air. The larger and faster the vehicle, the better! The prior days of this journey I thought were hot were only warm by comparison to today. Thirty miles east of Susanville, having come upon no KOA along the way, I pulled into a mini-mart convenience store and gasoline station to get a sandwich and some V8 Juice. The sun was close to setting by this time, so I asked if there were any place I could pitch my tent and not get hassled. The store manager pointed to a large storage bin adjacent to the store and said to put my tent behind it, hidden from the highway. The station was a 24/7 affair, but I was so tired that I had no trouble sleeping, and it sure beat sleeping on the trike! Second week of CCTE now complete!
DAY 15: September 09, 2011 (Friday)
30 miles east of Susanville to southern Reno, Nevada: 65 miles (549 thus far)
Up at first light, a time when the electric lighting of the gas station fades compared to the brightening horizon to the east. The mostly full moon last night kept the shadow of the Q on the side of the tent for many hours. By first light, that shadow was long gone. Ate breakfast on the picnic table outside the mini-mart. From my tires, I pulled 3 goatheads that I had mopped up riding to the tent site last evening, although I no longer worry about these spikes because I know my tire/liner/tube combination absolutely stops them from flattening my ride. It’s about 55 miles from here to the northwestern outskirts of Reno, Nevada, and with this heat, I want an early start. Quite a bit of the road today is relatively flat, making for some good progress, along with a few descents of short duration, and of course, those seemingly endless and treeless uphills in the blazing California and Nevada sunshine. The closer I got to the famous gambling town of Reno, the heavier the traffic became … great news because all my air conditioning vehicles were really helping to cool my quickly dehydrating triker’s body as they raced by to gamble. Jack Freer had told me a few days earlier to exit US 395 at North Virginia Street, and a good thing he did too, because just prior to where the North Virginia exit is, a large sign reads: BICYCLES MUST EXIT (of course, I’m not on a bicycle, but who am I to argue minutia?). I pulled into the Sierra Zoo, parked in the shade, got some further directions from locals who loved my trike and the trip, and then ate some bars, bought some ice water in the zoo store, again refilled my water bottles on the trike, and used their air conditioned toilet facility. Heaven! Upon entering downtown Reno, through which I triked the main drag on the Business 395 route, it became immediately obvious that this town is not cyclist-friendly when it comes to bike lanes, a situation that would really spook most bicyclists and tricyclists. Yet, after 15 days of this triking business in all kinds of settings, combined with past experiences in traffic prior to this journey, I just assumed my rightful spot as another human propelling myself about the Earth, albeit with an organic engine instead of a petroleum one. What did I learn? Even in Reno on late a Friday afternoon rush hour, I was afforded all due courtesies mile after mile along the casino-laden boulevard, and this with no bicycle lane whatsoever. No close calls. No angry motorists. No issues at all. There was however, a lot of pointing and interest in my unusual mode of transport. People were so busy trying to figure me out that impatience was the last thing on their minds. Air temps were only 86 degrees compared to Susanville. This town was a sea of automobiles, people, and air pollution, and near the southern end of town, I quick like a bunny spun into the Meadow Wood Courtyard Inn where my mom and her friend Betty had invited me to vacation with them a few days many years ago. I showered, did a laundry, updated Trike Asylum, and just relaxed having made it through Reno, knowing I was now more than half way to my destination of Apple Valley, California.
DAY 16: September 10, 2011 (Saturday)
Southern Reno, Nevada to Topaz Lake, Nevada: 63 miles (612 thus far)
Wake-up call came in at 5:45 AM, as I wished to get some miles behind me before the heat would begin its dehydrating dance upon my fragile body yet again. A complimentary breakfast of oatmeal, bananas, and blueberry yogurt started the day. Saturdays are lazy days for most folks, so riding out of the motel driveway just as the sun began to rise in the east revealed hardly a car anywhere for miles! Oh the quiet joy of silent passage, even in Reno! South on US 395 I continued my overland journey, where I later stopped at a rural cabinet makers shop and used the porta-potty, with their old furry black dog curious about my presence. South of Reno, perhaps 10 miles north of Carson City, the state capitol, a large sign read: BICYCLES MUST EXIT, the second such sign in this state. But this time, there was construction to the side of the road, so the exit was blocked by tonnage of concrete barriers, forcing me to remain on the highway that was now a 70 mile per hour freeway. No problem however, as my “trike lane” was every bit as wide as the two automobile lanes next to me on this divided highway. For several miles, I could see “Old Hwy 395” off to my right about 200 yards, and I could see numerous Saturday morning bicyclists riding it with no traffic, yet there was no way to get to it. But wait, after what seemed like forever spinning along in high gears, up ahead was an exit, which I took, got onto the coveted roadway, and hopped down into a gully with bushes to perform a short water offloading chore. Another meal pack bar and a bunch of water re-energized my spirit, and I tackled the uphill immediately ahead. At the top, there was an entrance back onto the freeway, and some other rural road that headed into a mountainous region, but just at that time, a local woman cyclists happened by and provided a convoluted back-way into Carson City on the rural road. It would have taken forever by the way she described all the uphills, curves, and intersections, so I opted to get back on the freeway, ride it for about half a mile downhill, and exit at the first Carson City exit, all coasting … all downhill, fortunately. Into an Alberstsons supermarket I pulled, got some usual trail mix, V8 Juice, strawberries, bananas, and some almond-vanilla granola to replace my dwindling Kashi 7-grain nuggets, which, by this time, I was tired of eating and needed a change of taste anyway. I even treated my self to an ice cold Naked-brand protein smoothie drink! Made great time south through Nevada’s capitol city in light traffic, and on south to Gardnerville, where I picked up another icy protein drink during this mid 80s Saturday. For the past several minutes, an increasing number of sirens were screaming by – turns out a lightning strike in the Pine Nut Mountains north of Topaz Lake had set the forest ablaze, and they were sending every fire and police agency from Reno south. These emergency vehicles, including Hot Shot fire crews, continued past my little trike for hours as I headed up the grade to Topaz. On the Simee Dimeh grade, the sky quickly turned black and rain began pummeling down so quickly that I had no time to retrieve my rain gear and get it on before my clothes got soaked. From 86 degrees Fahrenheit to winds and rain, it became apparent that I needed some temporary shelter to avoid getting wetter and chilled. The cloudburst continued as I pulled into a dirt area that had an abandoned commercial building that was for sale … with a huge roof overhang, just right to park my trike on the concrete and get dry. I briefly contemplated sleeping here alongside US 395 (as fire equipment kept on heading up the mountain), but the rain eventually stopped, the wind continued, the air warmed slightly, my clothes dried a fair amount, and so I set out once again. It was now getting darker, both with continuing cloud cover and a day coming near an end, so on when my headlight, taillight, and strobe beacon as I crested the Simee Dimeh Pass at nearly 6,000 feet, and made quick work of pedaling on to Topaz Lake with the cooler temperatures. By now, my clothes were dry from the winds, and the fire crews and cops were returning home, nature’s rain having accomplished what they could not. As I rolled into the Best Western Topaz Lake Inn, and pulled my trike under the cover of a parking structure, the clouds once again opened and doused the landscape, resulting in the wonderful desert smells of creosote bushes when wet. I got a room … figured it’s only money, so why pitch my tent in the rain? Live a little, be a gypsy, get around! It was too dark to proceed further today anyway. Updated the Trike Asylum website yet again, ate some grub from my bags, left the trike outside, and hit the sack.
DAY 17: September 11, 2011 (Sunday)
Topaz Lake, Nevada to Bridgeport, California: 44 miles (656 thus far)
Word back in the real world spread that today the United States was going to experience the wrath of religious terrorists … good thing I live in a alternative primal reality as a trike phantom, and am nowhere near where any deranged minds might consider taking revenge upon this self-proclaimed Christian nation. What will the day bring? Who knows, but it will be all trike related to me. Wake-up call at 6:00 AM, poorly stocked continental breakfast … water wasn’t even hot enough to fully saturate my Quaker Quick Oats. Partly cloudy made for fast comfortable riding. Re-entered California about a half mile south of Topaz Lake Inn. Radar sign indicated my speed at a whopping 08 miles per hour. Started up mighty Sierra Nevada grade after passing through tiny towns of Coleville and Walker. Uphill, with primarily mid-range gears, with occasional lows. Clouds began to increase as day progressed and my elevation kept climbing up to the 7,519 foot Devil’s Gate Pass. The higher I went, the denser and darker the thunderheads became. Very close lightning strikes spooked me out every once in a while, and I wondered if my happy-face flag antenna might draw in a big one (what a story that would have made). Lightning did set this forest on fire too, and I was amazed to see helicopter after helicopter flying right over my helmeted head with big suspended water reservoirs hanging from them, and scooping water out of a nearby lake to drop on the flames. The grade up to Devil’s Gate is about 27 miles long, and the rain finally began anew about 7 miles from the top. By the time I reached the Devil’s domain, I was soaked again, even though I had put on my Sequel rain jacket and rain gloves. I didn’t put on the rain pants, hoping it would stop, but stopping was not in the plans that day. It just got heavier and heavier. On the downside of the pass, it was fast coasting at speeds up to 50 miles per hour, but of course, with no effort needed to propel myself forward, I began getting chilled in my wet clothing. I figured I could hold out until I reached beautiful Bridgeport, California, and with traffic feeling sorry for me, the cars remained a respectable distance as they passed so I didn’t get splattered by the tire spray. This shoulder is sometimes nonexistent, and at one point, it closed out and the rumble strips went right into the dirt, so at speed I crossed the rumble strips to get out into the lane of traffic. Due to my speed on wet pavement, the Q instantly went sideways about 20-25 degrees off my line of travel, which very quickly got my attention, so I did as 1970s comedian Bill Cosby advised in his album “Why Is There Air”, and turned in the direction of the skid, which just as abruptly straightened me out once again. Whew, that was a close one! Very cold now, early stages of hypothermia, but I can see Bridgeport down below. I wanted to ride to Lee Vining today, another 26 miles that would have been doable if sunny and dry, but considering my condition and the weather, it would have been foolish, so I pulled into the Silver Maple Inn (where I vacationed with my mom a few years back) and got a room at 3:30 in the afternoon – a very short day. The young female receptionist didn’t know what to think of this drenched and mumbling triker, but I laid out some cash before her and secured a warm room in nothing flat. I stretched out my clothes on chairs in front of a heater to dry them, ate some dinner from my panniers, watched some television, and noticed the sun returning just prior to sunset out my window, where the trike stayed as it dried out under the overhang. No terrorist attacks according to CCN and Fox.
DAY 18: September 12, 2011 (Monday)
Bridgeport, California to McGee Campground, California near Crowley Lake: 60 miles (716 thus far)
Left motel at 6:50 AM, prior to sunrise. Practically no traffic this far out in the boonies as I head up the grade to Conway Summit, 13 miles distant and nearly 2,000 vertical feet higher, at 8,139 feet elevation. The sun is once again shining, with scattered clouds making for a picture-perfect view of my surroundings. Low gears to summit. A Mexican family stopped ahead and awaited my arrival, intent on learning all about my trike and what I’m doing out here. They were very friendly, and the dad wanted to take a photo of his young daughter standing next to me. I had to do two things though: reach the summit and take a pee, so after a pleasant time of discussion, I said my goodbyes and they drove on while I found a perfect place to offload my water behind some boulders. It took me about three and a half hours to pedal from Bridgeport to Conway Summit, the other side of which is a 4 mile thrill ride at 6% downgrade … talk about fast! And what incredible views of Mono Lake on the way down. Motorists love the show. Ate lunch in front of a Lee Vining market … the usual stuff, of course. On this stretch of 395, my shoulder was often wider than the automobile lanes by a wide margin, enough for 3 or 4 trikes to ride abreast at times. Lots of varied terrain: up, down, and flat. Wondering if today’s afternoon weather pattern was going to follow the past two days of afternoon drenchings, I had been keeping the fires burning and the pedals turning, attempting to outrun the highest elevations before I got soaked yet again. Well, today, it clouded up, and I figured I was doomed once more, but the trike gods were with me, and all I got was a 15 minute hailstorm … no rain at least! Fortunately, the hail was not large. Stopped at a very nice roadside rest just north of Mammoth Lakes a few miles, ate a bar, drank and refilled my water supplies, and left an offering in the men’s room. South of Mammoth and the Devil’s Postpile, I began my usual late afternoon ritual of searching out a suitable locale to pitch my tent. Not much was coming up along the highway, and I wasn’t about to turn off the road and ride a few miles off my route to a secluded campground. Near the north end of Crowley Lake, I came upon, as if by a smile of those same trike gods, McGee Campground, a private campground that was very nice, very beautiful, with nice people running it in a little log cabin, and even ice cream bars for only a dollar! Needless to say, I grabbed up one of their last spots for a tent, right next to a raging creek called McGee. Safe yet again! I came up with a little rhyme: “Pedal when you have the mettle; Coast when you’re toast.”
DAY 19: September 13, 2011 (Tuesday)
McGee Campground to Lone Pine, California: 90 miles (806 thus far)
The creek outside my tent was great – put me right to sleep. Of course, the downside, which I didn’t contemplate last night, was that it kept me rain fly wet, as well as the lower part of my tent, so I had to pack the stuff away not really dry by the time I left after eating my granola and powered veggies/fruit. Later that morning, I rode down Sherwin Pass, an 8 mile downgrade of 6%, which, for those of you who are unfamiliar with percentages of road grades, translates into really fast trike speeds with no effort. Those 8 miles flew by so fast I couldn’t believe it! Another upside to this particular pass was that there was not a corresponding upgrade to reach the summit. It was just down! Awesome. Arrived in Bishop, California at 10:30 AM, and ate like a pig at a local market under that shade of a tree (turkey sandwich, quart of veggie juice, bananas, trail mix, and Greek style blueberry yogurt). Bought 3 more packages of salmon for occasional protein boost later on. Passed through Big Pine and Independence, both of which seem on the verge of ghost town status nowadays. Got more food at markets. Originally planned to camp at Diaz Lake, just south of Lone Pine a ways, a wonderful camping area immediately off the highway on a gorgeous lake with the Sierra Nevada Range right to the west, but it was really getting late by the time 90 miles passed under my tires and I arrived in the bustling tourist town of Lone Pine. So, I again succumbed to the motel bug that I got from Gary early-on and shelled out more than a Benjamin Franklin to secure a place with a shower where I could dry out my rain fly and tent. This was also considering a fierce south wind I had been battling for miles that didn’t want to let up on my tired body, and was a prime reason for my late arrival in town after the sun had already set. I barely got into the room with the twilight allowing me to see.
DAY 20: September 14, 2011 (Wednesday)
Lone Pine, California to Kramer’s Junction, California (Four Corners): 122 miles (928 thus far)
Wake up call let me leave motel at 6:40 AM. Sun rose about 3 miles south of town. Several miles south, I glanced over to the northbound lanes of US 395 and saw two bicyclists with full panniers, so I waved. They waved back. I stopped. They turned and rode over to me. They were Claudia Wit and Christian Ewen from Luxembourg, who were riding their diamond framed bikes from Anchorage, Alaska to Mexico for their American vacation. Strong accents, very cordial and fun to visit with. They maintain a website about their travels at http://ccgoesamerica.blogspot.com. We shared our travels for a while, and then proceeded on our opposite directions. They were going to tour Death Valley as part of this trip, probably in about two days from now, so they asked me many questions about what to expect, since I have written two books about the national park. Passing through Olancha, California, I wondered what kept this near ghost town alive. Only a Chevron petroleum station at the south end of town seemed viable (and new), so I stopped there for some ice cold refreshment and food (the usual goodies for this health nut, of course). Two huge grades made me ride over them in my quest to reach Apple Valley, one out of Ridgecrest, California, which I rode in late afternoon and cloud cover, and one going into Johannesburg, California, which I rode in the dark with full lighting on my trike. Both would have done me in had it been sunny and hot during mid afternoon! Got lucky this time around. I witnessed one of the most incredible meteorites I’ve ever seen on this stretch. It lasted more than 5 seconds and was so bright I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! North of Johannesburg, I got to see an awesome moonrise, where the atmospheric conditions were just right and the moon appeared to be an ultra huge yellow/orange orb. The old town of Red Mountain was off in the distance. Long after the sun had set, I rolled into the tiny old mining town of Johannesburg (8:45 PM), where everything had closed down for the night, stopped at a closed Texaco station and mini-mart, and ate a bunch of food from my panniers on a little picnic table out front. I was dead tired, and figured I’d just sleep on the trike tonight, so tried to get some shuteye. After a couple of hours, a pack of three dogs came snooping around, but I just kept still and watched. They eyed me, but never approached, and then ran off quickly. The smell of the sage in the desert was strong and pleasant after an afternoon rain (which I didn’t get in fortunately). Called my mom and sister to tell them I was getting close to their abode, and that I should be there by September 16, my sister’s b-day. Napped for a while longer, but really wanted an ice cold Naked protein drink, so decided to trike on and get on down to Kramer’s Junction, a 24/7 truck stop that would have anything I wanted to revive myself. Besides, this next stretch of desert would be better traveled at night under a full moon, so off I went. The lighting on the trike, along with the reflectors, makes me as visible at night as in the day, if not more so, and the light traffic had no problem seeing me and providing plenty of clearance (including the 18 wheelers). Got my protein drink at Kramer’s Junction, some more trail mix and a Muscle Milk drink at the Pilot Travel Center. This place is always loaded with trucks on Highways 395 and 58, which cross here, thus the Four Corners nickname for the locale. I was so tired by this point that I slept for a couple of hours on the trike, right next to the doors at the front of the truck stop, and finally awoke as first light was appearing. I was bushed, having averaged 72 miles per day for the past 9 days, but I was determined to make it to my family’s house tomorrow, a day early, and starting out at sunrise was a necessity to try to beat the heat.
DAY 21: September 15, 2011 (Thursday)
Kramer’s Junction, California to southern Apple Valley, California: 52 miles (980 total for journey)
Began pedaling once more, for the final day of this three-state journey, as the sun rose over the Mojave Desert. Highway 395 has some definite shoulder issues on this stretch south of Kramer’s Junction as far as cyclists are concerned. It is rough, cracked, potholed, and nonexistent in places. The cracks are frequent enough to set up an annoyingly regular bumping of the trike … really glad I have rear suspension, which definitely helped. Occasional rocks that had rolled down from road cuts forced me into traffic lane now and then, but fortunately traffic was not too insane this day. Interestingly, all the way from Susanville in northern California, US 395 has great shoulders most of the way. This section today has not been upgraded by the highway department for decades. Oh well, I’m almost there, so I can withstand anything at this point, right? By the time I reached Adelanto, Calfornia, where I turn off 395, I was so bushed and wiped out in the high desert heat, I began to wonder if I could actually finish the trip. My blood sugar was low, I had not slept well last night, my water supply was running out, and the bottoms of my feet were experiencing hot spots from pushing the pace as I had been doing here towards the end. This ride was predominantly uphill, another reason for my severely diminished physical and mental state – no trees or shade! The fact that the road this morning was the roughest surface on the entire trip made matters miserably bumpy … so close, and yet so seemingly far to the end. Pulling into a Chevron mini-mart, half dead, I used their bathroom, got some ice cold juice and other food, chatted politely with one of the the store clerks who was curious, and quickly excused myself to the searing outside temperatures and pushed my Q around back into the hot shade, but shade nonetheless, and tolerable compared to the sun. I sat on the cool concrete curb with my trike panniers right in front of me, and ate and drank, and ate and drank. Not in any hurry because I was still in recuperation mode, I even brushed my teeth, as no one was around the back of the store by the vacant desert lot. I turned off US 395 finally, having made it my home for days now, at Air Expressway, a super wide road in perfect condition that goes past the Air Force base and airport for the Victor Valley. The fine paved surface partially made up for the increasing heat that sucked water out of me practically faster than I could drink it! Once I hit the Apple Valley Town Limit sign, I still had miles to go, as mama and sis live in the far southern portion of the town of 75,000 inhabitants. My focus remained on arriving at their house, full of cool drinks, lots of food, refreshing showers, and a soft bed. I was spinning and grinning, churning out each mile so slowly I wondered when it would end. The good news was that portions of the ride were slightly downhill, but even then, I was sufficiently beat that I couldn’t maintain my high gears as I normally would. At long last, I pulled into their driveway at 2:30 PM, with my sister coming out to offer me a cold full bottle of Fiji Natural Artesian Water, and my mom snapping photos of my pathetic bones barely propelling my ICE Q slowly up her short driveway with a little incline. It was over! I had made it. My Achilles tendons were normal. I would live to trike again!
Three wheels, three states, three weeks! The trike gods were with me on this one! From cool foggy coast to hot arid cactus … thanks to Glen and Gary for their valiant participation and company on the journey.