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Saturday, 13 July 2013

The journey continues.....

Hello all, I would like to start by thanking every single person who has made a donation to Yorkshire Cancer Research.  We are over halfway to reaching our target, if we dont raise another penny the total to date is already superb.  Thank you all on behalf of Tom and I and Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Day 21 - Missoula to Darby (Warm Shower Host) 5hrs 3mins in the Saddle, 67.33 miles, 13.3mph Average
Day 22- Darby - Jackson Hot Springs 6hrs 16mins, 72.45 m, 11.5mph Ave
Day 23 - Jackson Hot Springs - Dillon, 3hrs 33mins, 47.7 m, 13.4mph Ave
Day 24 - Dillon to Ennis, 5hrs 13mins, 73.12 m, 13.9mph Ave
Day 25 - Ennis to West Yellowstone, 5hrs 45mins, 73.63m, 12.7mph Ave
Day 26 -West Yellowstone to Grant Village (Yellowstone), 4hrs 40mins, 56.5m, 12mph Ave
Day 27 - Tourist Day in Yellowstone
Day 28 - Grant Village to Teton RV Park, 4hrs 12 mins, 59.77 m, 14.1 mph Ave
Day 29 - Teton RV Park to Debois, 3hrs 45 mins, 51.7 m, 13.7 mph Ave

Its been a good week on the bike - we have passed from Montana to Wyoming (our 4th state, high 5's), over the Continental divide at least 4 times, through Yellowstone Grand Teton National Parks and the weather has cooled. 

We have been cycling at an altitude of 5,000 feet plus for the past week, this means although still hot through the day it cools down quite dramatically in the evening which is great for sleeping.  We have cycled as high as 9,650 feet so we can definitely feel it on the lungs, we continue to go up for the next week or so culminating in the Hoosier pass which is 11,542 feet....something to look forward too.

A couple of stories from the week.  We arrived in Darby from Missoula, i was in the supermarket picking up some tins for dinner, daydreaming about whether the campsite would have a shower.  I was approached at the checkout by 3 generations of femal.  This is quite a common occurrence so i wasnt too surprised, one of the ladies then asked if i would like to stay with them, again i took this in my stride.  It turned out the youngest of the three alogn with her husband was a host on a website called warm showers.org in which generous individuals give up their garden/couch and shower for touring cyclists.  I was shocked but very gladly accepted, within 30 mins we were showered and sitting waiting for a 3 course meal, the hosts made us breakfast too.  Very humbling and yet another example of the generosity which has met us at almost every turn.

The day after the magnificent hospitality shown by our Warm Shower hosts, Tom and I stopped at a MacDonald's for some free re-fill Coke and Wifi.  We were telling some local kids about our trip (which was in defence and explanation as to why we were dressed like a couple of plonkers) when some guy passed us $40 and said 'welcome to America!' I am not sure what we said to invoke such generosity but despite Tom's protests i told him this would be donated to our charity and we were very grateful and humbled by his gesture.  Tom wanted to spend it on a couple of supersize meals, he is always eating.

Yellowstone was as advertised.  Spectacular scenery, an abundance of wildlife and even more tourists.  We had a great time and enjoyed our day off but truthfully i was almost happy to move on.  The roads were so busy it didnt feel safe, every second vehicle was a huge RV and roads are generally narrow.  Additionally we have already witnessed so much spectacular scenery on our trip WITHOUT the tourists Yellowstone didnt quite match up, difficult one to explain. 

The fitness levels continue to improve, although the mileage is still varied we are no longer absolutely shattered at the end of the day.

 Hitting the shops before we get on our way
 Brokeback mountain heroes
 Refreshments time
 Still in the wild west
Quake Lake - this lake was formed by an Earthquake in the 1950's, sadly a lot of people lost their lives.  The picture shows the location of a former campsite which was full on the night of the earthquake which caused a landslide and flash floods.

 Arrived in the town of West Yellowstone located at the gates of Yellowstone national park.  Yellowtone was the one place pre-trip we were most excited about.
 State #4
 Long eared deer, bike is the best way to see the wildlife in Yellowstone.  Although in the time we stopped to take a photo about 6 cars pulled up to see what we were looking at.  In Yellowstone there are frequently 'bear jams' 'elk jams' etc where the Cars/RV's just stop where they are and people jump out to take photos - mental.
 The geysers in the background, hundreds of them, a very cool cycle!
 We passed over the Continental divide 4 times in 2 days, this is the first, hence the enthusiasm.
 The Yellowstone Grand Canyon, the highlight of the park for me.  It was originally called simply the Grand Canyon before the one in Nevada stole its name, the bastard.
 Grand Teton, the other pre-trip highlight.  We need a new highlight now that they are both done.
 My Peanut butter bagel enjoyed with a view.  I love bagels.
 The Tetons with my bike in the forefront, amazing.
 It takes a good photographer to make this guy look cool
 Happy to be at the top of the pass, the post not so happy.
Yellowstone, this was as close as i dared go. Just less than a ton.  Something to aspire too.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Le Tour continues

Howdy y'all, happy 4th July!

Its been a while since the last update so to avoid boring too many people i will stick to the more interesting parts, i have included a lot of photos (worth a 1,000 words apparently).  We are currently in Missoula, Montana on Day 19.

Quick Stats:
Day 6 - 4hrs 34 mins in the saddle, 55.6 miles, 12.1 mph average
Day 7 - 5hrs 41 in saddle, 53 miles, 9.3 mph ave.....McKenzie Pass day!
Day 8 - 5hrs 42 in saddle, 69.5 miles, 12.1 mph ave
Day 9 - 4hrs 03 in saddle, 54.51 miles, 13.4 mph ave
Day 10 - 5hrs 02 in saddle, 59.57 miles, 11.8 mph ave
Day 11 - 4hrs 16 in saddle, 52.5 miles, 12.2 mph ave
Day 12 - Large Dominos Pizzas x 2 (Day off Baker City Oregon)
Day 13 -  5hrs 39 in saddle, 71.17 miles, 12.5 ave
Day 14 - 5 hrs 32 in saddle, 62.4 miles, 11.2 ave
Day 15 - 4hrs 49 in saddle, 61 miles, 12.6 ave
Day 16 - 61.54 miles, 10.8 ave
Day 17 - 4hrs 36 in saddle, 63.6 miles, 13.7 ave
Day 18 - 2 hrs 51 in saddle, 40.33 miles, 12.7 ave
Day 19 - Cat eye not with me.
Day 20 - (Tomorrow) Independence Day, Rodeo y'all or watch Independence Day in the air conditioned motel eating pizza.

Its been a good 13 days since the last update, we have moved from Oregon to Idaho and then onto where we are now - Montana.  We moved out of the Pacific time zone to Mountain time zone, back to Pacific time zone and then back again to Mountain time zone where will stay for at least the next few weeks.

Day 6 was the day of the McKenzie pass, we built this up in our heads to be such a big deal but the gradients were steady and although there was 4,000 feet climb to the top it wasnt too bad.  There was snow at the top and the weather was overcast but not too cold.  The climb was rewarded with a great downhill, this can be said for all the climbs we have done over the past few weeks. We climb for a good 2,3, 4 hours but there is always a substantial descent with little traffic which is great fun.

Since the McKenzie pass we have climbed a number of passes, the terrain is basically lots of ups to around 4,000 - 5,000 feet then back down into canyons at around 1,000 feet.  The average speeds are pretty steady, 4-7 mph on the uphill and 25 - 30mph on the downhill. The passes occupy our minds quite a bit but are never as bad as we think, they are designed to accommodate large trucks so arent too steep...Yet.

The campsites have been pretty good so far, generally the campsites are RV parks, they always have a decent bit of grass for tents though and good facilities, we have only been a 3 nights without a shower although 2 of which we washed in the river.  Tom has always had his restroom for Cock a doodle poo.
We tend to Motel it on rest days so we have a safe place for the bikes (its happened once but this trend will continue i think)

The landscape changed after McKenzie pass from rain forrest to Mountain Desert. We have been cycling through the 'Wild West', the scenery has been stunning.  We have been cycling through canyons and vast flat landscapes, the land looks like the back drop of a western movie, the photos hopefully give you an idea.

We stayed one night in a Presbyterian church, it was on the map as a cycle friendly place to stay and sure enough we knocked on the house next to the church and they gave us free reign.  Another couple of cyclists, a father and son combination Stewart and Ellis also arrived in the Dayville church so Tom and I slept in the sanctuary on our roll mats.  I read the bible to Tom until he fell asleep as he said he found the place a bit spooky.

We arrived in Baker City on Day 12 (Wednesday 26th), we were scheduled a day off to catch up on Laundry, rest the legs etc.  We were thankful for it as we had 2 days straight of rain before we arrived so it was nice to get a chance to warm up, dry tents etc.  We managed to get a cheap motel for the evening and although it was terrible by normal standards it suited us fine.  No honeymoon suite this time, just a standard twin room.

The weather completely changed the day we left Baker and has continued through until now.  A heatwave seems to have hit the US and although the north isnt getting it as bad it is still pretty unbearable, consistantly above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoon (35-40 degrees Celsius for you Brits).  We got caught out the day we left Baker, we left late and tackled all the climbs in the heat of the day.  A mistake we would not repeat, this morning we got up at 4.30am and started cycling at 5.30am.  We haven't quite been as disciplined as that all week but you get the idea.  Finish by the time the day gets really hot, cycling in the evening is out of the question as it doesn't cool down until it gets dark!

We have seen lots of wildlife, some of which as been alive.  Lots of Deer, three ran in front of me at one stage, fortunately i wasn't going too fast but they were only 10 meters in front.  Close enough for me to fill my pants and also understand why we see so many in bits on the sides of the roads.  We have seen lots of snakes and racoons, none alive yet though.  We have seen Pine Martins, Vultures, Chip munks and other unidentified small mammals (all alive). We are moving soon into the territory of the larger wildlife, bear, elk, moose country, very exciting.  Cant wait to see if a bear shits in the woods.  Mosquito country too apparently, the wee bastards drive me wild.
Tom loves the hills, climbing through the rain forrest to the top of the McKenzie Pass

At the top! This was moments after i had falled off my bike in slow motion in front of a crowd of people.  The rocks in the background is Lava, huge lava fields surround the McKenzie pass, vast and beautiful.  The photographer is from Suffolk....

Just left Sisters and this was the view we left behind. In Sisters Tom met a guy from Staffordshire who was selling Oatcakes, I dont think i have ever seen Tom look so happy. He gave us some for free, they were rank.

Entering the mountain dessert, although it is the dessert i make it look cool (it rained all day)
Photo op, Tom riding with his corporate branding......he just cant get enough
Outside the Presbyterian church with Stewart and Ellis, great lads who we bumped into on and off for 3 days.  They are cycling the route in 2 months, 70 mile days, no breaks.
What a couple of knobheads
Typical campsite, Tommy guns flexing

Baker City, apparently the place to be back in the day (early 1900's when the gold rush was on), an early Vegas lots of gambling, boozing and whoring.  All changed, Dominos and Cinema now.

Leaving Baker City, surrounded by beautiful fields and hills in the background

Starting to get really hot, long roads, vast desert land with the odd ranch dotted around.

5 mileish straight flat road, we tool these for granted at the time.

Typical scene, photographs dont do it justice, a pleasure to cycle in

Afternoon nap....5 more minutes, Toms favorite phrase, not sure what his left hand is doing

Just did the up, now comes the down, good times.

Tom reaching the top ready for the fast 3 miles

Dinner time, still my favorite part of the day, it wont ever change

Down in Hells Canyon, this was around 6am before it became unbearably hot.

This was us actually leaving Oregon but we didnt get a picture on the way in

2nd state!!! its taken bloody ages to leave Oregon, a beautiful state but nice to feel like we are making progress

No words

Feels a long way from the North Pole, i know i look cool but it was approaching 40 C at this time
Cooling off in the river and no i haven't been stealing his food.

RV park - it was so hot, we swam in the river in the background, a popular place for rafting.  The RV park owner asked if we fancied going down in just life jackets....why not! It was bloody scary and he had to come collect me in the car because i went to far.            
Little bit dangerous with the logging trucks but we survived

Our new friends.  Very nice couple who ran this particular campsite invited us for dinner.  Smoked pork, everyone only had one piece apart from Tom and I who had 3 each and left with some for breakfast.....they were impressed.

Bobby, 'Roughy', Me and Tom, Thane behind the lens.  Great bunch of guys we met last night, Roughy is from Bradford! Strong Yorkshire accent and the other pair from Michigan were giving him stick for being tight!! we said nothing.

Back to Mountain Time, for more than a day this time, we lost an hour

State #3