Straight west coastin'

This past week been another great one. A week filled with new sights and new experience. That's what life is all about. I left Oregon and new that my next main destination was the San Fran bay area. I knew what I wanted to see between central oregon and San Fran, but that's about all I knew. This past week has been all about "the scenic route."

Stop 1 was Crater Lake. I have heard of Crater Lake, as I'm sure most of you all have, but I really didn't know what to expect. Sure enough, it was a big, beautiful lake within a crater. I might not take a trip all the way to Oregon just to see this particular sight, but being that it was more or less on my way to the NorCal Coast, it was well worth the minor detour.
Southern Oregon didn't have quite the beauty and charm as central and northern parts, but everytime I crossed over the Rogue River, I got quite excited.

I hit the Pacific Coast at Crescent City, CA. This was the first of a number of mildly depressing costal towns that I passed through. I don't know if it was the thick fog, or the shadows casted by the giant redwoods, but most of the towns in this region gave me bad vibes.
I meandered down the 101, slowly making my way through redwood country. I was really looking forward to seeing these giants, and a bit disappointed. I kept driving south into the night. I saw signs for "Avenue of the Giants," and remembered hearing that this was a scenic route worth taking. I decided to pull off the road and illegally "camp" off the side of the road so I could see these so called Giants in the morning.
They were some big old trees, and this scenic route was much more scenic with the sun up.
I was pretty excited to see giant redwoods and their roots...

Back to the coast I headed, making my way south through more tiny, depressing, costal towns. I slowly and steadily made my way down the coast. Despite thick fog, sights were still awesome. This was uncharted territory for me. My next stop would be uncharted territory as well.
I headed inland to Napa Valley, where the wine flows like... wine. Here I did what most do in Napa and had my first wine tasting experience. Two wineries (Conn Creek and Elizabeth Spencer) managed to get me a bit wined (or wound?) up. I did learn, that knowledge of tasting wine comes with practice... I need more practice.

From Napa I was Bay bound... via Point Reyes, where I stopped and pedaled my bike for a bit.
I came across the Golden Gate and headed into downtown, for the touristy stuff; fisherman's wharf area, and of course, Haight Ashbury. Yea... SF is sweet. I'm a bit overwhelmed by big cities though.
Mid Peninsula is where I reside, right near Stanford, and with a view of the bay. I got a feel for bay area MTBing this morning at El Corte de Madera Creek. Pretty cool stuff... and most importantly, I didn't get lost.
From here, its back inland. I miss the mountains, and I here the Sierra Nevadas are nice this time of year.

BA - out


Happily Bent

Lets start on a sad note. I left Seattle and headed south. I crossed the OR border for the first time in my life and was excited to stop and check out this progressive, hipster, hop filled, cycling city they call Portland on my way to Bend. I wanted to walk around downtown Portland and get a feel for the place, but those plans quickly changed when I decided to pull into a parking garage.

KSAHFI$#T* HEGUQ#$(T(UERAGI N*Y)Q)*YU*Y)(*$#)T(!@($*^*%7124871(2$(UA!$#@IHGA!!

That’s the sound of my bikes atop my car roof hitting a concrete slab as a pulled into a low clearance garage. My roof rack was torn off my car. The dropouts on my road bike fork broke, officially turned my road bike into a bug catcher atop my roof for the remainder of the road trip. Luckily, my mountain bike came out on top with a tweeked stem… steel is real baby.

I gathered my flustered self, resituated my rack and bikes (luckily the road bike still mounted roof top), and got the hell out of Portland. I was excited to get to Bend. It was described as a smaller, lower key Boulder. So far, I would have to agree, besides the college seen, which I could live without now that I am a graduate (tear).

I got a “central Oregon” trail map, and headed out of town to find a place to pitch my tent.

The “Bend trails” were pretty sweet. I weaved around for a few hours. Up to 6,500 ft or so where there was still quite a bit of snow. It was an enjoyable and scenic ride. I followed my enjoyable ride with some enjoyable time walking around downtown and some locally brewed Kombucha which I have missed dearly (do to FDA issues involving the commercially marketed kombucha brands).

Lets talk about McKenzie. I decided to head to “America’s Best MTB trail” about an hour or so NW of Bend over McKenzie pass.

I found another sahweeet place to camp along the McKenzie River, about 25 miles south of the famous McKenzie River trailhead.

I was told that this was a trail to “shuttle,” meaning to leave a car at the bottom and ride down (or pay a ridiculous amount to have someone else do it for ya). The word shuttle makes me cringe. The only time I would even consider using a shuttle would be to the airport. With luggage.

I rode up the hwy to the trailhead and hit the trail below Clear Lake where I climbed the rest of the way on single track.

This trail got a lot of hype. Usually, when things are hyped up, they don’t live up to it. This was different. It was awesome. The awesomest, bestest, epicest, stretch of earth that my bicycle has touched in its short life.

Right when I would get bored of the fast, smooth, flowing single track, there would be some gnarly, jarring, technical portions. Right when I would think, “geez this is a little too much, I wish it would let up a bit” sure enough it did. The perfect mixture. OKAY, whatever… there are plenty of trails that have a good mixture like this. BUT, none of them traverse beautiful land, around crystal clear lakes, through lava fields, winding through ancient Jurassic Park-like forests, along raging rivers, and by roaring waterfalls for 26.5 miles. Though this trail had a net elevation loss of around 1,800 ft, it wasn’t aerobically easy. There were enough ups and downs and technicality to make you work.

Looking back, I would have been content without the 20 or so miles of road climbing and to do what I never thought I’d want to and “shuttle” this trail.

Despite breaking my chain TWICE, this was still the best MTB ride of my life. That says a lot.

The moral of the story is… IF you are in central OR, go here. Whether on wheels or heels, check it out.

BA – bent


see-ya, see-@-ill

In a few short days, I saw it all. Downtown, uptown, Ballard, Fremont, Capital Hill, Madison Park, U District. Seattle is a super sweet, biker friendly city. I dig it. I dig the culture, the diversity, the hippies, the gays. I can't forget about how much I dig the radio. I also dig the easy access to sweet Mountains. Mountains to hike, mountains to climb, and mountains to bike. I bet I would also dig the local brew, but being on antibiotics for the past 5 days prevented me from enjoying that.

A weekend getaway into the cascades around Mount Rainier provided a good taste of the outdoor possibilities that WA has to offer.
Kickin it at camp.
A nice hike little hike in the cascades.
It turned into a scrambling adventure.
The view.
Back to the city we headed, where my hipster self belonged. Where's my fixie when I needed it the most?
Instead of skid stoppin down the hills, I cruised around Lake Washington on what was a beautiful day, only 40 or so degrees cooler than the summers that I am used to.
It's syonara to Seattle, for now, as I am heading south in the mornin into Oregon. Bend is the destination. Single track and hop filled beverages await.

BA - out


My scenic route

As I crossed the Canadian border heading north last week, the dickhead border patrol dude asked me why I was traveling to Canada. I was a bit confused. He made it sound like a place where your typical American wouldn't dare go. My answer to him was to travel, see new things, and ride my bike. During my short 4 days in Canada, I managed to do a whole lot of those three things, slightly hindered by a parasite.

Day 1 - Banff
Banff was a very neat town. Though pretty touristy it had a genuine feeling. I almost felt like I was in a European ski village. In the short time that I spent here, I met people who had come from around the world to enjoy the hiking, biking, backpacking, and sight seeing that there is to do in this area. There was an awesome trail that started in town, winded up through some hills and along some cliffs to meet other trails, and made its way back into town.
Day 2 - Banff to Salmon Arm(pit)
From Banff traveling along HWY 1, there is a whole lot to see and do. It's a bit overwhelming. My parasite was acting at full force by this time, which made me want to get through this beautiful stretch of earth as quickly as possible. Thankfully, my bowels had other plans and forced me to slow my journey by taking pitstops at almost every possible stop along the way. Banff and Yoho National parks were amazing, as were Glacier and Revelstoke, but for some reason I felt the urge to continue on, and post up in what may have been the most depressing single area along the stretch of highway - Salmon Arm - where I pitched a tent in a ghetto, trashy campground/trailer park for a mere $30. I did take full advantage of the gross, but functional flushing toilet which I was conveniently placed directly beside. And if my churning stomach didn't wake me up to go to the bathroom often enough, the train traveling nearly through the campsite every hour sure did.
Day 3 - Salmon Arm(pit) to Whistler
Once I got out of the armpit of Canada, my journey quickly became beautiful again. Though I still felt like complete crap, the views seemed to make life better. As I got into Whistler, I decided to treat myself to a "resort-style" campground which was actually quite nice. No swimming pool with swim up bar, but nice. Right on a creek, and only a couple miles (of singletrack) to Whistler village.
Whistler village was a bit much for me. Even looking past the geared up downhill kids on their $5000 bikes which I'm sure get ridden for maybe a week each year, this place was far too swanky. The same families who come to their million dollar condos during the winter for a ski weekend come in the summer for some bike rides. The same little kids who hang out all day in ski school were hanging out on some of the sweetest singletrack I've seen while in their MTB camps. This town was completely geared towards biking, and I am sure that it is completely geared toward skiing come snowfall. It was nice, but too nice. Nevertheless, I did thoroughly enjoy the cheesy, built up singletrack trails that ran through town and practically all over the place.

Day 4 - Whistler to Vancouver and back to the USA
I took advantage of the fresh "sea to sky highway" which was redone for the 2010 olympics and cruised back toward the U.S. Down to see my step sis in Seattle is where I ultimately headed. I am currently feeling thankful for the ease of obtaining antibiotics which have bettered my life by 99% overnight. I am also greatly anticipating some more domestic adventures.