Ok so this is the real launch day - Sandrine and I riding together and heading in the correct direction - back to Charleston. But before I get to that though I have a confession to make. I have been keeping something from you.
As the countdown to flying to Portland began, probably two weeks back, I became more and more concerned that something was going happen that was going to torpedo the trip. The thought was with all the training that I had put in and all the advertising (some would say hype) regarding Soldiers Best Friend - having distributed 1200 of my "business cards" at that point what a shame it would be if "something came up that prevented me from going". What if I got sick or crashed my Cannondale coming down the Ravenel bridge during training? I invented a number of scenarios.
What actually happened was that on my last training ride in Summerville I stopped by the local bike shop, Main Street Bike Shop, to look for a new helmet. As I left I took a different route through the side streets for my last 1 mile home - yes for real, just 1 mile left on the day before I was to fly. I approached an intersection which I thought was a 4 way stop. It wasn't and the lady didn't stop. I rolled through and in that nano-second type of thinking I remember the thought, "you aren't flying anywhere tomorrow buddy you're going to be in the hospital". But instead I yanked the Kestrel to the left - thank goodness it is so light - and executed a really sharp right angle turn which got me running about 2 inches off of her front fender.
The driver started apologising over and over and I had to convince her that I was the one at fault and I was sorry for scaring her to death. I shared with her the irony of the situation - that is - me having one mile to ride home to fly to Portland the next day and start a 4200 mile ride across the country and having this near miss. I told her about Soldiers Best Friend also and unfortunately I had no card to give her because Main Street Bikes having just restocked the bike shop as I am sure she would have loved to see how her almost victim is fairing on the road:):):)
I tell you all that to tell you this. Yes I avoided an actual collision but, I really screwed up my back. I haven't mentioned this because I just wanted it to go away. After a great ride on Saturday, yesterday morning (Monday) I was going down to my knees in pain as I tried to pack the panniers to get ready to leave. Mary Lou got out the heating pad and I had almost immediate relief and then up to continue packing and then back down to my knees again. Sandrine had to help pack the balance of the stuff as I kept saying, "I just need to get on the bike and get going".
Mary Lou and Les had helped to created a high-lighted map that would help us join up with the TransAm route. Mary Lou drove us out of Portland to Champoeg State Park - don't ask me how to pronounce that - which is deep into the Willamette Valley. On the way we stopped to buy a heating pad for use as required along the way.
Mary Lou and Les (these people are special) with Sandrine:
Unfortunately it didn't take long for my back spasm to take over the ride. I began a Tourettes Syndrome type shrieking that Sandrine took quite well. She kept making jokes that had me killing myself laughing which of course would put me back into spasm and shrieking. I had to tell her to stop but of course she just couldn't. This is one funny woman and she and I go on some wonderful sarcastic and bizarre riffs. At one point she dropped the map and had to turn around to go get it. I told her that if she was tired she just had to say so and I would stop for her - no need to drop a map as an excuse. So nice that she gets this wackiness:):):) Another example was yesterday morning I noticed she hadn't put her pedals on her bike yet and reminded her that she might want to do that. She replied that she was rethinking the whole "pedal thing" - it just seemed to perhaps be too much weight for the benefit they add. "Pedals are for wimps". Crazy lady - I love it and am sure we are going to need it along the way.
I have to say I was really miserable the first 25 miles until I readjusted one of my bike shorts to take the waste band pressure off of the small of my back which seemed to be a miracle cure. Or maybe it was the pain pill that Sandrine gave me - name to remain secret or the Alieve that I was eating. Ahh it's just not right to change multiple variables at one time but in any case I was suddenly able to roll with relatively little pain just some stiffness. While I was in extreme pain, I was unable to stand on the hills and shift the bike back and forth to use my upper body to work up the inclines but now I could, and was able to develop a good rhythm.
We crossed the Willamette River by ferry. Notice the electric wires to the left that powers the ferry:
We arrived in Amity 35 miles out and stopped to eat which in this case was to refuel. The temps were high according to the locals maybe 95F but I thought it was fantastic riding as the humidity was low as compared to Charleston.
Arrived in Monmouth (pop 8000) at about 7pm and found the Courtesy Inn which was very nice for $60. Got showered and I made some gear adjustments while Sandrine played with her new Garmin and then off to the local Sports Bar which closed at 10 pm. We skidded in sideways at 9:58 and after explaining our plight, meaning no car to cruise other venues, we were welcomed in and had great chicken wings and chili cheese fries as well as good conversation with the locals. One guy was a hockey fanatic and conversed extensively with Sandrine. She plays hockey - doesn't that just make sense with what you know about her so far?
Off to sleep on the heating pad at 11pm.
Up at 6:30. Excellent breakfast at J's Cafe with this Chevy parked outside:
Also met Thelma and Louise with Children at the cafe. Something about a trip across the country in a new fire truck picked up in North Carolina. Barb on right is a foster mom to the 7 month old baby born to drug addicted parents:
Off to Eugene or beyond today.
Sorry for the poor exposures on the photos. Someone got ahold of my iPhone and changed something. Will work on getting it fixed.
The Usual Disclaimer:
And finally please remember the cause - soldiersbestfriend.org I will go into this in more detail and perhaps some level of haranguing later on, but for now here is the link .... and an additional link for donation SoldiersBestFriend - Donate Please :):) As you donate please enter my name in the appropriate spot so the folks at SBF can tally the results to encourage me and let me know WE are getting something done TOGETHER. Oh and I would be a lot more comfortable if you use the "honorarium" option vs the "memoriam" option - you'll understand when you click on the link:):). I will be inserting this call-to-action in all of my blogs so I hope you don't mind.