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2017 – Summary

Obviously severe blog burn-out after my summer trip, but I figured I’d roll up 2017 into one post.

Top 3 Rides of 2017

  1. Wild Rose Canyon, Death Valley
  2. Pike’s Peak, Colorado
  3. Mauna Loa, Hawaii (no blog post on this one but it was ridiculous due to the rain and wind!)

Summer Motorcycle-Bicycle Trip

Spring Death Valley Try-Out Trip

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Why motorcycle with a bicycle?

Well, this goes back a bit.  I’ve been motorcycling for a while.  I’ve been bicycling for a while.  ~5 years ago, I spent 4 weeks riding my motorcycle around Canada and Alaska.

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As my next 5 year sabbatical approached, I began planning what I thought would be a motorcycle trip down the Continental Divide (from the Canadian border down to Mexico.)

I also started recovering from my latest injury and began bicycling more, culminating in participating in a local hill climb series (shout out to Low Key Hill Climbs!) as well as dropping the latest 30 pounds I gain every time I get injured.

I figured I should use my current cycling form for something, and decided I should at least ride all the top climbs in California this summer.  Which lead to John Summerson’s “Complete Guide to Climbing by Bike” book.

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Amazon

Which lead me to PJAMM cycling’s “Top bike climbs in the United States” web page.  Which lead to pondering how many of the Top 100 climbs I could visit in 4 to 6 weeks of traveling.

Unfortunately for me, I loathe long car road trips.. but I can ride my motorcycle day after day forever, no problem.

A quick Google for “bike racks for motorcycles” turned up the most excellently engineered 2×2 Cycles Rack and a vague sketch of a plan formed in my mind:  I would travel around the western US with my motorcycle AND bicycle.  Motorcycle to the foot of a remote climb, switch to bicycle, ride it, then switch back!  CRAZY!

Crazy enough people said I should blog about my experiences, including my lovely wife.  I don’t do Facebook, my Instagramming is inconsistent, and Strava only covers a small aspect of it.  Plus, I’m capturing my own learnings and actions as I go along.

So, here it is… count-down to (probably) June.  Please leave a comment if you’re interested in any particular aspect of this craziness!

This is, so far, my deeply thought out plan (each balloon or diamond represents a notable climb.)

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Route planning via MS Paint!

 

 

Day 29: Mount Shasta & Home!

Today was gonna be a long one – I planned to ride up Mount Shasta (#60 in the US, ~4000 ascent) early, and then motorcycle the 300+ miles home in one shot. “Dangerous heat” advisory starting Monday, and the idea of slogging down California during the week day commute period made doing a double seem more appealing.

Rolled out at first light and headed up, got a mile out and realized I forgot my cell phone – oops.  Coasted back to the hotel and started again.

The climb up Mount Shasta was very pleasant and relaxing – no traffic, a pretty consistent 5 to 6% grade. The lower half doesn’t have much scenery, just trees and quiet.

3/4 up things open up a bit and you can see a bit more, and the final 3 miles are entirely closed to traffic (I don’t know if I count as traffic, I didn’t ask) – at the top, the landscape is scoured pretty clean from heavy avalanche/snow I assume.

The closed section was a bit dirty and bumpy, but nothing too bad, and after that the descent is pretty much no brakes to get back to the valley floor.

This was a great final climb for my trip, peaceful and nothing too extreme.  Plus it put me in a good frame of mind to tackle 300 miles of mind numbing interstate, which I did in a one stopper because it was already 97 degrees at 10 AM in Redding.  So that’s all I’ll say about that part of the trip.

I’ll put together a trip summary post in a day or two, but I’d say it was successful!  Epic and awesome and great bicycling!

 

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Heading up
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Valley side was hazy, so no great views

 

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Family of rocks crossing the road
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Opening up about 3/4 to the top
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Nice!

 

 

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Shadow selfie, there was nobody around
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Was tempted to ride up the trail a bit, but time was pressing

 

Day 28: Mount Shasta City, CA

After the awful slog yesterday, I chose to take the secondary highway (26 to 97) down from Portland to Mt Shasta. So far this is my favorite route through Oregon, despite the state’s love of 55 mph speed limits.

Light traffic, some elevation and scenery changes, nice and cool weather since 90% of it is at higher elevation, and most importantly, NO CRAZY WIND.

So despite spending 6 hours on the road, it was the sort of motorcycle day that makes you think you can ride forever.

Tomorrow morning is another 4K ascent up Mt Shasta, which is significantly steeper and more consistent than Mt Hood & Mt Spokane.

Assuming I feel good after that, I may head straight on home via the interstate (punishingly dull, but at least I’ll be home at the end!)

Day 27: Mount Hood, OR

Some days ya eat the bear, and some days the bear eats you.

Plan was to motorcycle 400 miles to the foot of Mount Hood, bicycle up, then motorcycle 30 minutes to a cheap(er) motel than those in the area.

First 2 hours were not bad, boring but no traffic and making good time.. until you turn west to head toward Portland.

Relentless, awful wind.. 100s.. if not 1000s of wind mills, so apparently it is awful all the time. My left arm went numb from counter steering to the left for 1.5 hours of this, and then you drop down into the Columbia river gorge.. and this is even worse, by a lot.

Relentless, random buffeting, and heavy tractor trailer traffic. Exhausting and awful – I would never do this route again on a motorcycle.

Thankfully after another hour of this abuse, the Garmin beeped and said hang a left!  yay!

Except it took me down some no where backroad.. and then told me to turn into a NF-xxx road.  NF means “National Forest” which means.. no pavement.

Optimistically I went for it.. and it was okay for a couple miles.. then it hooked a sharp left straight up the mountain, up STEEP loose switchbacks.  Running near slicks, I was roosting up dirt just to get up and around the turns.. I really wanted to turn around after 2 or 3 of them.. but it was so steep and loose I had to keep going for another half a mile before I could turn around.  Going down as about as much fun, although at least I remembered to turn off my ABS before I hit the dirt at the start.

So after arguing with Garmin (GRAGE!) I got back on track, for another hour of the horrible gorge, which, if anything, got even worse while I was lost in the hills.

Finally, I was back on the correct road and another hour took me to the start of the climb.

The climb basically goes up a highway, an EXTREMELY busy highway, with tons of tractor trailer and logging trucks. As far as I can tell, Oregon does not believe in a 3 foot rule.. I am pretty sure they think it is 3 inches.

And the wind was here too, relentless buffeting – a few times I thought I had a flat tire. Going up was bad, going down was really awful.

Luckily it was “only” a 2 hour climb and I was happy to get it done.  I’d say this was the least fun climb (even ignoring the 450 miles of motorcycle tri
bulations) of the trip. Combined together, I am beat!

Tomorrow off to Mount Shasta, the final climb of my trip!

Finally, on the correct highway to Mt Hood
“Start” of the climb
Pretty much the only thing you can see from the highway is Mt Hood!
Turn off to the ski park – plenty of snowboarders going up!
Gettin’ closer!
The top of the pavement – need a ski lift from here!
Going down – some other big mountain in the distance
Zoomed mountain

Day 26: Mount Spokane, WA

Running out of mountains to climb! Today I headed up Mt Spokane, which is probably just out of the top 100, but still pretty notable for the area, with a 4000+ foot ascent. [Strava activity here]

Since I knew this was pretty easy, I decided to just ride to the 15 miles to the start of the climb instead of starting at the base. Especially with all the delicious oxygen at 2000 feet above sea level.

The first 15 miles were through the rolling hills off Spokane wheat country, one thing that I found interesting is there are housing developments scattered within the fields – either these are the richest farmers I’ve ever seen, or these are separate houses that just happen to be within the fields – interesting locale to live in.

Once the sun came up, I turned onto the highway that leads into Mt Spokane park, and eventually the climb starts. I say “eventually” because it is pretty gradual for the first 10 miles or so.. and back in the tree tunnels.

When you turn off into the actual park, the grade kicks up to a more reasonable 6 to 8% and it feels like a real climb.  Unfortunately the last few miles turn into mega-huge switchbacks and it eases off again, which is the reverse of most climbs – usually they’re steeper at the end.

You really only get vistas starting in the last 2 miles, and unfortunately things were pretty hazy – either due to the fires or just high clouds.

Due to the gradual grades, the descent was pretty non-technical and I just cruised back down for some pancakes!

2 more climbs to go – tomorrow I’m going to do the motorcycle-bicycle double on Mt. Hood, since it is also a gradual climb.

Going up there some where, I assume
Trees
Trees
Pop tart break, turn off to the final couple of miles
At the top!
Nobody at the top.. so shadow selfie
Lookin’ down
At the very very top is a stone building that looks very solid!
View from Vista House – name checks out!
Another shot from Vista House
I am pretty sure I have seen more ski lifts this trip than my entire life combined
Heading down, view from one of the switchbacks
Coming back through the valley with the sun up, wheat forever

Day 25: Spokane, WA

Another 400 mile motorcycle day, and the forecast looked for HOT HOT HOT, so I got out early.. and promptly froze coming up the Lewis & Clark scenic byway out of Salmon.

Stopping to put on my electric heated jacket when it dipped under 40.

The first 50 miles were more awesome canyon carving up to the pass to get into Montana.

Unfortunately as soon as I crossed the pass, I was engulfed in hazy smoke. Apparently all of Montana is on fire.  The haze pretty much held on until I got into Washington.

Since I was pretty early and gained an hour crossing time zones, I stopped in Coeur d’alene and had breakfast.

Being a spectacle at breakfast!

Another 50 miles of awful interstate and buffeting winds took me down into Spokane, where it got hotter.. and hotter.. and hotter.. up to 97F.

I had some dreams of getting in early enough to ride Mt Spokane on the same day, but the weather report convinced me otherwise.

Even better: My hotel has no water at the moment, because the city is doing some maintenance. Maybe I need to stay at classier hotels.

Tomorrow up early to beat the heat, there’s no convenient staging area, so I’ll be doing an extra hour each way of valley riding to get to the climb.

Day 24: Salmon, ID

…back to Idaho.. the weather scene today was just not working out, when I checked the forecast last night it was going to be raining in Park City and 96 in Salmon. At some point you just go for it and plow on through.

I got up early to make sure my tire still had air in it (it did) and yeah, it was raining.. I sorta assumed it would only be raining on the mountain, and then it would dry out… nope.

340 miles of nope.. it rained and rained.. and rained some more. Through Utah and into the Boring Valley Of Doom Idaho (aka Interstate 15) all the way up Highway 20 and across Craters of the Moon and the Nuclear Waste Dump. I was also riding ride along the edge of the storm system, so it was super blustery and windy too, yuck.

Finally once I hit Challis (60 miles from Salmon) things dried out and I got to ride the best part in the dry – this stretch of road is twisty and fun and has great scenery as it meanders along the Salmon river.  I almost went and rode it again after unloading my luggage and bicycle, but then the storm caught up and it started dumping here too.. so.. nope.

Tomorrow to Spokane, WA.