This year, I’m planning what will be my most epic bicycle trip to date. I plan to ride from Astoria OR, along the Pacific coast down to SF CA. It’s roughly 800 miles and I’m giving myself 2 weeks to complete the trip. I’ll be following the same basic plan I used for Cycling the C&O and GAP Trails Reloaded.
I’ll use BikeFlights.com to have my bike shipped ahead to a local bike shop, Bikes & Beyond in Astoria, OR in this case the week before I leave for my trip.
Book AirBnBs in Portland, Astoria and SF.
I’ll use my North Face Base Camp duffle to carry my gear with me on the flight.
I’ll fly to Portland OR and stay at the AirBnB on Day -1.
On Day 0, I’ll catch the North West Point bus to Astoria OR. Google maps says it’s an almost 3 hour trip from Portland to Astoria and it leaves at 9:30am.
Arrive in Astoria and pick up my bicycle and check into my AirBnB
Day 1, start pedaling.
If everything goes to plan, I should arrive in SF on a Friday afternoon/evening. I plan to spend the weekend in SF and leave out on Sunday.
Trump is awful. To listen to him draw a moral equivalence between Nazis and counter protesters protesting against Nazis and to realize this man is the President of our country and was freely elected there on purpose by people who think like him just feels like a huge punch in the gut. He wants to hyper analyze and focus on the specifics actions in the park instead of looking at the overall broader context of what’s happening.
Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? He was a slave owner too, right?
The hosts on this podcast I listen to in the mornings were making this point but I think it’s important enough to repeat here. The difference between George Washington/Thomas Jefferson and Robert E Lee is that the former made it their purpose to build and lay the foundation of our country. Robert E Lee wasn’t just a slave owner. He made it his career and purpose to try to tear our country asunder who’s outcome would have been to institutionalize slavery for longer.
I’m glad our weirdnesses match. Thank you for laughing at all my dumb jokes. The jokes I tell to the cashiers and waitresses and you’ve heard a million times. Thank you for not rolling your eyes when I spend too much money on bike stuff or when I go on and on about autonomous cars, SharePoint, the Titans, Star Trek, or my ideas about a cool space pirate show. Thank you for not sighing too loudly when I’m playing my shitty trap music in the mornings as I’m getting turnt up. Thank you for accepting me for me and all my weird quirks.
Nobody gets me like you do – life is ours and we live it our way.
Heating pad – You might not need this if you live in a warm climate but we keep our apartment pretty cool. I picked up two of these to keep my brew at 80 degrees.
Here’s a photo of my brewing setup.
Brewing your kombucha
You can search the web and there are some pretty standard ratios of water to sugar to tea for kombucha. When I was first starting out, I converted all that to metric because my containers were metric and plus it just made it easier to think about in my brain.
If you look at the photo above, the right container has a little silver mark just above the spigot. I drain my tea down to this level and leave the rest as starter tea for the next batch. For each of these container, I use the following:
I start by putting 1 liter of distilled water into a large pot and bring it to a boil. I take the pot off the heat and add the sugar, stirring so it will dissolve. Next, I add the tea in tea bags. Cover and let brew for 30 minutes.
Next I remove the tea bag and add 4 liters of distilled water. You probably want to take the temp of your mixture because adding liquid to your brew container that’s too hot can damage your SCOBY. Everything on the web says 80-85 degrees.
Put your container on the heading pad and wait 1 week. You can use a ph meter at the end of 1 week; you’re aiming for a measurement of 3.
That’s pretty much it!
I need to improve our bottling methods as we just store the tea either in growlers or in individual kombucha tea bottles that we’ve purchased at the store. I’d like to invest in a kegerator.
My bicycle tour from DC to Pittsburgh is in the books and it was a very successful trip. I’ll be using this trip as a template for future trips. After each trip, I like to reflect and identify what worked well and what did not work so well so that I might review this next year as I’m preparing for future trips.
What didn’t work so well
Despite having three dang lists to work from, I managed to forget my chamois cream. Rashes on the booty is a lot like pain management in that you really have to stay ahead of it. Once you’re in pain, well it’s already too late. A kind stranger gave me some stuff to use – although it wasn’t chamois cream. It would have been much worse otherwise but it would have been much better if I was slathering on the button hole straight from the get go. Lesson learned: DON’T FORGET THE DANG CHAMOIS CREAM
I also had some difficulties keeping my phone charged. I was using a non-Apple charging cable and the thing failed on the evening of day 2. I managed to find a gas station and get another little cheapy but that one started to fail a few days later. Additionally, I over estimated how bad ass my new external battery charger was so by the 5th night, it was drained. I should have taken more care to charge the external battery. Lessons learned: Go ahead and invest in the dyno hub so that I can charge while pedaling. Additionally, stick with official Apple charging cables and maybe even pack a spare; they’re small and light.
I want to reduce my kit. I had a whole bag full of stuff that I barely even broke into – GoPro mounts and odds and ends. I think I can probably fit my kit into the two rear bags if I strapped my tent to the top of the rear rack. I also carried too much food. I ended up eating a fair amount along the way. There’s something really nice about pulling up to a diner or pub at the end of a long day of pedaling. In the future, I’ll probably carry less food while planning to eat along the way.
Trip template going forward
Ship bike ahead to a bike shop near starting point using bikeflights.com. $49 for shipping plus whatever the bike shops charge ya to box and reassemble. Probably close to $200 total.
Fly to the destination. I was able to get a ticket to DC for under $150. More than the bus ticket I purchased last year but way more convenient.
Use my new North Face base camp duffle to check all my gear on the flight. Last year I shipped my gear ahead to the motel. Checking my stuff was way easier and less stressful.
Give myself at least one whole day in the starting city/town to get things together. Plus it’ll be nice to have a little extra time visiting a new place.
Since Pittsburgh is relatively close to Nashville, I was able to use hotwire to rent a car to drive myself and all my gear back to Nashville. After fees and such, it was only $38 from Thrifty. Tank bicycle fit perfectly into the trunk after the laying the seats down on the Chevy Cruz.
Finally, I wanted to give a huge shoutout to our friend Eve in Pittsburgh. She let me couch surf while in Pittsburgh so I saved a lot of money on motel costs. She was an excellent tour guide and showed me around the city Saturday.
Today’s Distance: 41 miles
Total Distance: 347.2 miles
Day 6 – The big finish
I made it. I rode my bike all the way from Washington DC to Pittsburgh PA. That’s a pretty nice feeling.
The ride itself was pretty easy – only 41 miles so I took my time breaking camp and getting on the road. During the night, my external battery and phone battery both died so I felt kind of discombobulated not being connected to friends or family or having a way to really navigate. Additionally, I woke up to the second flat of my trip. This time I actually found the tiny metal splinter and removed it.
I had breakfast at a diner in West Newton and I tried to charge up my devices.
The rest of the ride was uneventful. I spent most of the time in silence (dead phone) and that was actually pretty nice in retrospect.
Todays Distance: 69.6 miles
Total Distance: 306.2 miles
Day 5 – CODE NAME: Animal
Today was really a great day. I can’t really explain how nice the GAP is after riding on the C&O. Silky, smooth as butter… so nice. I even aired my tires up to road levels at lunch time and boy did the miles just click by.
Today at lunch time, I figured out my trail name: Animal. I was standing near the path in Ohiopyle (Ohiowhat??!?), about ready to set off on the rest of my day when a lady said “your legend precedes you. It’s nice to meet you”. I’m like “what??” Let me back up. The past few days, I’ve been passing these guys that were heading in the same direction. They’d pass me, I’d pass them, we’d have a nice friendly chat while doing so, etc. It turns out, they actually left DC on Saturday while I left on Sunday. Most of the time with these guys was spent yesterday, on the ascent up from Cumberland to the contentitnal divide. I’m a bad climber in cycling terms because I’m big but I just keep turning over the pedals, complaining and grumbling but just click, click, click… one pedal stroke closer every second. So we kept passing each other on the climb. I’d pass, then they’d pass. I’m running a fully loaded touring bicycle while these guys were credit card touring (i.e., staying in motels and eating out most meals). So imagine, here is a big burly, tattooed, bearded dude with fully loading touring rig climbin up the mountain with you while you have a couple bags only. I dunno… I don’t think I’m some sort of monster cyclist but they apparently thought so because they were talking to this lady who spoke to me in Ohiopyle. They’d told her “you can’t miss him, he’s a big guy with a beard and a fully loaded touring bike. The guy’s an animal.
I got a big kick out of it. 😉
The other interesting thing that happened to me today was that I ran across this guy pulling the cart pictured below. Like, imagine you’re riding your bicycle in the woods and it’s been a while since you’ve seen another living soul then this. At first, I thought it was some guy trying to run a pot stand in the woods. Turns out, he’s pulling the thing to Washington DC to protest pot being illegal or whatever. If you notice in the rest of the photos at the bottom, his cart is just a few inches too wide to fit through the baracades and he was so mad. He was talking about overthrowing the government for violating his rights of freedom of movement and he was starting a revolution right there; I suppose he was using Twitter. At this point, I asked if I could take photos of his trailer then promptly set off. So strange.
38 miles to Pittsburgh so that means I don’t have to feel rushed to get going in the morning. I might actually sleep in a little bit later than I have been on my trip. Yay!
Todays Distance: 45.7 miles
Total Distance 238.6 miles
Day 4 – Fuck hills. I knew today was going to be a lot of climbing but seriously, fuck hills. The first part of the day turned out to be about 22 miles of steady climbing. I think I was averaging between 6-8 mph during that section.
I did probably see some of the prettiest scenery of the trip though so that was cool. Additionally, the GAP trail is much better than the C&O… it’s just much nicer to pedal on. It’s this compact, fine gravel stuff; not mud like the C&O.
Tonight’s camp ground is husky haven in Rockwood, PA. The camp ground itself isn’t so bad – I just wish the shower houses were closer. You have to basically bike 3/4th of a mile, across the river to use the shower house; not ideal IMO.
Todays Distance: 65.2 miles
Total Distance 192.9 miles
Day 3 – I dominated myself. Well, I’ve now gone further than I did last year. It feels pretty good to just go over that mental hump. According to Strava, I’m way faster than last year too.
Today was mostly uneventful. Saw some deer, squirrels, rabbits, turkeys, turtles, snakes and lots of cyclists.
At one point later in the afternoon, I was feeling really tired. I was really struggling to turn the pedals over, even in the lowest gear. For a while, I just thought I was just getitng super tired… until I took my headphones out so that I could hear the rubbing come from the front. It turns out, that mud from the muddy trail had built up in the front fender and was really compacted in there. I pulled over, used my little screwdriver things from my multitool and got it all cleared out. The rest of the miles sailed right along… I mean other than a tender booty and hands. Owie.
Tonight’s camp is at the YMCA in Cumberland. $12 to camp in the field across the street and to use the showers. Sweet deal IMO.
Tomorrow is a relatively short day of 44 miles but it’s also the hardest climbing day of the trip. Wish me luck as I’m not very good at going up.. I’m much better at going down. B)
Todays Distance – 72 miles
Total Distance – 127.7 miles
Day 2 – Butt rope and technical problems.
I usually start my days off by FaceTiming with Jen for the first bit of my ride; today was no different. The problem with being the first rider out of camp is that you get to be the person clearing the spider webs from the trail. Anybody who knows me knows that spiders kind of freak me out. So, I’m riding along and hit the first web… I do that flailing thing that people do when they run into spider webs, trying desperately to knock the spider off my head. Jen of course thinks this is very funny and is laughing hysterically over FaceTime. 😀
So anyhoo quick summary because I’m exhausted – will flesh this out more when I have time.
Today was a much harder day than yesterday. Not just the longer distance but the riding part seemed harder. I went 40 miles before breaking for lunch in Williamsburg.
After lunch, it was 30 more miles to the camp site which was supposed to be the camp shelter thing that C&O Bicycle Shop has. Unfortunately, I arrived late so ended up getting a room. Finally, my stupid iphone cable stopped working so my phone died about 5 miles short of finishing. I picked up a cheapie from an Exxon that’s working fine so far.