Stanley and I took the train to Pittsburgh in early September to meet up with my ride buddy from Ohio, to ride both the GAP (Great Alleghany Passage) and the C&O trail to Washington DC. After a confusing maze of detours to bypass a closed section of the beginning of the route, we met up and started our journey with a jolt of caffeine at Starbucks, almost on the trail. No rush. Short day.
We arrived West Newton Gap Campground about 26 miles later, and checked in to this amazing campground with unusual amenities for a hiker biker campground including a beautiful outdoor shower. Our next day was to be a long one, but we cut it short about 10 miles due to heavy rain and rode about 43 miles. We lucked out and found a secluded and covered area in a local park, just off the trail.
Day 3 destination was Meyersdale, and the slow, slight climb was relentless but would be over in another day. The trail itself was being re surfaced on this stretch with ground clay mixed with gravel. The fresh surface was a bit soft for riding but we’re glad it drained well so we had no issues with puddles or mud. We stayed at another hiker biker camp, and by end of the day it was quite crowded with fellow travelers. It was a treat to share a beer and meet the other travelers.
Day four brought us to the Continental Divide (all downhill from here!) and into Cumberland, the end of the GAP and beginning of C&O, where we shared a hotel and ate too much. The next day was a zero day to wash stuff, dry out, and provision for the trip on to Washington DC.
My ride buddy rides a bike Friday and loves her (christened “Cutie” on Day 5), as he had recently returned from her maiden adventure, riding from Paris to Romania. We were quite surprised to encounter three fellow travelers on Bike Fridays. Needless to say, lots of conversation and discussion about the virtues of these 20” wheeled workhorses which I just found out are manufactured in Oregon.
The trail got rough and rocky as we had been warned, but it didn’t last forever and it was trending downhill. We were curious about a town named Paw Paw so took a short detour to check it out and enjoyed our lunch in a local park. Next up was the historic Paw Paw tunnel which had been closed for repairs for several years. We were fortunate to not have to do the hike a bike over and around the closure as the tunnel had recently opened. The narrow pathway next to the canal was rough and very dark, so walking was a no brainer.
Speaking of paw paw, we did some googling and discovered that it’s a fruit and after that we saw them everywhere along the trail, in various states of ripeness. To me they looked like slimy stuff one didn’t eat, but they appear to be popular. My ride buddy got his share and enjoyed eating them until they got stinky and very over ripe; the smell didn’t encourage fellow travelers to stop and visit on their way in the other direction.
The campgrounds along the C&O appeared every 8 to 10 miles and all had at least one picnic table, a toilet, and non drinkable water. We were able to water up at various locations, knowing we’d have to filter if we wanted to drink the pump water. We were usually riding along the Potomac River on one side and the remains of the canal on the other side. Having the river right there was quite nice for evening relaxing and washing up. Each campsite has a name, and the sign includes distance to next so picking a free campsite was easy and I could practice not planning every crank of Stanley’s wheels.
As we approached the city of Hancock, I had heard of a 26 mile paved bypass, which we located and enjoyed this smooth ride which paralleled the C&O. The map I purchased showing all the towns, services, and all the campgrounds along the way (both for GAP and C&O) was very valuable and we used it often during the trip. When we arrived in Hancock, it was absolutely pouring and cold. We took a long lunch break, bringing our dripping selves into a fast food place, to discuss plans. We decided to share a hotel in nearby Williamsburg, which was a great treat. At this point, we’d ridden about 230 miles of the 330 or so miles to Washington DC.
Our next day was a longer than most but the gentle descent and improved trail conditions made 54 miles not so bad. Our camp for this night was Bald Eagle campground and without realizing it, it was the worst camp ever, only because the frequent trains raced by, close enough to vibrate the ground and sounding like we were going to get run over. Skip this camp unless you have extra heavy duty ear plugs!
Riding a pleasant 35 or so miles toward Swain Lock, our last campground on the C&O, we saw large, snapping turtles, wild turkeys, and deer. First time we had seen much of any wildlife other than the turtles.
Swain Lock campground, being close to the city, had several apparently long term tents and car campers, which is not legal but there they were. We had no problems other than a woman shouting in the distance every so often. I proceeded on to Arlington, VA to an Air B&B I had reserved, while my ride buddy camped another couple of nights.
As it turned out, the influence of a hurricane was causing dangerous riding conditions on the day we were heading to Fredericksburg, on a route of our own design. We opted to rent a one way U Haul truck. We parted company i Fredericksburg, as he was heading home and I had the luxury of yet another hotel while waiting a train to take me to Richmond VA to a delightful Warmshowers host.
After that, it was a mix of trains and riding which ultimately put me in Salisbury, NC, my final destination. After spending several very special days with my cousin there, I boarded the train (sleeper car please!) for the long trip home.
While lounging on the train, I began thinking about what’s up for next year…I’ve heard good things about the cycling in Wisconsin but I’ve always wanted to do some kind of trip into British Columbia. I have already committed to an early 2024 supported trip in Death Valley with Bicycle Adventures, hoping to see lots of blooming flowers. More to come…
My brother and I did a backpacking adventure to the Necklace Valley, which is near Stevens Pass in Northern Washington state. Break ins are apparently common but the only thing that broke into my car was a mouse.
The trail was mostly rocky, rooty, steep and very hot in the exposed areas. Some sections were so brushy that it was difficult to see further than a few steps. Seems like the trail builders were against switchbacks. We camped at Jade Lake and hiked further up the valley over the next few days. Good workouts, scrambling over rocks and boulders but worth it at the end of the day to enjoy my home made dehydrated dinners – chili with extra cheese was my favorite.
With an inspiring environment, we made up a trail song – rules are only to be sung while on trail.
We were on our way out the day the wildfire smoke got really bad and looked forward to burgers and hot showers.
Total miles, 436; total elevation gain, 24,330
Disclaimer: Myself and many others took a lift on a particularly sketchy section of road, even though the local police were caravanning riders and there was extra signage. Last day was so hot and hilly that I got a lift and reduced mileage by about 20.
The ride started near Roseburg, in Winston, Oregon. First day was the longest at 72 miles, to Bandon. Next day we camped in Gold Beach, then camped two days in Crescent City, California, then Lake Selmac, then Wolf Creek, Oregon, then back to Winston on day 7.
The route was very well laid out and mostly on low traffic sometimes remote roads. The 300 of we participants rode some on the Coast Highway going south and in spite of mostly decent shoulders, the logging trucks and motor homes were not considerate. BRNW did an excellent job of marking the routes on the pavement, with cautionary orange cones, paper versions of routes, and RideWithGPS routing as well. We had two 5 mile experiences on I5, one of which was not planned but BRNW rolled with it and got us through with no trauma. Shoulders on I5 were a whole lane wide! Just about everything this organization did was outstanding or excellent!
There were adequate food/rest stops, additional unmanned water stops (it got very hot!!), plenty of toilets so one didn’t have to wait long for anything. Breakfasts and dinners were plentiful and no shortage of beer, snacks, and soft drink options at the end of every day. Oh, and the showers and clothes washing stations were well appreciated by everyone.
This was my first trip with BRNW and I cannot praise this organization enough – including the value for the money spent! Check them out and register early. They are always a sellout.
Next up for the Gypsea – some camping at Mt Rainer and a backpacking trip. Stay tuned….
Six days’ riding and experiencing some of the wonders of Scotland by bike. I traveled with a small group of hearty souls, climbing the small roads and passing through farmland, forests and small villages.
A few of the many highlights – the cathedral where parts of Outlander were filmed, the castle where the Monty Python movie, with the French taunting took place, sheep everywhere, amusing road signs, tasting peat-infused whiskey, challenging climbs to get to braw vistas, skinny roads too narrow for a car and a bike to pass, incredibly courteous and respectful drivers.
We started near Glasgow, stopping for a visit at Drumlanrig Castle on the way to our hotel for the next two nights. During our stay at Selkirk Arms Hotel, we did a 46 mile loop and stopped to check out the Sweetheart Abby; then next day did a ride looking for red deer and wild goats with a short steep hike to a viewpoint.
On day four, the much anticipated ferry ride to Arran Island and accommodations at the Auchrannie Resort in Brodick for the next three nights. The remaining days were spent exploring the few roads on the island, and a day trip ferry to the Kintyre Peninsula, then a loop around the entire island with a stop at a distillery for whiskey and chocolate tasting.
Getting used to riding on the left side of the road and the reversed brake levers was much easier than I anticipated. The bicycles provided were of the best quality possible and extremely well maintained.
Total miles over 6 days, about 250 with 10,596 feet of suffering and climbing to get to some amazing vistas.
Many thanks to Bicycle Adventures and our guides, Jeff and John, for making the Scotland trip truly worth every minute!
A paddle on Salmon Creek kicked off a Gypsearoad summer. Beautiful place to paddle and oh so much trash this time!
Next up was the 10 Mile Ridge Run, a trail race over and through the mountains. It was more over the mountains than through them. The climbing started abruptly, just out of the start, beginning on a very steep paved road, then morphing to a rough track, for almost 4 miles of non-stop uphill! The rolling descent revealed grand vistas of the Columbia River, before a continuous 2.5 mile descent to the Skamania County Fairgrounds and a nice cold beer.
The Gypsea continues adventures by flying to Scotland in June to meet up with a favorite organization, Bicycle Adventures, to explore the Aran Island area of Scotland. Ride – Eat – Sleep! That’s all I have to do on this trip. Oh, maybe sample some whiskey and take photos.
Shortly upon return from Scotland, the Gypsea heads to Southern Oregon for another supported cycling trip with BRNW. August will be filled with car camping and a backpacking trip.
The finale is the Big Bike Tour which begins in Pittsburgh PA. With the assistance of Adventure Cycling, C&O and GAP resources, WarmShowers, and more, I’ll be making my way, self supported, down to North Carolina for the long and relaxing train ride home.
Stay tuned for updates!
I did pretty well at keeping up my trail running mileage until mid December when I sort of lost momentum and it became a battle to go anywhere so now I sweat my first trail race in 20 plus years, coming in March.
My winter play this year was minimal with a week in Bend, some skiing and hiking. In contrast to last year when it was in the teens and windy most days, this year was in the 40’s and rain. Hiked to Paulina Lake on a beautiful mostly sunny day.
Back in Washington state, I explored Lake Sylvia and Montesano Forest. A great network of trails begging to be explored.
Planning for 2023!
After considering several options, I settled on Scotland for my international trip, cycling again with Bicycle Adventures. I’ll also be doing a week of supported road riding in southern Oregon. Next will be the Big Bicycle Tour, starting in Philadelphia, I’ll follow the GAP and C&O routes to Washington DC, then cobble together a route from there to near Raleigh North Carolina, pack Stanley in his case, and return home to think about what’s on tap for 2024. I welcome any routing tips for this trip; use the "contact" to reach out, or post a comment.
More for 2023 includes WTA trail work and a few backpacking adventures. Stay tuned for more fun and yet unknown stuff on the Gypsearoad!
Seems like I’ve been on the move almost constantly since returning from the Big Chicago Loop tour in June.
I had great fun with Team Jerry camping on the Oregon coast and kayaking on the Siltcoos River, a quick walk from our campsites. I volunteered for a couple of multi day trail work “parties” and learned how to build check steps on steep trails and new ways to create water bars.
After the first of two backpacking trips this summer, I was convinced that my backpack was too heavy and too big. After several tries I found one that was half the weight of my huge 65L and still easily accommodated several days’ worth of stuff. Ah what a relief!
I was looking forward to riding with my old ride buddy, Frank, on the Ride Around Washington (RAW), organized by Cascade Bicycle Club. Frank and I and several other buddies have ridden RAW a number of times over the years and always nice to have buddies to suffer with and hang around camp in the evenings.
Alas, it was not to be, for me. Day one was 87 miles and high temperature of 113 in NE Washington. I bailed at 65 miles and in the course of being transported back to camp, by dear road bike, Alvin, suffered unrecoverable damage when it was dragged behind the transport vehicle (see photo below). Cascade made good for me and I now am owned by a new road bike, Vincent.
Palouse to Cascades Short Bike Trip
Bike tour? Bike pack? Does it matter?
From Seattle my brother and I got a ride to North Bend, the beginning of the previously named Iron Horse Trail and John Wayne trail. I’ve ridden skied it many times in years past. We rode about 37 miles to Easton State Park. No not easy miles in spite of a maximum of 2% grade. As we could not find someone to guide us to a hiker biker site, we made our camp in a large turnout nearby. The return “downhill” was somewhat easier but due to the rocky and bumpy trail/road it still was slow going with loaded bikes.
Almost final adventure for 2022, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah
If you love the outdoors, geology, or paleontology as I do, this is an area worth visiting! I spent 6 days in this area hiking, exploring, learning, and eating with a wonderful group of new friends
Cleveland to Chicago the final Leg!
I decided to take the train from Cleveland to South Bend Indiana and save a few days’ riding. By this time I’d ridden about 700 miles and wanted to have a break. As it turned out, some stormy weather was headed my way so I was glad to be on the train instead of on the road.
South Bend to Portage, Indiana, 61 miles
This day started as one of the best ride days of the trip, considering I created the route, on quiet, country roads. Rolling hills, but nothing particularly difficult. When I came across a gravel road, I had flashbacks to Missouri, but it was only about a mile and was flat. I did suffer about ½ mile on busy Highway 20 but it was over quickly. I took a break in Hudson Lake, a resort community and had a nice chat with the local food truck owner.
As I got closer to Portage, I picked up yet another bike trail and then a predicted rainstorm hit; drenching rain, lots of wind. I couldn’t find the hotel, so I invited my dripping soggy self into a restaurant to get some assistance and discovered the name had changed but the signage had not. So another half mile in the pouring rain eventually got me to my destination. I was glad to not be camping!
Portage to Chicago, 57 miles
After a couple of days to dry out in Portage, Stanley and I rode back to Chicago to visit my friend Ellen again and organize for the train ride back home. I was once more awestruck by the number of bike trails. I think this day was about 75% (I’ll try to list every one I’ve ridden at the end of this diatribe).
I picked up the Prairie Duneland Trail just 2 miles from my hotel and continued on to Iron Horse Trail, Marquette Greenway, and Lakeshore trail. Another start in drenching rain but soon it stopped and of course the humidity went up. For those of you in the Chicago area, the Marquette Greenway is a real gem and worth a visit; much of it protected wetlands.
As I proceeded onto the Lakeshore Trail in Chicago proper, and since it was a Sunday, every manner of walker and rider was out. The pedi cabs, motorized scooters, e-bikes, walkers, doggies on extend-a-leash, speedy cyclists decked out in their Lycra outfits. I guess there are no helmet laws in Indiana as few were wearing them. The last few miles to my hotel was on busy streets where there were lots of cyclists, seemingly tempting fate and trying to dominate the roads. I guess drivers are used to it. I wonder what the statistics on cycle/car accidents in Chicago are…
Thus, I ended the Big Chicago Loop. Total miles ridden, about 875 with average of 47.85 miles per day.
The biking infrastructure in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio has to be experienced to be believed. I still stand in awe of the lengthy, mostly paved trails I rode. I approximate 60 percent of the entire ride was on these trails.
In case you’re interested, here’s a list of many but not all of the bike trails I rode (some twice, out and back from Chicago):
Lakefront, Burnham Greenway, Erie Lackawanna, Pennsy, Hazel Dell, Judson Erie, Nickel Plate, Monon, Blue River, Lee Mills Creek Greenway, Little Miami Trail , Prairie Grass Trail, Galena Brick Trail, Alum Creek Trail, Westerville Trail, Genoa Trail, Hoover Scenic Trail, Galena Brick Trail, Sandel Legacy Trail, Darden/LaSalle Trails, Prairie Dunes Trail, Iron Horse, Oak Savannah Trail, Hammond Trail, Marquette Greenway, Wolf Lake Trail, Illiana Marina Trail….
Thanks to my Warmshowers hosts, the kindness and curiosity (I hope I’ve inspired you!) of the many strangers I met, Rails to Trails and the various local organizations who continue to campaign for and develop these fantastic off road cycling routes.
Amtrak return and final thoughts
I opted for a roomette car for the return leg and in all the years I’ve ridden the train, have never done this. Yes the room is small but big enough for one to two small people. There is an attendant for the sleeper car and one just pushes a button and he’ll bring water, soft drinks, ice, coffee…and he makes coffee early in the morning for those wishing to self-serve. Some rooms are bigger than others and some have bathrooms in them. They do have showers and after my two trips back and forth to Amtrak from hotel in Chicago in the high heat and humidity I just had to try out the shower. Soap and luxurious fluffy white towels are provided. Three meals per day are included and the food is quite good with a varied menu. More food than I normally eat in a single day. I’m sold and spoiled now!
Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for additional fun stuff – trail work (yes, I call that fun), a supported bike tour, camping and kayaking, and more!
Cincinnati to Cleveland
My friend, Flaviu, met up with me for the ride to Cincinnati on the OTET, which is really a combination of many, many smaller rail trails, connected thanks to Rails to Trails, OTET, and the many local organizations taking on this huge endeavor. The entire route, 326 miles, is about 80% paved and 80% dedicated rail trails which means no traffic to deal with. Well an occasional turtle, ground hog, or chipmunk and in some sections Amish buggies and horses.
Day 1 Cincinnati to Waynesville, 54 miles
Flaviu’s Warmshowers host, Lou, was kind enough to personally guide us out of Cincinnati on the local bike trails and routes, as it can be somewhat confusing.
There is a section which I’d read about with no official detour. We met two other riders headed to Columbus on our same route; they selected a highway detour and we rode on, hoping we could walk through the construction zone. Luck was on our side, as even though work was in progress, the nice workers allow us to walk through the rocky/muddy area where they were working. For those of you traveling on OTET, you’ll likely read and hear about this section as a detour. The other two riders caught up to us with a report of the road riding conditions (no shoulder, high speed traffic); if you proceed slowly, you’ll likely get through also, as we did. At north end of the trail detour, there’s a barrier which only involves hike a bike around it with a bit of mud.
Arriving in Waynesville, our destination for the day, we were not successful in reaching the local law enforcement to ask permission to camp in a large open space area with shelters. Lesson learned. Officer “I Don’t Make The Rules” woke us about 1 am (thankfully after a torrential rainstorm had stopped) and told us we had to leave. No sympathy at all, considering it was in the middle of the night! We slowly packed up and by 2:30 am were on the trail. It was surprisingly pleasant, cool, and very quiet except for the bull frog chorus accompanying us for many miles. As daybreak approached, we reached a town, and we agreed if they wanted to kick us out of another park, we’d deal with it. We collapsed onto park benches to get a few hours’ sleep.
Day 2 Waynesville to London (and official campground), 44 miles
The London campground was fantastic, primarily for cyclists, right on the trail! Shelter, gravel tent pads, wi fi, tables, bike work station, charging ports, and bathrooms! Oh and a secluded, outdoor shower. We called the number posted to register, get the wi fi password, and password for bathroom. Considering the possibility of rain, we pitched our tents in the shelter to keep them dry. The local “host” came by to greet us and that was that! Wonderful quiet evening as we cooked up our dinners.
Day 3 London to Westerville, 47 miles
Back on the trail, we were challenged by navigating through Columbus. We did have a route map but wasn’t good enough. Thankfully, Flaviu was an excellent navigator using Open Street Maps’ cycling edition. He almost never got us lost! We encountered torrential rain, as predicted and were soaking (mostly just on the outside) as we approached the Columbus Visitor Center. We ran inside the building, had plenty of space to dry out and make our lunches; the employee welcomed us with enthusiasm.
As rain let up, we continued on to Westerville, where Flaviu had a connection of sorts with the local bike shop. He called them asking where we might camp and the owner of the shop offered his patio which is sort of hidden and off the street. There was a street fair going on so lots of people in the general area. I found a street vendor selling Haitian food and the beef stew and rice went down very well.
In the morning, people began arriving, mostly with the bikes, asking if Mason (the owner) was here yet. Since he wasn’t, we had some good conversations with the local cyclists while we packed up and they waited for Mason’s arrival. Mason gave me permission to mention his shop and “camp” to anyone riding through Westerville. So if you’re looking for a place to camp, call him at Westerville Bike Shop: 619.891.5654
Day 4 Westerville to Mt Vernon, 31 miles
Knowing we had a shorter distance today, we enjoyed chatting with the folks waiting for Mason to arrive then got a chance to chat with him for awhile, so we didn’t leave until around noon. The OTET goes right through Westerville, and even though it was a bit hot, we were sheltered by the canopy of trees as we rode entirely paved trail to…wait; a gravel road to next campground?!
Oh it’s only a mile. But it was so steep in places I had to walk. Often we couldn’t see over the next hill and there was a bit of traffic not expecting bicycles. After the longest mile of my life (since the last longest mile of my life in Missouri), we arrived at Rustic Knolls Campground. Busy Memorial Day weekend at this family style campground. We were the only tents and were assigned a nice primitive area away from most of the activity. Hosts allowed us to charge our devices in a little outbuilding. We got showers too!
We discovered an alternative exit route, mostly paved; the rolling hills were much easier to navigate on pavement. If you’re planning on camping at Rustic Knolls, recommend you take second left off the trail, Pleasant Valley Road, instead of Keys Road, the first left.
Day 5 Mt Vernon to Bridge of Dreams, 24 miles
Another short day but somehow, with stopping, stalling, and riding slowly, we typically rolled in to camp around 5 or 6 pm, regardless of mileage for the day. We camped with permission at a shelter near the Bridge of Dreams, a restored covered bridge. We met several Amish families, either in their buggy “rigs” or on E bikes. The E bikes far outnumbered the rigs. We also met the local ATV’ers who were out for an evening of noise making. Camp was quiet after dark and we enjoyed a peaceful, undisturbed night.
Before arriving to our campsite, we stopped at a Walmart which was right off the trail, to get some fresh food and take a break. We were surprised to see the barn and parking for buggies and horses, complete with tiedowns, water, and straw on the surface. There was also a huge outdoor parking for the E bikes and other buggies. I asked an Amish man if they had a hand in setting this up. He said no, Walmart created this and does all the maintenance/cleanup.
Day 6 Bridge of Dreams to Dalton, 50 miles
I earned the reputation of not calculating mileage very well and some short days were not short at all. Thankfully Flaviu is easy going, didn’t abandon me, and continued to suffer along with me. Today was primarily road riding in exposed and hot and very hilly terrain. Low traffic made the suffering not quite as bad as it could have been. It was so hot that the tar on the road became sticky and adhered to our tires, picking up small gravel along the way. We climbed to the rhythm of click, click, click as the sticky gravel hit the road.
The local police in Dalton allowed us to camp in Greenway Park – toilets, water, and power outlets! Although a very large, well cared for sports complex, it bordered the busy highway and made for a not so good sleep that night.
Day 7 Dalton to Peninsula, Cuyhoga State Park, 54 miles
Long hot day today, but very little climbing. The paved trail has turned to crushed gravel but seems to drain well and very few hazards to deal with. We were mostly in the canopy and the rest stops/trailheads were top notch in this section…flush toilets, functional water fountains, and bike work stations.
Our destination tonight is Heritage Tree Farm, just about the only place to camp in the Cuyhoga National Park. In spite of not having water (one purchases gallon jugs in advance for delivery to campsites), it was a beautiful setting. Porta potties, the 20 or 30 camps are well spread out and each secluded somewhat.
I have two nights here while Flaviu waits for his ride tomorrow to return home in Columbus. Thanks my friend, for a memorable and enjoyable adventure!
Day 8, Cuyhoga National Park, Zero miles
My zero day was quite pleasant and I stayed very dry in the little hut in spite of some torrential rains during the night. Notice the photo shows a tarp, which can be secured over the front of the hut and even covered Stanley. I spoke to the owner/host, who told me the story of how they came to have camping here.
Her family has owned land here for many years and in the 70’s they were forced to sell some of their acreage for the creation of the Cuyhoga National Park. Time marched on, t
and they continued to raise Christmas trees. Oddly, there is no camping places in this national park; there was a small location at one time but it had closed. The parks people came to Heritage and asked them to create just 5 campsites. They did just that and over the years have increased that number to 15 amazing walk in campsites, with the possibility of even more someday.
More pix below...
Me and Stanley my Kona Sutra touring bike, took Amtrak to Chicago to spend a few days with my “tour guide”, Ellen, before beginning the Big Loop.
I left Chicago on the Lake Shore trail heading southeast with pleasantly cool weather. The first day, or any other, for that matter, never seems to go as planned. I missed a few turns and got bonus miles, repeating part of the route, but no need to stress about it, as I was riding on a network of bicycle paths. While taking a break, a nice rider offered me a bottle of Gatorade and a couple of tandem riders provided good directions to pass through a tricky part of town. Arriving in Dinwiddie, Indiana, I opted for a hotel as weather predicted rain/storms. Today’s mileage – 61.5; bike trails ridden: Lakefront, Burnham Greenway, Erie Lackawanna.
Dinwiddie to near Monterey, Indiana; 45.9 miles; bike trail ridden: Nickel Plate
Today’s route was on quiet farm roads, using Adventure Cycling routine for CHI-NY Map 1. The digital map worked flawlessly on my Garmin 830 but I'm glad I also bought the paper maps. I was pleasantly surprised to discover all these back roads are paved! And well maintained. The state park I planned on involved another 5 miles on a heavy traffic, no shoulder, pouring rain road (off route).
I decided to continue on to Rising Sun Campground. What a wonderful, old-style, family campground with a large community room where I was able to set up my “camp”. Heavy rain continued through the night and I was thankful to be inside the building.
Rising Sun Camp to Peru; 53 miles; bike trail ridden: Nickel Plate (goes right through Peru)
The day started dry, except for the dampness of the dense fog. The miles logged quickly for the first few hours, then it got really hot when the fog burned off. I met a nice local couple, Jim and Rayne who rode with me to Peru. I called local police and was given the OK to camp in the River Walk Park in Peru.
Peru to Tipton 32 miles; bike trail ridden: Nickel Plate
It got hot very fast today and while on the Nickel Plate, I enjoyed some shade and views of the vast farmlands stretching to the horizon in every direction. I expected wind today but not this. Winds were 28 and gusting higher, almost on the nose and it was very hot. By this time, I was on Highway 19 but the few cars/trucks were so very kind and respectful. I began to struggle to keep moving forward, stopping often, drinking both water and electrolytes. I took a break at the Macedonia Christian Church and had a chat with the pastor and his wife, recently arriving from Florida. Back out in the very miserable wind which worked really hard at knocking me and Stanley over, in spite of his weight of 70 or so pounds.
I saw a gentleman hitting golf balls from his yard into the wind, stopped for a chat and spontaneously asked (begged?) for a ride to Tipton, about 6 miles on. I was just so done. Don and his wife graciously complied and in the short ride to town, I learned a bit about the area, including the fact that in one week, 20,000 pounds of pigs are sold by a guy with a 1000 acre ranch. That’s a lot of bacon!
Tipton to Indianapolis, 44 miles; bike trails ridden: Hazel Dell Parkway, Monon Trail
Yay! No wind today. Weather was threatening severe thundershowers but knowing I’d be in more urban areas, I could easily find shelter if I needed it. I did start out in heavy rain, but traffic was light on a Sunday morning. Rain subsided and I reeled in the miles. Passed through Northridge population over 75K, with two farmers’ markets going on, so traffic and people were everywhere, but the beautiful historic neighborhoods I rode through compensated. I took a break in Carmel, which looks like a brand new town, but with “historic” buildings. It’s a very wealthy suburb of Indianapolis.
Arrived at my WarmShowers hosts, Nathan and Liz, in Indianapolis and was greeted by Charlie the black lab and their two cats. They live in a wonderful historic house which has been renovated and modernized inside but retained its historic charm. Liz works for an non profit organization called Historicorps.org, recruiting and placing volunteers to restore historic public buildings. Fascinating stuff. Check it out!
Days 6 and 7
Indianapolis to Greenburg (54.6 miles), Greenburg to Cincinnati (63 miles)
I created this route, as I could find no guidance. From Indy to Greenburg was pretty good in spite of the fast-moving traffic. Thank you Indiana drivers! You are respectful and never once seemed irritated to have to wait to pass me. One woman held up a line of traffic so she could offer me water. Passing through Shelbyville, established in 1822. Most of the little towns I rode through were established around that time and I often checked cemeteries (there are plenty of them) for the oldest graves. Greensburg is partly famous for a tree growing out of the courthouse tower. I couldn’t find it as I mistakenly rode west instead of east, again acquiring some bonus miles.When I left Greensburg for Cincinnati it was actually cold enough to wear my leg covers, jacket and long fingered gloves, something I didn’t expect but glad to be prepared.
I took a break at the Heartland Events Center of which the building was a former covered bridge, arguably the longest in the US in the early 1900’s. The owner, Angie, gave me a tour and some of the history. A massive river flood knocked the bridge off it’s pilings, and moved it intact, down river. Into another county. A battle ensued as to who had salvage rights. Once settled, it was purchased and built into a building which hosted community events, square dancing, and more. Angie’s father purchased it and eventually Angie did and it’s now a popular wedding venue. While I was visiting her crew were cleaning up after an unexpected tornado which came through a few days earlier. On the day of a wedding. Somehow they worked around it and the wedding was a great success.
The last push into Cincinnati was not pleasant as my route took me to the “heights”; beautiful area but a couple of hills so steep (6%) that I had to walk. Walking a 70 pound bike up hill with no shoulder and heavy traffic – not even type 3 fun! I have a zero day today to eat and sleep then tomorrow I begin the OTET trail, Cincinnati to Cleveland, with my friend Flavia. Of the 326 miles, I’m told 90% is off the road! Stay tuned for Leg 2 updates...
In the remaining days before my next tour begins, I'm certainly not the only one who does this packing, repacking, adding, and removing stuff. Is it essential? Can I get it on the road if I really need it? How much does it weigh? How do I balance the weight, side to side and front to back?
Oh, then there's camping reservations (many states don't have hiker/biker no reservations needed), finding local contacts, downloading likely routes to my Garmin 830, and general logistics.
The adventure starts with a 45 to 60 hour train ride to Chicago to visit with my friend there, playing city tourist for a few days. Then I'm on the road southeast toward Indianapolis. In planning routes, I'm delighted to see how many rail trails I'll be riding on. I hope to note each one with the number of miles I've traveled on each. One of the coolest is the OTET (Ohio to Erie, from Cincinnati to Cleveland) which is apparently 90% off roads! And reportedly very well marked. I'll be riding the entire length of that one, about 330 miles.
Stay tuned for reports from the great unknown (unknown to me, that is).
Another year of volunteering with Washington State Blind School to ski with visually impaired teenagers. Fun day with these amazing and inspiring kids. Nothing is impossible!
Holden Village on Lake Chelan, Washington
A friend of mine has been working there for the 6 months over the fall/winter so I decided to make the trek to visit. And I mean trek! Drive 6 hours, boat ride about 2 hours, 12 mile bus ride on gravel road to the Village at about 3000 feet elevation.
This village began as a mining facility/town, in the 1930’s housing up to 600 people during its peak. The Lutheran Church came to ownership in the 70’s and have turned it into a “retreat”. Today, the many buildings house paid and volunteer staff and about 100 paying guests, all year.
The school is part of the county school district, they generate their own power, have an extensive library, and host guest speakers on a wide variety of topics. The Village is self-sufficient to the degree possible considering they are a long way from “civilization”. In addition to the school, they have several on site medical staff, a trail groomer, a pastor, a carpenter, and I don’t know what others. Much of the day-to-day work is done by short and long term volunteers which includes kitchen and cooking duties in the large kitchen and dining hall.
During my visit, I did a little Nordic skiing, some running, and attended a presentation by a ski mountaineer; I learned that Bonanza Peak, visible from the Village, is a ski mountaineering destination.
This is a very rough drawing of the route. I’ll be starting in Chicago and following ACA route Chicago/New York to Indianapolis, then making my way to Cincinnati to pick up the Ohio to Erie bike trail to Cleveland. From there, I’ll head west back to Chicago. I’ll mostly be camping with a few hotels and a few WarmShowers along the way. Want to join me for any section? See contact page and let me know!
I shared a rented house in Bend for a week near the end of 2021 and once we got over the pass on that incredibly stormy day, the weather was clear but oh so cold. It was really nice to have a large, quiet home to stay in, with a garage! We skied a few days at Virginia Meissner Nordic area with beautifully groomed trails, a nice new warming building, and lots of people! We did a bit of hiking also.
Got my new Eddyline Sitka kayak wet for the first time – christening ceremony forthcoming. We paddled up Salmon Creek, which is very high this time of year, making for lots of options. Did a little garbage pick up and came across Wilson’s big brother. This only makes sense if you know the movie Castaway.
A group of us picked the perfect day to hike the Tilly Jane trail near Mt Hood. The views, as you can see in the photos, were endless.
Upping my running mileage this winter, with a target of 50K Ultra in late summer.
In spite of my unfounded concerns about traveling to and in Mexico, I could not resist a supported bicycle trip to the Yucatan Peninsula. Turns out my concerns were indeed unfounded and unnecessary.
Arriving in Mexico via Cancun (and on our bikes next morning out of that chaos), I was impressed with the level of COVID awareness and enforcement absolutely everywhere. During my 9 days’ adventure, every single indoor location (and some outdoor as well) required masks, temperature taking and hand cleaning. Not one local or tourist took issue with the rules.
The fun began upon arrival at our hotel in Cancun, meeting my fellow travelers all from US and one from Canada. It was evident right away, even with our varying interests, we were all up for the adventure of riding mostly low traffic back roads, pot hole infested dirt roads, and averaging 40 or so miles per day in the heat and humidity.
Our organizers and all-around cat-herders: Kurt (from Portland OR), Marie, originally from France but long-time resident guide and Maya expert), Alex our patient van driver extraordinaire as well as rest stop concierge and bike wrangler, and Renee our sort of “unofficial” guide and all around support (Kurt’s wife and just not officially guiding on this tour).
Because we were usually in motion from sunrise to sunset, then dining, then dropping into blissful sleep, I didn't do a day-by-day narrative. I just was too tired to write much stuff down. The good kind of tired!
I was particularly excited about this trip as I’m very interested in the Maya and had visited several ruins in the past. Our first stop was Uxmal, where Marie demonstrated her thorough knowledge of the ruins and unbelievably, could recite the history of the rulers and pronounce their names. Thus began my daily peppering of questions. No doubt my tour buddies were just wishing to get out of the sun and sit down with a beer.
In the coming days, we rode to Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, Coba, Tulum, and the Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve. Along the way, we swam in a couple of cenotes, did a lazy float (wearing life jackets on our bums; see photos) down a beautiful river. We spent two nights in Valladolid, one of the most historic cities in the Yucatan.
We stayed in many historic hotels, ate regional specialties, and rode along the western coast of Cozumel; the sea breeze and even the headwinds were welcome.
Everyone was pleasantly surprised by the cars and traffic. On the back roads, cars approaching from either in front or behind (and we were pretty spread out), flipped on their flashers and proceeded with much respect and caution in passing. Absolutely no honking, gunning engines, or throwing stuff from their windows. We did encounter a few that stopped to take photos or give us a thumbs up. On the occasional wide highway with plenty of shoulder, cars and trucks gave us a wide berth.
Kurt was a life-saver when midway through our trip, the rules for returning to the US via air changed. He figured it all out, and got us to the right place at the right time to get our COVID tests.
It was a wonderful way to start the beginning of winter in the PNW and the end of 2021, by going someplace hot. Click here to find out more about the tour company Bicycle Adventures.
Next up self supported bike tour – Chicago-Cincinnati-Cleveland and beyond.
Viva Mexico! Viva Bicycle Adventures!
One of our "tribe", Peter, created this cool YouTube video. Click here to view!
Click here to view another of Peter's fun YouTube videos.