For *Hundreds of Miles

I’m doing it. I’m going to try to do it. Fingers crossed I do it.

Saturday, I leave for a trip that I’ve been wanting to take for a while now. I will be attempting to ride my bicycle from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles. It will take me just over a month to do it which will depend on a number of things. It will be 1,800~ miles of sights, challenges, food, pedaling, scenery, rain, pedaling, cold, trees, oceans, and pedaling.

Below is the documentary that made me want to do this originally:

FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES – Official Trailer from mike ambs on Vimeo.

This is my route:

Pacific Coast Route

This is my state as of today:

Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.

I will begin pedaling on August 4th and am hoping to blog throughout the trip when wifi is available. I’m terrified nervous excited for this trip and I have no idea what to expect. I will be camping in State Parks all along the way. Showering when I can. Shaving never. Meeting people every chance I get. This is a thing. People do this…. maybe just not the people we know.

Vancouver – The Crescent City

Oklahoma City to Vancouver was a long haul. Saturday morning, I was awake early as I had a few last minute errands to run. I was able to get the majority of my stuff packed into one single cardboard box. I couldn’t bring luggage because, well, my AirBnb host would acquire new luggage went I left on my bike. Once my bike was in its box, all the stuff I need for a month was in its box, and my carry on was sufficiently stuffed in its bag, my mother and I went to lunch.

After lunch, it was off to the airport. I expected check in to be a little different since I was checking two cardboard boxes, one of which being a large bicycle. I was originally booked on a United flight, but because United only flies prop planes apparently, I was switched to an American flight to accommodate my bike. An oversize luggage fee later, I was booked on an earlier flight to Dallas instead of Houston and then on to Vancouver.

The flight to YVR was a touch turbulent but pretty uneventful otherwise. The inflight movie was Transcendence with Mr. Depp… Weird one. Shocker. After landing, customs was a breeze and then on to baggage claim. When my bike came around, the bottom of the box that had been stapled apparently came open, but I didn’t have any loose items as they were all zip tied so everything was there. I gathered my gear and got a taxi to my AirBnB.

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I love AirBnb because you get to see parts of the city you’re staying in that you wouldn’t normally and you get to stay in some odd places. Mine here in Vancouver falls under that category. It’s an awesome condo in a 4 story building overlooking downtown Vancouver. It is however a hot box with lots and lots on antiques. There isn’t any air condition and ventilation is non existent but there is a full size knight in armor in the living room (that didn’t scare me at all when I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night).

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Tomorrow I begin. Leaving Vancouver, crossing over into the United States and planning to make my first stop at Larrabee State Park just south of Bellingham, Washington.

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Day One – Vancouver to Larrabee State Park

Day mileage: 68 miles
Total mileage : 68 miles

I slept really great Sunday night despite the ridiculous warmth within the apartment. I tried to take it all in knowing this may be the last time in a little bit that I sleep in a real bed. I got up bright and eqrly around 5:45 and began to prep for the trip. I got my bike loaded up, walked out the door and I was on my way.

Leaving I was nervous. I clipped in and immediately start shaking violently, unable to control the bike. Rough start. It took a little bit and some speed to handle the weight but after I did, it was smooth riding. I made it out of Vancouver successfully having to cross a few wildly steep bridges and this one neighborhood edition that was built into the side of a mountain it seemed. Getting lost only twice, I rewarded myself with breakfast in Surrey.

I was close to the US Border and would be able to get there by noon if I booked it. That was my thinking before I was 5 miles from it when I reached my first big climb. Initially I was off my bike walking it but then it went to a manageable incline, I was able to pedal for 15 solid minutes up. At the top, I market where I loaded up on water and Gatorade. From there it was literally all down hill to the States.

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For the next 3-4 hours I was able to stare at Mt. Baker off in the distance before reaching Bellingham, Washington where I stopped in my lunch. Leaving town, about 7 miles away from camp for the evening, things started to challenge me. I broke a spoke, I somehow lost my hat and the bike shop in town was unable to help me. I bought a tool, I had the spoke but not really the knowledge to change it. I had to try. Fast forward to Larrabee State Park in an awesome set up and begin go figure out how to replace the spoke. Took a bit but I was able to and then finally able to enjoy the park and relax.

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Day One Bonuses:

  • crossing the USA border on a bike
  • resting in shade after a long stretch, lady brings me out a cold Mountain Dew.
  • setting up camp in the thick forest of Washington
  • swimming in salt water
  • having my camp neighbors off me their extra chicken curry
  • watching sunset over Chanutuck Bay

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Day Two – Larrabee State Park To Ft. Casey Historical State Park

Day Mileage: 70 miles (6 accidental detour miles)
Total Mileage: 138 miles

The first night of camping was nice. As hot as I was in the apartment in Vancouver, I was the complete opposite in my tent. I have an MSR Hubba single person tent. It goes up in roughly 80 seconds. I left the rain fly off last night because it wasn’t supposed to rain. I fell asleep around 9pm and was out of it until 2:55, when I heard very heavy gusts and what I could tell a few raindrops. I quickly popped up and put on the fly and organized my gear where nothing important would get wet. Fell back asleep until 7:30.

I did not want to get up. It was cold (56 degrees) and overcast/breezy. I forced myself to and quickly gathered everything to go take a hot shower, which at State Parks here cost 50 cents for 3 minutes. I knew this from blogs I read prior to so I was prepared and the shower was perfect. I made coffee and oatmeal and began to prep for the day.

With the spoke incident, I knew I needed to adjust a few things. That meant get rid of everything that I absolutely did not need. 20 minutes and probably 12 pounds later, I no longer had the majority of my food as I’m able to stop and pick up groceries when I need them, My extra fuel can, a book (wtf, I have an iPad. I’m an idiot), lotion, clippers, and few other miscellaneous items. After all that, I was ready to take off… Cautiously and not as confident as the day before, but I was ready.

It was a chilly start when I began pedaling at 9:07am. It was a dreary, overcast day and that makes it even worse on a bike. Cool air to dry your sweat that you produce regardless of temperature. I made it 20 miles until I was able to stop and grab a bite because oatmeal only lasts so long. At a local diner, I chatted with an elderly couple that knew the exact route I wa taking and what I should expect. I talked to them for nearly 30 minutes before I needed to get going in order to make it to camp with time to spare.

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From there, I detoured around a peninsula because I missed my turn only realizing by the time I reached the end of the peninsula. I lost some time and gained some mileage but I did see some pretty things. The rest of the day was hills, hills, hills. To quote the native Oklahoma, Will Rogers, “I never met a downhill I didn’t like.” The climbs are tough but I’m very glad that today was day 2 and not day 1 or I’d be extremely upset with the terrain.

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I ended up at Ft. Casey Historical State Park. Tomorrow morning, I’ll catch a ferry over to Port Townsend. Camp isn’t as woodsy as last nights, but I do have an awesome wind block from the wind off the water which is said to pick up at night. I can see Mt.Rannier way off in the distance and Mt. A baker is still in my rear view. Tomorrow, goal city is Bremerton, Washington.

Day Two Bonuses:

  • people I meet genuinely want to know about my trip
  • downhills
  • Deception Pass
  • a terribly long climb with an outstanding view
  • IPAs in a small, small town.

I felt strong today. I hope that feeling carries.

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Day Three – Ft. Casey Historical State Park to Bremerton, Washington

Day Mileage: 55 miles (4 accidental detour miles)
Total Mileage: 193 miles

Whoever can fit into one of those snug sleeping bags all zipped up and not have a problem with it is a liar.

I had no problem sleeping at Ft. Casey as I’m top 3 sleepers west of the Mississippi. My plan was to wake up around 7:30 and take my time getting ready for the 8:45 ferry over to Port Townsend. I woke up at 6:32 and the first ferry out was at 7:15. I rushed around to pack my stuff up. I went to go shower with my two quarters but there was someone occupying it. I passed on the shower noticing that my hair wasn’t terribly greasy and threw on all my clothes from yesterday (Day 3, everyone, can’t imagine it gets better. Strap in). I made it to the ferry with 3 minutes to spare and I was the last one on.

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After the 30 minute ride, I made my way for breakfast since I didn’t have time to make my own this morning then I was on my way. The fog was heavy off of Port Townsend Bay. I rode about 20 miles to Port Ludlow. During that 20, I didn’t take the correct turn so I had to stay on a State Road for a little longer than I needed to. Turned out, that was an awful idea. Heavily trafficked and very small shoulder to ride…. My nerves were wracked by the time I reached the next turn to get me on route.

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I stopped for some coffee and wifi and I was back at it. I had about 30 more miles to do and it wasn’t even noon. The one thing I’ve learned in my quick experience with riding fully loaded, 30 miles doesn’t seem like much, but it isn’t short and to make time worse, these hills are legit. So from noon to 5pm, I rode those 30 miles stopping ever so often to check the map, grab water, take pictures.

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When I reached Bremerton, I headed to the city center which involved steep climbs and an awesome downhill, only to find that I needed to turn around in order to get to the hotels. I know it’s only day three but the distance between Ft. Casey and the next State Park was too great and I didn’t want to get stranded without a place to stay.

Day Three Bonuses:

  • morning coffee on a ferry
  • FaceTime
  • riding in a long sleeve shirt
  • sunscreen
  • a couple from Port Orchard taking their picture with me after a 15 minute conversation at lunch (they’re suppose to send it to me.. I’ll post when they do)

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Day Four – Bremerton, WA to Elma, WA

Day Mileage: 71 miles
Total Mileage: 264 miles

Today was hard. Today felt like work. I’m glad to be done with today.

I’m currently at a local diner in Elma, Washington rethinking the events of today. There wasn’t much going on in my recollection. The sights were not as rewarding as previous days. I left the inland waters and took off west toward the coastal waters today. It won’t be until Saturday or Sunday until I reach them, so I need to get my mind right.

I woke up in the hotel room at 6:15, not my planned 7:15. My legs were sore, I was still tired, I had 65-70ish miles ahead of me. It was tough to get going. I grabbed breakfast locally and watched Master Chef, pretty much my only show, on hulu. I packed correctly this time unlike my hurried pack job in order to catch the ferry the morning before. I finally got packed and out the door and began pedaling at 8:27am. Like I said before, it was tough to get out the door.

My first town to hit was Belfair, and then on to Shelton. Thus far into my trip, I’ve completed the majority of my miles before noon. The way the sun works out west is different than back home…. Or maybe I’m just get ready to be finished after 2-3pm. By the time I reached Shelton, it was 1:00pm and I was 40 miles in. That was a good thing. I took advantage of where I was and had Dairy Queen for lunch, including a dipped cone. I took off my long sleeve and was ready for the rest of them which I knew would be 25-20 miles.

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Once I began the journey to the camp, it got hard. Today was the hardest by far. I had a headwind the rest of the way. I had to tackle quite a few loooooong hills and the scenery wasn’t what it was the past 3 days. I stopped about 12 miles out from Elma at a little mart for a Cream Soda. That rejuvenated me a bit and the last stretch into town was easier compared to where I had been. My plan is to take a rest day once I get to Oregon. That may come sooner… Who knows. Physically, it was work today and mentally, it was even more.

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Day Four Bonuses:

  • hotel rooms
  • my very random phases I’ve been through throughout my life….. iPod on shuffle is always a treat
  • dipped cones
  • odometers and maps

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Day Five – Elma, WA to Toledo, Wa

Day Mileage: 66 miles
Total Mileage: 330 miles

Much, much better.

I did not know how I’d feel when I woke up this morning. The good thing was, I had plenty of sleep. I jumped in my tent at the Elma RV Park around 7pm. I made plans for a phone call at 8pm. I woke up at 8:35pm. Apparently I was tired. Had a very good phone conversation with Megan and I was out of it again only to wake up at 6:30am.

I’ve told a number of people this but the cycling has been the easy part. It’s night time that is bad. And I shouldn’t give the entire nighttime a bad name because I love sleeping in a tent. I love being outdoors even if it is on a plot of grass in an RV park. It’s typically the hours between 6-9pm that are rough. I sit… And eventually begin to think. I have so much time to myself on The bike, but you’re going somewhere. You really only have time to mess up lyrics to songs, read the map and pedal. When you get to camp, you are in one place, typically by yourself and your mind begins to wander. I think about being back home and doing what I would typically doing at night, missing all the people I’d see on a daily basis. I knew I’d be by myself during this trip, but I didn’t realize how much of a mental workout it’d be….. Camping.

I got on the road this morning at 9:24 after breakfast. My plan was to make it to Lewis and Clark State Park which was 50 miles down the road, a short day considering. When it came time to stop, it was 11:30 and I had done 29 miles at a 14.9 mph pace (yesterday’s ended up being 11.1mph). I was feeling great and the roads were flat. I was stopped by a man and his two kids. They warned me about two pit bulls up the road about 3 miles. He said he pulled his gun on them and was ready. Better them than me. A few years back, I was bit by a pit bull. I’m not a huge fans of unchained,ravenous dogs. For the next 3 miles, I rode with the tool I bought on Day 1 that I’m now using as a club. He told me the mile marker and I was looking. I saw the dogs sleeping in the driveway and quietly scooted along never disturbing them. Victory of the day right there.

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After Centralia, I was going to push it a little more than I had originally anticipated. I was going to push for Toledo, maybe more depending on how I felt. Again, I had to battle a few hills in the afternoon so a Toledo was my final destination. Thanks to my little extra effort today, I have a few options for tomorrow. Maybe, just maybe… I reach Astoria tomorrow night.

Day Five Bonuses

  • avoiding pit bulls
  • flat roads
  • cell phone service
  • knowing so many people are enjoying the blog and rooting for me

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Day Six – Toledo, WA to Astoria, OR

Day Mileage: 79 miles
Total Mileage: 409 miles

Yesterday, I reached my first milestone. Completion of the first map of the Pacific Coast Route. It was a fun moment.

I packed camp up really quickly around 6:45am. I was camping on a river a little bit away from the bathrooms so I made the decision to get everything loaded up before heading for the showers. I made good use of the free, un-timed shower and was able to charge some of my electronics. I had great motivation for the early start because Astoria was within reach, 80 miles or so.

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I didn’t know the terrain and that was going to be a large factor rather I reach Astoria. The first little bit of the day wasn’t terrible with only a few steep climbs but no long ones. Once I reached Coal Creek, I had twenty miles left until I entered Oregon. I could see Oregon but still had to reach Cathlamet before taking the ferry over to Westport, OR.

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It was 12:23 and I had just reached the ferry. I had 26 miles left to Astoria. I needed to wait for the 1pm ferry and still needed to get lunch before making the final push. When I crossed into Oregon, I don’t know what I expected, a parade maybe. But nope, just an little old road sign that read, “Welcome to Oregon” on top of a stop sign. I looked to right and all I saw was an incline that didn’t end. I chose left and got a bite to eat.

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I had already done 53 miles for the day and it was nearing 2pm. I had 26.5 left and what looked like some big hills ahead of me. Turned out it was my largest climb yet. From sea level to 676ft. It was about 3 miles of uphill and it took about 40 minutes. I’ve had a good outlook on these hills as the week progressed. First I usually curse them. Then I go for it. Doesn’t make sense to stop pedaling so you just keep going, mostly with your head down, and you slowly make progress. Eventually, about an hour and 50 minutes later, I reach Astoria and smelled the water in the air and I was able to check off map 1 in my journey.

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Day Six Bonuses:

  • water, both to drink and see
  • deer and wildlife I’ve seen on the road
  • David Gray’s “Slow Motion” mocking me as I go up the biggest climb of the trip
  • real pillows and rest days

I’m glad I waited to rest in Astoria and not Elma, WA.

Day Eight – Astoria, OR to Cape Lookout State Park

Day 7 began with an early wake up even though it was my planned rest day. I stayed at the Norblad Hostel in Astoria. It was right in the middle of town and really nice compared to my other hostel experiences in London and Portland. I went and found a coffee place. Exchanged a few bills for quarters and began doing my one load of laundry. Once that was complete, I found my way to the movie theaters to see TMNT. Michael Bay does not deviate.

The day got later and I needed to study the map or Oregon since I didn’t even open that up when I first received the Adventure Cycling maps. Turns out, I didn’t really need to study. I pretty much wake up every day and head south on 101. Pretty simple stuff. So that’s what I plan to do.

Day 8 once again began early. 6:30am, I pop up. I had a gift card to the local coffee shop because I man needed the bottom bunk so I offered to move up top. After breakfast, I came back and got cleaned up and began packing up. My roommate for the previous two nights was heading into Portland on his bike that he took from Key West to Vancouver, then is heading home to just outside of Portland. His tan lines were killer. My goal was to make it to Bay City about 60-65 miles away. I had some stops to make but knew that was at least doable.

I headed out of Astoria and for about 15 miles was inland a little bit. It wasn’t until I rolled into Seaside, OR did I catch my first glimpse of the Pacific. I couldn’t help but smile and only then did I realize what I had actually done the previous week. I made my way down 10 more miles and was back to where I traveled to back in January, Cannon Beach. I made my way through town and wound up at the beach access to see Haystack Rock. It was a great day to view it and it was also low tide so it made for great pictures and sights.

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I didn’t stay terribly long because I didn’t know what was ahead of me so I got back on the the road with a few more checkpoints to hit. I made my way down the coast with some impressively steep climbs only to be rewarded with great views of the cliffs, waves, and haystacks that scatter the Oregon coast. Those hills were easy knowing what I had waiting for me up at the top.

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I continued on, hitting Manzaneta, Bay City, where I originally planned to stop and then to Tillamook. I was feeling good and looked at the map. Cape Lookout State Park had an awesome name and could only expect the view to match it, so I pushed 6 more miles to camp making it my longest day so far in my trip. I’m glad I did too because it am currently writing this entry from the beach looking out into the haze with the sound of waves crashing onto shore.

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Today was very exciting and I’m looking forward to the rest of Oregon.

Day Mileage: 82 miles
Total Mileage: 491 miles

Day 8 Bonuses:

  • seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time this trip
  • stopping to talk with a guy that was walking from Seattle to San Francisco. He was 3 1/2 weeks into his trip.
  • camping with the sound of waves in the background
  • Cannon Beach
  • fresh(er) legs

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Day Ten – South Beach State Park to Honeyman State Park

Day Mileage: 54 miles
Total Mileage: 622 miles

I thought it was supposed to rain last night so when I set up camp, I set it up under an awning/canopy of sorts where I’d stay as dry as I could if it did rain. Luckily, it didn’t and I was still dry. The day ahead of me was going to be a light one compared to the previous two days. I knew that and took my time this morning. I made oatmeal and coffee and then wandered around the State Park to discover a fun little trail leading straight to the ocean. I got back, packed and was on the road right at 9am.

The sun was beginning to poke out as I made my way south of Newport. I could only hope for it to stay out the rest of the day. My plan was to stop in Waldport but I spoke with a guy who ran a not-for-profit bicycle shop and he told me Yachats would be my best bet for a good meal. It was 8 miles down the road and would put me at 24 miles before 11am. All good things. When I pulled in, I was met with general questions as I usually am from locals about my trip. This time, a 21 year old kid was really inquisitive and wanted to know everything. It was awesome talking to him and to learn about his hopeful trips in the future.

The Sun Is Out Today | Unlike Yesterday | Doonkeen.com |

Day 10 Complete | Day Mileage: 54mi | Total Mileage: 621mi |

I was nearly halfway complete with my planned mileage for the day when I took off from Yachats. From that town until Florence, I stopped at every vista and scenic byway that I passed. I rode along the coast for the majority of the remaining miles which made today’s riding the easiest out of all the days. Anyone with a pulse would have loved bicycling the route today. With breathtaking views that the Oregon coast had to offer, putting in miles is an easy task today.

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Tomorrow calls for an area known for sand dunes and sand buggies.

Note: Couldn’t get more pictures to upload…. I’ll upload when I can.

Day 10 Bonuses

  • views, views, views
  • roughly 9 miles of downhill. No pedaling downhill. 30mph downhill. I’ve given up braking downhill
  • late starts and “light” mileage
  • camp being close to a town. Cell phone service and IPAs