Jim's 2003 Cross-Country Bike Ride

Only two intrepid riders this time.  (Another time you wonder?  Go look at the map and travelogue from Jim's 1996 ride.)  Jim's cross-country partner is his good friend Sue Barnes.  The two of them have done lot's of outdoor trips together over the year's.  This is definitely the most adventurous one.

The 2003 Bicycle Adventure Begins

They're Off!

Jim traveled to Seattle on 6/7 after getting the bicycle and gear packed and handed into UPS.  Charlene accompanied him for a few days of playing tourist in the Seattle area.  Sue joined them on 6/11.  On 6/12, they drove up to Anacortes, WA, the starting point of the Bicycle Adventure. 

The first order of business in Anacortes was to see if the bikes, the 'Bob' trailer, and the boxes of gear had arrived at the hotel.  Everything was there, and boxes seemed intact.  The hotel room was actually a 2 bedroom apartment with a large living room.  Once the boxes were moved into the place and opened, the room resembled the back of bike shop that had been hit by a tornado.  The bicyclists busied themselves putting things back together, sorting through packing, and deciding how to pack everything they needed into the limited packing space that they have. 

On 6/13, they packed up for a fully loaded test ride. Jim loaded front and rear panniers and Sue packed front panniers and the 'Bob' trailer. When their route that day took them past the official start point (the ferry terminal to the San Juan Islands) the odometers were reset to zero, and 6/13 became the official start of the trip, with one more night's stay in Anacortes in comfy quarters. 

When they returned to the hotel, a few more things were selected from the packs and trailer to ship back home, in an attempt to lighten the load.  On 6/14 Charlene waved so-long as they bicycled out of Anacortes heading for the first campground 30-40 miles east.

The Cascades

The Cascade Mountains are not far from Anacortes.  By Monday 6/17 the route took them into North Cascades National Park and overnight camp at Diablo Lake campground.  Tuesday the bicyclists had a 38 mile day with 25 miles of it going up!  They went through Rainy Pass (4,855 feet elevation) AND Washington Pass (5,477 feet elevation) heading toward Mazama, WA.  The climbing was slow, and made for a long day of riding, but enjoyable none-the-less. 

On Wednesday 6/18 the route took them into the Methow Valley, with an overnight stay in the town of Twisp, WA and a chance to get to a laundromat.  The Methow Valley region has become a popular area for outdoor recreation, both summer and winter.  We have cross country skied there once.  The area produces apples, and cattle ranching is another mainstay of the local economy. Twisp originally was a mining town.  It was a good stop for the cyclists.

Another Day, Another Pass

The cyclists already have two passes under their belts, but there are more on the trip.  They are trying to set up the days such that they don't have to do a pass two days in a row, and hopefully not two in one day again.  However, the route on Thursday 6/19 took them over Loup Loup pass (~4000 ft.) with 2 miles down, 11 miles climb, and a 20 mile downhill blast heading to the town of Okanogan, where they camped.  They also had a great time visiting the county historical museum there.

Friday's ride was planned to set them up for the next day's pass. The ride was 38 miles, no big climbs, ending in Tonasket and camping at "Shannon's Ice Cream Parlor and RV Park".  Guess what they had for dessert that day?  The weather had been great, but for Friday's ride it was cool, grey, and occasionally misting during the morning. 

On Saturday morning 6/21, it was cool and raining when they broke camp.  They learned that at elevations above 5000 ft, it had snowed.  This included  Sherman pass, which was originally on the route they planned to take, but they had already decided to go off route. It turns out the planned change would take them to a different pass at slightly lower elevation (no snow), probably next Tuesday.  

Unfortunately, on Saturday the rain persisted, and they endured a steady rain for the first half of the 11-12 mile climb.  Happily, all the gear they have is working well, and Jim reported that both of them remained comfortable (warm and dry enough) during the ride.  Saturday night camp was made at Bonaparte Lake resort.

The intrepid riders rode to Curlew, WA, getting pretty close to Canada, on Sunday 6/22.  They were able to appreciate that the ride from Bonaparte Lake to Curlew was very pretty, despite the fact that they got rained on again.  They were happy with the scenery and did not feel that they missed much by not going through Wauconda and Sherman passes.  (If you read this page between 6/22 and 6/24, please note that it mistakenly indicated that they went through Wauconda pass.)  

Monday  6/23 was the pair's first rest day, in Curlew WA, at a bicycle campground, which Jim described as pretty much in the owners back yard.  They enjoyed it, got some home baked goods to supplement their grub.  Hopefulley the homemade goodies eased the frustration of Sue's bicycle maintenance day-from-hell.  Even though they didn't ride at all that day, she had 4 inner tubes blow, while trying to pump tires up!  They believe they fixed the problem with the wheel that lead to this unfortunate situation. (Since I have not had reports of further inner tube mishaps, for the subsequent 3 days of riding, this seems to be the case.)

They were back on the bikes Tuesday 6/24 and road 41 miles through Kettle Falls to end up in Colville, the largest 'city' in the Northeastern corner of Washington.  They stayed with a folks living in Colville who Sue and Jim met while bicycling in Curlew.  Sue and Jim appreciated the hospitality which included getting to sleep in real beds, and cooking in a real kitchen.

Wednesday, 6/25 was a 51 mile day that included climbing 10 miles to go through the last pass they would have in Washington (4600 ft. for this one ?Beaver/Deer Creek Pass).   Perfect temperatures and clear blue skies that day made it a really pretty ride.  They reached Ione WA for the night.

Out of Washington

Thursday 6/26 finally saw our travelers get out of Washington, into Idaho.  They had a 60 mile ride along the Pend Oreille River, through the Kalispel Indian Lands (one of the few non-reservation Indian homelands in the lower 48 states), and through Newport WA and east into Idaho. They camped in Priest River, Idaho.  Jim got a chocolate cupcake to celebrate his birthday.  

Since they were crossing Idaho at its narrowest dimension, they only had one more night there, staying in Clark Fork, Idaho on Friday night after a 50+mile day.  Weather getting hot, but clear blue skies along the way.

Montana's Next

The route is now taking them through Montana, with day one of the Montana leg being sunny and hot as they rode along  the Clark Fork River.  This means the terrain is rolling with a climb 20 minutes, then ride flat or downhill, then climb again.  Not as grueling as in the Cascades or High Desert climbs in Washington, but I am told that some bicyclists really don't like continuous rolling terrain.  This isn't the case for our intrepid pair, rather the high 80-90 degree weather they have there now is more the challenge.  They had a 40+ mile day to Trout Creek, Montana where they camped Saturday night.

On Sunday, they continued for 47 miles along the Clark Fork River, ending up in Plains, MT, with the terrain remaining rolling and the weather hot.  They ended the month of June with a 48 mile ride that took them along the same river valley until they reached Paradise where the route began to follow along the Flathead River.  According to my map, this route took them through the Flathead Indian reservation.  I wonder if they realized that, since Jim didn't mention it.  On Monday I received an email from a couple they met on Saturday, and they had lunch together.  Mike and Nancy (who are not bicyclists, but live in the area and are building an inn/B&B now that they are  retired from the computer and software engineering world) wrote that our bicyclists look good, but had some hot weather to contend with.

The next day, 7/1, consisted of a short jaunt to Missoula for a planned rest day For Wednesday, 7/2.  They went into town on Tuesday to  take care of various things like post office stop, bank stop, etc.  On Wednesday they took a short bike ride to the Smoke Jumper Center, where tours are lead by current smoke jumpers, and it was reportedly a really interesting stop.  In a small world story, they met a jumper who is from New Hampshire. Sue and he discovered that they have some common acquaintances.  

In the Mountains Again!

The trip out of Missoula MT on Thursday, 7/3, started with a bit of rain before they broke camp. However, the weather cleared and Jim said that the scenery was beautiful as they rode south in the Bitter Root Valley, traveling between the Bitter Root Mountains to the west and the Sapphire Mountains to the east.  The 63.4 mile ride (longest single distance for them so far) was mostly flat, but within a day they will be riding into the foothills of the Rockies, and saying goodbye to the 'mostly flat' riding for awhile.  

(I somehow missed getting the name of the Thursday night stop--probably because I was asleep when I picked up the phone to answer Jim's call, although I perked up enough to get the details in the preceding paragraph!)

Ok, I know where they were on Thursday!  8 miles south of Hamilton, MT, where they got to be at an altitude of 4000 ft.  On the 4th of July, they got to a 'resort' 6 1/2 miles south of Sula.  It was called the Lost Trail Hot Springs Resort, located at an altitude of 5000 ft.  Yes, they did get to ease those sore muscles from riding in a pool fed by the hot spring.  Those muscles needed it because Saturday was a 'two pass' day.  They rode up through Lost Trail pass (6990 ft) and then Chief Joseph pass (7240).  It was a 6 1/2 mile climb to the first one, another mile to the second one, then downhill into 'Big Hole Valley'.

They had a chance to look around the Big Hole Valley Battlefield National Monument which commemorates a battle of soldiers fighting Native Americans who were resisting to go to a reservation.  There are murky waters in some of our American History, it seems.  The ride ended in Wisdom, MT followed by a short day on 7/6 ending in Jackson, MT.  They must be getting into that geothermic territory because they got to dip into another hot spring, the Jackson hot spring.  

The weather was picture-perfect for the past few days, with highs in the low 80's, and cool mornings.  Unfortunately, the Big Hole Valley turns out to be 'mosquito haven', and the riders have discovered how effective the little bugs are at biting through bike shorts/shirts (where DEET can't be applied).  

They are getting to be old pros at climbing passes.  The ride on Monday, 7/7, included climbs through Big Hole  Pass  (7360 ft.) and Badger Pass (6760') as part of a 48 mile day.  They camped in Dillon, MT.  The next day was a 58 mile ride with nasty looking storm clouds in the distance that never got close enough to rain on the riders.  The ride was made more challenging by strong cross winds, though.  They got to Virginia City, MT.  This is THE Virginia City of TV program Bonanza fame, and Jim and Sue will be taking a rest day there tomorrow to play tourist before continuing on to the goal of reaching Yellowstone in the next few days.

7/12/03 web page update:

Well, they should be in Yellowstone National Park today (and the next state-Wyoming), since last night was spent in West Yellowstone, MT which is as close as you can get to the park without actually being in it.  They had a fine stay over in Virginia City, including a rest day.  Good thing, since the ride on Thursday, 7/10/03, started out with a climb before heading down to the Madison River Valley.  At the end of the 48 mile day, they camped for the night in the West Fork Cabins Campground .  

On Friday, 7/11/03, the 38 mile ride to West Yellowstone took them further along the Madison River and past 2 pretty lakes (Quake Lake and Hempgen (?) Lake).  Jim says that this section of the trip has been very scenic, though the weather for the past few days has been hot, reaching into the low 90's.  

On 7/11 Sue also said goodbye to B-O-B, the trailer.  She found some rear panniers and sent B-O-B back to New Hampshire, feeling that the trailer arrangement dragged too much, and may have been conspiring to slow her down and wear her down.  Since the shipment (with some non-essential gear included) was 25 lbs. and the new panniers are about 4-5 lbs., there may be something to it!  

In the next few days they will be riding past/over/through the Continental Divide (I'm not sure of the proper terminology).  They are no longer on schedule to make it all the way to the Atlantic Coast.  They have been enjoying the chance to spend time exploring the areas that they have visited and plan to continue the trip this way. 

7/13/03 web page update:

Another state!  Wyoming...

The riders had a short spin yesterday to get to Madison, within Yellowstone National Park.  They had time to ride unloaded to visit Gibbon Falls, and then rest up for today's adventure riding over the Continental Divide twice.  They went through Craig pass (8261 ft) and a no name pass (8391 ft) to finish up for the day in Grant Village.  They tried to get a glimpse of Old Faithful en route, but it wasn't due to go for another hour, and they didn't want to wait.  They are in grizzly bear country, and the campsites are equipped with metal boxes to store pretty much everything, so the bears aren't enticed to visit for some provisions. 

Jim reports that Sue feels an improvement without the trailer, which is great.  They are going to be heading for the Tetons, which are just south of Yellowstone Park.  They are looking forward to what should be spectacular scenery. 

7/17/03 web page update:

On Monday 7/14/03 and 48 miles later, Jim and Sue were out of Yellowstone NP and in Grand Teton National Park camping at Jenny Lake, a lovely spot we all had a chance to nordic ski at one winter.  It is a lovely lake with the Tetons as backdrop.  They enjoyed the views.

Then they biked to Hoback Junction, WY, adding another 53 miles to their odometers.  Fortunatelyl, they chose the eastern route from there to Pinedale.  Otherwise they would have been dealing with the East Fork wildfire that is burning to the west of Hoback Junction.  

It was a 58 mile journey that day (Wed. 7/16), and when they arrived in Pinedale, WY they had time to tour the Museum of the Mountain Man (yes, that is the name) which gives the history of the beaver fur trade that was the main livelihood there when the area was first settled.  Then they skipped cooking dinner at the campsite opting instead to get some  Wyoming steak at a restaurant. Even Jim indulged, figuring you can't pass through a state where cattle ranching is big without having a taste of the product. 

Today (Thurs. 7/17) consisted of a 60 mile ride through 'nothing' (translation-no spectacular scenery, no towns, etc.) to get to Farson, WY.  In a few days they should reach Utah, adding another state.  They are looking forward to the spectacular scenery of Flaming Gorge Recreation area.

(Apologies for deleting photos on this web page, but they took up too much file space...)

If the daily mileages haven't impressed you, how about a total:  as of Tuesday evening (7/15) they had completed 1197.9 miles!

Web page update 7/23/03

Well, last Friday (7/18) consisted of another ride through nothing, but this time the 'nothing' had historic markers to identify the Oregon trail, California Trail, and the Pony Express Trail from the time of the early settlers.  The bicyclists ended up in Green River, WY that night. 

On Saturday they rode another 54 miles to Manila, UT which included a 2 mile stretch of dirt and gravel (road construction on their route).  Since it was another ride through 'nothing' and it was a 90 degree day, they lunched sitting under a road grader to get some shade!  

Sunday brought another hot day.  It was a shorter day of riding taking them to the Flaming Gorge recreation area and a spectacular view from the campsite of the beautiful red rock gorge. The campground was located right on the rim of the gorge.

Yesterday, 7/21/03 was another hot day in the mid-90's.  They rode from Flaming Gorge to Vernal, UT.  This 44 mile stretch had a downhill 9 miles long at 8% grade and 10 switchbacks!  They originally planned to end farther than Vernal, but Jim seemed to remember that the campground they would have to stay at was open with no shade.  When they got to Vernal, he saw trees around, including at the KOA campground.  It was a 'no-brainer' as they say.  90 degrees and a campground with trees for some shade.  So Vernal is where they stayed last night.  The next stop will be Dinosaur National Monument to see the dinosaur fossil excavation site before moving on to Colorado.

Web page update 7/26/03

Another state: Colorado

They had another hot day on 7/22/03 when they explored the Dinosaur monument before heading on to Dinosaur, CO.  Unfortunately, the stop at the monument, which is a neat place--it is an excavation site where hundreds of dinosaur bones were found--left them to finish bicycling in the heat of the day.  Jim's thermometer registered 105-110 degrees!  This made for an easy decision to stay in a motel with air conditioning that night in Dinosaur, CO.  

They got on the road early on 7/23 to avoid the heat of the day (which only was in the 90's) and biked 60 miles to Maybell, CO through open rangeland, and nothing else.  Then from Maybell it was a 48 mile day through more range land to Hayden, CO.  Yesterday, they had a short day to get to Steamboat Springs, a fun spot to take a rest day.  That allowed them to have a late night yesterday to see the rodeo and watch people put their bodies through amazing stuff.  Sounds like it was fun.  Steamboat Springs is a ski resort town, with lots to do in summer, too.  They have had a good visit.  

In the next few days, they will be biking through the spectacular scenery of the Rockies, and have their 5th and final crossing of the Continental Divide! 

Web page update 7/30/03

Out of the Rockies and On to the Plains

So, on Sunday, 7/27/03, they had the fifth and final crossing of the Continental Divide when they climbed through Rabbit Ears Pass (9426 ft elevation), making camp just past there.  On Monday they had a 64 mile day from Rabbit Ears to Gould, CO.  Tuesday was time for another pass--the last in the Rockies for them.  They climbed 12 miles up to Cameron Pass (10,276 ft. elevation) then rode a 58 mile downhill stretch (what a blast!) into Fort Collins, where they camped last night. 

That was the last of the mountains for the rest of the trip.  Today they bicycled to Loveland, CO where old friends of Jim's, Dave and Sally Hollander, will put them up for the night.  An old friend of Sue's, David Webster, drove up from Denver to visit with her today.  Tomorrow it will be back on the bikes for our travelers to continue east on the plains.

Update 8/7/03

It's Nebraska Now

On Thursday, 7/31/03 the riders put in 80/3!  Pretty impressive, considering the heat wave that has gripped that part of the country.  They left Loveland and the scenery became agricultural.  They also passed huge stockyards.  They put up for the night in Brush, Colorado.

On 8/1/03 they traveled to Yuma, CO, adding another 50.7 miles to the odometer.  It was slow going, no longer because of long climbs as they had in the mountains, but because of strong headwinds.  On the following day they made it to the next state, Nebraska.  The head winds counteracted any of the pleasure they could have had from  losing elevation on the ride to Haigler.  Crossing into Nebraska brought the cumulative mileage to 2,039.8 miles!!!

On Sunday 8/3/03, they continued east, still enduring temperatures in the 90's, and more rolling than when Jim went through Nebraska further north in 1996.  The scenery became hilly range land alternating with flatter fields of corn and soybeans. Plus a south wind that day helped cool them off, and even helped push them along at times to their destination 4miles west of Trenton (no, not New Jersey).  They camped overlooking a reservoir.  The next day, they continued east to Cambridge, NE where they set up camp at the city park campground. 

Update 8/13/03

August 5th was a 49.3 mile ride to Holdrege, NE, initially covering flat terrain, but then the geologic formation that has set the tone of the riding for them in NE called dissected planes kicked in.  UP and DOWN they went. Oh yes, and headwinds hit when they climbed up to the last 12 miles that were on flatter stuff. 

On the following day, they played tourist but still fit in 44 miles to end up in Fort Kearney SRA, NE.   Then it was a short day, 15 miles, in order to spend more time playing tourist.  This part of Nebraska is rich in history from the role played by the region from the Pioneer days and the western migration of our nation's population.  Fort Kearney was a major supply point on the Oregon Trail, a station stop on the Pony Express, and a staging point for many Indian campaings.  

By Friday, 8/8/03 they were in Hastings, where they took a rest day, and on the second night experienced an impressive thunderstorm while in camp.  On Sunday 8/10, they rode from Hastings to Geneva, IA, a distance in the 50 mile range, followed by a 63 mile ride to Hickman, NE on Monday during which they headed back into/onto the dissected plains formations and more UP and DOWN.  

In Iowa

Tuesday, 8/12/03, brought a new state into the picture.  The intrepid bicyclists reached Iowa.  They rode 59 miles from Hickman, NE to a state park just over the border from Nebraska City.  They are aiming toward Des Moines over the next 4 days.

update 8/20/03

Making their way through Iowa brought them to Villisca next.  The 57 mile day brought more headwinds, and the humidity hung in, but temperatures cooled a tad.  Oh yes, and rolling hills--Iowa is not flat.  The next day they added 43.9 miles to the odometer( bringing the grand total to 2580!) , making their way to Orient, IA.  They finally had a break from the headwinds, but the trade off was that without any wind, the humidity was more noticeable.  More rolling hills through farmland.  On Friday, August 15, they rode to Winterset and finally got a tailwind!  Plus, flatter terrain.  So they got the 33 miles completed by 11am, leaving them the day to bop around town.  Winterset is in Madison county, of 'Bridges of Madison County" fame.  They skipped the 4 mile dirt road ride to see the famous Roseman Bridge.

Running Out of Time

The destination on Saturday, 8/16, was Des Moines and a car rental place.  They decided they really wanted to do the section of the ride in Ontario, Canada bringing them into New York (AND HOME for JIM!) instead of more mid west riding, so they packed up a car and drove 600 miles to Toledo, Ohio.  In Toledo, they got back on the bikes and yesterday headed to Sandusky to catch the 2:30 Ferry to cross Lake Erie to the Canadian side.  

update 8/25/03

Oh, Canada! 

Well, it was a 4 hour trip across Lake Erie to Kingsville last Tuesday, including the stop one of the islands en route where they had to go through Canadian customs.  On Wednesday they then bicycled to a campground near the Rondeau Provincial Park.  They have relished finally getting to ride in less humid, more comfortable temperatures, but again had a hot, humid day of travel  another 60 miles to reach Port Bruce.  Friday's weather was more cooperative, and they added another 43 miles to the odometer to reach St. Williams.  

Over the weekend (8/23, 24) they continued the ride along Lake Erie heading east, hoping to reach Niagara Falls, Ontario Monday.  The weather on Saturday and Sunday was spectacular, great riding.  Since Jim lives only 1 1/2 hours (by car) from the Falls, he is familiar with the area.  Although it is 'touristy' the Falls are an impressive site.  He is hoping to show Sue some of his favorite things about the area before they drop down into NYS and continue to Jim's home in the Rochester area 8/28.  

update 8/27/03

The Niagara Peninsula

It has been time to for the riders to play tourist a bit.  They made their way to Fort Erie then on to Niagara Falls, Canada on Monday and got to admire the Falls in day light, and then returned by shuttle bus from their campground to view them at night, with a fireworks display and all.  On Tuesday they dropped by to go through the Butterfly Conservatory on the way to Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is on the Niagara Peninsula.  It is a lovely town, even though it is 'touristy'.  Today, Wednesday, they will be dropping down into the US to continue east towards Rochester!

update 8/31/03

Homeward Bound

On Wednesday, 8/27/03, the bicycling duo came across the Canada-US border at the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge in the traffic lane (the pedestrian-bikeway was closed) along the semis and cars.  They completed 36.6 miles to reach Middleport, NY where they set up tents right along the Erie Canal Towpath in town.  

On their final day of bicycling, they left Middleport and rode along roads and the towpath  to pass through Rochester and end the ride on Jim's driveway in Fairport.  The bicycling journey came to end with a grand total of 3,178 miles completed on the bicycles (no, we aren't counting in the car ride from Iowa to Ohio in the total). 

Both Sue and Jim look trim, fit and tan.  They had a great experience, including the experience of the kindness of others as they made they way across the US and during their short detour into Canada.  

Sue's brother-in-law was in western New York on 8/29, so she was able to catch a ride back to New England. Jim, meanwhile, is sorting through many trip photos, and will likely put a selection up on the web page once he has settled in, so stay-tuned.