Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day 5: Elma to Long Beach, WA

If you're ever in South Bend, be sure to look for
this cafe for beautiful views and excellent coffee!
We've finally made it to the Pacific Coast! The hotel, which wasn't supposed to have internet, does so I wanted to post a few comments and photos from today's ride from Elma to Long Beach, WA. Like all the morning so far, it started out cold and misty. I joined about 6 other rides in taking a "bump up" to Raymond, WA.  It got us over some pretty steep hills, and by the time we arrived the sky had cleared. About 5 miles into the ride the morning got even better when I came across a coffee shop serving espresso. Although there was still another 45 miles to ride, I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a caffeine break. 
In addition to an excellent mocha latte, the cafe had an amazing view of the Willapa Bay Estuary. Twenty-four miles long, the estuary is home to over 70 species of migratory birds, several varieties of salmon--Chum, Coho, and Chinook--and shellfish. While visiting with some local folks I learned that one out of every six oysters eaten in the U.S. is produced in the bay's tidelands. It was amazingly beautiful and the roads along the estuary were relatively flat, well-maintained, and with minimal traffic.  A beautiful sunny, Sunday morning for a bike ride!   
Sign welcoming us to the oyster capital of the world!

Park benches with a view of the estuary looking westward.

After passing through some farmlands, we finally caught sight of the Pacific Ocean. Our night's lodging, the Adrift Hotel, is located right on the beach.  Attached to the hotel was an excellent restaurant where I had a late lunch of fresh oysters.  Not my usual, but I like to eat locally and these were delicious!  A few hours later we were treated to another outstanding dinner with our guide/chef, Patty. Baked salmon with pesto and goat cheese, mashed potatoes, broccoli salad, followed by fresh baked brownies for dessert.  That all of this is prepared out of the back of a travel trailer with 2 burners make it all the more amazing!

Cattle grazing about 5 miles outside of South Bend

My first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.

A quick mid-morning energy break.

Marsh lands along Highway 101

Baked salmon with pesto and goat cheese, mashed potatoes,
and broccoli salad prepared by Patty, our chef and tour guide.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 4 & 5: Heading toward the coast

Today we rode 69 miles from Bremerton to Elma, WA.  It was a beautiful ride with only a few steep hills. One 1/2 mile portion of the ride was at an 11% grade and most of us ended up walking our bikes up the hill. Huffing and puffing my way up a hill isn't much fun, but the reward is the lovely downhill descent that following. It was a long day I didn't get to take as many photos as I would have liked, but I've included a few below. 

At the end of tomorrow's 84 mile ride will finally arrive at the Pacific Coast. Whoo-hoo! Unfortunately, our hotel doesn't have internet so I won't be able to update my blog until Monday. But for anyone tracking our progress, the map below shows both tomorrow's route from Elma to Long Beach, WA and Monday's ride from Long Beach, WA to Cannon Beach, OR. 

View Larger Map

Friday, September 28, 2012

Day 3: Rest day in Bremerton, WA

With only 2 days of riding, we are already 134 miles into our trip.  Today we took our first rest day in Bremerton, WA.  The first few days of riding are always the hardest, so many of us welcomed the day off to sleep in, do laundry, and for some, take the ferry to Seattle for sightseeing.  I opted to stay at the hotel where I was able to get some additional rest in preparation for 5 days of riding before our next rest day.  

A group photo in Bellingham, WA prior to our first day of riding. I felt like the great pumpkin riding in my bright orange jersey, but I was in good company as most of us opted for day-glow colors which make us visible to traffic.

A spectacular sunrise from our hotel in Bremerton, WA. Not only was our hotel right on the water, but it was right next to a Starbucks only enhanced the early morning view.

The "mother ship" that not only carriers luggage for 34 women, but also spare bike parts, provisions for breakfast and dinner, and the occasional riders and bikes who need a "bump" up along the route. 

Our ride tomorrow takes us from Bremerton to Elma, WA. The 69 mile ride will take us inland as we make our way towards the Washington coast. The day starts off with some pretty steep climbs which has me thinking about taking a "bump up" to mile 7 or 10 so that I can save my legs for the rest of the ride. I don't like to start the day off this way, but I like even less being in "granny gear" where I'm peddling like a cartoon character but not moving forward. Walking up the hills is always an option, so I'll wait to see how I feel in the morning before deciding. Fortunately, the forecast calls for clear whether I ride or walk it will be under sunny skies!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A few more photos from the ride into Port Townsend

The fog obscured most of the scenery during our ride from Bellingham to Port Townsend, but I did manage to snap a few pictures. A portion of the ride took us through the Swinomish Indian Reservation where I stopped in at the tribal trading post. I talked with a few tribal members and told them that I'm Hopi and I'm riding to raise money for the Hopi Cancer Assistance Fund. They asked me to send a message of greeting to their "relatives of the the blue corn." They also gave me some smoked salmon that I plan to have for breakfast tomorrow with a bagel and cream cheese.  

On the bike path into Anacortes I came across this stone sculpture of an otter by a Swinomish artist. I'm not sure if there is a Hopi word for otter, but in the Swinomish language it is ska-atl

Sculpture of a seal on bike path into Anacortes

The ferry ride into Port Townsend was beautiful and by the time we arrived the fog had cleared. It was a nice reward after a cold, foggy and hilly day of riding (although I admittedly took a "bump" ahead in the van over some of the steeper terrain).  

A view of Port Townsend from the ferry.

Looking out across the bay from Port Townsend, WA

After a quick lunch and a little sightseeing in Port Townsend, I headed out for the final 2.9 mile ride to Fort Warden where we were staying for the night. But just when things were starting to look up, I rounded a corner and faced a final steep climb up to the fort. I can't say it was the steepest of the day, but it sure felt like it knowing that it was all that separated me from a hot shower.  Sadly, my legs gave out and I ended up walking the final 50 yards to the top. The good news, however, is that it afforded me a nice view and the opportunity to take a few pictures. 

The final climb for the day.

Buildings at Fort Warden in Port Townsend, WA.

Day 2: A long foggy day of riding, but we made it

It was a long hard day of riding, but we made it!  The first day is always the hardest, but after a hot shower and dinner we are all looking forward tomorrow for what will be a much shorter ride, 55 miles. Last night we stayed in the officer's quarters at the old Fort Warden which is now a State Park and Conference Center just outside of Port Townsend. We depart this morning at 7:30 am so before packing my gear and grabbing some coffee and a quick breakfast, I wanted to share a few photos from yesterday's ride with promises for a full update on Friday when we layover in Bremerton, WA.   

The wooden bike path over the inlet as we ride into
View from the back of the ferry as we
head over to Port Townsend

A late lunch at a sunny Port Townsend cafe.
Below is a map of today's 55 mile ride into Bremerton, WA. The route we will be taking is a little different, but this is a close approximation. Along the way we cross the Hood Canal bridge which spans 1.7 miles and links Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas. Its the longest floating bridge in the world located in a saltwater tidal basin, and the third longest floating bridge overall. The original bridge sank in 1979 during windstorms, but fortunately today's forecast calls for only slight winds of 10 MPH. We are expecting another morning of foggy, cold weather, but things should warm up later this afternoon as we near Bremerton.  Weather can be a rider's best (or worst) friend. 

View Larger Map

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day 1: And so it begins

It's the night before our official day of departure and I’m too exited to sleep.  We need to be up by 6 am to load our gear into the van and have breakfast so that we can depart by 7:30 a.m.  Since its not likely that I will be able to post in the morning, I wanted to provide a brief overview of tomorrow’s route.

Day 1 of my big bicycle adventure will be a long one—72 miles from Bellingham to Port Townsend, WA. During our map meeting we received detailed queue sheets that outline a route that promises to be quite beautiful with only a few minor hills. After leaving Bellingham we will head south, skirting around Bellingham and Samish Bays before crossing onto Fildago Island. At this point we'll be around 37miles into the ride. After cross over "Deception Pass" we will head inland down State Route 20 before a final ferry ride into Port Townsend. The map below shows our route and if I’m not too exhausted at the end of the day, I will try and post photos. 

Before signing off for the night, I want to send a special message of thanks to the many well-wishers who posted on my blog or sent emails and voice messages offering words of encouragement and prayers for a safe journey. I am deeply grateful to the many donors who have contributed to this fundraiser as well as everyone on Hopi who have encouraged me with words of support and inspiration.


Welcome to beautiful Bellingham, WA

After being on the road of over 2 weeks, I finally made it to Bellingham, WA. The drive up from Portland was beautiful and I couldn't have asked for better weather. When I left Maryland on September 10th the temperature was still in the high 80s, but here in the City of Subdued Excitement (no kidding, that's really the nickname for Bellingham) early signs of fall are all around.  Temperatures have been in the high 50s/low 60s with leaves starting to show some brilliant fall colors.  Perfect biking weather!

Yesterday I road from Fairhaven to Bellingham, a short 15 mile ride round-trip.  It was beautiful and I snapped the following picture to give a sense of the scenery.  I wanted to ride out to Lummi Island, home of the Lummi Indian Nation, but preparing for a 30-day bike trip isn't easy and I spent most of the day ensconced in a booth at Woods Coffee finishing up some work.  I still have my rental car and may take a quick drive out to the reservation this morning. 

Today is the official start of the trip, but most of it will be spent in a meeting with our guides and other riders.  This will be followed by a "fix a flat" workshop for those of us who've never changed a bike tire. Sadly, there is no AAA (Automobile Association of America) equivalent for bikes so I'll have to rely on my own mechanical know-how for basic bike repairs. My ineptitude when it comes to mechanics has me more worried about this than the ride itself! Later this evening there is an opening reception and banquet for riders and their guests. I've met a couple of the other riders, but I look forward to getting to know the ladies I will be spending the next 30 days with. 

Our evening of merriment will have to be short, because we will need to be up early for our first day's 75-mile ride to Port Townsend, WA.  I understand that the route is relatively flat (thank goodness), but it will probably take at least 6 hours (not including stops to rest and take photos) before I roll into our hotel for the night. Although I've done quite a bit of training in prep for the ride--weightlifting and spinning--nothing other than long rides can prepare you for so many hours in the "saddle".  Bike seats designed specifically for a woman's anatomy and Chamois Butter help, but I'm hoping most of our hotels have hot tubs where I can recover after a long day of riding. 

I'll try and post again later this evening, but for now I'll leave you with my favorite photo taken outside Rocket Donuts in  beautiful Bellingham. I'm not much of a donut fan, but I may try one before I leave to see if, as they claim, their donuts really are "out of this world." 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bicycling in Portland

I'm on my way to Bellingham, WA for the start of the ride, but before leaving the fare city of Portland, OR I wanted to share a few interesting facts and photos for those not familiar with Portland's biking culture. First the facts:
Hopefully this won't be me!
  • 6% of Portland commuters go by bike. This is the highest percentage of bike commuters for any U.S. city of similar size and translates to more than 17,000 workers who bike to work. Nationally, only 0.5% of commuters bicycle to work. 
  • 80% of bicyclists in Portland wear helmets and 35% of bicyclists are female.
  • There are 319 miles of designated bikeways in Portland, with more than 50 more miles funded to be installed in the next few years. 
  • Portland was named a “platinum” bicycle friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists – its highest rating. Portland is also the #1 bike-friendly city by Bicycling magazine.
Given the number of bicyclists, is it any wonder that Portland is notorious for its bike fun. They host huge bike-related festivals and events, including the 3 week long Pedalpalooza. Now combine this with the greatest number of breweries per capita than any other city in the U.S. and what do you get? Pedalounge. That's right! Pedalounge is a 16 person pedal-powered "cycle pub" that cruises the streets of Portland's Brewing District. It’s pretty hilarious seeing this contraption making its way down city streets. (For anyone concerned about drinking and driving, you'll be relieved to know that they don't serve drinks on the Pedalouge and despite its many peddlers, it goes less than 10 MPH.) Perhaps the only thing more outrageous is Pedalpalooza's annual Naked Bike Ride. The annual event attracts thousands of riders and Portlandier's penchant of peddling pantiless was demonstrated earlier this summer when more than 10,000 people disrobed down to their "birthday suits" to participate in the city's hosting of the 2012 World Naked Bike Ride. And I thought biking shorts were too revealing!! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Media coverage about my ride

During the past few weeks I've been interviewed by reporters from both Cornell University and the University of Washington about my research and bike ride to raise money for the Hopi Cancer Assistance Fund. Many thanks to George Lowery, Social Sciences Writer for the Cornell Chronicle, and Elizabeth Hunter, Media Relations Manager from the University of Washington, for their help with promoting my ride. If you're interested in reading the articles, I've included links to both below.

Cornell Chronicle
By George Lowery

University of Washington Health Sciences 

Native Health Researcher Bikes for Hopi Cancer Assistance Fund 
By Liz Hunter