Monday, August 3, 2009

Day 1 Pedaling from the Pacific; Newport-Corvallis, OR 64 miles

In my daydreams I thought it was a long way across the country. I didn’t dream it would take so long to get here. Weather delays caused me to miss my Charlotte-Portland flight on Friday, so I returned to New Bern, only to attempt the same thing yesterday. Fortunately I saw only a couple of familiar faces back in Carteret, so the explanation time was kept to a minimum. The second time in Charlotte, I made it on the crossing flight to Portland. The air turbulence was the most severe I have seen – beverages hit the ceiling of the plane!

I felt a little like a tape-less horse in the 5 hour plane ride Saturday. The air cleared enough on the flight to see the Green River gorge and Yellowstone Lake, among other places I recognized. The snow clings to the north slopes of some of the mountains in Wyoming. I hope that the day delay won’t negate my chance to get to Yellowstone Park, which I haven’t seen from the ground in 15 years. If you like wildlife, Yellowstone is one of the premier places for wildlife viewing in the continent.

On the long flight yesterday I couldn’t help but think – over and over again – how far across west-to-east the country is. I kept reminding myself of a couple little quotes I taped to the underside of my bike. I hope in the toughest moments they will help push me through. If I am lucky enough to pedal past the flag in Fort Macon, you can read them for yourself.

It was good to start pedaling. I felt some of the nervous energy depart today. Thirty days is a lot of time, but not a lot of time to cross the country on a bike. Today I transmitted a sense of urgency into pedaling east. The goal is to keep riding on roads that say east and south. Simple enough, no GPS required.

This morning I took a commuter plane from Portland to Newport, where the bike was waiting for me at a local shop. I was interviewed by a local paper, ate fish and chips, and then started pedaling. I captured a vial of sand at the Newport beach (to be donated to the Atlantic Beach re-nourishment project), had a ceremonial photo snapped, and started off through the coastal clouds. The last whiff of salt air left my nose for at least a month. When the ocean becomes part of one’s life like it has mine, that is a big deal. This cloud cover kept temps much cooler than the rest of Oregon is experiencing. Made pretty good time enroute to Corvallis. Within about 15 miles of town, I caught a sweet tailwind that had me pedaling 20 miles per hour for that stretch. That’s unusual when you are carting 50 pounds of gear with you, but I will take tailwind like that anytime. It’s a big departure from the 13 mph I’ll average throughout the trip.

The bike feels awkward. I tried to trim as much weight as possible, and will probably ship some more gear back after the Rockies are done. This might save 5 pounds, which is better than adding that amount of weight.

The scenery today was very pretty. Coastal Oregon is home to many species of conifers. These species are marketed for a variety of building purposes. In Philamath I passed a cedar mill. The sweet smell had me instantly hinking of cedar shakes on a classic Cape Code home. Oregon is also home to some incredible wildlife. Unfortunately I did not have much time to spend at the coast, but managed to see several groups of sea lions. I also saw many species of ducks, a multitude of great blue herons, ospreys, bald eagles, a pleated woodpecker, and several species of warblers. I am still amazed how many of these bird species we have on both sides of the continent.

Monday promises to be a grueling day eastward over the Cascades but the scenery should be spectacular. Oregon is a big state but I will see its full variety.


  1. Is that a 4-wt rod I see strapped to the back of your bike? Good luck Paul.
    - Tuom

  2. There was a nice article about your journey in our local paper today (Newport News Times). You have many kindred spirits here at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, cheering your cause and wishing you a smooth and safe ride. Let us know if you are ever back in Newport for a visit.