We are in Idanaha after a 75 mile ride over Santiago Pass. The traffic was unreal, a constant stream. It was so noisy with cars, trucks, semi’s constantly going by it was impossible to think. I am thankful that there were reasonably wide shoulders to ride on.
One of the interesting things that happened to all of us was having hallucinations. You look at the road ahead and you think, cool, the road is starting to go down, but when you drive on it you have to keep lowering your gears because it is so hard. All day long, every day it seems the road is going down but it is going up, or going up, and it is going down. I think it happens because we are looking at the road constantly, and we start to loose some perception. You can’t tell if the road is going up or down by looking, you tell by gravity. If it is hard, you are going up, and if it is easy you are going down.
Reminds me of Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” The only way to know what is true is what God declares is true in the Bible. So many people have opinions, but they are only opinions, and probably wrong.
Very often on our bicycle trip of 3,200 miles down to the Grand Canyon, then up to Yellowstone, and then home, we are riding on roads with very little to no shoulder. In that case we ride right on top of the white line. The most important thing to remember is that cars, pickups, and big semi trucks pass relatively close, and we do not want to inadvertently swerve out into the traffic even a little bit. It requires that we pay attention and not have even a few seconds of mental lapse or it could very easily result in being hit by an motorhome driven by an old grandma. The constant noise of traffic passing us keeps us alert, and the very real consequence of drifting even a little bit keeps us on the straight and narrow, literally.
Hebrews 3:12 says, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away away from the living God.”
“Take care”, that means pay very close attention to yourself, your habits, your attitude so that you don’t drift away from God. I wonder how many people actually do this in any kind of pro-active way? Very few take this warning from God seriously. On the road on a bicycle we are inches from crisis and we know it, but in life we are “inches from crisis”, and we have no clue. So many people fall away from the living God, and it could have easily been prevented if there had been any “fear of drifting” away from God
We road 75 miles today, and tomorrow we are going to ride another 75 miles so we have ridden over 70 miles for the last 14 ride days, and 80 or more for 5 of those days with lots of uphill riding as Pader of it, and we are handling it quite well. Riding a bicycle for two months does get you in shape. We are in Redmond tonight, Idanha tomorrow night and then home!
I had a bee sting me on my upper lip a couple days ago, and today one hit the back collar of my coat and went down, and got me on the back. I stopped really fast and as Tom stopped behind me I yelled at him to quick smack me on the left shoulder and scratch hard, he did and tonight when I showered I shook out one dead bee from my shirt.
Probably the thing that is the greatest challenge for us most days is the wind. A head wind is worse than climbing a steep hill. Every night we check the weather report not to see if it is going to rain but to see what direction and speed the wind is going to blow. Today we had a relentless, all day long, strong head wind, so that we even had to pedal hard going downhill. One of the things we do to help is ride close behind each other, and rotate who rides in the front. We don’t go any faster, but we do get a break and a chance to use less energy for a while. While we are doing that we have to pay close attention so we don’t run into the person in front of us and cause them and possibly ourselves to crash.
We rode 85 miles today from Prairie City to Mitchell with a really, really big, steep, tall, ugly, hard, hot, humongous, mountain to climb, and to make matters worse they were putting down chip seal on about 40 miles of the ride today so we were riding in loose gravel, but we made it and are sitting in the city park where we are camping. The first thing Kathy did when we got here was pull out the watermelon that was in the fridge of the RV and cut it up, and we ate it, whooooeeeeee that was good after that ride. I tried to talk the lady driving the pilot pickup to put my bike in the back and drive me through the gravel section, but couldn’t get her to do it, and I used my most pathetic, and pleading voice.
Well only 3 more riding days left in this 61 day, 3,200 mile bicycle trip. It has been super awesome, I have gotten in good shape, lost 30 lbs, read a bunch, wrote a bunch, prayed a bunch, and got totally revived and renewed for another year of amazing ministry.
Today we rode 70 miles and we climbed 3 mountains, one after the other, each was over 5,000 feet in elevation, and each one had about 2,000 feet of net climbing. It is a grind to the top of each one, but then comes the payoff with a great high speed ride down the other side. Yesterday I put in a new set of 8 sprockets on the rear wheel of my bicycle with many more teeth than the old one, which means I have a lowered geared bicycle, and it was very apparent today going up these hills, lots of power. We are sleeping in the Baptist Church in Prairie City tonight. Brandon Smith who was on staff at JBC for several years attends this church and works with the Youth, took us out to dinner tonight, and it was super! Tomorrow we will bike 85 miles to Mitchell with one really big, monster mountain to climb. We are getting close to being done with this trip, 3 more days. I am preaching this weekend at JBC, I hope I haven’t forgotten how!
Today was our rest day, but I worked on my bicycle most of the day. We drove 40 miles in the RV to La Grande to a bicycle shop, there wasn’t one in Baker City, and I bought some different pedals and shoes, the old fashioned kind that you aren’t locked onto the pedals with. I decided that I had fallen down to many times to think I was ever going to get coordinated enough to do it right 100% of the time, and I am getting to old to fall over on my bicycle, and expect not to get hurt one of these times. I also got a new set of sprockets for my rear wheel that are lower geared for riding up all the hills we do. On my old set the big sprocket had 26 teeth and on my new one the big sprocket has 34 teeth. On the back the big sprocket is the lowest gear, so I should be able to get a higher cadence and more mechanical advantage and power going up the hills. As I got started working on it, I realized I needed a special tool to get the sprockets off, so being an ex-farmer, I did it the farmer way, I got a hammer. I did finally get it off, and then I didn’t do a very good job of remembering where everything went as I took it apart, and I couldn’t figure out how to get it back together. To really complicate the process the little round bearings inside the wheel fell out, and I wasn’t sure how to get them back in. I could get them in but they just fell out again when I was putting something else in. I was starting to get irritated and frustrated and 3 or 4 other words as well, when Tom suggested we eat dinner and relax a little, he had barbecued pork chops, and made mashed potatoes and gravy. While we were eating I googled on my IPad “How to service Trek Shimano rear axle” and watched several You Tube lessons on how to do it. I then went out and had it all done in 30 minutes, super! Well tomorrow we ride to Prairie City, 60 miles with 3 passes to climb with over 6,000 feet of accumulated climbing. That will be the real test for my bike remodel job.
Today was a very tough day of bicycling. We rode 85 miles with over 6,000 feet of accumulated climbing, and it was very, very hot to boot. The first picture is me dunking my shirt in the Powder River to keep me cool for awhile. I tried to pay attention to traffic as I took my shirt off, so as not to cause any wrecks!
We had a number of mountains to climb as well as several really fast descents. Before one of them there was this sign (photo)which made us really excited about the upcoming speed. I nearly had a major wreck on both of these descents. On the first one a bee stung me right on my upper lip while I was barreling down the hill at about 30 mph. When I let loose of the bike handle to kill the bee I started to wobble wildly, but I grabbed the handle again, quickly before I went head over bicycle tumbling down the road. On the second descent I had taken off my helmet and put on my baseball cap so I could dunk it in the water to help keep me cool, well on the way down this hill again going about 30 mph my hat flew off, as I reached up to catch it, My bike again went crazy, and I was sure that I was getting ready for a ride in an ambulance, but I managed to get stopped and I did get my hat.
As we rode into Richland, Oregon we road up to a cafe intending to eat a bite of food. I was so distracted with all the bicycles around the restaurant that I totally spaced unclipping my shoes from the peddles, and as I got close to the restaurant I started to put my right foot down, but to late I realized my foot was locked onto the pedal and because of that mental lapse over I went with all the bikers in the restaurant watching me crash to the ground. I sprained my right wrist, scraped my leg and hand but I cleaned those up in the bathroom, and I am OK tonight.
We are in Baker City tonight and will have our last rest day here tomorrow. It has a very nice swimming pool, hot tub, and great internet, so it should be a very nice day of recuperating tomorrow.
The short video included is me riding up an 8% hill. Hills that are this steep I walk some and bike some, but I always eventually make it to the top. Sort of like life, keep plugging away, and don’t give up or quit, and sooner or later you will reach the top.
Tonight we are camped at Woodhead campground on the Brownlee Reservoir on the Idaho side, which is the Snake River. I bought a one day Idaho fishing license and some jigs and went down and fished for Crappie off the dock for awhile, no luck, so I am going to go back this evening and try again when it is cooler.
Today’s ride was good except Kathy’s bike broke again. We worked on it for several hours at camp but couldn’t get it to work. It has a 9 speed internal rear hub transmission and it quit working. We will be in Baker City, Oregon tomorrow and have a extra day there as a rest day so they are going to a bike shop and see what they can do.
We had a couple of really long, 8 mile and 10 mile, down hill runs today, I was going 25 to 32 mph most of the time. Of all the different parts of the trip these “down hill runs” probably have the most potential for accidents because of the speed and how much more careful you have to be. Most of the time when we are really going fast I have this incredibly strong urge to scratch, pick my nose, look in the mirror to see if anybody is coming, or to see how far back Cliff is, look at the speedometer to see how fast I am going, or turn and smile at the driver in the car that is barely able to pass me, but it is super important not to take your eyes off the road even for a second, keeping the bike on the road, watching for rocks, bolts, truck tire pieces, and pot holes. I sometimes wonder what I would look like after sliding on the pavement for 20 feet, that would sure make for some exciting pictures for my blog!😀