Day 43 – Mission Complete

Marblemount, WA to Anacortes, WA – 68 miles 

Total: 3798  miles- 88miles per day average 

It’s amazing how much better you feel on a bike when you don’t have another day hanging over your head.  Cruised it in for the finale in just under 4 hours with the support team directing me.  Anacortes was a great place to finish.  I decided to finish on a small beach on Puget Sound or the Strait of Juan Fuca.  Either way it is tidal salt water so it’s the Pacific Ocean to me.  What a great feeling to be done, figured I should have some moment of enlightenment when I finished but just stared at the water Forrest Gump like and had no idea what to do next.  Took the bike to a mail store and had it and all my smelly clothes shipped back home.  Going to spend the next 48 hours enjoying the west coast and seeing what life is like without my butt on a bike saddle all day. 

5 best moments 

5. Crossing the Mississippi w Kevin

4. Arriving in Berea and being through the Appalachians 

3.  Getting to the top of Hoosier Pass w Runyon

2. Stopping at Lewis lake looking out to the Grand Tetons 

1. Finish line w Becca, not a bad final destination!

5 Worst moments

5.  Leaving Breckinridge in the near freezing rain.  

4. Hot heat outside of Harrodsburg VA.  First realization that this trip would be hard than it looked on paper.  Had to split one of the planned legs into two days. Did not expect Appalachians to be that unforgiving. 

3.  First flat tire right before the ascent up Hoosier Pass.  At the same time cold rain began to come down. 

2.  Freezing rain through Earthquake lake just outside of Yellowstone.agbe the coldest I’ve ever been, the hand dryer at the rest stop could not meet this challenge. 

1.  Somewhere in the middle of Whyoming without a working clip pedal, going up another mountain with a 25 mph headwind and a flat tire and popping the only spare.   

Assorted best photos 

Lessons Learned

1. Patience – One of the hardest things about the trip was dealing with the monotony of being on the bike for 8 or more hours a day and watching the miles slooooowly click by. Lots of daydreaming, listening to audiobooks, talking to the wife on the phone helped.  Nonetheless, there were times that everything had to be shut off and just pedal in the moment without thinking about the challenges up ahead.

2. Less is More – I thought I had this one down at the start but got better with it along the trip.  I was obsessive about not carrying more than I would need.  I don’t think I realized how much this would alter my life for the next 6 weeks, and for the better.  I got the upmost value out of everything I carried and everything had its place, it was immediately obvious in the morning if I left something behind. The simplicity of it was eye opening.  In response to this one of my biggest pet peeves was getting passed by charter bus style rvs dragging their hummer in the back.  You really don’t experience the world if you bring your satellite tv and own fireplace along with you. 

3. Solitude is underrated.  I think one of the motivators for this trip was to get away from the hectic characteristics of modern life. I know when I’m at work or at home the levels of concentration I can put to one task is highly limited.  There are always distractions be they self imposed or external.  One of the best feelings was being out on the road at sunrise or before and having absolute peace to think or listen. 

4.  This is a vast, diverse country.  I think especially those of us that live in large urban areas forget that much of this country is rural or even empty and this has an effect on how people see.  I think more than ever this urban/rural split is showing itself in our political divisions.  Do not underestimate small town America. Many of these people are smarter and more cultured than us city folk presume to be.  It was eye opening spending nearly all of the last 6 weeks in small towns or vast empty spaces. 

5. I’m very lucky – I get to impose my own challenges on myself and not have awful problems dumped on me.  There is something akin to a “first world problem” when things don’t go exactly your way on your cross country bike trip.  If I had real problems in my life this trip would not of been possible or I guess a priority. Thank you everyone for your help in my stupid adventure! Mom and dad for your support in Kentucky. Thanks other fellow travelers I met along the way – Kevin, Quarlll for the shared misery. Thanks to Max the cook in Connor, Montana for taking the power tools out to fix my cleats. Cooke (Ringlers) thanks for the Kansas fried chicken. Runyon, thanks for being stupid enough to do part of this with me, but not so much to ride down a busy mud highway.  Thank you my support staff for understanding my being gone all summer and listening to me complain and booking motels everyday, and driving along side, giving directions, flying something like 10,000 miles back and forth to see me, love you! 

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Day 42 – Penultimate day, through the Cascades 

Mazamo, WA to Marblemount, WA – 75 milesWell, one more day to go. In some ways  I know I’m ready for this adventure to be over, to not spend 8 or so hours on the bike, to have easy access to warm food,  to be back in Florida with all the comforts of home.  At the same time I know there is going to be an empty void, the peace and serenity of absolute quiet, the incredible views, the diversity of the landscapes, the surprising towns, that will all be missed.  I feel like something I never addressed that many people have asked me is why do this?  First, because I can.  I am fortunate enough to have my health, to be relatively fit, to have the time and money to test myself in something as absurd as biking across the country.  There is something very innately human about challenging ourselves and this is one that I knew was possible, but not sure I could do. The best kind of challenge.  Second,  I wanted to see the country.  Not the way everyone sees the country, not by air or down the interstate but so slow it would be painful. To force myself to explore small town America, to feel the mountains, to suffer in the rain and cold, to really feel what this country is like.  It is hard to appreciate the vastness and magnitude of this country’s landscape unless you are out in it.  Lastly, I wanted an adventure.  I wanted to always be somewhere different everyday. I wanted to force patience on myself, to face adversity, to constantly venture into the unknown. 

Anyways, as far as days go it was stunning and difficult.  The day started with going over Washington Pass -3400 feet up.  The views were perhaps the best of the trip.  Immediately after was the smaller Rainy Pass.  As I began the long 5000+ foot descent out of the mountains I passed Ross and Diablo lakes with their turquoise waters, pretty amazing stuff.  Lower down the environment turned to rainforest. Now that I’m on the other side of the mountains everything looks constantly wet, far from yesterday’s desert landscape.

Rainforest, a bit wetter on this side of the mountains 

Now I get why they are called the cascades 
Diablo lake, not a bad filter 
Up and up the top of Washington Pass snow!

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Day 41 – Into the Cascades 

Omak, WA to Mazamo, WA – 55 miles Began the day by going up another high mountain pass this time it was about 3000 feet to the top. It was kind of interesting going from desert to wet forest as I climbed out of the cascades rain shadow.  It was s pretty slow day but eventually made it to Mazamo which I’m pretty sure is just these 10 or so cabins.  The place is really nice though and had a spa to soak in for a bit.  Getting excited, tomorrow is the penultimate day and the climb into the high cascades and then downhill to Anacortes island for the finale. 

Washington desert fire, you could still smell the burning embers in places ugh, rough just over those mountains and all done!winthrop was a really neat town, minus all the rvs
Home for the night 

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Day 40 – Sherman’s Pass

Kettle Falls, WA to Omak, WA – 106 miles

Today was my last really high mileage day and was full of some serious climbing.  Crossed the Columbia River right away in the morning and even saw a sign for Canada customs – 28 miles! – oh so close🇨🇦 After getting across the river it was the long grueling trek up Sherman’s Pass, fortunately I had my Civil War audiobook so I could listen to the mans exploits as I climbed his namesake.  4000 feet to the top, down 3000, and 2000 up over another mountain pass.  After all of that early in the day I was already getting tired and saw a subway and went in for a sandwich where the lady informed me today is the day in which the town turns the electricity off.  Strange.  So I continued ahead into the desert. Did you know Washingon has a desert? I did not.  Eventually a Best Western rose over the horizon like a mirage and after another triple digit day (my last I hope) it seemed like as good of a place as any to call it for the day. 

Crossing the Columbia Sunrise on the Columbia Oh Canada, so close Sherman never makes anything easy can you spot Lucy and friends?above the clouds fire damage people are strange into the desert, if you look close you can see snow caps – cascades!Washington Applesthe desert 

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Day 39 – One Final State 

Sand point, ID to Kettle Falls, WA – 112 miles 

Woke up and got breakfast at the restaurant downstairs at 5 am, the typical French toast, sausage, and bacon load up.   Hit the road across the long bridge across the lake.  Pretty smooth day, nice quiet roads nearly all morning until getting on the highway the last 20 or so.  Did a lot of zoning out listening to an audiobook on US Civil War and chatting with Becca.  One big climb – 2000 ft., that I spent all day giving her a hard time for calling a little hill.  Tomorrow is Sherman’s Pass which looks pretty unrelenting and looks to be my last real long day on the road.  Staying at a little place on the Columbia River which if my memory of Oregon trail serves me right I can just float a raft down to the Pacific on, sounds better than climbing tomorrow’s pass for sure. 

Sunrise on Lake Pend Orielle bike path on bridge that cross part of the lake no “welcome to Washington”, I thought this was better anyways not quiet 49 degrees N view from “Becca hill”town at bottom of climb, chewelahlooks like I’m outnumbered here 

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Day 38 – Welcome to Idaho 

Thompson Falls, MT to Sandpoint Idaho – 89 miles

Day started off really nice on quiet roads along a nice river, I think it’s the Thimpson River.  Rolled into Noxon which I realized could be read the same upside down.  Not much of a town and the store clerk told me the way I planned on going was rough gravel so I turned around and hit the highway which was annoying but not so bad.  The wind eventually started pushing against me until I hit Lake Pend Orielle which was incredible.  The cool air from it also shifted the wind I think.  The last few miles into Sandpoint were a bit rough but other than that a fairly simple 90ish mile day. 

Awesome road, wish it was always like this Deer watching me watch them Read it upside down Rickety bridge into Noxon First new state of the trip – just missing Oregon, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Alaska, and Washington (which I should have tomorrow)Lake Pend Orielle 

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Day 37 – Onwards to Idaho

Lolo, MT to Thompson Falls, MT -111 miles 

Not ready to say I’m getting close, but getting closer! Nice sunrise this morning and nice bike trail into Missoula.  It always feels a bit strange going back into a city after being in the country for so long.  After Missoula there was one long climb and then most the day was a rolling up down with a bit more down.  Surprisingly the heat started picking up – mid 90s and wind turned into my face by the end.  I’m not sure if it’s physical or emotional but I am feeling very worn down at this point.  I think it’s that feeling of having gone a long ways without the end quite in sight yet.  It could also be the nature of the working out that I’m doing.  I’m used to some very high intensity workouts and even long duration but always punctuated with some rest.  I’ve been on the bike everyday averaging around 80-90 miles a day for 5 weeks straight now and it’s starting to get the best of me.  I don’t want to sound whiny though, it’s been such a cool experience and have learned much about myself and this country but I’m ready to finish soon!

I never like going east! Suburbia, haven’t seen this in a while Inuit?what are they?

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