Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Portland to Glacier. Yes, that Glacier.

Sometime last winter I was on a training ride listening to a few riders chat about how magical Portland to Glacier was. While dodging posts in the bike path, I was stupid enough to say something to Mark like, "Wow that sounds amazing. I'd love to try that. If they run it, I'm in." I must have had a sufficient amount of caffeine that morning, because I think I had the rando equivalent of beer muscles.

Perhaps I had not clearly thought this through, for without much fanfare word went out that the ride was on. I pretty much had to go, right?

You see, I really was planning to spend not so much time on the bike this year. A few months later, Greg and I were wasting time at work, and one of us mentioned that we dropped the "megaton bomb" at home by casually saying we were thinking about the megameter ride.

Before you knew it, train tickets were in hand, hotel reservations booked, and I couldn't escape the gravitational pull of the ride.

(Somewhere on the third day of the ride, Karl mentioned that looking at altitude on his GPS was interesting because even a small decrease in elevation would bring on a significant increase in speed. The reformed physics major in me replied something along the lines of, "Yeah, well gravity isn't strong, but there sure is a lot of earth." After I said that, I realized I was pretty incoherent. But I'm getting ahead of myself.)

I had never gone over 600K, and I had a pretty miserable 400 this year, so the idea of a thousand was pretty scary. I asked everyone I could what's different going over 600, and everyone offered up their best advice. Still, I had the impression that you just can't describe it.

Vincent, Mark, and Geoff pre-rode the route and added some seriously useful comments to the cue sheet.

I asked Vinnie for advice, and he ominously told me to save something for the third day. He was optimistic as ever, but he warned me that I already had my easy ride for the year.

So, how did the ride go? It went great. I almost DNF'd in the heat on the first day. I was able to sleep a bit each night. My foot hurt so badly, I must have ridden 100 miles with my foot on top of my shoe. My bike worked wonderfully. I was able to eat the whole ride, which I am learning is everything.

I don't normally ride with music, but on the first day, I was burning up on a long section of road. It was hot. Hot. I was rationing my water. I turned on the iPod shuffle which, perfectly and randomly, started playing Elvis Presley's Burning Love. Priceless.

Lord almighty,
I feel my temperature rising
Higher higher
Its burning through to my soul

Ooh, ooh, ooh,
I feel my temperature rising
Help me, Im flaming
I must be a hundred and nine
Burning, burning, burning
And nothing can cool me
I just might turn into smoke
But I feel fine

Its coming closer
The flames are reaching my body
Please wont you help me
I feel like Im slipping away
Its hard to breath
And my chest is a-heaving

Just a hunk, a hunk of burning love
Just a hunk, a hunk of burning love
Just a hunk, a hunk of burning love
Just a hunk, a hunk of burning love

You know that church with the hose a couple of blocks off course noted on the cue sheet? VERY GOOD information.

I slept on a park bench for 20 minutes to avoid the heat on the third day. The third day went on for something like three days, by the way. The passes were the easy part, but the endless big rollers just never gave up.

I experienced the fractured scablands up close and personal.

Stealing a line from Nick Bull, I crossed the railroad tracks and left behind something that would have horrified the leave no trace crowd. I too am sorry.

Riding through the night, with a clear sky in Montana and seeing a shooting star and the milky way when I was just about in was magical.

I had a short-lived state of euphoria after nuking a dark chocolate Frappuccino in a convenience store that conveniently stayed open a few extra minutes for those two crazy guys on bikes.

When I finally pulled into the hotel in Whitefish, I was all verklempt. (Extra points for using that in a sentence.) Yes, I really want to go to Paris, but it's OK if I don't make it. That's really how much I enjoyed this ride.

Burgers and beer are excellent in Whitefish. So are the pizza, the ice cream, the cherries, watermelon, eggs, bacon, toast, OJ, coffee, lattes, and the scones. Food on the train, not so much.

Amtrak is a lot like the 77 bus, and it's a great place to pick up all sorts of tricks for dealing with your parole officer. (Your P.O. to the in crowd).

Thanks so much for running this ride again. Thanks for the help from the pre-ride and the others who helped get me through. Thanks for all the help holding down the fort while I was out playing.

I'm really really glad I brought a camera, and I tried to take a ton of pictures. Here are some teasers, but the rest can be found here:



  1. Next 1000k we ride together Joe


  2. Nice write-up, and good job on the finish! 1000k still sounds crazy to me.

    See you on the road soon...

  3. Nothing quite like it, is there?

  4. "...because I think I had the rando equivalent of beer muscles."
    Quote of the year. I'm turning in my blogger card. You win.