Sunday, October 12, 2014

Summer Flashback Part 3: The Left Side of the Map

Not the coast so much, but I did see it.  I don't often go to the beach, but swimming everyday means with certainty that you are on summer vacation.  The states on the leftern half of those united were the final leg of driving, which of course meant getting there.  The northland segment across Montana was the hottest of any in 6300 miles.  Why would anyone drive that sort of distance in this day and age?  Well in our race in Michigan was 500 miles from the nearest transportation hub of any means.  At least one segment was made in company.  The solo legs that followed were interrupted as best as possible with town stops, car slumber, and worthy rides where I could.  I had about four days to make it to Seattle before the festivities of the Wenger wedding.  That meant two lane roads and slow speeds to keep the mileage up.

I made a two day push to Helena on a whim and found a town full of good beer and mountain bikes locked all over the downtown.  My bartender that evening was friendly and pointed me in the direction of some good trails and free camping.  I found myself at a trailhead the next morning with loaded riders passing me by en masse.  Most were not Americans, four of five that I talked to were from other countries and were southbound on the Continental Divide trail.  How brilliant that folks from other countries ride our most stunning landscapes, while most transcontinental Americans opt for the hot summer plains and a headwind!  My ride was bound for the lower ridges outside of town, but in the distance lurked inviting backcountry adventure.  In my former days living in Montana, I had never really found the great riding of the north country.  There were plenty of adventurous dirt roads, but the singletracks favored hikers and were often overgrown and hard to follow.  Helena proved a bit different, with great trail access from town, and the promise of extended opportunities in the horizon of less rugged mountains.

The evening found my recovery in a hot spring along the Lochsa River, and quickly passing out in a valley smog after a rain had passed through.  This part of the world is spectacular with wild and its sad it has taken nearly a decade to return.  The alertness demanded of adventure in these parts is refreshing to the senses, though the chills to the spine are not so much.  


The wedding in Seattle was a blast from the past.  A quasi-reunion of fellow collegiate cyclists.  We were roadies.  None so much these days.  Mr. Wenger is an early supporter of my frame building efforts and less a cyclist these days than a cycler.  Our adventures have caused us each the gowth of much body hair, and the loss of that upon our scalps.  Chasing sunlight in freezing temperatures and snow aboard our steeds, long efforts, long efforts, followed by long efforts.  We aim for these festivities every few years, but have fallen off a bit of late.  I had never met Mrs. Wenger to be, but was promised an interpretation of a traditional Jewish wedding.  It did not disappoint.  My date flew in from Flagstaff, as did some very important Georgians with whom we stayed.  The spectacle drug on for three days, and in that time we managed to taste wine, and tell tales, swim in Lake Washington, and live the good life as one can only do on vacation.  Lets just say the theme here was "value oriented", as it was uttered a number of times.  That Chuppah is constructed out of the finest in harvested free range bamboo and duct tape.  Promotional flip-flops were offered by Hawaiian Tropic to assist ladies in high heels to the top of the grassy knoll for the ceremony, free of charge.  Table gifts from various sponsors were encouraged upon guests for the taking.  Someone even danced the worm in a dance off.  It went unanswered.  

Mazel tov!

I headed south for Oregon.  I was running low on funds, but had to eek out some rides.  There is nowhere more spectacular than the cascades, but the entice of some recently relocated friends brought the space cruiser and its contents first to the coast.  The hobo known best as Aqua fired up his grill and skills and put on a proper performance for an unannounced guest.  Hospitality is a prideful sentiment amongst the hobos.  And the perpetual rainy season of the coast Oregon is all the more reason to take in a guest from world's past.  From bums in yuppieville to yuppies in bumville, not much has changed but the zip code.  Thanks for the stay in Depoe Bay dear friends.

There was one last stop on the tour.  5000 miles and counting to this point.  I needed out of the car.  The driving had relentlessly mocked the time spent in the saddle.  The events of the two subsequent weekends demanded this, but my body and mind needed redemption.  I headed east to Oakridge.  It will get its own post. 

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