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April 15

It was a short, smooth, easy ride from Suttle to Sisters, where we are being hosted by Al and Kathy King, two of the nicest people on the planet. Kathy recommended that I take the bike to Blazin Saddles for repairs. I did, they were awesome, and now I can’t wait to see how well it works on the ride to Prineville tomorrow.

On the way to Sisters

April 14, cont’d

What a day! Not knowing exactly what to expect, we got an early start. Highway 22 out of Detroit is beautiful on a Sunday morning, even when it’s cloudy. As we rode, the clouds cleared a little, regrouped, then rained on us and repeated that cycle. The first 18-20 miles went smoothly and the ascent was gentle. Traffic was light and we stopped only to let Jax stretch his legs and for me to switch jackets a couple times (rain shell great for keeping water out, bad for sweating up hills). Temperatures went from 36 degrees F to 38, then down to 34 as we climbed.

Santiam River

I let the Mighty Jax out about once an hour. When grades were 4-5%, traffic was semi-light and the shoulder was wide enough, I let him walk-trot alongside. He’s not a big fan of walking or moving in a straight line, so I stopped and let him rev his motor a couple times.

Somewhere off the road

After 20 miles, the shoulder (when there was one) got gravelly, sandy and-or silty, the leftovers from road crews trying to keep up with snow and ice all winter. When we could, we used the smooth part of the road, moving onto the shoulder only when traffic approached. But traffic steadily increased and the last 20 miles of the ride were essentially a “gravel ride.” No problem, keep pedaling.

3-5 miles from the top of the pass, grades were 5-8%, a perfect time to offload 75 lbs. and let Jax walk. However, traffic was really roaring by now, so he remained in his chariot. Traffic was heavy, but very polite. We even got a few honks and thumbs up as we slogged up the final miles. That was really motivating! When we reached the Pacific Crest, I was really sweaty and it was starting to snow.

Where the PCT crosses hwy 20

Sweat and cold are an awful combination, especially when the road starts to descend and you no longer have physical exertion to keep you warm. So I stopped, bundled up and set out toward Sisters. The snow really started coming down, but thankfully didn’t stick to the road. Traffic was really whizzing by now and visibility was limited, so the clear asphalt wasn’t an option. Once again, my just-“fixed” bike could no longer shift into higher gears, but coasting along at 25 mph, that wasn’t a problem. The problems were that I couldn’t feel my fingers, I was out of water and the snow wasn’t letting up as we descended.

So we stopped short of Sisters, at Suttle Lake. 45.1 miles, 3,959′ of climbing. Today, we will make the 14-mile ride into town, go to a bike shop and get professional help.

Suttle Lake is now part of Jax’s domain
Image

April 14

We made it over Santiam Pass, but not quite to Sisters. I’ll post more about it tomorrow… this connection is very slow.

Never scoff at Snow Zone signs

April 11th – 12th

Continuous, rainy wind in our faces slowed us to a crawl on our second ride. Though we reached a max speed of 24mph, we were often moving at a walking pace. No problem, keep pedaling. At mile 10, the bike’s front derailleur quit doing its job, so we rode another four miles and stopped in Sublimity, 12 miles short of our destination. Jax slept while I fixed the front derailleur and tried to work out how many centuries this trip would take if every day were like this.

But every day isn’t like that and the next day was awesome. It did rain on and off, but what little wind there was didn’t come from in front of us. My derailleur “fix” gave out with 8 miles to go, but we made up the lost distance and traveled 39 miles to Detroit, Oregon, seeing some pretty territory and meeting some very friendly people and a sweet little Rottweiler on the way. Jax got to run about 4.5 miles, which was fun for both of us. It was a beautiful ride.

I’ll try to fix the bike “for real” today and tomorrow we’ll try for Sisters, over Santiam Pass. With traffic and narrow shoulders on the road, I don’t expect to be able to let Jax out during the climb. It’ll be a slow ride, but the 36 miles to the top of the pass have to be done in one shot. All the campgrounds between here and the pass are closed and deep snow beside the road will prevent us from just going off into the woods and pitching the tent. When we reach the top, it’s 21 more miles to Sisters, hopefully downhill most of the way.

Jax and his new new friend, Andrew. He also met some really nice people and a sweet Rottweiler in Mill City.

And we’re off!

I was blown away by all the support we received yesterday. Team Be Better suited up to escort the Mighty Jax out of town and the Canby Police Department blocked traffic at intersections to help us on our way. Wow! Once we left town, a steady 12-14 mph headwind tried, but failed, to blow us away. The dog trailer felt like a drag racing parachute, but we made it to Silverton and put the first paw print on our route map. My wife, Tammy, drove out to have a farewell dinner. Today will be another short ride to Lyons, where we hope to camp in the city park. Hopefully, we’ll start increasing our daily mileage on the other side of the Cascades. Our K9s For Warriors donations are up to over $4,500 and BHG Realty Partners is matching the first $5,000, so we are making good progress!

Conversation in our room last night: Mornin’ John! It’s 4:22 AM and I’m going out. Need anything? Mmm, no thanks. OK just thought I would ask. Now will you take me out? You @$$hl. 🙂

The Oregon Garden is a truly beautiful place to visit, eat and stay.

Can’t imagine how beautiful this place will be when Spring really kicks in

The Gordon House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

The Gordon House, much improved by adding Jax

T minus 2: Last-minute Negotiations

Jax: “Hideous as it is, I will miss this creature. Can I bring it?”

You can now see our current route plan in the blog menu above. I’ll try to add markers at each place we stop along the way. Blog posts should automatically post to our Facebook page (@rollingwithjax) since FB is where most people live, but it’s easier to find old posts from within the blog itself.

Jax’s Boots

8 days till launch. Wish we were on the road already, but there are a few loose ends to tie up before we leave. In the meantime, here’s an old video of Jax that makes me smile every time I watch it. 🙂

His ability to accept change and move on should come in handy on the road!

T-minus 13 Days and Counting….

Jax smells adventure approaching and is unfazed.

Departure date is set for April 10th. The bike is fixed and I’ve cut 4-5 lbs. of gear from my packs. Jax’s and my gear, food, water, trailer and Jax are now ~170 lbs. Add me and the bike and we’re pushing 400. I could maybe shave off a few more pounds. But the most important thing Jax and I have worked on is training him to heel on the right, so he can run on the safe side of the bike when the going is tough, traffic permitting. That will give him some exercise and reduce my load by 75 lbs. for short periods.

Trotting alongside the bike for a short distance every day shouldn’t be a strain for the Mighty Jax. On a normal day on the farm he runs 3-4 miles at speeds faster than I ride and during hunting season he covers 20-25 miles a day over rough ground, for 3 to 5 days at a stretch. I’ve been asked why I don’t have him pull me (a.k.a. “bikejoring.” See another GSP bikejoring here). He’s well-trained, but not for that and it’s a 3,500+ mile trip, so I plan on doing the pulling. Jax has a veterinary appointment next week to get checked out and to get any advice our vet has to give about making sure the Mighty Jax stays mighty all the way to Florida. 😉

“Do I look fat in this trailer?”

The bike has been making “groaning” noises during loaded training rides, so I’m taking it to the shop to make sure it’s fit for our trip. I also decided to weigh everything I’ll be hauling. Not including me and the bicycle itself, the total came up to 175 pounds. Jax, his food, water, supplies and the trailer were 120 lbs. of that. I will certainly trim the load a bit before we leave, but the dog goes where I go.

Working Like a Dog

Today was our first fully-loaded, overnight practice ride. Jax ate like a pig and crashed right after I set up the tent. Riding in a trailer on a beautiful day must be harder than I thought.