Biologist on a Bike

Day 0: New Jersey to Astoria, Oregon

Today is the first day of my trip, and yet it isn’t.

I woke up at 5:30 this morning to my father knocking on my door. We both had planes to catch: me to Portland, him to Atlanta.

A long, green duffel bag with two blue ortlieb panniers in the foreground.

All my gear loaded into the back of the car.

As is to be expected, we didn’t get out the door nearly as quickly as we wanted to, and so we ended up arriving to the airport a bit later than intended. He dropped me at the terminal and then went to park, a decision that meant that I made my flight but he had to reschedule his, ultimately arriving several hours after he had planned to. As he said on the drive, “There are plenty of flights to Georgia.” Thanks, Dad!

The flight itself was uneventful. I slept a bit to make up for some lost sleep last night, then occupied myself with crossword puzzles or staring out the window until landing. The latter may sound boring, but there were definitely some views worth seeing out that window, especially in the last third of the flight.

A snow-capped mountain

There was quite a view when approaching Portland.

A friend I had never met in person before (huzzah for the internet) picked me up at the airport. We went to REI first to buy the things that I couldn’t fly with. And a spork. Because as careful as I was in packing everything, I forgot utensils. I’d like to say that I can’t believe I did that, but I can totally believe I did that. For those of you concerned about my safety from wild animals, I am also now in possession of a canister of bear spray courtesy of EDW.

From there we went to lunch at Luck Labrador Brew Pub where I got to meet another internet friend and her lovely and affectionate Labrador.

A lovely spot for lunch. From left to right: Me, EDW, LB, Tess.

After stories shared and much laughter, we said goodbye to LB and Tess and EDW and I headed for Astoria. It was a lovely ride, and the flora let me know for certain that I wasn’t in the midwest or northeast anymore. For more than half the ride the road wound its way up and down and through forests of towering pines.

There were also safety measures in place for cyclists on narrow parts of the road. On bridges and in the one tunnel we passed through, there were buttons that a cyclist could press which would cause some warning lights to flash. These warning lights are meant to indicate to cars that a cyclist is present. I don’t know how much attention drivers pay to those lights and their explanatory signs, but its a nice idea.

a tunnel on a road with a warning sign saying that lights flash in the tunnel when a cyclist is present.

A cyclist friendly tunnel? (Forgive the reflections off the windshield)

Steve, my Warmshowers host in Astoria, is a great guy. He welcomed us both, gave us a tour of his place, and recommended several places to go for food and drink. After dropping off my gear, EDW drove me the half mile to the bike shop and we said goodbye. She had a long way to drive home and I had a bike to pick up.

Ah, the bike. Well, it was assembled, but I had called in after it was shipped with a request that it also be given a tune up, but that got lost somewhere. That was at least partially my fault, as they usually ask for that information to be included in the shipment and I hadn’t done so. To compound things, I installed my front rack and fenders in, shall we say, a unique way. They were stable and whatnot, but so oddly positioned that the shop didn’t know how to replicate what I had done. It took a few minutes and my searching through old pictures to remember exactly what it was I had done, then about half an hour for it to be replicated. At that point the shop was officially closed, so I have to go back tomorrow for the tune up.

I’m a bit bummed that I won’t be able to set right out tomorrow morning, but such is life. I’ve only got a 50 mile day planned and I’m ending at a house (no need to set up camp), so a few hours delay won’t be that big of a deal.

Steve and I cooperated to cook dinner: salad, vegetables fried in olive oil, and rice. We spit a beer and had a great dinner sharing travel stories and other experiences.

The last thing I did before turning in was to take my gear out of the duffel I had flown with and pack it properly into my panniers. There was a bit of trial and error to balance the weight out, but I think it’s all set now.

For the past few days, anticipatory anxiety has periodically washed over me as I wonder what in the world I was thinking to undertake this tour. Today, however, I’m oddly calm. I’m here. This is happening. It’s going to be awesome.

10 thoughts on “Day 0: New Jersey to Astoria, Oregon

  1. EDW

    Too bad about the mixup with the shop. Enjoy those extra hours in beautiful Astoria. You’ll be on your way soon enough. Safe and happy travels!

  2. Cathy

    The ever-flexible, ever-optimistic Cindy! I look forward to following your amazing journey!!! Godspeed!

  3. Linda Beutler

    Aw! Hope this doesn’t shorten your time at Crisp’s Cracker Box, as my parents called the house. Beau North and I call it “Writers on the Rocks”. If you stay a second night, no one will ever know!

  4. Suzan Lauder

    Woo-hoo! You’re ready to rock and roll! So proud of you for taking this on, and looking forward to following your trip.

  5. Laurence Warner

    Hello!
    We met at Tamago, Jay’s lovely bike shop in Hyde Park.
    I wish you the very best for your wonderful journey.
    You might be interested to check out my friend Alana’s similar project, for which I will be joining her for the Colorado Springs-Denver leg as I am in Boulder this summer: http://beautifulcrossing.com/
    Best,
    Laurence (the Englishman)

    1. Spin Doctor Post author

      Hi. I remember speaking with you, Laurence. I’m glad you checked in, and I’ll definitely bookmark that link. Have a great ride.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.