Oregon To Maine On A Bicycle Day 1

If you missed part one start here.

I rolled out of the driveway on July 27th not sure what lay ahead but I was certainly excited and a bit nervous of what day one would bring. I rolled out of Grants Pass and headed towards Medford. This unlike any other day of the trip I had a planned stopping point. One of my best childhood friends had moved to Klamath falls and so I called and asked if I could spend the night. I had the address in my fanny pack and off I went. The total distance would be 105 miles, and compared to the test day of 130ish.. I figured this would be an easy first day.

Source: Jeff Cunha

Food is going to be a topic I cover a lot of as the one thing I underestimated was how much food you would need to actually consume in order to ride a bicycle 10+ hours per day. First stop after 30 miles of riding was at the McDonalds in white city just before the junction of highway 62 and 140 that would take me East to Klamath Falls. With 3 bacon egg and cheese biscuits and 3 hash browns under my belt I was off.

Source: Jeff Cunha

With only 75 miles left to go I figured this was going to be easy, I should be in Klamath falls long before nightfall. It was only 11 am but it was starting to warm up. The expected high for the day was 103F so I wanted to get the climb up to Fish Lake out of the way before it warmed up. I had driven this way many times so I knew there was a hill involved, I just didn’t fully realize exactly how much harder hills are on a bicycle that in a car.

After the initial meandering valley terrain it was onto the climb. Now if you recall I had “trained’ for this by doing a short 60 mile ride that included what I considered a mountain. I was wrong. Hayes hill, my training hill had an elevation gain of about 400′. The mountain I was now attempting to climb was going to have a total elevation gain of over 4000′. It may also be worth mentioning at this point that I did not plan my route, I had no set path nor daily goals preplanned, besides this first day. I figured that I needed to go north and east and the sun would always let me know if I was going in the right direction. I hate when plans are thwarted and not knowing what each day would bring, or how I would feel, I figured it would be best to simply figure it out as I went. Less disappointment that way.

Source: FlattestRoute.com

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention anything about weight and riding a bicycle. My training bicycle while an old and heavy machine tipped the scales at about 25lbs… My new “racing” bike fully loaded with rack, panniers, tent, sleeping bag, one pair socks, one extra pair shorts, one extra t-shirt, water purification tablets, small pair of vice grips, flat repair essentials, extra tires, extra tubes, frame pump, one swiss army knife, one Sony Walkman cassette player, One cassette (Highway to Hell AC/DC) one pair of all purpose Nike Nguba spd shoes, one tiny 9v flashlight, one notebook( for journaling each day), one pencil, one fanny pack, $2500 in cash, one credit card, one drivers license, 2 water bottles, one two page 8×11 map cut out of a 1967 encyclopedia that encompassed the entire US. one small pipe and a very small amount of cannabis for pain management. All told the bike fully loaded was 60lbs… Plus my body weight of 189lb meant that I needed to move almost 250lbs up 4000′. I had seriously underestimated the effort this task would require.

Source: Jeff Cunha

With the temperature now in the low 100’s … I was out of water within the first hour of climbing. The climb would turn out to be 12 miles in length. I was averaging about 3 miles per hour. By hour 4 as I saw the summit sign I was slightly delirious and certainly suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion. As I became light headed, I knew I needed to take a rest break, so I looked for a shady spot on the side of the road and headed for it. I do not recall exactly what happened next, I do remember reaching the shaded section off the road near the tree line, everything then went black and then several people were yelling at me in a foreign language.

After my brain finished re-booting, I made out a group of people all wearing orange vests standing over peering down at me and the foreign language turned out to be English. It was a road crew that stumbled upon me passed out on the side of the road. They asked if I wanted something to drink. I had stopped sweating about 3 hours into the climb and needed liquid very badly. They had a huge Gatorade cooler filled with orange Gatorade. I drank a lot and refilled my bottles, thanked them for saving my life and was back on the bike. According to my bike computer I had only been passed out for about 30 minutes.. still on schedule.

I then proceeded to the Fish Lake Resort to get some food, two burger specials with fries later, I was back on the road. I knew I would have to climb back up the short descent to the lodge but I didn’t care. I was hungry and still thirsty.

Source: Jeff Cunha

The rest of the day was rather uneventful, my rear was getting a little sore, legs a little tired from the climb but the terrain was mostly rolling or flat with no arduous climbs, compared to that first climb everything was going to be easy now right? 8pm, 13 hours in the saddle, I finally rolled up to my friends house in Klamath Falls.

Source: Jeff Cunha

Wes, answered the door and the first question out of his mouth was , where is your car? I had failed to mention I would be riding my bike over, or I had mentioned it and he thought I was kidding. Either way his Wife made me a giant plate of macaroni and cheese and I couldn’t have been happier. Hunger was clearly going to be the theme of this trip. I would say this was the worst day of the trip, but it wasn’t.

Next Up Day 2: Klamath Falls to Lakeview 96.2 Miles.