Day 1. Astoria to St. Helens Oregon. We awoke to cloudy and cool, but thankfully dry weather. After I said goodbye to Adam (the best father's day present ever – thanks Adam and Duch for thinking of that), I met a few guys in the parking lot and we set off for New Hampshire together.
I can't believe I'm actually doing this. This is so cool!
We rode along the Columbia River, which is the river that Lewis and Clark took in their 1805 expedition to "discover" the Pacific. I was kind of expecting a US version of British Columbia. You know, majestic mountains, towering forests, cascading waterfalls. Well, it was pretty, but it was hardly "majestic". Today's ride was about 110km and we had a few good climbs to make. I ended up riding most of the day with Jeff, a Canadian computer programmer who lives in Connecticut (there are 3 Canadians including me, the half American/half Canadian). I win the award for first flat of the trip. Less than an hour after leaving Astoria, I got a flat. Thanks to Jeff, we found a steel wire that had punctured my innertube. I pulled it out with my tweezers (thanks for those, my Duchess) and we took out my spare tube and tried to fix it with that. Unfortunately, my spare had a hole in it. I borrowed a spare from Jeff, and with his and John's help (John owns a pizza franchise just outside of Cleveland) we were back on the road in just under 5 hours. Just kidding – 5 hours is how long it would have taken me if Jeff and John hadn't helped me.
Here's a picture of Jeff. Without him, I'd still be stuck on the side of the road. Thanks!
At one of the rest stops I was chatting to Gary and his wife Margot (from Connecticut) and found out that Margot is a Colgate alum, just like my son Adam (and, upon her graduation in 2013, my daughter Samantha). All the folks on the ride are really nice. It is truly an amazing cross-section of people. From computer programmers to retirerees, from Wal Mart employees to doctors, this ride has got it all. The staff are so nice and helpful.
OK, so to my loyal readers (reader?), here is a contest for you. It's the "guess how much weight Mark will lose" contest. My weight when I left was 173 pounds. Vegas oddsmakers are putting the over/under at 7.5 pounds for the trip (exactly 1 pound/week). Let me know whether you think I'll lose more or less (hint, hint...I am eating everything under the sun so far!).