Like I have for the last few years, I spent the summer months house-sitting for wonderful friends. What an amazing summer I had in Portland.
The weather was sensational never getting too hot. I triked all summer visiting with friends establishing my usual relaxed routine. I also took a couple of triking trips. The first was out to TOT (Trikes Optional Tour) in Kellogg, Idaho. This is a yearly event on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene attended by close to 100 trikers. The group takes over a good size hotel next to a ski lift. Every evening trikes line up outside as the group sits in the driveway yakking about the day's rides. It really is something to see. A good number of us also did the Trail of the Hiawatha driving into Montana to start at the top. This is an unpaved, hardpack 15 mile spectacular rail trail with lots of tunnels and old train trestles. Even though the whole thing is lightly downhill we took 4 hours to complete it. The weather was outstanding and we probably got more exercise getting in and out of the trikes to take pictures of the views and read historical markers than we did riding. I was really impressed with the TOT event and plan on returning.
Throughout the summer I did lots of riding. The Sunday Parkways and the Recumbent Retreat are always my favorite rides. This was my 9th year riding to the coast. I took Montgomery Dr. over the west hills to the Hwy 26 path out to Tanasbourne where I met up with Kirke and Kathi Johnson. We followed the lovely Banks/Vernonia rail trail into Vernonia. We stopped at the Blue Cafe for dinner before riding the last bit to the Big Eddy County park to camp for the night. It rained all night and threatened to continue in the morning. After summiting the coastal range the clouds broke and we had a fabulous ride in sunshine to the Ft. Stevens campground in Warrenton, Oregon. The retreat was fantastic, as usual. There were more trikes than bikes continuing a trend that started 2 years ago. At my first retreat in 2005 there were 2 trikes and this year that number has grown to over 70. We had trikes only rides bombing around the trails. Everywhere I rode I would run into trikes. Super fun! Trike pods set out to tackle the challenging treasure hunt that took us to every part of the park. The lighted bike parade is the highlight of the retreat and we had a great time circling through all the loops to a captivated camper audience. I headed back to Portland on Monday with Kirke and Kathi retracing our route back to Big Eddy. The following morning I decided to ride the shorter Scapoose/Vernonia Rd into Portland which dropped me on Hwy 30. The road was freshly paved and had surprisingly little traffic. It is a beautiful route through forested terrain that cuts off 15 miles but includes a 1,000 ft climb before the descent to Scapoose along the Columbia River.
The following week a group of recumbents went back out to the Banks/Vernonia trail for another lovely day-ride. We extended the ride out to the Big Eddy campground finishing up the day with 60 miles. The highlight of the day was meeting Joe who was also on a trike. Joe is my new hero. He is 92 years old and was grinning ear to ear riding down the path. Gotta love trikes!
I also spent some time deciding on a new tour route. After my challenging China experience I was ready for an easier time of it and knew I wanted to do Europe. When I say easier I'm referring to the daily routine and not terrain. I'm certainly expecting lots of hills. But the towns are much closer together than many places I've visited which will make for the option of shorter days. Accommodation shouldn't be as big an issue as it has been sometimes. The real question was where to start in Europe. Since I'm always riding through the winter and don't especially enjoy cold weather I knew I wanted to stay south. For sure I need to be south come November. Avoiding the cold was my primary criteria for route consideration. Conveniently, as I was planning I got an invitation to attend a wedding in the south of France. This ended up helping me pin point where I would start my tour. The wedding is at the end of September about the time I had intended to be in Europe. So, I will bring Myrtle with me on the plane to the wedding and pedal out of my friends driveway to start my tour. At this point, my plan is to ride from Lacoste, France in Provence to Israel. Once the weather warms a bit I'll turn northward to Istanbul, Turkey. From there I'll head west back into Europe perhaps ending in Amsterdam. Let the tour begin!!!!!