Thursday, February 8, 2007

U.S. states I have bicycled in

Here are the U.S. states I have bicycled in over the years. These are all states where I traveled on bicycle tours that lasted a number of days and where I carried all my gear and camped out.

As you can see Oregon stands out. I'll have to ride there some day. I have several friends living in Oregon so it is not like I don't have a reason to visit Oregon.

If you are counting, the number of states total 19.

My first bicycle trip was from Tacoma, Washington back to North Dakota. Way back in 1979! It took me 15 days of riding to ride 1400 miles. This was a very memorable trip and I rode alone the entire distance. In the middle of the ride I took a few weeks break and visited my father.

During the second half of the trip through Montana I woke several mornings to frost coating my tent and then several days later rode in 93 F heat.

My second bicycle tour was in May 1980 from North Dakota to the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota and back. Again I rode alone.

The day I started that trip Mt. St. Helens exploded and several days later in SW North Dakota I was puzzled to find the skies cloudy with ash.

This trip through the Black Hills was truncated after my rear bicycle rim got extremely out of true when I rode down the steep hill from Lead to Deadwood, South Dakota. I fixed the wheel myself, but never completely trusted it after that on this tour when riding down long or steep hills. After a ride to see Mt. Rushmore I headed home and did not explore the rest of the Black Hills.

My third bicycle trip June/July 1980 was with my friend Francis. We rode from Minot to Fargo to visit his sister, then back to Minot. We made a loop. On the way home we stopped in Bismark and if I remember right, we camped on the state capital grounds. The few days we were in Fargo I also took a time to ride a few miles in Minnesota. The entire trip took a week or so.

Francis rode fast but not long. I rode slower but for a long time. We both had to compromise to make it work.

My third longest riding day was when we left Fargo and headed towards Bismark. Around 118 miles if I remember right. Francis did not want to ride on the interstate, and after 20 to 30 miles, we found a highway that went south to connect to a highway that would go west.

A long day. While resting on the road's shoulder late in the afternoon on a hot day a car passing by threw two cans at us. As Francis cursed the driver out I went and found the two cans. Full and unopened. But it was beer, which I don't drink. Once the can's contents settled down from going 55 mph to 0 mph real sudden like, Francis drank the two beers.

My fourth bicycle trip was from July 25 to September 9, 1980 when I rode from North Dakota across Canada, then caught a ferry to Alaska before returning via ferry to visit relatives in Tacoma, Washington.

The following map is a merge of Canadian and U.S. maps. I couldn't place Alaska in the correct position, but you get the idea. I only needed the SE coastal part of Alaska as that is the only part I visited.

I rode my bicycle on the YellowHead Highway across the mid-section of British Columbia to Prince Rupert, B.C. on the ocean. From Prince Rupert I took Alaskan ferries between various coastal Alaskan cities: Juneau, Sikta, Petersberg, Wrangell, and Ketchican.

I had a great time, battled terrible headwinds as riding east to west is not the best idea, lost a lot of weight, got hypothermia in the Canadian Rockies, saw bears, ate freshly caught salmon, slept in the craziest of places, and met Sarah, who is still a friend.

I also met a honeymooning couple riding on a bicycle tour from Calgary, Alberta into Banff and Jasper Provincial Parks. He was a computer programmer and after talking with him I decided to go back to college and study to be a computer programmer.

Another person I met was partway through his ride. After riding through much of the western U.S., when we crossed paths he was on his way up to the northernmost road in Alaska. His goal over the next year or so was then to go down to the southern most point of South America.

From Mt. Robson near the Alberta border we rode across B.C. to Prince George, B.C. I continued west on the YellowHead highway and he went north to catch the Al-Can highway. I never learned if he completed his goal. This was long before the days of the internet. The last I heard he was in the Yukon when winter came.

I also said I would never ride my bicycle across the YellowHead Highway ever again. So far I have kept my promise.

My fifth bicycle trip was from North Dakota to Manitoba and then Saskatchewan, Canada and back to North Dakota with my friend Mark. This August 1981 trip lasted one week trip before we headed off to our respective colleges.

We found the stores in the little towns were closed Sunday and Monday or Sunday and another weekday depending on whether you were in Manitoba or Saskatchewan. We had to carry extra food for the days the stores were closed.

In Saskatchewan we were rousted by the police between 1 and 2 am for camping where the police didn't want us camping in an undeveloped out-of-the-way park along a lake. As we rode the miles back to town under a clear sky on a warm August night, we watched many meteors fall as it was the peak time for the Perseid meteor shower.

On another hot August night we never reached the small town in Saskatchewan between Regina and the North Dakota border until well after midnight. It was a small town but we could see the lights of the town across the flat prairie many miles away. As we rode through the town teenage girls were roller skating down the center of the empty, well-lit roads. We pitched out tents in the small city park. We woke the next morning to find articles of clothing on our tents. We were tired from the riding and I slept through the entire commotion.

When one is on a bicycle tour one is usually out of touch with the world news. I do remember people talking - even in Canada - about how President Reagan fired the air traffic controllers when they went on strike illegally.

My sixth bicycle tour was July 1984 when I rode alone from North Dakota to California to go see the Olympic Games. This was my "farewell" long bicycle tour as I had graduated from the University of North Dakota that Spring and was starting work at IBM that September. A full-time job meant I no longer had time to go on extended bicycle tours.

My second longest day in miles was on this trip. I rode 134 miles across the Arizona desert in August.

It was quite a memorable bicycle ride and I have the scars to prove it after my bicycle crash north of Las Vegas after midnight. My first meeting with Mark's new wife was after I showed up all bloody at their apartment near Las Vegas around 2:30 am after hitching a ride in the desert. I wonder if they still remember my visit. I do. I remember falling asleep in their bathtub as I soaked some of my dried blood off. My one and only visit to Las Vegas. I've heard it has changed.

The first summer I lived in Minnesota I took a long July 4th weekend and rode through southern Minnesota over to La Crosse, Wisconsin to attend a 4th of July weekend Blues festival.

Another year I rode through southern Minnesota and across part of Iowa. It was during this ride that I rode my most miles ever in one day: 150 miles across Iowa and back to Minnesota.

In 1988 my co-worker and friend Dave convinced me we should take part in the Australian bicycle tour to celebrate Australia's bi-centennial. Our trip would be five or six weeks from mid-November to just before Christmas. Our winter - their summer.

Dave had never been on a bicycle tour before but he wanted to go on this one. This tour had 2500 people participating. It rained 11 days of the 14 or so days we rode on the actual Australian tour itself.

Dave had the worst luck the entire trip no matter where we were and had the worst time. He had his raincoat stolen, lost stuff, had bicycle problems, etc. He blamed me. He wouldn't speak to me for a long, long time afterwards and probably never really forgave me for what he felt was me talking him into going on this tour, what he called "The vacation from Hell."

In addition to Australia, we also rode a week in New Zealand before visiting Australia, then I spent three or four days riding around Hawaii after the Australian trip. By the time we reached Hawaii Dave had had enough (the airline had lost his bicycle again) and he flew back to Minnesota and below zero temperatures.

In 1989 I did a long weekend ride around southern Minnesota, then later rode across Wisconsin to visit family in Michigan.

The "Michigan" ride was my last bicycle tour. Later I met a woman and she and my best friend introduced me to backpacking, which I have done since. I still bicycle, but haven't had the itch to load up a tent, sleeping bag, and cook stove and head out on the highway.