From Bear Country to Beer Country

Riding from Grand Tetons to the Pacific Ocean

August 12 - September 3, 2004

"You must be out of your minds!" says the guy at the gas station in New Meadows, Idaho when we pull over on our bicycles. It is our 11th day of riding; it has rained all day and it will rain the rest of the day. Later, about ten kilometers before reaching Council, the back rack in Tomi's bike breaks down; the plate that mounts it to the frame just snaps.

Let's start from the beginning ...

Our plan was to ride in 21 days from Jackson ,Wyoming to the Pacific Ocean in Oregon somewhere around Lincoln City or Pacific City, and then take a couple of days ride along the shore to Portland to catch the Amtrak train back home to Indiana.

We made it from Jackson to Florence, Oregon and then along the coastline to Newport in 22 days and in 2089 kilometers. Since we did not have time to ride to Portland, we rented a car. Anyway, we made some changes to our planned riding route all along, mostly following local advice. This is how we rode. The equipment list is here.

The descents and ascents calculated in the table below are between major cities and mountain passes, and by no means reflect the total number of meters climbed or descended during the day.

And then some anecdotes from our trip:

  • We learned to hate RV's in this trip, especially those bus-size RV's whose drivers do not have an idea what is the effect of their monster vehicle on the lighter traffic, but pass bicycles hugging the white line.
  • Another issue is honking. I guess that people just try to be nice, but receiving the loud sound and the air-flow caused by the passing vehicle at the same time is not only annoying, it is also scary and dangerous.
  • Budweiser and Pepsi drinkers are the worst roadside litterbugs.
  • All motel rooms we stayed in had a TV, but not everyone had an antenna. I wonder what's the point of having the device if you can't watch it. Most of the devices did not even look cool.
  • Best Western TV commercials do not correspond the reality, or the other way around. I still think that it is the one of the best quality motel or hotel chains for the price, but the hotels they advertise are not those that one finds in small towns.
  • In general, we observed that the room price does not correlate with the location or quality of the motel.
  • By the landscape, Idaho is probably the most versatile and interesting state I've been in this country: from mountainous pine forests in the Grand Tetons side, to potato fields around Ashton, the seed potato capital of the world; from the shrubby desert between St. Anthony and Arco, to the Sun Valley ski area with mountain bike trails; and finally from the spectacular gorge from Banner Summit to Lowman and Banks, to Brownlee and Oxbow dams towards the Oregon border.
  • Oregon's roads are not in good conditions and there is a lot of glass on shoulders. Where there are shoulders, I mean.

Daily distances and riding times

Day From To Distance (km) Riding time (h:min) Ascent(+)/ Descent(-) (m)
1 Jackson, WY Colter Bay Village, WY 84.6 5:40 +166.1
2 Colter Bay Village Grant Village 59 4:15 +376.4 / -77.7
3 Grant Village West Yellowstone, MT 86.3 5:10 +343.8 / -669.3
4 West Yellowstone St. Anthony, ID 116.6 5:50 +123.75 / -640.7
5 St. Anthony Arco 169.2 9:10 +106.1
6 Arco Carey 72.6 5:05 +177.4 / -340.5
7 Carey Ketchum 66.8 4:15 +323.7
8 Ketchum Stanley 103.0 7:20 +870.5 / -744
9 Stanley Garden Valley 134.3 7:20 +242.6 / -1192.7
10 Garden Valley Cascades 76.2 4:55 +594.4 / -100
11 Cascades Council 105.8 6:50 +77.7 / -634
12 Council Halfway, OR 128.2 9:20 +638.6 / -725.7
13 Halfway Baker City 87.6 6:30 +313.9 / -71.6
14 Baker City Sumpter 48.4 4:15 +297.2
15 Sumpter John Day 93.2 7:00 +568.2 / -976.9
16 John Day Mitchell 122.3 8:20 +841.3 / -618.1
17 Mitchell Prineville 102.5 7:00 +724.8 / -566.3
18 Prineville Sisters 71.5 5:00 +71.9
19 Sisters McKenzie Bridge 91.4 6:25 +678.2 / -1196.3
20 McKenzie Bridge Eugene 86 4:55 -298.1
21 Eugene Florence 99.9 6:25 +105.8 / -234.4
22 Florence Newport 83.2 6:10 +/-300

Our trip started in Bloomington Indiana August 10th. We spent two days driving to Jackson, which was pretty tough. We visited some spectacular places on our way, such as Badlands National Park in South Dakota. The journey starts here!


-- TnT (2004)

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