Bill Weidenfeller

Home: Naples, FL

Hobbies: Biking, Tennis

 

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America by Bike

Across America North Ride

This summer along with a group which includes many friends from previous long distance rides I plan to bicycle across America AGAIN! This second crossing is another fully supported ride with America by Bicycle, a touring company specializing in long distance cycling adventures. It is called the "Across America North Ride", a fifty day journey from coast to coast, beginning in Astoria, OR and finishing at the beach in Rye Beach, NH.

  • Posted: Wed, 28 June 2006

    Day 10 June 28 Boise to Mountain Home, ID




    DESTINATION MILES

    As we weaved out of Boise we could see the small mountains/big hills outside this State Capitol City. We have been told by the locals - at the bike shops and in town- that these hills are covered with more than 50 miles of super mountain biking trails.

    It was 7:30 am on a cloudy morning. The Rest Day was over....we were back at "WORK"; biking 50 miles to Mountain Home, Idaho. Like all work days, some are easier, less strenuous than others. This was one of those less taxing days; relatively low mileage and essentially flat terrain. However, they do average out. Tomorrow is a 97 mile day in HEAT--according to forcasts.

    For 6 or 7 miles we rode on a pedestrian only bicycle path that is part of the great pathway system in Boise. It took us out of town. We then passed a huge complex for Micron Technology, a maker of PC's and chips on the outskirts of the city.

    At mile marker 13 we got on I-84 and rode it to mile 44, the exit for our host city Mountain Home, ID. I was initially impressed with the condition of the bike path on the highway, but true to form for all interstate highways it had its share of debris: shattered truck tires, glass etc. Two or more bikers stopped to help fix a flat tire was a common sight, as flats are a continual problem on the big highways. We counted 12 flat tires at route rap this evening.

    The view all day was simply brown, parched rolling hills on both sides of the road. It was not farmland, not built-up, and not particularily pretty...just open sagebrush Idaho land.

    The trucks rolled by at 80 mph--too close and too loud for comfort. Joyce (MA) called this a "destination day", that is a day memorable only for getting to the designated destination, not for the scenery or challenge. These are not among the "great miles" we have cycled in Oregon and appreciated so much. These are "destination miles" necessary to get to the finish line.

    W e arrived at Mountain Home before noon, ate lunch near the motel, and w-a-i-t-e-d for our rooms to be ready. Many cooled off in thepool and enjoyed snacks provided by the Best Western.

    Bill

  • Posted: Tue, 27 June 2006

    Day 9 Boise, ID




    1. REST DAY

    It is apparent that all 56 cyclists are enjoying the rest day in this great City of Boise, Idaho. Small groups have been spotted in many of the downtown bike shops, outdoor cafes, and ice cream parlors. The 100 degree heat is not a concern today; a non-biking day.


    This afternoon and evening groups are attending a local Basque festival, A Shakespeare play in the open air, a minor league baseball game, or have reservations at several nearby restaurants.

    Enjoying the day with friends,
    Bill

  • Posted: Mon, 26 June 2006

    Day 8 June 26 Ontario to Boise, ID




    WELCOME TO IDAHO !

    (NOTE: see photos added to Day 6 and 7)

    Early this morning, about 2 blocks East of our hotel, we saw the sign "Welcome to Idaho "- as we biked across the Snake River bridge on our way to Boise.

    It was only 62 miles to Boise and our first Rest Day....and we were all ready! Ready for some R and R!

    As we stopped at a traffic light in Fruitland, ID, I noticed the license plates that read "Idaho Famous Potatos". We observed many of the farms on which they are grown as we biked through mile after mile of irragated farmland. The rolling hills here reminded some of us of our endless days in Missouri, cycling "the land of 1000 hills".

    We stopped for a photo at the fence of a buffalo ranch and talked about the healthful benefits of buffalo burgers, which we have seen on many menus in the area.

    At the SAG at the 32 mile mark we were joined by Diana, who had completed this ride a few years ago. she had brought a stack of cookies for us. SOOOOO, today, I went off my health kick (temporarily) and had a couple of chocolate chips. I was not alone.

    After the SAG the traffic picked up as we reached the town of Middleton. We noticed many roadside fireworks stands gearing up for July 4th. The bike lane was now on a busy road--we were riding single file and cautious of the passing cars and trucks.

    It was an enjoyable ride through the pleasant suburb of Eagle. We passed a golf course and rode through the streets of the upscale neighborhoods of Boise.

    Many of us stopped (on ABB's recommendation) in Hyde Park, a quaint section of Boise with outdoor cafes and shops, where we had lunch. With all of us wearing our ABB jerseys, we are a target for inquiring minds. "You are riding WHERE?", "How many miles do you ride each day?" , "Why?" etc . They all wish us well and say "Be safe".

    With as large a group of cyclists as we have, I am still getting acquainted with some of the riders. It is a congenial group, who all seem to be enjoying the adventure. Perhaps no one more than Kent (VA), who attempted the 2005 AA-N ride, but met misfortune on Day 1 in Astoria, OR. In a fall he broke his collarbone and was unable to continue. He is back this year and said: "With every crank down the road, I am a happy man". My sentiments ....exactly.

    The ABB gang is staying at a Courtyard by Marriott near the Boise State campus. We have already discovered the Bighorn Brewing Company's Sports Bar a few blocks away. Tomorrow we clean our bikes, do laundry, pick up needed items at the bike shop ......and REST!

    Bill

  • Posted: Sun, 25 June 2006

    Day 7 June 25 Baker City to Ontario, OR




    FEELING THE HEAT

    Our Sunday ride to Ontario was 83 miles southeast on a clear, hot day in Eastern Oregon. We did not have any serious climbs, or terrific scenery today. We did experience HEAT and the toll it takes on a long distance cyclist.

    Today we left the Wallowa Mountains in the rear view mirror, we changed our watches to Mountain time, and we biked to within sight of the Idaho border. We saw plenty of cattle ranches, farmland, dry sagebrush, and some rough road. We biked on Old Oregon 30, a quiet country road that gave us some real good downhills, and the opportunity to spread out and talk.

    At the 30 mile mark next to a hugh cement plant, we entered I-84, our debut appearance on an interstate highway. We had a wide bike lane that was surprisingly NOT cluttered with debris, and a ride that was mostly downhill. There were barren hills on both sides of the road. This was not the Oregon that we had come to love over the past week. One thing I was happy about in leaving the open range area, however, is the dissappearance of CATTLE GUARDS--those rolling bars in the road to keep cattle restricted. They can jar you silly!

    It was 87 degrees at 10:30 am. It would get worse.

    We had some "fly zones" where we could really let it rip on the route today. At the 50 mile mark we were descending fast toward a lake down below. It was a long downhill, so I thought I'd go for it. I got to 40 mph which is as fast as I have ever gone on a bike. I was in a tuck position at this point, when I zipped past a sign that said "Farewell Bend". I thought that might be an omen and I didn't want to say "fare-well" on this trip, so I slowed down and stopped to have a photo taken at and old stagecoach at the lake.

    There are a lot of strong riders in this group, particularly the Europeans, in fact all the Europeans. It is a good collection of experienced cyclists.

    The SAG stop at mile 56 was located on the bank of the Snake River. We watched fishermen out in their boats presumeably trying to catch the famous steelhead.

    The "run into the barn"--the last 25 miles--was much more difficult than I expected. Most everone agreed with me later on. It was very HOT! We were at the end of several hard days of cycling, so it was a tough pull into Ontario. We had one rider briefly hospitalizied at the end of the day with heat exhaustion/dehydration, but he is back with us now. It was 101 degrees as we arrived at the hotel; we were hot, tired, and thirsty.

    Tomorrow we finish in Boise, ID--and have a REST DAY there.

    Bill

  • Posted: Sat, 24 June 2006

    Day 6 June 24 John Day to Baker City, OR



    THREE PEAKS

    Four former Cross Country Challenge mates and I left this morning at 6:15 am heacded 81 miles up the road to Baker City, OR. We rode into the rising sun on a quiet Saturday morning. In our path today were 3 major peaks to climb and an elevation gain of 5800 feet.

    I felt surprisingly good this morning after yesterday’s “monster” ride. I guess a good night’s sleep does miracles.

    Ilkka (MA) , who was born in Finland, joined us after awhile. I noticed a button on his bike bag with the initials: SISU. I asked what it meant, and he said, “It is Finnish for TOUGHNESS AND DETERMINATION”. He explained that it was the slogan of the Finns when in 1939 the Russians invaded Finland, and the small Finnish army held off the mighty Russia for a period of time. It fits Ilkka’s attitude and riding style perfectly.

    It was just us and the birds and the grazing cattle on this peaceful weekend morning. The temperature was in the low 40's under clear blue skies...not a cloud. We rode on route 26 East again; accurately named Oregon’s Scenic Byway.

    At Prairie City (after a photo of the gang on a covered wagon), we began to climb to the summit of Dixie Mountain at 5277 feet. After a fast, but chilly, descent we then climbed to the summit of Tifton Mountain, and finally to Snall summit.

    We rode up and down for a period, and then a steep downhill into the town of Sumpter, often facing a new ridge of TALL snow capped mountains in the distance. This Oregon is unbelievable! We followed the Powder River for 20 miles while pace -lining our way into Baker City.

    You “gotta” love a ride with these intoxicating descents and continuous awesome scenery....even if you have to climb for hours to enjoy them!

    As an unexpected bonus, we were able to watch part of an exciting World Cup match at the sport’s bar in town where we had lunch (with water). AND THEN... a sanctioned cycling race -a crit- was being held in Baker City. We saw some of the racers warming up for the race through the closed-off city streets, and I talked to several of the young riders about the race in the hotel this evening. A billboard sign at the hotel welcomed the racers and ABB cyclists.

    Feelin’ good and happy with my bike that is rolling along smoothly,

    Bill

  • Posted: Fri, 23 June 2006

    Day 5 June 23 Prineville to John Day, OR




    THE MONSTER DAY ...TURNED OUT OK!

    (note: Our group was unable to get internet access last night. I will always attempt to catch up the following day)

    We departed Prineville at 5:45 am this morning...the day I had termed a "monster day". Many of us ate in our rooms at 5:00 so that we would not be delayed at a restaurant breakfast. It was going to be a long and challenging day on the road. Many former AA-N cyclists and the staff said that this may be the most difficult day of our journey.

    The route to John Day,OR was 117 miles East on route 26. Our bike computers recorded 5989 feet of climbing on today's ride. This combination of distance plus elevation gain over the course of the day was a real test for all of us. I was on the road for 10 hours today, finally arriving at our hotel destination at 4:00 pm. We are all tired , proud of our accomplishment and getting ready for whatever tomorrow may bring.

    It was as tough a ride as we expected and as challenging a ride as I have ever done. However, It was more scenic and captivating I think, than any of us envisioned. It was an absolutely beautiful course through mountains, forests, rock canyons, along river banks, past ranches, and farms....all on a gorgeous sunny day. Oregon has such a variety of scenic beauty. Our cameas were as busy as our legs on this day. This ride was one for the books!

    It was very cold leaving Prineville heading into the mountains and hot in John Day when we arrived. The terrain and vegetation changed several times as we climbed and descended our way through Central Oregon.

    In the Ochoco Natoinal Forest we climbed for 15 miles to the summit of Mt Ochoco at 4720 feet. The 12 mile descent was described as: incredible, fabulous, terrific, and fun by fellow cyclists. We had returned to arid conditions with sagebrush and smaller trees amid the small cattle ranches. It is interesting to follow the changes in geology and vegetation as we ride through this region.

    The high bluffs and rock formations we observed as we rode through the canyons were picture post card perfect. We biked into "Picture Gorge", which was well named.

    It was a cycling day we will all remember fondly for its scenic beauty, and proudly for what we experienced and had accomplished.

    Bill

  • Posted: Thu, 22 June 2006

    Day 4 June 22 Kah-nee-ta to Prineville,OR




    BIKING IN CENTRAL OREGON

    We departed the resort at 7:30 am in warm sunshine. The weather was a bonus on today's 61
    mile ride to Prineville, OR. It was a shorter ride than normal, but we has some climbing -3900 feet- that gave us a challenge. The scenery was again remarkable and varied as we biked up and out of the box canyon from the Indian Reservation and into the small towns, farmlands, and grassy mesas of central Oregon.

    We immediately encountered the first of several herds of horses roaming freely on the open range. They crossed the road in front of us and stood quietly for our cameras. Way up in the hills we saw a larger herd galloping to what must have been better grazing lands. Yesterday some cyclists suddenly came upon cattle in the road near the resort, nearly hitting them. They are restricted only by some cattle guards in the roads, which we find "jarring" when crossed on a bike.

    Many of us stopped in the town of Warm Springs to tour the Indian Museum there. It showcased the history of the local tribes: the Wasco, Sahaptin, and the Pieutes. All were nomadic tribes whose main food sources were salmon, roots and berries. They moved from one location to the next to gather these food items. Three thousand Indians reside on this large reservation today.

    Leaving Warm Springs and biking along side the DesShutes River with high bluffs forming a deep river valley, we watched fly fishermen standing in the rapid current trying their skills. It was a very calm setting.

    We reached the saddened town of Madras at the half way point of our ride today. The trees were tied with yellow ribbons and American flags were placed beside them. The signs on banks and in store windows offered prayers and thanks to their brave soldier's family. Madras is the hometown of Pfc Thomas Tucker, one of the two soldiers recently captured and killed in Iraq. A candlelight memorial is planned for Friday night in Friendship Park-- where our SAG stop was held today.

    This arid region of central Oregon has irrigated farmlands which we rode past. Our concensus opinion of the major crop we saw was OATS. My non-farm cycling companions and I later learned it was ALFALFA. We saw many other crops later in the ride ....but none of us ventured a guess as to what we were seeing. We did confirm that it was Mt Jefferson that we could see in the background of these fields.

    An area designated "US National Grasslands" was next along our route. Barren, desolate land was all we could see for many miles. In the last 20 miles we had some great flats and some descents, so we let it rip into Prineville, our destination.

    Tomorrow is a MONSTER DAY!.....117 miles with 5500 feet of climbing. We'll be on the road by 5:45 am. I guess I'll miss the Crooked River Rodeo scheduled for tomorrow night in Prineville. Oh well, the life of a cyclist.

    Bill

  • Posted: Wed, 21 June 2006

    Day 3 June 21 Welches to Kah-nee-ta,OR




    CLIMBING THE CASCADES

    ABB mentioned at route rap that this would be a difficult climb day. At 6:40 am we began the 66 mile up route 26 to Kah-nee-ta, OR through the Cascade Mountains.

    I was a bit apprehensive about today's ride. The instruction sheet said "go .8 mi from the hotel, turn right---Get Ready To Climb!" The first climb of the day was the longest climb at 11 miles with an average 5% grade and an elevation gain of 2500 feet. It was a cold morning, in the 40's, but we were dressed warmly in jackets, windbreakers, leg warmers etc., knowing that the descents would be very cold. We climbed slowly and steadily into the low clouds to the top. ABB had set up a SAG stop there in the Mt Hood National Forest. Everything I was wearing was wet from perspiration---it was cold.

    At this 13 mile mark the route sheet read: "Now descend 1000 feet in 4 miles, then climb 1000 feet in 3 miles. At the 27 mile marker climb 800 feet in 3 miles. At 30.5 mile marker road gets narrow and desolate--you will descend 1500 feet in the next 10 miles". This was our up-and-down ride through the Cascade Mts of Oregon. It was an unforgettable experience. The old growth forest of hemlock and spruce is majestic, the air is fresh and cool, the adventure and the challenges are PRICELESS.

    At several points we looked back in our rear view mirrors and saw the massive Mt Hood dominating the landscape, but getting smaller as we continued our trek East.

    In all the miles of exciting down hill runs that followed the climbs today, the environment changed. The terrain became flatter, the trees were now smaller and more sparse, the grasses had turned brown and the temperature rose. In a matter of 20 miles we had gone from the steep mountain forests to the high desert of Oregon. We could now see clearly off in the distance the range of snow covered mountains which includes "the Presidents": Mt Adams, Mt Jefferson etc. They were visible as we looked across a parched sagebrush landscape at the side of the road. A complete transition of climate and scenery in such a short period of time.

    After the SAG at mile 45 we turned onto route 3 and headed to the Indian Reservation near the town of Simnasko where our hotel, the Kah-nee-ta Resort, is located. These last 20 miles of the day provided as much fun as one can have on a bike. The high desert landscape was hilly, dry, sparse, rocky....beautiful. The terrain rolled up and down the box canyon to the resort. We had a 30-40 mph descent for 3 or 4 miles to the base of the canyon.....cut backs, S-turns, through high rock bluffs close to the road at fast speeds. It was a high....terrific!

    The resort is spectacular: pools, a golf course, casino, etc with expansive views of the dry hills in the distance. Many bikers took to the pool for a relaxing afternoon.

    Another great day on the road.

    Bill

  • Posted: Tue, 20 June 2006

    Day 2 June 20 St Helens to Welches, OR




    There was complete agreement about today's 75 mile ride to Welches, OR; everyone loved it! It was a great day on the bike! The route was varied and interesting, the scenery was stunning, and the weather was ideal for cycling; clear and cool. We had a few climbs (2900 ft of climbing today) and some fast descents. We crossed over the Willamette River on the St John's Bridge, and rode on an off-road bicycle path along the Columbia River for many miles.

    It was appropriate that "Team RTC" suited up in our Rails-to- Trails jerseys today, as we experienced the safety and pleasure of biking on the scenic pedestrian-only bike path in North Portland, OR. Part of the ride was on the levee of the Columbia River where we passed by the airport in small groups enjoying the great pathway provided for bikers and pedestrian recreation.

    It was in the town of Orient, OR that we got our first view of Mt Hood....WHOA! There it was --the massive snow covered mountain we had all been waiting to see. We had many more sightings as we rode on route 26 heading directly at it. It REQUIRED you to get off the bike and take another photo. It is a beautiful sight. Skiers and snowboarders are still on the mountain for summer training on the glacier.

    The region near the mountain that we rode through today is a center for large commercial nurseries covering hundreds of acres of trees in various stages of growth. The seedlings and young trees of all types are grown here to supply local nurseries around the country.

    Our hotel tonight is The Resort at the Mountain (Mt Hood), which is a first class resort with all the ammenities. It is located in a peaceful forest park setting in the Cascades. ABB has informed us that we should not get accustomed to such luxury--we have a long way to go--and a lot more Super 8's.

    We have a mom and her 2 teenage sons with us on the trip. They ride a TRIPLE bike, a bicycle built for three! They are perhaps the fastest bike in the group (6 legs make it fly). The family has lived in Paris, France for the past 10 years, where the boys go to French schools. They have absolutely no accent in either language. (I'll have to try out my language skills.) All three were in University of Notre Dame biking outfits today as the father and grandfather are alumni. Mom said to me with a wink, "There is absolutely no pressure on the boys". It is an interesting group we have here.

    Tomorrow is guaranteed to be a "tough day". I'll give you a report.

    Bill

  • Posted: Mon, 19 June 2006

    Day 1 June 19 Astoria to St Helens, OR

    Note; Please check yesterday's blog for Photos added.

    This morning at 6:30 am sharp the full contingent of 64 ABB cyclists and staff jammed into the breakfast "nook" of the Best Western. The lone server had her hands full trying to keep the continental breakfast buffet table stocked with sufficient food items. We all ate, loaded our luggage onto the "box truck", and went out to the patio for a group photo on the bank of the Columbia River.

    We departed smartly attired in our new ABB red, white and blue jerseys on a 69 mile trek from Astoria to St Helens, OR. The trip was entirely on route 30, "the old Oregon trail"and the path of the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific. It was chilly and somewhat cloudy all day as we biked along side the Columbia River. We has 2 significant climbs today, but the total elevation gain was only some 3000 ft. In just a few days we will be facing several major climb days in the Cascades. This was an excellent "opening day" ride.

    Numerous logging trucks passed us along our route. We are in the heart of pulp and paper country. The familiar odors emanating from the mills, and the sight of these smoke stacks and wood chip piles brought back memories of my many years in the industry. A photo shows the large mill complex at Longview, WA across the river from our route.

    Our first SAG stop at mile 22 (see photo) was in a beautiful park setting high on a cliff overlooking the river and the mountains of Washington in the distance. I began my "eat healthier routine" at the SAG. Instead of my former standard snack of 10 Oreo cookies, I had a banana, an orange, mixed nuts, a fig newton and gatorade. I have not yet noticed a marked improvement in my riding. (Maybe I'll go back to the Oreos).

    You meet remarkable people on these trips. Today riding into the SAG I talked to Don (MA) and Mike (Scotland). Don has completed 2 IronMen, 50+ marathons and 5 one hundred mile runs in under 30 hours. Incredible! Several people in their introductory comments mentioned that a long-time goal was to ride a bicycle across America. Mike said his goal was "to ride a bike AROUND THE WORLD ! He has completed the perimeter ride around Australia, the tour of Africa, and is underway across America. He plans to ride Beijing to Istanbul next. Amazing!

    After a lunch stop at Richmond's Country Kitchen in Ranier, OR, we kicked up the pace for the final 20 miles into St Helens. We were told that on a clear day one can see Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, Mr Ranier and Mt Hood from this paper mill town of 10 thousand people. We are hoping for one of those clear days tomorrow.

    Bill