Epic Ride 2011 Recap

Well, the Epic Ride of 2011 is now complete! What a great time! I’m not going to go into daily detail like I did on my 2010 ride, because there’s far less to cover, but I’ll talk about some of the high points.

My 2010 ride was all about reaching a goal. I wanted to ride from one end of the country to the other, and I wanted to really experience some of the differences in culture throughout the country. For 2011, I wanted to go to a different country, taking my bike across the border. But also I wanted to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen for a while. So this trip was much more about people, than setting a mileage goal. This trip was also much more about family than just bikes. My wife and daughter tailed me in the car. That was really nice because I didn’t have to leave them for a week. It took a little of the “thrill” out of riding to be honest, but it was great having my girls with me.

The first day I left early with my sights set on Eureka, CA. It’s about 500 and some odd miles so it was going to be a long day. The girls left a few hours after me since they had to drop the cat off at the kennel. I rode up 99, crossed Manteca and Tracy and picked up the 580 toward the bay area. I followed it up through Oakland and then over the San Rafael Bridge. Most of this riding was uneventful highway riding. Once on the other side of the bridge though, the cities start to thin and the scenery opens up, and the ride got pretty nice. I stopped at some small town and had a coffee while waiting for my girls to catch up. Then we went to Santa Rosa to hook up with an old musician friend of mine. We had lunch with him and his family in Healdsburg and it was a really nice visit. That is such a great town. Cozy, clean, and full of great restaurants.

From there we headed up 101 to Eureka. Eureka was pretty disappointing. It’s an old town with some nice parts, but by and large it’s very run down and there’s bums everywhere. On top of that, AT&T had a trunk or something down in the area and so the entire town was without cellphone, internet, and landline service. Really pretty ridiculous.

The next day we left early and headed up the coast on 101 and this is where the trip got really nice. There is so much beauty in the Northern California coast and the Oregon coast it’s amazing. Just one amazing vista after another, and one quaint little town after another. I honestly could have spent my whole week just exploring this area. And in fact, I’m tempted to do that for Epic Ride 2012. We ended the day in Newport, OR, and had some great micro-brewed beer and fresh seafood. And outstanding day.

The third day we continued up the coast for more of the same. Beautiful scenery and neat towns. We stopped in Astoria and this is another city I could have spent a week at. It’s such an cool old city with a vibrant downtown with so much to explore. We cut inland from there, crossed over the river to Washington and picked up the I5. As we were crossing the state line there are huge lumber yards on the other side of the river and I was completely amazed at the sheer amount of lumber stacked up and waiting to be shipped to who knows where. Amazing. We finished the day landing in Bothel at Michelle’s sister Melisa’s house.

Three days of riding over 1000 miles, so day four would be spent relaxing and visiting with family. Melisa took us to breakfast at this cool restaurant that is built into the basement of a school gym that was built in the early 1900’s. They had fantastic food and my diet was shot right then. We hung out at home playing with the kids that day and then in the evening we all went out for sushi in downtown Seattle. Seattle has many unique little neighborhoods and in that way it reminds me of Chicago. It was a great time hanging with my in-laws and enjoying some fantastic food.

On Day 5 Deanna and I suited up, jumped on the bikes, and headed to Canada! I took some relatively remote roads and it was a beautiful ride wandering through Washington farmland to the border. Once there, we passed through relatively quickly and were on our way to Harrison Hot Springs, about an hour and a half east of Vancouver.

Harrison was nice, though I was really disappointed at the restaurant selection at a resort area. Most were closed at 3 in the afternoon and the one we found open was pretty awful. Harrison Lake however was beautiful and surrounding area lush and green. After eating we decided to ride to Hope, BC, and check out something called the Othello Tunnels. They are a series of tunnels blasted through solid rock for the train line. They were built in the early 1900’s and the area is so treacherous that the train line only ran about 60% of the time and now only 4 of the 14 tunnels are open for people to walk through. Very cool place.

The following day we rode to Mission, BC, which is a small town about 30 minutes west of Harrison, and we had breakfast and did a little shopping. All in all, I enjoyed Canada. There was really nothing fantastic about it other than the scenery though, but then we spent most of our time riding through farm country, so it’s hard to expect to find any fantastic restaurants or anything.

On the way back to Seattle, we stopped along the way to meet up with an old buddy of mine from high school. It was really great seeing him and seeing that he and his family were doing so well.

Our last day in Washington was spent with my daughter in downtown Seattle, exploring the market place. We had some fantastic seafood, did some shopping and exploring. Great times, just me and my kid.

The next day we packed up and got an early start home. The plan was to head straight down i5 and travel as far as we could in one day, hopefully making it to Redding, 610 miles south, before I crashed from exhaustion. We made it in 12 hours. That was my longest single day of riding I’ve ever done, and actually, I felt pretty good. We visited with Michelle’s mom for the evening and then once again hit the road the next day.

I decided to leave before my wife and daughter so they could stay and visit a while longer. I made may way down the worst road in the entire United States; Hwy 99. It’s boring, it’s hot, and it’s in AWFUL shape. For all the money this state spends, you’d think they could at least keep the darn roads paved. Anyway, I made it down to Ripon, CA where I again hooked up with some old high school buddies. It was nice seeing these guys even though with all the grey in our bears and hair and all of us wearing glasses, I realized that I’m not a young man anymore. *sigh*.

A few hours later and I was home and it was good to be home because the Fresno heat was wearing on me. Only one problem, I didn’t have a house key. I called Michelle and they were just passing through Sacramento so I had three hours to wait. Luckily I had cigars and my iPad on the bike, so I went to the store for a few beers and some peanuts and spent the next three hours relaxing on the porch surfing the internet and enjoying a smoke and a brew. Not the worst way to spend a day.

So that’s the trip! It was a fantastic ride, not only for the scenery, but for seeing so much family and friends that I don’t get to see often enough. It was a great reminder that when it comes right down to it, those relationships are the most important thing in life.

Here’s a link to my ride pictures. Time to start planning Epic Ride 2012!