Training ride from Eugene to Salem

Cycled another training ride, this time from Eugene to Salem.  I took Amtrak overnight to Eugene and stayed at the Econolodge.  Next morning called for cloudy skies with chance of rain, though it stayed dry through the day.

The route from Eugene is fairly flat and speed was ok though not very fast.  Stopped in Junction City to pump up the rear tire, a pressure of 30 psi so that helped rolling speeds.  After this a brief stop at rest area for Applegate Trail and then on into Corvallis for a morning break.  Bike was riding well, though after Corvallis, started to get a bit slower.  There was a slight headwind and a few gentle grades though I’m sure I wasn’t in top shape either.  Without too much difficulty made my way into Salem and relaxed in afternoon before taking morning train back to Portland.  So far the new bike has “connected” Eugene with Portland.

Specifics of the ride can be seen at:

300 days

Today marks 300 days until TDA takes off from Cairo in 2013.  If you look carefully, you’ll see that it has been more than 100 days since the posting for “400”.  The reason is I looked up past few TDAs and guessed on likely starting date so now counting down until January 12th instead of January 1st.  It might be January 19th but I think I’m closer.

At this point TDA 2012 is about half way through their journey.  I’ve been following along vicariously and taking notes.  I’ve also now bought the bike and started a training ride or two – though haven’t done much intensive training yet.  I’m also looking through equipment and otherwise starting to put a few things in place.

First training ride on new bike

The new Trek bike and wheels is a smooth ride.  I did a ride back from Salem to try everything out.

I started the ride Saturday night with a train trip from Portland to Salem.  From here a mile to the Howard Johnsons and overnight.  Time for sunrise was 6:45am but I was on the road before then.  Not that I actually saw much of the sun on this ride.  Initially it was cloudy and misty, just enough to collect on my glasses to make it hard to see – but not enough to really worry about getting cold or wet.

I followed 99E from Salem and the first 30 miles or so is pretty flat.  The bike rode well.  I experimented with putting on/off the suspension lock.  On the flat stretches didn’t make much difference since my weight keeps the suspension mostly in one spot anyways.  The hand positions are comfortable.  I’m still a bit cautious on downhills and disc brakes seem to be better stopping power than cantilever.

At 18 miles I made a short stop for breakfast.  After this another 9 miles to Canby and there I found the back roads to the ferry.  I was the only vehicle on the ferry and the ride was free.  Can’t make much money with that business model.  There was another cyclist on the other side to take back.  After this more hills to climb: mountain road and then via Lake Oswego.

Overall a good ride.  Specifics can be seen on Garmin web site:

My bicycle

I now almost have a bicycle set up for TDA 2013.  Photo below is my new bike atop Mount Tabor in Portland.  It is a Trek 4500 which comes with a locking front suspension fork and a large 24 inch frame.  I replaced the saddle with a Brooks and added bar end extenders to give me additional hand positions.  Not yet on the bike, but on order are a new stronger set of wheels with 40 spokes in back and 36 spokes in front.  I also put on a basic rack on back.

The bike rides well and I’m getting some training runs on it around Portland.  General idea is to get some miles on it this year and make sure all will be ok.  I expect that to be the situation, but just in case, I’ve also got two backup candidates

This post is also an experiment to see how I can add photos both to the photo gallery and reference them in posts such as this one.

Picking a bicycle

I’ve been thinking more about what bicycle to take for TDA 2013. The requirements are a cycle that is durable enough for 7500 miles and that will do well for extended off-road riding on gravel and rough roads. The bike also needs to ride well enough that 160km days as necessary can be ridden.

My default choice has been to use my Trek 520 cycle. A basic durable ride that I’ve traveled across Ukraine and Russia with. The touring model also is reasonable balance against friction and I’ve done a number of 100 mile rides with. My hesitancy lately is thinking if the roads might be more rough in Africa and also if the rims will last the full distance.

Hence, my backup alternative is to think of a mountain bike. I am back in India this week riding my Trek 4500 mountain bike. The mountain bike is reasonable choice for rougher roads I find here – though takes some more effort to push than my touring bike. So I think it would win on durability but make my cycling harder.

I might see about bringing back my Trek 4500 from India some time this year or purchasing another as possibility to at least do additional training on. A little slower for training is ok, though might help build up some muscles and other things. Will need to see if I can ride fast enough on it or whether to consider Trek 520 instead.

I also made a Bike Forums/Cyclocross posting asking for feedback on Cyclocross bikes. Some useful perspectives there, though makes me think more of using my existing bikes.

Where will I be when the countdown runs out?

I have set my initial countdown to end on January 1st, 2013. This is in part since I didn’t yet know the exact day I might leave the USA to start the trip or even the exact day that TDA starts. It has typically started in mid-January and arrived in Capetown in mid-May but individual days might shift.

While I wasn’t quite sure where I’d be on December 31st 2012 as the clock strikes midnight, twelve days ago I got news that made this even more uncertain. AMD will be shutting down the Portland site. Employees don’t yet know (and this post will be embargoed until it is public info or even a little beyond).

There are a few different interesting possibilities that might surface on where to close out 2012 and ring in 2013:

  • I could make my way to Cairo already and prep for the trip there.
  • I could be in the San Francisco Bay area, where we’re told our jobs move once the site closes
  • I could be visiting family in Colorado
  • I could do a last minute tour and final preparation, for example on the Christmas ride in San Diego.  A longer possibility would be Bangkok to Singapore.
  • I could have left AMD early and gone on a longer tour and be at completion of that trip, for example Prudhoe Bay to ?.

Hard to tell ans a bit fun to speculate.  However, while it is still possible I could still be in Portland celebrating the New Year, that probability is now a lot less.

Visa requirements

Looked up Visa requirements as of a year before my trip:

  • Egypt: 30-day tourist visa on arrival
  • Sudan: Obtain entry visa before travel, unless traveling with sponsor that got an entry permit in advance (TDA?)
  • Ethiopia: visa prior to arrival
  • Kenya: visa prior to arrival
  • Tanzania: visa at entry point
  • Malawi: visa permit at entry point
  • Zambia: visa at entry point
  • Botswana: no visa required
  • Namibia: visa at entry point
  • South Africa: no visa required
Looks like I’ll need some spare visa pages as well as getting a few of the visas in advance.  That seems to correspond roughly to what I see on the TDA FAQ which mentions Ethiopia and Sudan in particular to get visa in advance.

400 days

Today marks 400 days before the start of 2013 and TDA.

We’ve now entered our rainy season here in Portland. I’ve gotten less riding in and seems like going backwards in conditioning and picked up some weight. Will be motivated to do best I can over the winter and also think through how to do this next year before TDA starts.

Sometimes wonder if I could “over-achieve” and make bike2013 not just TDA but an additional long ride as well, e.g. Prudhoe to Panama and take an entire year off. If I can get a six-month LOA from AMD, I’ll likely keep the trip to that, but if for some reason that isn’t possible it will be very tempting to make this a longer ride instead.

As we go through the winter here, it is encouraging to see that by time the next 100 days is through TDA 2012 will have started, I will have traveled to Thailand/Cambodia to bicycle and best of all, days will be getting longer again for some further riding and conditioning. Nice to see the days count down.