South of Woodland to Portland: Mission Accomplished, and Beer

Our final day began after a restless night of sleep. I’m not quite sure what caused the restlessness; excitement about our final day, the giddiness over Jimmy’s surprise arrival, or the espresso stout I brushed my teeth with. In any case we made it to our starting point at Summit Grove, albeit a little behind schedule and began the final leg of the trip toward Portland.

The route today contained few trails, lots of roads, and lots of cars. We found there to be more traffic today (even before Portland) than most of the other days, especially what we’ve been dealing with since Seattle. The highest traffic areas did have (debris filled) bike paths, but the riding was still a little stressful.

After helping super mom pack up everything up from the hotel Jimmy joined us on the road, for what turned out to be a mild 21.5 mile run. Yes, he ran the last twenty plus miles. I know what your’e thinking, Jimmy is a stud. That may be true, but being nine feet tall he didn’t have to take too many steps to get to Portland. The temperature was on the warmer side today, but not too hot. Jimmy did break a sweat around mile fourteen.

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At the base of the Interstate Bridge spanning the Columbia River, which connects Washington and Oregon, I conducted one last interview. A reporter and photographer from The Columbian met me and my crew, asked a few questions, took some photos, congratulated us and wished us the best. The time had now come to roll into Oregon and find the pot of gold (aka breweries) at the end of the rainbow (aka riding my wheel chair across the state of Washington).

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The Washington-Oregon border is located along the bridge. Shortly after crossing into Oregon a representative from Nu Motion was waiting on the bridge for me with some much needed parts, a microswitch and some screws we lost along the way.

Once off the bridge we (poorly) navigated our way toward downtown Portland, to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Along the way we were joined by another runner (Dane) and long distance skate border (Cory). I was able to live out my Forrest Gump fantasy finally. As we approached the waterfront we were greeted by two women (groupies) who were super sweet and cheered us on.

We made our way across one final bridge and were coming down the home stretch enjoying the people and scenery. When we arrived at the Tom McCall Park we were greeted and cheered by family, friends, and fans numbering in the single digits. It was an emotional finish for us all. After twenty minutes of feeling like we topped Mount Everest and taking in our moment of glory we rolled another mile to our luxurious hotel.

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While celebrating with a pre-brewery beer in the hotel room we were met by Ian from New Mobility. We chatted for awhile and then made our way to Cascade Brewing to sample some, actually all of their sours. Ian joined us which was great, because he also helped lead the way to the brewery. It was nice not to have to rely on the Joshs for directions. It’s amazing how much faster things move when you’re not constantly making wrong turns.

Raise your hand if you rode your chair from Canada to Oregon!
Raise your hand if you rode your chair from Canada to Oregon!

Also joining us at the Brewery to help celebrate were friends and family even surpassing the single digits. We all enjoyed the atmosphere and the sours. They take their beer very seriously at Cascade. In addition to the tasty beverages, Cascade gave us some shirts, paid for most of our bill, and took some time to just sit with us and talk about some of their brewing techniques.

Josh Blaustein is REALLY tall.
Josh Blaustein is REALLY tall.

The night was still young as we left Cascade, so we stopped into The Commons Brewery to sample a few more beers and some delicious food. I’d like to give a nod to The Commons for their musical choice, some old time folk/country/bluegrass was making my ears happy.

Now for the trip back to the hotel. Can we make it? Jimmy, Adam, the Joshs, and myself walked and rolled our way back to the hotel, with minimal difficulty, other than a ten minute wait at a train crossing. Once back at the hotel we began to sum up our day which you’ve now just read. Trying to sum up our entire journey can’t be done justly here, and most likely I’ll never be able to fully explain to someone everything I’ve experienced over these eleven days. I used Strava and Ride With GPS for the entire ride, and will do a full recap when I’m home with more technology.

This all started with a crazy idea. My crazy idea was met with support from all the meaningful people in my life. Everyone made me believe I could do it. Guess what? They were right. I have experienced many up and downs along this path and I’m happy to say I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe I would have put those bikes in a safer place so they wouldn’t have been stolen by some punk ass bitches. I accomplished what I set out to do. I raised money for a good cause, raised awareness, made new friends, and spent time with old friends. And now I need some beer and a some rest and some more beer and some more rest.

Not Quite Rocky Point to Right After La Center: Traffic, Hills, and Beer With an Unexpected Guest

Day ten of eleven had ups and downs, but in the end, well, it turned out to be one of the best days.

Rider Josh Sutcliffe (JS) was responsible for mapping out today’s route. “I’m not really to be trusted with directions,” he warned. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I had no choice in the frenzied days leading up to the ride. So i wasn’t horribly surprised when we had to turn around in a train yard.

Josh called it an "out-n-back"
JS called it an “out-n-back”

The road twisted up and down along the Cowlitz then Columbia River, with little-to-no shoulder and traffic. The noise from the 5 was a little annoying, but the weather was really nice again. Most of the car traffic was safe and patient, with a lot of encouraging support!

Supporters of my ride!
Supporters of my ride!

I am happy to report the return of a third rider: my brother Adam! He hopped on one of the loaner bikes and rode the farthest he ever has by double! It’s so great he was able to come down to join us for the rest of the ride. Thanks, bro.

The chair transforms into a boat!
The chair transforms into a boat!

Coming in to Woodland, JS put a giant hill on the route that climbed 700 feet in 2.5 miles. It is a true pleasure to watch JS nimbly dance upon the pedals as he gracefully yet aggressively ascends the ever-steepening grade. Was that a grimace or a smirk on his face as the road twisted upward, his sinewy legs spinning, sometimes swaying the bike side to side like a metronome, or casually sitting, wheels turning like some kind of metaphor for life. Onwards and upwards, my fellow passengers on this tiny speck of dust in the vastness of everything!

That’s the last time I let JS have creative license with the blogging. Anyway, the hill proved a challenge for my chair as well as the riders, as I ran out of juice again today! This time at mile 22, ten miles less than yesterday. Super-Mom came to the rescue with a fresh chair and sandwiches, we made the swap, and continued the last tenth of a mile to the summit.

A false summit. My riders were thrilled!
A false summit. My riders were thrilled!

Then it was time for the downhill, which is really scary for me especially since my crash last year. I don’t want to go too fast, but if I slow down too abruptly I could topple over. It’s not easy.

Down we go
“Way Down We Go” – Kaleo

We made it to our planned destination and kept going for an additional seven-to-eight miles, giving us a little earlier arrival time in Portland (show up at 2pm, the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, in Portland. If you want to get there in time to see me at the finish, we will by the fountain near Hawthorne Bridge) for a total of 34 miles today. I’m tired, but overall feeling very good.

Since it’s Monday and all the pubs are closed, we instead had a delicious bbq dinner (Josh Blaustein had a quinoa salad) in a park prepared by Julia (the dinner, not the park), a former employee of mine who now lives in the area. Thanks for bringing us such a delicious spread! It was great catching up with you, Julia!

And thanks for your sweater!
And thanks for your sweater!

I have a good friend Jimmy, who I really tried to guilt into joining me on the ride. Earlier today he said he would’t be able to make it. So when we were getting settled into our room at the hotel, who should we see? That bastard! Jimmy will be running with us the last few miles into Portland. This trip has been awesome.

Happy to be staying up a little later and drinking one more beer than planned.
Happy to be staying up a little later and drinking one more beer than planned.

I’ve really enjoyed my ride, but I’m looking forward to finishing in Portland. I’m exhausted, both of my chairs could use a tune-up, I have a collection of broken umbrellas, but there’s a beer or two waiting for me at Cascade Brewing calling my name. One more day! See you in Portland, friends!