Triker Gary (Catrike Road)
Gary Bunting is a southern California trike pilot and nomad who has a considerable amount of experience with cycling in general, going back to his days of youth, and a considerable amount of expertise with tricycles in particular, having been an avid Catrike rider since 2010. A retired aerospace engineer, Gary rode the first 11 days of the Coast to Cactus Tricycle Expedition in 2011, from Florence, Oregon to Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Here are a few photos of his Catrike, trailer, and gadgets, followed by biographical highlights, and then wrapped up with his eleven day account of the 2011 Oregon odyssey on his Catrike Road.
Gary Bunting (blue shirt) talks to a visitor to the Trike Asylum booth at the 2013 RCC show.
* * * * * * *
Gary Bunting, the Catrike Guy
Base Location: Southern California (Born and Raised)
Current Lifestyle: Retired Aerospace Engineer
Trike: 2010 Catrike Road, nicknamed “The Yellow Beast”
Cateye EL-530 LED Headlight
Cateye TL-LD1100 Taillight
Mirrycle-Incredibell Brass Duet (right handlebar mount)
Fastback – 4.0 Hydration Pack w/Camelback 100 oz. Omega Reservoir
22 oz. Camelback Performance Bottle in Heavy Duty Mountain Bike frame-mount cage on boom
Old Man Mountain Sherpa Rear Rack
Catrike [Arkel] ROAD Frame Bags
Rear Rack Trunk and Panniers from Lone Peak (Salt Lake City, UT)
Reason for Triking:
Age – Upright riding causes too much pain in my hands, wrists, forearms and neck – headaches often ensue. The seat on an upright now causes me too much discomfort in the ‘nether regions’. I can ride the trike for much longer distances without feeling the need to rest, even in an ‘out-of-shape’ physical condition – much more comfortable overall. Plus…there is a feeling of being seated in a Formula 1 race car – I LIKE IT!!!
Family Machine Shop Brat (learned a lot from my Dad in those days – peaked my interests in materials, mechanics and engineering, not to mention in aircraft that we made a lot of parts for); Chaffee College – Associate of Science/Associate of Arts; BYU Alumni – Undergraduate – Science/Business; SIU Alumni – Undergraduate – Industrial Technology; USAF C-130 Aircraft Maintenance/Flying Crew Chief/Troop Transport Aircraft Maintenance Technician – Vietnam Era Veteran. Past engineering employee of Xerox, General Dynamics, Lockheed Aircraft Corp., McDonnell Douglas (Senior Engineering Scientist on the Space Station Freedom Program – very privileged work), AAI-ACL Technologies, Smiths Aerospace and various other companies that I contracted with as a Senior Engineering Technical Writer for the last 10-years of my work history. I was a professional jazz and popular music musician for a good many years of my youth, up through my college days – that was fun and lucrative for a time. I am now a private pilot and aircraft-owner, although I don’t fly much now with the cost of fuel and my changed lifestyle in retirement and income level. I will keep the plane for a bit and perhaps will become more active in flying when fuel costs settle down.
Cycling Interests and Timeline:
As with most, had a trike when really small, graduated to two-wheelers and then to a contraption called a ‘Doodlebug’ that my parents had bought for my brother and me (I was never able to get the feeling of speeding along the ground, so close to it and so fast above it, out of my blood). It was a dark orange, 4-wheel (double cone centers with hard rubber tires), a center, square tube that the front (foot steerable) and rear (solid -bolted to the frame) axles were attached to. To propel the thing, you had a handle that sat in front of the one-person seat, that you pushed and pulled which in turn, operated an eccentric drive mechanism connected to and turning both rear wheels. You could really get moving with this thing, well over child running speeds. This contraption is the root of human locomotion appeal that eventually led me in my adulthood, to the trike, with many uprights and diamond frames in between. I began serious bicycle touring with upper quality machines, in the middle 70’s, when I learned what it meant to ride 75-100 miles loaded (the bike-not me) per day, camping most of the way. Now, after having raised my son as a single parent, I am too old for the ‘Up-Wrongs’ and the aches and pains that riding them all day, bring. So…Now I’m into trikes for comfortable, not-too-fast, long-distance touring (without the pain) and am trying to get back into shape that will allow at least 50-mile days loaded, pulling a trailer.
* * * * *
Coast-to-Cactus Daily Journal
An 11 day odyssey in Oregon, from Florence to Klamath Falls
by Gary W. Bunting, CCTE Expedition Member (YELLOW BEAST Triker)
This daily journal begins the day I left my home in southern California, with my trike loaded into my small van, headed north to Florence, Oregon to meet Steve Greene and Glen Aldridge for a nice little ride on our tricycles through the countryside.
August 24, 2011
Departed house at 0530 – safe trip with no events to Mt. Lassen / Shingletown KOA. Great Kamper Kabin – beautiful thickly pined campground – clean restrooms and showers – nice, attentive host. Enjoyed my stay and will be there again someday soon in the near future, I hope.
August 25, 2011
Arrived at Florence, Oregon and checked into the Economy Inn Hotel. OK place and the price is right, as is the walk-to proximity to Florence Mini-Storage where I’m storing my van during the CCTE. It will be good to start the expedition with a warm shower to get me going.
Checked van in for storage at the Florence Mini-Storage on Hwy 101, just 2 blocks walking distance from the motel. Nice clean place with good security; very reasonably priced. Got all my gear and trike out of the van, ready for departure next morning. Locked everything up, safe and secure – comforting.
Steve showed up, and we left to meet Glen over at Bicycles 101 – Glen was having the original Kenda Kwest tires replaced on his trike (these were thought to be unsuitable skins for a 1000-mile tour by all of us) and some last-minute new low and high chain rings to give him the low and high gears he would need, clip-less pedals and component additions and adjustments done.
Glen – really nice guy that he is – had brought Steve and me some neon accent lamps to put on our trikes. They required a 9-volt battery and holder that none of us had at the time to install at the moment. Maybe later.
While Glen’s trike was being worked on, we all went to the ICM Restaurant on the Siuslaw River docks. Beautiful setting and place to dine. Met Ed, the owner of the restaurant – a really nice and personable gentleman. The food and service were great!!!
After dinner, we all went over to the park where Glen would be spending the night in his new tent (this is an impressive tent for the $20.00 Canadian that he spent on it – he got a great deal on that one). He has good neighbors at an adjacent campsite that promised to watch over him – seemed like very nice people. Then, Steve, Glen, and I went back over to Bicycles 101 to pick up Glen’s trike and get it over to Steve’s garage for storage for the night.
August 26, 2011 – Day 1
Checked out of the motel at 0630 – had a shower and a great night’s rest, and am ready to trike!!! Back over to the storage facility to get the trailer hooked up to the trike, secure the van and get on the road to meet Steve and Glen at Bicycles 101. On the road at 0655. The GPS measured it a 2.2-mile ride from the storage facility.
Rode out on Hwy 101 about 100 yards and heard from behind me, “Hey Gary – Good Morning!” It was Steve’s friend Matt. Great guy – rode to Bicycles 101 with me to meet the gang. Steve and everyone there took a lot of pictures and the 3 CCTE trekkers (Matt was riding as far as Reedsport with us and then was to return to Florence) – left Bicycles 101 at precisely 0800 as planned, to inaugurate the CCTE in earnest.
About 10 or so miles along the way, over steep hills and down-hills, Glen’s trike was emitting a bump, bumping in the rear wheel, as if the wheel or tire was out-of-round, or had a bubble in the tire. Matt and I were behind Glen and Steve – Matt was making sure Glen and I were doing alright (I was slower up these hills than Glen was, and Matt gave me much needed encouragement early on – I thought I was in shape for this?) – as we caught up with Glen at a at wide spot on the road shoulder, we stopped with him to try to determine what was wrong. As it turned out, the tire bead was not properly engaging about 8 inches of the clincher lip on the rear wheel rim and this caused the tire ‘bumping’.
My new Mini-Morph Road Pump got its first job, fixing Glen’s tire (we hoped, as the tire still did not seat all the way into the clincher lip in one place, but it was better, according to Glen).
Rode a total of 38 miles to Scottsburg, Oregon – these were hard miles for me due to the many, early-on uphills without a proper warm-up and without adequate proper down-hill rests for me in the physical condition I’m in, before the next challenging climb begins, all along this route.
The town traffic over the bridge south out-of-town was a bit stressful to me – I don’t like riding in close-proximity heavy traffic at my left shoulder – it unnerves me. Glen was having some ‘nerves’ about this also. Neither of us could wait to get farther out-of-town to be rid of the morning traffic.
Environmentally, the start of the CCTE was very comfortable with overcast skies, cool temperatures and beautiful scenery very early along the route.
Had a bit of trouble trying to find a place to camp in Scottsburg. Finally found a very nice lady / resident of the town who told us that there was no established camping area in or near the town, but suggested we go down to the Scottsburg Historical Society Hall, that we might find a suitable place there to pitch our tents on the lawn and spend the night. I asked about police or security patrols and she said that would be no problem.
We traveled east on the little main street for a quarter mile and found the Scottsburg Historical Society Hall and pitched our tents and secured our gear for the night. Not stealthy, as were on the front lawn, right out in plain view of traffic on the 38. Our bathroom consisted of thick shrubbery and trees well away from and behind the hall and a bit to the south of us. It was manageable, but not something I’d like not to make a practice of on this trip.
About an hour after pitching camp, a lone ‘bicycle-bum’ named Rex Harrison (I kid you not – this was his name – or so he said) rode up to us and talked for a few moments before asking if we would mind him camping along side us. This concerned me, as I’m always wary about strangers who get too close to me in strange places. Guess living in southern California has made me edgy for my own safety these days.
Steve, who seems to be a devout ‘people-person’, gave him the go-ahead, and he pitched his tent – really fast, I might add (he is obviously a road-camping expert) – a bit east of us on the lawn.
In conversation, Rex revealed that he was a broken man from a bitter divorce that left him with nothing but his bike and camping gear and what little he could get with a pittance of Social Security that he received. He had recently been released from a mental institution (more fear steeped on my part) and was bike-touring for now.
In the end, Rex turned out to be a nice fellow who kept mostly to himself and was quiet and kind. I felt a sense of empathy toward him when he left us the next morning, early.
August 27, 2011 – Day 2
Second day out – rode 19 miles from Scottsburg into Elkton Community Education Center, Elkton, Oregon. Took a long ‘breather’ at the center to enjoy their library, to eat some very good food prepared by the young school girls voluntarily running the small café there, and to visit the Butterfly Exhibit for the migrating Monarch Butterfly that is prolific in this region during this time of year. The exhibit was fantastic and I was shown around by a lady volunteer originally from Ontario in Southern California near my home, where I grew up – small world. We had graduated from the same high-school.
This stop at the center also provided Glen and Steve an opportunity to check their emails (Glen had brought along a small laptop for this purpose – Steve used the library’s public computer offering) and Steve brought his CCTE writings up-to-date.
The people at the center pointed us toward the Elkton RV Park campground as a place to stay for the night. So, late in the afternoon, we headed down the road for a short distance and turned into that campground for a much needed place to set our camp and rest before talking some hot and climbing terrain the next morning.
We turned into the campground, parked our trikes and gear in front of the office on a small piece of grassy ground just across the driveway and went into meet with the Manager (a very nice and personable young woman who was actually the owner of the camp). We signed up for a camp area and paid our fees.
When we came out of the office to head to our campground area, we found that Glen’s left, front trike tire was flat – disappointing to us all, but really discouraging to Glen. About an hour later, after pitching our tents and unpacking our gear for the night, we began the tire repair on Glen’s trike. I kind of took over as chief mechanic, as Glen had no real experience with this task.
During the process of the repair, we found that the front spindle assemblies on Glen’s trike were really substandard in design and quality. The right and left spindle bolts were not the same length and we later discovered that they were not interchangeable between the front wheel assemblies. This actually angered me a bit, because Glen has spent quite a bit of money on his new trike, was assured by the owner of the trike manufacturing firm that this trike was state of the art. Secondly, we all didn’t need these kinds of frustrations on this long trip – an unreliable trike was definitely not a desirable thing over a 1000 mile trek.
Well, we found that the tube had been punctured and a couple of holes had worn into the tube causing the flat. I patch-repaired these, inspected the tire for any other possible things that might cause another flat – there was nothing – and remounted the tire on the wheel rim, only to find out that what actually caused the flat was a really cheaply made rim strip that did not properly cover the wheel spoke nipple heads on the inside of the wheel rim center channel.
Glen stated that Bicycles 101 had severely over-inflated the tires to [I think he said] 180 PSI to get the tires to seat (remember the bump-bumping of the rear tire that we tried to fix early on?) – this led to some very serious doubts about the wheel/tire assembly reliability on Glen’s trike for such a long trip. No doubt, this severe over-inflation contributed to the tire bead not seating correctly on the rim.
While we were finishing up the left tire repair, the right tire on Glen’s trike gave off with a “psssssss” and whistle, going flat. This was just about all any of us could take – 3 flat tires from equipment failure on one trike in only 57 miles!
We supported the front of Glen’s trike to get it up off the ground with both tire and wheel assemblies removed, and repaired the right front tire, finding the same flat-causing conditions we found on the left-front. When reassembling everything, that’s when we found the spindle bolt interchangeability problem.
This was all Glen could take. His confidence (as well as Steve’s and mine) in his machine was at an earnest low now, and he and Steve went back to the camp Manager’s office to find a way for him to get back to Florence with his trike and return home.
Even then, Steve and I tried unsuccessfully to convince Glen that we would stay in Elkton until Tuesday, when the bike shops opened, and we would get Glen’s trike fitted properly to continue the trip, even if it meant putting another set of Kenda West tires and tubes (which would be easy to find in town at a local bike shop or general store) on Glen’s trike and shipping the new Marathon’s back to his or Steve’s home. Glen was terribly distraught though, and I think felt embarrassed over the whole thing and didn’t want to be any more trouble to Steve or me, and opted to return home.
[Some weeks later, after Glen had gotten his trike back home to British Columbia, and did some internet searches for other similar problems that people might be having on the Trident Stowaway II trikes, he found that users and bike/trike shops discovered that the rims on the trike were designed a smidgen small in overall diameter and that standard 20-inch tires were a bit too big in bead diameter to fit these rims – something none of us knew while doing initial research on the trike. Glen called the owner at Trident who was aware of the issue, but was not provided with new tires, rims, or any replacement of the wheel spindles and bolts.]
Glen was lucky to find that a man named Marv (the campground host – very nice chap) was taking his very large Dodge RAM 4×4, heavy-duty, open-bed, dual-cab truck to Reedsport the next morning and offered to take Glen back to Florence. There would be plenty of room to secure Glen’s rig in the bed of the truck for the trip to Florence.
August 28, 2011 – Day 3
Broke camp at Elkton RV Park. Got Glen and his rig all loaded up into Marv’s truck, and Steve and I waved a reverent, but melancholy ‘goodbye’ to our new friend as he took off back to Florence.
This was a very sad note so early in the CCTE – I really liked Glen and he was a very valuable contributor to all of us in his joyful friendship, humor and camaraderie during the 3 short days that we all were together on this trip.
[During the remainder of trip for me, I attempted to call Glen several times, as he had said that he might auto-tour the Oregon Coast for a few days after he got back to Florence and perhaps join us somewhere along the line to camp and locally ride for a bit with us. I was unsuccessful, as many times we had no phone service for our cell phones. Later, we found out that Glen had been unsuccessfully trying to contact us as well for several days. He did do a bit of auto-touring up the Oregon and Washington coasts on his way back to Canada]
Rode 14 hard, uphill miles (thankfully along tree-shaded, forest-lined rode-way, with relatively cool temperatures) to Tyee Campground.
What a beautiful campground; thickly forested along the Umpqua River (a very short walking distance adjacent to our campsite and most of the others in the campground, clean, well laid-out, paved roads and pathways, great heated, chemical toilets set in actual wood structures (not the ol’ stink-hole honey-pots made of plastic), barbecue stoves, fire-pits, private, tree-surrounded campsites, groomed and raked new gravel tent sites; more that expected by far in a government campground. There was chopped and split pinewood available for our campfire. I believe that the camp custodians even had some kind of campfire activities available, mostly for the kids. This campground is quiet and friendly. I’ll be back here someday!!!
Only one thing marred my stay here: while attempting to locate our campground initially, I tried to take a suddenly appearing, small, but abruptly inclined hill in too high of a gear, and jammed my rear derailleur, inducing drive-line failure and bending the pulley arm while trying to shift down, rolling backwards in the attempt. YELLOW BEAST was now not operable, and in need of what I thought were major, ride-stopping and equipment replacement repairs.
Upon initial inspection of the damage, it appeared that the front high chain ring was also cracked [I thought] from trying to hold the trike in position on the hill in a high-gear. It later proved to be a misdiagnosis on my part – I was looking at the machined-in chain ramps and pins on the inside edge of the high-chain ring – the ring was not damaged at all.
Fortunately (as I am not a rear derailleur specialist), we happened to be camped right next door to a young couple who introduced themselves as Mark and Dee Goss, who had become unemployed and were camping at Tyee for a month while they tried to locate work. Mark had been a bike mechanic at ‘Marty’s Cycle’ and Moore’s Bicycle Shoppe in Medford, Oregon.
I stripped my trike of the touring gear, and Steve and I and Mark got her up on our camp picnic bench, and for the next hour or so with a bit of cleaning, cage-arm bending, disassembly, re-bending, reassembly, tweaking, testing and adjusting, actually got the rear derailleur shifting more smoothly that it did originally.
I felt confident that I could now resume our ride the next morning with no mechanical issues with YELLOW BEAST, although a new derailleur purchase and installation is in the near future.
I learned a lesson from this – if you come upon a hill that won’t allow you to shift down in time, DON’T TRY IT!!! Hit the brakes firmly and stabilize the trike, get off and push the trike to where you can make a shift statically and resume your ride, especially if you are loaded for touring.
My trike failed because of something that I had done – it will never happen again. It is my intent to replace the rear derailleur when I get home, with a new SRAM 9-speed unit and keep the road-repaired Shimano DEORE LX that YELLOW BEAST came with, for an on-tour spare.
I gave Mark and Dee $40.00 to take their car down to the local store and get some food and beers to celebrate our success around the campfire that evening. These two kids made bologna sandwiches for us which we ate ravenously and enjoyed our brews together. Dee tried to give me back my change (about $30.00) but I said ‘No, you keep it, you’ve earned it’, which they had. I was thankful for Mark’s expertise and Dee’s friendliness to two strangers.
All that said, while Steve and I were in our tents sleeping for the night, at around midnight or very shortly thereafter, I was awakened by a noisy rustling and heavy movement of gravel right outside my tent door. I bolted from my sleeping bag and tent with my 1,000,000 volt stun gun / flashlight at the ready to take care of business. I found Mark standing outside my tent door with a big blanket in one hand and a very startled look on his face. I said, what are you doing Mark? Do you want to get yourself killed?
He stated that he was getting a blanket for his wife. I said, in our campground – are you nuts, at this time of night!!!??? He had no answer, so I told him to get back to his own campground, which he did with no further conversation. I grabbed the bear spray and sat up for a while outside at the picnic bench, just in case Mark decided to try whatever mischief he had planned again after I was back to sleep. Went back to bed and never heard any disturbance outside my tent for the rest of the night. I think Mark got the message. Steve never got up, although he stated the following morning that he heard the commotion and my voice. I gave him a full run-down on the occurrence, reiterating my personal choice for caution when approaching strangers on the road and in campgrounds.
SIDE NOTE: About 2 weeks before this trip, I began trying to condition my body to the daily CCTE food menu that I had planned, by eating high-energy / high-concentration food bars and high-protein / high-energy drinks / elixirs. This was a mistake. Not only was it very costly monetarily as well as requiring additional physical effort to carry on the trike (I loaded 15 lbs. of these foods into my frame-mounted panniers that left no room in those bags for other items for the trip), it drastically upset my regular diet routine (very critical at this stage of life and years for me).
End result: for the first week or more of the trip, I suffered unpleasant digestive issues requiring many unplanned stops along the way, and which placed severe distress on me physically and mentally, making my physical performance severely weakened and my mental attitude and general outlook for my success on this trip, threatened. These effects were showing up now, prominently, and were beginning to steadily weaken my efforts, which became more prominent during this first week of the trip.
Ultimately, I believe that this caused about 80% of the physical, mental and emotional problems that I faced throughout the remainder of this trip and in the end led to attitude problems and not being able to finish the CCTE, unfortunately. I will not make this mistake again on future trike tours.
August 29, 2011 – Day 4
Next morning, we broke camp early and continued along the 138 to Glide, Oregon for 36 miles from Tyee Campground. Went through the town of Wilbur and ventured forth on North Bank Road (County Road 200).
I don’t know what Steve had in mind on this road; perhaps his goal was to condition me to some real hill climbing and to see how I would perform in preparation for climbing over the Cascades in the Crater Lake region. At any rate, it didn’t work. If I had known what this road would require of me physically, I would have vehemently objected to traveling it. However, I did learn that it shaved off about 20 miles and going through a large city with traffic.
This was the first time on the trip that I ended up damaging my knees and suffering great physical stress from overheating and extensive non-stop ‘heavy output’ physical efforts. What a nightmare of a road this is!!! No water, no shade, abrupt steep inclines with very short down-hills that would have provided ‘cooling’ after these many ascents – some I would estimate at 30-40% grades over short and long distances – Steve was always very far out in front of me and out-of-sight most of the time – disheartening to me. I was forced to make many stops to regain my strength and to re-hydrate in an effort to compensate for the gallons of sweat I was pouring off up all of these long endless hills.
I have never climbed so blasted many steep, almost impassable (at least for me on my trike) short-span ascents with very few ‘yahoo’ descents (more like slightly down-sloping mini-valleys in a continuous climbing topography), over hot, shade-less terrain.
I was totally exhausted and badly in need of rest. I was so relieved that this part of the trip was all over, until we came to the motel that I wanted to stay at to recover from it all and, IT WAS CLOSED!!!
It turned out that the town of Glide had their holiday shut-down at 8PM that night and the only thing left open was a convenience gas/grocery store on the town outskirts. This is where we found out that we were stuck and had to find a stealth camp.
At the store a man whom I noticed earlier seemed very interested in our trikes, had overheard our plight while we were discussing it with the store staff and offered us a place to camp at his farm, “…with showers and everything.” But, after my experience with Mark at the Tyee campground and the fact that this guy had struck up a conversation asking me what the rigs cost (Steve was in the store getting some grub at this juncture – I was outside guarding the trikes and gear), I had some pretty keen reservations about accepting hospitality from this stranger.
We were kind of stranded at this point, so we opted to look for a site for a stealth camp. Steve found one behind a local business in the area and at the edge of town. It turned out to be behind a motorcycle customizing shop that had illegally dumped oil and gasoline on a stinking and saturated patch of unkempt weeded land next to the rear building wall.
As I said, we were stuck at this point. It was going on past 9 PM and there was no place to go, so we opted to pitch our tents and spend the night. I slept well, but the place was so strong with oil and gasoline fumes, that although I was rested, I was a bit sick to my stomach and light-headed in the morning. This subsided within a short while after striking our camp and getting away from the area. One thing about riding a trike is the open air while traveling.
August 30, 2011 – Day 5
Got up early this AM not wanting any confrontations with the locals, as well as wanting to put distance between us and the ‘stealth camp stink’ that we suffered all night long last night.
We rode out under an overcast sky for a total of 12 grueling, mostly up-hill miles (riding less distance and feeling worse now with moderate knee problems and lack of energy – the heat and up-hills are killing me) through some beautiful mountain scenery to Susan Creek Campground, still along the Umpqua river – a good thing.
Along the route, we pulled into a nice little mountain town store in an area called IDLYLD (pronounced ‘IDYLWILD’, like the one in California, near my home). There was a very nice woman running the store (the IDLYLD TRADING POST) there and the store was very well stocked with eating and camping supplies, clothing, fishing gear, etc.
I asked the lady if she was a Native American and she said ‘no’, but she sure appeared to be to me. Very nice person with a great sense of humor. Her helper, a young, very attractive girl was very friendly and they both helped me find the things I was looking for, making recommendations for great food stuffs, as well. We caught a bit of much needed rest here from climbing pretty steadily up this point and then finally left for Susan Creek Campground.
Pulled into the camp and immediately searched out campsite 14 – one that Steve stayed in on his 2009 trike expedition to Death Valley. It was a beautiful BLM campground – I really like these!!! This campsite was well above the camp roadway, right across from the camp managers (June and Jake – big game bow hunters and very nice people) home and adjacent to immaculately clean rest rooms and showers, but far enough away so as not to suffer any annoyance from foot traffic into and out of those.
Got our camp all pitched – pretty cool layout – Steve took a lot of pictures. Slept well this night with a full belly of hot spaghetti and meatballs and various other goodies finished up with hot teas. We had a great campfire to sit around for a bit and talk jaw before retiring.
Found out that the camp here was the site of native Indian tribes in the ancient past until a massive eruption of Mt. Mazama 7700 years ago, wiped them all out. A very informative and interesting placard placed along the walkway between our camp and the restrooms/showers tells about all of this with illustrations.
It seems these people faced many detriments to their survival in this region. The placard gives details about how these people survived, what tools they used that were discovered by archaeologists, what the forests, rivers and streams provided them with for sustenance and habitation.
August 31, 2011 – Day 6
Broke camp early and departed Susan Creek Campground at around 8AM. Steve said we would be traversing a portion of the CCTE route called the ‘Water Fall Route’, as there are many water falls along the Umpqua River in this area.
Although I awoke with my knees feeling better this morning and was ready for another day, this was another devil of a climb – I asked Steve, “Are there any flat spots in Oregon?”; he just chuckled. We were now on Hwy 138 and on the way up the Cascade Range.
Rode a few miles up the grade and found Steve talking with a fly-fisherman who was fishing the Umpqua River. Had a nice visit with this guy who was very friendly and knowledgeable about fishing this region – another 66-year-old retired ‘bloke’ like me. His name was Roy, and he was vegan, just like Steve.
Although the sun was out in earnest and a bit warm, we had mostly tree-covered and shady riding this day. We were trying to make the Clearwater Falls Campground 40 miles from Susan Creek Campground, but the climb was just too difficult for me in the shape I’m in and loaded down the way the trike and trailer are – more lessons learned the hard way for me.
Although I almost missed it, I saw Steve in the trees below the road at the Boulder Flat Campground – we had gone 24 miles at this point. Pulled in the rather difficult entry way (the entry is paved about 25 feet and then the driveway drops off about 4 abrupt inches onto a dirt area – rough getting down this with the trailer, which sits lower at the front end than the trike does above the pavement.
Steve was resting on his trike, in the seat – I think he was almost asleep. I rolled up to him and stayed in my own trike seat to rest for a bit. We were in a nice shady area of pine stand – very soothing to me. We talked for a bit and decided to spend the night there, as I was worn out from the more major climb that we were making now.
We set up camp early on in the day and just spent our time resting, talking, exploring a bit. We slept well again this night, right by the Umpqua River whose soft sound of flowing water put me to sleep early.
This camp site was adequate and hidden. We had brick shelter enclosed ‘honey-pot’ restrooms – meager, but doable for now. Don’t think I would really want to spend a night here again.
September 1, 2011 – Day 7
Broke camp leisurely, packed everything aboard the trikes and continued our assault up the Cascade Range toward Crater Lake National Park. It was slow going today for me, as the climbs were getting steeper. Unfortunately along this route, the Road Commission was tearing up the road to build – believe this or not – roadside bike trails!!! Well, this pretty seriously impeded our progress for today. In the future, this will be a great cycling route, but not yet unfortunately.
This first portion of the road that was torn up to widen it and rebuild a bridge of the river – but…we were able to ride through all of this on our trikes – slow, rough and dangerous, but passable. I and YELLOW BEAST and trailer took quite a beating along this portion of the route.
Had to take a lot of rest stops along this road, but Steve and I were pretty much staying within a few hundred yards to not more than a mile apart from each other and were trading lead positions and talking along the way, which was really kind of a lot of fun. I do feel that I’m causing Steve a bit of stress by holding him up with my non-matched-to-his riding strength. He says “no problem”, but I’m feeling that his feeling about this may not continue as we go along and if my knees become a real problem in slowing me down so much. We’ll see. When I feel that Steve’s had enough of this with me, I’m asking him to go on ahead, as I feel he likes to ‘run it out’ with some speed. Sometimes I don’t see him now for an hour or so. But we eventually meet up and I find him ‘snoozing’ on his trike or taking pictures of his surroundings, waiting for me.
At the second portion that I encountered (Steve was well ahead of me and I couldn’t see him at all – thought he’d given up on me at this point and gone on to finish the CCTE at his own pace – didn’t blame him for that, if he did) a flag-woman who informed me that my buddy was in a truck ‘on the way up’ – HUH? Turned out that their regulations required that we load out trikes and gear into a pilot pick-up truck and be carried to end of the work area for safety reasons.
I was upset about this – my trike and gear were all brand new and I didn’t want them marred or damaged by someone else ‘helping me’ to get it all in the back of the truck. Some impatient trucker a few cars behind us, without invitation, pretty much decided he was going to speed me along and kind of threw my trailer into the back of the truck, along side my trike. I was pissed, but held my tongue (the guy could have probably whipped me into ‘creamed pudding’ at this stage of the game) and left with my driver in the truck to go 8 miles and 1400 feet of steady, rather heady (at least 15% grades) climbing on up the mountain to a place called Stump Lake.
Actually, this turned out to be a God-send for me. The trike and trailer did not get damaged in this fray of rough handling, rough riding and flying dust and dirt, and it saved having to ride up 8 miles of the steepest grades on this mountain that we would have had to pedal up – for me probably a grueling test of 2-3 hours of pain with lots of rest stops. So, I counted my blessings and bid a fond goodbye and ‘thank you’ to my driver, Janette, who was a very nice and attractive blond lady who I had the good fortune to spend time with.
At about 6:30PM, and about 27 miles of riding up one ‘giant mountain range’, we arrived at Diamond Lake Resort, right on Diamond Lake. BEAUTIFUL!!! Is all I can say about this area. I was stoked at first sight of it all – a gorgeous, large pine mountain lake, crystal blue and superbly surrounded by big mountains on all sides.
I had suggested to Steve that we get a room here, as my knees had had enough for the time being and I felt that a good bed, off of the ground, would be recommended for me for faster recovery. I had no good feeling about pitching a tent this night.
As it turned out, we rented a very nice, two-bed, full-kitchen, half-bath room which was big enough for us to keep our trikes and gear inside out of harms way and safe. Made me feel comfortable to be able to do that and to lock the door when we wanted to go down to the lodge to do laundry or eat, which we did. This was more like it!!!
September 2, 2011 – Day 8
This was a pretty short day (only about 6 miles) taking a very leisurely ride along the Diamond Lake Trail that totally circumnavigates this beautiful body of blue water. About half-way along the trail, we would be stopping at the Broken Arrow Campground to stay the night. The idea is to be at a place strategically located to start the hard climb up Mt. Mazama to Crater Lake and to end the next day at Mazama Campground on the other side of the mountain.
The Diamond Lake trail is used by pedestrians, hikers, runner, bikers, trikers as well as cars moving into and between the camping areas all along the way. The trail is fully paved, forested, shady and quiet. Very relaxing for a nice ride.
We met a couple in their 70’s that had toured the world on recumbent bicycles. Nice people and we took a lot of pictures of them with their cameras, as well as our own. It’s great to meet nice people on tours like this.
Broken Arrow Campground is flat and beautifully clean, well laid out, with clean and beautiful bathroom and showers in brick buildings. The forest here is mostly young trees and really provide only a bit more than minimal shade. But it’s nice that they are there, as the days are warm here, even at this altitude (about 5000 feet). There are small paved streets wandering throughout the campgrounds.
Our camp was adequate and there was plenty of wood around left by other campers who had gone. We had a sturdy picnic table and water was very closet to us in two places. We were within 50 yards of the restrooms and showers. All in all, a nice site to spend one night.
I did a bit of trike maintenance, placing my trike on the picnic table and supporting it with a small PVC static jack stand that I had made for the trip and future on-road maintenance. The jack stand worked great and we got the chain fully lubed. Put the trike away by the tent and covered it up for the night.
I got a good campfire going after the trike maintenance was completed. We got a Mountain Home freeze-dried spaghetti meal for two all cooked up with a grand amount of fresh, whole garlic that Steve had brought, minced into the mix. It was delicious!!! We drank cold water drinks mixed with CamelBak Elixir Lemon-Lime High-Energy tablets in our water bottles. We cleaned up the cooking and dining things quickly after dinner and a spent a nice time around the campfire talking and warming up before retiring for the night, which turned cold pretty quickly.
I had a really lousy nights’ sleep – probably not more than a total of 3 hours, broken up in minutes increments throughout the night. I, without realizing it, had pitched my tent right on top of a small, but most uncomfortable rise in the ground, right where the middle of my back was to lie. This lump was not really noticeable (and I fully inspected the ground but didn’t notice it until too late at about 10 PM when I was in the tent for the night).
September 3, 2011 – Day 9
I awoke in bitter cold while it was still dark outside, only to hear Steve striking his camp. Well, probably because I was absolutely worn out and needed extended rest, and more probably because I didn’t get that rest this night, I was really upset, feeling like Steve was pushing me when I really didn’t need, want or appreciate it. I told him he was “a crazy lunatic!” and further short arguments ensued during which he said “he was doing this for me”…Huh?!?! What I needed was more rest – not rush, and certainly not rise times before sunup in freezing cold with what I felt was subtle, but unwelcomed prodding!!!
I struck my camp, muttering obscenities under my breath, but audible to Steve. When we left the camp on our trikes, I was on my way back home at this point. Steve and I had a few moments of austere conversation, after which I managed to quell my frustration and anger, getting calmed down enough to re-sort my thoughts and feelings and continued on up Mount Mazama with him. It did take me an additional few miles to reconsider my anger and reconnoiter my focus on the task and trip at hand, but I eventually got on with it and managed to mostly forgive my touring partner.
This day was 28 miles of the most grueling riding I’ve ever done in my life – 14 hours worth! I had to make stops every 100 yards or so from the middle to the end. We climbed Mount Mazama to Crater Lake at over 7000’ above sea level – I really felt as though I was near death. This was why Steve rustled my bones so dang early!
Before camping this night, we decided to have a relaxing meal at Annie Creek Inn smorgasbord restaurant located at the lodge at the Mazama campground – very delicious and the big, healthy meal was needed. We feasted at a leisurely pace and recounted the day.
We were able to get a camp site in the Mazama Campground where the NPS Fire Service was parking one of their trucks. It wasn’t very convenient, but it was free and nice of the firemen to allow us in for the night. Although we pitched our camp in the dark, wearing our mountaineering headlamps, sleep this night was undisturbed and I was grateful to get it. A filling dinner and long night’s sleep were needed!
September 4, 2011 – Day 10
Got to sleep-in finally today because Steve said our ride will be an easy one – can’t wait. After yesterday, I welcome some relief for my knees and body. If you’re going to ride up this old volcano, make sure you are ready for it. We struck camp and rode over to the Crater Lake National Park south entrance area, where I took a shower while Steve did some shopping. After I grabbed a breakfast at Annie Creek Inn, we headed out.
Lots of people curious about our trikes – easy to strike up conversations with people in popular places like this. Back on the road, we began heading down the mountain. This I liked. Down, followed by lots more down. No uphills anywhere in sight. It seems we coasted for at least 10 miles before we dumped out on the flat just north of Fort Klamath.
Fort Klamath is a tiny two horse town with a little store – stopped there and got some midday grub and talked to some touring motorcyclists who had passed us coming down the mountain. Now out of the forests in a big long valley of farm lands. Mountains all around in every direction – the rural road is totally flat for many miles and many hours, and I am able to stay in high gears and match Steve’s speed. Isn’t this a switch!! This was a fun time of dual riding.
Early afternoon the weather starts getting hotter than it has been anywhere else – probably mid to upper 80s eventually as the day wore on. At long last started climbing back into small mountains on west side of valley, but not as difficult as what we just went through. The heat was making it a stop, rest, and rehydrate affair however, which became more frequent as the mercury rose.
We saw signs for the Rocky Point Lodge. Steve had been scanning potential tent camp areas in the forest now and then, but I said a lodge sounded good to me, so we agreed to proceed to it instead. Now in deep forest again, we got a tiny campsite right on the water of the lake. A gourmet dinner on an enclosed deck over the water capped off an easy day of decent mileage. No knee pain – feeling great after a shower and dinner. Slight rain during night, but tents dry in morning.
September 5, 2011 – Day 11
Hate to leave this picturesque campground in the woods. Back out to the highway, we get on 140 heading east to Klamath Falls. The morning is pleasant, but it’s obvious that it will get hot again today.
Little white bug clouds pop up every once in a while as we ride. The road was flat for a long way, with good shoulders and little traffic. Traffic always gets heavier as the day rolls on. I was hoping that serious hill climbing was behind us, but not yet. A 3 mile ascent of Doak Mountain in the hot sun really hit me hard. A bicycle group was coasting down while we were pedaling up. This grade was very steep, and my knees had just about had it by the time I reached the top.
Saw Steve’s trike parked just over the summit, and he was sitting in the shade on a big boulder. A nice breeze was blowing up here on the east side of the summit – felt real good. It took me a moment to get up, and he assisted me over to his boulder to sit. My knees hurt so bad that walking was difficult. That grade was a real killer. I think my time on this trip is over.
I told Steve that I would be getting a U-Haul truck in Klamath Falls because I could not imagine another 700 miles of pedaling my trike and trailer with my current physical condition of the knees. Steve was agreeable to whatever I felt best for my situation, but said we should get to a motel, rest up, and then discuss it when out of the heat.
But this big hill wasn’t the last. It wasn’t that far to Klamath Falls, but there were still a series of mini hills (not quite as steep as this first one, but still a challenge) to further destroy my knees, so we kept an easier pace. Steve was now seeing the severity of my situation, and was supportive. He even stopped a cop to find out the fastest and easiest way to a nice motel in an effort to cut short my agony.
It was hot, knees aching, and a little digestion problem further made these final miles tough. Stopped at first big motel, but there was no easy way to get our trikes and gear into the available upstairs room, so we passed on that one and rode a few more miles north into town. We got a room at the Olympic Inn (strongly recommend this one if you’re ever visiting here!!!).
I told Steve that I would be having a U-Haul delivered to the motel tomorrow morning, and head back to Florence. He would be on his own from here on out. I let him have any of my energy bars that he wanted, since I would not be needing them anymore. Like with Glen on the morning of day 3, we faced yet another parting. Steve and I ate a free provided dinner. He did a laundry, and called his buddy Jack regarding a route change due to extreme heat in the northern Nevada desert. This room was just what I needed on this last day. Luxury!!!
In the morning, we had a free breakfast provided by the motel (first class place), Steve rolled his trike outside, oiled his chain, and then rode off to finish the CCTE solo. I drove back to the coast, loaded up my trike, turned in the U-Haul, and drove to eastern Oregon to visit an old friend I had not seen in many years.
I had not completed the trek as I intended, but Steve said that the 278 miles we had ridden were a worthy trek in their own right, and I should be proud of what I accomplished. I suppose a couple of huge mountain ranges might be considered a tough trike ride, sure was for me anyway. I’m prepping for next time!! Yahoo …
* * * * * * *