We’re two days into our trip, and we’re about to pass out in the spare rooms of Nancy & Ken Gummer’s place in Umatilla, Oregon. The Gummer’s have toured back & forth over the Great Divide several times with several different kinds of bikes. We found them on warmshowers.com which is like couchsurfing.com specifically for touring cyclists. The Gummer’s also know how to treat their guests well. If we keep getting fed this indulgently, we’re going to come back in not nearly as good shape as you might expect us to. Either that, or this is just part of our elaborate hoax, and we’re really just staying with Jill in Portland for a few months.

And why not, really? Have you ever been out there? Have you ever seen the Columbia River Gorge? Because holy crap, it’s gorgeous! We made it well past Hood River on our first day (topping out at 95 miles), but it would’ve been entirely worth it to go back & forth over Multnomah Falls alone. There are seven spectacular falls that feed the Columbia, and Andy at one point had to remind us that if we keep stopping for all of them, we won’t make it anywhere today.

the first of seven Multnomah falls

the first of seven Multnomah falls

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The main fall. nearly 600 feet over two falls.

The main fall. nearly 600 feet over two falls.

But it was so hard not to stop! There aren’t any waterfalls on a 60 mile Nyack ride or a century out to Montauk! No, there aren’t! You know what else? There aren’t any winding switchbacks that we can descend at 50mph either. Those descents are going to make the brutal climbs so entirely worth it.

A lot of people ask if I’m bringing a video camera along to document this trip. I’m not. Becuase unless I was working on something truly sprawling, it would probably be pretty boring for most of you unless I could set up some industrial strength fans on a stage and show you the videos while misting the auditorium with Pine-Sol.

the sun setting over the columbia river gorge

the sun setting over the columbia river gorge

The first night, we slept just outside of The Dalles (pronounced “The Dals”), over the bridge in Washington, at the recommendation of the teenage girl working the drive-thru coffee hut in the strip mall leading into town. All of her other recommendations had us backtracking, and the sun was already beginning to sink in the sky as we were searching for a place to sleep. The weather was beautiful enough for us to wander around in our boxers and cook outside of the tent. We’ve been pampered, these first two days.

the view in the morning from our renegade campsite, Mount Hood in the background

the view in the morning from our renegade campsite, Mount Hood in the background

our cozy abode on day 1

our cozy abode on day 1

Our second day was generously buffeted by a benevolent tailwind. Strong enough to keep us at 20mph without hardly pedaling, and enduring enough to push us 105 miles. We hadn’t planned on making it to Umatilla in two days, but with weather like this, it’s hard not to kick ass. Windmills spiked the bluffs on either side of the river we followed in Washington. The breeze is so reliable that nature’s force is harvested here.

We stopped in the tiny town of North Roosevelt Washington, Population 100, when we first realized we weren’t kicking ass on our own. The wind there almost knocked us over. In Roosevelt, there’s a post office, a deli with a lot of hunting equipment, and a lady working there with a notebook that she gets all cyclists to sign. We were the third group of 2009. Since she’s opened the shop 6 years ago, the youngest she’s gotten was 7, and the oldest she’s gotten was 73. (On a side note, the Gummer’s know a woman who started touring at 65 and has since cycled from Florida to San Diego. The details might be off on that, but the general idea is spot-on).