Hills and the Holiday

Matt biking uphill

Matt rounding a bend as he comes uphill on this little used, somewhat-secret road

I am not saying hills are a holiday, I am referring to two clearly separate things, both of which were impactful on today’s ride. A third thing, frugality, should also probably be included but didn’t work with the alliterative title.

Today we got into the Oregon Coastal Mountains and got worked. We only ended up riding 37 miles today and called it quits by around 2pm (after also having a 3 hour break in the town of Clatskanie). In the first half of the day, we had two long hills to contend with. They are tough for both of us but for different reasons. Julie breaks the wind and rides in front. As we’re heading West and North right now en route to Astoria, we are hitting a lot of headwinds and since I’m pulling the trailer, Julie is taking the wind. While she’s battling wind, I’m chugging like a sad little tug boat up the hill saying “I think I can, I think I can” in the lowest possible gear. I know I don’t have my “biking legs” yet but I sure hope they come soon because chugging up long hills in the two lowest gears and moving at maybe 5 mph is a tough way to go. To add to my hilly misery, at the end of the afternoon hill, we got to the top and there was an elevation sign that read 656ft above sea level. We climbed maybe 500 or 600 feet and felt like we climbed 1200. Moral, we have a long way to go to be in biking shape.

As every hostel host and campground has reminded me, it’s Labor Day weekend and camp spots are hard to come by. We are on the frugal road right now and having fun trying to not spend too much after shelling out quite a bit over the past couple months of traveling. As a result, we’re calling around to find out rates and find the best deals. The way it worked out, we are camped somewhat illegally near Gnat Creek in Clatsop State Forest. It’s illegal because we’re so close to the river (supposed to be 25 ft from all water) but it was the only dispersed camping sight we could find and the three regular sites were taken well before our arrival at 2pm today. So while it’s a nice and pretty spot, we’re hoping we don’t get the boot and told to leave between now and tomorrow morning.

Lastly, I’ve received two comments now on chamois cream. I admit I have not looked at the link my friend TJ included to read up on it but I think it has something to do with having a sore butt from riding. My rear is a bit sore at this point but we’re breaking it in with only a few hours of riding per day so far and it’s not too bad just yet. I have been trying to figure out in my mind though just how this chamois cream works and what it’s supposed to do. With riding, my entire butt area that comes into contact with my seat is sore. It’s not blistered or rubbing though so I can’t imagine quite how rubbing a cream there will soothe what feels more like a bruise than a blister. As I ride more, I’m sure I’ll need to learn about the chamois, but for now, I’m glad I’m doing fine without knowing.

So onwards to Astoria and hopefully to a sports bar where we can watch the Notre Dame season opener on Saturday afternoon.

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