Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Still working to get my blog up to date but wanted to share with you that I have been in California since the weekend. I feel like I am "home" again!  This last month has certainly been an adventure. I'll be catching up soon, I promise. Thanks for following our journey.
Xander, the Cycle Sherpa and Ella, the Cycle Shepherd and Adventure Dog
A photo posted by Xander Grove (@thecyclesherpa) on

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Day Sixty-two (0 miles): Time on My Hands

After a long few days of consistent head winds and other misadventures, I decided to take a rest day at Hell's Gate State Park. I spent the day riding all over the park, exploring the paths along the Snake River. I had breakfast down at a little harbor with an oddball shop keeper and enjoyed a cup of coffee on the river. After walking around for awhile, I went to the Lewis & Clark visitors center to write for awhile and charge up all of my electronic devices.

Throughout the day, I had rangers continuously walking up to me, wanting to know about my trip. After I had talked to one ranger the night before, he had apparently gone out and told the whole park staff about me! Needless to say, I had quite a few interesting conversations with a variety of people throughout the day. Back at camp, a German shepherd came running into our camp and Ella immediately chased him down and tried to corner him before the big dog ran away. I have no idea why, but Ella seems to be able to handle dogs 10x her size! It's really funny to watch her "be tough". Better watch out, she's a killer!

The rest of the evening was spent packing my gear, cooking dinner and playing my guitar in camp. I spoke to quite a few other campers near by who wanted to know about my trip as well. Finally when the sun drifted down below the horizon, I locked up my gear and hit the hay. All in all it was a little more than a semi-productive day!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Day Sixty-one (78.4 miles, 2933.2 total): One Way or Another!

5:45AM. Clank! Click! *shuffle shuffle* Click! Bang! The ACA group is up and getting ready to go once again. Ella isn't sleeping in this morning and is already crawling over me like I'm a jungle gym. I open the tent fly and she bolts out into the camp. I drag myself out of the tent like a slug and slow begin my morning routine. The ACA group already has a hot water made, so I quickly make my oatmeal and coffee for the morning. After a nice cup of joe, I get back to work packing my panniers. By 6:45AM, I have said goodbye to the ACA group and headed off for Kooskia. It's an easy 17 miles into town along the same spectacular roadway I've been on for the last two days.

I breeze right into town before I even know it. First thing I do, is head into the grocery store to stock up on supplies for the next week. I couldn't find tortillas, so one of the employees helped me search the entire store for them! Even the employees didn't know where they were! Eventually I found my little flat bread stacks and headed to the counter to pay. Walking out of the store, I ran into the ACA group again! They were stopping for breakfast and insisted I join them. We all sat down at this great little diner for breakfast and enjoyed massive amounts of food. Bob, an ACA friend, was treating breakfast for everyone and we couldn't thank him enough. Bob leaned over the table and told me I could order a second meal. At first I though he was joking, knowing the mass amounts of food I can inhale. But after insisting I order another breakfast, I couldn't resist! It was probably the most satisfying meal I have enjoyed on this trip so far! Sadly, I would be splitting off from the ACA group route today and probably won't see my friends again. We said our farewells and they headed off down the road.

I turned the opposite corner and headed for Lewiston. It was 70+ miles from Kooskia, but I needed to get there today. I was really anxious about how I was going to make it with my front tire looking as bad as my back tire was. Every bump in the road, I was checking to make sure my tire wasn't going flat. I had a constant wobble and a consistent *thump thump thump* on every rotation. The day was hot and the asphalt was even hotter. When the road gets hot like that, you have to be careful with your tires. Tires and tubes commonly go bad when under pressure in high heats. As I made my way down the road, the winds picked up, almost like they didn't want me to reach my goal. I struggled on into the afternoon. Every convenient store along the route became a water break for Ella and I. I had to keep pouring water on Ella to keep her cool under the summer sun.

By 2:00PM, I had gone just over 30 miles to reach the town of Orofino. I pulled into a huge gas station with a canopy and bought an ice cold bottle of Gatorade. I sat out side in the shade and cooled off for a little while. While I was sitting out front, an old man came to talk with me about my trip. He headed inside the store and came back out with a can of Beanie Weenies for me. It was nice of him and I personally thought it was pretty funny. I thanked the man and he got back in his truck and headed down the road.

The winds were becoming too much and I still had to make it to Lewiston before all the bike shops closed up for the evening. I pulled over at a guard rail to hitch a ride. A few people stopped, but none were headed into Lewiston. Finally, a family picked me up that was headed toward Lewiston. I thought I was going to die in the back of that truck. The driver was whipping around corners at 50+ mph, dodging traffic, braking sharply, accelerating even faster. I was holding onto Ella, my bike, and the truck for dear life. My face probably looked like something out of a cartoon as I struggled to maintain a grip in the back of the truck. We finally came to a stop about 12 miles outside of Lewiston where they let me off and headed down another road.

No sooner had I hopped out of that truck, another truck pulled over for me. This one was a massive flat bed truck, and a jolly looking guy hopped out and introduced himself. His name was Larry and he was a funny dude. In his passengers seat, sat a massive Leopard Pitbull named Lily. Ella quickly showed she was the dominant dog and scared Lily into Larry's lap for the rest of the ride! Larry used to hitch hike all of the country in his younger days, so now he's repaying the kindness to others. I was really appreciative of his help into town.

By early evening, I had finally arrived in Lewiston. It was another couple of miles to the bike shop, but I was able to ride through neighborhood roads that slightly blocked the wind. At the bike shop, I got a new tire and talked to their owner for awhile. It was clear this was a bike store not a bike shop. A bike store wants your business and most importantly your money. A bike shop on the other hand, wants your business but they also love their regular customers and take care of the cyclists in their local community. I paid for my new tired and headed off to find a local campground.

About 5 miles away, was Hell's Gate State Park, right along the Snake River. I quickly made it to the campground with the wind to my back. I was able to score a great site with plenty of trees, a nice grassy area, a fire pit and a picnic table. After a long an exhausting day, I set up my tent, took a shower and made my food for the evening. I felt much better once I had some food in my system. By the time I was done cleaning up for the evening, the sun had been down for an hour or so. I locked up my gear and crawled into my tent, almost immediately passing out on my nice comfy pillow. We hope you are enjoying our daily misadventures and continue to follow our journey out west!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Day Sixty (65.4 miles, 2854.8 total): Always Carry A Spare...

CLANK! CLICK! SHUFFLE! 5:30AM. Ugh. The ACA group is up making breakfast and packing all their gear back into the van. Ella is out cold and I slip out of the tent without waking her up. I throw on my jacket to block out the frigid morning air as I pack up for the day. I pack everything but my tent and Ella's blanket before making breakfast. Finally the furry little bugger stretches and crawls out of the tent. I quickly pack up the tent and tuck Ella away into her basket. She buries herself between the fold of the soft fleece blanket and promptly goes to sleep. I roll my loaded bike through the camp, say my goodbyes to my new friends and head off into the frosty morning.

The sun sparkled through the dew high up in the treetops, each branch a glistening gem. The shallow river bubbled along side the road as I made my way through the Idaho mountains. I frequently stopped to enjoy the crisp morning breeze and take in the stunning views all around me. I could cruise through this winding road everyday and never be tired of it. The forests were so pristine and untouched, it was spectacular. Despite the road hugging the curves of the mountains, this beautiful evergreen wonderland seem almost cutoff from the destruction of modern man. I rode on through this marvelous sanctuary never wanting it to end.

As the morning wore on, the winds continue to pick up through the narrow canyon walls. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't ride any faster than 11mph fully loaded. Now let me remind you this is all downhill, I should be cruising 20+ easily. Even though the winds held me back and wore on me throughout the day, I didn't mind it. The suns golden rays flew higher into the sky, lighting up my mountain pass in the most breathtaking ways. Not a cloud was in sight as I pushed on into the afternoon. Occasionally, I would run into my fellow cyclists but I kept to myself and enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Around 11:30, I came across an old ranger station that was now open as a miniature museum. I spoke with the volunteer while I relaxed for a little while and Ella ran around. The ACA group caught up with me again and we all ate lunch together. While the group was still moseying about, I set off down the open road once again. Along the way, one of my ACA friends, Mike, caught up with me and we raced down the mountain pace for awhile. Being unloaded, Mike was obviously faster, but it was still a blast. Mike eventually held up and waited for the rest of his group while I continued my journey alone.

Eventually, I had reached the tiny town of Lowell, with a population of less than thirty citizens. Thirsty in the hot summer sun, I pulled over and stopped in an old convenient store. The shop was so sweltering hot, all of the candy bars were in the two freezers against the back wall and all of the windows and doors were kept propped open. I grabbed my icy beverage, payed the women with few teeth, and bolted back out into the fresh air. Two cyclists that Bill and I had run into back in Wyoming, turn up at the store and we catch up before they head on into the local "diner". Refreshed, I clamber back onto the Land Yacht and continue my voyage.

About two miles down the road, my bike tire blew out. A slight wobble, a suspicious hiss and a power slide on the side of the road quickly halted my efforts to reach Kooskia. I took a peak at my tire and I sat down. My tired was shredded just enough to where a boot wouldn't fix it. No cell service and no spare tire, I was stranded. A truck quickly pulled over and a man stepped out from the drivers side, resembling a sleazy character from The Sopranos. He was kind of hesitant with his choice of words and I told him I was fine and my group would be arriving momentarily. He quickly hopped back in his truck and headed off down the road.

Thankfully, Nial and Mike from the ACA group showed up with a spare tire and enthusiastic attitudes. They were excited to change that tire and didn't even want me to do it! A few minutes later, with a lucky spare on my back wheel, I was ready to roll. I ended up riding with Mike to the ACA camp for the evening. They were more than welcoming to me and their kindness restored my faith in humanity. We all hung around the camp, caught up on the trip, told stories, and ate plenty of food. I couldn't have found a better group of cyclists to run into out in the middle of nowhere. Well after dark, I finally called it a night and crawled in to my yellow coffin tent for some much needed shut-eye. Ella and I hope you are enjoying our adventures and continue to follow us as we blaze our way west!