Let's take a step backwards, to how I got here. I had planned on touring this summer for at least a week, but a handful of decisions, by myself and others, prevented such a long excursion. In June I saw that a window would open around the July 4th holiday, with my wife visiting friends out of state and my family willing to host me.
I’ve been wanting to take a bikepacking trip for quite awhile now, so with nothing too pressing on my schedule I decided to go for it. I couldn’t get any of the boys to go with me, and it was probably a good thing as it turned into a very difficult ride. I’m not the most meticulous planner; I think deep down I like a sense of adventure, not knowing what is around every bend in the trail.
The Robert Aufderheide Memorial Drive is one of the most gorgeous roads I have ever had the privilege of driving. Well, let's back up a moment: I grew up in Michigan. Michigan is pretty, and I love my home state, but there are some really impressive places in Oregon. I'm fortunate that my work brings me to many remote spots that the general populace doesn't wander upon. Rainbow, Oregon, near Cougar Dam was one of the first places I went after moving here, and it remains a favorite ... but I'd never gone farther than the dam. Others who lived in the area extolled the wonders of this road, which is the Aufderheide.
One of the best things about living in New York City is our extensive regional rail system. Ever since I was in high school in the early nineties, I've been using commuter rail to get me to all kinds of great places to bike. When people think of New York, they imagine skyscrapers ... an endless cityscape. But the Big Apple offers a lot more, particularly for cyclists. Hourly service on one of the region's three commuter rail systems can often place you in a very quiet, bucolic setting -- perfect for riding -- in just an hour or two.
My wife Samantha and I were in need of a quick getaway, so we decided to do some Bay Area bike camping. This trip starts at the local Caltrain station in San Carlos, but you can set out from just about anywhere in the Bay Area. The destination is Samuel P. Taylor State Park.
We set out early one Saturday in June, despite the dismal weather report that promised afternoon thunderstorms. The train brought us to our first trail, the Old Plank Road Trail, in short order. We were underway. The Old Plank Road Trail is nicely paved and dead flat, so we covered the 20 miles to Joliet quickly, stopping only to fill up on coffee and breakfast in Frankfort.
In preparation for a six-day, 300-plus mile bike tour, I decided to load up my bike and go for a two-day shakedown ride. I wanted to make sure everything worked well with my new bike, new panniers, handlebar bag, etc. Though I had put about 500 miles on the bike I had never ridden it loaded.