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'Cycling Sojourner' guidebook on Oregon's best multiday bike routes offers a lot more than cue sheets
Published: Thursday, May 10, 2012, 5:46 AM
Friday, May 11, 2012, 4:04 PM
Laurie Robinson, The Oregonian
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Heading toward Mount Bachelor on the Cascade Lakes Highway.
It's probably safe to say that this is the first cycling guidebook that includes a photo of the author shooting a gun for the first time thanks to instruction from a coal miner she'd just met in eastern Oregon.
That scene unfolded when Ellee Thalheimer of Southeast Portland was researching a four-day bike route around the Wallowas. Stymied by snow in Halfway, she and her friends copped a ride in a monster truck with the miner and his Keystone beers and his guns and his country music. Thalheimer, 33, may be firmly entrenched in Portland's yoga and cycling culture but she keeps an open mind about learning to shoot.
Thalheimer's new book, "Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Tours in Oregon," is full of tidbits beyond route descriptions. (The route descriptions are notable, though, for being on perforated paper, with the map on the other side, so you can easily tear them out to take on the road.)
Thalheimer, a freelance travel writer who wrote the second edition of "Cycling Italy" for Lonely Planet, says she wanted to include the kind of all-encompassing info you want for a bike tour -- where to get good food, where to expect cell service, how to ride through a herd of cattle, plus historical tidbits (John Day, 1770-1820, whom the town and the river were named for, "was as manly, pompous and outdoorsy as they come ...").
There's been a void for that kind of cycling guidebook in Oregon, she says, which is why Cycle Oregon and Travel Oregon both supported her project financially.
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Ellee Thalheimer gets impromptu shooting lesson from a local at a pullout on the road between Joseph and Halfway.
Thalheimer covers both ends of the spectrum from free BLM campgrounds to hotels with bike valet parking and pillow menus (i.e. the Oxford Hotel in Bend, where you get to choose what kind of pillow you like).
She includes eight multiday routes, from a beginner-friendly route through Willamette Valley wine country to the lung-buster up Steens Mountain in southeast Oregon.
Though "credit-card" cyclo-tourists (who needs a tent when you have a Visa card and a nice B&B where you can flash it?) are well served in the book, Thalheimer gives lots of tips for the frugal, too.
You don't need to sink three grand into a cyclo-touring bike, she says. Your commuter bike will do. Arm warmers are great, but cutting the toes out of an old pair of long wool socks for your arms works. If you don't want to spend big bucks on waterproof panniers, try those square bike buckets you see around town.
But if you want a bike built for cyclo-touring -- a bit sturdier than the typical road bike, with attachment points for front and back racks and with low gearing -- you could spend $1,000 or more, or you could spend as little as a few hundred dollars for a used one. Even on a tight budget, Thalheimer recommends springing for a good bike fit. Comfort is key.
Weight of the bike is less important than you might think for cyclo-touring, Thalheimer says.
"I'm not one of those cyclo-tourists that cut their toothbrush in half to save weight," she says. "I just tootle along."
"Cycling Sojourner" ($17.95) should be available later this month through Powell's and Amazon, which are taking preorders.
Thalheimer's Cycling Sojourner blog is at cycletouringoregon.com
Thalheimer's website also offers
oregon bike touring
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