Monday, July 23, 2007

small spaces, swelling

As of today, Dave and I have been in the greater Portland metropolitan area for fully seven days; we have hung up our scuffed and cracking helmets, have slipped comfortably (thankfully) into soft-soled civilian shoes and non-synthetic clothing and small city spaces. We have told the same stories over and again and enjoyed the telling every time; we speak in the voices of new friends and laugh at the familiarity of them; we sip leisurely from mugs of (good, so very good) coffee, letting the slowness and simplicity of Portland leak into our bones, our joints, our clean tired lungs. And, in the interest of having girls once more think we're acceptably attractive, we have both shaved and/or trimmed our beards....

Quickly: Having thought about it for a long while, I want briefly to concede the relative smallness of our having done something like this. Or, well, to put it better: I recognize that we (I) have a tendency to imbue more importance, more gravity, more stomach and viscera, to an episode like this than perhaps is warranted, appealing to the post-trip prospect of a heightened sense of self or of an altered heart or maybe even of some ineffable internal shift, whatever the hell that could be. I mean, if you take it plainly, for what it is, one could say that we spent the last almost-three months just...sort of...biking around. A lot. But for all its smallness, and despite the predictability of this admission, you should all be glad to know that, in fact, this trip has been a changing thing for the both of us, something that we have already looked back to as one of the defining moments in our respective lives, something luminous and sky-filling. This has been a time of greening leaves and small reflections and large lumbering hopes for the future. And we both end this episode with a distinct sense of...well, of thankfulness, i suppose.

For an exhaustive photo gallery of the trip (and for numerous photos of Davey in various funny/unintentionally seductive poses), please visit my Flickr account:

Tour de Bro

Our monolithic trip has ended, yes, but for the bored at work: take heart! The Summer of Unrelenting Optimism is still motoring along, and in the coming weeks Dave and I will be visiting both Seattle and San Francisco, immersing ourselves in the small joys to be found there, posting when we can, letting this trip linger as long and as enjoyably as possible.

Until then: thank you all for your letters and your support and for your respective contributions to our lives. You are the fabric; we, the garments.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

a seat in the crook of the arm of the tree

i just picked three baskets of raspberries. where could i be?

For our last night of camping, Drew, Kevin, Heather and Ryan drove down from Seattle to meet us in Ranier, OR. Guitars and beers and everything and love and we ended up circled around the campfire in our sleeping bags. Yesterday, after a long breakfast we left for Portland. The last 50 miles of the whole trip. Four hours later, i found myself ordering another americano from Right now i'm with my oldest and dearest - sara - and her youngest and dearest - elynore - picking raspberries in a drizzly backyard in Vancouver, Washington. We still have Paul Sellars for a couple more days. Tonight we will doff fine beers with moustachioed Paul Hegland...a new friend with whom we had the pleasure of finishing our journey. Last night we clinked glasses with my old freund Ani, who is the original Portland-carrot-dangler, whose talk of fountains of beer and mountains of green pulled me through the long dry legs of Wyoming.

My hands are still numb.

My bike has lost 70 pounds.

I've probably gained a few.

I was just handed a big mug of tea and a bowl of cherries.

I'm probably the luckiest man on earth.

We both still have beards.


Saturday, July 14, 2007


arrived at the pacific ocean yesterday. absolutely surreal.

two more days of biking, beloved ones.

our hearts are light and lean lazily to the west...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

desert lions

oregonoregonoregon! our tenth and last state, our dove and olive branch. for me, it is like a sluggish, grandiose homecoming: this is my state of birth and upbringing, the only state about which i can successfully answer mundane trivia, (state bird: western meadowlark, state flower: oregon grape, state tree: douglas fir...) and it feels strange finally to have arrived, to know that we are less than a week away from the end of the trip, that these flagging days will be sipped and drunk up and then gone.

eastern oregon, in its desert sparseness and unimaginable heat (100+ degrees the last five days) has been trying, with great effort, to kill us. when we descended into hell's canyon two days ago, it was about 110 degrees outside; roughly 118 down in the canyon. yesterday, while biking, i felt dizzy and lightheaded and watery and thought i was going to pass out; paul, for his part, was stung impolitely by a wasp less than two minutes after crossing into oregon; and dave, our boyish hero, was also stung by a bee...on his upper lip. (the swelling has lessened. still, though: bulbous left cheek, plump lip, misshaped mouth) but we are indefatigable! we are armed with thunderous thighs and electrolytes. and we are in EFFING OREGON, so, really, there is nothing that can deaden our spirits at this point. we have skin like sunlight, we chew iron nails and break bodies out of boredom.

to catch up: we spent independence day in grangeville, ID, with our new friend Paul, a Brit, who, for reasons owing to his heritage, had no real reason to think that July 4th was a holiday at all. we are slowly turning him, however: already he has been coaxed into consuming peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chocolate malts, american microbrews, a chili burger, cheesecake, root beer floats, etc, none of which he tried before this trip. he will have tried grits before we're through with him.

there is more to tell but it is late, we have sung long songs to ourselves today (115 mile ride, a new record), and so we now slump to sleep. i leave you, as usual, with the address for the next post and with a small selection of photos.

there is love.

Our final post:
David Ulrich
General Delivery

United States Postal Service
35230 Brooten RD
Pacific City, OR 97135-9100

We will arrive in Pacific City on the morning of the 14th. The day before the last day of our trip. Send quickly, dearest loves; we've no time to dally!

And now:
entering oregon:

jumping high-five:


dave kissing the Oregon soil:

the policemen:

adventure cycling office:

we bleed at the shins for all the scratching. we are desert lions with small reflections.


Thursday, July 5, 2007


Today in Riggins, Idaho, it is 100 degrees. haha. so hot that you feel hot on your skin when you ride your bike. So it's perfect that we're riding into the area on the Idaho/Oregon border called "hells canyon". It's going to be great. We caught Paul Sellers...the elusive Brit who started in Yorktown just two days before us. Met him in Missoula and we'll probably finish out with him. In fact, we'll probably ride into Astoria, Oregon with Paul's severed head on a flagpole, mounted on the back of nick's bike. Sort of a totemistic gesture...we just love him so darn much.
We've still got 34 miles of grunting in this severe heat to get to New Meadows tonight. Tomorrow, we bust into Oregon. Nick bought a gun at the supermarket in Grangeville so we could shoot something as we cross the border. Just kidding i guess.

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Short One

We took a day off in Missoula yesterday. Drank too much coffee, saw a movie with our friends Jim and Stephanie, wrote letters at Butterfly Herbs, got a sneak Sunday tour of the Adventure Cycling office from our host Julie (we camped in her yard, God bless her) and today, we're going to Idaho.