No Services For 88 Miles

Make America Bike Again – Day 14

Imagine a stretch of two-lane highway so remote that there is no gasoline or diesel. No cell phone service either; at least not with Verizon or AT&T. But, if you’re on a touring bicycle carrying your own food, good water and camping gear, it can be more than enough. The scenery, serenity, and the wild freedom of solitude…can actually make it worth while.

After an early start at Kamiah, Idaho, Frank and Robert stopped for a second breakfast at a wide place in the road named Lowell. That’s where Frank discovered that one of the struts that held the front rack to the wheel axle was broken. He put together a band aid fix with zip ties, a needle nosed pliers, and lots of bicycling and engineering experience. Better add inner tubes and a few tools to the above list. And, soon we were off again.

IMG_1378The sign next to Robert and me commemorates a decision by the US Congress not to flood this area with water. This was one of the consequences of the passage of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, which kept the Selway, Lochsa and Clearwater Rivers flowing free. Congress does get it right sometime.

Frank and Robert rode together for most of the day. By mid afternoon the river’s many sand bars looked very inviting. Frank, with his broken front rack, didn’t want to take the time. If it broke apart on a downhill run, that could be dangerous. He kept going toward a campsite named Wilderness Access, while Robert took some time and went for a swim. It was only a day’s ride to the Montana line; time to begin making peace with the Local Idaho Gods.

 

So many sand bars and photo ops along the way. Maybe the other three cyclists would catch up. Instead, Robert met up with four Canadian motorcyclists, two-pairs of fathers and sons, vacationing on their BMW’s. It felt good to see the generations recreating together, and, easy for me to reminisce about my own son, Icarus, and good memories we made when he was growing up on Crete. If you’re at all interested in an exciting recreation of this enduring myth, or would like to know what really happened in the sky that day so long ago…then you should read my story. It’s very good. I know you’ll like it.

The men talked for a time, long enough for the shadows of evening to creep into the canyon. Robert explained that he would be wild-camping that night. It simply means carrying your tent and gear into a remote place, camping out, and leaving no trace. He first learned about it as a young Boy Scout in Ohio. To assist with getting through until morning, one of the motorcyclist fathers provided a liter of water. Everyone said their goodbyes. One by one the power plants of the motorcycles came on, headlamps burned bright, and they were gone, leaving us to the solitude of the canyon and to our own device.

 

 

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Pre Trip Planning

From Astoria Oregon to Akron Ohio

Here we are riding up Independence Pass between Twin Lakes and Aspen. It was mid September. The aspens golden. The summer tourists gone. Nearer to the top we stopped on the narrow shoulder and admired the view. Up ahead a car sweeping down the pass heads towards us. It slows to walking speed, slow enough for a woman on the passenger side of the climate-controlled SUV to open her window and ask, “Are you all right?”

Blue Sky and Golden Aspens
Independence Pass, Colorado

“Never better!” Robert replied, smiling and returning her gaze.

It was our first bike packing tour. In that moment on Independence Pass, I knew that we would one day be doing more tours together. Denver to Aspen over 5 mountain passes and camping along the way. What I didn’t understand then, is that I, the touring bicycle, I would become the voice of these adventures.

My name is Daedalus. My namesake  was an accomplished inventor and craftsman in ancient Greece, and the first man to fly. He made his reputation by building a maze under the palace of a Minoan king to house the dangerous Minotaur.  It was several millennia before the lives of deVinci or the Wright brothers. But, Daedalus never received much credit or recognition for it. His spirit must be restless. Because he seems to have found his voice in me, a Novarra Mazama touring bicycle made by REI.

Independence Pass was several years ago. The time for that next adventure is almost here. With four friends we will soon be leaving on the bicycle adventure of Robert’s lifetime, from Astoria, Oregon to Akron, Ohio, his hometown. We’re not out to set speed records. This is for pleasure, for unplugging from the drama and stress. Robert would like his parents to enjoy it as well. They’re still living together in Akron. Neither one is able to travel anymore. Hopefully, they will recognize and vicariously enjoy the journey into the heartland of this magnificent land. My goal is to search for beauty and inspiration while pedaling through each day. The best of it I will share on this blog and on a Facebook page of the same name. Curious? Why don’t you follow along?

 

 

 

 

“Icarus, Nice Wings!” The Art of Emancipation

Wings have the power to elevate; not just the pilot, but the reader and the onlooker too.  Writers, artists, and poets have inspired with these images since the beginnings of time and art. The ancient Greeks provided us with the archetypal story of the first flight. From high school Mythology class I knew the first flyer as Icarus,”the boy with wings who flew too close to the sun.” I could feel that the same fire within me.

artist: Frank Frazetta

That myth remains forever modern – singing its song of independence, freedom, and sometimes the tragic vigor of youth.

Icarus was fortunate in one regard. His wings were a gift from his father, a famous inventor/scientist named Daedalus. And, even if the father’s warning was ineffective…the one about not flying too high…Icarus clearly had his father’s blessing. Which brings us to the heart of this blog post.

Greek postage stamp
Greek stamp

For me, high school was in Northeastern Ohio. It was 1970, a time and place in which law and culture coalesced to pressure all young men into college, the military, or jail. On a Monday morning in May and just a few miles down the road from my high school, four students were shot and killed at Kent State University. Nine were wounded. The bullets were fired…not by Islamic extremists…but by members of our community, heavily armed and wearing US Army uniforms. It was my first mass casualty event. I would graduate in June.

Two years later the military draft became a lottery. Blessed with a high number, I dropped out of college and took to the metaphorical skies. It would be my emancipation…from dependent youth into free thinking and independent man...a year of traveling throughout Europe and the Mediterranean by thumb and backpack, falling in love, and beginning the research that would l inspire and inform my writing and my parenting. The wings that carried me aloft and into that journey were a gift; one given to myself. Selfish? Perhaps, but I assert that young men instinctively look to their elders for guidance on how best to emancipate. The window is short. Parents

artist: Frank Frazetta
Frank Frazetta

The inherent weakness of the gun model for emancipation is the one size fits all approach. Too many lonely young men foolishly mistake guns for their own budding manhood, get angry, and fire away at peers and teachers in public school settings. In my lifetime the list of mass casualty events has grown far too long. As a father with grown children, I strongly recommend the wing builder option. It’s highly individualized, much less destructive than gunfire, and time honored for empowering the heart and soul of a youth.

Wings have always been meant for flying in the light and warmth of the sun. 

For more about the story of Icarus and Daedalus, I recommend a page-turning reinterpretation  of the first flight: Icarus and the Wing Builderhttps://goo.gl/EkySso

Signed:  Daedalus     February 3, 2017