Today was more strenuous than yesterday. 75 miles from St Helens to Welches, about 3200ft of climbing. We are at the base of Mt Hood, but I will probably blog about how beautiful it was tomorrow since our view on the approach was obscured all day by rain and clouds. The tour leaders say they have never had 3 days like this in a row. I find that hard to believe.

Everybody know what SAG support means? “Support and gear.” That means vans that depart with your gear/luggage from where you depart, and set up rest stops to refill water bottles, provide snacks and take care of stuff that happens on the road. I am sure that I will have other reason to talk about why I think a SAG supported ride is the only way to go, but today was my first example. I was feeling great, despite rain and wind, as we circled Portland and rode on a narrow strip about .5 mile wide and 5 miles long between the Portland airport and the Columbia River. The view of man and nature side by side was awesome. About 3 miles later I heard my rear wheel open like an aerosol can. OK, a flat. But when I went to fix it, the tire was slashed–not huge, but a gash long enough to be a problem. Hmmm….Not good. I tried anyway to fix it by putting on my spare tube and proceeding. A mile later, flat again. Without an extra tire (we all carry spare tubes, not spare tires), my ride would have been finished. Over. Back home I would call a taxi or friend to get home. Here I called the mechanic van who arrived in about ten minutes and we booted the tire (like a giant patch, again not something I was carrying), and I was on my way. A tenuous situation that worked out. I threw out a nearly brand new tire tonight.

The amazing part, however, is at just about the same moment the ride had its first incident (which I did not witness). A biker hit a pole designed to keep vehicles out of that bike path. He crashed. Went over the bars and landed on his head and destroyed his helmet. Other riders called 911 for him. The bike was wrecked. But by dinner the rider had been taken to a Portland hospital for check-up and was OK. SAG took him to a bike shop where he bought a new bike! He will be back on the road tomorrow.

That’s SAG support and why it’s a good thing to have if you want to make it across the country on a scheduled itinerary.