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(see all 3 book)'s RoadNews Newsletter: Suddenly, In The Blink of An Eye - How the gap year tour was interrupted
2013 (Kalispell, Montana, USA)

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The new plan - I do not know how many letters I have started off talking about new bicycle touring plans. Travel takes a lot of planning and the flexibility to change plans on a moments notice. If you didn't hear from my FaceBook posts; Jake and I crashed in Northern Montana.  He unexpectedly went down and I plowed into him to be exact. The impact completely knocked the wind out of me and injured my ribs but I walked away.  Jake badly dislocated his shoulder and had to be rushed to a hospital in Libby, Montana.  They put his shoulder back in but now he can't ride for at least 6 weeks so he can heal.


I have to back up a couple months and catch up from my last letter.

My last newsletter ( finished off with anticipating my family arriving in Portland, OR.  A new touring bike and all necessary camping gear was bought and Ortlieb sponsored us a full set of panniers (saddle bags) and handlebar bag and Tubas gave us front and rear racks. (THANKS!)  It was a whirlwind of test rides and gear adjustments but in seven days the whole touring rig was assembled.  I was proud of myself for pulling it off on time.  If you aren't a bicycle tourist, and I know that most readers are not, you have to understand that people take years of trial and error to get their equipment assembled and dialed in.  At least all these years on the road taught me something useful.

picture = Jeff Scully from Ortlieb USA came out to visit

Our first day we rode from Portland over the Colombia River into Washington state and soon after were climbing up into the Cascades Mountains.  Jake, at first, was understandably wobbly and frustrated with so much to learn.  As the days drifted by we rode past Mount St. Helens and spent nearly a week exploring Mount Ranier National Park.  Traveling on the wet side of the mountains promised rain.  Everything was dark green and moss hung from the trees but the rain never came.  I have always had good luck with weather and was glad it was not a factor.  We had enough to deal with as it was.

It has been a very long time since I learned how to travel like this.  Pacing, shifting and saddle position all take time to learn.  A loaded bicycle is not so hard to ride but a real struggle to push around and find places to park.  It always wants to fall over - dumping the entire contents of your open handlebar bag in the process.  But as the days passed everything became easier.

Dad and Me on the beach in Oregon - M - Free camping deep in the National Forrest

Jake was introduced to the magic of bike travel.  Numerous times we camped in pristine forest, gathered water from creeks and used the outdoor facilities.  We saw birds of pray hunting, rode past rattle snakes, and a huge rat got into a food bag.  We were self reliant, carried days of food through remote areas and made our own rules about where we camped.  There was seldom phone service.  No gas, no insurance, no school and we owned so little material things. Never knowing where we were going to sleep each night turned ordinary life into an adventure. There is no way to travel on a bike that is not an adventure.

We met a wide variety of people this summer.  From off grid hippies, urban hipsters, skin heads, liberals. conservatives, and everything in between.  One day we were staying with people telling us about their long struggle protesting a local mine then the next week we stayed with the mine manager and he explained how his family lived here too and was also interested in the environment.  Hearing both sides on TV is one thing but meeting the people and hearing them out is another.  American's may have nearly the same accents but we do have a wide range of people with many lifestyles.  I believe American culture stresses individualism and has more people living on the fringes than other developed nations.  Experiencing everyone's hopes, dreams and sometimes conspiracy theories is an education not found in a book.  I have done this so long that I forgot how much I love it.

Meeting Leon in Sandpoint, Idaho

Everything was going as planned with Jake and his gap year trip until suddenly, in the blink of an eye, everything changed.  Like I mentioned above; Jake and I crashed in Northern Montana and he can't ride for several weeks while he recovers.  This put a kink in our bicycle travel plans.  My sister (Jake's mom) came up with the idea of flying Jake to Germany to hang out with friends who have a son Jake's age. Kind of like being a foreign exchange student without the school part. At least he can have fun while his arm is in a sling and I think this is a much better idea than going home to Indiana.

So, I continue on solo. The days are growing shorter - I can feel it deep down inside - I need to get somewhere closer to the equator - I need to head south yet I am so far north - near the Canadian border. I have some very sore and bruised ribs but I think I can manage to throw my leg over my bike and head towards Colorado. My route is on Adventure Cycling's Trans America Bike Trail. Missoula, Montana, the capital of bicycle touring, and Yellowstone National Park, a place I have always wanted to go, are in my near future. Jake is shipping his bike and camping gear to Phoenix, AZ. We plan to meet up there and continue the trip this winter down into Mexico and Beyond.

As you could expect; all this has not only taken it's toll on my health but it has also created challenges to my finances.  If you can find the time, please shop through one of my retail store links ( or have a look at my three books (  Thanks for your support.

Tim Travis
Kalispell, Montana, USA

bird meeting - recent college grads also on the road - Mt. Hood and the Colombia River



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