Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Aug 6 (Day 218) - 10,000-mile plateau reached amid angry skies

With the 85 miles that I biked to reach Burley, ID today, I have now biked a grand total of 10,0053 miles in 2014. This is a major achievement of which I am exceptionally proud. The amount of time, effort, and planning it has taken to reach this point will defy the belief of anyone who has never done anything similar. The return on this investment, however, has been simply incredible. I have seen an impressive number of birds, visited 25 different states, and made countless new friends. I fully expect the next five months to be as amazing as the first seven. Who knows how many more miles I will accumulate before the year is out! One at a time, one at a time......

I got rolling early this morning to beat what potentially bad weather might materialize this afternoon. Despite the nasty forecast, I had a good feeling about today. I will attribute this to the french toast sticks served at breakfast at the Best Western in Pocatello this morning. These might be the best breakfast item ever! The weather looked ominous as I hit the road after breakfast, but miraculously it  passed without dumping any rain on me. I even had 2 hours of sunshine before the clouds closed back in during the last 20 miles of the 85-mile ride. I rode the interstate all day, and, although it was a bit monotonous, the road was in great shape and it had a nice, wide shoulder. Both the wind and rain picked up exponentially after I left the Canton Buffet where I ate lunch in Burley; My timing was perfect! I am now hunkered down for the evening, and I will get ready and rest for more long rides the next two days.

85 miles today. Had to use car feature since bike
feature won't let me on interstate (even though its legal)

Angry skies

I did have one interesting run-in along my route today. Edith, a woman with whom I spoke on the phone about lodging, passed me on the road and pulled over to say hello. She said she recognized me from the Biking for Birds license plate! We chatted for a fe minutes before she hit the road again en route to a concert in Boise. I grabbed a quick photo before she took off.

One of the problems that arises in birdwatching is observer bias. This means, basically, that people see what they want to see. A flyby Razorbill is easily turned into a Thick-blled murre by an inexperienced observed who is hoping to see his/her lifer Thick-billed murre on that day. Observer bias is a big problem anywhere where a person must use judgement to make an identification, estimation, or characterization. Scientific experiments are done "blind" so that the researcher does not know at which samples he/she is looking. Anyway, this long-winded intro is to show that our subconscious minds can sometimes influence what we think we see. 

The Flying Boobs Ranch!
I can see Sonia shaking her head now.......

Birdwise today was very quiet as I was focused on making miles as fast as possible (I covered the first 70 miles of today's ride in 4 hours, 5 minutes!). My host's house overlooks the Snake River. There was a juvenile Bald Eagle roosting on the bank when I arrived. There is also a large farm field filed with birds across the street. A first pass through the birds yielded Ring-billed, California, and Franklin's gull as well as a dozen or so Caspian Terns. 

Tomorrow its north and west towards Boise. It will take 2 more long days to reach that destination, so stay tuned!


  1. Huge congrats on 10,000 miles, what an achievement! And you have inspired me to start carrying a reusable grocery bag this year, so thanks :)

  2. Love the flying boobs sign! Although it's quite the voluptuous "W" I am sorry to report this isn't the real thing. Keep looking...

    I'm curious if you could share a bit about the cycling route-verification process. For example do you often call ahead to highway patrol or something to inquire whether it is legal and safe to ride on a particular interstate or over a particular bridge?

    After the incessant but productive twitching and searching over the past couple months, it's fun to see you making miles again. Huge congratulations on the 10,000 miles, and keep up the good work. Balls to the floor, man. I am confident that the best of your Big Year is yet to come!

  3. Is Boreal Owl on your radar for Mt. Rainier? This bird is definitely possible there, albeit tough.

  4. I can relate to your wonderful adventure having cycled 1,000 miles through Alaska three years in a row and the great sights and experiences you are encountering. In the 50 years of cycling I can honestly say we never had a BAD cycling day. Oh sure we had our share of wind rain and cold but we hung in and always made the best of it. Keep going my friend.