About Lea's Foundation

In 1998, Lea Michele Economos, a young woman who died of leukemia at the age of 28, made a dying wish to her parents that others would not face the hardships she encountered by finding a cure for this disease. Her family started this charity to carry on that wish. Today, Lea’s Foundation takes an active role in finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma and to better the lives of people living with these diseases. At the UCONN Health Center, the Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders sponsors research in this field. A new program covers the cost of bone-marrow testing to help recruit life-saving transplants for patients. Also, annual scholarships are given to children with leukemia who are planning to attend nursery school. For more information on other projects carried out by Lea’s Foundation, please visit their website at www.LeasFoundation.org.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Day 17 - Boise, ID to Glenn's Ferry, ID (70 miles)


The day had finally arrived! After supporting the Gregs through the desert over the last few days, it was finally time to hop into some very cushioned bike shorts and continue the trip with the guys on bike. The right combination of nerves and excitement kept my energy at an impressively high level, as I had been waiting for this moment for quite some time. The morning began with breakfast prepared by our gracious hosts, Pat and Rachel, who had been kind enough to share their Fourth of July with us. After our final goodbyes,we were on the road.

We left Boise on a very scenic bike trail that overlooked the city and the mountains with a rising sun in the background. Our (original) goal was to cycle to Mountain Homes (which was neither homey or associated with any mountains), a 45 mile trek. The route of choice for the day was interstate 84 (yes, cycling the interstate in Idaho is legal). Admittedly, I was a bit apprehensive about biking on the interstate, as thoughts of traffic and the mess that is Connecticut highways persisted in my mind. Fortunately, these thoughts were quickly extinguished. The interstate leaving Boise had only two lanes and a very wide shoulder separating us from the cars. Best of all traffic was minimal, and most cars gave us an extra lane of room while passing. 

The interstate proved to be a good decision, as we benefitted from the smooth roads and gradual climbs/ downhills. We coasted along, often maintaining a speed over 20 mph, with top speeds of 39 mph reached on a very rewarding 2 mile long decent. Our only complication was a poorly placed nail that found its way into Greg's back tire. 

With momentum on our side, we reached our original destination around 11:00. Our legs were still fresh and making great time on the interstate so after a quick slurpy intervention, we made the obvious decision to carry on to Glenn's Ferry, another 35 miles (for a total of 70 miles). The second leg of our trek proved as rewarding as the first as we were gifted with miles of downhill decent that helped us reach speeds in the mid thirties. After about 25 miles, the interstate became parallel to a river which offered more scenic views. 

As beautiful as the route had become, my legs were starting to feel the tole of the first day of riding, and I began counting the miles until we would reach our destination. 

Upon arrival to Glenn's Ferry, we stopped at a minimart for some much needed air conditioning and rehydration. The day had began to reach its peak temperatures (upper 90s) and we felt it on the road. Eager to rest, we headed to the camp grounds where we would be spending the night, and set up camp. 

Photos by Jonathan Kobles

Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 16 - Ontario, OR to Boise, ID (63 miles)

Greg Kirby:

After our pre-sunrise to post-sunset ride from the day before, Greg and I slept in a bit and didn't get on the road until 930am after enjoying our complimentary continental breakfast. Unfortunately by the time we got out the door, the temperature had already reached 90 degrees.

We headed south through "Onion Country USA" towards Nyssa, Oregon. Today Greg's tire has already gone flat in the motel room. Now that we're on the road, it's obvious he still has a slow leak that needs more air every 5 to 10 miles (we've inspected the tire/rim more than five times and found nothing that would keep causing a leak). A few more pumps of air, we we crossed the snake river into Idaho. After the last two days in Oregon, we weren't exactly sad to leave. The sign thanking us for visiting and welcoming us back soon, seemed like an out of touch joke.

We headed down a scenic bypass that exposed us to more and more corn fields, and our first train of the trip. We were shocked that it took until day 16 for us to see any trains, and suddenly freight trains were passing hourly.

We stopped for snacks at a gas station before heading down an unpaved fishing access road. Typically our routes are pretty self explanatory and I only need to read route numbers and street names before we head out in the morning. However, when we approach an urban area such as Boise, streets become more confusing and sometimes I let Google call out navigation commands from my back pocket. Unfortunately, this time Google's unpaved choice was private property. Unwilling to backtrack, we trespassed for another mile.

Entering Caldwell, the heat was rising and we were getting tired of rolling through the mix of residential neighborhoods and corn fields. We decided to sit down under a shady tree at an intersection. Exhaustion from the previous days of riding combined with the heat to result in us napping next to the road for about 30 minutes. Despite two unconscious, disheveled looking men in 95 degree heat, not a single person stopped to ask if we were okay. We also played the game called "where is it currently colder than where we are, but shouldn't be". Quite a catchy name, I know. Flagstaff, Arizona won at 60 degrees and rainy weather. So much for choosing to go north and "avoid the desert heat".

Somewhat refreshed from our nap, we continued on to find food just west of Meridian, Idaho. Never before have I more enjoyed the environment of a Walmart. Even having Subway for the 6th day in a row was bearable because of Walmart's aggressive air conditioning.

After working up the courage to go back outside, we faced the final 18 miles of oppressive heat. Straight down Franklin Avenue we headed to our Warmshowers host house. Riding sidewalks to get hit by residential sprinklers and be sheltered by some shade as Greg would pump up his ever-deflating tire. To illustrate just how hot it was, one of Greg's water bottles cracked due to the ice and cold water it contained.

Finally, in Boise proper we pulled up at our host house. We were exhausted from the heat.


Our trip took a fortunate turn with the alignment of our arrival to Boise, Idaho on the Fourth of July. Tucked away in the mountains of Idaho, Boise is a hidden gem out here in the west and a much needed break from the barren deserts of Oregon that had chewed away at us the last few days.

Upon arrival, we first biked to where we would be spending the night, the house of our Warm Showers hosts Patrick and Rachel. Patrick and Rachel were incredibly welcoming and had a fantastic story. Avid bikers themselves, the two had met while cycling across New Zealand. Patrick had been on a tour, cycling the globe at the time. Together, the two had cycled on many continents including America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and some wild places such as the arctic circle. We knew right away that their tips and advice for the remainder of our trip would be invaluable.  

Our hosts helped us celebrate the Fourth of July the way all Americans should - with a giant barbecue. After days of eating cliff bars, or at restaurants and truck stops, having a home cooked meal felt incredible. As the sun set, we headed over to a large hill to watch the fireworks over Boise; a fantastic end to the day.

Photos by Jonathan Kobles 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Day 15 - Hines, OR to Ontario, OR (136 miles)

Once again our day began at 3am. The lack of sleep and desert heat had drained us, but today is the final day of crossing the Oregon High Desert. Heading east out of Burns we encountered 15 miles of straight, flat, agricultural road. While this was boring, we quickly had some excitement 12 miles in as my back tire went flat, our first flat tire of the trip. Replacing the inner tube, I found a sharp wire sticking through the thick rubber of my tire.
After the 15 miles, we were granted a turn that led us towards our first climb. All obnoxious climbs in Oregon are preceded by a sign warning of a "Snow Zone Ahead" and a "chain up" area. Our early start had started us with temperatures in the 50s and before climbing we were both shivering quite a bit. Reaching the summit, a sign foretold of 5 miles of downhill ahead of us. Enjoying the mountain side descent, we took in some of the best scenery Oregon had offered yet. We crossed Stinkingwater river, I tried to remember what the pizza chef in Lakeview had told us about our route. I thought that maybe we had completed the worst climb that we would have today. Descending into one more valley, I saw that I was wrong. On the other side sat a climb back up to over 4400ft.  We crossed the Malheur River and began our climb.
This was now over 40 miles into our trip and without having eaten breakfast, we were ill prepared for what lay ahead. The climb took nearly 40 minutes, and upon reading the summit sign, I saw that this was the Drinkwater Pass that we had been warned about. The time was now 830am and we had made much less progress than we had hoped (only about 45 miles). Jonathan planned to meet us around this time and drop off our gear as he continued on to Boise to return the car and pick up his bike.
Luckily the next 10 miles were downhill, followed by 5 miles of irrigated, flat, ranch land.  Halfway down the descent we crossed into the Mountain Time Zone! Making great time, we arrived in Fortuna, OR with 60 miles under our belts as Jonathan caught up. After getting our gear we headed into Fortuna's only business, a diner/gift store, and grabbed breakfast. While eating I noted that the terrain for the rest of the day was pretty mild, and would be following a river as it flowed downstream. For once, we were headed the same direction as a river we followed! Climbing a small hill, we found ourselves in a narrow desert canyon with only a river, road and some green vegetation near the river's shore. This was a very unique landscape and something I was excited to see. I noticed it was hot, but a stiff breeze kept the temperature manageable.
Despite the fact we were following the river, the road managed to still rise and fall. Around some curves we faced a stiff headwind. Around others we had a tailwind that left us feeling hot and dry. Shade trees only approached the road at most every 8 miles. Climbing down off the road, we would stand in the shade, drink our hot water and listen to the occasional rattle snake warning. This beautiful landscape was quickly becoming intolerable due to its high heat. The promise of the town of Harper, and its gas station drove us on, hopeful for some cool refreshment and food.  At some point along this part of the trip, I nicknamed this area "Death Valley, Oregon".
Emerging from the narrow canyon, we climbed to the top of a large hill before coasting into Harper on a tailwind. Arriving in Harper we saw that the gas station was literally someone selling gas out of their living room. Pedaling deeper into town, we were dismayed to see that the only store/cafe was permanently closed. Nearby we found some shade at a school. After eating our now soggy Subway sandwiches, we laid down on the uncomfortably warm cement sidewalk. After a short nap, I woke to find that I was sweatier than before and my water was still unrefreshingly warm.
Deciding that our water levels were adequate and there was no way to get cold water anyway, we set off for the final 22 miles of our 113 mile trip. Now mid-afternoon, the heat was just as intense as it had been in the canyon. Struggling to find shade, our stops became less frequent. Under one shade tree, I realized that Greg was taking too long to climb the last hill. Backtracking, I found him walking his bike, with our 2nd flat tire of the trip. Two flats in one day, and having it happen in this heat was horrible luck. Tire repaired, we set off with 17 miles still to go. Realizing that our water situation was becoming a serious concern, we drank cautiously and tried to exert ourselves as little as possible. After another "snow zone" we had a 2 mile descent. The warm wind from our descent dried us out even further, making the final ten miles quite a struggle.  To make matters worse, our water starved bodies had to stare at the well irrigated crops as we cycled past miles of farmland.
Arriving in Vale, OR we passed our first corn crop before chugging two Gatorades each. As we pathetically sat in the parking lot, a local farmer informed us that it was 102 degrees out today, and that he reckoned our route was at least 106.  Calling the campground, and motels we quickly discovered that there was no lodging to be had in Vale tonight.  The multi-day Vale 4th of July Rodeo was apparently quite popular. Discouraged, we realized we might have to bike another 20 miles to Ontario, OR. After eating dinner and being slightly less delirious than when we arrived in town, we set off towards Ontario. On this ride, we became coated in flies and learned that we were in "Onion Country". Hydrated and glad that the sun was setting we pedaled on.

At 9:30pm (18 hours after we set off) we arrived at the Ontario Inn. We had seen both sunrise and sunset today on our bikes, not something I'm eager to do again. Our 113 planned miles, grew into another massive 130+ mile day.
Photo by Jonathan Kobles 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day 14 - Lakeview, OR to Hines, OR (138 miles)

Today is an exciting but slightly nerve-inducing day. The plan is ambitious and requires us to use all of the energy that we saved up by having a day off in Lakeview. Getting back from dinner last night, Greg and I quickly went to bed with our alarms set for 3:00am.
Rising at 3 and out the door by 330am, we started our trek north along Highway 395, which would lead us directly through the Oregon High Desert. This early in the morning we could not see much more than what was illuminated by our front and rear lights. As we rode out of town, the lights from houses alongside the road became fewer and the rustling of unseen animals grew more frequent.
22 miles in we reached the geological marker for Abert Rim, which explained the geologic formation of the fault scarp that we would be following for the next 31 miles. As the road split towards Bend and Burns, we were warned that the next gas station was 90 miles away, and with it, easy access to food/water should we run out of either.
Biking in the forming shadows of the scarp we twisted along the shore of Abert Lake. This lake is extremely alkaline and normally takes the form of a salty lake bed. Interestingly, the high alkalinity of its water makes it unsuitable for any human recreation. It's only inhabitants, a colony of brine shrimp.

Passing the north shore of the lake, we reached our first climb of the day. Reaching the top, we were over 40 miles into our trip and could begin to feel the warmth of the sun. Our sweat and effort was repaid with a 5 mile long descent deeper into the desert. Along this elevation drop, I was surprised to spot a Bureau of Land Management rest area. Hopeful that it might have some potable water we pulled in. Much to our surprise there was a water fountain! Much to our disappointment however, no water flowed from its spout when the valve was opened. This was quite a cruel trick.
The miles continued to fly by as we averaged almost 15mph without our gear. Before we knew it, we reached mile 60, and with it, a Department of Transportation station and housing. Standing under the shade of a tree that was close to their barbedwire fence, we admired the view of Alkaline Lake. Similar to Abert Lake, although smaller and much drier. Its lake bed was a pure, bright white.
Seeing a sign for the town of Wagontire in 22 miles, we resolved to make this our next stop, hopeful that it would provide some more scare desert shade. Pedaling on, we passed Alkali Lake State Airport. Airport was an ambitious title, for this was nothing but a dirt strip, cleared of vegetation, with no buildings or support. This airfield was located along a stretch of 395 that allowed us to see about 10 miles dead ahead of us. Such definitive evidence of our impending cycling monotony did not boost our spirits.
Climbing a few more hills, we reached the "town" of Wagontire. The town consists of a now closed motel/cafe/gas station. A few years ago, when it was open, Wagontire boasted a population of 2 (the owners of the establishment). When they had a child, the population grew to 3. This fast population increase made Wagontire one of the fastest growing towns of Oregon. Disappointed that the cafe was closed, we were relieved to find that a bench and chair were still available for our use under one of the few shade trees. Checking the area of rattle snakes first, we sat down and "enjoyed" some of our very warm drinking water. Having reached 83 miles into our trip, we were happy to have some rest.  On a very old sign, Wagontire advertised its very own "international" airport.

As we considered leaving, so as not to let the temperature climb any higher, our support team (Jonathan) arrived with food and water. We decided to hold off on our food until we left the desert in Riley, OR, and thought it "best" to dump the extra weight of our hydration packs into Jonathan's car. Getting ready to leave, an older couple walked across the parking lot and asked if the cafe was closed. Apparently the fact that the open sign was dangling off the side of the building, was not a clear enough indicator for them that the cafe was in fact permanently closed.
We set off with, just about 30 miles to reach Riley. Unfortunately these last desert miles were not as flat as those earlier. Instead we spent our time in the desert, climbing and descending over ever-growing rolling hills. During this time, our tolerance of the deserted waned, just like our water supply. Coming back to check on us in his air-conditioned car, Jonathan informed us that it was 98 degrees where we were. What a fun fact!

After another big climb we finally spotted irrigated land before coasting the final two miles into Riley. Riley consisted of a post office and archery store. After eating our Subway sandwiches from Lakeview, we rested before embarking on the final 27 mile push to Hines (right next to Burns, OR). Again, Jonathan went on ahead as we climbed rolling hills, slowly gaining elevation. After ten miles of climbs we descended for a few miles, before eventually arriving in Hines. Tired from the heat, and dried out from the lack of humidity, we were grateful for our air conditioned hotel room and clean shower.
Today was a big day for both riders. It was our first time biking a century (100 miles). Due to the spread out nature of the Oregon High Desert, the required 137 mile ride also greatly exceeded our previous longest ride of 87 miles from Eureka to Crescent City.

Photos by Jonathan Kobles 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Day 13 - Rest Day in Lakeview, OR (0 miles)

Today was our first day off from riding since we left San Francisco on June 19.  As with any good rest day, 0% of our time was spent on our bikes (the only distance it traveled was out the door to be fashioned as a drying rack for my rinsed riding gear.
After a well deserved late start, a COPS TV marathon and the final USA World Cup game, Greg and I headed over to the Lakeview Post Office with gear and clothing that we had deemed to be "extra". With 3 flat rate boxes between us, we were able to fit everything we wanted to send home. Personally I got rid of 9lbs and 2oz of gear that I will be happy to not pedal up the next mountain climb that we face.
We returned to our TV marathon and awaited the arrival of Jonathan! He flew into Boise, ID and was driving a rental car down to Lakeview. During the next two days as we trudge across the Oregon High Desert, he'll be able to assure that we're staying hydrated and not being burdened by our gear (which he will carry in his car).
Having eaten at Burger Queen (no, not Burger King or Dairy Queen) last night, we treated Jonathan to the other restaurant in town, Pizza Villa.  The chef/cashier/waiter talked with us and warned us of some high elevations we'd climb before leaving Oregon, namely Drinkwater Pass. He also told us a good spot for climbing Abert Rim during tomorrow's ride. Something tells me we won't quite have time to climb a shear cliff tomorrow as we bike nearly 140 miles.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Greg Oudheusden's Radio Interview

Before heading out to San Francisco, Greg O conducted a radio interview on WTIC in Connecticut: Listen to the Radio Interview Here

Day 12 - Bly, OR to Lakeview, OR (39 miles)

Remaining hidden from the Forest Rangers all night, we awoke and got ready for the short ride ahead of us.
Seeing an Oregon Forestry truck we quickly hid our contraband (tent). They left, but soon after, two rangers drove past our camp as we emerged from the bushes with our fully-laden bikes. They paid us little notice and we headed back down Highway 140 towards Lakeview.
We started with the biggest climb of the Klamath-Lakeview Highway. Reaching the summit we saw the forest road to the official campsites. This reassured us that we had made the right decision of not heading to the "real" campgrounds.
After a long descent we reentered ranching land and rolling hills. Unfortunately we encountered our first Oregon headwind (about 10mph).

Four hours after leaving the Sprague River Picnic Area we reached Lakeview, OR on the edge of the Oregon desert. First stop? Subway, to eat our first true meal in the last 24 hours. (biking performance is a bit sub-optimal when functioning only on Clif Bars, water and watered-down Gatorade.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 11 - Klamath Falls, OR to Bly, OR (59 miles)

Our next destination is Lakeview, OR where Jonathan will be joining us! He will not be getting in until July 1 however, so the next few days we have the luxury of relaxing our pace. We set off with the goal of making it the 100ish miles to Lakeview, while spending one night in between camping in the Fremont National Forest.
We started off on the OC&E Woods Line State Trail which is a 100 mile "linear Oregon state park". Unfortunately only 8 miles from Klamath Falls to Olene is paved. This trail is the old OC&E (Oregon, California and Eastern) and Weyerhaeuser railroads that transported timber before becoming no longer cost-effective in the 1980s. 
Passing through Dairy, OR we recognized that we would not see much food for the next two days and stopped in an Irish restaurant/bar for large breakfasts as the Netherlands vs. Mexico game finished up. We were told we'd need the energy from our meals to tackle the 1000 ft mountain climb facing us, just east of Dairy.
Leaving the mountains we were once again in dry farmland covered by hay fields and crazing cattle. Shade was sparse, at one point we traveled 7 miles from tree shade to a convenience store in Beatty, OR with no options for shade in between.
Rehydrating at a picnic table we had a Klamath native sit down and strike up conversation. He was heading 40 miles northeast to check out his hunting land. Riding his motorcycle there he had become thirsty and stopped in for a 24oz Miller can. He told stories of riding his bike 120 miles a day when he was 19. Upon hearing our route he became determined to help us find a "better" route. After explaining each option he would remember that his "shortcut" added mileage and/or used unpaved roads.

After an hour break we headed out and 13 miles down the road were pleasantly surprised to find that the town of Bly had multiple open businesses. Having decided on a general store, we set about deciding which frozen burrito we wished to microwave for lunch/dinner. After we finished our "meals" we asked the owner for advice on camping in the National Forest. He and his family enthusiastically told us about a great camping spot "right by the river" near mile marker 58.  Knowing we only had 4 miles ahead of us, we rested outside and waited for the sun's intensity to diminish.

Arriving at the "campsite" we were concerned to see that it was a day use picnic site with signs forbidding camping. Using the surprisingly available 4G internet, I determined the nearest official campground was 18 miles away. With that knowledge, we committed to "stealth" camping in the picnic area behind some bushes. Once the local families packed up from dinner and stopped swimming in the river, we set up camp at a site hidden from the road and hoped for the best.