The Salsa Fargo.

Designed as the ultimate adventure-touring rig, the Fargo features a full complement of braze-ons for everything from fenders to racks to bottle cages. The fork legs have mounts for Salsa's Anything Cage; an over-sized, multifunctional platform for anything from sleeping bags to fuel bottles. I'm using one for my tent and the other for my sleeping bag, both stuffed in 15L dry sacks.

The Fargo is a 29er that defies classification. The front end allows suspension or can be run stiff for fire roads and ultra-distance on the pavement. Drop bars give more hand position options than risers, which help with dreaded numbness. I opted for disc brakes and SRAM instead of calipers and index shifters, preferred by purists.

This bike is intentionally heavy and built to withstand any abuse doled out by potholed roads in America or cobbled yak trails in Tajikistan. It rides smoothly. It's a Soviet tank of a bike, if the Russians cared about quality. It's pretty good looking too. Chunky sex appeal. The Betty Paige of tourers.

I gingerly installed some fenders and the front bag mount. I believe it's ready for the start tomorrow.
With the host, Brent Atkinson. Swell guy.
The usual suspects wishing me well: Schatz, Cristy, Kristy, Brent, Jessie, Jake.
The kids, cats and dog: Felix, Camille, Braedn, Sparky, Pavlov and Pastrami.
We've been blessed with good friends since we've moved to Bend. The young set threw a barbecue for me. I'm so old that I'm their father's age if I had sent some poor girl up the pole in high school. I'm a reminder to them that youth is fleeting!

Anyway, I want to thank Brent for fixing the chow and to Cristy for opening up the house to me and the kids for a swell time. I'll return the favor at summer's end!
Choosing a single pair of shoes for a long tour is more difficult than baptizing a cat. There isn't a pair manufactured that would suit the stiff demands of clipless pedals and exude the comfort of Bruno Maglis when strolling around off the bike.

I scoured touring message boards full of advice on the right shoes to wear. The chorus of opinions ranged from hippies sold on sandals to hardcore 'roid monkeys bent on "making time" with the latest carbon racing cleats.

I just want to cruise with a stiff enough sole to climb comfortably in SPD cleats, preferably recessed in a shoe that allows for walking in the woods and the mall. So, I ordered two models that would fight it out on my feet before one was returned to its "free shipping" Internet purveyor. The finalists were the Keen Springwater 2 and the Specialized Tahoe. Both set me back a hundred bucks. Pretty reasonable.

Using no scientific criteria to decide between the shoes, the Tahoes emerged victorious. The picture above illustrates that neither shoe is concerned with haute couture. However, the Keen's do maintain the "Frankenstein Boot" chic they favor across all their lines.

Here's a listicle of my final judgment:

  1. The Keen's run small. So small that I had to order a second pair to try on. A whopping size 13 for a guy that wears an 11.5. The giant rubberized toe box looked like I was prepping for life in a steel mill.
  2. My heel slipped in the Keen's despite the generously fat Velcro straps. Bad for riding and walking.
  3. The Tahoes feel much lighter, eventhough they weigh just 3 oz. less per shoe than the Keens.
  4. The Tahoes are roomy, bit narrower which interferes less with the bike cranks and creates fewer scrapes and bumps against the panniers.
  5. I wish the Tahoes were free of laces, but they tuck under an upper Velcro strap pretty well.
  6. The Tahoes just look less dopey. It's bad enough that truckers and hillbillies will elicit visceral reactions to my rivulets of fat packed in the spandex sausage casings I'll be donning.
Making final preparations for the start. The plan is to travel with the family to the Oregon Coast on Saturday. Kathleen, Felix, Camille, Pastrami and Mom will see me off at the commencement in Seaside. I'm hoping for light rain and sunshine because its been pouring all week!
I'm dedicating my ride to a worthy cause and hope to raise funds for a cure to the insidious disease of entitilitus.

The National Entitilitus Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Entitilitus, also known as Ronnie Dobbs Disease.

Many patients who suffer from Entitilitus are also battling an equally deadly disease called Imminent Death Syndrome. Once the two diseases take hold, the patient usually does not live long enough to learn how to correctly spell Entitilitus.

"The killer what took me is Entitilitis. No one knows what Entitilitis is, or where Entitilitis comes from, but Entitilitis kills."

--Ronnie Dobbs

1. Entitilitus has no known cause or cure.

2. Medical science has no basic understanding of Entitilitus.

3. Entitilitus kills.
Welcome to J-BRAAM, Jon's Big Ride Across America.

This will serve as my semi-daily accounting of the people, animals, traffic and things that I encounter on my bicycle tour from Oregon's Pacific Coast to Maine's Atlantic Coast. That's the plan, at least.