Alice Tiernan

[slideshow title=”Alices Adventure 2011″]

From Alice Tiernan:

Last August, my sister, Molly, lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. The positive attitude, humor, grace and courage she exhibited during her illness touched me deeply and has inspired me to take action. This August, I will be traveling south-bound by bicycle through the mountains, river valleys, farmlands, and dry plains of Washington, Oregon, and California. During my 2,400-mile journey, I will be raising money in memory of Molly to donate to LIVESTRONG in support of its mission to improve the quality of life of anyone affected by cancer. I’m sure you have seen the small yellow rubber wristbands worn by LIVESTRONG supporters. If you know someone, whether he or she is living with cancer, or is a friend or caregiver to a loved one affected by cancer, encourage them to use the services and programs offered by LIVESTRONG.


I have the plan! Now, I am calling on my friends and family to kick-off my fundraising campaign before I commence my cycling journey. My goal is to raise $1.00 per mile, $2,400. Contributing will be easy: the link to my personal donation page at  is listed below. A click should get you there. You have the option to contribute on-line or print a form and mail it in. Thank you all so much for reading my email and considering a contribution to help me get started.

Follow This Link to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support LIVESTRONG!

October 13, 2011

Jean McBrien took this picture after my arrival on Saturday at her condo complex in Surprise–my final destination!  I was very happy to get there!  Yesterday I packed up my bike in a bike box. I’ll be flying to Seattle tomorrow, stopping over for a couple days and flying home on the 17th.

Lana, see you soon!

September 8, 2011 – Thoughts

The following are a few reflections I’d like to share.  These thoughts are in no particular order and are “off the top of my head.”

1.  I was only rained on briefly three times during 57 days of travel–what do you think of that fellow Juneauites!

2.  Found many treasures on the road: a silk corsage (sp?) I mounted on my girlie bike for a while; tools; a plastic toy rat; pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters; tent stakes; rubber bands; and I could have acquired at least one new outfit if I had picked up the clothing I saw.

3.  More beer cans on the road than soda cans.

4.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches taste good made with any kind of bread.

5.  It’s okay to go off route to avoid big climbs because I don’t have to ride every inch of the mapped route.

6.  Salsa heated with cheddar cheese and fritos stirred in is a delicious combination.

7.  Ice cold chocolate milk is a fabulous recovery drink when its really hot.

8.  I really enjoy eating constantly and still losing weight.

9.  Eating ice cream twice a day is totally decadent, but great when you can get away with it.

10.  I discovered that I could order a foot long sub from Subway, eat half of it for lunch, carry the other half with me even in 100 degree weather, and eat it for dinner, and I didn’t die of food poisoning!

11.  I tasted fresh ripe fruit from fruit stands. I could have pitched my tent there and eaten fruit for days nonstop!

12.  I really miss eating fresh veggies (little mini mart grocery stores just don’t have much).

13.  I cooked a lot less often than expected.

14.  Biscuits and gravy are not just a southern thing, and it doesn’t taste too bad actually. It’s on the menu everywhere.

15.  A lot of my comments are about food–hum, that tells a story too.

16.  The weight of things does matter when you are self-contained.

17.  I could eliminate some more stuff that I am carrying and get along fine.

18.  I was “adopted” by strangers more often when I was alone.

19.  I actually enjoyed being away from the news for a while.

20.  If you do your best as a cyclist on the road to stay out of drivers’ way, they will do their best to give you lots of room.

I guess that is enough of that. Thanks for listening along the way. I am looking forward to coming home and starting to think about the next adventure, whatever that may be.

September 8, 2011

I will be reaching my destination shortly and I want to leave all of you, who have shared my journey, contributed to my fundraising efforts, and encouraged me along the way, with something extraordinary and a few thoughts which I will put in another email.

I have never seen pine cones that are bigger than my feet. The pictured pile of pine cones was located at a remote fire station in the Cleveland National Forest where I stopped for water. They are huge!   I almost mounted one on my bike (more weight-not a good idea)!

Jean McBrien kindly invited me to join her in Surprise, AZ, which is my final destination before I pack up my bike and head toward home.  Coming back to Surprise is bittersweet since this is where my sister (in whose memory I am raising money) lived too.

On October 4th I left the Sierra Cascades bicycle route and said goodbye to my companion, Dave, and turned East on the Southern Tier bicycle route. The weather was chilly with misty rain. Dave was continuing south to the end of the SC route in Tecate on the Mexican border. I rode away from the rain and once again enjoyed blue sky and sunshine. I rode this same route in the spring of 2010 when I participated in Adventure Cycling Association’s supported Southern Tier tour. The 10- mile descent through Devil’s Canyon down to the Yuha Desert was very scary. The wind was very strong and gusty and was blowing me sideways.  I had to stop and calm my nerves a few times. Luckily there was very little traffic.  When I got to Ocotillo and turned into the wind, I had to get off and push the bike. I was really happy when I got to the RV park. The owners said I could camp inside in their recreation room. I’m not sure how my tent would have held up in the wind. The next day, the RV park owner, John, gave me a ride in his car to Brawley, which was my next stop. The wind was still howling. This was another example of the kindness of complete strangers!  There are really good souls out there!

September 29, 2011

I’m in Yacaipa now having rolled through San Bernadino, Loma Linda and Redlands. The weather continues to be very hot and dry. The goathead thorns are causing more flats. They seem to be everywhere. If I lived in this part of the country I would invest in some serious thorn protection for the tires. Been patching a lot!  Otherwise, life is good–had ice cream twice today–part of the joy of burning so many calories!  I haven’t taken a picture with my phone to pass along. The mountains are covered in brown grass, and the air is hazy/smoggy!  Not very attractive for pictures.  I will be catching the Southern Tier route toward Phoenix in a few days, and my trip will be winding down. It has been amazing!  The kindness of strangers continues to impress me. Until next time…

September 25, 2011

I was glad to leave the Yosemite traffic behind. However, I have to add that the scenery there is absolutely spectacular. I may have already said that in my previous email. But, I was impressed.  The picture below was taken on my “rest” day, when I took a two-hour tram tour of the Yosemite Valley.  I haven’t taken any pictures with my phone since then. After leaving the Park and riding in lower elevation on the west side of the Sierra, the temperature has gone up dramatically. Yesterday was a very tough day for me due to constant up and down of the route and temps in the upper 90s and low 100s. The last two nights some of the campgrounds listed on the maps have been closed leading to longer days and having to search for water.  Yesterday I picked up a package I had asked Scot to send me by general delivery at North Fork. He surprised me by including a big bag of M&Ms with peanuts. They seem to be holding up okay in the heat.  There was actually a smog alert today.  The heat wave may break this weekend. I can hope.

I have some great news:  I received a notice from Livestrong that I had reached my fundraising goal. THANKS to all of you who have contributed and helped me actually exceed my expectations. You all are fabulous!

Interesting little note today:  I was coming out of a little fast food store and an older gentlemen started asking me about the trip and the bike, etc. He asked me my name. He shook my hand and said he was a pastor and his wife of 59 years who he lost two years ago was also named Alice. He said a prayer for my safekeeping and said he would remember me.  I was quite touched by his kindness. Also this morning a woman cyclist out for a training ride passed me a cherry pie flavored Lara Bar, one of my favorites. This is the kind of genuine goodwill I run into frequently. It is wonderful.

September 21 report:

This is a picture I took with my phone yesterday on the ride into Yosemite Valley. In the distance is Half Dome.  As I got closer to the valley, had to bike through some tunnels and on the other side was the spectacular Yosemite Valley. It was a fast descent with no shoulder and stone wall guardrails. The scenery was incredible but I couldn’t stop to take a picture.

The scenery never gets boring on this trip. I made it over the high point of the route, Tioga Pass, 9,900 some feet.  The picture below is a couple miles from the summit.   It is also one of the entrances to Yosemite National Park. I camped close to the summit day before yesterday. It got really cold during the night–my water bottle froze and my bike was covered with a hard frost.

Yosemite is still really crowded–the road coming into the park was narrow, but the drivers were good (mostly).  The scenery along the road was amazing. I wish I could have stopped more often to take pictures. The campgrounds are full, but bikers can camp in backpacker camps which are open for all who show up. I’m staying in the park today and will get back on the road tomorrow. Until next time..

September 10, 2011

Made it over the top of Lassen Summit. Still lots of snow up there. Enjoyed the variety of scenery. Had many folks yelling encouraging words during the climb to the top. Met another touring cyclist going the other direction. I’ve had rotten cell phone coverage for days. AT&T just doesn’t work in small towns or certainly not in the mountains. I’d better get going. It’s almost 10am and I haven’t hit the road yet. Next stop I’ll have coverage will probably be Truckee.

I’ve noticed that many things have “dead” as part of the name: Dead Horse Summit, Dead Indian Memorial Highway, Dead Man Hill road (it was so steep I had to walk part of it even with mountain bike gearing).  Humm!  Just a few examples here.  That is the way my legs feel at the end of the day sometimes!  It’s all part of the fun.

After traveling with Mt Shasta in view for a few days, I left it behind moving south toward Lassen Volcanic National Park.

September 5, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve been in touch.  I am 23 days into my journey and arrived at McCloud CA this afternoon. Crossed into CA yesterday. Have been enjoying riding toward (and getting progressively better views of Mt. Shasta.  I’m about 150 miles short of halfway.

I should bring you up to date.  My cycling friend, Ron Silverthorne, who lives south of Bend, OR, picked me and my riding companion, Dave, up in Detroit (yes, Detroit OR) which is a very small town northwest of Bend.  We cheerfully rode in comfort over Santiam Pass and down into Sisters for dinner and then on to Bend and then south to La Pine. Wahoo what a ride. I hadn’t showered for two days but he didn’t kick me out!  We rested in La Pine for a day; had lunch at Red Robin, went to REI in Bend and enjoyed DQ soft ice cream. It was a delightful break. I took two long hot showers luxuriating in cleanliness!  The next day Ron drove us to the top of the rim of Crater Lake; once again saving some really long climbs.  The picture below is from Crater Lake.  I felt spoiled rotten at that point. We took off on a long delightful descent some 25 miles or so to Union Creek. Easy day. From there life on the road returned to normal:  climbing, descending and climbing again. My legs are feeling stronger, but it has been very hot–in the 80s and 90s. I’ve been using all my hot weather tricks–dousing myself with water, pouring water over my head, and resting when I can in shady spots as I ascend. I’ve felt lightheaded a couple times and have had to rest longer until the feeling passes. For the most part, however, I’ve been okay.

Here are some thoughts: pleasure in seeing a doe and two fawns walk out of the woods close by and looking to see what I am, the aroma of a field of lavender, filtering water from a mountain stream-cold and delicious, an exhilarating 7 % downgrade with good shoulders on the road, friendly drivers giving me plenty of room and shouting “good job” as they go by, a twenty something guy blowing by me on a climb but telling me he feels like a wimp watching me climb with a load, falling asleep between 8:30 or 9 pm and not having to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, putting two quarters for a shower and having the water come out warm immediately. Life on the road really gets down to basics.

Yesterday was a tough day. The plan was for a 70 mile day. There wasnt much in between.  The heat got to me so we spent about 1 1/2 hours at a little store in Montague. The headwinds were really strong. We were aiming to camp in Weed but ended up pulling off the road in a field after 7pm and pitching tents beside some abandoned farm equipment–stealth camping!  There was a bees nest inside one of the vehicles!  No shower that night. The sunset was spectacular and there was lightening in some clouds around Mt. Shasta.  Cool stuff. You just don’t know what you are going to see along the way!


August 26, 2011

The first phase of my trip is behind me now!  Yesterday I crossed the Columbia River into Oregon.  I’m on schedule, having travelled 560 miles.  Wahoo!  I’m taking my first day off today at the Cascade Locks KOA campground. Woke to a thunderstorm (unexpected).  Rained for a very short time and the storm moved on. That is the first rain I’ve seen since I started the trip.

After leaving Ellensburg, I had no cell service until yesterday. I was going through some gorgeous country and climbing and climbing. I’ve lost count of the passes.  The picture below is of Mt. St. Helens.  I’ve seen great views of Mt. Rainier too.  This is definitely the most physically demanding trip I’ve ever taken. When I get tired I have to admit that I ask myself “What the hell are you doing?”. However, when I recover a little my positive attitude returns and I can push on. Many people come over to talk, to find out where I’ve been and where I’m going. I haven’t seen as many cycle tourists as I expected.  One man came and asked if it was true that you never forget how to ride a bike. He was recovering from cancer and his wife had recently had open heart surgery and they both wanted to change their lifestyle and get healthier.  If, during my trip, I can somehow inspire someone to get healthier, that would be great!

I’ve passed out a few of my fundraising cards along the way.  I’m very close to my goal and I must thank all of you–my very supportive friends and family–for being absolutely fabulous at helping me.  You all are wonderful!

Tomorrow I will be heading south toward Mt. Hood and about 90 miles of very limited services, which means no cell service too. The next big (relatively speaking) town (pop. 1,208) will be Sisters OR in about 180 miles. I’ll be back in touch when I have service!

August 23, 2011

Subject: In Ellensburg

Had no cell service last couple of days!  Have enjoyed some easier days since going over Rainy and Washington Passes. Went through Wenache, and yesterday passed through Cashmere and stopped at the Aplets and Cotlets factory. I have never liked those; however, when they are fresh, they’re delicious!  Stopped at campground last night basically in the middle of nowhere. Today, had a 14 mile climb over Blewett Pass. 97 South is a very busy road, but it has wide shoulders. Been playing tag with 3 guys who are also doing most of the route. Given me some good tips. Temps have been in the 90s-makes climbing tougher. Nice downhill into Ellensburg. Getting ready now to head to DQ for dinner and dessert.  Wahoo!

August 18th.

Yesterday was my hardest day ever I think!  51 miles with 27 miles climbing.

I was cycling in the range of 3.6 to 4.6 on the hill. Slow! Slow!  Started at 8 am from the Colonial Creek Campround and finished in Mazama after a 17 mile downhill at about 5:30. Tough day over Rainy Pass and then Washington Pass. Volunteer from the picnic area offered to take my picture.  Today I’m headed down the Methow Valley to Pateros on the Columbia. Legs are a little tired but still working.


August 17th.

Here I am at the Canadian border in Sumas. Had a relaxing ride on the ferry from Juneau. Pulling into Bellingham, the butterflies were swarming–I was very nervous!  However, I cycled around Bellingham taking in the town and went down to the waterfront. Started to feel more balanced with the load and then headed up to Sumas. Weather was good.