Monday, June 30, 2008
We showered... oh how I miss showers... and packed our bags, hitting the road. We stopped by a grocery store and picked up some food. Then nothing really exciting happened as we biked out of town. We asked a couple locals for directions to make sure we were going the right way, which only proved my theory more and more. See, one of my many Golden Rules is "Never take directions from locals." Example- we're biking out of Spokane, wanting to be on highway 290. I ask a man "Sir, is this highway 290?" He reply "Oh no no, this isn't it. You must be going the wrong way." Lacking confidence in the man, I biked 25 feet down the road past a sign reading 290. This is why I never take directions from locals. I know better.
After about 15-20 miles we came across it... the border. It was pretty exciting, the thought I had transversed an entire state. A decent sized one at that! It was bitter sweet though, considering there was nothing to look forward to in Idaho.
How silly of me! I forgot to mention! My plans had changed drastically. See, my initial plan was to drop south out of Spokane and take this odd convoluted route to Missoula Montana. Sadly, that route took us through a ton of mountains and a huge 120 mile long path with no places to stop for food or water. I had decided long ago to change that plan. After talking to many cyclist I was informed you're allowed to bike on the Interstate highways out here. While the idea of biking on I-90, the main East/West Interstate, made me nervous it was significantly straighter. Probably a three day ride. Sadly, it also went directly through the mountains. After much map searching I had found a route north, through the thin tip of Idaho, that was only a three or four day ride to Missoula and was practically flat. As always, I'll take the longer route around the mountains. Just so much easier.
Anyway, back to Idaho. Idaho was a bit surprising. It was surprisingly flat. I saw no rockiness like I expected. I kinda thought Idaho was nothing but hills, rocks, and potatoes. Nope. It was probably the most New York like state yet.
Milestone 4 of 35ish
So as the night grew close to the end we needed a place to stay and there was no places to just pitch tent on the road, it was all ranches and farms. We stopped by one old mans farm hinting at the fact we needed a place to stay. He ate up nearly all the daylight we had left chatting then left us to the road.
We stopped by another house, being much more blunt and just asking and the family kindly obliged and let us pitch our tent. They had a lot of property and recommended going up this hill into a field. They didn't mention the field was forever away and up what must had been a 15% grade (literally). It's the only hill I've had to walk this trip, and it was only 50 feet long. Once we hit the top of the hill I look down and see literally 6 mosquitoes on my left arm alone. We were quite literally swarmed! I kinda freaked out, threw my bike to the ground, put on my hoodie and sweatpants to protect myself from the viscous blood-suckers and got our 20% DDT bug wipes. God those bastards were viscous. We set up camp quick like, threw our food in a tree and went to bed. The gentle sounds of trains passing and coyotes howling were our sweet lullaby.
Day's mileage- 57.91
Total mileage- 406.22
Sunday, June 29, 2008
So, pedal pedal pedal. Yada yada. You know how it goes. Does anyone actually read this to hear about the cycling?
We arrived at Spokane pretty quick and effectively. It was even closer than we thought. I forget the exact amount but like 5-10 miles. While coming into town we noticed a couple cheap places to get a room at. We had decided a few days earlier to take a days rest once we got to Spokane. After 300+ miles without a break and a week on the road, we decided we deserved it. I mean seriously... God spend 6 days on the job and took the 7th off... we spent 7 days on the job and took one off. Then again God created the world and we only managed to traverse 1.2% of the globe, so I suppose he had better reason for the rest. Anyway, I think we earned it.
So here were our errands-
1. Cheap ass motel
3. Bike Shop
4. Blog updating
We biked around town, asking about these things and checking out the town. Honestly, Spokane wasn't too exciting. Kinda smaller than I expected. No big buildings, just a long main stretch. Kinda run down a little bit, certainly not as luxurious as Seattle but certainly more so than Airway Heights.
First things first, we found a nice bike shop with some really helpful employees. I was looking for some add ons to my bike- specifically a handlebar bag (for easy access and more storage) and a rear view mirror of some nature. The employees hooked me up with a real nice handlebar bag for like 40 bucks. It works great, holding my two wallets (yes I have two), camera, notepad, chapstick, GPS tracker, multitool, rape whistle/knife, ipod, Josh's hand sanitizer, and my mace. Lotta stuff, no? Here's a picture of it while I sit here at McDonald's updating.
I was also shown a nifty little glasses mirror. It simply clips on the side of your glasses and has a mirror you can adjust. Nothing fancy and only 10 bucks. An easy buy. Let me tell you though, it takes a fair bit of getting used to. It's at a weird angle and kinda hurts your eyes until you get a bit adjusted to it. Still though, it's much easier than turning around a whole bunch to see if Josh was hit by a car, or how close the semi's coming to the shoulder.
I was busy playing with my toys/assembling my handlebar rack while Josh toured the store. I forgot to mention before but the dar prior I was having HORRENDOUS chaffing of the inner thigh. God it killed biking 2 hours at 18ish mph. Our old solution was this....
So I had him ask around for some anti-chaffing solution. He got a couple things but also picked up the holy grail of this trip "Chamois Butter" (pronounced Shammy Butter, or at least we call it that). It's just a cream you rub all over your man-thighs to stop them from chaffing. Or ass. Or whatever. Regardless for the remainder of this trip, and for the remainder of my blogging, it will be referred to as "Ball Butter." So I buttered my balls and hit the road. Sorry, no videos of that.
Greasy like a baby seal, we made our way over to Subway for some food. Jen, Josh's girlfriend, had given us some buy-one-get-one free coupons for subs before we left and we had just realized that some of our coupons were expiring today! My oh my! How could we let that happen? So we both went and bought two 12'' subs for like 7 dollars. We'll see who loses weight on the Subway diet Mr. Jared!
It was probably about 3 o'clock and we wanted to find a real cheap motel. Josh had claimed he saw a few cheap ones, $40, a few miles back. So we back tracked and asked every establishment we could heading that way their prices. Most were 50-70 so we decided against it. We finally came to Josh's $40 locale (which in reality was 45 what a liar) and I asked the neighboring motels their prices. I wish I had taken a picture but its fair to say this was not the nicest neighborhood. I was less than comfortable. The first place I checked close by was housing for recovering alcoholics and the second place was freaky. The lady had to of been on some sort of drug considering she was glazed over and took 15 seconds to respond to anything. She offered me a room for $27.50 but refused to let me have it until she saw Josh. I don't know if she didn't believe someone else was with me or if she thought I was doing something shady (aka prostitutes/drugs) but I figured I had gone deep enough into the slums and we got a room at Josh's 45 dollar motel.
And that was that. I spent hours upon hours updating my blog (yes, it takes me forever to do this for those of you who don't know) and that was the last time I mass updated. We slept like babies and washed the taste of salt from our skin.
Day's mileage- 17.14 (day of rest)
Total mileage- 348.31
Sunday, June 22, 2008
We were both pleased seeing as it was still moderately early and we were already up and ready for breakfast. We figured we had a chance of making some pretty good mileage today. So we roll into this place and check out the menu- the thought of pancakes overwhelmed me. I ordered a short stack (2 pancakes for 2.25), toast and hash browns. Josh did the same, only exchanging the hash browns for eggs. And oh my friggin' lord did we hit the mother load! The waitress brings over these HUGE pancakes. Literally, gigantic. Really the only size comparison I had was my hand, so take a look for yourself. Thick as hell too! Now... I can eat a lot, don't get me wrong, but I was pushing my limits. The pancakes alone nearly did me in. I was in pain. I was stuffed. I was in gluttonous heaven.
As you can see here Josh couldn’t finish his. It’s ok, he’ll still a journeyman glutton.
So, it was probably close to 10:45 at this point. We’re so painfully stuffed we literally can’t move. We had no choice but to simply sit there and digest for nearly an hour. At about 11:30 we finally hit the road leaving our Coulee City paradise behind us.
Sadly though, there was nothing really to report about the whole road trip. It was the same thing over and over. Field field field... fallow field. Then more fields. Then fallow. Exciting eh?
We did however hit our 300th mile! Milestone 3 of 35ish!
See, when we went to find a parking spot well... all we found was pretty much garbage. Huge mounds of debris and discarded appliances. And the wind! God, tons of wind. I was afraid the tent was going to blow away honestly. Here's Josh setting up the tent in our five star lot. So by the time camp was pitched it was dark. We had just biked 90 miles- the farthest we had done- we were hungry and tired. We grabbed our our dinner of champions (beans and a loaf of bread) and we ate the whole thing. It's amazing how much you can eat for 3 dollars. God we're cheap asses.
Day's mileage- 89.72
Total mileage- 331.17
First off, my good friend Alex has been recording my nightly location so we can always go back and remember my trip. Here's the link. It'll also go on my "links" list.
Secondly, considering the polls are closed, the answer was 7.7 pounds under water. Weird eh?
Thirdly, I'll probably post some type of new poll soon. I was thinking "Ways Ross will die on this trip." Got any good ideas email em to me. That's all until the wave of updates occurs.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
We biked about a mile down the road and I thought i might had forgotten my bike lock at the camp site. We turned around to check, but nope. Nothing there. Turned out later I had it. Better safe than sorry though, no? So we trekked on, pulling into a small town called Orondo. We filled up a bunch of water bottles and prepared for Steven's Pass Jr. (not the actual name) which was another 2ooo foot elevation jump in 8 miles. Not nearly as bad as Steven's but much hotter, so we still took a good couple breaks. The road was long and convoluted but made for some good photos afterwards-
After we finally made it to the top of the hill, we found ourselves on level fields. It's wild how quickly we went from arid to farm land. This is literally a mile above the pass. And this really started the easy point of the trip. We had high flat lands with gentle rolling hills. The wind remained at our backs the whole day. We stopped a little town right above the pass called Waterville and filled up on, gasp, water! We also gorged ourselves like fiends.
About half way through the trip we hit a massive downhill. Five miles straight bringing us into this huge canyon. The pictures didn't come out all too well, but the canyon was vast, and had odd lime green moss growing on the yellowish walls. It was really stunning. Perhaps my favorite sight of Eastern Washington.
After climbing out of the canyon (surprisingly not bad, I must be getting better at this) we had another flat 10 mile stretch followed by another 5 miles downhill leading right into Coulee City. It was a pretty cool view coming into town also.
So after inquiring where "the place" to eat was, we were went in the direction of Couleehan's, the local bar/grill in town. I always feel so gay walking into an establishment in my tight-ass bike shorts, but the shame is lessening. I fear it's not a good thing. Anyway after about 5 minutes in the place the owner, Dan, walks up to us and strikes up a conversation. Turns out he's a very pro-biker guy and offered us a small plot of land to pitch a tent on! Score! No cost of sleeping tonight. Not to mention the place had a bathroom and shower. Double score! I bought that man a beer (or so I hope the waitress brought him one) and we stuffed our face with steak, fries, and salad. I really liked Coulee City, I highly advise anyone going through Washington to swing by and definitely go to Couleegans. It's conveniently located on Main Street in Downtown Coulee City, you can't miss it! Just tell him the crazy boys on the bike sent you. I can't imagine they get all too many.
Speaking of which, while we were there, a Scottish man walked up to us and started talking. Turns out him and his wife are also biking cross country. They had started down in Texas and pretty much came the opposite way we were going. He was a real fountain of information. Glad we ran into him.
From there we simply pitched our tent and called it a night. Good people. Fun place. Go to Couleegan's!
Day's mileage- 62.45
Total mileage- 241.45
Jerry gave us the scenic tour and I must say the area around there is simply gorgeous. I think I've seen few places more beautiful than the Washington Cascades.
So anyway, I got new puncture resistant tires (100$), new gloves (30$) and a new bike seat (100$). I feel like I bought other stuff, but I blew a cool 275 in about an hour. Ya know, money I don't have.
So with a fresh pair of tires and a high amount of confidence we left town, with the wind to our backs! And two miles down the road..... flat tire. Wow. What are the odd with brand new tires? So we put a new tube in and another two miles down the road... flat tire. Are you f'ing kidding me?!?
So I tell Josh to wait where he was and I bike back into town to discuss this with my local bike friends. Well, they were baffled. The puncture holes were from inside the tire, near the rim, not out where the tire is. Odd. Anyway we had no explanation and changed the tire and I'm off. Again! Two miles down the road, flat tire. Something must be wrong. So the people from the bike shop pick me up and upon further investigation, they discover the tape that keeps the sharp spoke holes from rubbing on the tubes was lose, and causing my tubes to pop upon inflation. Finally, problem solved, and many thanks to those at Der Sportsman, especially Eric.
The rest of the day was great though- we had a strong tail wind pushing us forward and we made our way out of the mountains. The terrain really got more and more arid as we hit the central region of the state. It's fascinating how a few miles seems to make a drastic change for Washington State. I won't bore you with the simple details. It was a lot of down hill, good miles traveled. I even saw some tumble weeds!
So we continued to follow Route 2 North from Wenatchee for about 10 miles until we hit a state park. It was about 8 pm and we were both tired and happy to pitch our tent. It seemed a bit wild- our fifth day on the road and we were camping out for the first time. It also gave us much needed practice for our camping skills. The tent went up easy, and did I mention we shipped Josh's tent home? That's right, we're packed in tight like sardines. Not pleasant, but a necessary evil for the purpose of total weight. We were hungry, and there was a convenience store around the corner, so we picked up a dozen eggs and a loaf of bread and started frying. I had a total of 5 egg sandwiches (exactly what it sounds like) and Josh had 3. We were pounding eggs like a maniac. Over all it was a good night, we were right on a lake, and the view was pretty. I got to talk to my family. Even the mileage was adding up. Another one for the books boys and girls.
Day's mileage- 48.80
Total mileage- 179.00
But first things first, lets start back at the beginning. The morning shower in Skykomish started the day off nicely. We packed all our bags and went to grab some over priced breakfast sandwiches at the only place in town. I got to talk to Mr. Matt for about 10 minutes before we left for our ride. Getting better! We were on the road by about 11:30 after being up at probably 8:30.
We were all geared up. "Waterproof" clothes and my special water proof shoes, but after about 30 minutes we realized it wasn't raining and we took most of it off. I was actually biking with no shirt in the 50 degree sunless weather. Here's a pic of me looking kinda fat. Lets hope that's gone in another 3000 miles.
We were doing pretty decent though, trekking along, although not too fast. It was a moderate uphill. We eventually came to what is called Steven's Pass. The pass is about a 3000 foot elevation increase over 5 miles. In other words DAMN STEEP. Let me give you a general idea. Here are two pictures. See there in the first one? See the line where the trees don't exist? That's the mountain pass. And that's only 1/2 way up the hill! The second picture was when I was at that point, looking back at the bridge I took picture 1 from.
I tried my hardest but still, I'd only last 1/4th a mile to 2/3rds a mile max without needing a break. Surprisingly Josh wasn't blowing past me, he was having as hard of a time as I was. Finally, after what seemed like hours (and actually was hours) we reached the summit. 4061 feet high. 31 degrees. A good amount of snow. Especially for June! All I can say is Stephen's Pass is hell on Earth.
See, when I was at the summit, I was soaked. I was semi-warm because I had worked so hard.. but soaked. And when a wet body goes flying down a mountain pass at 30 mph's it cools. Quickly. Hypothermically. Frost-bitedly. It was unbearable. I love the cold and I couldn't bear it. I couldn't move my toes. I was quite alarmed as to my general ability to function. I thought I was going to have to pitch camp for an hour just to warm myself. Here's me trying to warm my feet. Three pairs of socks and plastic bags over them did the trick.
Beyond that it was a nice downhill. I literally did not pedal once for 8 miles. 8 miles of 30 mph. A bit freaky on a bike with tires as thick as nickels. It was amazing the change though. West of the Cascade Mountains the sky is always cloudy and rainy and cool. About 10 miles down the mountain pass the sky just cleared up and it was at least 10 degrees warmer. Much much nicer. I mean, look for yourself.
So we're whipping down the mountain when Josh and myself take a little break. After about two minutes Josh goes "What is that? A bear?" Presuming he's playing with me I look down the road, and what the hell do I see but a freaking bear cub crossing the street! Needless to say, we were alarmed. For those of you who don't know, where there's a bear cub, there's a momma bear. And she doesn't take kindly to people messing with, or even coming near her cubs. And there was only one golden rule we had regarding bears... NEVER get between a bear and her cub. So we waiting patiently. Waiting for the mother to cross and join her cub.
High on adrenaline we made it down the hill fast and at about 6 pm we made it to a nice little 50's style diner called "The 59er Diner." Mmmm yummy food and a good price. God I love eating on this trip. We also struck up some general conversation with two nice people in the booth next to us (who seemed to enjoy my dry sense of humor). After about an hour of talking they walk out of the diner only to return in another minute, asking if we wanted to stay they night. Like angels from Heaven I tell you, like angels.
There names were Jerry and Kathy (that familar to anyone?) and they pretty freaking awesome. After retirement they'd built a real nice place right outside of a cute town called Levinworth and it was a gorgeous place. They hosted us and conversed, even gave Josh a Blue Moon, which I'm sure was luscious. We had a great nights sleep, thanks you two.
Day's mileage- 40.04
Total mileage- 130.20
Oh! I almost forgot! I have a tradition of photographing every 100 miles I ride on my bicycle... so here's the first milestone of approximately 35.
It's amazing how nice people can be out of the big towns. See, Josh and myself had wanted to head into town to run a few errands. See, we had already biked 6 miles past town, and a total of twelve miles on a bike is about an hours worth of riding so we didn't really care to negate what little time we had put in. So what do Rolland and Claudia do? They hand us the freaking keys to their truck! Seriously. Two completely strangers. A very nice and pretty new Ford F150. Yep. That's me driving the manly vehicle.
So we strolled into town onto to find the bike shop we needed closed. I should mention I was suffering EXTREME saddle soreness (aka, my butt was in severe pain) so we were going to try and find me a new seat. No such luck. So we just went to the post office and shipped out our extra materials.
We came back to our gracious host place and fixed up a few things. It was raining slightly so we put on our rain gear. My personal favorite was my "rain shoes" which consisted of grocery bags duct taped over my shoes. I also changed my seat to Josh's secondary seat. See, this seat is made for men with prostate problems and reduces pressure up on your groin. It was definitely a needed change, but was also about 1/2 as efficient when trying to pedal. The price I paid for comfort I suppose.
Finally at about 2 pm we were finally prepped and left east on Route 2. Now Route 2 is very interesting. It's more or less a long valley with huge mountains on either side of you. It was a really cool view heading up. Take note- that's snow on top of the mountains. The pass starts off nice and flat, and slowly the grade increased. Also, as the grade increased, the amount of rain increased. By the time we had made it about half way up the pass we were soaked, cold and completely exhausted. My hands were also killing me. The water was removing the adhesive of my band aids, so I was forced to make my own "McGuiver gloves" using duct tape and... more duct tape. Not bad, eh?
Around 8 o'clock we cycled past a small little town called Skykomish. I wish I had taken a picture of it, it looked kinda cool. We found a small little motel for 50 bucks and honestly- nothing has ever been so worth it.
Day's mileage- 27.78
Total mileage- 90.16
So we popped over to target where I got antiseptics and band aids and whatnot. Josh got all sorts of stuff as well, sunscreen and pampers or whatever the hell it was he wanted. I don't know. I'm not his babysitter.
So we managed to get a earlier start- 3:00 today. Getting earlier! Although still far too late. We rode on out of Redmond and through little towns here and there. It was quite pretty really, here are some photos
1. My most important feature is simplicity. One road for 200 miles is easier than 10 roads for 100 miles. Simple is better.
2. Lack of mountains. I really really hate hills.
3. Water routes. I like to make sure I have somewhere to get water at LEAST every 60 miles.
So, based upon that I had planned to take route 2 straight from Monroe all the way to the Eastern border of Washington State.
So that was that really. We showered and felt great and were stuffed to the gills. Great times at the foot of the hills.
Oh! One last thing. How could I forget. Coming into Monroe I ran over a piece of copper and got another flat tire. I didn't realize the copper in the tire though and inflated a new tube and 30 seconds later had another flat. Tack on two more flats to my tally.
Day's mileage- 34.08
Total mileage- 62.38