Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just so you don't think I haven't been riding...

Since I finished the trip with Kyle, you may be wondering if I have just been resting on my laurels (or at least the couch). But, no, I have been riding. I've done a couple of good rides with Julie in prep for our 13 day trip down the coast (was 12 days, but an opportunity for a good rest in real beds and a meal cooked for us has necessitated the extra day). The other rides have been training for the STP in one day. Leandra and I did a nice 93 mile ride a couple of Saturdays ago. The wind was abit nasty until we were headed back, but the ride was good. Then this last Saturday, Dayle, Leandra and I did a little ride to Westport and back. It was just shy of 160 miles and we did it with a ride time of 9 hours and 15 minutes. Our actual time on the road was 12 1/2 hours. Our average speed was 17.3 mph. I am happy with that time as I think we will do just fine on the STP. I had one flat tire as did Leandra. It rained on us some, but overall the weather was not too bad. I spent alot of time on the aerobars. They really do speed things up! I do need to do some pushups to strenghthen my arms as that is what was tired (legs were good).
Now, I'll just be doing some shorter rides up to the STP. After that it's down the coast! I'll be back to the daily blogging once we start that trip.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pictures from the ride

Start at the bottom of the post to look at the pictures in order.
Home again!
Skate Creek.
Headed down there. Wee Haw that was fun (Kyle disagrees)!
The mountain is in the clouds there somewhere.
Chinook Pass--just a wee bit of snow left!
Heading up Chinook Pass. In the far left is about where the pass was. We still had a ways to go to get there.
Sticky Fingers Bakery in Naches.
One takes a potty shack wherever one can find one!
The stormy view from Old Blewett.
Ginger , Sharyl, Bobbie and us at the Anjou Bakery in Cashmere (my favorite for the company).
Kyle finds power outlets in the strangest places. This one was the grocery store in Sunnyslope (Wenatchee Confluence State Park).
Yet another bakery...the Entiat Valley Bakery (my personal favorite as far as the food goes).
The view of Lake Chelan from our campsite.
Relaxing in my Trekker Chair on our rest day at Lake Chelan.
Lake Chelan from Chelan.
The Rest Awhile Fruitstand and Bakery. It was yummy goodness!
Kyle and his new best friend, Fluffy the cat at Carlton RV Park.
Kyle coming down Washington Pass.
And then Washington Pass.
Who Hooo! Rainy Pass at last!
Cooling my feet in the snow on the way up Hwy 20 (North Cascades).
Diablo Lake.
First tunnel on Hwy 20.
On the way to Newhalem.
Where we had to take the panniers off the bikes to get them through the skinny gate.
Where we bought 1 1/2 pounds of fudge (lasted us until Newhalem).
Holly B's Bakery on Lopez.
Shark Reef looking across to American Camp on San Juan Island.
MacKaye Harbor on Lopez.
Bikes piled up on the ferry.
On the ferry to Lopez Island.
Washington Park in Anacortes.
Kyle with Deception Pass Bridge (after we rode across).
On the Deception Pass Bridge.
Sunset from Ft. Ebey.
Panorama of Mt. Baker and water from the ferry to Keystone.
On the William O. Scott Memorial Trail going to Port Townshend.
On the Water Shuttle across Hood Canal. First night camping at Twanoh State Park.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Final Observations

17 days, 761 miles. Last year on the Courage Classic, I asked a couple of teammates, who have done alot of touring, how many days on the road before they just want to be home. They both said the same thing, there is no number. Some days are hard and you want to be home, but then the next day is great and all is good. I was ready to be home today after 17 days. Had the trip been 20 days, I probably would have been ready to be home at 20 days. It is like the mileage thing. If you are expecting to go 30 miles you are ready to be done at 30 miles. If it is 60, you are ready to be done then.
I think we were very lucky in many things. The biggest was that we reversed the route at the last minute. Had we not done that, our trip would have come to a screeching halt when we got up to Paradise and found Stevens Canyon to be closed. At that time, Skate Creek would have also been closed. We probably would not have thought we would have time to detour all the way through Morton (we probably wouldn't have had time).
I have learned that being flexible is good on a trip this long. There is just no way to foresee all that might happen. We had no idea that Swauk would have no water. We also did not know that Lodgepole would be closed (oh well, we stayed there anyway). The fact that Selah just opened it's first hotel was fortunate (saved us miles, but not money). Of course, the whole Stevens Canyon thing. Being able to change plans as needed is a necessary ability.
It is also good to remember, when in doubt, ask someone. And, if you don't like the answer, ask someone else! For example, when we got off the water shuttle across Hood Canal, I asked the guy working the dock if we could take Teal Lake Rd. He said no, so I asked the firefighters down the road (they said yes). Again, it saved us miles. I also found out that sometimes you have to be persistant about staying in a "full" campground. Alot of people don't understand that, as cyclists, we can't just go someplace else. At Wenatchee Confluence we just kept saying we couldn't go someplace else. We had already ridden as far as we were going to ride that day. Surely, there must be someplace we could set up our tent! Not only did they find us a spot, but it was an actual site. And, finally, we discovered if you are not too picky about mixing foods, you can get away with cooking your entire dinner in one pot!
This was a fabulous trip and I am so happy I was able to do this with Kyle. He is a great travelling buddy (and awesome at finding power outlets and piped water!!). I hope when he is working full time in his career and is very busy with his life, that he will remember what it was like to take off for 17 days and ride 761 miles around the State of Washington!
PS When I get the pictures downloaded, I'll post some of them.

Day 17--Heading Home

We woke up this morning and it wasn't raining! Of course, everything is still wet. I think the tent weighs another few pounds. We polish off the last of our breakfast food, rinse out the dishes and get on the road by 8:15. It is a little chilly, but not too bad. The raingear is stowed, but not too far down (just in case).
We pull into Eatonville at about 10:15 (24 miles). We decide it's not too early for lunch and have lunch at Subway (believe it or not, it's our first Subway lunch of the trip). I call Julie so she can ride to Yelm and meet us. She is going to ride the rest of the way home with us. Kyle is hoping she'll carry some of his panniers (fortunately she doesn't). We get to Yelm and meet Julie at about 1:30. We take the road home (as opposed to the trail which is longer). Julie is leading and she is riding like crazy. I can barely keep up! I tell her she can slow down abit. She says she will have to write this down--I asked HER to SLOW DOWN--that's a first! Anyway, we are cruising along and I look down at my rear tire and notice it is a little low. We pull off and I pump it up. Off we go again. We get to within about 3 miles of home and I need to pump up the tire again. At this point, I refuse to change the tube. We are too close to home! We make it home and before long Stella's tire is completely flat! So, I guess I'll have to change it...tomorrow!

Day 16-- DETOUR! (or Raingear On/Raingear Off)

We had no service yesterday so first I will post for yesterday.
We started out in a bit of rain, so we put our raingear on. Since we were climbng toward Chinook Pass, I was quickly too hot so I took off the rainpants and the long pants I had on underneath (not naked here--still had my bike capris on). I also switched to my fingerless gloves. After 7.5 miles of climbing we reached Chinook Pass. There was still about 10 feet of snow (the roads were clear). Remembering the lessons learned from Blewett (freezing cold coming down), I put my long pants, rainpants, polar fleece shirt, rain jacket, long finger gloves and polar buff on. I was NOT going to be cold coming down the pass! We took pictures at the Pass then started the long ride downnnnnnnn. It had taken us 2 hours to go 7.5 miles. It took 20 minutes to go from Chinook Pass to Cayuse Pass ( about 4 miles)! I even stopped to take a couple of pictures along the way! We took another picture at Cayuse then went the rest of the way down to Stevens Canyon Rd. where we were to turn to head back up to go to Paradise. As we turn the corner onto Stevens Canyon Rd. we see the sign that says, "Stevens Canyon Rd. CLOSED". Remember what I said about Closed Roads (see post "Observations After 7 Days on the Road")? NOT GOOD!!! It also appears that Skate Creek Road is closed too. That means we have to detour through Packwood and Morton all the way to Elbe to get back on the route! That is alot of miles! So, what do we do? We eat lunch of course! Then we head to Packwood. I figure if Skate Creek is really closed, we will just get as far as we can that night and find a place to camp then go the rest of the way to home the last day. Packwood is 13 miles from Stevens Canyon and mostly downhill so we make good time. At the Shell station on the corner of US 12 and Skate Creek Rd. I ask the clerk if Skate Creek is open. She says they took the closed sign down at 11:00AM that morning! She also said no one has come back to say the road is not open. We celebrate with ice cream sandwiches then head on up Skate Creek. Since our planned campground is on Skate Creek Rd., this detour makes our day shorter rather than longer!
The sun is shining so we remove our remaining raingear. I put my red jacket on, but soon I am too hot for that so I take it off also. We see a sign that says 20 miles to Big Creek Campground. As we are climbing, the road is smooth and very little traffic (hmmmm...I bet we are the first bikes since the road closed for the winter!). After awhile, we notice we are heading toward some dark clouds. Sure enough, it starts to rain. Back on goes the raingear. I hate wearing raingear while climbing! It is like exercising in a sauna! The climb continued as did the rain. We finally reached the top (about 13 miles). Not only did the rain not stop, but there was thunder and lightening too! We finally made it to Big Creek, found a spot and quickly set up the tent (we should be pretty good at that by now!). We decided to go ahead and cook dinner while we were still in our raingear rather than changing and having to put wet raingear back on over dry clothes. After dinner it was off to the potty shacks/changing rooms to get out of the wet stuff. It was a little tight, but at least it was dry. Then we retired to the tent to spend our last night.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 15--Tailwinds & Tummy Aches

Here we are stealth camping at Lodgepole Campground. The place is closed, nut we are staying here anyway. Another night of free camping! Of course there is no water with this one. Fortunately, we have plenty of water and we boiled a pot too. We'll let it sit out overnight to cool down. Then, in the morning we will fill our water bottles and use the rest for breakfast.
Today's ride was 59 miles (shorter due to the change in hotel plans). We had a wonderful tailwind the entire day! I'll tell you; it sure makes a difference when you are climbing. Much of the time I was climbing going 12 to 13 mph!
When we got to a grocery store on Hwy 410, I bought Kyle and I each a bottle of Gatorade. I drank a bit of mine, but I was already starting to not feel good. My feet were itching, as were my hands and armpits. Well, I know these symptoms and I know what is coming. I quickly took a Zantac and Benedryl. I visited the restroom a couple of times. However, I never threw up. Kyle and I decided it was probably the yogurt at the hotel. His stomach didn't feel so great either but he didn't have the allergic response like I did. Anyway, we were sitting outside the store at a picnic table. After awhile, I told Kyle that we were just going to go. I figured whatever it was would pass through my system faster if I was riding. About 45 minutes later, I was feeling pretty good again (and I didn't fall asleep from the Benedryl!
So, that's about it for today. Oh yeah, it started raining about 45 miles into the ride. This time we did not hesitate to put our raingear on. It is still raining, but we are snug and dry in the tent!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Day 14--Nice comfy beds here we come!

Today we can hear the hotel beds calling before we even leave Mineral Springs! We packed everything up and rolled across the street for breakfast at the same place we ate dinner last night. Kyle had two pancakes the size of a large dinner plate. Even he couldn't eat it all! After breakfast, we had a nice 6 mile downhill (let that breakfast settle abit). Then we had a rather lengthly climb. From the top, it was downhill all the way to Ellensburg (16 miles). We stopped at Wendy's and had Frostys. After that we headed into the Yakima River Canyon. From there it was about 28 miles through the canyon. Not alot of services--no water (except the fast flowing Yakima River). We pulled into Selah and were trying to figure out how to get to the hotel. The Selah Fire Chief walked up and asked us where we were trying to go. Now, lest you me wondering why the fire chief just happened to be walking by, there had been an accident just ahead that was cleaned up. We told the chief we were looking for the Days Inn in Yakima. He told us how to get there then told us a new place called the North Park Lodge had just opened and it was right ahead of us. We decided that would be a great idea! The chief told us to tell the clerk that he had sent us. When we get home, I'll let Adventure Cycling know there is a nice place just off the route. I'm doing laundry and I have taken a fabulous shower! I'm so looking forward to a comfy night's sleep!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Day 13--Lucky or Unlucky? You be the judge...

What a day we have had today on this the 13th day of our trip! It rained overnight at Wenatchee (unlucky), but the wind stopped blowing (lucky). In following the Mapquest directions to the Anjou Bakery we turned on the wrong Red Apple Rd. and had to go up a longish hill for no reason (unlucky), but it was much more scenic going through the orchards instead of the hwy (lucky). Got to meet Sharyl, Bobbie and Ginger at the bakery (very lucky)! Missed the turn into Cashmere to stay on the route (unlucky), but shortened the distance and did less hills (lucky). Had a tailwind heading up Blewett on 97 (lucky), but tons of traffic (unlucky). Turned onto Old Blewett Rd./Scotty Cr. (you were right Bobbie). It started to rain (unlucky), but no traffic therefore no spray (lucky). Long 6 1/2 mile climb to the summit of Old Blewett Rd. Was very nice with 3 bridges, 5 camping folks, 2 bikes (besides us) and only 7 moving cars (lucky). Started to hail at the top (unlucky). Poured rain and was freezing cold for the 4 1/2 miles down (totally unlucky)! Got to Swauk Campground and found a picnic shelter to get out of the rain, out of wet clothes and eat (lucky). Find out the shelter is a Day Use only (unlucky). Also find out the water is shut off due to coliform (also unlucky). Park guy (the one who told us about the water) tells us we can camp at Mineral Springs 5 miles down the road, even though it is closed (he told the Mineral Springs host we were coming--very lucky). Get to Mineral Springs in time to eat a fabulous dinner at the restaurant across the street (lucky lucky lucky!!). No charge for the campsite AND it is about 10 degrees warmer here than at Swauk (lucky--duh!).
So, Day 13, lucky or unlucky? You be the judge. We haven't decided yet!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Day 12--Update

I did the last post while we were waiting for the park registration booth to open. Well, 3:30 rolled around so we rode back over to the booth. A park staff person came over and asked if we needed something. I said, "Yes, we would like a hiker/biker campsite." she said they don't have them that they usually put cyclists in a regular tent site and all the tent sites were full. So, she had nothing for us. I told her that was not good and that since this is a state park there must be someplace we could stay. She said she was unable to
make that call. I asked where the ranger was and she said he would be in later, but she didn't know when. Also, the other ranger was at the other park (what park THAT is, I don't know). I was about to ask her if she could call the ranger when she went into the booth and did that. Curiously, I heard her say, "Should I just send them on?" I thought to
myself, send us on? Where does she think we are going to go?!! Anyway, after talking with the ranger, a site turned up (a regular site no less!!). So we are all set up in site 18 (complete with water and electricity). The wind is still blowing. It is, however, doing a good job of drying my hair (which I was able to wash in addition to the rest of me using only one shower token good for 3 minutes. I'm good!!).

Day 12--Wind Wind Wind!!!

Even thpugh today was not a very long day miles wise, the headwind was very strong. I think if I had stopped pedaling I would have gone backwards! At one point, Kyle says, "I don't think drafting makes that much of a difference." So I made him lead for awhile. Let's just say he didn't lead for very long! We also found ourselves on the course for the Apple Century. So we had company on the road. One guy was going pretty slow. Even we passed him! I noticed he stayed behind Kyle for awhile, but then he fell behind. We were on their route all the way from Entiat to the park. Speaking of Entiat, we came upon a fabulous bakery/ coffee shop in Entiat. It was the Entiat Valley Pastry and Coffee Shop. Of course we stopped! I had a triple berry white chocolate scone and a lemon fizz (ice cream, fresh squeezed lemon and a bit of Sprite). It was all very good. It definately made up for not getting to have one of the 26 flavors of soft serve at Lake Chelan!
We pulled into Wenatchee Confluence State Park at noon. Since the park office didn't open until 3:30, we decided to go find a grocery store and resupply. We also had lunch at Arby's. I had the pecan chicken sandwich. I don't know why I had chicken since mostly what we have had in the way of meat has been chicken (the canned variety). As I was eating it I thought, I coulda had something BEEF! On well, it was am okay sandwich.
I am glad to be dome riding against the wind for the day. Hopefully as we turn to head over Blewett Pass tomorrow the wind will be kind. We will be stopping at a bakery in Cashmere and meeting some of the ladies from the Ponderosa. We picked up extra water to go over Blewett although I doubt we will need it. Don't want a repeat of Washington Pass...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day 11--Kicked back and relaxed!

Ahhh yes, Day 11, the rest day! I'm sitting in my Trekker Chair in the dappled shade looking out over the lake. Went for a little walk on Little Bear's Trail (did not see the so called "Little Bear". The only disappointment for the day is that the park store is not going to be open. That means we do not get to try one of the 26 flavored of soft serve ice cream they sell. Bummer!! We were also going to buy our lunch there. Instead we had PB & J on Blueberry bread again. It really was probably better than anything the park store would have to offer (except the ice cream, of course).
It is nice not riding for a day. I'm sure we will be rejuvinated and ready to ride tomorrow.
Well, that's all from Lake Chelan!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Day 10 Finally a Tailwind!

We started out earlier this morning in the hopes of getting some miles done before it got hot. Our first 22 miles flew by as we had a nice tailwind from Carlton to Pateros. We stopped just outside of Pateros at a nice fruitstand/bakery/gift shop. It was called The Rest Awhile Fruitstand. So we did! We had delicious scones (mine was raspberry white chocolate) and smoothies. They hit the spot nicely. Then we turned onto Hwy 97 where we were in the sun for the rest of the ride. One long uphill and then down brought us into Chelan where we pulled off and had some lunch (PB & J on Blueberry Struesel bread). We rode the last ten miles to Lake Chelan State Park where we are parked for today and tomorrow. By the way, we crossed the Methow River 10 times this morning (quite the winding river).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 9--Half way!

So here we are at the lovely Carlton RV Park. Actually, it's not bad. Hot showers that are free and laundry that isn't too expensive. We have a spot in the shade and are being visited frequently by a cat. It seems to be the only wildlife of this place.
Today's ride was considerably easier than yesterday. It was mostly downhill. There was an annoying headwind, but not a bad day. We restocked in Twisp and also ate there. It is very warm probably upper 80s. Getting in so early (2:30) is giving my solar charger lots of time to charge up. I washed my hair in the shower and it was almost dry before I could comb it out!
Today as we were riding between Mazama and Winthrop, we came upon a flagger who said we weren't allowed to ride through the construction (oil and gravelling). We had to take a ride, one at a time, in the pilot truck with our bikes in the back. It saved us about a mile of riding on the gravel. We had already done several miles on it so we were happy to take the ride.
Tomorrow we will get to Lake Chelan where we willspend am extra day laying around resting in the sun. Ahhhh, the good life!

Day 8--Tunnels, bridges, 2 mtn passes

Got up at 6:30. Left Newhalem at 8:45 (that's just how long it takes to pack everything). Immediately noticed the extreme headwind. It did abate somewhat when we were climbing. We stopped to take a picture of Gorge Dam. Continued to climb to the first tunnel. As we were going through the tunnel I realized how dark it was. Then I remembered I had my sunglasses on--duh...Anyway, we climbed some more up to the bridge over Gorge Creek. It was very high so Kyle wouldn't walk out on it. I, of course, went out to take pictures. Back on the road going up, we came to the second tunnel. This one was shorter and this I could see better. We continued to climb with an occasional bit of downhill. We finally made it up to the Diablo Lake and Dam Lookout. At that point, I was in need of some food. We ate some and took pictures. Back to climbing and climbing and climbing. We stopped at a trailhead and ate some lunch, but there was no piped water.
After lunch we continued up (literally) the road. After awhile, we realized we were going to run out of water soon. We decided to stop at the next opportunity and get some water from a creek. We found one with east enough access and filled up the 2 liter pot. We pit some iodine tablets in the water. After they disolved, we dumped the water into 3 of the water bottles (we had 5 bottles). A few miles later I noticed an RV sitting at a pullout. There was an older Filipino lady sitting outside in a lawn chair. We asked her if she had some water. She gladly filled out 2 remaining empty bottles. We thanked her and continued climbing. We stopped to rest many times and even walked a short bit to get off the bikes, but still make forward progress. Finally, we reached Rainy Pass (it was very sunny). We took pictures at the summit then had a fast 2 mile downhill before starting the climb to Washington Pass. I thought we were never going to get to the top. At this point, we had already been on the road for about 10 hours! When we reached the pass we took more pictures then started the best part of the day; 18 miles of screaming good downwhill!
We made it to Klipchuck Rd and from there only had a little more than a mile to go to the park. Alas, once again, no showers. Oh well, the downhill dried all the sweat anyway.
This was one long hard day; probably the hardest day I have ever had cycling. But, we lived to tell the tale.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day 7 Observations after 7 days on the road

Today is our 7th day riding. After one full week, I have a few observations.
--Signs that say "Road Work" are ok. Signs that say "Road Closed" are NOT ok.
--Bandanas make for effective towels if one forgets to take the towel to the shower.
--Hiker/Biker sites are seldom close to restrooms and water.
--When camping in "Marine" campsites one relishes the sun. In the mountains, one relishes the shade.
--You can't tell how the ground slopes until you lay your tent footprint down.
--It is amazing what foods you are willing to combine to save dishes.
--A "sink" bath with only cold water can be very refreshing after a long day in the sun.
--If the day is 30 miles, you're ready to be done at 29. If the day is 66 miles, you are ready to be done at 59.
--It might me wise to check a new tube for holes before you put of ok your bike.
--And finally, a night in a real bed is awesome before a long day on the bike.

As for today, it was 66.6 miles. Our longest day so far and for the rest of the trip (assuming no detours). We started the day before even before leaving the hotel with 2 flats (same tire). I put the spare tire on as I couldn't figure out why the tore was going flat. No problems after that.
We are camped at Newhalem Campground tonight. The weather is still warm at 6:30pm. It is supposed to be warm the rest of this week. It is amazing the weather we have had! Tomorrow will be up and over the pass--hmmmm...me thinks some climbing is involved.