Friday, May 28, 2010


This has been a rough couple of weeks. In addition to the gusting winds and seemingly continuous rain showers, Barbara developed an infection and was hospitalized for a short time. I've been unable to maintain any sort of riding/training schedule. However, now that Barbara is on the mend I'll once again try to focus a bit more on my journey. I've replaced the rear tire which was slightly worn and have checked over most everything else on the bike. I'm not too concerned about not being in the absolute peak of conditioning--I can just take it easy for the first few days and build myself back up. That's a good thing about not being on a strict time schedule: you can't fall behind. Eight days to D (Departure) Day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lake Cle Elum

The lake is quite low and there's not much snow left in the hills. Looks as though it's going to be a dry year for the irrigators.
Sent from my U.S. Cellular® Windows® phone.

New phone

I've gotten a new phone that I'll be using to update this blog during my journey. I think the first postings are going to be rather short until I become a bit more proficient at using my thumbs. I guess the old phrase about someone being 'all thumbs' is actually high praise for a texter. :-)
I'm posting this picture just for practice; it's taken from the road to the gravel pit--one of my more frequent rides.

Sent from my U.S. Cellular® Windows® phone.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Making the grade

To prepare for my ride I've been going online to figure out the steepness of the hills on my route. The longest and steepest grades that I've been able to find are the ones coming out of Snake River Canyon and going up to Sherman Pass. The main climb for each is between five to seven miles at generally a 5% grade with some sections going up to 6 or 7 % grade. I'm sure I'll come upon some grades that are over 7% however, they won't be overly long. I've loaded my panniers with canned food (about 25 pounds) and have been doing my rides to include some hills around this area. Just to give everyone an idea of what type grades there are around here, I went out today and took some measurements. To give some perspective for my local readers, I started with Lower Peoh Point Road:

It starts out at a 7% grade but kicks up to 8% for the final grind; luckily, it's not too long but it definitely gets the heart muscles working.
The longest that I've come up with is Thorp Prarie Road; I haven't ridden it yet this year but it's one you don't forget.

It starts off at a modest 5% grade which continues for over a mile. Then, just as you start going around a curve, you notice the grade is increasing; because you're going around a curve you can't see the end of the climb or how much the grade is increasing. Finally, you see the top of what has become a nearly 9% grade but as you reach what you thought was the crest of the hill you see that it's merely a decrease to a 6% grade which lasts for another quarter mile. The feeling of accomplishment you have upon completion of a grueling climb is indescribable; plus, you get to relax and enjoy the scenery on the way down.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'm still experimenting on the best way to load my bike. Today I adapted a rear rack from one of my old bikes to fit on the front; I plan to use it to carry my sleeping bag. On the short test ride I took it seemed to work OK, although the steering definitely felt different. I guess I'll keep it on for a while so I can get used to it. I'm also going to start riding with some heavy items in the panniers I'll be carrying on the rear rack. I thought I'd have plenty of room, but as I keep adding little things here and there I'm finding out they're not as big as I thought! The weather seems to be moderating a bit and I'm able to ride a bit more; however, I find that I really have to psych myself up--it's just a ride and I want to get started on BATS.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Today was laundry day but I spent the waiting time between loads doing something practical to get ready for my journey. I gathered together most of the items I'll be taking with me and did some packing.
Not shown in the picture are the extra tubes and tools I always carry and food which I'll be buying pretty much every day.
Here are a couple of views of the loaded bike--

it still handles pretty well although I didn't try going up any hills. I know I'll be a bit slower but I'm not looking to break any speed records. In the next week or so I'll load everything up again and go for an overnight trip just to make sure I have everything I need before I take off on the real thing.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I've set the starting date for my journey for 6 June; there's no particular significance for me, although it does happen to be the 66th anniversary of D-Day--the Normandy landings in WWII. Just as Eisenhower agonized over the weather for the day of the landing, I'm keeping an eye on the seemingly unpredictable weather which is occurring this year. Snow closed the North Cascades Highway (part of my route) yesterday and it's been unseasonably cool and windy for the past week. I've become somewhat accustomed to slightly warmer temperatures so it's kind of a bummer to have to start bundling up to go for a ride. Of course, the wind is always a headwind and I can deal with that--the side gusts really increase the pucker factor though. It's been said that the worst day on a dream adventure is better than the best day of a mundane life dreaming of the adventure; I can't wait for the adventure to begin!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Electronic assist for my journey. No, I'm not referring to electric assist which is a small electric motor that can be attached to a bicycle and is useful for going uphills (I don't have one of those). Electronic assist is probably a misnomer as the gadgets I'm talking about really provide no assistance--just information and safety. First among the latter items is a couple of rear blinky lights; they're useful in alerting drivers approaching from the rear that there is something in front of them. Coupled with a reflective slow-moving vehicle triangle, only the most inattentive, cell phone talker/texter driver will fail to see me.
To alert oncoming drivers that there is something in front of them and they shouldn't turn left across it's path, I have a five-LED blinking headlight; it also doubles as a constant light if I don't make it to a campground before dark. Powering those devices are AA and AAA batteries which could cause a major drain (groan) on my budget if I didn't use rechargeables (which I do). However, that just adds one more electronic device to my load--a battery charger. Under the information category is a speedometer; although there are super multi-function models that are tied to GPS and provide all kinds of data, I have a pretty basic model which gives speed and distance. A benefit to its simplicity is that the battery lasts over a year. Also for information I have a heart rate monitor--to alert me that I may be pushing too hard (or not hard enough) or that I may be getting dehydrated.
To record images of the trip I'll be toting a camera (four AA batteries) however, I need a computer to download the pictures. Since I have to draw a line somewhere, I've opted not to carry my Netbook and the picures I take with the camera will not be available until the end of the trip. However, I will be taking a cell phone (of some type) and I'll attempt to update this site with a few pictures during my journey.

For all of the gadgets I'll be carrying, I don't think my enjoyment level will be much greater than what I experienced as a 12 year old on a 15 mile ride with no electronic assist.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The first order of business has been to determine my route. After careful consideration of time/logistics I determined that I wouldn't visit the absolute extreme corners of the state but, rather, a general rounding of the corners. I'll start off by heading over Satus pass on Hwy 97 to the Columbia River Gorge where I'll turn left onto Hwy 14 until I cross over to Umatilla, Oregon on Hwy 395. Oregon highways will be used for about 20 miles before I cross back into Washington
and pick up Hwy 12 near Wallula. I'll stay on Hwy 12 into Clarkston and go up the Snake River Canyon into Pullman where I'll get on Hwy 27 and follow it toward Spokane. Backroads will be the order of the day between the Spokane area and Newport as Hwy 2 is a bit too heavily traveled for my taste. At Newport I'll jump on Hwy 20 and follow it across the Northern tier of the state to Keystone on Whidbey Island where I'll take a ferry to Port Townsend and continue on Hwy 20 to Hwy 101. I'll generally follow Hwy 101 around the West side of the Olympic Peninsula although I may pop over to Hwys 109/105 when 101 gets too far from the coast. Either way, I'll end up on Hwy 4 on the north side of the Columbia for the leg into Longview. Longview to Vancouver (Washington) will also be on backroads until I connect with Hwy 14 and follow it through the gorge to Hwy 97 and back home. That's about 1500 miles and I'm estimating four to five weeks to complete the trip. So, the route is now set in pavement; however, it is subject to change while I'm on the road.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I achieved my goal of cycling 3000 miles last year and instead of just establishing a new, higher-mileage goal for this year, I began contemplating what other feat I could accomplish. The first thought of cycling across the country was summarily dismissed; not because I didn't think I could do it however, at the end I'd be sitting on the east coast with a daunting 3000 mile return trip before the snow started falling. A six thousand mile jaunt seemed a bit much--this year. While mulling over several options, I happened to see an Evening Magazine series where they visited the four corners of Washington State. That was the genesis for my goal to Bike Around The State: yes, I'm going BATS.