Friday, June 18, 2010

After riding 500 miles in 10 days, much soul searching and weather forecast checking, I’ve made the agonizing decision to cancel my trip. I was prepared for the grueling physical activity and was willing to accept the fact that I wouldn’t be able to ride up some of the hills however, one of the reasons for selecting this time of year was that the weather is generally nice; this year is proving to be the exception. Wednesday and Thursday the high was 55 degrees and showery—the forecast for the next leg of my trip shows 2 partly cloudy days with temperatures in the low 70s and anywhere from 30 to 40% chance of rain and/or thunderstorms for the remaining days with temps in the mid-60s. I neither packed nor planned for this type of weather. I have long been a proponent of the adage ‘you don’t have to practice being miserable’; I’m doing this ride for my enjoyment and it’s miserable riding for 8 hours in cold/cool rain showers. In retrospect, perhaps I was too aggressive in planning such a long trip for my first attempt at touring and I will be looking at what I want to do next.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Snake River Canyon grade kicked my butt! I had to ride 8 miles upriver (up-slope) before I got to the real upgrade. I was alternating between walking and riding, depending on the steepness of the slope for about 6 miles when, during one of my rest breaks, a guy driving down stopped, backed up and asked if I was OK. I replied that I was and asked him how far to the top--he said about a mile which coincided with what I had already figured from a conversation I'd had the night before with someone familiar with the area. So, at the end of a mile I saw the 'Pavement Ends' sign I had been expecting; however, when I turned left as directed I found another mile and a half upgrade! I finally made it to Pullman at 3 PM and, although I had intended on going all the way to Garfield, discretion and my legs dictated otherwise. I ended up leaving my bike at one of Frances's co-workers in Pullman and rode home with Frances. I'll go into work with Frances in the morning and finish the ride to Garfield (25 miles) at a leisurely pace.

Snake River Canyon campsite

I made it about 18 miles up the canyon--bucking a headwind all the way. I'm not sure camping is allowed here, so I'll have to sweet talk the Ranger if one shows up.

No Ranger showed, but I didn't have service so I'll just add that I made it out of the canyon and am sitting in Pullman.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I made it to the summit in fine shape; the grades weren't as steep as I was expecting. It took me about 2 hours to grind up the first 10 miles and half an hour to cover the next 10 going downhill into Clarkston. I'm now getting ready to enter the Snake River Canyon; I don't know what kind of reception I'll have, so you may not hear from me until I climb out tomorrow afternoon.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Back on the road

I left Walla Walla about 9 this morning, having had a piece of warm apple pie for breakfast, compliments of Lucia, Mike's across-the-street neighbor. My initial day's goal was Dodge, about 55 miles on Hwy 12. I arrived there about 4 and, as I expected, there were no camping facilities. It seemed a bit early to end the day so I pushed on to Pomeroy for a distance of 66 miles. They have free camping in their City Park. I had just picked out a site and was starting to unload when a helpful local told me about the automatic sprinklers and where they didn't hit--so I moved my site. The Hwy has been pretty good: generally wide shoulders and clean although there were a few places with narrow shoulders. There will be a little bit of a challenge tomorrow--the Alpowa Summit is 2785'. I'll be starting at 1800' and the majority of the climbing is done in 3 miles. So, I'm going to try to get as much rest as possible tonight.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Disaster narrowly averted

After our ride this morning I cleaned and oiled the chain on the bike, took a shower and started my last load of laundry. After brewing a cup of tea I sat down to begin recording the day's events in my journal. That's when I realized I hadn't removed it from my shorts before putting them in the washer! I quickly retrieved the now sodden book; luckily, I had opted to use moleskin and a pencil for the journal. I had anticipated encountering some perspiration and humidity moisture, but nothing like this. I was able to gently separate and dry the pages that had my entries and the pencil markings were still legible. I had brought another book and now have to buy another for backup--I think I'll look for moleskin.

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Ride Michael, ride

Michael was going so fast I nearly missed him as he came around the block...the first time; he's wearing what's known as 'recumbent smile'--a common occurrence with first time riders.

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Sunday morning ride

Mike, his friends Denton & Keena and I went for a leisurely 15 mile ride around Walla Walla. After the ride we (except Mike) stopped in the local bakery for some sweet pills and caffeine.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Stop and smell the flowers

Today will be spent shopping and doing routine maintenance on the bike while Mike is at work. It's nice to just laze around having a second cup of tea intead of packing and getting ready to ride. Maybe I can even find a good cup of coffee.

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Friday, June 11, 2010


Made it into Walla Walla just fine; Mike's working so he gave me the key to his house so I could unpack and clean up. He told me there was a hammock in the back yard, but I don't think he knew how I was going to use it.

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Yesterday when I was walking across the Umatilla bridge, I noticed 9 quarters on the shoulder. That may not sound like a lot but the shoulder is only a foot and a half wide, so it would seem 9 would represent only an infitessimal percentage of the coins that actally made it into the river. What's up with that?

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History lesson for the day; I'm not going down to the site--I'll save that for when Barbara is with me.

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Brunch in Touchet

Ok, it may not be health food but it tastes good! Got a late start and just taking my time into Walla Walla.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010


What a day! I started off in Roosevelt with my goal of making Umatilla and finding a campground. I got spit on by a few rain clouds, but nothing major. I had a 10 - 12 mph tailwind, and as long as I was moving everything was peaceful and quiet; however, when I'd stop for a break, I was assaulted by the wind. There were no towns, rest areas or trees for windbreaks. I made it to the bridge at Umatilla, and just as the bridge started, the shoulder went from 4 feet to about a foot and a half! With a 12 mph crosswind, there was no way I was riding that, so I ended up walking over--still scary as hell! Since it was only 1:30, I thought I'd ride a bit farther for the day. At about 60 miles there was a State Park (with no camping) right next to a Good Sam campground where I planned to stay. However, I got tqalking with the Ranger and he said there was a free campground about 5 miles ahead, mostly downhill. Since free sounded good, I took off. In this case free was not better--all the camp sites were gravel! Remember that tailwind? If I turned around, I'd be bucking a headwind, mostly uphill. Figuring there would be something else up the road, I continued on. The picture with this entry is of Lake Wallula, about 15 miles upriver from McNary Dam. I was heading right into those storm clouds. I hit Hwy 12 at about mile 80 and still no place to stay. Finally, at 85 miles I saw a sign for an RV park. It was down a very steep, gravel road that I'm going to have to walk up tomorrow, but I got my tent set up before the rain hit. Pierce's Green Valley--$10 for tents with a power outlet. The 85 miles is a personal best for me--by 13 miles! Luckily, I only have 24 miles to Walla Walla tomorrow and then I'll take a one (maybe two) day break.
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The gorge is gone...

At least the awesome rock walls; they've been replaced with rolling hills and a mundane ride with no trees or rest areas.

To all of you who have left comments on my previous posts: I read and appreciate your comments and support. I just haven't figured out how to reply to a comment. Thank you all.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Room mates

Two of these (swallows?) are sharing the gazebo with me.

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This is my accomodation for the evening; the host at Roosevelt City Park said that since there was no one else tenting for the night I could just set up right in the gazebo. That means I won't have to struggle with the tent in a fairly brisk breeze. It's a nice park--lots of grass for tents, free showers and no fees. They maintain a biker's log for everyone coming through; the host said I might catch up to the 3 who came through yesterday but I told him I was too slow to catch anyone. It was a nice ride today, although boring--too much majesty detracts from the awe of the actual river and gorge.

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John Day Dam

I don't think I'll go down there, but it does look nice.

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Doesn't it seem appropriate to visit Stonehenge in the rain?

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The edge

Finally, after 3+ days, I've arrived at the edge of the State.

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Scenic view

Or what I could have seen if there were no clouds.

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The hills are alive...

With windmills just outside of Goodendale.

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I accidently hit 'send' -- the entry should have continued that after looking at the weather situation, I went the additional 10 miles into Goldendale and stayed at a motel. Good choice 'cause it started raining half an hour after I checked in.
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

First Pass!

Satus Pass was the first named pass that I've been over; although it's 'only' 3107
Feet, it kicked my butt. The grade wasn't overly steep as I approached and I was cruising along at 5 or 6 mph but, about 3 miles from the summit, reality set in--this was going to be hard and I really had to push to maintain 3mph! As long as there was a 3 or 4 foot wide shoulder I could weave back and forth to maintain steerage however, there were some sections that the shoulder was only a foot right next to the guardrail. I didn't feel like arguing my right of way with an 18 wheeler, so I walked those sections. After cresting the summit it was a breeze getting to the campground
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Mt Adams

Another good day; however, today I'm starting it with pancakes, sausage, eggs and coffee to get ready for Satus Pass. I saw Mt Adams in the distance and was going to send this post this morning. Due to my inexperience with this magic box, compounded by 18 wheelers whizzing by, I decided to wait.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 2

I got my 9AM start today, although I'd wanted to get off a bit earlier so I could make up some of the miles I didn't ride yesterday. The canyon was, well, the canyon; it was fairly green from all the rain, but the only animals I saw were a nesting bald eagle with two fledglings. The hills were quite challenging as the only other time I've ridden them was on an unloaded bike. However, there were no feal photo ops and once I hit the Yakima area I wasn't looking at too much besides traffic. It wasn't as bad as I expected but nothing that warranted a picture. I was going to stop in Wapato for the evening but there was no campground or motel; so, I had to ride another 10 miles into Toppenish--which is where I had planned on spending tonight before I had the rain delay.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010


I made it past Ellensburg (total of 30 miles) and will spend the night in a campground instead of pitching the tent somewhere in the boondocks. I've ridden the canyon road numerous times but always see something interesting. Today there was a deer grazing right on the side of the road. It didn't notice me until I said "Hi, deer"...figured I'd better warn it so it didn't jump in front of me.

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On the road!

The weather finally cleared enough for me to start, albeit somewhat late--11:30. So, I'm heading down the canyon road to Ellensburg; don't know how far I'll get today, but at least I've started.
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Saturday, June 5, 2010


The sun is shining, it's a nice, comfortable temperature and just a slight breeze...a perfect day for riding. However, I'm putting the finishing touches on my packing and going over the bike to prepare for the trip. I'm leaving tomorrow when the forecast is for cooler and 40% chance of rain; unless it's an absolute downpour I intend to start. Although I don't have a schedule to keep, I'd just as soon get on the road...even if I don't get as far as I'd like, I'll actually be traveling rather than planning.