Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ennis Montana June 30

Last nights storm howled until about 10:30 and then it just quit. So it was a quiet night in the tent. However as the clouds were still lingering I was on the road early this morning as we headed for Ennis Montana. I was putting the pedal down as hard as i could as there was a huge band of rain not far away and I was hoping to out run it. Well it sort of worked as I got about 14 miles down the road when the road turned directly into it. Pulling on my rain coat was all I could do. There was a lot of lightning but it was at least 2 miles off by my count. After about 5 miles I emerged from the other side, totally soaked but in the sun. The scenery was great and I have lots of photos however as I have a really poor Internet connection I can't up load them.

All was well until at the 35 mile mark I got a flat, which is my first of the trip. There was a good place to fix it as it happened except for the mosquito's which ate me alive.
Picnic was at 50 mile mark. So I cruised in and they had chili for lunch. It was excellent and I had a couple of bowels. When you burn 6000 calories a day you can eat as much as you want. With only 27 miles to go it was an easy day so I put it in cruise and just sailed along enjoying the scenery, sun and the lack of a head wind. There was short 2 mile climb at the 65 mile mark and when I got 3/4 of the way up another rider was having trouble fixing a tire so I stopped and fixed his tire for him. It was a good break. The break cost me however as I was about 3 miles short of town when a second cloud burst caught me and soaked me again. I understand that a bunch of the riders who were behind be got caught in a terrible hail storm and had to be sagged in.
Ennis is a cute little town which as fond memories as Agnes and I camped here 30+ years ago. There is a bunch of neat art in the little parks up and down main street. The school however is another matter. As the hot water was out, so we had cold showers. The gym was closed to the floor floppers because there was basket ball practice. Four kids showed up and played for 10 minutes then the gym was locked. They locked the library as well and all the class rooms. I hope that Cycle America isn't paying too much for the use of the gym. "Home of Mustangs" more like home of the jerks. Hey call em like I see them.

Got to run.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Across the Continental Divide

We bid a fond audi to Lincoln Mo. home of the Uni-bomber at 6:30 Am and rolled down the road a short distance to see a grizzly bear display which is presented by the parks department. There they have the worlds largest stuffed grizzly bear, which weighed in at 875 pounds and was killed by a pick up truck. Kind of sad really, he was a magnificent creature.
The weather was blustery and rain was threatening. So jackets were the order of the day however they were soon shed as we turned up toward Flesher Pass and the Continental divide. The climb was relatively easy compared to some of the stuff we have been doing. At the summit was a reporter from the local paper interviewing people and it was fun. The back side was even more fun as it was a 25 mile downhill to picnic. Picnic was in a park where the park ranger had opened a group site just for us. I filled my face with lots of goodies including this great chicken salad. However I could see thunder clouds looming in the hills so it was time to head out. The days ride was 90.9 miles and picnic was at 53 so there was just 37.9 miles to go and a major part of that was down hill. Should be an easy 2.5 hour ride. WRONG. About 5 miles later this head wind in front of the thunder head whips up, and I am down to about 12 mph. OK so I have ridden for 20 minutes and it is still 2.5 hr to camp. After an hour I am down to about 22 miles to go and grinding away a 8 mph. Now camp is 3 hours away. Well I did make it in and I didn't get caught in the storm. I was the second to sign in so I was well ahead of the storm, but a lot of people did get caught. Right now the storm is just howling out there. It should be fun in the tent tonight.
We did ride through Helena the state capital and the traffic was hectic but I did stop for a picture of a the state capital building. There is a museum right next door which looked very interesting but I was on a mission.
I need to correct the post about the University of Missoula. I incorrectly identified it as the University of Missoula. It is really the University of Montana. The attached picture clearly identifies this fact. So sorry. It was still nice.

Happy trails


Monday, June 28, 2010

Eighty Hot Miles into Lincoln Montana

This morning was kind of bitter sweet as it was so nice staying in the dorm
at the university. However it was time to push on so after a huge feast in the cafeteria it was on the bike. The morning was really cold and there was a terrible wind which had me stopping to put on my coat. The route was all up hill to day over more chip coat road. The chip coat was not as big and it had been down for several years so the road was much better. About 6 miles out of town the wind died down and I stopped to take my coat off.
The road was pretty much a steady grade all day. We had a net gain of 2500 feet in 80 miles so it wasn't steep but the only down hills were very short and it didn't give you much of a rest. Lunch was at 43 miles so I was there by 10:30. It was in a beautiful little park which had huge Douglas fir trees. I hated to leave. However as the temperature was building I had to keep going. The scenery was great as we were riding up this river valley and it is now wonder that they call Montana "Big Sky" country. I had only 37 miles to go after lunch but it was getting hot so I keep pressing on. In the end I was glad to roll into town and get off my bike. A sign said that it was 86F.
Well I have to run as I am in the public library, and you are only allowed 30 minutes. Once again no pictures. Sorry!


I just wanted to post a few pictures on the University of Missoula Campus and a map of the second week's route. The campus here is a beautiful Little campus with a mix of old and new buildings. The university was founded in something like 1863 so it is not a real new place. When I was a high school kid I dreamed of going to a small campus where things were more intimate than at the big UofA. Of course there are no kids here as school is out for the summer so it seems very idyllic now. During school session it maybe a mad house.

The route for week two is much easier averaging only 74 miles per day. Having said that we are moving into higher elevations so cycling become more difficult.

I heard a good one to day, " The reason I like riding my bike is because it makes me feel like I am nine again

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lazy Day in Missoula

Picking things up from last night, we stumbled home from supper after several pints of the local IPA and were in bed by about 9:30 PM. It was so nice to sleep in a real bed. I picked up my book and read 3 pages before I was out cold.

This morning I slept until 8:30 Am so it was 11 hours of down time. Everyone was feeling like we really needed the rest. I had been planning to go for a run to day but by 8:30 it was already too hot and I settled for huge omelet and gallons of coffee in the local shop.

Tom and I walked over to the local bike shop were we were met by Patrick who had rented a car. The three of us drove over to REI where I bought a back up bike computer, a new bike jersey which looks like a cross between a skeleton and a machine, and small tube of sun screen which I can carry on my bike. Later we had lunch on a patio and wandered around in downtown Missoula.

Supper and meeting is in the university cafeteria. In the mean time I better get my bike cleaned and the chain oil. Another week starts and I better be ready.

It is good to be lazy but it is time to go do my chores.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

A long hard day on gravel

Today's ride was from Thompson Falls to Missoula. It was a really tough 103 mile day. I am not sure what made it so hard. It may have been the fact that it was all up hill. Not steep mind you but up hill never the less. It may have been the chip coat surface, which was really a paved gravel road. It may have been the constant head wind which seemed to be in your face no matter which way you turned, and seem to be just howling when you were cresting a rise. It may have been the traffic which was really heavy owing to the weekend, and was really loud on the gravel road. It may have been the sun which bore down and roasted you on the highway.
I got out in good time from breakfast and was in the first pack of riders. I wasn't riding with any body but was cruising on my own. I was having trouble with my bike computer again and it was stuck in kms/hr rather than mph which was kind of a blessing as I didn't have to look down at the odometer crawl out the miles. An hour down then another and then it was only 30 minutes to lunch. So there we have 56 miles gone and only 47 more to ride. But the wind is winding up and the traffic is 10 times worse. So I just put my head down and got into the drops and ground it out.
I am making it sound all bad but it wasn't. There were some fun moments. There were these two slower riders and they were riding well into the traffic lane trying to find some smooth pavement. So I came up on their right side and just before I passed them I did my big dog imitation. A few well placed barks and the riders jumped. I laughed for 15 miles. Then I was riding a long and I saw this train coming so I made a few big waves and gave the driver the whistle sign and sure enough He gave me a big blast on the horn. It was great. I smiled for miles. The scenery was also spectacular. We were following a couple of large rivers which were in full flood so it was pretty awesome sight. I should also mention the picnic was another highlight. A big black lab was there being a big friend to everyone and sucking up treats from the riders. Labs are every one's best friend ever.
I rolled in second of the coast to coast riders and 4th overall in a time of 6:33 which was a great time for such a hard ride.
Tomorrow is a rest day so we don't ride. It is going to be great to have a day off. We are staying in the university dorm, which is very nice accommodations. I will fill you in on Missoula tomorrow.
There is a huge line up for this machine so no pictures sorry

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fast and fun in Montana

If this is Friday it must be Montana. Wow how the states fly by when your having fun. Seems like just a few days ago we registering and setting up tents in Everett Washington, and here we are through Idaho and in Montana. True we only went through the pan handle of Idaho.
Today's ride started out sunny and we back tracked 7 miles along the bike pathway to the turn off to Thompson Falls. It was a relatively short day after the three centuries so everyone was in a great mood and there was lots of joking and laughing along the route. It was only 69 miles and was an up and over the pass type of ride. Thompson pass was 45 miles out and only about 5 of it was really steep. But they were very STEEP. At the summit we had picnic which was hot dogs on the barbie with all the trimmings including corn on the cob. They were great and were greedily gobbled up. However being at the summit of a pass the wind whipped up and I was feeling the wind though my jersey so it was time to head for the barn. The ride down was a bit scary for the first 5 miles as the pavement was rutted and rough. It was even steeper on the down side of the pass and I rode my brakes most of the way. At the 55 mile mark was a local store and bar called the Sourdough. It was quite colourful and the patrons were even more colourful. I thought Patrick was going to get in fight with one but he turned it into a joke and we blew out of there. The rest of the ride was easy and we flew into Thompson falls in good time.
As promised the showers were cold as the hot water plant is down for summer over haul. However there is Internet in the library. Yahoo. Get good Internet and not have to mess with the air card which is slooooooow. So let me share a few pictures with you.
They are:
Tom whom I ride with
Sumit of Stephen Pass
Ride down from Stephen pass. The camera was having trouble as it was so foggy
Moose and her calfs
Me and the dam
Tom just cruising.
Lets Ride!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What a beautiful day for a bike ride!

This morning we left the beautiful Gonzaga Campus and headed towards Kellogg Idaho. As we left we rode along the bike paths in Spokane. The sun was glinting off the river as we were headed East and it was really pretty. I was taking my time an rode with a lot of the back of the pack riders. It seems there is a lot of confusion there as to what the rules of the road are. So I left them and headed on to the next segment of the ride which was a thirty mile segment down some secondary back roads winding though some very pretty rolling hills which are partially wooded. At the 40 mile mark we turned down an even more back road to this park which took us down to the path way system.
A word on the path way system. It is an old rail line which has been totally redone and runs for something like 100+ miles around Lake Cour de Lane. So we get to the lake and get on the path way. There is an old rail bridge across the lake and on the top of the trestle is a osprey nest full of chicks. Mother was sitting on a piling eyeing us to make sure we were being good. It was really neat to see her up close. When we arrived on the other side it was about 10 miles down to picnic which as usual was great. The special of the day was tuna salad which I greedily heaped on bread to make a sandwich. There was still 40 miles to go so I jumped on my stead and bolted off down the pathway. The pathway took us all the way into Kellogg which was great. This has to be the best bike path I have ever been on. Dead flat, with a beautifully smooth pavement top. Nice and wide with nobody on it. I rode along for miles and miles with out seeing a soul. Then about 20 miles out from lunch I spot a mother moose with two calf's right beside the pathway eating water lilies. What a magnificent sight. She didn't seem to mind me stopping to watch her eat. I will definitely get those pictures posted as soon as possible, as once again my Internet is very spotty. So the last twenty miles I am feeling like ya this really peaceful and beautiful but here we are on the bottom end of a three century stretch and it is time for something else. So I just put the pedal down and went for it. I was sure that I was going to be in the bottom end of the riders as I had not rode very hard in the morning and then just before camp I rolled into a Walmart and got a huge pink milk. It was really cold and tasted so great. I put down what had to have been a two liter bottle in about 3 minutes
I was very surprised to see that not many people were in and I wound up with a 3rd on the coast to coast riders and a tenth over all. Not that it is a race or any thing and I just want you to know that I am not competitive, but I know that a bunch of you are hammerheads and keep track of stuff like this. A great ending to a great day.

The mileage for today was 98.5 miles. Tomorrow is and easy 68.5 miles with only one major hill and cold showers as the heating plant in the school is out. It is also awards night but I don't have anything.

Lets Ride!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Horrid Head Winds

Coulee Dam to Spokane
It seems like every day starts with a big climb. Maybe that is because towns were on the rivers or at the base of mountains. So today was no exception. We started from the base of the Coulee Dam and head up this canyon road. As i am getting close to the top there is a crop duster flying one of the fields. So it was fun to watch rather than your odometer. However he over flew me about five times and all I could taste for the next few hours was insecticide.
When we hit the plateau at the top of the hill I knew it was big trouble as there was terrible head wind. If you really worked hard you could maybe make 12-14 mph on the down hills and 6-9 mph on the up hills. Then tour van went by me with about 30 bikes on the roof so a lot of people took a bump to picnic. Seeing that left me wondering about my sanity. As we had a second long day all you could do was get down into the drops and grind it out. So I decided that I was stopping at every opportunity. The Sandy's bakery in in some un-named cross roads had great glazed Cinnamon rolls, the water spot by the "GAS" sign had coke, finally picnic was in Davenport which was great. I was riding with Patric and he was feeling pooched so we stopped at an un-named drive-in in Reardon. I had a huge root beer which really filled the bill. Still 30 miles to go. I was glad to see the outline of Spokane on the horizon. The last few miles through town were fun on all the bike paths. I heard a lot of complaints about the wind so I guess that everyone had a tough day. My 15th spot was respectiable considering how often I stopped.
We are stay in the dorm at Gonzaga University in Spokane. It is beautiful. What happened here when I went to school dorms were dumps. We ate in the cafeteria. The food was great. When I lived in the dorm in Edmonton food was horrid. Now my opinion of food may be coloured by having ridden 94.1 miles into terrible head winds but I wandered out full to the brim.
I have not figured my camera and this computer out so pictures will come tomorrow. or later to night if I get lucky.


A long day

Wenatchee to Coulee Dam

We climbed out of Wenatchee up this canyon road which was really steep and went on forever. There was untold number of turns and looking down at your odometer was just depressing as you had gone only 0.1 miles since you last looked and told yourself you weren't going to look there until you had done some serious pedalling. However the sun was out and the wind was not a factor. The summit was reached and then we headed up this road which had this chip seal surface and not the kind with little rocks but the big ones. I was sure glad to see the end of that road.
Picnic was in this beautiful little park in town called Mansfield. Lunch as usual consisted of lots of great food. There was lots of cold cuts cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as lots of nuts and dried fruit. I was surprised to see that I was the 11 person in to lunch on the in-check list. As lunch was at 58 miles I thought maybe I can get a top five out of this. So I ate quickly and left. Putting the hammer down though lots of big rollers with a heavy cross wind was tiring but I keep pushing. At about the 75 mile mark I caught the tandem and another rider who were stopped with a flat tire. At about 80 I caught two more riders who were stooped for a break. At about the ninety mile mark I caught another rider who was doing a gel so I knew he was done. Then as we turned the last turn I caught another rider, giving me a fourth for the day. Not bad on a 103.3 mile day with a field of 86 riders.
We are camped at a high school just a the base of the Grand Coulee dam. The roar of the water coming down the spill way is deafening. There is a cold mist over the entire area. I am told that the water is very high this year and that is why there is so much water coming down the spill way.
A long day with lots of fun riding.


Through the rain and into the sun

As I left you I was about to do my first floor flopping experience. I had pulled up a piece of floor in the gym and rolled out my sleeping bag. The lights were pretty much all out. At about 1:30 some ones cell phone played a nice little ditty for five minutes. The town air raid siren went off at 3;30 and of course the trains went by every 20 minutes and blew there whistle at the crossing in the center of town. it wasn't raining inside.

We climbed out of the little town of Skykomish in a cloud bank. I am not sure if it was really rain or just 100% humidity that was condensing on everything. The first have of the ride was up though Stephen pass which was made famous in the 1890's when a snow storm and avalanche killed 96 people. It was only 16 miles to the top of the pass at 4061 ft but it seemed to take forever. By time I got there my gloves were soaked and I was wet on the inside of my rain gear. So pulled on an extra layer of under shirt and headed down the other side. The road was wet and slippery. You could feel the rear tire coming around when you braked. It was 11 miles of really steep twisty road and my hands were freezing but I couldn't take my hands off the handle bars. However after about 5 miles you could see the clouds were now above you and you could see a tiny patch of blue sky about 20 miles east. Sure enough by the time we got to picnic the sun was out and it was warm and beautiful. The Swiftwater river was right there and it was a perfect spot for picnic. The ride wound up taking us though so rolling orchard country and into a high school in Wenatchee for a total of 75 miles.
That evening was rider meeting for the Coast to Coast riders. There are 45 riders doing the full distance and so when it got to introductions it took forever. The meeting started at 8:30 and took until 10:30. Certainly there were lots of interesting stories. Well let just say I was glad to hit the hay.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day2 Everett to Skykomish

Everett to Skykomish ride Day 1
Luggage was being loaded at 6:15AM until 7:30 AM this morning, so when I showed up at 6:25, I was the last to load my luggage. I rushed though breakfast and was within the last dozen to leave the Everett Boys and Girls club. This is so typical of bike rides.
It was 3.3 miles over to the boat launch where there was a tire dipping into the Pacific ceremony. On the way I realized my odometer was still in km rather than miles. I corrected that at the boat launch and after a quick dip was on my way.
The weather was foggy and misting so the road was wet. After the boat launch there was a bridge with a huge expansion joint and Patrick and two other riders went down. Patrick has huge road rash on his thigh and his elbow is swelled up to double. As I went by they were loading one rider into an ambulance. I am rubber necking it and I go down at about 2 mph. As I am getting up Dr Richard hits it and he goes down. I am fine and Dr Richard has a sore back. I will give you an update when I get one.

By 9:30 Am the mist has turned into a steady rain. It is really miserable as the temperature is 8C. Needless to say I did not tarry at picnic where it is just pouring. My new bike computer has become water logged and quit working so I have to rely on the road markings, but they are pretty good. We had been told that there was only enough hot water for around twenty showers so there was an added incentive to put the boots to it. I think I was about the fourth to hit the showers. IHAD HOT WATER!!

The town of Skykomish is right on the rail line and was a place where they fuelled the engines for the push over the Cascades. The diesel tanks leaked into the ground water and polluted the ground water so they are in the process of moving the town and digging out the dirt and moving the buildings back into place. The whole town might have 300 people so there aren’t a lot of buildings to move, but the town smells of diesel. We are camped at the ancient old school which is 50 feet off the rail line and every 20 minutes a container train blasts past. Normally I do not floor flop however do to the pouring rain and cold temperatures I have elected to crash in the gym.
Supper is being cooked in the school cafeteria and it smells great. Internet is painfully slow so no pictures. I have some totally sodden pictures.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Registration Day Everett WA

Registration Day:
This morning we were up early as we had to drive up to Seattle from Portland. Before we could leave there was some last minute laundry and the condo needed a last minute cleaning swipe. We were on the road by 9:00 AM and didn’t get very far before we ran into a draw bridge which was up so we sat in the car for 40 minutes. It was a long way up the road so we didn’t even get to see the boat. The drive was supposed to be three and a half hours but traffic was so bad by Seattle that it took close five hours.
The ride is actually originating in Everett Washington which is a suburb of Seattle. The Garmin took us right to the spot. You could tell it was a bike ride as it had all the markings of a ride. Bikes being assembled everywhere. Knots of people talking very excitedly. As we pull up I see some friends from previous rides. It was very cool. The ride starts from the Everett Boys and Girls Club, which is a kind of community league facility.
Agnes drops me off and head for home. It really brought it home that I am going to be gone for nine weeks. It was really scary.
Lots of people are sleeping in the gym but I set my tent up on the grass in the back. Although it is cloudy I doubt that if there is any rainy it won’t be bad. After I got my tent set up I went inside and signed in. In the rider package was a couple of maps which show the rout for the entire trip and this week’s ride.
Well I have to run as rider meeting is about to start.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pre Ride Blather from Portland June 18 2010

Greetings from Portland:

Agnes and I are continuing to laze about in Portland. We arrived on Tuesday just in time for lunch, and since then it has been an orgy of eating. Needless to say I have not been out to run or do any kind of physical exercise of any kind. The weather has been kind of rainy so it has kept us in doors. Today was kind of the exception and we did go for a walk around and did some shopping.

Agnes and I are staying in my brother's condo which is in the Pearl District of Portland. This area is right beside the downtown and is a mixture of lofts, single family homes, apartments and more modern condos. Portland has saved a lot of the older buildings and it is a very interesting mix of architecture. There are a old Victorian Painted Lady homes, brick three story buildings from the 30'-40's and modern steel and glass buildings. This area has hundreds of great restaurants and interesting shops to explore. Powell's Books which was one of the largest book stores in the world (until Amazon came along) is only 5 blocks away. Powell's Books covers a city block and is 5 floors of books piled in 10 ft high shelf's with narrow alises. It is not true that I spent two hours looking a the over 600 books on Kama Sutra. I did however spend the best part of a full day in the store and did walk out with a huge arm full.

Today we wandered out between the rain squalls and visit some of the other interesting shops. We spent an hour looking in this used CD shop. It was huge I had never seen so many CD's. I found four Ramone albums and Ozzy's Bark At the Moon album. It was great. We also spent some time in a bike store which had great prices. I found a helmet for $15. It fits even better than the one I brought for the ride. My other one is red to match my bike so I may still wear it. Hey! You have to look fast especially when you aren't.

Tomorrow is the end of the lazing about, as we drive to Seattle for check in. Agnes drops me off and I am on my own for nine weeks. Oh my god what have I done. Who is going to look after me? Yes it is kind of scary, especially the first week which is all mountains and 605 miles.

Here are a couple of pictures from the drive down.

Let's Ride!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Pre-ride blather June 15

It was bright and sunny when we got up in Pasco this morning. We had taken a Best Western hotel and we had a great breakfast in the morning. Bacon, eggs, toast and fresh fruit. So we were on the road by 9:00. It was only a 4 hour drive down to Portland so were had an easy day.

I was really surprised at how windy it was in the Columbia River. The wind had whipped the river into a 4foot high chop. I guess I shouldn't be that surprised as the valley is totally lined with windmills. Driving into the wind was hard enough as the car only got about 15 mpg, I was glad I wasn't on my bike. The big rigs were having a tough time as well as you could see that the trailer were offset by a couple of feet. By time we got into Portland the sun was gone and had been replaced with a pounding rain.

Agnes and I meet my brother and his wife at their condo where we are staying for a couple of days.

Well enough blather for one day more tomorrow.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pre-ride Blather Monday June 15

Greetings :

Well here we are getting all set for the big ride of 2010. I am on my way down to Seattle to join up with Cycle America to join the Coast to Coast bicycle ride. First we are headed to Portland to spend a few days with my brother and then from Portland we are going to head off to the bike ride. This follows Earnie's Rule Number 1 of bike tours, which is "If you can get to the tour in two days by car do so."

When I heard that Cycle America was doing this ride back in 2009 I knew that this was a must do. So it seems like so long ago that the decision to go was made and now it is upon us. On some level it is a little daunting to be headed off on a 6500 kms bike ride which is going to take 63 days to complete. However all the training has been done and all the preparation is done. The first couple of weeks are the hardest. The getting use to the routine, and working the body into shape.

To day we got up early and drove from Calgary to Pasco in Washington. Agnes was of the opinion that everything would not fit in the car but it easily did so and we were off. Driving for 10 hours takes it toll and we hit the motel and crashed. However tomorrow is an easy day with only about 4 hours into Portland and so I get to sleep in.