Here are pictures of my support team at Julio’s Bike Store packing up my bike. You will notice that they put blue tape on the bike to identify where my adjustments were set. Makes it easier for the store in WA to reassemble to my settings. You might also notice some extra screws on the floor. I probably will find out where those belong, once I start speeding down a Mountain in the Rockies!
My plan had been to ride two long rides this past weekend as I try to build strength for the trip. But as the weekend approached, I realized I had a million things to do before I leave . So then I rationalized that a better strategy would be to ride short rides and taper my training and save my energy for the real trip. The head games begin!
I also shipped out my panniers. I trained with 40lbs of rocks and towels in my bags figuring the actual gear would weigh a lot less. Well, I loaded up my panniers with my real supplies and it weighed 35 lbs. Not much savings, but at least lighter!
My flight out to Seattle is early Sun morning. I plan to start daily posts then. Don’t forget, if you are seeing this on Facebook or just receiving an email, you need to hit the link to the actual website if you want the full effect.
My family at Levitt-Fuirst surprised me with a Bon Voyage celebration yesterday. It was a very intellectual crowd. The cake read “Festina Lente” which translates to oxymoron “make haste slowly”. And Louise, the only employee that has been here longer than me, loaned me her 1962 edition of John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley”. I read a section of the book to the group. That section concluded with “we do not take a trip, a trip takes us”.
I’m on my 7am flight to Seattle and realize there is no turning back now. Well, maybe that isn’t really accurate because in reality, the first thing I am going to do is turn around and head East. But my adventure has begun.
I have been trying to identify the emotions I am feeling, and it is hard to describe. yesterday I told Sue that I feel like I felt 32 years ago when I headed to Freshmen year in college. You spend years preparing for something that you have no idea what it will be like. You are anxious of whether you will succeed and you can’t wait for it to get going. Everyone is wishing you well and asking you the same repetitive questions. You have spent months buying items you think you will need and you hope you remember to pack the right ones. Bottom line…..you are as ready as you ever will be, and if you are not fully prepared, well you will find a way to make it work!
I did have one “interesting” experience on the plane. I have been saving some of my recent fascinating insurance periodicals to read on this flight. And typically, as I read, I rip out articles that I want to share with people in my office. But as I started to tear out the first piece, I realized, what am I going to do with the paper? I am sure not going to carry it around for two months! So I guess I will just have to remember what I read and share it with my team when I return. I know they will be losing a lot of sleep waiting in anticipation for this information!
My blog security has been loosen so you should no longer have to log in to web site to leave comments. And if you are having trouble signing up for automatic updates from kensbikeride.com it could be because the first time you tried to register on my blog, you might not have responded to the email confirmation request that screens out spam. If you want help, email Jwitt@levittfuirst.com
After 4 forms of transportation I have made it to my starting pt.
The route I am taking is called the Northern Tier and it starts in Anacortes WA. This is supposed to be the western most part of the lower 48 in the northern part of the country. Three months ago I googled bike shops in Anacortes and found Skagit Cycle. When I explained to the women on the phone that I was wondering if I could ship my bike to their shop because I was going to attempt to cycle the Northern Tier, her response was ” what do you mean ATTEMPT it, you are going to do it!” I proceeded to spend the next 30 min getting a motivational speech from Bernie and a couple of good pointers. It turns out that I had lucked into the unofficial bike shop for Northern Tier cyclists. They get about 50 requests a year for people heading east in June and July. And in Aug and Sept they pack up bikes to ship home for cyclists that started in Bar Harbor Maine and finish in WA. Here I am with my bike reassembled
The “tradition”is to ceremonially dip your rear tire into the Pacific Ocean and the when you reach the other side of the country you dip your front wheel in the Atlantic.
Well the problem I have is that it is too beautiful here and I think I am just going to stay.
Forecast for today is rain, but my route should be a relatively easy 60 miles towards the cascade Mtns
One of the things I looked forward to on this journey is eating at the local eateries and learning about regional specialties.
Anacortes WA to MarbleMount WA
8 1/2 hours travel time
6 hrs saddle time
A couple of interesting experiences for day 1
First, most of you know that I am a stereotypical type A personality. So if I need to get from point A to point B, I’m going to find the most direct expeditious route. And my cycling friends know I don’t enjoy zig and zag routes. I like to just follow a road and get into the zen of riding without having to figure out where to turn next. However, I’m using maps from Adventure Cyclists, a non profit I have subscribed to on and off since the 80s. Their routes take you on the more scenic, safe, less congested roads. So this morning, 10 miles into my ride I had a choice to make. Stay on rte 20 for the whole ride or follow the Adventure Cycling map. I decided that this adventure is not about getting to the end, but enjoying the ride along the way. So next thing I know I’m on some meandering beautiful bike path through farm country. Probably added a few miles to my trip, but well worth the views
Second thing that happened is that my phone and GPS started acting up. My phone is in a Lifeproof Case to keep out the rain, but somehow the water impacted the screen and everything went funky. So I pulled out the adventure Cycling paper maps and went old school
Third thing for day 1 was that a kid, right out of the movie Deliverence pulls up next to me on his bike. I ask him directions to the nearest place to grab lunch and he offers to bike with me to his recommended burger joint , Cascade Burgers. No, he didn’t take me through the woods, it was just a mile on the main road in the direction I was going anyway. But then it gets it really weird. 4 motor cycle riders come in to restaurant. Clean cut guys, not bearded gang like (not that there is anything wrong with that). They end up sitting at the table next to me. I’m listening to their conversation and it is all about different stock trading platforms and various arbitrage strategies! They even were comparing hotels in Asia. I’m in the middle of nowhere and I might as well have been in midtown! The world is getting flatter!
As you can see by the picture (below)of the sign that greeted me and by the picture of the map, these next few days are going to be fun. Also if you look at the map on the right side of my blog you can see where I am and notice all the green stuff I am about to hit. I plan to climb Washington Pass today, the first speed bump! 5,477 feet – I can’t wait for the descent.
I’m going to try to make it to the town of Winthrop because they have two bike stores and I need to buy a back up tire. I discovered a slow leak in my front tire when I was a few miles from my destination on day 1. I was able to pump enough air into it to get me to the destination. I replaced the tube but the new tube would not inflate. I then tried another tube and it wouldn’t inflate. The first thing you do when you have a flat is run your finger on the inside of the wheel and tire to see if there is a foreign object stuck in the tire. Well there was, I had missed it when I first looked. With the help of my host, we pulled out a small piece of glass We put some tape over the hole (on the inside of the tire) but I should have a professional look at it.
I don’t know if I will have cell service going thru the cascades mountains so there might not be updates for a while.
I basically have three options: camping, motels, or Warm Showers. WS is a web site that allows cyclists to find people (usually fellow cyclists) that will allow you to stay on their property for the night. The range of services can vary from allowing you sleep in their barn to welcoming you into their home. Since the Pacific NW has been pretty rainy I have decided not to camp out yet. Also part of the fun is meeting new people so I have avoided motels for the first two nights
Night one I stayed with Alfred Currier, a successful artist who also use to own a bike store. There is a picture below I took in his zen garden with him and his niece. He allows WS guests to stay in the loft over his art studio which also has its own shower and kitchen. Al hosts people almost very other night because Anacortes is the starting point of the Northern Tier and for people going down the west coast. He not only filled me with knowledge about what lay ahead for me, but he also made me a pizza and beer dinner! There is a picture below of how he decorated the trailer he uses to go to art shows
Last night was a crazier night. Rob Klengler states on the WS site that he is the last stop before the next town 80 miles ahead. You pull into his driveway which is off a dirt road that is off another dirt road. I did start to question my decision. But then i arrived at these beautiful gardens and this unique little home and I felt safe. Rob gave me a tour of his complex which include the outhouse, the greenhouse where we had dinner with his partner, and the trailer where I slept. The trailer is in the garage structure that includes a banner of Rob hanging from it! Rob was a computer tech at Xerox where he invented the very successful 200 pages a minute double sided copier in the 80s.
I usually get on the road early, especially considering the ride I have ahead of me today. But last night Rob insisted that it is too cold to ride first thing in the morning and that he traditional makes German pancakes for his WS guests. Rob has biked the Northern Tour and knows how important carbo loading is. And considering there are no stops for the next 80 miles, I will sleep in and eat his pancakes!
Marble-mount WA to Winthrop WA
Travel time 11 hrs
saddle time 8 hrs
Elevation game 8,514
Today was the hardest day I have ever had cycling. I think the most I’ve climbed in a day was 7,500 ft but that was up and down hills. This was straight up a mtn. I made it to about 15 miles from the peak of Washington pass and I was almost out of water. I saw an RV parked on side of the road and knocked on their door. Not only did this family give me water, but they gave me a banana, a pear, and 20 mins of gab time for me to catch my breathe. But my legs were shot. I kept snacking on Sue’s chocolate granola bars she made me, and drinking water, but my tank was empty. I would bike a mile and stop. Then I started biking half miles and stopping. Then 100 yards and stopping. I would stop at anyone parked on the side of the road and talk to them as an excuse to try to gain motivation. But after 7.5 hrs I made the 58 miles to the summit
At the summit I was met by an animal that symbolized my journey (pics to come later). It was cold at the top and my ride down would be even colder. I quickly got out of all my wet sweaty clothes and put on anything I had that was dry. This included my only pair of long pants, which I taped the pant legs so they wouldn’t get caught in my gears. I put on my winter gloves. And I even shoved my towel down my shirt for additional warmth. Then after making myself a tuna in pita sandwich, I headed down the mtn.
This was an amazing ride. It is not like what you see in Europe where there are lots of switchbacks and turns. This was a LONG, relatively straight ride down. You could have kept your eyes closed (not recommended). I averaged 30 mph for the first 15 miles (Bruce Wolfe would not be happy). I stopped at the first town ,Mazama, for a quick snack. Bumped into a bunch of people that had just started hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (Canada to Mexico). I then rode a mostly downhill ride to Winthrop. So the 30 mile trip down took me two hours, including a 30 min rest stop!
In Winthrop, I am staying with another WarmShowers couple, Tom and Carolyn Sullivan. While my friend Goose recommend a very nice hotel in town, I’m sure it didn’t come with a bed in the basement, free laundry, free wifi, free dinner ( chef salad, rice, and fruit salad, all delicious!)
If you look at yesterday ‘s blog and check out the map, you will see I have to climb a steeper hill tomorrow to 4,020 feet. But tomorrow I’m starting at 2,000 ft where today I was pretty much at zero
Thank you to everyone that are leaving messages on my blog. They are very motivating to me. Don’t expect me to respond to them, I’m just too exhausted.
There is picture below of a tunnel I had to cycle thru while climbing the mtn. Since the tunnel isn’t lighted and bikers don’t have headlights, there is a button to push when a cyclists approaches the tunnel which turns on warning lights to tell drivers that there is a cyclist in the tunnel to aim at!
Because no one would see the evidence!