Monday, June 30, 2014

The Road to the Real West

Originally Posted June 29, 2004 by Chad

wash pass descent.JPG
Yesterday we crossed Washington Pass (elev. 5400 ft) in North Cascades National Park and entered the arid west. Wallace Stegner called it the real west, and I agree with him. The smell of sagebrush and the haze of distant wildfires welcomed me home as we came down from the mountains. We made it all the way to Twisp, WA, 98 miles from where we started in Marblemount on the west side of the mountains. Today we’ll rest a bit while it’s hot out and then try to get over Loup Loup Pass (elev. 4020 ft) and maybe to Omak this evening.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

7% Grade

Originally Posted June 29, 2004 by Mags

7% GRADE FOR THE NEXT 7 MILES. What a lovely yellow highway sign. We have just crossed Washington Pass and are now officially on the eastern side of the Cascades- downhill finally! 35 miles of feet-numbing, heat imploding pedaling from Newhalem to Washington Pass. I broke down at Rainy Pass and had to refuel on some Annie’s parmesan mac n’ cheese. One word of advice- never, ever, ever drink “cleansing” laxative tea before climbing a mountain. But now that we’ve made it the view is tremendously beautiful- the car driving tourists are also impressed by glacier-gouged Liberty Bell and Early Winters valley but since we’ve worked so hard to get here- the view is an accomplishment- not just a desultory stop along a pleasant afternoon drive. We’ve driven this route before but on a bike it’s such a different experience- besides all the pain and drudgery involved with the pedaling there are also rewards- cold air soaks you as you pass a mountain stream, time to study the pattern of snow wrapped around the base of a peak, the smell of fir and pine, feeling the tilt and contours of the ground. Speaking of the pain- for the last 10 miles before the pass my legs have been churning but were just going through the motion- there was absolutely no power left- I think Chad’s horse legs are what pulled us through.

wash pass.JPG

Original Comments
It was fun to read your reports - what a great adventure. We look forward to watching your progress from our easy seats in the office - and grateful to share the adventure with you (and without pedaling ourselves). It was great to see Carl and Melanie, Aaron and Valerie and baby at the Crowther reunion and hear about you. Saw your graduation pictures too. Congratulations on much hard work for both of you.
Good luck - may it all be downhill to Heber.

Posted by Kris Harris at July 13, 2004 03:59 PM

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Great Start

Originally Posted June 28, 2004 by Chad

We hadn’t gone 15 miles after baptizing our bike in the ocean before our first fall. In fact, we were still within Seattle’s city limits. Our right front pannier bounced off its rack when we went over a tree root. It started dragging and spinning on the ground next to the wheel while I tried to slow down and keep it out of the spokes. I was successful in stopping but in the chaos of it all Mags forgot that she needed to twist out of her new clipless pedals. So when we stopped I stood up and she and the bike just flopped over. The whole thing was a little embarrassing.

The day did get better from there. In Snohomish, WA we met Tom, a retiree from Boeing and a fellow cycling fanatic. He pulled over to the side of the road and asked us if we were looking for a place to camp. He told us that he had 2 acres in Machias that we were welcome to stay on. The directions he gave us were a little confusing, but we eventually found the place. He had about 30 bikes, two sailboats and a tent trailer. He said we could sleep in one of the sailboats if we wanted. We opted for the grass in the back instead.
Tom, Pepe and Sherpa were great hosts.

In the morning Tom fed us giant bowls of oatmeal, pastries and fruit. We played with his dogs and even shot his bow and arrow. We didn’t kill anything, but I think we may have lost an arrow. As we were leaving, I told Tom that if the rest of the people we met along our way were half as nice as he had been, then we were going to have a great trip. It is refreshing to know that there are still great people like Tom in this world.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin

Originally Posted June 27, 2004 by Chad

We’re off! This morning we said goodbye to Seattle, our apartment and the best neighbor anybody ever had. Karen made us a breakfast of omelets, strawberries and muffins; in fact she fed us nearly every meal this week. Around noon we exchanged emotional hugs and said our goodbyes. Then we pointed our bike west, yes west, to Golden Gardens Park in Seattle. We ate tuna sandwiches that Karen had packed for us, and then dipped our tire into the Pacific Ocean long enough to take this picture, and that was that. There was no fanfare, no crowd to cheer us on; just Mags and me, hitting the road on a beautiful sunny day. Cheers!

Original Comments

We all know that Chad would not feel a bicycle trip across the nation would be "official" unless he dipped a tire in the Pacific Ocean!
Posted by Woody at June 28, 2004 10:10 PM
Chad's mom (Grandma 2 Wheeler) wonders if the tire in the ocean was the blessing or the baptism of the new baby.
Posted by shirley at June 29, 2004 01:01 PM

Hey, we were cheering for you just like we did in the stadium at graduation. You just didn't hear us. How about posting the route stops? We love looking at our maps.
Posted by Melanie at June 30, 2004 08:46 AM

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Enjoy Your Weekend?

When last we spoke, I was spinning my wheels in a dead end job, working for a spineless government agency and looking forward to my next long weekend. Since then I’ve relocated to the world’s premier mountain biking destination, taken a corporate job and spend nearly every weekend in Moab. I feel like I’m finally in the driver’s seat on the road that is my life. Perhaps a better metaphor here is that it is my hands on the handlebars controlling my ride through life.

Speaking of weekends, today is Thursday. The weekend is two days away for most of us, or a whole weekend away. Sure I’m looking forward to it, but I’m also just coming down from the rush of an early morning ride on some desert singletrack, and am looking forward to floating the Grand River this afternoon. Tomorrow I’ll ride my road bike to work on what could possibly be the most beautiful commute route in the world. So yeah, the weekend is around the corner, but I’m not waiting for it with baited breath. On the other hand, one of my colleagues just ended a telephone call with me by saying “Enjoy your weekend”.

“Thanks, you too.” I said, but what I was thinking was “Really, that’s two days away? Is there nothing between now and then you’ve got to look forward to?” I hung up the phone and smiled. Then breathed a sigh of relief and gave thanks for being where I am, for being the owner of the hands on my handlebars.

Speaking of having my hands on handlebars, this summer is the tenth anniversary of Margaret's and my tandem ride across the USA. We kept a blog that summer documenting our trip, and to commemorate what is still my greatest moment on a bike, I’m going to reblog every entry on the anniversary it was originally posted. So come back to this new blog often and follow along as Mags and I relive our trip.  In the meantime, enjoy your weekend.  And everything else too.