Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Spokane-Everett Wrap Up

View Larger Map

Now that I've had a week to think about my ride and a few minutes not devoted to work stuff, I wanted to throw out a few thoughts on my ride last week.

The Plan

My original, (internal) goal was to get to Everett in two days. I wanted to get to Winthrop on Day 1 and Everett on Day 2.

The main reason I didn't make this was because I didn't read the maps carefully enough. Loup Loup pass was a big unexpected hill in the way that killed me at the end of Day 1 and pushed me out about 4 hours late into Day 2. The last time I rode Highway 20, I rode west-to-east, and cut south at Twisp, down the Methow valley to Brewster and Peteros, then Coulee to Highway 2. I didn't like Brewster/Peteros, so by avoiding those towns, I went north at Coulee on my west-east journey and that's how I made the Loup Loup mistake. Too much detail? Oh well. If you're still with me, that's lesson #1: look at maps and elevation better. I think I may have made it in two days if I went the Methow Valley way.

Why 3 days? Seems unfun and rushed.

True and False. I met my family at the end for a family vacation. I couldn't take more time and I wanted to ride 20 this year. It's hard to take the 5-6 days this trip should take at this point in my life. And if I had that kind of time to take a bike ride, I would do something more remote... as I did last year at Gifford Pinchot.

Also, I just wanted to get through the central Washington bit as fast as I could. Aside from the Coulee Dam, Omak Lake, and a few other sort of interesting views/landscapes, the flat/rolling monotonous riding of central Washington does not inspire me. Another plan I had was to blast through to Winthrop as fast as I could and if I decided to, I could take a full two days from Winthrop to Everett, to enjoy Highway 20 more. But once I got going, I really wanted to see how fast I could make it.

GPS elevation profile from east-to-west, based on route above.

Which direction is harder?

I think west-to-east is harder if you're just talking about the Rainy and Washington Pass part of the trip -- avoiding Loup Loup. Climbing the western approach to Rainy/Washington is about a 30 mile climb from Ross Lake. But if you are coming from Seattle, it's really a steady climb for about 70 miles.


With regard to hauling stuff, Kent has talked about comfort. I'm paraphrasing, but his advice makes sense: it's more comfortable to have a lighter load than it is to bring all the comforts of home on your trip. This is especially true if you ride a ton of miles. After Day 1, I could've slept wonderfully on the ridiculously thin coroplast/duct-taped wafer that Kent calls his sleeping pad.

I don't wear cycling shorts for this kind of ride for two reasons: Firstly, the funk factor. I wear thin REI sort of mesh poly undies and dry fast shorts. When I try wearing shorts/undies with a cycling chamois/pad, things just get too hot and humid. Secondly, I don't feel ok jumping in the water with bike shorts for the same moisture/funk reasons. I like to take advantage of rivers, lakes, streams, and waterfalls as I ride on hot days. I don't want to do a full change to submerge. That's probably the main reason. Since I never wear padded shorts, my butt is fine.

I compressed a nerve in my left hand on this trip. It's already clearing up, but it makes me think about changing hand positions more. I did wear cycling gloves.

Otherwise I was ok. I had a wee bit of stiffness/soreness in the back and neck region, but I think that's to be expected when you spend that much time on your bike. I had about 6 ibuprofen every day to keep inflammation at bay. That always helps.


As the Walmartification of small town America is pretty much complete, you tend to rely more on convenience stores for food. I think most convenience stores are stocked by the same one or two companies, since they all have the same crap in them. Fresh fruit is limited. Luckily, central Washington has a bunch of orchards, so cherries, apricots and frozen cider was abundant. I really wanted cold watermelon when I hit Okanogan, but there was no longer a local grocer there, so I had a green banana, salty craker/cheese turds, and a bunch of frozen fruit bars from a convenience store before I climbed Loup Loup.

All up

I'm not into endurance riding. I like long rides and I'll do long days again, but not stacked on top of each other like that. What I like about this experience though is that it proves to me that my radius for S24O's is larger than I thought. I could see doing up to 75 miles out for an over nighter. I know a really cool place on the Columbia River that's about that far away that I could leave around noon for and be back by noon the next day.


Pat S said...

Killer journey, killer post. You have me all fired up.

Anonymous said...

I am very jealous of your trip!

P.S. here is a cure for those hand, neck and shoulder issues. :-)

Anonymous said...

AARGH! I thought Luke's link would be to a hot Swedish masseuse, but it's a shameless plug for one of them sit down bikes!

Apertome said...

Looks like a great trip. You sure covered a lot of ground in a short period of time ... very impressive. And I'm glad you had fun even if it was a little more rushed than usual.

Pavel Nosov said...

Wow man, you are very encouraging and I really appreciate you taking the time to write down your thoughts and recollections of what you would do differently if you did this again. I am planning on doing a 3 day trip in your foot steps this summer :D

John Speare said...

Paval -- thanks for the nice words. Have a great ride. Report back!

Pavel Nosov said...

Well, man, I just spent 30 minutes recollecting and composing a well thought out report for you, just to have my dummy iphone erase it all after I tried publishing it. Im crushed, just as this phone will be in a matter of days - I can assure you of this. I did the ride, and Ill do it again too if I have to. No regrets. Thanks for all your help and advice. Hope to run into you on the dark side (Spokane).