The mother of all blog posts.
We’re not sure who has been throwing banana peels outside on the highway, but we believe the past 5 that we have passed have been symbolic of some of the obstacles we have faced since we left Seattle on Wednesday.
We left the Brown’s house, fresh and recovered from their great hospitality. Unfortunately, the Cascades were much less welcoming. We traveled along flat scenic bike paths from Mukilteo, WA to around North Bend, WA.
After snacking on some chips and getting into cooler riding gear, we started up the climbs of the Cascades.
After flawless directions all day, Google Maps made its first slip up. It left us with a decision: an interstate or a rock quarry. Our decision: the first banana peel, a 5-mile trek through a rock quarry.
After about a ½-mile ride on smooth gravel we came to steep mountains. We began dragging our bikes up several hundred feet of slippery gravel, rocks sliding out from our feet at our slowest pace yet.
After a 2-hour 2-mile summit of the quarry we came out onto a flat wilderness trail. Happy to be done with the climb, we continued on only to run into a black bear! Michael had never seen one before and was instantly startled. We didn’t have a camera as readily available as we should have, so you are going to have to take our word for it. We really saw a bear. It was awesome. Despite the awesomeness, we had to ride on and luckily we made it to a paved road soon. Last obstruction of the day, right? Not quite. The temperatures were low, the wind was blowing, and it began raining. We came to an overpass and sat underneath the I-90 (the alternative to the quarry) warming up while thinking of a plan. Jordan took the lead and headed us up an off-road path called Iron Horse Trail. Jordan slowly left the leadership role though as his body and mind began to give way. We rode for 10 miles while the rain turned to snow and the day turned to night. We found an avalanche prevention cover just as we ran out of energy. We set up our tent, ate our banana chips, dried apricots, and nuts and fell asleep. One of the hardest days we had done so far completed. Tired, Sore, Hungry, but completed.
We woke up in our tent with high hopes, the trail markers the previous night made it sound like we should be to breakfast in about and hour and a half.
Sadly, our hopes were ruined as we finished packing and saw the glacier ahead on the trail. Snow covered the trail from where we camped for the night, till out of view. We didn’t even get the chance to ride. Pushing our bikes through the snow like terribly designed sleds, the tires sank down between each shove and each step our feet sank through to the ground. Walking in Toms, Vans, and Bike shoes, none of us were even slightly prepared. Our feet quickly lost feeling as we dredged on. After 5 miles and 3 hours we came to the entrance to an old train tunnel. It had a chain-link fence with a master lock keeping animals and us out for the winter. Not ready to have our spirits crushed by the government, we bent the rules and lifted the bikes over and hopped the top ourselves. Three miles in the dark, cold tunnel, we biked on to another fence at the other end. Lifted, hopped, and took a break. We heard the I-90 just to our left. Heading over the hill we made it to the interstate and got to Cle Elum. We hadn’t known it, but had gained 3,000 feet in elevation between the quarry and the forest service road. At this point, we stopped into a home-style restaurant and devoured the biggest meal any of us three had ever eaten. No joke, a rack of beef ribs, a rack of pork ribs, and half a chicken with fries and potato salad. That wasn’t a community pile of food. That was per person. It had been our first full meal in over 24 hours. We sat, relaxed, digested, and attempted to recover. We then headed down a state highway where a car pulled over, and we met Oliver. Ah, Oliver. Our savior. Oliver had previously completed a trip from St. Augustine, FL to Austin, TX. He understood our pain, and offered us a place to Ellensburg, WA, just a few miles up the rode. Within an hour, a tailwind helped us to arrive in town. Oliver and his girlfriend, Annie, knew all the accommodations we would need. He gave us a hot shower, a hot meal, and a cold beer, and we were in paradise. After stuffing our faces, and exchanging stories of the road we went to an open mic night to enjoy some of Ellensburg’s nightlife. It had been one of the worst mornings, but one of the best nights of the trip thus far!
On day 5 we awoke to the awesome smell of bacon that Oliver had so graciously prepared for us. We needed a hardy breakfast for what was going to be a long day of cycling. We calculated that it was at least a hundred miles from Ellensburg to Lind, WA, and Oliver knew all too well that the best way to start a century ride was a hardy breakfast. Soon enough, our breakfast and NWA pump-up music put us in a mental state that was ready for the ride ahead. We thanked Oliver for his graciousness, snapped a few pictures and hit the road.
A few miles out of Ellensburg, we started to notice a massive elevation drop. At speeds unmatched previously on the trip, we cruised towards the infamous Colombia river. Our only experience with this river was while playing our favorite childhood video game “The Oregon Trail”, where the best way to get across the waterway was by hiring an Indian Guide. Forging the river almost always resulted in losing massive amounts of supplies and oxen from the wagon train. As we approached the I-90 bridge, we began to wonder how we were going to get across. The broad shoulder of the interstate withered away to a mere 6 inches on the Vantage bridge, and with 80 miles per hour traffic, we decided to look for a ride across. Eventually, we talked to a nice elderly couple at the gas station near Vantage who agreed to put on their hazard lights, and let us ride in front of them for the duration of the mile-long bridge.
Once on the other side of the Colombia, we climbed and climbed, gaining most of the elevation back that we enjoyed coasting down from Ellensburg. We took highway 26 to the town of Royal City, where we munched down on Captain Crunch and milk at the grocery store and prepared for the 50 miles left of our century ride. Next thing we knew, we were “plugged in” as they say. We were in a mental state of purity where we and the bikes were one. We rode past Potholes Reservoir State Park and even rode alongside a mule deer who was running parallel with us. Around mile 80, our bodies began to show signs of fatigue and by 85, we were crippled to a crawling pace. We decided that we were going to pull it together, and finish the landscape of rolling hills and wheat fields to our destination. We reached Lind at around 10 at night, cycling into the city’s center with the knowledge that we had just completed our first century ride. Absolutely exhausted, we pitched our tent in the local park, and slept like babies.
After potentially the most refreshing night of sleep one can possibly get in a public park, we woke to the sun shining, legs tired, and luckily, no children on the playground. We made a quick run to the local grocery store to pick up a snack and back onto the road we went. After a 20-mile ride into Ritzville, we were extremely disappointed to not find giant boxes of crackers everywhere. Get it? Ritz crackers? … Lol. What we did find was Jake’s Diner where we fueled up on hamburgers, sandwiches, and some small town charm. Took a quick detour through historic downtown Ritzville, and then we continued down the road, but this road was different. To our surprise, Eastern Washington is full of a lot of open space, which meant that we needed to entertain ourselves somehow. Of course what better way to entertain ourselves than by grabbing onto each others’ handlebars. And this is how the road became so much different than any other. As Mike grabbed onto Jordan’s handlebars, this “game” turned from boyish joking to a mess of bicycles, legs, and blood. Mike made it out of the crash unscathed. Jordan wasn’t quite so lucky. For those who are faint of heart, I would skip some of the pictures below. At the next gas station, Jordan patched his wounds and onward we rode. We took a quick pit stop for milkshakes in Sprague, WA, and then finished up the day’s ride in the less than exciting scenery of North-Eastern Washington. Lots of fields, a couple of tumbleweeds, and 40 miles from Sprague, we finally arrived in Spokane where we met up with Phil, Puffet, and Josh. They have hosted us for the last 2 days, and they have been incredible hosts! After numerous feasts, a tour of Spokane, and some motherly love on Jordan’s hand, we feel rested and ready to take on Idaho, Montana, and the inevitable banana peels lying ahead. Only 3600 miles to go…
Jordan’s Hand. Those who get sick easy, look away!
And After Clean Up: