Day 5 (2)

Whew! I just did another 60 miles, putting my total around 220. I’m staying at (I don’t know how else to describe it) a trailer park in Cathlamet. It was cheap, had a hot shower, and it’s the last stop before I take a ferry across to Oregon, where I’ll have barely 30 miles till Astoria. I’m planning to stop there and did the hostel, and hopefully do some laundry.

Today I had a few especially long hills; one looked like this, and it seemed to keep going forever:

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When I got to the top, I saw Mt St Helens!

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As I was standing by the side of the road, a couple of old timers in a pickup pulled over to ask if I was broken down. I thanked them, and let them know I was just taking pictures.

They took a look, and the one guy said, “You can’t see the top of it.” I really wasn’t sure if he was joking, or if the clouds were that low.

After descending to the river, I saw craploads and craploads of blackberries. Imagine 5,000 times this:

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I also passed through this tiny little town that have me the opportunity to stand on the bank of the Columbia river and yell “Stella!!!”

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(we make bad jokes after too long pedaling in the sun, they can’t all be hilarious)

Also interesting, there were these fences that looked like they came out of Jurassic Park, along the road following the Columbia river.

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I didn’t have a great way to give scale, but the big link at the top right was substantially thicker than my thumb. There were a few spots that rocks had fallen and dented out the fence. I’m sure they don’t fall often, but I didn’t stick around to find out!

That’s all for now, hopefully I’ll be posting a picture of the Goonies house tomorrow.

Day 5- on toward the coast

This morning I got started around 8, and was fiddling with some buttons on the bike computer that accidentally reset the whole thing to zero. I was at 161 miles, after doing 27 the first day, and not doing much on day 3 when the bike was broken. I guess I’m making good time- I didn’t realize that yesterday I really did some miles!

I had the time and energy to take some fun pictures with my dslr in the state park, and I grabbed a few duplicates with my phone so that I can share before I get back.

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There were some gigantic slugs here. I put a quarter next to it to show scale.

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I also found a neat millipede.

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And a snail! I think I got some good ones of this guy.

On my ride I came across this sign- I don’t know what it is but I’m interested!

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There are definitely a lot of wild blackberries around here, and this bush looked a lot like blueberries. I wasn’t going to risk it since I don’t know them as well as blackberries or raspberries. What do you think?

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Finally, this barn.

Time to finish my club sandwich and see how close I can get to Astoria!

Day 4- Camping!

I made it the 60-some miles from Elma to the Lewis and Clark state park, now I am having some dinner. I got some rain dumped on me and had some hills at the end of the day, so I was a little ambivalent about the last few miles. I’m feeling a little better here, hanging out under the big shelter here and eating turkey tetrazzini out of a pouch. Nice and hot!

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The camp stove worked perfectly. I also had a pound of rainier cherries (for half the price I normally see them!) And a bottle of the local brew, Dick’s.

I must say, I’m a fan of Dick’s.

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Day 3- Improvization

One piece of knowledge that I’ve picked up, though I can’t verify that it’s true, is that once you break a spoke you’re likely to break more. You might think that’s obvious- if you were doing something that broke one spoke, you’re probably still doing that thing. Actually, as I understand it the remaining spokes have to take up the work of the missing spoke, and get more stressed out, shortening their remaining life. If you’ve seen fatigue curves, it makes a lot of sense.

Since I don’t have time to have my wheel rebuilt, or feel like spending the money for that, or to get a stronger wheel, it looks like I will have to be just a little easier on it if I don’t want to be fixing spokes all the time for the rest of this trip.

With that in mind, I set out to move some pounds onto my front fork (and off the back). Here’s a picture of the general idea-

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I picked up some hose clamps, utility cord, and shelving brackets, and my wonderful hostel host was willing to let me have a couple of laundry detergent buckets. They even have lids!

I will try to get a good picture of the full compliment of plastic box panniers tomorrow. Also on the agenda tomorrow, biking to Centralia.

Side note- tonight another touring cyclist arrived at the hostel, and he’d seen one of my posts about this trip on Reddit.com. Small world!

Day 3- Olympia

I decided that the best way to go was to take the bus to Olympia to have my wheel trued up, spokes replaced, and to pick up the tools I’ll need to replace it on my own in case I run into more trouble.

After I dropped it off at The Bike Stand, I walked over to the Olympic Supply hardware store to see if I could improvise something to move a few pounds of supplies up front.

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I saw one of these- I’ve never seen this tool before (certainly not so large), but if the zombie apocalypse happens while I’m waiting for my bike, I’ll run back to pick one up.

Waiting…. Waiting….. Could be a little while for the bike, so I found a place called Kitzel’s deli, and got a bagel with lox and cream cheese. I had a request to keep posting my gastronomic encounters, and so here it is:

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The pickle was excellent.

Day Two (further misadventure)

So I didn’t really want to mention it since I know y’all probably worry too much, but when I was on route 3 I had a little bit of an accident. With all of the traffic and narrow roads, I saw a logging truck coming up behind me fast, and I wanted to give him as much room as possible. I thought I could get just an inch or two off of the shoulder, but no! That soft grass had some really soft dirt under it, and down I went- off the road, not into it! I scraped my knee a little, and I was mostly embarrassed about it. A car pulled over and a guy quickly asked if I was OK. My bike seemed good, and I knew I didn’t hurt myself badly, so I thanked him and went on my way. No big deal!

Anyway, I went on to Shelton for lunch, had a nice rest, and set off on the next 30 miles to Elma (where I am now). I went through some more of these clear cut areas, and all I could think was:

20120718-194348.jpgThe Lorax would shit himself!!

But it wasn’t all like that. I also saw some cool wildflowers. Anybody know what these are called? There were tons of them.

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Back to my mishap. If you’d been riding beside me for the next few miles, about ten miles outside of Elma, what you would have heard was, “PING…… Awe shit!.

That’s right, I broke a spoke. It turns out that I broke two spokes, the first one apparently happened when I took my fall, and the wheel was out of whack for 40 miles. It further turned out that although I had spare spokes, I had neglected to bring the spline required to remove my gears, so there wouldn’t have been a way to fit the new spoke into the hub. I tried, though, and I looked for a way to McGyver something, but it wasn’t happening. What I decided to do was to adjust my spoke tension to the best of my ability (such as it is), and try to ride gently for ten miles. I filled my daypack with heavy things from the panniers and lashed it to my handlebars, kept my speed low, never used the back brake, stood up a lot, and just did whatever I could think of to minimize the forces going through those spokes. It helped that the roads were quite flat and smooth, low in traffic, and free of bumps, and my efforts worked well enough that I made it to the hostel. The folks running it let me know that there’s a bus to Olympia that only costs $2 each way, and suggested a bike shop. My other option was to try to ride gingerly to Centralia, which didn’t sound as safe or fun as I’d like, and I think I will have better luck getting what I need in a bigger city with more bike shops. While I am there I will look for better options to keep weight up front.