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.

Day Two (2)

So I misinterpreted my map, and took the wrong road for about fifteen miles. Maybe twenty.

Anyway, I got to Shelton about 10:30 in the morning, having done more miles today than I did in any of my training rides. It turns out that highway number 3 isn’t the road that Adventure Cycling wanted me to take. I’m glad to see that now, since it had narrower shoulders and more high speed logging trucks than I’d prefer.

Much of the ride, before I figured out that 3 wasn’t right, was along this kind of scenery:

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There were signs up every five or ten miles advertising that this is a “working forest”, and saying what a good job this company (forget the name, but it had the word ‘green’ in it) is doing at managing the land.

Dude, it’s a tree farm. They clear-cut the whole area and planted a bunch of pines really close together at the same time. In the sections that were older, the trees were super straight, and had practically zero branches within 20 feet of the ground, and crappy little bits of undergrowth. This is not a good habitat for animals. This doesn’t do a good job of building good soil. If this reduces our need to take trees out of actual forests, great! Just don’t confuse anybody about what this tree farm is.

So now it’s time to eat some more, read for a bit, and get back on the road to Elma. For anyone thinking of doing this trip, Shelton seems like a fine place to stay. There are lots of little inns and motels, and plenty of cheap to expensive restaurants. I’m hanging out in a Dairy Queen right now, since it seemed like a good place to charge my phone and spend some time. I also ran across what looked to be a decent bottle shop with some fancy beers.

Day one (2)

I took the ferry over to Bremerton, which was kind of fun. The view of Seattle on the way out was great, and the ferry itself was really comfortable. It looked about like this-

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Here’s that view:

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And here’s the obligatory self portrait, “I’m on a boat!!!”

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And finally the ceremony of “setting the odometer to zero”!

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At the end of Day One, I made it to the Twanoh state park, and I slept next to the Twanoh creek, where I was soothed to sleep by the sound of water gurbling.

I had a nightmare, as sometimes happens when one camps alone and isn’t used to it. It’s silly, but I woke up to the exact sensation you have when a cat walks over your chest in the middle of the night- except this was a big furry raccoon, in my tent! When I discovered that my arms were unable to move to hurl it into the woods, and my vocal cords were not responding to shout it off, I realized that I was still more than half asleep, and it was just a dream.

Day one (1)

The first major event of the trip happened today! I left Gabe’s place at about 8, and went over to this place I’d seen but never tried- Biscuit Bitch.

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I ordered a plate of biscuits and gravy smothered in cheese and bacon, and when I reached for my wallet it wasn’t there! I immediately started unpacking my bags, thinking I must have put it someplace weird, and it wasn’t turning up anywhere. I was getting ready to call Gabe’s girlfriend, Dylan, on the chance that she was still at their place to see if I’d maybe left it there.

As I opened my phone, I saw a voicemail. It turns out that a young guy named Yvo had found my wallet on the ground less than a block from Gabe’s! I was so thankful- he reassured me that it still seemed to have everything in it, and he could bring it right over. He did, and it nothing was missing. What a nice guy! He didn’t even let me buy him a coffee or anything. But- I have a blog, so here’s a big shout out to Yvo!

Now I’m catching a ferry to Bremerton, and trying to camp at Twanoh state park. After that I hope to make it to the hostel in Elma. The first day ought to be a little shy of 30 miles, and the second a bit over 50. The map doesn’t look too hilly.

Day Zero

Time to upload my first round of pictures! After I got off the light rail in downtown Seattle, I needed to go to REI to get some fuel for my camp stove. It’s a good thing that I did, because my rear d√©railleur wasn’t shifting very smoothly. Two minutes on the bike stand and it was right as rain- I guess it was just a little bit out of whack after the flight.

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It’s hard to explain just how huge the Seattle REI is. Apparently it’s their flagship store. The central staircase is above; the place is three stories tall. Each floor is huge. There’s a climbing wall at least 30 feet high, a small mountain bike path, a simulated hiking trail for trying boots, and a million accessories. Other than my required fuel, I only picked up one extra piece of gear while I was there: a spork. I resisted the temptation to finally get that titanium spork that’s been calling to me for as long as that’s been a thing. Instead, I picked a simple plastic one with a knife edge. It should see me through many nights.

After REI I rode to another part of town and saw Twilight.

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Oh, did you think I meant a movie? No, it was a boat. There were historic wooden boats viewable from a park on the sound.

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The Virginia V is a wooden steamer from the 1920s, with a three stage expansion engine that took the boat to about 10 knots while doing 150 RPM. I didn’t get to see the guys or hear it run, but I imagine that the sound of it would be a little bit like those old time railroads that you hear in movies… Chug chug chug chug!

Later in the afternoon I walked over to the Pike Place Market to see if I could find any provisions that were tasty, local, and/or of good value, when I stumbled upon the “gum wall”-

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I don’t know if this is famous or what, but people have been sticking an awful lot of gum to this wall. It’s fairly nasty. Regardless, it is a thing. People stand in front of it for pictures, and they add their gum.

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America!!!!

So I made it over to the market and did find an excellent deal on cherries! Maybe it’s just that you can’t get them year round, but I think they’re one of my favorite fruits.

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Walking around I found more interesting things in the market. Example- fine herbs:

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Ham for $80 per pound (note to my parents- research this stuff with regards to your field of nut trees!!)

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Finally, I went to a less touristy store to find some real food for my first couple days out. These items cost about $3 each, and from left to right they contain about 1500, 1900, 1700, and 1200 calories. Per weight and per dollar, I think these are going to be good things to have in my bag.

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I’m paying attention to this now because it seems like most of the bike touring websites and blogs I’ve been to have had some focus on food in that light. It makes sense- I’m aiming to keep my budget in check, and I’ll need to keep my body fueled. Hopefully these do the trick!

And now, as I am about to become a real live bicycle tourer, I will go study my map to figure out where to camp tomorrow!

Constant updates (3)

I’ve successfully checked my bike and my box of bike stuff, and passed through security. It cost me $50 in excess baggage fees for the size of the box. That wasn’t totally unexpected (I read the SWA policy), but I’ve heard of people getting lucky and having bike boxes count as free when they really shouldn’t have.

Another nice thing was that security didn’t say a word about my juggling clubs. I’m glad I brought them; they should be a fun thing for when I’m tired of pedaling. I hear that you meet all kinds of fun and interesting people when you do these bike tours. Juggling on breaks should just add to the fun.

Still, I debated long and hard about bringing them on the road- they’re just dead weight that I’ll be carrying mile after mile, weight and space that I could use for food and water. They didn’t even fit into my checked boxes. When it occurred to me that I might not even be allowed to keep them, I nearly left them at home. There’s a joke here about how my bringing the juggling club influences my need to also bring condoms, but it’s 5:15 AM and I’m unable to write it funny.

Constant updates (2)

4 AM, I just got a taxi to the airport, Quick Cab, the only one that was OK with my large box. I have to give a shout out to Veterans Cab, though- they called all over to find this place, and it’s not the first time they’ve helped me out with an unconventional situation. It’s still before Southwest has somebody here to accept bags to check, so I’m just standing around with a boarding pass and my boxes.