And on the 7th day…

We don’t yet rest. Seven days, 602 miles. Tomorrow we rest. Today, on the other hand, we ride 99 miles.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Today is the first day of Co-op Camp Sierra. This is a camp that was started in 1939 – that makes this the 80th year of Co-op Camp. Camp Sierra itself has been here a few years longer.

Camp Sierra
From Campsierra.org (For a week each year, we used to mount another log center top that said “Co-op”. It was carved by the same person who carved the originals.)

My introduction to camp came in 1985. I had a new job (Maintenance Director of Twin Pines Co-operative Community) and they sent me to camp to network and hobnob with my fellow wizards. Little did I know it would lead to an annual job for several years and a place I’d later bring my whole family.

You’d probably call me the Administrative Assistant to the Camp Manager. She called me img_0009her Mom. It was my job to make sure she got to all of her meetings on time and to drag her rolling suitcase around on the trails, as well as help plan and run the educational programs. For this, her kids later rewarded me with one of my most precious possessions.

Co-op camp was officially a place for people from the California co-ops to gather for continuing education in a mountain setting. It was and is much more.

potholesJPGIt also has the best swimming hole around, miles of hiking trails in national forests, nearby Sequoia groves, and possibly the biggest tie dye project ever. (Camp photos from coopcamp.com) Lodging is in either your own tent or a camp cabin.cabintiedyeJPGWhile I didn’t bring the “grandmother” mug on this trip, tomorrow morning I will raise my cup on our first day of rest, in solidarity with my old friends at camp, who will be raising their cups on one of the cabin porches. I haven’t been back since 2006. Someday…

But what about today’s ride?

Oh yeah. The rain lasted all night but stopped by morning. The day started chilly, with fog/low-lying clouds. We packed up wet with one of the riders humming circus music. We are kinda like a traveling circus, rolling into town, setting up our tents, and leaving in the morning. We don’t provide much of a show.

We started flat and easy, retracing our steps from yesterday. The road started to tilt upward and the sun came out so we shed some clothes. We rode up and over Thompson Pass, with a gradually increasing slope, to 10% for the last mile. At the summit we crossed into Montana and Mountain Daylight Time.

A fast downhill seemed to go on forever and, as the road flattened out, a tailwind pushed us along. Only a little over 4 hours in the saddle today.

Tomorrow is another 100+ mile day over busy highway to Missoula. Then comes our day of rest.

I can’t upload photos from my current location. I should have better luck in Missoula. It’s past my bedtime anyway, and a wall of dark clouds is closing in.

Idaho

Here we are, in Idaho.

I can’t think of Idaho (or U. Utah Phillips) without thinking of Rosalie Sorrels. Rosalie was a folksinger from Boise. My favorite song of hers is actually a cover of a Shel Silverstein song.

03 You’re Always Welcome At Our House 1.m4a

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Rosalie Sorrels. Rick Ardinger/Courtesy of Red House Records (from the NPR link below)

Rosalie’s dark humor extends beyond Shel Silverstein’s songs. She also recorded a set of “Hostile Baby Rocking Songs”, the songs she sang to her children when she was at her wits end. She is not well-represented on YouTube, and the album “be careful, there’s a baby in the house” appears to be out of print. (I found it on Amazon for $182.27. It is available for loan from my local public library.)  For those who find these songs offensive, remember that singing hostile songs and abusing children are very different. I work with children who are victims of what the medical field refers to as “non-accidental trauma”. I do not consider that funny.

02 Baby Rocking Medley.m4a

As an aside, I want to put in a plug for public libraries. The library is one of the greatest public services government provides. I am happy to pay taxes to support libraries. I find it ironic that the “Little Free Library” movement has caught on so heavily in my hometown, as we have a phenomenal public library system. (Guess what? It’s free! And it’s not so little.) My kids got library cards when they were very young and we made weekly trips to the library – on Monday – early release day from school and my day off. We got to know the staff, some of whom are still there 20+ years later. I still go almost every Monday, even without the kids. When my daughter (now a college graduate and newly-minted Social Worker) visited from college, we always went to the library on Monday.

If money is burning a hole in your pocket and  you can’t think of who to donate to, think about your local public library foundation.

The good news about today’s ride is that the forecast, which was an 85% chance of thunderstorms last night, was amended to a 35% chance of showers by this morning. The bad news is that the rain beat those new odds.

As we left Spokane, it was getting darker. Figuring on safety in numbers I headed out with a group – the folks who usually finish near the same time I do, so I thought they’d ride a comfortable pace.

By the outskirts it was raining hard enough that I was getting chilly. I stopped to don raingear and lost the group. I started to work my way back toward them until the headwind convinced me of my folly. I slowed down and waited for some other folks to catch me to help with the wind.

My flat tire brought the end of my time with that group. As luck would have it, the sag wagon showed up within a minute, so I had company while I changed tubes, and someone to hold my bike so I didn’t have to lay it down. They convinced me to take another spare tube (I still had one left, plus a patch kit), as about 50 miles of today’s route would be inaccessible to the sag wagon.

I started out again and caught on with another small group. When I stopped for a bathroom break and to change out of my raingear, I lost them. I figured I’d be riding alone for the day, thinking no one was behind me anymore.

33219AE1-73F9-46EC-9E45-669FB70B40CF.jpegAt the Idaho state line I caught someone. at the lunch break I caught up with the folks I’d started with. By that time we were on the most  incredible bike path I’ve ever seen – a paved path which skirted the shore of lake Couer d’Alene, then followed along its backwaters and the river that feeds it. We had a tailwind for the last 20 flat miles.

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Bike bridge over Lake Couer d’ Alene. (It rises and falls in steps, not a smooth incline.)

Along the path we saw a moose and her calf, then about a half dozen Great Blue Herons. All were camera shy, so no photos.

It’s hard to call 94 miles a rest day but, compared to the two before and the one to follow, it was.

There were two crashes today. One rider came to dinner in a shoulder immobilizer after a crash on the path. A shout out to Steve from Rochester for staying with him until help came.

Tomorrow we cross Thompson Pass into Montana. 10% grade near the summit. Time for sleep.

Battening down the hatches – a thunderstorm is coming any minute now. (8:30 PM my time.)

Summer Solstice

Today is the first day of summer, the longest day(light) of the year. The solstice arrived here in Spokane while I was asleep. To honor the day, here is “Summer” from Astor Piazzolla’s “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” (not to be confused with Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”, but I don’t think you’ll confuse the two). It was recorded in Trondheim, Norway, where sunset last night was 11:38 PM and sunrise today was 3:02 AM.

The midnight sun, courtesy of visitnorway.com:

Midnight-sun-Lofoten-122015-99-0004_be9c3c94-8b38-46b6-8d0d-261d1ee4c57bSummer from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” was on the first program of MAYCO in June of 2011, featuring Suzanne Beia on violin.

Day 4 (5 by Cycle America’s count): We’ve arrived in Spokane and are staying in a dorm at Gonzaga University. Between yesterday and today we’ve ridden just a hair under 200 miles. I haven’t ridden mountains in 25 years, but I do remember two essential lessons about mountain riding:

1. Don’t worry about the top, it will be there when you get there;

2. Keep your feet moving in circles and all will be well.

As always, keep the rubber side down. I prefer mountains to headwinds. While both require work, you can see progress climbing a mountain. The vegetation changes, the mountain changes. You can look back and see where you’ve been. Headwinds on the flats lack all of that.

Everything is fine, except that my feet are on fire. I just spent 20 minutes soaking them in the coldest water I could find; some ice cubes would come in handy about now.

We started the day at the base of Grand Coulee Dam (if you want facts & figures, or pictures, Google it). A couple of miles up a 10% grade made us earn our breakfast. Local folks told me the first 20 miles would be the toughest. On-the-road selfie #2 is from the summit. (Look! He’s smiling!)

After miles of wheat fields, no trees or buildings in sight, we came upon this house: That’s a copper roof, either very new or sealed to keep it from weathering.

Tomorrow brings a new adventure – 85% chance of thunderstorms for much of the day as we ride 95 miles and cross the border into Idaho.