Our day started at 5:45. Stuff in the trucks by 6:15, breakfast at 6:30, then on the road. We rode to a park and boat landing in beautiful Mukilteo to dip our rear tires in the Pacific, per tradition. Per my own brand-new tradition, I scooped up a vial of Pacific Ocean and sealed it with candle wax. I plan to break the seal and pour it into the Atlantic in 9 weeks.
Fifteen miles later we were back where we started, proving this is the scenic, not the fast, route. Greg told us last night the route used to be >5000 miles; they’ve shortened it.
We rode gorgeous back roads in perfect weather until our lunch stop, which came at 10 for me and I was hungry!
At 10:30 we rolled through the town of Startup. While I thought this was where all of the Silicon Valley start-ups originated, it turned out to be where we start up the mountains to Stevens Pass.
We rode US Highway 2. For you young whippersnappers, before the advent of the Interstate, this was the main northern east-west route across the US. I-94 replaced it. US-2 is a two lane road and the shoulders disappear at every bridge. Cars whiz by at 60 mph, with the guard rail right at the white line in places.
I paced myself for the first half of the day, to be sure I didn’t head out too fast in my excitement. That stretch of 2 gave me little choice. I made anaerobic sprints across the bridges. A short tunnel (with no shoulder) came with no traffic behind me, so that went well.
We are now in the town of Skykomish. We’re told the entire town is a Superfund site. This is where the Burlington Northern trains stop to take on extra locomotives to get them over the pass. Apparently they dumped and/or leaked excess diesel fuel into the ground here for many years and if you dug a hole it would fill with diesel. Greg says every building in town (except the high school where we’re staying) was moved, the top 30 feet of soil removed and replaced, and the buildings put back. A pumping system was installed under the school to clean it out. The field where my tent is pitched is supposed to be new fill.
Tomorrow morning we go up and over Stevens Pass. Short and steep, then a long downhill.
Addendum: I went for a walk, found “The Whistling Post”, and had a beer. I met these folks and promised they would appear here if they let me take their picture. They, in turn, will follow this blog. They tell me we’ll climb 3100 feet in our first 19 miles tomorrow.
The consensus from the people I met was that we were nuts to ride the stretch we did today.