Peace Train

Not bringing the sleeping bag was clearly a mistake. In the 40s last night and expected to be colder tonight. I may sleep in my winter tights; if I can get the tent dry. Rain in the forecast over the pass.

I woke up not feeling great. It had been cold all night and was cold in the morning. The day called for multiple layers and carrying a rain jacket. We started out of town retrograde for 7 miles, back to the same path we rode in on. There was an espresso stand after 2.7 miles and an excellent double shot cost $1.27. That and the sun coming out put me in better spirits.

Hitting the highway after 7 miles, I found The Dread Pirate Roberts and Hammerhead, two of the strongest riders in the group, riding at a doable pace. I joined on behind. We continued to pick up riders until we were 9. DPR dubbed us the Peace Train.

Some riders are strong on flat ground, some climb well, few do both. Th Dread Pirate Roberts led us out at 18-20 mph and could hold his line while shooting video.

I don’t often ride in pacelines, preferring to watch the scenery and stop and smell the roses. Not feeling well, I was willing to let others help me out and we covered the first 35 miles in 2 hours. That includes my 7 miles of moseying.

At 35 miles the road began to turn up. I stopped to remove a layer. After about 40 miles it started up in earnest. The final couple of miles were at a 10% grade until we topped out on Thompson Pass for a picnic. We saw a bit of snow at 3400 feet on the way up.

The layers went back on to eat and stayed on for the descent. We descended at 30-45 mph for several miles. As we lost elevation we gained temperature and the layers came back off. We passed through a stand of bear grass at about 3200 feet. As I was pedaling along at 30 mph and getting sick, I chose not to lose that momentum (and it was a lot of fun!) to take a picture. At the last water stop I latched on to another small group that pulled me along at 24 mph until I stopped for a picture.

The weather app was ridiculously wrong and I mean that in a good way. The sun was to come out at 8 PM but was out all day except for the climb, in order to keep us cool. In Thompson Falls it is borderline hot in the sun, chilly in the shade and when the wind comes up.

I stopped in town and the pharmacy had no COVID tests, saying that when they got them in they were gone in minutes so they stopped ordering them – not sure I follow that logic. They referred me to the County Public Health office. No one was there. I will see if Greg has tests. Two people have tested positive in the past two days, so I’m a bit concerned. On the other hand, if I test positive, I can say I climbed 4900 foot mountain pass with COVID-19.

Near Thompson Falls

Okay, so maybe it’s not so cold. Maybe it’s my fever. The Firesign Theatre clip should be your clue.

Headwinds, Highways, and Heaven

Three days, three centuries

After two days of being pushed by tailwinds, the wind gods must have decided we had a debt to pay. I thought we should have some credit after 2018.

We left Spokane in a headwind. After ten miles I wasn’t sure I could make it today. We turned onto a busy highway and I had to remind myself I’m doing this for fun. At mile 40 we turned onto a back road with rolling hills through beautiful forests and all was right with the world.

After five miles we turned into a state park, rolled down to Lake Coeur d’Alene and turned onto a paved bike path that would take us for the next 46 miles, crossing the lake on an odd stair step bridge (almost like a pump track) – I think there’s a photo in the 2018 post – and continuing along the river and through wetlands.

Bike path – water on both sides.
Our cue sheet said to look for moose at mile 59.3. This moose must not have read it, arriving 4 miles late.

Along the way we saw lots of bikes (e-bikes are popular here), moose, sandhill cranes, white pelicans, a turtle, and a dark green waterfowl with a swan neck.

I stopped on this bridge to look out over the river. Another rider arrived and asked if I was looking at anything special. I said, “Just this”, as I gestured at the scene above.

At mile 90 we crossed the river at a point where we had access. With feet in the cold water, heaven was now complete.

“Home” tonight was to be the Kellogg Middle School. Due to a last-minute change in plans, we were moved to the high school, which has the backdrop you see above. Due to the wide angle of the lens, it is not obvious that the mountain essentially rises from the back door. With the extra wandering about to find the high school, we were approaching 100 miles so I explored the town a bit just so I could ride back-to-back-to-back centuries – 312 miles in three days; and still two more days of riding before our first rest day.

P.S. Today’s espresso beat the heck out of yesterday’s.