Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bitterroot Loop and then some

Back in May I ran into Eric E at the Bike to Work Breakfast and he mentioned a ride he was going on in July. Something about going past the end of the Hiawatha Trail and riding on the old rail bed / forest roads in the area. That caught my attention.

He knew a guy named Duane who had been planning this for a year.  After a few more discussions, the plan was this: ride out from Spokane to the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene's in Plummer and do the Bitteroot Loop.  The Bitterroot Loop is a combination of the Trail of the Cd'A, the Northern Pacific Trail (Nor-Pac) and the Old Milwaukee Corridor: after the end of the paved Trail of the Cd'A at Mullan you climb up the dirt Nor Pac Trail to Lookout Pass; then from the ski area follow the Nor Pac down and up again to the Hiawatha Trail's East Portal Trailhead; at the bottom of the Hiawatha Pearson Trailhead follow the Old Milwaukee Corridor from Pearson to Avery, Calder, and St. Maries. The Milwaukee Corridor is the same old railroad bed as the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, and it was this part I was most interested in.

Duane, his brother Larry, Eric and I left Duane's house early Thursday morning and took Valley Chapel Rd out of town. I was pulling my BOB trailer, the others had their gear on racks and bags.  We planned to camp at Heyburn State Park on Chatcolet Lake, about 6 miles past the beginning of the Trail of the C'dA in Plummer.

We started out great, a beautiful day.  I hadn't ridden on Valley Chapel Rd before so this was a new treat for me.

Just missed getting a pic of two deer swimming across the creek

Duane and Larry

that would be Eric in his customary spot out front
Larry had an unfortunate fall from his bike outside of Worley, bruising his back, from which he never recovered fully.  We made it into Heyburn late afternoon.  

Evening on Chatcolet Lake, as seen from the picnic table
The next morning we stopped at the bridge on Chatcolet Lake and visited the Ospreys

3 moose at once
We stopped in Harrison and visited the bike shop there which also has an espresso stand.  They make a great cappucino!  At this point we decided to camp in Walace instead of near Lookout Pass.  However, the heat and pain was taking its toll, and  Larry wasn't able to continue past Cataldo, so we parted ways - Eric and I continued on to Wallace, Larry and Duane heading home.

We had a nice camping spot at Wallace RV Park and got dinner at the brewpub there.  Next morning as I started out, I felt resistance on my pedal and then something snapped - my derailleur hanger busted,  the BOB axle was bent and the derailleur cage was bent. I'm not sure what happened - I was in a higher gear than usual but hadn't had a problem pulling the trailer before. I was done for.  I didn't want to make my wife haul up another bike for me, and I wasn't sure which bike at home would work, didn't want to make Eric wait. I called and left a message for Debbie to pick me up.  Eric headed up the trail alone.

Well I must've sounded pretty pathetic, so my Debbie texted me back and said there's gotta be a bike she could bring me that would work.  The blue Redline already had a Topeak rack on it, I had new Ortlieb bags that I didn't know if they fit, but we also had the Topeak bags.  She drove to Wallace in record time.

I think I'll break here and fill in the rest of the trip another post.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

the Wileydog 55+ at 55

So originally the plan was get some friends and/or family and/or strangers together and ride 55 miles for my 55th birthday in July.  I scouted out a course by Williams Lake to the JWPT and planned on revisiting it, but that went by the wayside.  An alternate plan for the ride was to start out from home and take some paved/dirt/gravel roads and make a loop of it.

Still thinking about those rides, but I did go on a birthday ride.  Like usual I didn't plan anything and I overdid it.

I woke up the Saturday (July 6th) before the big day feeling good and said shoot a mile! I better take advantage of this.  Debbie suggested heading out from home to the Fish Lake/Columbia Plateau Trails to the Martin Road Trailhead.  The more I thought about it the more it made sense.  I could just head out 27 plus miles, keep going or turn around and I'd get'r done.  No driving involved. With a bike camping trip coming up, I needed to get out and see if I could do 50-80 miles a day.  Plus, I haven't ridden the section between Amber Lake and Martin Road, so I could knock that off if I felt like it.

Looking very serious as the occasion warranted:

I left the house around 8 and rode out to the Spokane Trailhead of the Fish Lake Trail, took it out to Fish Lake Trailhead (including probably the tempting forbidden section), then Cheney Trailhead, continued on the unpaved Columbia Plateau Trail through the Turnbull Wildlife Refuge, and stopped at the Amber Lake trailhead.  At this point I was comfortably past 27 miles so I knew I could turn around and make my goal.  But I hadn't ridden the section between Amber Lake and Martin Road before. So, onward.  Turns out from my home to Martin Road trailhead is just shy of 40 miles.  Like usual I was running low on water and rations.

By now, I was getting tired of riding the Vaya on the rocky Plateau trail.  Thirsty and hungry, I'd even gotten a little delirious and started thinking what I need is another bike, like a Fargo, or custom version, to handle rockier trails.  Let's see, how am I going to finance this? Sell the mountain bike and misc. household goods?  Wait, don't I have a fatbike?

Back to reality, I debated how to ride back and thought it'd be nice to ride on pavement at least part of the way back.  I wasn't really looking forward to riding back through the refuge again, either, as it's not really that interesting of a ride. To me, at least.  It's just so straight, like the railroad it used to be.

I was tempted to ride to Klink's Resort on Williams Lake and meet my wife there for lunch and get a ride home, but professional honor prevented me from doing that. I thought of taking paved roads back to Cheney and then hit the FLT again, but wasn't sure if that would actually take longer than plowing through the CPT.  So I stuck with what I knew and returned the way I came.

I ended up riding close to 80 miles.  Not sure exactly as I forgot to turn the Garmin back on after a couple stops.  I did find out I think I'm ready for a little bikepacking trip.  We're riding from Spokane to Heyburn State Park, then on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene's, up to Lookout Pass on the Nor-Pac Trail, to the Hiawatha Trail and then back on some dirt/Forest roads which might actually be part of the Milwaukee Corridor.  I'll find out and report back.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pasela TG's don't flat again

I'd gotten a couple flats on the Pasela Tourguards that are on my blue Redline shortly after I got them.   It bummed me out because I really like how the tires ride.  Last week my wife came back from a ride and reported she pulled a tack out of one and didn't flat. Maybe the tires just needed to age a bit. Or maybe she is on better terms with the Almighty Flat gods than I am.  I looked down at the truck tire and there was a nail sticking out of the sidewall.  She'd picked it up in a parking lot somehow,  and made it home safely.

I've been riding the Redline to work the last few days as my Vaya is in the shop for a pre-long-ride tuneup.  I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

Monday, July 8, 2013

the Right Hook to Java

Some intersections get their own name, and this one at Ash & Boone is called the Right Hook to Java.

There's a busy coffee stand on the right just after the intersection.  I know a biking guy who a few years ago was bumped by a blue mini-van heading into the driveway to the stand.  The van suddenly slowed down in front of him and turned, knocking him off his bike.  Shook him up a bit, but no injuries.

So I'm usually careful here and try not to pass cars on the right while they're stopped at the light.  Instead I stop behind them, over to the right.  If traffic is moving slowly through the intersection, I don't pass them.  There's plenty of room on the right, but there's always that last second right turner to watch out for.  I've learned to time the light now so I usually don't hit the red.  (Another tactic is to get to the front and be ready to hit the gas when the light turns green.)

Because of this incident, at busy intersections I stop behind the car in front of me instead of snaking up to the right of a line of cars stopped at a light.  I'm not totally against filtering, but I don't do it much anymore.

I was reminded why last week at Broadway and Monroe.  I was stopped behind a couple cars when a cyclist passed me on the right.  Neither of the cars had their turn signals on and the biker was about to pass them also.  Suddenly, he slammed on his brakes, flipping his rear wheel out.  Yep, one of the drivers turned unexpectedly and cut in front of him.

So I'm especially wary of the last second right turners. And blue mini-vans.