Moving On

The original purpose behind The Fourteen Percent Ride has long since been fulfilled. So, I've decided that Mighty Proud will be the last posting. It just seems right.

But, don't worry. Or maybe you should. In any event, I plan to continue. I'll keep riding. And writing. Click here to come along in my new blog ~ The Long White Line. <-- check it out!


As I've ridden for the last two years, I've picked up on the fact that Shirley, my darling wife, has been more worried about my safety than impressed with my "accomplishments." How do I know this? Well, when I'd come back and tell her, for example, that I'd hit 53.6 mph going down FO, she'd reply, "I don't want to hear it." Being the sensitive sort I figured out, after many such comments, that just maybe we were not on the same page here. But last week, she told me that she would "greatly reduce her focus on the 'fear for my safety' issue." We talked about the tour, looked at some maps, researched nutrition suggestions on the internet, and so on, just enjoying the idea of the ride. How nice is that? Thank you, Shirley!

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Long One (Ride and Posting!)

Tuesday, June 19
Wenatchee to Electric City

What is the most common form of road kill out here? By my count, it is the bungee snake. Usually found hanging on to tarpaulins covering cargo on car tops, truck beds or trailers, you see them all over the shoulders. I guess they can only hang on for just so long and then have to give it up. You do see a lot more of the thin, multi-colored ones than the more sturdy black genus of this family of fauna. Natural selection at work.

Today was to be the first long ride on the Washington plains. Which it was. After the 7 mile, 6% climb 24 miles out of Wenatchee. It is a ride on the HIGH plains. A detail not explained until last night’s route briefing. But again, the climb is not so terribly difficult and is much different from yesterdays. Now we are pedaling up a dry valley. Lots of rocks, not too much vegetation. It is warm, but early enough to not be really hot. The road winds around the valley walls with great views down and then up on the other side. I catch up to Carol (Cycle America tour leader) part way up. She has a skull hanging from her handlebars. Not one of our riders, but what we decide later is probably a pronghorn.

After the climb the road drops back down into Waterville, the first quarter-point water station. I Gatorade up as the next 18 miles is described on the route sheet as “Rolling hills. Scarce shade. No Services." And that is a pretty good description. It was interesting and again much different from the last two days where we had tall forests, mountains and roiling rivers. Along one stretch I saw a number of dust devils. Most were small whirlwinds, but one larger one seemed to have aspirations of becoming a tornado. A mini-van had stopped on the side of the road and a young boy was videotaping this dance of dust in the empty field.

My chain came off as I downshifted to go up on the one of the many rollers. It went back on easily, but a few minutes later I picked up a piece of wire which became stuck in my rear derailleur. It was a pretty hefty wire and I was beginning to wonder if I could get it out. As I was fooling around with this, I could see our Penske luggage truck approaching. I decided to flag it down (you raise your hand in the air and make a fist to ask for assistance) to see if they had some wire cutters. But I was too late and they did not see the signal. However, it only took a few more seconds of maneuvering the wire before it dropped out. These two events were to be the only mechanical issues I had on the entire 620 mile ride. Not a single flat, broken cable. Nothing. I never, ever expected that.

After lunch we come quickly to a four mile descent. A Grand Canyonesque hole in the high plains. A spectacular ride down into a valley that looked to have been carved by eons of rushing water, but which was now bone dry.

Being a hole such as it was, you can probably guess what comes next. A four mile climb. That’s what the route sheet said. However, after climbing out of the canyon, the road rolled along, with each "up" being higher than the preceding "down," so it was net climbing for many miles. The road finally levels off and I am riding again in the high plains. These long, relatively flat sections were some of the harder parts of the ride. A big part of that was mental, as you ride for an hour, look around and nothing has changed. The only real sign of progress is the mileage reading on your computer.

About 15 miles of this and I come up on another descent, this time into Coulee City, the second water stop. There is a lake up ahead, trapped behind Chief Joseph dam. Dropping down to lake level, the road goes across a low earthen embankment called Dry Falls dam. I think, “So this is where all of the dry that fills the canyons comes from.” The route sheet had BEACH! Noted at the water stop which was in a community park. The geese in the area apparently knew about the beach too. It was best to not walk too close to the water. I do not think anyone took a dip before heading out for the last 26 miles of the ride.

Leaving Coulee City, the route turns off onto Washington Highway 155, the road to Grand Coulee dam. Soon, I am riding along Banks Lake, the water to my left and towering rock cliffs on the right. The road is flat, the wind is pushing and I had recovered a bit at the water stop. This was good riding. Even the 2 mile climb that came out of nowhere wasn’t a problem. And it was followed by a two mile descent on the other side.

At 2:30 p.m., after 99.4 miles, I pull into Sunbanks Resort and Campground, just outside of Electric City, having ridden just over 7 hours, the longest day of riding for the entire week. Bill has already found a good campsite up against the trees. He procures refreshment while I shower. A long, interesting ride.

Today’s ride ~ 99.4 miles
Trip total ~ 254.3 miles
Ride time today ~ 7 hours 9 minutes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is amazing that one can always learn something, like "Gatorade" being a verb! Awesome ride, but glad it's you and Bill.