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!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Missing the Mark; and Hitting It

Thursday, June 21
Spokane to Kellogg, Idaho

One of the things I learned about this bicycle touring thing is that you need to be able to follow the marks, the yellow arrows painted on the road by the routers. Sure, there was the Route Sheet, but it had 20 or 30 separate instructions and I do not have a photographic memory. I’d look at it, try to anticipate the route, but it was finding those arrows that was the real key to success. Missing one was a recipe for, well, an unexpected adventure. Just ask Roy. He missed a turn at Coeur D’Alene Lake and ended up in Plummer, Idaho. The picnic stop was in Harrison. Harrison is not too near Plummer. But, all’s well that ends well. Roy actually became a celebrity in Plummer. The tribal police force took him in, arranged for a lunch, took pictures with him and gave him a departmental shoulder patch. And, Carol went and got him back on track for the remainder of the ride.

Today we cross the state line and work our way to Kellogg, Idaho. And we had a decision to make right away. The food services at Gonzaga were prepared to have our breakfast ready at 7:30 a.m. This was halfway through the morning! Bill suggests and I agree that we will leave early and get our own breakfast. We stick to this plan even after an agreement is negotiated to have the breakfast ready at 6:30. So, around 6, we take off. Somewhere in southeastern Spokane, we pull into a bakery and have breakfast with good, strong coffee, fruit and pastry. Bill had quiche. Isn’t there something about “REAL men…?”

Then, we head out on our third straight long ride. It isn’t long before we get out of town and into a valley where we meet, head on, a stiff wind. This is not looking good at all. We struggle on and, to my relief, the wind dies down a bit. Out in open country, we ride along again on rolling hills under a generally clear sky. Once, out of nowhere, I feel rain drops. There are no clouds nearby, so I surmise that this is rain that has blown in from Seattle. It does not last long and we ride on. After the first water stop, we come to a collection of signs on the side of the road…”Idaho State Line” and “Entering Coeur D’Alene Indian Reservation.” Yet another milestone.

We push on, past the Casino and along a fairly busy highway. I’m still feeling pretty good, pedaling along, watching the tenths click off on my computer. In the groove, I guess. Then I hear something behind me. I look in my mirror and see Bill pumping furiously, calling to me, “Jack, you missed the mark!” I’d been ahead of him for a while and when I went past the turn, he had to find the extra gear to get close enough to hail me down. He said later that he had called several times and if I hadn’t noticed him this time, he’d have let me go. Wonder where I would have ended up?

Back on track, we negotiate about six miles of rollers that seem to get progressively higher as we go. Then, we turn and start a descent, now in a thick forest. We bump over the first of two cattle guards marked on the route sheet. This one surprises us and our passing is at high speed. Thankfully, it is a smooth “crossing.” A few more turns and suddenly we are treated to a magnificent view of Coeur D’Alene Lake below us. It is an absolutely breathtaking sight.

We wind our way down the road and at lake level, get on the wide paved bike path that will take us the remaining 48 miles to Kellogg. This is a “Rails to Trails” project and soon after we get onto the path, we cross a picturesque railroad bridge. The path is very cleverly stepped on the climb to the high point and again on the other side, the descent for us.

The path winds around the lake and we slow down, take in the wildflowers, trees, and panoramic views across the water. It is a great ride. We are soon in Harrison, having lunch at a small city park looking out over the lake. There is an espresso bar across the street, and I look forward to a midday coffee after lunch. It was, alas, not to be. When I went over, I found the shop to be closed. Oh, well. And, it was off again to finish the ride to Kellogg.

The general idea was to ride an easy pace through this beautiful countryside. I went out at a comfortable pace and soon found myself far ahead of Bill and Craig. Looking at the computer, I see I’m going along at a 22 mph clip. We stop at one point to photograph a young moose just off the side of the trail. Bill says, “This isn’t a time trial.” I reply, “I know. But, I have never, ever felt this good on a bike.” I just have to go. And go. I’m enjoying the view; I don’t feel like I’m working hard; I’m just going. It was an amazing, and heretofore never experienced sensation.

I go on, clicking off the miles. At about ten miles from Kellogg, I began to realize that Neil and Kimmarie, who were at the lunch stop when we left, had not passed me yet. I was on track to be first to arrive at the school in Kellogg. I tell myself that this is not important. Just enjoy the ride. But at five miles out, I finally decided I want to be the first in. If I am, I know, it is only because Neil and Kimmarie took a really long lunch. Still, I was now set on getting in ahead of the rest of the tour. I had slowed down a bit, settling into what seemed to be a very easy pace, but still making good time. Then, a surprise.

As I entered Kellogg I looked in my mirror and saw Bill and Craig, very close and closing. As I said earlier, this ride was in general not a competition for me. But at this particular point, it was. For the next mile, anyway. So, I stood up and picked up my speed. I heard Bill holler, “Jack…” but on the now fairly narrow and winding bike path, he had to fall back. He said later that he was going to say as he went past, “Don’t mess with the peloton.” But, surprisingly, I still had some legs left and sprinted to the end of the bike path. Just a few blocks from the school now, we rode in together.

There’s no explaining why I felt so good, all the way to the end of today’s 96.4 mile leg. Nor can I explain how it felt. It was just a really good feeling.

As I’ve said, there was much to learn about riding. Bill tells me as we are setting up our tents that the first in buys. I’m sure he isn’t just making up the rules as we go…

Today’s ride ~ 96.4 miles
Trip total ~ 445.1 miles
Ride time today ~ 5 hours 51 minutes

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