Friday, June 29, 2007

Day 4--"Harrington Time"

In response to road construction on the highway out of Odessa, our ride leaders put together a quick detour. It turns out that the road less traveled was a very pleasant, rolling ribbon through the Palouse wheat country (lower picture). After 20 miles, the side road took us into the hamlet of Harrington, WA (population 400). Three of us (Minnesota Vern, Bainbridge Andy, and I) wanted to pick-up a sandwich for lunch, so we found the "Harrington Haus" on the main drag--the only food spot in town.

We were soon greeted with a big smile by the proprietor, also named "Vern." I asked Proprietor Vern what kind of sandwiches he had. He rattled off "hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and ham." I asked him if he had any turkey sandwiches. He thought a moment, said "sure", grabbed a $20 bill from behind the bar, and said "I'll be right back." I looked out the front door and saw Vern heading down the street toward the little grocery two blocks away. I soon realized that we had transcended into the fifth dimension of "Harrington Time."

Meanwhile, a lean, hungry man walked into the bar, looked around, and asked us in loud voice, "Where's Vern?" I responded that he went to the store to get some turkey. The man then asked "Why?" I replied that we ordered some turkey sandwiches. The man glared at us and proclaimed that he made $32 per hour and didn't have time to be waiting for Vern to be shopping for turkey. He needed a hamburger and wanted it now. He then sat down with the three of us and we had a chat of sorts. The man asked us where we were headed. We told him Washington, DC, on a bike ride for the American Lung Association. At some point he then mentioned that he was a smoker, and proud of it. I noticed a pack of Marlboros in his pocket. He then berated the voters of Washington State for their stupid decision to outlaw smoking in bars. We smiled and were very good listeners.

Vern then came back with a bag, presumably with the turkey in it. At that point we met Pam, his lovely wife. She made our friend his hamburger and Vern worked on our sandwiches. All told, what was to be a quick stop turned into an hour-plus. But, had we not stopped and been drawn into Harrington Time, we wouldn't have met Vern, a wonderful guy who just wanted his customers to be happy (top picture with me); experienced Pam's warm hospitality; nor met the $32 Marlboro Man who was just trying to get his burger, get back to his truck, and get on with life.

We got on with the rest of the ride, caught a magnificent tailwind that swept us up a long, gradual grade at blazing speeds (up to 15 uphill mph) to the outskirts of Spokane--where gravity took over and sent us down into the Spokane Valley. We capped the day's 81 mile ride at Gonzaga University for the evening, and had Friday off. Betsy met me at the Holiday Inn Express downtown and I lapsed back into civilization for 30 hours. It was wonderful seeing her and taking a day off from P,B, &J and Gatorade.

Tomorrow morning we leave Washington State for our second state--Idaho.

More later,


Day 3--Who's Ephrata Virginia Woolf?

After a hearty breakfast at the Golden Harvest restaurant in Vantage, we were under way again at around 7am. First up on the agenda was back on I-90 and a scoot over the Columbia River Bridge--unlike the previous I-90 mileage, this bridge has a one-foot shoulder for bikes. I played Woody Guthrie's song over and over in my mind as I "rolled on" across the Columbia. Even with the semi's whizzing by, it was still quite a thrill. To their credit, the traffic, particularly trucks gave us a wide berth. The thrill was short lived as we began a ten mile climb up the gorge toward George. One of my ridemates, Vern from Minnesota, and I (lower picture) were able to visit the bust of George Washington that has been strategically and respectfully placed next to driveway of the Union 76 station.

Until now the temps have been in the 80's. We stopped for fresh cherries and were having a good old time rolling along through metropolitan Ephrata, until--we hit the long stretch of rock and sagebrush between Ephrata and Odessa. Between the rock walls, we estimated temperatures to be in the mid 90's. But, of course, it was a dry heat. Not Fun.

We concluded our 85 mile day at the evening's camp spot on the field next to Odessa High School (top picture). The H.S. cafeteria staff made us some wonderful lasagna for dinner that evening. Somehow I don't remember high school food being that good.

More to come,


Day 2--Roll on Columbia, Roll On

We left Lake Easton State Park Tuesday morning and briefly continued our descent on I-90. After three miles we left the freeway and began a mostly downhill tour through Cle Elum (stopped at a great bakery) followed by a gorgeous run, still downhill, along the Yakima River. Great fun. Things leveled off in Ellensburg where a small group of us (lower picture) made a lunch stop at a picturesque gas station across from the McDonalds.

From there, the anti-gravity and anti-wind angels took the afternoon off. Over the next 40 miles, we slogged uphill and into the teeth of a 30 knot headwind between Ellensburg and Vantage. Not fun. The angels then came off their break in late afternoon and enabled us to fly downhill for the last seven miles toward the mighty Columbia and a campround in Vantage, capping a 75 mile day. The Campground overlooked the River and the next morning's challenges.

More to come,


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Big Ride Has Begun!--Day 1, June 25

The Big Across America has begun! Betsy, Eddie, and Becca, and several hundred of our closest friends, joined in the sendoff at the Stan Sayres Hydro Pits on Lake Washington in Seattle. Friend Mike Bergman came by, as did radio and TV media.

We loaded the gear truck at around 7am, and then joined in a group presentation of a check for $350,000 from this year's riders to the American Lung Association. A huge thank you to my generous sponsors whose contributions were a big part of the check!!! These funds will support the tremendous ALAW programs that promote lung health, do research to fight lung disease, and advocate for clean air policies.

We got on the road by 8:00am. The day's ride took us along the I-90 bike path, over the Sammamish Plateau, and over Snoqualmie Pass to Lake Easton State Park. We rode 79 miles, of which 25 miles were on I-90 itself.

The ride went smoothly. The weather was perfect for riding--high 60s to low 70s. There were 2 difficult climbs--up to the Plateau and up to the Pass But the biggest challenge was dodging the road debris in the bike lane (aka shoulder). Pieces of glass, rusty bolts, and various and sundry car and truck parts on the shoulder were chewing up bike tires--many teammates had one, some two, flat tires. I managed to escape that fate...for now.

We set up camp at Lake Easton and were served dinner by last year's riders. We got a good night's rest to begin to take on Eastern Washington on Tuesday.

All in all, a fantastic start. More to come.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lots of Real Cows and a Fake One

I just completed the last piece of my training with 102 miles in the Flying Wheels Summer Century. It was a beautiful ride through the Snoqualmie and Snohomish Valleys. I saw lots of cows, some contented, some angry. While riding past the Nestle Co. Center near Carnation, I even saw a fake cow. Well it was actually a monument to a cow with a long name and a tribute to 'her distinguished service to mankind.' Maybe this was a cow that Nestle genetically engineered to give chocolate milk. I got out of there Quik. One has lots to think about on a long ride.

Temps were in the 60's with a pleasant breeze and low humidity--just like it will be in the midwest and east in July and August.

Thank you all for your continued incredible support--we leave Seattle for DC in one week!!

Till later,


Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Training Continues--& Techno Bike Facts

The training continues. On June 13, I passed my 2007 goal of 1,500 training miles before the "Big Ride" begins on June 25--just completed an enjoyable (flat) 65-mile ride with fellow Big-Rider (and Bainbridge neighbor) Andy Kosick from Downtown Seattle to Marymoor Park in Redmond via the Burke-Gilman & Sammamish River Trails. We dined at the Marymoor Park Subway, then moseyed on down to the Red Hook Brewery for some very important liquid carbo-loading--critical training fuel!

In a recent blog comment, one reader asked if I could provide a rundown on my bicycle and equipment for the "technogeeks" among my supporters. Well, for starters I get chainrings and cassettes mixed up, and don't know much difference between a bottom bracket and a headset--but here goes.

First, my bike (the black and white one) is pictured leaning against the picnic table above. It is a Raleigh Cadent 3.0 that I received in a trade for my income tax refund check last year. The link below will give you the basic specs on the bike at the time of purchase last year.

This spring, I have added some major bike upgrades for the Big Ride, including: a new cassette (the one on the rear wheel?) with a 32-tooth "granny" gear--mountain bike gearing for those long, steep climbs. I've ridden with it for about 400 miles now. It's like spinning in heaven on steep hills--real knee savers. I also upgraded the stock brakes to Shimano 105's. I figured stopping well may come in handy every once in a while. I also put on some new, heavier-duty wheels (Velocity), as well as some beefier tires (Rubino Pro Tech Kevlar), for those rough, debris-strewn roads out there in rural (and urban) America. A special note of appreciation to Tom Clune and his team at the Bainbridge Island Cycle Shop (BI-Cycle). Fortunately for me, they really know what they are doing and have been a major supporter of mine in helping me getting the bike ready.

Well that's about as bike-geeky as I can get. Oh yes, I have two water bottle holders designed by Floyd Landis. It's billed as providing that "special ummph" when you need it, with a money-back guarantee if you don't pass the drug test.

As mentioned in my most recent posting, my next (and last) major training effort before "the Ride" is this coming weekend--the Flying Wheels Summer Century in Redmond, WA.

On the fundraising side, I just surpassed $10,000 in pledges thanks to you, my fantastic sponsors!!! Your very generous contributions to ALAW will continue to advance lung health and clean air in the Northwest and across the nation. Thank you, thank you.

For those who would like to be a sponsor, it is still not too late--just click on the link below.

Thanks for checking in. I will continue to keep you posted. Till later,

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Two Weeks Till Showtime--Another loop around the Rock...

Only two weeks before we leave Seattle for points East! I took another 50-mile training ride today around Bainbridge Island. It was sunny, around 65, and very windy...headwinds are good practice (I kept reminding myself) for those howlers across the Great Plains. Upon finishing a banana break I was treated to a sail-by of the ferry Walla Walla on its way to Bremerton...or was it the ferry Bremerton on its way to Walla Walla...

One last big training ride next weekend. It's the Flying Wheels Summer Century in the Redmond WA area. I will be content if my wheels are rolling--I'm not sure about the 'flying' part.

Thanks for stopping by...more to come.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Welcome to the First Post: Training...What a concept!

To my dear family and friends--sponsors, supporters, and curious web surfers who stumbled on to this page by mistake,

This is the first official posting of "Marty's Ride Across America" Blog. My modest attempt at periodic, irregular reports from the front, as the American Lung Association of Washington (ALAW) "Big Ride" Team travels by bicycle from Seattle to Washington, DC. We will leave Seattle June 25 (less than three weeks from today), and, 3,300 miles and 48 days later, arrive in DC.

I've learned from past long bike riding efforts that good training is not only useful in achieving challenging physical goals--it also preempts alot of pain that is otherwise experienced as a result of my usual magical thinking. Being the pain-averse person that I am, I have logged over 1,400 miles since declaring my insanity in January. About 66% of my miles have been around Bainbridge Island on both an organized ride (the Chilly Hilly) and my own solo disorganized jaunts. The remainder have been a combination of solo rides around Central Puget Sound and Whatcom County, and a variety of organized events such as the McClinchy Mile (Arlington/Granite Falls, WA); Yakima Ridges (Yakima, WA); Ride Around Clark County (Vancouver, WA); Olympic Cycling Classic (Port Angeles/Sequim, WA); and the 7 Hills of Kirkland (Kirkland/Redmond, WA).

Climatic conditions have ranged from snow and freezing rain in the mid 30's to sunny and warm in the mid 80's. Terrain has been flat, hilly, and in between.

All in all, I am energized and ready (I will soon find out how "ready" I am) for the ride's start on June 25! I plan to update this blog as frequently as I can. Please check it about once a week (but don't get discouraged if it hasn't changed since the last time you checked--I may have been chased off course by a confused buffalo in Wyoming--and need a few days to get back into stride). I will also try to send a group e-mail alert when there is an update to the blog.

Many thanks to all of you for your tremendous outpouring of support and encouragement (both moral and financial)--that will keep me going toward the finish line on those days when my recurring mantra will be "what the hell was I thinking?" More importantly, you are supporting the great work of ALAW for clean air and lung health for all of us.
For those of you who would still like to be a sponsor, it's not too late. Please click on the link below and follow the easy steps.

Thanks for stopping by. More later....