Group Rides

Join us for evening indoor training rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30pm at the Recycle Bicycle Shop in downtown Ellensburg.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Short tour - Day 3: Potholes State Park to Yakima

Since the campground wasn't heavily populated last night and I was tired after riding in the heat I fell asleep quickly to the sounds of fish jumping in the lake, crickets chirping in the grass and birds singing in the trees. I slept considerably better than the night before and was awoken around 5:00 am to the choir of birds chattering. Knowing it was going to be a very long day so I got up and started packing up camp. By 5:15 am the first fisherman had already driven by to put his boat in the water and head out for the day and this started the procession of fishing boats out on the lake.

This was an agressive day of riding and the temperatures were supposed to hit close to 90 degrees F by mid-day. I was scheduled to ride to Yakima, WA which was almost 120 miles away. A friend was planning on riding out during my approach to town and "escort" me back.

I was on the road by 6:15 am and had to back track about 8 miles from the night before as I headed west. I turned onto Frenchman Hill Rd again and was welcomed by the very low vehicle count. There are definite benefits to routes like this such as good safety because of the lack of cars. The downside is you do not see many people and even go miles without decent options to re-fill water bottles.

I was quickly bothered by an infuriating squeak coming from the rear derailleur. It had gotten embarassingly loud and the only way I could seem to get it to quiet down was to ride in the big (48t) chain ring and the 24t rear ring ...... for two plus hours. Fortunately the road was very flat. I assumed it was the chain drying out and, conveniently, I had forgotten my chain lube. Just before getting to a nasty climb I decided to pull into an orchard farm and see if they had an oil cannister I could use for the chain. Nobody answered even though the doors to the shop were open. As I turned around to head back to the road I heard a bark and turned to see a monstrous Rottweiler running my way. It appeared he wanted to take a chunk out of my leg. A couple of quick shouts and an acceleration and I was gone and he fortunately didn't follow me onto the pavement.

The climb was the start of the portion of the ride on Beverly-Burke Rd which turned out to be one of the smoothest asphalt pavements I had the entire trip. After cresting the hill I was welcomed by the expanse views of the Saddle Mountains leading to the Columbia River - my destination. I crossed Hwy 26 after some nice coasting on a long downhill and continued down to the river. At one point I saw a large sprinkler line soaking the road, looked both ways, and rode underneath it to get a quick refreshing "shower" and cool off.
Highway 243 along the would be a really nice ride if it were not for the chip seal covering - a layer of hot tar put over the asphalt and then 5/8" chunks of gravel rolled into it. The cars wear it down pretty well but the shoulders were rough. Thankfully I had a steel frame bike (absorbs the bumps well) and Specialized Armadillo tires so the only thing I noticed was the increased rolling resistance and a little slower speed. I was pleasantly surprised when the little fruit stand I have visited before was open and had fresh Bing cherries for sale. This made for a very happy cyclist since cherries are one of my favorite fruits.

Arriving in Mattawa a little after 10 am and with the temperatures quickly rising I stopped by a tire store and got some oil for my chain hoping it would fix the chirping. Then it was up the hill to Harvest Foods for a turkey sandwich, pina colada ice cream bar, Gatorade and more water. Had a nice conversation with a gentlemen driving a sweet late 1970's Ford Bronco. If you can't tell I like Fords and especially old ones.
I had another 55-60 miles to go and with a rest area about 15 miles up the road I knew I needed to be as hydrated as possible. After that rest area it was 40 miles of dry, open range land wih nary a place to stop or to find shade. I struggled up the last climb off the river on Highway 24 and tried to get into a rhythm as I fought the heat. I had done a couple of 100 mile rides last year but not on a loaded touring bike and was definitely struggling.

About 25 miles from Yakima I was passed by a rental motor home that suddenly pulled over to take photos of an old abandoned house. I thought I had recognized the motor home and as I passed it was confirmed. It was a young family that was at the campground with me the night before. I turned around and introduced myself. They were a couple from Munich, Germany on holiday for four weeks and touring around the state. It was a nice, refreshing conversation.

I finally arrived at Moxee - completely worn out and stopped at a convenience for a Dr. Pepper soda (sugar), ice cream bar and a liter of water. I called my friend Brian who was supposed to ride out Hwy 24 to meet me. He had gotten tied up at work and we agreed to meet at a new brewer just a couple of miles up the road. He brought his pick up and saved me 10 miles of riding by heading back to his house where I was spending the night. The beer we had at the brewery was definitely refreshing as was the super burrito for dinner.

It was then time to put the bike on the work stand, clean and lube the chain and hope that fixed the chirping problem at the rear derailleur.

Without irrigation it's this barren

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