August 4

4 08 2009

Day 59:
I need to start this by taking back what I said after climbing Logan Pass – that was not the hardest thing I have ever done. Today we climbed Sherman Pass in Washington, the first of the Cascades. We set out from Kettle Falls with extra frozen water, G2 and snacks for what we expected to be a fairly difficult climb. That is the understatement of the trip. As we started up, Jake and I passed a road worker who asked if we were heading for Republic. When I answered “yes”, his reply was “it’s only going to get much worse before it gets better”. I thanked him very much, coming just shy of calling him a jerk. The climb at the beginning was pretty standard, although not the switchback style of Logan. Mostly, long, gradual climbs. The temperature warmed up very quickly so we were going through our water supply steadily. About a third of the way up, Maggie had a broken spoke so we stopped for a quick repair. Traffic was not too bad although we saw plenty of logging trucks, which was a bit of a surprise. Fortunately, they were coming down the hill so didn’t bother us too much. We met a few other bikers, one gentleman who had just started his eastward journey to Bar Harbour a week ago. He let us know we had our work cut out for us on the upward climb as he happily glided downhill.

Brian, Maggie and Zach had the lead with Jake hanging back with me – thanks Jake. With about 7 miles to go, Jake and I met up with the others at a nice little bridge turnout close enough to a creek. Great place to wade in the water and even dunk our heads to cool off. The water felt great. We set off for the final climb but it didn’t get any easier. I found myself stopping to rest about every half mile – sorry I slowed you down Jake. Brian stopped every so often to make sure that Jake and I were not too far behind before continuing on with Maggie and Zach. As Jake and I finally saw the sign for the Scenic Overlook, a driver with an rv came down the hill and shouted “almost there!” – music to our ears. Jake and I pulled into the overlook but saw no sign of the others. We checked out the area and decided that they must have gone a bit farther down the road. We should have known – we weren’t quite at the top. Another half mile brought us to the very top as evidenced by the elevation sign and the steep grade sign we love to see. 5500 ft! Everyone was laying down by the information map – good idea. We were all out of water so just rested before heading down the glorious downhill. Before we left, Brian called the Northern Inn and booked us in for the night. It was obvious we weren’t going to get any farther than Republic today. Some of the more optimistic had grand thoughts of getting two passes done today. Oh how wrong they were.

The kids headed down ahead of Brian and I (I think they may have broken some speed limits on the way down). Brian and I chose the more gradual pace using our brakes regularly. I tried not to worry too much about the kids ahead of us. The ten miles went by very fast and we arrived just outside of Republic and stopped for a late lunch. When the waitress found out we had just climbed the pass, her reply was “I think all you bikers are nuts”. The food was great and we soon re-hydrated and re-fueled. I must confess, I almost fell asleep at the table.

Three miles later, with the obligatory final hills (ugh!) we arrived at the Northern Inn, a very nice motel. Some ice for my knees and a glorious shower and I felt a bit revived. I napped while the rest caught up on their Internet stuff. Now, Brian and the kids are down the street at the market getting some snacks and drinks for tonight and tomorrow. Time to get our “Family Guy” fix for the night (never though I would be saying that!) I don’t remember when I was this tired. Tomorrow’s climb won’t be nearly as high and I certainly hope the hills are not quite as long. Wish us luck.


August 3

4 08 2009

Day 58:

After seeing the elevation map of Washington State, some of us were a little nervous when we got started in the morning. Fifteen miles into the ride everything seemed to be going well except for the heat that was starting to get to us (Upwards of 95 degrees), but of course around the next corner was a very steep hill, and then another one, and another one. It was almost like Vermont/New York all over again. We all were breathing heavily at the top of each hill making us take breaks much more frequently than we usually would. We managed to climb almost 20 miles without a single downhill before we got to the actual top of the mountain (4400 ft above sea level). The final hill to the top of the mountain seemed a lot easier than the rest probably because we all could see the 6% Grade for 8 Miles sign at the top. The 8 miles downhill did not seem nearly long enough, but thankfully it put us right into the middle of Chewelah, a decent sized town where we eagerly found a place to eat a very late lunch (4:00 pm!). As we were heading out of Chewelah we stopped at the grocery store nearby to fill up our water bottles for the 40 miles ahead of us (And it was past 4 o’clock). With about 14 miles to go until we got to Kettle Falls, Zach managed to get yet another flat tire (Maybe Tracker isn’t the only blind one in the house). We have changed flats so many times by now that we were able to make quick work of this one and finish our ride without any more problems. We have two passes to climb tomorrow so hopefully we can get the good night sleep we need and a filling breakfast in the morning as we get that much closer to finishing our trip.

Only the best


August 2

3 08 2009

Day 57:

After spending two whole weeks in Montana it is hard to believe that we spent just one day in Idaho. We finished a long day yesterday in true Montana fashion, complete with hills, heat (103 degrees!), and even a little wind and enjoyed a good night’s rest next to the grazing cows (who need to learn to chew with their mouths closed!) on the hotel lawn. A quick breakfast next door got us going and we took off towards Sandpoint, ID. It was another very hot day (high 90’s) so we were happy to have the breeze off Lake Pend Oreille, as we cruised along beside it for most of the morning. As we neared Sandpoint, we began to feel a little less “in the middle of nowhere.” After quick stop at the local bike store to check our tire pressures, we went in search of lunch. While eating outside we chatted with a few locals, who were able to suggest an alternate route for tomorrow and recommend that we take a short break at the beach down the road. That we could not pass up! So after refueling, we made a short trip to the city beach where we enjoyed an extended lunch break and ice cream! While there, we ran into a few other bikers and happily traded stories. We all would have liked to stay for the rest of the afternoon, but with 34 miles ahead of us the bikes were calling. A great bike trail lead us out of the city and back onto the main highway. But for some reason we never seem to make great time on these kinds of trails…and a flat tire slowed us down a little as well. While on the bridge out of town, a small shard of glass punctured Zach’s rear tire and we made quick work of the repair. The afternoon was a hilly ride along the lake and we began to feel the afternoon heat. With about 8 miles to go, Dad was victim to the second flat of the day…this time his front tire. We found some shade and cold drinks and went to work on replacing the tube. In doing so, we realized that we only have two spare tubes left, so some patching is definitely in order. As usual, we managed to stretch even our shorter days into longer ones. We crossed into Washington and were disappointed to see the “Welcome to Washington” sign absent opposite its Idaho counterpart. The closest gas station provided some much needed drinks, and air for the tires. McDonalds looked like the only option for dinner, so we headed over there…some of us a little less excited than others. Finally we made it to the hotel…though I am not sure were the day went…it’s almost 8 o’clock! Tomorrow we will see our first glimpses of the Cascades as we begin to tackle our final map, and our final state!


August 1

1 08 2009

Day 56:

Goodbye Montana!! I say with great enjoyment that we are no longer in Montana. North Dakota and Montana (except for the rockies) were the most PLAIN stretch of country I’ve ever seen. We were welcomed into Idaho with a more conservative speed limit (55mph) as opposed to Montana’s speed limit of 70mph. Today’s ride took us 70 miles from Libby the small town of Clark Fork, Idaho. There were a few hills but nothing we can’t handle. And of course we saw a few bikers including a man who is en route to Bar Harbour, Maine.

When we got into Clark Fort the nice people at the motel in town let us camp on their lawn and use the shower facilties. Thanks to Bob and Freda for the hospitality. We would of preferred to stay in the motel but it was full up. Thanks to those good folks! Tomorrow should take us 64 or so miles into New Port, WA, where we will look ahead to the Cascades.

It’s weird to think that our trip is almost complete…


July 31

1 08 2009

Day 55:

Spectacular. That is the only word to describe today’s ride. I am ahead of myself however as spectacular also describes the massive thunder and lightening storm we watched as we camped last evening (for free! ) at the Frontier Campground in Rexford, MT.

Shortly after settling in for the night the rain began in earnest and the show began. The sky was live for about 45 minutes. During the ensuing downpour, we heard the sounds of others setting up camp next door to us. In the morning we awoke to a little village of tents all around us.

After our camp breakfast (thanks to Linda, Leyton and Alex for the hot coffees) we started out for Libby under a brilliant sun in a cloudless sky. A short distance form the campground we crossed the Koocanusa Lake Bridge and traveled carless route 228 along the spectacular shoreline of the glacial blue lake. No cars also means there were no services on this route and our regular snack stops were absent today. As a result, the lack of both a substantial lunch and robust breakfast took their toll on our energy levels. There is no denying that today’s 70 miles were some of the most grueling of the trip but also among the most beautiful. We enjoyed our lunch on a high promontory overlooking the lake and an Osprey nest compete with 3 young and very noisy birds.

At the end of route 228 we stopped at the Libby Dam (this dam created the lake) and got some badly needed refreshments at the visitor center. The rangers on duty told us that we were just 3 and ¼ down hill miles from food at the River Bend Restaurant and Saloon. We all felt better after having a meal and realized once again what a small world it is as our server (Rita Ouellette) is originally from Dover, NH. This week we also met people from Concord and Epping.

We were about to start out on highway 37 for the 14 mile ride to Libby when a local mountain biker Damon suggested on alternate route. Thank you Damon. We enjoyed a carless ride on the shady side of the river to Libby and checked into the Venture Motel where we were rejuvenated by the hot tub.


July 30

1 08 2009

Day 54:

After a very enjoyable stay at the Pine Lodge in Whitefish, we woke fairly early and grabbed a quick breakfast and set off. The road was fairly rolling with still some nice downhills. At Olney, we had a nice snack at the local mercantile and then headed off in the direction of Eureka. With Fortine only 22 miles away, we decided that would be our lunch destination. The local bar/saloon/café was soon spotted, right on the golf course, which made for a nice spot for a few minutes in the shade after lunch. By then it was quite hot. Not sure if we should make Eureka our final destination (20 miles away) or go on to Rexford, we set off debating the pros and cons of each. Eureka had motels and Rexford had campgrounds. You know which way the boys were voting. I was of the mind to get a few extra miles in today so tomorrow would not be too long. I find I function best when the mileage is around 70 or less. Arriving in Eureka late in the afternoon, we called the two motels. Again, we were faced with a dilemma. One had wifi but no cots, the other had cots but no wifi. Also, the price was a bit steep. The only other consideration was the weather, which was calling for scattered thunderstorms possibly. Not fun if we camped. We grabbed some cold drinks while deciding what to do. Finally, we decided to go the extra 7 miles to Rexford and camp near the marina.

Just one mile down the road, we had a quick rain shower (the boys were not amused) but it quickly passed. Then, Jake who was behind me, shouted “flat tire”. I yelled to Brian and Zach and Maggie who were ahead of us but they did not hear. So, Jake called Zach on his phone and had a truck flag down Brian to tell him to come back and help fix the flat. In the meantime, Jake and I took his wheel off and waited. (Brian has the tools after all) The local sheriff stopped to make sure we were ok and then Brian and the others arrived back up a hill. The tire was changed in record time and off we went.

Of course, there was a big hill entering Rexford and we soon found ourselves at the Frontier RV Park. Brian entered the Bar and Grill and inquired where we should set up camp. The manager was not around, so the girls in the bar just told us to set up on a nearby grassy patch around the corner. We set up camp and headed over to the bar for a great dinner of chicken and salad. The bar also has a shower, so after dinner we took turns cleaning up. Pretty good set up for a bar. As I write this sitting in the tent, Brian and the kids are visiting with the people next to us in an airstream trailer. They are from Cranbrook, BC. I saw several other BC plates in the park. Lots of stories being told.

Tomorrow, we head off to Libby where Brian has already booked us into a nice motel, complete with pool and hot tub. Should only have 60 miles tomorrow so we’ll hope the rain doesn’t continue into the day. Time for sleep.


July 29

29 07 2009

Day 53:
The night in the cabin was nice! It was so nice that we didn’t end up leaving the West Glacier KOA until almost 11:00am. We enjoyed a downhill ride out of the campground and just as we got to the bottom a group of three on touring bikes passed by us. Almost immediately after seeing these guys go by us a group of about 15 bikers flew by us on racing bikes… I wonder if we could go that fast without our gear? There was no catching them. However we were able to catch up to the smaller group. Of three. After catching up to them we discovered they have quite a bit of experience in the biking field. Check out the adventures at (I love the domain haha). My (Zach) and Jake’s bike needed some repairs so when we arrived in Whitefish (only 30 miles from West Glacier) the bike store was the fist order of business. Apparently my bike has different sized spokes in it.. that’s not good. Well they are still in there because we would’ve had to have my entire rear wheel rebuilt which we don’t have time for and with about ten days to the finish line (even though it’s not a race.. until the last day!) During lunch we made our hotel reservations. I had our first hotel lined up where I had to struggle to negotiate the foldaway bed. As Jake I walked to the hotel Maggie, Dad, and Mom road ahead of us and checked out the hotel. Needless to say the place smelled like CRAP. We passed on that dump. The Pine Lodge right across the street was more than accommodating and is one of the nicer places we stayed at an affordable rate. Dinner took us to a happening spot where we enjoyed large servings of lasagna.

30 miles, and a poolside afternoon + DQ for desert, makes for a pretty easy day.

I’m going to miss the rockies as we head further West… but I am sure excited that were getting closer to finishing the trip.