Apr 30, Shelby, Mt
A lot of kms in the four days since I left Portland. I got away from Portland quite well. It was Saturday and early there was not much traffic. My guess on which road to take worked out well,even though I had my doubts. Finally after about 8 miles and a couple of questions I hit a bike way along side of I 84, the freeway that follows the Columbia river. The bike way petered out after about 20 miles and I stopped for a breakfast and to figure out which road I would take. I-84, the secondary on the Washington side of the river or the old historic highway, each with attractive features. In order to get down the road away, I started with I-84.
The wind was starting to pick up by late morning and so I was flying, up river and down wind. But the big wide shoulder was fairly littered with debris and so I was worried about flats. At one point I moved over onto a bike path that was enjoyable, until I hit a four-flight staircase that I had to wrestle my bike down. Back onto the freeway, and now I was often up over 20 mph and trying to get to the Dalles for the night. Within 400 m of the exit I flatted. I walked off the highway and fixed the tire at a service station, with access to a good pump. I had done 90 miles,
The next day I was back out onto the freeway and the wind, still worried about flats, in part because my little bike pump is not very good and I am now worried that my rear tire is showing more wear than I had expected, but it is hard to give up the speed. Now often close to 25 mph, on the flat and up to 37mph on long downhills where I hold my breath that my skimpy tire holds up. It is weird to be flying down the road, with no apparent wind, as the wind is going at the same speed as I am. As I passed a small town at about 60 miles, I felt a softness and pulled in to fix yet another wire flat. The reinforcing wire is penetrating my rear tire very easily now. I need to get to Kennewick and find a new tire and tubes. I left the freeway about 20 miles before Umatilla, my target for the night. I was thankful to be away from the debris and the wind was still driving me. I did 105 miles on this day, and tomorrow I would leave the Columbia gorge and start to go north.
It was only about 30 miles to Pasco, where the Amtrak touches my route. The wind is stronger than ever and I just want out, so I will try to connect with a train to go north, possibly into Montana. In the morning I headed out and was in dire straights a few times. Part of the time the wind was helping and so I made reasonable time, but much of the time it was across me, and I was being pulled into the traffic on the busy freeway whenever a big truck passed. I was very glad to get into Kennewick, off of the freeway and where I found a replacement tire. I am still carrying a marginal spare, but felt it was too far out to go without a spare.
I had hoped that the Amtrak I would take had a wheel-on car for bikes, but was told not, I would have to box my bike. I found an old box and duct-taped together something that they accepted. My train left at 9:00 pm and I was expected to ride it through Spokane to East Glacier, getting off at about 9:00 am the next morning, hoping for a 3-4 day ride to Calgary. This morning as we approached East glacier it was snowing and so I extended onto Shelby, not sure what to expect. It was -1C in Shelby and very windy, so I checked into a motel, hoping for better conditions tomorrow. If conditions are too bad, I may end up calling for help from Calgary. Hopefully I will be able to at least get the 35 miles to Canada.
And so, I have cut a lot of cycling out of this trip, but the wind, even on the two days it was with me, just took too much fun away.