Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Day 1 - who turned up the thermostat?

Well the day has arrived. I’ve packed up the gear, and there’s a lot of it, and heading out for 5 days on the bike. Working my way northwest to the coast then to Seattle and back to Portland. I’m not sure what to expect but that’s why I do it!  

The day started as usual with a breakfast sandwich, pumping up the tires, and kissing the love of my life (sadly Cheryl will not be welcoming me this afternoon in Cathlamet).  I wish I could figure out a way for her to join me.  I will miss her!

It’s time to roll baby!  The route is the same as the dress rehearsal to Vernonia, but then I take highway 47 to the Columbia River where I then take a ferry to Cathlamet.  

There’s one spot between Vernonia and Clatskanie that is particularly tough and I’m not looking forward to.

The temperature is supposed to be 104 in Hillsboro and 95 in Cathlamet so I needed to get an early start.  I was actually on the road at 6:45 am! Alert the media!  I made it to Banks (about 20 miles from home) and realized I forgot one critical pre-ride routine. So I stopped and took care of it (if you know you know.)

Past Vernonia I saw some beautiful scenery, churches and barns (you know me and barns!) but I’m entering uncharted territory now which is great but also a problem.

The only paved road to highway 30 from Vernonia is 47. I did some research and it typically isnt busy with passenger and service vehicles. One minor miscalculation was the log trucks. OMG!  They drive from the forest around Vernonia to the mill in Longview and they use 47!  It was very unnerving (to say the least) as they wizzed past me, clearly over the speed limit. Oh, did I mention there is no shoulder?

I made it up the steep grade pretty well.  My heart was pounding fast but I wasn’t sure if it was from peddling up a steep grade or the worry a log truck would run me off the road!  I finally made it to what I thought was the summit. No, it was just a flat stretch and then another steep section. I was listening to music and suddenly “Work” by Rhianna came on. The bike gods have a warped sense of humor. 

I made it to the Wahkiahum County Ferry (the Oscar B.) to Cathlamet. Final route details?  82 miles and 2300 feet of climb. I’m not sure what it is about me and front loading the hardest rides or the tour. But as my son Kyle would say “I’m a few doughnuts shy of a dozen.) It was a difficult ride but I super excited I’m exploring new territory. 

Thankfully by passing my tests last week, camp was set up in no time and I was off to dinner. Turns out Maria’s, a Mexican restaurant, was the only place open so I bellied up to the bar next to Chris (a 26 year local.) He told me The Spar is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, Patty Cakes closes at 3 pm everyday, the Columbia Saloon closed a few months ago and the brewery was having an all employee meeting (not kidding) so I better be in the mood for a taco!  I was, and it hit the spot (along with a couple of beers of course). 

As (bad) luck would have it, the A/C was broken. Chris also told me Jim had to “run to town” to get a part and the A/C would be on by 6. Well, I left at 7 and the A/C still wasn’t on. Jim must be stuck on the ferry. I love small towns!

Fortunately the grocery store was open, so I grabbed some snacks and headed back for a shower. I was in luck and there were no tokens needed (see last post) and I’m ready for bed. It’s a beautiful evening on the Columbia. 

Off to Bruceport tomorrow?  What’s in Bruceport you ask?  I have no idea. I’ll tell you when I get there. 

Until next time….

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