Day 8: Missoula to Butte, MT

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This was a long day with a fair amount of climbing and some hot temperatures. We are still basically following the Clark Fork River though I think we got away from it near the end. I spent much of the day trying to get comfortable on the loaner bike (above). It’s not bad but I ache in different places than I have ached before. Most pros would tell you not to do a first ride on a new bike of this length, but I had no choice. Today’s ride was 134 miles with 5,400 feet of climbing.  Next stop, Bozeman, MT.  It’s a loooong state. 

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Note from Kathy:  Jim’s still four days of riding on the loaner bike from his replacement parts, and only a week into a four week trip.  The mountains still loom large.  If you’re haven’t already made encouraging comments (or even if you have), today would be an excellent day to do so!  Note that WordPress moderates all comments to avoid spam, so you won’t see them right away, but they will get to Jim and eventually appear!

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Day 7: Thompson Falls to Missoula, MT

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Missoula, MT — today started off with a beautiful, mostly southeast ride through the forests of Montana, again on State Route 200 and again along the Clark Fork River. It got hot around noon and we got a headwind. Shortly after lunch, however, at around mile 78, I had a serious mechanical issue. A rock or some other road debris kicked up and sheared my rear derailleur off the bike. It went into the wheel and took out two spokes. It was a miracle that I stayed upright.  The wheel was fixable but the derailleur is bent and can’t be fixed. A replacement should reach us on Thursday.

I finished today’s ride by borrowing the bike of a member of the crew (he wasn’t riding today). Needless to say it didn’t really fit and it was an uncomfortable 26 miles. It’s a 24 year old bike and doesn’t have modern gears that make climbing easier. I’ll be riding a different “loaner” for the next few days, we’ll see how it goes! Today’s ride was 106 miles with 3,500 feet of climbing.

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Day 6: Sandpoint, ID to Thompsons Falls, MT

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Today’s ride was southeast along State Route 200 all day, and we crossed into Montana at Mile 35. Unfortunately there was no sign, which is not uncommon. The only way we knew for sure was that the road was unpaved gravel for about 2 1/2 miles as soon as we hit Montana. They do not waste taxpayer money on paving here! Even the “paved” roads are poorly paved or chipseal.

We followed the Clark Fork River and our destination, Thompson Falls, is in westernmost Montana at about the same latitude as Coeur d’Alene. My room is right on the river! This was yet another relatively short, easy day. We’ll pay for it! Although the mileage and climbing were very reasonable, the condition of the roads and the heat — temps in the 90s — made it difficult. We had to set the clock an hour ahead as we are now on Mountain time! Today’s ride was 86 miles with 2700 feet of climbing.

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Day 5: Spokane, WA to Sandpoint, ID

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Sandpoint, ID — We hit Idaho at about Mile 50 today and it is absolutely gorgeous! Fishing camps, lakes, a lot like northern Maine. Most of our ride today was northeast and tonight we’re only about 50 miles south of Canada in the Idaho panhandle.

Charlie asked about food. Breakfast each day is either the hotel breakfast or a PAC Tour breakfast outside in the parking lot. It’s good –  my standard for parking lot breakfast is oatmeal and a bagel. Because breakfast is so rushed I’m not getting enough coffee!

The rest stops have the usual Oreos, fig newtons, bananas, maybe other fruit. There is always a lunch stop and lunch is quite good for something cooked in a trailer. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken Alfredo, Mexican, always some salad and dessert. It’s good but I’m not eating as much as I did on the southern tour because of Gatorade/banana slosh in my stomach!

Dinner is always on your own and a group will go to various restaurants. The whole day is very rushed and you think only about the next step in the process, getting to the next rest stop. And that keeps your mind off the big picture, which seems impossible!

The best part of the day is the one hour before bed that I get to watch Netflix or read a book, which I’m going to do now. Today’s ride was 84 miles with 2,700 feet of climbing.

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Rest Stop

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Lunch Stop

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Dinner

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Farm Country in Idaho

Day 4: Coulee Dam to Spokane, WA

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A relatively easy day today mostly through the farm fields of Eastern Washington. We followed state route 2 almost all day, though the day began with a long climb away from the dam (where they remember FDR proudly).  Its common on PAC Tour to follow one road if it gets you where you want to be. Relatively flat but a lot of traffic. Most of the farms grow wheat and alfalfa in this part of the state; on the western side of the Cascades they grow fruit. On to Idaho tomorrow! Today’s ride was 90 miles with 3,600feet of climbing.

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(Note: The blog is actually a day behind due to technical difficulties… we’ll catch up by this weekend!)

Day 3: Winthrop to Coulee Dam, WA

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Today’s ride took us into eastern Washington state. The area is very dry, as opposed to the western side of the Cascades, which is very green. This side reminds me of Arizona! We ride a long way along Omak Lake and are staying at a motel right next to Coulee Dam (both pictured here). It was hot today, with temps in the 90s. I felt a bit dehydrated at the end even though I’ve been drinking. Today’s ride was 101 miles with 6,200 ft of climbing.

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Day 1: Everett to Sedro-Woolley, WA

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Our first day started with an early hotel breakfast and then a short ride to a ferry, which took us to Whidby Island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, near the San Juan Islands. Most of our riding was on the island and generally north. We’re positioning ourselves near a pass in the Cascades that we will do tomorrow. For the most part we stuck to wooded back roads and could see huge snow capped mountains in the distance. We passed over a very narrow, high bridge on our way back to the mainland. Sedro-Woolley, where we are tonight, appears to be part of Washington’s agricultural belt, and strawberries are being sold everywhere! Today’s ride was 95 miles with 6,000 feet of climbing.

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Jim, Lynn, and Jim

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Day 0 – Final Preparations

At our hotel in Everett, WA, getting ready to start the tour tomorrow! Today we did a short “shake out” ride to make sure everything was working properly and dipped our wheels in the Pacific Ocean.  The PAC Tour trailers are ready to support us. Tomorrow’s ride is 95 miles north up the Pacific coast to where we’ll cross the Cascades on Monday and start our journey toward the east!

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Here We Go Again

Hi Everyone— About three years ago, you were kind enough to follow the blog of my trip across country— 27 Days: from San Diego to Savannah on my bike. Next Sunday, July 8, I will start another transcontinental bike trip, this time from Everett, WA to Portsmouth, NH. A little longer and a little hillier.

As a subscriber to my blog three years ago you’ll automatically continue to receive my posts. Again I’ll be posting some scenic pictures and a few paragraphs each day. If you don’t want my daily updates this time, just unsubscribe from this blog.

I do hope you will join me, virtually, on this newest adventure. Your comments and encouragement help keep me going! Thanks!

Jim

Day 27 – Tybee Island, GA

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By now, you know that we finished our ride at Tybee Island. I had expected a ride like the ceremonial entry into Paris at the end of the Tour de France, but it was still over 85 miles of riding on busy roads! We left early, before dawn, and there were few real challenges other than an unexpected road closure, and a police officer’s vague detour instructions (admittedly, he was kind of busy) which added about four miles. In general, though, we were like horses that could smell the stable and the speed kept increasing as we got closer to the end. We were going at a good clip by the time we passed under I-95 on the western edge of Savannah, and by the time we hit the causeways out to Tybee Island it was practically a sprint. Neither my legs nor lungs complained!

We were scheduled to “meet up” at the entrance to Tybee Island, and as I crested the causeway bridge I saw Kathy’s red car parked with the bike tour trailers. That was my first emotional moment of the day. I introduced her to my new bike friends and we all took pictures before the slow group ride to the ocean. My second emotional moment came when I saw the Atlantic, our goal for so very long. I knew the ride was over because, quite simply, we had run out of land to ride on! Many beachgoers a were surprised by thirty or so cyclists carrying their bikes to the ocean, but many eventually joined our celebration and helped take pictures.

It will take a while for the impact of this trip to fully settle in, but today it’s enough that I achieved my goal of riding from the Pacific to the Atlantic in a fairly short 27 days. No rest days, and I never got in the van, I pedaled every inch! The conclusion to draw from all this, I think, is not what a wonderful, elite cyclist I am. Quite the opposite: the right conclusion is that I’m an average, amateur cyclist who managed to raise the odds enough through training to achieve something that sounded impossible.

I could not have made it with out the support and comments from my friends, co-workers, and family (Kathy was the behind-the-scenes blog poster), and the training advice from Sarah Bresnick at Pedal Power Training Solutions.

Thank you all so much! Today’s ride was 89 miles, and we reached the Atlantic and the end of our journey.

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