Wednesday, September 04, 2013

2013 Bike Across Washington to End Alzheimer's

The Project:
My son Mathew decided to ride his bike across Washington to raise money and awareness to end Alzheimer’s. My mother, his grandmother, has late stage Alzheimer’s disease. This project came about as a result of my suggesting that we ride the John Wayne Trail a number of years ago. This spring he decided to take this on for his senior project. While he wanted to do it alone, thankfully his school advisor required that he have an adult with him. There was some issue with the school sending a 17 year old on an eight day adventure into the wilderness by himself. Given my experience and background, I was duly chosen as the responsible accompanying adult. However, this was Mathew’s project and my only interjection was to get supplies he requested, review his plan for safety, and add any comments/opinions when asked.

The Plan:
The ride would start on the Idaho Border and we would take the John Wayne Pioneer Trail (the old abandon Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad) to North Bend where it currently ends. The Milwaukee road was used from the early 1900’s until the mid-eighties. From there we would take the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, Falls City Preston Trail, Preston Issaquah Trail, East Lake Sammamish Trail, Sammamish River Trail, Burke Gilman Trail, and Elliott Bay Trail. These are all abandon Railroad trails that would lead us directly to the ferry in Seattle. But because Seattle isn’t technically across the state, Mathew put us on a ferry to Bainbridge where we biked roads to east of Sequim and got on the Olympic Discovery Trail through Port Angeles. If we had time, the plan was to then take the Olympic Adventure Trail further west towards the coast. As it was, we were on roads from Port Angeles to Cape Flattery.

In addition, Mathew had made contact with Trisha Averill of the Alzheimer's Association Western & Central Washington. Trisha scheduled stops at Alzheimer’s facilities along our route. She also worked with Mathew on publicizing and raising awareness for his ride. Along with his ride across the state, Mathew will also be walking in the Tacoma and other walks around the state to raise funds and tell his story. If you enjoy this story, please go here and donate what you can.

The Details:
BLM 1:100k quads (Rosalia, Ritzville, Connell, Priest Rapids, and Yakima) – Great large scale topo maps with physical details
Gazetteer – road details and names, names of long abandon towns and other man made features. Good maps for rerouting and roads.


Mountain Bikes preferably full suspension with slime tubes and semi-slick 2-2.5 tires
Bike Trailers with slime tubes and preferable large 26inch wheels
Backpacking Camping gear (two man tent, sleeping bags and pads, stove, tarp)
Basic backpacking food with extras purchased along the way
Full bike repair kit with many extra tubes
Water – Bottle, hydration pack, extra gallon carried in trailers
We also carried endurolytes and Hammer Heed
Bike lights (light and motion Stella and seca)
Complete wilderness first aid kit

I purchased the bike trailers used from a moms buy/sell group. Mathew’s red trailer was an instep POS. The woman who sold it to me lied and said it was complete when it was not. It had patch holes that would come undone and it didn’t have the bike connection. It only had 16 inch wheels that I could not replace but the attachment fit Mathew’s bike and I figure he was young and could pull it. I found a burly trailer that was bomber and I was able to replace the wheels with some 26 inch mtn bike fronts I had with 1inch slicks. This trailer rolled and held up real well.

I carried a GPS with me that I turned on every day. Unfortunately it only saved the tracks from the last third of the trip. I suspect that it ran out of memory.

The details that follow are written from the perspective of an old guy, a retired endurance racer who is pretty out of shape. I am pretty slow but I don’t give up. Most of my friends that are still racing and training hard could do this trip super light AR style in half the time easy with no trailers.

In many of the pictures you will see us without helmets. We always wore helmets when we were or streets with cars or when the speed of our travel warranted it. In most cases we were traveling between 5-8 MPH (jogging speed) on a flat rail bed. Heat related problems were more of a risk than a serious crash. By wearing wet hats, this risk could be safely mitigated. In all other aspects of my life I advocate bike helmets and lead by example.

The Route:My wife Cheryl drove us To Colfax WA the night before the start where we stayed in a motel. Our plan was to make the 30 mile drive to the start at 5:30 the next morning. She would meet us at Cape Flattery 8 days later.

Day One 8/16/13 Idaho Border to Western End of Rock Lake - 54 miles
Day Two Rock Lake to Lind – 51 miles
Day Three Lind to Columbia River – 73 miles
Day Four Columbia River to Roslyn – 67 miles
Day Five Roslyn to North Bend – 53 miles
Day Six North Bend to Suquamish – 75 miles
Day Seven Suquamish to Port Angeles – 53 miles
Day Eight Port Angeles to Cape Flattery – 79 miles

The Odds:
In my mind the odds were not very good.

The GoodMathew is young and doesn’t fully understand what lay ahead.
Mathew will recover well each night with sleep
I am old and suffer well
It is a flat railroad grade
We had a lot of help available to us
We could stop in towns and eat/restock
The wind was cooling

The BadI haven’t been training very much neither has Mathew
Every day I will get worse as I will not recover or sleep as well as Mathew
We were riding on every horrible surface imaginable
The wind was always against us
It was Hot, very HOT
Bikes were not in top condition
Rattlesnakes (we planned on traveling in the morning and evening when they are out the most)

In my mind it was a 50/50 proposition. Anything could and probably would go wrong. From the heat, hydration, nutrition, mechanical problems, snakebites. I knew how to manage myself and by default Mathew. It would mean we would go slow and perhaps not make his goals but not blow up either. My goal was always to be able to get up and ride again the next morning. Unknown to Mathew, I believed the crucible would be the fourth day riding up through the Yakima Firing Range. In my mind if we got through this section, we would get it done.

1 comment:

Nick Thomas said...

I just finished riding the John Wayne West to East. Your blog helped me know what to expect. Thank you for taking the time to write about your trip. I had a great ride, albeit very hot. I only rode from North Bend to Spokane(via CPT),and so not actually cross-state technically. Cheers from a fellow JWPT veteran!