Thursday, September 05, 2013

Day 1 August 16th Idaho Border Approximately 5 miles NE of Tekoa (TEE-KO), WA

Rancher Saves the DayWe got a late start at 7:08 after packing our gear and getting everything sorted out at the trailhead. The boys had made Mathew a sign for his trailer that he attached. My wife dropped us, took some pictures and drove off. We began our trip at about 2,800ft in the heart of Palouse country with golden waves of grain surrounding us and really nice road surface in front of us. What I would learn throughout the trip is that if farmers and other users used the trail it is generally in great shape. When not in use, it is degraded or unimproved.

Getting Ready
We made good time and shortly after telling Mathew that we would not see anybody for days, we ran into a nice woman out walking on the trial. After about 5 miles we came to the town of Tekoa. There is an old railroad trestle but they have blocked it off and we rode around down and under and then based on the gazetteer, rode out of town on roads to rejoin the trail.

Here the trail began to degrade, first the ballast became worse and plants began growing in the trail. Here I also learned that Mathew did not get the gate combination when he got his permit. One combination would be good for many gates and we learned that this would mean many bike/trailer passes over many gates to come.
Palouse Moose

Cheryl reappeared to cheer us on at a road crossing and shortly thereafter we saw the Palouse Moose. About 5-10 miles out of Tekoa the trail began to significantly degrade. The trail would go through large cuts and those cuts would retain water and also plant growth. For about 2 miles we bike wacked through 5-6ft deep grass and brush. After about 2 hours we got out the gazetteer to find an alternate route, climbed out of the cut and got on the parallel road. This lasted about ¼ mile and we saw that the trail was good again.

Riding to Rosalia was nice. The grade had been going down slightly from the start, the ballast wasn’t too bad but there were a lot of small removed bridges that we needed to ride down and around. Coming into Rosalia we crossed a cool old bridge that had bad ballast. We stopped for lunch next to the post office under shade of an old tree. While it didn’t feel real hot, I sign read 89 degrees.

Coming into Rosalia
While riding out of Rosalia was beautiful in a shady pine forest, the ballast was very bad up until Malden. When we passed through Malden we could not see the town as we were in an old railroad yard in the valley. At this point we had got into a rhythm of stopping every hour or two to rest, eat and drink. As it was getting late in the afternoon, we set goals for the rest of the day, Pine City, Rock Lake, and our Campsite for the night. We rode off on really well and well used surfaces.

After Pine City, Mathew called out that something was wrong with his bike. He told me that he had a flat in his trailer. We had slimed the trailer wheels ourselves and used lots of slime so this surprised me. When we got the tube out, it was riddled with holes and I can only surmise that this was a bad tube, not surprising given who we bought it from, so instead of patching the tube, we replaced it with our spare. I rode off and after a while realized that Mathew wasn’t with me.

Pine City
When I got back to him, he told me that his rear skewer nut was gone. To explain, the skewer holds the wheel on. If the nut loosens, the wheel loosens and wobbles. Seventeen year old boys sometimes don’t notice subtle changes and he didn’t notice the loose nut wobble’ just the wheel not working at all after the nut was long gone. In long races I have sometimes stocked extra skewers in the kits that we leave in aid stations but I have never carried one and never had one fail. My first fatherly instinct was to say WTF and try to use this as a teaching moment to explain that he should really pay better attention to the world around him. But I refrained because it would not solve the problem which was catastrophic. This was game over on the first day. We were in the middle of nowhere and the only real option was to find it so we started walking back looking down.

After about a mile, Amanda a 28 year old cattle rancher drove up and asked if she could help. She was out looking for a wayward cow and it probably seemed odd to her that two guys were walking with their heads down, in their bike kit, in the middle of nowhere. This was our first taste of the many helping hands that we received along the way. I explained what we were doing and ask if she might have a bike that would have the part we needed and we would be happy to buy it from her. First she drove us to check on some grain deliveries, then to the shop where there were bike but not skewers, then to the farm house where there were more bikes but no skewers, then she came out with the bike with a skewer and we were back in business. She had a great wonderful helping heart.

Old bride and derailment
Once we were back riding again, we had consumed 2 hours and it was getting late but we pushed on from Pine City on great trail in some of the most beautiful country of the trip. While crossing/passing a gate, Mathew noticed a large thorn in his other trailer tire. I made the mistake of pulling it out and the tire quickly went flat. We made quick work patching it and continue on. We crossed old trestles, derailed trains, tunnels, and huge rock falls that we scrambled over with our bikes. But it was getting late; Mathew was getting tired and with the time spent fixing bikes we would not make out goal for the day. This was disappointing because we were hoping for a nice swim in Rock Lake at Johnson Beach. Around 8:30 I called it for the day in a beautiful spot overlooking Rock Lake. We set up camp, ate, prepared from the next day and went to bed.
Campsite 1st night

Stats for the day
48.5 miles five miles short of goal
800ft descent
13hr 17min total time

More Pics here

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