Any Road Tour: Day 48 – Pickett attacks Sherman

Yesterday’s early dinner involved craft beer and pizza. Small town America is crushing the brewing thing big time.

I awoke at 5 with a very urgent tummy rumble. The town park restrooms were locked. I found a gas station in town and the crisis was averted.

I packed up and read The Beekeeper’s Lament which is about the bee keeper I stayed with in Gackle ND.

Once the grocery store opened I stocked up on fruit, water, and donut holes. Then I rode down to and across the Columbia River. It’s beautiful but there was no shoulder on the bridge so there’s no photo.

Then the fun began.

Up. The first three or four miles were switchbacks in one of my lowest gears. Then the climb mellowed out. I was rolling along at a decent pace I stopped to check out a log flume from logging operations from 100 years ago. A few miles later I stopped to check out an old CCC camp site.

Then up. And up. The sign said 8 miles to the pass.


A tiger swallowtail started doing loops around me as the tailwind pushed it and me up the hill. The butterfly won.

Miles of climbing passed slowly by. My head was hanging. I looked up. There, standing across the road and looking right at me, was a moose. He was not a big bull moose, more like a young adult with a small set of antlers. I stopped and reached for my phone to take a picture. Then a white sedan came around the bend beyond the moose and the moose moseyed into the woods.

A Lycra clad cyclist rode past me and said, “Nice moose. Too bad about the car.”

More uphill slogging ensued. A second tiger swallowtail came to play. I appreciated the diversion as the climb steepened. I was counting down the miles to the top. A mile and a half to go. Then I saw a sign. I had reached the pass a mile early. Saints be praised!

I took the obligatory photo then jumped on my bike and headed over the top.

The western approach is shorter (13 miles) than the eastern approach (27 miles). So the ride down was a total rush.

Three miles from the top a woman was pedaling furiously in her granny gear. She looked up and smiled. I yelled “It’s worth it!!” as I zoomed past at 30 mph.

For most of the descent I was doing 30 or more. Runaway train down curves and switchbacks. What a blast.

At the bottom my legs were sore from maintaining control of the loaded bike.

I climbed a few hundred feet into Republic. After lunch in a cafe I called DiAnne, my Warmshowers host. She gave me directions just as Martin rolled up. We rode to her house together. It has an amazing view of the landscape.

The town is part way up to the next pass, Wauconda. So we are psyched for tomorrow’s shorter climb.

Miles: 45

Trip miles: 3,647.5

Any Road Tour – Day 47: Switchbacks and Martin

Ione is not much of a happening place. I bathed and did laundry before heading into town for dinner. The pizza place made me a gut bomb of an Italian sub. They mentioned that another bike tourist from Switzerland was in earlier and bought a pineapple pizza. Martin!

I asked at the motel registration if he was s guest but he wasn’t. (It turns out that there’s another motel down by the river.)

Up at 5 (I’m on the eastern edge of the Pacific time zone), I broke camp and rode to town to have breakfast at the gas station. They have a grill and make a decent breakfast.

And as any bike tourist knows, gas stations are where Breakfast Club gets together. A group of old white men dit around drinking coffee and discussing the important things like how batteries for tools are crap and don’t drive your new pickup to Canada cuz it’ll sure get stole.

I couldn’t add much to this brilliant repartee so I rode away to confront my first serious hill since Rogers Pass a week ago. The climb was 1,100 feet on about 4 miles. There were 6 switchbacks. Once I got into a rhythm it was a fait accompli. No problemo.

Over the top and down the glorious western side, with forests now dominated by fir trees.

I spotted a country store and pulled in for a celebration ice cream. Who should I find eating breakfast but Martin! After a brief chat I took off knowing his youth and tent-free bike would catch me I no time.

And do we rode down one curvy turn after another. It was a blast. The cool tailwind didn’t hurt one bit either.

We saw two eastbound women testing on an uphill. I could not bring myself to give up a 35 mph descent to chat. Farther down the hill, we were crawling along at 17 mph. We ran into Dave (or maybe Paul) from Connecticut. He described the bike hostel where Martin would be staying as very nice and the mountain passes that lie ahead as not so much.

Martin turned to go to the hostel and I continued to Colville where lunch awaited. After my burrito (muy bueno) I rode on to Kettle Falls. After done confusion with a well meaning volunteer, I received permission to camp for free in the town park.

I am typing this at the bar if the town microbrewery, a place called Northern Ales. Their lager is excellent and is solely responsible for errors in this post.

Tomorrow: Sherman Pass and a Warmshowers stay (with Martin) at a town doctor’s home.

Miles: 53

Total miles: 3,409.5