SEATTLE TO ASTORIA
222 MILES IN 1,553 TO GO
When the bike was unpacked in Seattle, the rear derailleur was very loose. On closer examination, it appeared to be seriously broken to the point of being irreparable. Thinking a new bike may be required, I scanned the Yellow Pages for bike shops and found one that advertised they could "Fix most anything!" I decided to give them a chance.
Not only was their advertising truthful but they completed the repair in less than 30 minutes. What a relief! It buoyed my spirits and I couldn't wait to start the ride.
After dipping our rear wheels in the Pacific waters of Puget Sound, we ferried over to Bremerton to join the Adventure Cycling route that will lead us to San Diego. There was a sea lion attempting to jump up to sun himself on one of the large buoys but it was just too high for him. After many attempts, he still continued to pursue his quest. However, when the ferry passed by, its wave tipped the buoy and, when it was leaning toward him, he was able to jump up on it. Never give up!
As we departed the ferry, the hills started immediately. Adventure Cycling states that they choose their routes for being scenic and having less traffic. However, I think their criteria is the greatest number of tall, steep hills. Fortunately, there was a slight tailwind which made pedaling a little easier. The first day covered only 42 miles to give everyone a chance to check out our bicycles and equipment (including our legs).
Our first night was spent in Shelton, WA at the home of a very kind woman. Also a cyclist, she opened her home to us and prepared dinner and breakfast as well. I was one of 6 with sleeping bags spread out in her living room. Thank you Donna!
On the second night, we were welcomed to the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Centralia where we truly enjoyed an excellent dinner, a van tour of the local sights and a delicious pancake breakfast to send us pedaling on our way. Thank you to Carrie and her friends for such fine hospitality.
Over the past 4 years, the Pacific Northwest region has experienced drought conditions. This is an area which once had T-shirts which read "We don't tan, we rust!" However, once brilliant, green lawns now are typically brown. That said, I remember when, about 10 years ago when Florida's lakes were near all-time lows but now are filled to overflowing. Let us hope for these conditions to return to the Northwest as well.
Our group of 10 riders is half that of last year's Northern Tier ride. This is the first year of this ride for Bike the US for MS so it probably will take a few years for the ride to build to its full capacity of 24. All of our riders are very congenial and compatible. At 76, I am not only the oldest but
2 1/2 times the age of any of the others, except for the group leader who is an ancient 32. So far, however, I have been able to keep up with them and, actually, have been the first to arrive at our evening destination the first 4 nights.
Today is our first rest day with only 3 remaining. Our home for these 2 nights is the Astoria Lutheran Church. The spaces are good and our hosts very accommodating. Thank you Arlene and Bill.
Bicyclists are very approachable. Perhaps it is due to our shiny shorts and brightly colored jerseys but people ask many questions about the ride--Destination, distance, weather, traffic, stamina, safety issues, etc. When we convey that it is a ride for MS, we are always accepted. The interaction with the general public makes the riding that much more enjoyable.
Astoria was the westernmost reach of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804. They sailed up the Mississippi and explored the extended lands of the Louisiana Purchase. Amazingly, there is very little knowledge of that expedition among the people of this region. The town was named after John Jacob Astor, a wealthy fur trader and their history seems to start in 1810.
After a tasty salmon dinner at one of the town's waterfront restaurants, our rest day is nearly over and tomorrow, we clip into the pedals and head south. Everyone is ready!
Tip of the day:
When bicycling, do not fall. If you do fall, don't fall on your head.