Jun 19

Challenging and exhilarating

by in Week 1

  • Wenatchee to Grand Coulee Dam
  • 103 miles
  • 4556′ elevation
  •  two flats in first 10 miles

We are beat. It was a hard, hard day in many ways. And it was a great, easy day in many ways. Fortunately or unfortunately, the bad stuff came first.

flatWe knew it was going to be challenging, so we tried to get an early start. But when we dropped the bike from the kickstand, the rear tire was flat again. I did an especially fast change and we were on the road in 17 minutes. We were near the tail end, but moving quickly with the strong tailwinds. Just after we saw a support vehicle go by around mile 18, I realized the bike felt squishy. I stopped and checked and yes, the back was flat again. Oh joy. I’d pinched the tube when I installed the last one and it leaked. Another change. I think we were at the dead last position now and at least an hour behind when we wanted to be there.

The cycling was good, though. We got into a short paceline with Robin and Theo (Theo’s from the Netherlands) and made good time. Before long, we got to “the climb”.

5 miles 14% grade hillThe climb was 5.5 miles long. The sign at the bottom said it was 12%. For those of you who don’t know, that is awfully steep. Not Dravus steep, but maybe Queen Anne Ave steep (for the Seattlites). It was indeed 12 at the start, and at the end, and in many places in between. But it also backed down as low as 4 or 5%. Mostly it was around 10. We stopped 3 times on the way up to steel ourselves for the next bit. There was only one way to take it and that was one pedal stroke at a time. Finally, we crested at the 45 mile mark.

At the top we were on a big flat plateau with a tendency toward downhill. We streaked along, pulling our friend William for a bit. Lunch (a big spread again) was at mile 57. From there we rode on three roads for the last 45 miles. And the first two had zero turns or curves. Dead straight. We still had tailwinds so the first 20 miles flew by.

Grand Coulee DamWe knew the last 7 miles were all downhill, so we only had about 15 miles to get through from the last water stop. They turned out to be “character building”. We were tired. Our butts finally were complaining so much that we stood often just to relieve the pressure. And the end never seemed to get closer. Just when we were ready to give it up, we saw our favorite sign: Truck on Cheese. We had made it to the downhill. We flew down without pedaling and without sitting down. We arrived at the Grand Coulee Dam to see it in full glory, spilling tons of water over the spillway.


5 Responses to “Challenging and exhilarating”

  1. From Wendy Townsend:

    Hope the next few days are easier!!! So inspiring to read your updates!

    Posted on Jun 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm #
  2. From Pat:

    Way to go. We look forward to reading your updates each day.

    I guess that nasty little hill up to the school wasn’t worth mentioning. But it sure hurts at the end of the day.

    Posted on Jun 19, 2012 at 9:57 pm #
  3. From Gracie:

    Congratulations on a tough but great day. Spencer, your face is beaming in the photo by the spillway. Outstanding job, s2!

    Please explain, “Truck on Cheese.”

    Posted on Jun 20, 2012 at 4:27 am #
  4. From Bob Snead:

    You two are an inspiration! We’re looking forward to more pictures with those ETC jerseys! (Oh, and other ones too, of course)

    Posted on Jun 20, 2012 at 7:20 am #
  5. From Marla:

    Wow, that made me tired just to read it! The telling will be how you feel today! I admire you both!

    Posted on Jun 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm #