Jun 20

Sailing into Spokane

by in Week 1

  • Grand Coulee to Spokane
  • 94 miles
  • 3010′ elevation
  • Sunny with relentless headwinds

After yesterday’s grueling climb, we were hoping for an easier time of it on what is virtually our second century in a row. The trip from Grand Coulee to Spokane was much easier, but I suspect our bodies would appreciate more time to recover than we are giving them. Not surprisingly it’s taking time for us to adjust to this regimen. We go to bed pretty sore and wake up ready to go. But despite our thorough training, our butts still get sore by mid-morning. We’ve being pretty good about stretching and using The Stick at the end of the day on sore leg muscles. But they still hurt, especially when we hit the hills.

We slept well in our tent last night, but the borrowed mattress is losing air every evening. We decided to call our number one outfitter, REI, and order a new one. We’ll gift it to the owners of the failing mattress when we return. The new one will be in Missoula when we arrive at our motel Saturday.

Truck on cheese signWe had to ride 3 miles straight UP to get to breakfast today. Again, it was bountiful and the owners slipped across the street to pick up some soy milk for our oatmeal! Very accommodating. After breakfast our ride turned mostly uphill through Coulee City and Electric City. Then turned wicked with a 3 mile long 6% climb. Not as big a challenge as yesterday’s but still significant, especially at the start of the ride. Which reminds me, some of you didn’t understand the reference to the “Truck on Cheese” sign. They always delight us when we see them. Here is a picture and now you know why they delight us!

long straight roadsJust like yesterday, most of the roads today were straight. The engineers for these highways must have had a motto like: If there’s a hill, cut it out and if there’s a hole, fill it up. We’re not winding anywhere.” We tried to capture the enormity of the roads, but while the road was straight as far as the eye can see, it is actually straight far longer than the camera can see.

Out here on the Palouse we didn’t have major hills, except the horizontal hill: headwinds. It was payback for all the tailwinds yesterday. Tandems actually do quite well in a headwind because we have the same aerodynamic resistance as a single, but two motors. What this means is we were passing lots of single bikes. We spent lots of time giving singles pulls. If they tuck in behind us as we go by, they enter our “slip stream” and can pedal about half as hard and still go faster than they were. We pulled David, Robin, Christiana, and perhaps a few others at different times throughout the day. It doesn’t take any extra energy from us and really helps them get a rest from the brutal winds. Alex said it’s like stepping on the moving sidewalk at the airport.

worn out gloveWe had a blast flying down to the Centennial River Trail where we found Alex and William puzzling over the route. Since the tandem rally had been there just last year we were able to guide them into town. Then we split off to visit REI because Sheila’s gloves had become absolutely useless. She’s thrilled to have the new ones.

Spokane River from the bike trailPeople on the route are starting to ask us where we are going. It is incredibly fun to see their faces when we say “Boston”. I imagine this will continue through the first five weeks. Then the delight will be in answering the question, “Where did you come from?”

Tonight we’re staying at a dorm in Gonzaga University. It is a Ritz Carlton of dorms. Clean towels are provided and sheets and pillows on the beds, free laundry available, cushy chairs for our tushies, and free wifi. Life is good.


5 Responses to “Sailing into Spokane”

  1. From Dale Dell'Ario:

    Hi guys,

    I still don’t get Truck on Cheese even with the picture. I know you are vegan but what hit that sign??

    Posted on Jun 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm #
  2. From S2Cycle:

    This particular example does appear to have been attacked by local kids. The term is a common one amongst cyclists because the wedge indicating a steep downhill looks like a wedge of cheese. Ergo, truck on cheese. Downhills are always welcome.

    Posted on Jun 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm #
  3. From Gracie:

    LOL LOL LOL Truck on Cheese, too funny! The picture is awesome, thanks for that bit of insight. Also love the photo of the road disappearing into the horizon. This trip is a fantastic undertaking and I’m having too much fun following s2. You two can feel very proud of yourselves.

    Point of clarification – is everyone finding their own way? How are the Brits doing riding on the other side of the road?

    Ride on, rest day coming soon.

    Posted on Jun 21, 2012 at 5:41 am #
    • From S2Cycle:

      LOL back at you! The Brits are riding right along with us on our side. We have folks from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa all of whom are used to left-driving. Hard on them. I remember how it was for us in Scotland to be on the other side.

      We are on a supported tour that provides the daily cue sheet, marks the turns and carries our gear to each day’s endpoint. They also provide water on the route and a picnic lunch each day. So we’re all in it together. Off we go now for another near-century. Sag vehicles even patrol the course to be sure we all get in OK.

      Posted on Jun 21, 2012 at 5:52 am #
  4. From Brenda @ DAWN:

    Thank you for keeping up the posts! It’s great to hear how each leg of the journey is going. 🙂

    Posted on Jun 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm #