- 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.
We 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!
Just 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.
We 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.
People 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.