Electric City to Spokane, WA

Biked back to the Electric City VFW for breakfast at 6:30am. There was about a six-mile climb to get us out of the valley of the dam region. Although today’s route was somewhat easier than yesterday’s for most riders, I was starting to notice the effects of the fourth straight high-mileage day. The views were still great, but it also felt like more of the same—mercilessly rolling hills through fields of wheat and barley as far as the eye could see.

I started riding with Lisa, a staff member from Southern California, early in the day, and our paces seemed to match pretty well, so we stayed together for the duration of today’s route. The campus of Gonzaga University in Spokane was a welcome site. I had just enough time to catch up on e-mail at the library before having a delicious dinner at the cafeteria. Later, some of the usual gang headed to The Bulldog bar, but we made it an early night so as to try to get an early start and beat the heat tomorrow. The dormitory rooms were hot, especially on the upper floor where my assigned room was, so I took my blanket and ended up sleeping most of the night on a couch in the basement near the laundry room.

Wenatchee to Electric City, WA

I’m thankful for flat tires.

In the months leading up to this trip, people told me that things would go well because my dad would be watching over me. I’m not a religious person, nor a superstitious person, but human nature makes us think this way, and I found myself agreeing with this sentiment. As my mind wandered during the first 15 or so miles of today’s ride, I thought about the number of flat tires I’ve gotten lately. Last year, I only had one all season. Up through yesterday, I have now had seven flats this year. I know far worse things could happen, but the idea still nagged me. Just then, I rode past a Shell station and it hit me like a bolt of lightening. My dad owned a garage; he changed tires almost every day for 40 years. Maybe my flats are his way of living on through me, or of having me continue his work, or maybe just a way of reminding us all that we need to remember where we came from. Either way, I will now be thankful for flat tires.

The route today was tough. It started out tame enough, with a 10-mile ride on riverfront trails to make our way out of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee. It then followed the Columbia River for about 10 miles, before turning up for an eight-mile climb out of the valley. At some points during the climb, when I was riding alone and there were no cars, all I could hear was the spinning of my cranks. At the top of the climb, we were shocked as we virtually entered another world. Instead of the usual descent or more hills, the terrain opened up into the endless fields of the state’s central high plains. This continued for about 50 miles, with literally no shade, until we dropped back into another rocky valley, the area around the Grand Coulee Dam. The same extreme heat of the previous afternoon followed us most of the day today. The staff said that if you made it through this day, you could make it through any day.

I arrived at the end of the 99-mile route around 3:00pm. Average speed was 15.4 mph, maximum was 41mph.

We spent the night at Sun Banks Resort, a lakeside campground. This was our first overnight stop without an indoor sleeping option; my tent went up and down without any problems. The evening air was cool, clear, and dry, so most of us slept without the rain flys on our tents, giving an amazing view of the stars.

Dinner was at the Electric City VFW post. Afterwards, a bunch of us relaxed for a few beverages on the porch of the resort’s lodge. Later, a van load of us went to see the laser light show at the dam. On the way, as we debated whether to stop for some take-out beverages, Matt from Australia had the quote of the day: “I’ve seen the dam. We need beer.”

Skykomish to Wenatchee, WA

A tough start for the day….after breakfast, I had packed my bags and prepared all my gear for the day. The last step was to pump up my tires–and I found that my rear tire was flat. I should have thought to check it last night, because I topped it off at lunch yesterday, and it did seem to need more air at that time than it should have. I got a new tube put in, but it still wasn’t holding air. I noticed a small slit in the tire itself. Luckily, the baggage truck had not left yet, so I got one of my new tires out of my bag. I got it put on and pumped up, then noticed that I had put it on with the tread facing the wrong way. I left it on that way, since it wouldn’t matter in the dry conditions expected today. By this time, it was 7:25am; I was the last person (other than staff) to leave.

There were some short, flat sections at the start, but it was pretty much all uphill for the beginning of today’s ride. I caught up with David from California (on the recumbent bike) and Roberta around eight miles in, just before the turn-off to the Iron Goat Trail. This was a short side spur off of the main highway, a steep, narrow road through lush rain forest-like woods, with more views of streams and waterfalls. At about mile 10, it re-joined with the Stevens Pass Highway.

The next seven miles were a continuous climb to the Stevens Pass summit, where also sites the Stevens Pass Ski Area, which I had visited in February of 2003. We gained about 4000 feet of elevation from the start of the day. The air most of the morning was cool and comfortable.

As I started the descent down the east side of the pass, I pedaled hard to see what kind of speed I could get. But there was a pretty stiff head wind, and I could never get better than 38mph. So, I just relaxed and enjoyed coasting down the nine-mile descent. There were a few false flats near the bottom that made the descent feel like more work than it should have been. Then it was relatively flat for the 20 or so miles leading to the lunch stop.

After lunch, the pine forests thinned and eventually gave way to low scrub-brush foothills as the route wound along the Wenatchee River to the Bavarian-style town of Leavenworth. The temperatures really started rising as the sun beat down for the rest of the ride, through other small towns such as Cashmere, Monitor, and finally our destination of Wenatchee. At one point, the thermometer on my bike computer read 119 degrees. I know this is not accurate, depending on the sun and wind, but it gives you some idea.

With about five miels to go, my rear tire started feeling squishy again. I stuck my frame pump on it – the gauge showed about 40psi. I pumped it back up to 100 and hoped it was just a slow leak. I could tell it was getting low agin as I approached the end of the route, but I made it all the way, arriving at the school at 2:30pm. Once there, I replaced the tube again, this timebeing sure to install the tire tread in the proper direction. Just to be safe, I went ahead and installed the other new tire on the front wheel.

Total mileage for the day was 75.64; average speed was 15mph; maximum speed was 38mph. I spent most of the evening indoors to avoid the heat.

In his father's memory Man rides cross country for melanoma

[From the Times-Leader of Martins Ferry, Ohio.]



T-L Lifestyles Editor

WHILE MANY sons and daughters will be traveling across town or even across a state or two to pay tribute to their fathers today, one Adena native has a slightly longer trip in mind.

Kevin Madzia, Adena native and Pittsburgh resident, will be honoring his father, the late George Madzia, with a cross country bike trip to help raise money and awareness about melanoma. The elder Madzia died at the age of 62 from melanoma which spread to his organs in November 2002.

Continue reading

Seattle-Skykomish, WA

A group of us got started promptly, a little after 6:00am. We left the University via the Burke-Gillman Trail, which we followed for a few miles to the Wallingford neighborhood. After breakfast at a local church, we went down to Gasworks Park to dip our rear wheels into Puget Sound for the official start of our journey.

We turned back up the trail and followed it all the way to Woodinville. From there, local roads led us to Duvall, then eventually to Sultan and Gold Bar on the Stevens Pass Highway. In Duvall, I caught up to Peter Culley from Pittsburgh, and Ryan, both Cycle America staff members. The three of us hammered pretty hard for about 25 miles to the lunch stop outside of Gold Bar.

The remaining 25 miles of the ride was pretty much a straight shot up the Stevens Pass Highway to the town of Skykomish. Some climbing was involved, but nothing too harsh yet. Scenic highlights were vistas of some lower Cascade peaks, cold rushing mountain streams, and last-chance espresso stands.

I got to the end of the ride around 1:05pm; total mileage for the day was 76.5, average speed was 16, and maximum speed was 38. I got cleaned up with a cold shower at the Skykomish High School. Later in the afternoon, Matt from Australia and I took a ride in the van with a few staffers (Kira, Paul, Jeremy, Tauna, and Mary) to the edge of town to take a refreshing dip in the Skykomish River. It was ice cold! I just waded a bit, but everyone else took the full plunge!

After dinner (good–lasagna) and the daily Tour Talk, we got to hear everyone’s stories as we all introduced ourselves and told about what led us to be on the tour.

Later, a large group of us went to the Whistling Post Tavern and knocked back a few pitchers of Alaskan Amber Ale and Red Hook ESB.

Fremont Fair and Tour Orientation

I got out of bed around 8:00am today and had the usual breakfast once again. I did a load of laundry, the stuff I had used since I got to Seattle. I re-packed the bags, and loaded them and the bike into Phil’s Ford Explorer again. We headed out a little after noon.

Today’s fun involved heading back into the city for the Fremont Fair, also known as the Summer Soltice Festival, in the neighborhood of Fremont. This was a street fair with the usual array of food, art, and craft vendors. We saw a restored statue of Lenin, plus lots of barely-dressed participants from the Soltice Parade.

We got lunch at an Indian food stand called Chutney’s, which was very good. We ducked into Dad Watson’s brew pub for a quick one; Phil and I both had a nitrogenated Dry Irish Stout, and Tracy got a Terminator Stout.

The Fremont area is pretty close to the University District; Phil and Tracy got me to the UW campus around 4:00pm, and we said our good-byes. I will miss them; they took good care of me over the past few days, and I had a really good visit.

Our tour check-in and accomodations for the night were at a fairly decent dormitory call McMahon Hall. My first job in the room was to unpack my bike and get it put back together, which went off without any hitches. By then it was time for dinner, so I hooked up with some of the other riders and tour staff to walk and find Roundtable Pizza, which was a few blocks from campus.

Back at McMahon after dinner, we assembled for our first Tour Talk, which is where the staff briefs us on details and highlights for the next day’s ride. At this first gathering, the staff also introduced themselves, and gave us a general breakdown of a typical day on the tour.

A dozen or so of us gathered on the patio and compared stories of past rides and our thoughts on the upcoming ride. Once again, the view of Mt. Rainier just over our shoulders was spectacular.

Redmond, WA

Slept until 10:00am today. After another good yogurt and granola breakfast, we headed over to hang out at the Redmond Town Center. We walked their dog Hasta around the bike trail nearby, then I got some ice cream at the Cold Stone Creamery. I checked out the local REI store and picked up some chamois cream for the bike trip. Then, we had some lunch at a deli.

On the way back home, we stopped to take a walk in the dog area of Marymoor Park, and checked out the velodrome and the rock climbing wall.

We stopped at Larry’s Market to get some beer and supplies for dinner, which was at our friends Bill and Kim’s house in West Seattle. I met their year-old son Quinn for the first time. We enjoyed dinner on their deck with a view of the sunset over Puget Sound; dinner was grilled pork (courtesy of Bill), mashed potatoes (courtesy of Kim), green beans, and cobbler for dessert (both courtesy of Tracy).