Northern Tier Cross-country Cycling Tour, NT Section 1

May 26 to June 8, Anacortes WA to Sandpoint ID

NT Section 1 map

5/26/05 ThursdayAnacortes WA
5/27/05 FridayAnacortes WA
5/28/05 SaturdayAnacortes WA
5/29/05 SundayConcrete WA
5/30/05 MondayDiablo WA
5/31/05 TuesdayWinthrop
6/01/05 WednesdayWinthrop
6/02/05 ThursdayTonasket WA
6/03/05 FridayRepublic WA
6/04/05 SaturdayColville WA
6/05/05 SundayIone WA
6/06/05 MondayNewport ID
6/07/05 TuesdaySandpoint ID
6/08/05 WednesdaySandpoint ID

5/26/05 Thursday, Anacortes WA

Brendan's photo of the harbor with a boat I had decided to arrive in Anacortes a day early so that I'd have time to get settled in and assemble my bike. My bike is fitted with S&S Couplers so it fits into a non-oversized hard-sided suitcase, saving typically $160 per round-trip airplane flight. However my gigantic bicycle (68 cm) must be almost completely disassembled to fit into the case so I like to leave myself lots of time.

(Thanks to Brendan for the photo.)

Eric in Anaco Inn in Anacortes I'm sharing a room with Eric, a civil engineer from Port Townsend WA. When I arrived at the Anaco Inn after 9:00 pm Eric was already there. He had ridden from Port Townsend, so the tour has already started for him.

I found Bill, the tour leader, and riders John and Jim in room 104. Bill is a former programmer for Univac who owned a bike shop in Arizona for a number of years but is now retired in Ashland OR. John is a friend and former customer of Bill's from Phoenix. They have done a number of private tours together. Jim is a 69-year-old retired insurance broker from Iowa. Bill was making Jim go through his stuff to decide what is really necessary and send the rest of it home.

I had dinner at a Subway sandwich shop.

5/27/05 Friday, Anacortes WA

After a continental breakfast in the hotel I assembled my bike. I have arranged with the bike shop at the end of the trip in Bar Harbor to store my hard-sided bike case until the end of the tour. As I was lugging the "empty" case full of tools, street clothes, etc. down the street to the post office, Ray drove by and kindly offered to take me in his car. We then had a fast-food lunch with Eric who happened by on his bike. Ray is in the process of selling his sewing machine business - he's "almost retired". After lunch, as he was backing out of the parking space he had a fender-bender with another car.

Maddy and parents in front of the Anaco Inn People have been drifting into the hotel all day. I think I have met almost everybody now. We have 15 riders plus the tour leader. Thanks to RonP for this photo of Maddy and her parents in front of the Anaco Inn. Maddy is the youngest rider and just graduated from the same eastern university I managed to bluff my way through almost 35 years ago.

Bill called a group meeting at 7pm to give instructions and divide up the group equipment. With 16 people, each person doesn't have to carry too much gear. I got two fuel bottles.

5/28/05 Saturday, Anacortes WA 21 miles

Looking up the hill Today was just a short shake-down ride to check out the equipment. Since there were no route slips we used the "Russian" method - "stopoff and peeloff". That is, whenever you come to a turn you wait until the next bunch of riders arrives then they wait for the group after them, etc. Despite all that we did manage to take a wrong turn at one point, down an absurdly steep hill that we then had to climb back up. (Thanks to Brendan for the photo.)

After continental breakfast at the Anaco Inn, we made our lunch of cheese and tomato sandwiches and headed out. We had our traditional wheel-dipping ceremony on the boat ramp of a local park. Left to right in the photo below are Wes, Dave, Jeanne, RonP, Carol, Don (hidden), Brendan, Geoff, Maddy, Eric, Jim, RonE, Alan (me), John, and Ray. Bill is is the one with the camera.

The group dipping wheels in the Pacific Ocean

John looking over Deception Pass We ate lunch at some picnic tables nearby, checked out the overlook at Deception Pass (that's John in the photo), and rode back to the inn.

5/29/05 Sunday, Concrete WA 60 miles

Don and I drew cook duty the first day. We had decided to ride together and get an early start but he overslept so we didn't get off until 8:30.

Don with sandwich beside a stream Don is VP in charge of the IT (computer) department at a packaged goods manufacturer in Missouri. We stopped for lunch by a little stream just off the road.

Brendan 'in Concrete' The grocery was a couple miles from camp so we quickly set up tents, emptied our panniers, and headed off to shop. We did get the chicken stir fry served only 11 minutes late but we were hustling like crazy the whole time.

A power pole transformer exploded as we were making dinner so there was no electricity in the one toilet/shower in the campground. However, I was able to get a warm shower before the hot water ran out.

5/30/05 Monday, Diablo WA 45 miles

Looking across a valley at a waterfall Everybody was up early for some reason. Most people were on the road by 7:30 even though it was a fairly short day.

Valley with dam in foreground The only store was in Newhalen, about 10 miles from the end, so everyone had to help carry supplies. Not much selection in the store so we're having canned chili tonight.

The approach to Rainy pass There was a long climb on the approach to Rainy Pass before our campground near Diablo Lake. I think that's RonE in the photo. We have to use last initials to distinguish between the two Rons on the trip. RonE is a just-retired civil engineer from Beltsville MD. RonP is a retired technician for the phone company (Quest). He's the one who's always smiling and has covered every inch of his bike with stickers from places he's traveled.

We're camping at National Park Service's Colonial Campground. Jim had to catch a sag from a "civilian" the last 3 miles of the climb and then felt so sick he couldn't eat his dinner. He has recently had a stomach bypass operation which makes it difficult to eat enough when touring.

5/31/05 Tuesday, Winthrop 66 miles

It was rainy on top of Rainy Pass The longest hardest day so far - 66 miles with over 5000 ft of climbing. The rain started a few miles from camp as we went over Rainy Pass and continued off and on over Washington Pass. But the downhill was teriffic!

Me wearing my rain gear atop Washington Pass My friend Sue had fabricated for me some "rain spats" cut out from a pair of grey waterproof pants. They cover the shoes and the front of the legs but the back of the legs are open to allow evaporation of sweat. They worked well, other than a little leakage around the toes. I'll have to put Seam Seal on the seams on our layover day tomorrow.

John at the Washington Pass Overlook turnoff Here's a good photo of John atop Washington Pass. I was in "hammer" mode today for some reason and got into Winthrop about 2:30. I had a second lunch in town before proceeding a mile down the road to camp, a very nice KOA.

Pizza dinner in camp A nice couple in the campground this morning sagged Jim to camp. Everyone else did the ride in fine shape, with the last riders pulling in shortly after dinner was served at 6:00. Dinner was take-out pizza since the cooks got in so late. That's a good photo of Ray at the right front of the table.

6/01/05 Wednesday, Winthrop 6 miles

Layover day in Winthop. I cleaned my rims, wiped down the chain, checked voicemail, and read my email at an Internet cafe. It's amazing how quickly you get bored on a rest day and wish you were back on the bike. Even right after a hard day.

Jim has decided to bag it. We had talked about me pulling his Bob on hilly days but he apparently feels he has bitten off more than he can chew. He's a really nice guy so we're sorry to see him go.

Jeanne and Carol in front of a 'Bikini Bike Wash' sign Jeanne and I have talked about me pulling her trailer on her cook days when there is a lot of climbing so she can get to camp on time. I took her "Bicycle Revolution" trailer for a little test ride around camp and it worked fine. Jeanne is the head of the math department at a college in Massachusetts.

Here's a photo taken by RonP later in the trip of Jeanne and Carol.

The pizza last night blew the budget so everybody is on their own today for lunch and dinner. I rode into town with Don and had a buffalo burger and enormous fries for lunch. For dinner, some of the group bought charcoal, fired up the grill, and each person bought his own meat to cook. The rest of us will catch a ride from the campground owner to a restaurant in town.

6/02/05 Thursday, Tonasket WA 73 miles

Wes, Brendan, me, and RonP at top of Loup Loup Pass Loup-Loup Pass today. That's Wes, Brendan, me, and RonP. (Thanks Brendan for the photo.) Wes is an interesting guy. He doesn't have a lot of experience riding but he's very fit. He's a retired physical education teacher and football/track coach from western Pennsylvania.

Irrigated fields with mountains in the background

Group of cyclists around a station wagon We saw a group of cyclists at the top of the pass who are doing a sagged tour. Each rider takes his turn driving, then parks the car at the designated distance, hides the key, and rides on. The car is picked up by the next designated driver when he arrives on his bike.

Brendan and RonP checking out old bicycles Here are Brendan and RonP checking out the "wheels" on the porch in front of the Riverside Grocery and fishing tackle shop. Brendan is a park ranger, a carpenter, and a volunteer announcer at a community radio station in Hope Maine, which we will pass by in a few weeks.

I got a slow leak 5 miles from the end. I wanted to fix it in camp so I kept pumping it up and riding on but I let the pressure get too low and the tire came off the rim. So I had to go ahead and fix the flat a couple blocks from camp.

We're camping at Shannon's Ice Cream Parlour and RV Park. Showers are down the street at the laundromat.

6/03/05 Friday, Republic WA 43 miles

Wauconda Pass Jeanne took me out to breakfast at a restaurant next door to Shannon's as a thank you for hauling her trailer over Wauconda Pass today. She is cooking tonight and worried she wouldn't make it to camp in time.

Her trailer is basically a large Rubbermaid storage container bolted to a frame that attaches to the left rear dropout.

I got another slow leak one mile before the top of the pass. Bill rode up as I was fixing it and found the thorn in the tire for me. I rode with Bill for awhile. Although he is much smaller than I and didn't have the extra load of the trailer, we were descending at about the same speed. It makes me wonder about the aerodynamics of my load.

We're camping tonight at Ferry County Fairgrounds in Republic. We have intermittent rain so the cook crew set up in a breezeway of a building.

6/04/05 Saturday, Colville WA 56 miles

Sherman Pass Sherman Pass today. I rode with Don all day. Thanks Brendan for the photo.

RonE examining statue RonE at a historical display beside the road watching one of the WPA boys at work.

Overview of road through the trees There's actually a cyclist on that road far below.

We're camping at a fairgrounds again, this time in Colville. Don stopped in town at a laundromat. He heard a report of a rider down on Hwy 20. I hope it wasn't one of ours.

6/05/05 Sunday, Ione WA 50 miles

The rider down yesterday was Ray. Route 20 coming out of Colville had been grooved in preparation for repaving. The shoulder had not been grooved but there were periodic rather deep channels cut across the shoulder to allow water to drain. Ray hit one of the channels wrong and crashed. He tore some ligaments and cracked a bone and will have to leave the tour. It's really a shame. Ray was new to long-distance cycling but had really started to get stronger and steadier on the bike. He's also a nice guy with a positive attitude and will be missed by the group.

Don overlooking a small waterfall That's Don in the photo.

The group got a late start today so we only went as far as Ione. It's just as well since there was a cold rain most of the day. We're staying at the Ione Motel and RV Park. Ray, the owner, seems to be an unreconstructed hippie from the 60s.

Everybody but Don opted to stay in the motel and dry out. Don and I cooked a huge pot of tuna helper and made Waldorf salad again for dinner. Everything disappeared except for a small plate of tuna helper which we gave to the owner, who seemed most appreciative.

6/06/05 Monday, Newport ID 52 miles

Along the Pend Oreille River It was a beautiful ride today with beautiful weather after the deluge yesterday. The photo is along the Pend Oreille River.

I stopped at the grill in Usk for lunch. We're staying in Newport on the Washington-Idaho border at the Old American campground.

6/07/05 Tuesday, Sandpoint ID 37 miles

A short day today. On the way through Sandpoint we stopped at two bike shops looking for a new wheel for Don. He ordered one to be delivered tomorrow.

Chris and Suzanne's backyard filled with tents We're camped in the backyard of Chris and Suzanne's house in Sandpoint both today and the rest day tomorrow. That's my (9-year-old) tent at the far right of the photo. Dinner tonight was cooked on their gas grill. Hamburgers and hot dogs.

6/08/05 Wednesday, Sandpoint ID 3 miles

Layover day in Sandpoint. I changed my airline reservation, bought a new soap dish, soap, etc., washed my bike at a car wash, and washed clothes at a laundromat.

Bill bowling We are responsible for our own meals today. For dinner everyone went to Spuds, a local restaurant where Suzanne works.

In the evening some of us went bowling as a team-building exercise.

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