Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A TOUR OF THE STATE

Well, now it almost feels as though I'm growing roots here in Washington State, USA! Since my previous post I did a picture presentation and answered lots of questions, and I'm pleased to note that people seemed to enjoy the show (thanks to Elizabeth for organising the event, and to those who gave donations).
My Canadian visa was still going to take another week or 2, so I decided to get on my bike and cycle around Washington state in the improved weather. Also, Gene (with who I was staying in Tacoma) had a bicycle trailer which I was keen to try out, and he was kind enough to lend the trailer to me for the round trip around the state.
First I cycled West, around the Puget Sound. I cycled through beautiful areas along the Hood Canal up to Port Townsend, where I took a ferry to Whidbey Island (this is a beautiful area, and I camped - as I mostly did - in the State Park at Deception Point).
Then I headed East, passing Seattle to the North, on my way to the Northern Cascade Mountains. I followed SR 20, which is closed in the winter due to the heavy snowfalls. However, now there hadn't been any snow for several weeks, so the road was clear. The road followed the Skagit River up past picturesque Diablo Dam and Lake Ross. Then there was some serious climbing but I was rewarded with spectacular scenery.
I crossed over the Rainy Pass and the Washington Pass, and from there on I at least had a good amount of downhill. On the downhills the bike was all over the road, and I realised that a serious problem had started to develop with my rear wheel-hub. That night I camped at a bike camp site called "Barn Bicycle Camping", which I shared with another cyclist out on only his second day across the country.
Just when I was getting used to the downhills, I turned into the wind, and at the same time the rear hub needed constant attention (and some strange improvised repairs). My hands were constantly caked in black grease due to my mechanical prowes along the road. According to Murphy's Law, when you are keeping your eye on one problem, then others will arise. A sudden gust of wind one evening took my tent and broke a pole for which I don't have a specific spare. Also, my gear cable broke, and unpacking the spares bag in the wind made the area resemble the scene of a plane crash. My bike now has puncture-protected tyres, but the trailer had a puncture!
For the last three days of this side-trip I battled along, working on the bike every few kilometres. Eventually I had to pack the trailer up on top of the back rack of the bike, and then the bike came to a grinding halt as the wheel finally refused to turn. I discovered that if I pushed the bike backwards for a while, then I could cycle again for a while, then push backwards again, and so forth. All this along the I 90 highway in a pumping wind.
Eventually, at a roadside gas station in Vantage, I was close enough to call Gene where he was working in Ellensburg (and so, thankfully, I was rescued). I was pleased to be able to pick up a good second-hand hub, and I've now done the necessary repairs to the bike. A month ago I camped on the lawn at Gene and Elizabeth's house in Tacoma, and I think they are pleased that I will finally be leaving for Canada tomorrow (Elizabeth even gave me a laptop computer to see me on my way). I'm thankful to them for everything they've done for me during my time here with them in Tacoma.
Daily distances cycled since my last update have been:- Belfair 77 km; Port Townsend 137 km; Whidbey Island 58 km; Rockport 92 km; Colonial Creek 59 km; Mazama 95 km; Pateros 89 km; Chelan 51 km; Wennachee 41 km; Crescent Bar 60 km; and Ellensburg 41 km (plus lift). The total distance cycled so far on this trip is 109 700 km (68 563 miles), distance in the USA so far is 5 074 km (3 171 miles).
[In the end the total distance cycled in the USA was 5 174 km, which is 3 234 miles].