But the geology and the town of St John and this insane event in the middle of farm country make it worth the extra effort. I hope. Could be a dumspter fire of a bike trip. But what's not to like about a good dumpster fire now and again?
Anyway, today was the day I'd set aside for some recon, by motor vehicle. It did happen and the following pics are from it. At this point, I'm confident that we have a good, solid, workable plan. There's definitely room to tweak and improve, but here's the basic layout:
Of the two race dates, Jun 18 and Aug 27, the Jun date makes way more sense: It's way greener and prettier and less parched, days are longer, and it's not in the middle of harvest, where you have to share the roads with farm equipment. Plus, I just feel that earlier is better. So that part's decided (executive decision).
Departure from Spo is somewhere in the 7-8 am range on Sat. Racing starts at 10, but goes pretty much all day, I think. (We don't need to see every race.) It will take us maybe 5 hours to get there if we do some dirt, less if we stick to pavement. So arrive noon to one-ish. Watch. Absorb something extremely different. Drink a little beer, eat some concession food. Bake in the sun. Get our heads square with the concept of sprint boat racing.
Head out between 3 and 4. Hit the grocery store. From there, it's about a 12 mile ride to where we'll be spending the night. We've already ridden 50 loaded miles and then we've been cooking in the sun. One to 1.5 hours, so arrive at 5 or 5:30. Pitch camp, cook, eat, bullshit, pass out.
Early up next morning, all fired up about the 28 mile ride into Cheney on rollers. Breakfast at Willow Springs Station. Hopefully we tip better than we smell. Limp back into town on the FLT. Go home and
You get the idea. Enough talk. Without further ado, here are the pictures.
|23 paved miles from the end of the FLT to Pine City on roads like these, except that it will be way greener and prettier.|
|At Pine City we can either stay on paved and head straight to St John or peel of on dirt for the last 10. Yep, that's a primitive road sign.|
|Not so primitve yet, just pretty.|
|Getting more primitive. And climby.|
|This pic is for Patty (RN at Shriner's).|
|Our course is to the left. Now getting way more primitive.|
|Just barely escaped the deadline.|
|Very scenic. Erosion ruts are an avoidable nuisance.|
|Cool storefront downtown. It's not a LBS, dont' be ridiculous. Looks like an office of a professional who happens to like bikes.|
|The eight miles from St John to Ewan along Hwy 23 are the suckiest of the trip. Busy, 55 mph, no shoulder. We will persevere.|
|From Ewan, we'll take Rock Lake Road north. Almost immediately, the John Wayne Trail (JWT) railbed is on display. Very cool.|
|Thinking about pitching your tent in this tunnel? I'm way ahead of you.|
|I took my bike along, hoping I could find the trailhead and ride far enough to find the cool camping spot. I found the trailhead. But the gate was locked.|
|And it was obviously not cool to blow it off.|
|I will be calling to find out if this is an option for us.|
|Just a bit farther up the road is this access area to Rock Lake.|
|The amenities are righteous.|
|Offset by the fact that no fires are allowed. Boo. We shall persevere, though.|
|I thought I'd check out the dirt road options for getting back to Cheney. This one is on the NW side of the lake. The surface is sweet. Too bad it's so far away from the lake - the views are few and far between.|
|But there are a few, and they're awesome.|
|That's a JWT trestle, and a tunnel just to the right of it. Damn, so cool.|
|The road eventually got primitiver and primitever. I didn't have the cajones to risk getting stuck in the middle of no-effing-where on a Sun afternoon, so I turned around, for the second time.|
At this point, I don't think you need me to tell you . . . You know you should do this trip. Don't you.