I don't know exactly when I started planning this trip, but maybe a year and a half ago. In a nutshell, my brain hatched the idea to celebrate my first half-century on the planet by doing something bike-special. In the brainstorming phase, all options were on the table . . . even ideas like devoting the year to racing and seeing how fast and fit I could become. But there had been planted in my head a seed of a slightly different variety, and I don't know where it came from exactly, but it sprouted and took root, and whatever remaining internal discussion ensued was really just an excercise. The first time I wrote about it was here.
If I had a dime for every hour I've spent thinking, dreaming, researching, scheming about this trip over the past year-and-a-half, I could buy myself some some pretty fabulous new bike gear . . . maybe even a whole new bike of some sort. The dream would not be complete if it didn't involve a fatbike, and so there was the whole deal of figuring out which one and all the component nuances. And then figuring out the travel gear and how to haul it, which inevitably would include conceiving and fabricating new rackage. And then hours of route planning over google and paper maps, and synthesizing bits and pieces of personal and online accounts of people who had ridden or knew something about the trail. Along with dedicated recon trips. And non-recon trips that got hijacked into checking out sections of the trail. I'm not a super old man yet, but there's some wisdom that's been slowing developing and one thing of which I'm a thousand percent certain is that dreams are a very good thing and I relish every second I spent dreaming about this trip.
The dream then, finally ended and became reality this past week.
For all my planning, it took on a life of its own. Not that the planning was pointless or useless; it's just that the trail is so bold and so powerful that it's not about to let anyone, let alone some dumbass city-dweller, tame it or tell it how things are gonna be. On the other hand, it was a damn fine host - country style. It shared its spectacular scenery without reserve and insisted that I relinquish a certain amount of control over the experience . . so that I could experience! And so for that, I owe it my gratitude.
My most profound anvil-in-the-forehead type of takeaway from this trip is how little control we ultimately have over this life and what a hinderance we place on ourselves when we try to use control as a shelter. The lesson from the trail goes way deeper than that brief statement and right to some pretty powerful stuff at my core, but the tone of this blog is supposed to be more on the light-hearted side. Maybe one day we can sit down in person and do some peyote together and I will unload on you. Hopefully not, for your sake.
On a lighter note, my biggest whimsical surprise: I've never worn a cowboy hat and it's been many years since I've downed an orange soda. On this trip, me and my hat were pretty much inseparable and any bottle of Fanta in sight was justifiably in fear for its life. Righteous.
By the numbers:
380 - Total miles
42 hrs, 34 mins - Total saddle time
153,240 - Crank revolutions (Assuming a cadence of 60)
11.5 - Highest daily speed avg (Day 6)
5.5 - Lowest daily speed avg (Day 2)
64 - Trestles crossed
40 - Trestles detoured
11 - Tunnels passed
0 - Tunnels detoured
?? - Gates passed (There is such a thing as too much counting)
23 - Deer spotted (By the end of day 1. And then I quit. There is such a thing as too much counting.)
6 - Rabbits (Where are all the bunnies?)
1 - Elk
1 - Coyote (Where are all the dogs?)
I've decided that the way I'd like to tell the story of this trip is day-at-a-time, so seven posts are forthcoming. Lots of pics and thoughts to organize, so not sure about the exact schedule. Thanks in advance for your patience.
Edit/Supplement, Oct 30, 2012:
I'm adding the following index of posts covering this trip, so that information will be available on a section-by-section basis for anyone who's trying to learn more about the trail or plan a trip. I've also included a link to an interactive map on bikeroutetoaster.com.
Interactive Route Map On Bikeroutetoaster.com
Note: To get a gpx track of the route, click the "Summary" tab and look for the "Download" box. Or email my at pat[dot]sprute[at]gmail[dot]com and I'll send you the file.
Prologue: WA-ID Border to Tekoa and Beyond
Day 1: Just Past Tekoa to A Ways Past Ewan
Day 2: Middle of Nowhere to Ralston
Day 3: Ralston to Othello
Day 4: Othello to Ellensburg
Day 5: Ellensburg to Snoqualmie Pass
Day 6: Snoqualmie Pass to Puget Sound
A Supplementary Post With Some Detail About Our Bikes And Gear
The 2015 Cow Creek Revisit