Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Planning on a Century Ride

Location: Colville, WA 99114, USA
Leaving Coeur D'Alene on a Monday morning we were sat in pretty rough traffic for a while, but soon enough we were onto the quieter roads heading north.  There is a Bike Hostel in Colville, WA, that we had decided to make our destination for the night.  It was 107 miles away.  This was just about the furthest we would have rode in a day and the other times we'd done similar distances we'd done it by accident.  This might sound funny, but psychologically the last few miles are always the worst, hence why when we don't have a destination we can push on bit further.  Setting out to do 107 miles you don't have the luxury of that, you're focussed on the end point and this tends to shift perspective on the whole ride.  Still, we were up for it.  We'd be crossing into Washington, our last state, and we were going to have a lazy rest day at the hostel, watching The Wire and not doing much else.  We made it to Newport/Old Town on the Idaho-Washington border by around noon, but there was no state sign welcoming us to our eighth and final state.  Pretty gutted we continued on towards a random point we'd decided to have lunch at.  The border was about 45 miles from Rachel and Donnie's and we wanted to make it to at least roughly halfway for lunch.

We pulled over to check the map and this is when we realised the route I had checked on googlemaps was actually taking us on a load of forest service roads over the hills.  Not good.  We couldn't even find them on the Pocket Earth maps on Tom's phone.  If we stayed on the road it would add another 20 miles on, way too far for us to ride in a day.  We found another road on the paper state map that went up past a ski area and managed to find this on phone too.  We weren't sure what the road would be like, but it was our best shot as it only added 2-3 miles making the total ride just shy of 110 miles.  We stopped for lunch.  I was feeling pretty pissed off with myself for missing the fact google had sent us on some crazy tracks when I was planning the route.  It started raining.  Off course it did, this is Washington and we'd been warned about the rain.  Raincoats on we finished our lunch and got going again.  At the junction for us to turn up towards the ski area and Chewelah beyond I asked a driver coming from that way what the road was like.  Steep but paved.  This was excellent news, we could cope with that.  I just didn't want us up a mountain, in the rain, pushing our bikes through mud on some rough track.

The climb was fine, not so steep, but pretty long and the worst part was that as we were travelling slowly we were at the whims of the swarms of mosquitoes.  It's the first time we'd encountered them on the trip and they were so aggravating.  Luckily before too long we'd climbed high enough that they were no longer a problem.  We passed the sign for the ski area and knew we must be nearing the summit.  At the top we put on extra layers for the descent and started bombing our way down to Chewelah.  I think this might have been my favourite downhill of the trip, its definitely up there anyway.  Hardly any traffic, not freezing cold, not too steep, nice sweeping corners.  The Goldilocks of downhills.  We made it in to Chewelah just before 6pm, with just over 20 miles still to go we knew we'd be cutting it fine to arrive before dark.

The road was gently undulating and we were going at a good pace considering we'd been riding for so long, turning off the highway we started climbing and winding our way through country roads up into the hills.  This was a tiring end to the day.  But the end didn't arrive.  That last 6 or 7 miles seemed to go on forever, and always climbing.  As the sun sank behind the hills we finally reached our destination. The Bacon Bike Hostel is a free place to stay, built by Shelley and Barry Bacon to help cycle tourers.  They're not cycle tourers themselves, they're just incredibly nice, generous people.  It has four rooms which can each sleep up to four people, two bathrooms and a communal kitchen/diner/living room.  Did I mention it's free?  This was our first foray back on to a well-travelled bike route since we left the West Coast, but since we were so early in the season we were the only ones staying so we had the place to ourselves.  We collapsed into bed feeling exhausted but pleased with ourselves.  We'd come a long way since those early days of running out of daylight after only doing 45 miles.

Unfortunately we'd planned our food badly and needed to go into Colville the next day or spend the day hungry.  It was only 6 miles so after a lazy morning we got on the bikes and headed for the grocery store.  We knew it was all downhill to town but jeez it was steep!  We quickly started to regret our decision, the ride back was going to be hell. We should have just holed up and not eaten.  We went wild in the supermarket buying pork chops, potatoes and veg since we had the luxury of a cooker and the ability to cook more than one thing at once.  Our salvation came in the form of Shelley offering us a lift, with our bikes, back up to the hostel.  We headed over to the little community cafĂ© she volunteers at and enjoyed a soup and sandwich for lunch.  We had fun chatting to the other workers and customers and were even given a delicious vegan chocolate truffle.  Back at the hostel we made a feast for dinner and settled down for a binge session of The Wire.  Tomorrow we had to climb Sherman Pass, the first of five passes to get us to the coast and supposedly the worst of them, so we got an early-ish night so we could get a good start the following day.


  1. Wow, you were really burning the rubber on this leg of the journey! Mr P

    1. Not sure on burning rubber but we definitely tired our legs out. We certainly pushed hard that day