Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day One: Redmond to Kelso

Today I rode my bicycle 150 miles. The most I’d ever done in a day before today was 110 so this was a pretty big jump. My dad met up with me in Kelso so I didn’t have to carry all of my stuff. I elected to carry my panniers with a lot of food, some first aid stuff, a swimsuit, my Lonely Planet Guide, … I should explain the swimsuit: I saw “The Old Swimming Hole” on today’s route map at mile 80 and I was hoping to find a happy crowd of people there. I was glad to have a midpoint goal on the road – it gave me something to look forward to when I passed miles 50, 60, 70, … rather than just thinking about the end point at mile 150.

My goal was to leave my house by 7am. I didn’t want to get up uber-early but I didn’t know what kind of pace I could hold with the touring setup and 150 miles to cover.

I woke up without an alarm at 5:45am. I made a pile of bacon and eggs with a green bell pepper and cheddar cheese, packed a few more items, checked my bike one last time, watched a tiny bit of the day’s Tour stage on my Tivo and rolled out at 6:59am. At 7:00 I realized it was drizzling out so I turned around to grab my wind jacket out of the bag that I had packed for my dad to bring.

I’ll tell the rest of this *long* write-up through a series of pictures. I had my cell phone in a jersey pocket and took a bunch of pictures during the ride.

7:42am: Welcome to Renton. My first City Limit sign.


7:47am: the view of Lake Washington from Lake Washington Blvd in Renton. This is part of the traditional South End bike loop that every cyclist in Seattle seems to ride on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Luckily Recycled Cycles / Raleigh has a few guys who favor variety so we get out to Snohomish County a lot. Variety is the spice of life, after all.


8:07am: downtown Renton


8:17am: the first time that I got lost, and probably not the last … although it was the only time today that I made any wrong turns. My plan was to start w the Lake Washington loop and to join up with the STP (Seattle-to-Portland) route once I hit Renton, but I tried to make up a “shortcut” on the fly and it didn’t work out so well. I killed about 15 minutes in this neighborhood with lots of steepish hills … especially steep when you’re hauling a load.


8:24am: my detour allowed me to visit the historic Chris Tremonte birthplace.


8:25am: waiting to cross over SR 167. Hopefully the STP route is just on the other side. Note that the weather is overcast and grey.


8:29am: I had to stop and take a picture of “Mor: Furniture for Less.” I swear they have every other advertisement during some of the bike races on Versus. I’d never been there in person.


8:35am: I see my first STP “Dan Henry” on the road. This momentous occasion seems worthy of getting me off of my bike again. I clearly wasn’t in any kind of hurry this morning.


8:52am: I passed this BBQ place in Kent and had to stop and take a picture. In fact, I even emailed the picture to Lowell, Keith and Chris at work. I liked the outdoor picnic tables, too. They remind me of the seating at Rudy’s BBQ in Austin, They used to call themselves “The Worst BBQ in Texas.” They lie.


9:52am: Is that another rider up the road? Really? Turned out to be a local guy who was riding to a nearby town that I’d never heard of.


9:52am: It is very important to water your cemetery. Otherwise all the people die.


9:59am: Welcome to Puyallup


11:45am: Welcome to Roy, WA. If I make the Olympic team in triathlon, will the city of Redmond put up one of these signs for me?

Roy looked like an interesting town to stop in for lunch – a few western-themed bars/restaurants – but I was only 63 miles down the road after 4 hours and 45 minutes, so a sit-down meal seemed like a bad idea.


11:54am: the road out of Roy was another reasonably quiet two-lane “highway” with a good shoulder and pretty good pavement. I probably spent the majority of my time on this type of road today, but there was a bit of variety – some urban areas, some wider roads, some narrower roads, some flat, some hilly, …


12:06am: I rode over some river. It looked inviting.


12:06pm: I passed another place that sells meat. The slant of the picture is an effect of my tremendous rate of speed, I think. You’ll see another example of this when we get to the railroad crossing.


12:12pm: I’ll give you one guess about what I said out loud when I saw this truck. I think it was in the town of Yelm.


12:36pm – 12:52pm: There was a nice rails-to-trails path from Yelm to Tenino.


12:56pm: I finally arrived at my just-past-halfway point, The Old Swimming Hole at mile 80. Sadly nobody else was there … but there was a campsite across the river with a still-smoking campfire, so I just missed running into some people there. There was a sweet rope swing that I wanted to try out, but it looked like it would be difficult to retrieve the rope all by myself. I thought about going for it anyways but was still tight on time … and didn’t have a towel … lame.


1:30pm: this is the road from Tenino to Centralia, I think


1:34pm: I got stopped at the high-speed rail crossing on 184th Ave SE. The train must have been going 50-70mph … check out the slanting effect from my cell phone camera.


1:38pm: this is SR-507 heading towards Centralia


1:40pm: welcome to Bucoda


1:58pm: this farm country looked nice


2:00pm: Welcome to Lewis County. I hope that means that I’m almost in Centralia.


2:01pm: This is the Amtrak Cascades train heading northbound. Stehula and friends are taking this train to Seattle from San Luis Obispo before they start their own west coast ride the week after next.


2:04pm: Yay! Centralia! The sign was hiding behind a tree but I found it anyways. I was thinking of stopping for lunch here … maybe meeting up with my dad. But instead I just filled up my bottles at the Centralia College library and rolled out of town. After riding through town I ran into a guy named Max who was riding to Arcata, CA. We rode together for a few miles until I found my dad south of Chehalis.


I didn’t take any more pictures for the next 40-50 miles but my dad did. The sun finally came out somewhere around Chehalis. These are in sort-of chronological order. The first two are in Chehalias. The later ones are at stops around mile 120 or 125, plus two “from the car” shots. Note that I’ve dropped off the panniers at this point. I carried them past Chehalis but once I had my dad & his car nearby, there wasn’t a logical reason to keep carrying the extra weight.

P1000596 P1000597 P1000598 P1000599 P1000600 P1000601 P1000602

ran a little short on food and hit up a gas station at mile 138 for five more not-so-nutritious items that helped get me to the finish line.

5:59pm: Welcome to Longview


6:01pm: Welcome to Kelso


I ate a ton of “ride food” out there today but didn’t get to stop for any “real food.” I plan to do better on that front on the shorter ride days, when I’ll have a bit more time to dilly-dally. Here is a rough count of what I ate:

  • one Zone bar
  • two clif bars
  • two mini/sample-sized clif bars
  • one sample-size luna bar
  • a bag of blueberries and raspberries – the last of a flat from my kitchen in Redmond
  • two nutri-grain bars
  • two fruit bars that Leif left behind
  • two dark snickers bars
  • a package of Trader Joe’s flattened bananas
  • 8 bottles of water
  • a golden grahams chocolate marshmallow bar
  • a pkg of fig newtons (2 long ones)
  • a pkg of oreos (6)
  • a nature valley trail mix granola bar
  • a third of an equal exchange chocolate bar

I was on the road for about 11 hours to cover the 150 miles. I carried my panniers for about 105-110 miles, then handed them off to my dad because, well, why not … tomorrow the plan is to follow the Lonely Planet route to Astoria and then head south along the coast.

For dinner tonight, I am thinking Burgerville. I’ve never been there before but it sounds good on Yelp.


  1. Awesome post man!!! Maybe I should have come with you, I'm sure we would have had a blast.

    And who introduced you to those flattened bananas?

    I can't believe you put aerobars on that thing. Thought you had a bad back!

  2. The aero position isn't terribly aggressive on the touring bike. It's been nice to have another position option on the long days.

    You totally should have come with me on this trip. I'm sure your SW Colo trip will rock, too, but still...

    I still remember the day that Jessi & I were introduced to flattened bananas. The cashier was eating some while she checked out our order. She let us try some and they were tasty, so we bought like four packs.