Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hawkins Family Bike Tour: Day 4

This was the marathon. This was the day that Claire and I proved ourselves in the family bicycle tourist continuum. This was the day that Claire and I rode from Onalaska to Battleground, a distance of 80 miles. This was the day when we really needed to make sure that Thorvald was enjoying himself so that he will still trust us when we put him in the trailer. This was the day when Claire and I would ride together on the same bike longer than we ever have before.

None of those things happened.

It was nippy and Claire's great uncle Jerry informed us that he was driving us to Toledo. I had to find out where Toledo is because we did the whole trip on a cue sheet and I wasn't carrying a map. O.K. Toledo. That's kind of close. Upon reviewing our options, the secondary and close city of Vader was chosen because it was actually on our route. This isn't bad.

We found out that the derelict semi-trailers parked at the corner of Hwy 508 and Jackson Hwy that we guided ourselves to their place with (as markers) are actually his. We found out that as a contractor, you can bid on something, lose money, and you are still stuck with the contract, even if you end up paying for the opportunity to do the job, and we found out that one can easily spend $100 filling up a pick-up truck. No wonder those guys are always so mad at us cyclists; always cutting close, always flooring it as they go by, always letting the engine idle at the gas station while they fill up or go inside to buy that 20 ounce energy drink. I understand more fully now.

We started off from Vader and had a down hill (Jerry is very thoughful that way) at 9:00 AM and while getting situated, an old Suburban pulling a 50's Chevy wreck came slowly down that same hill. About 100 ft after they passed us, the hitch broke loose and the wreck slammed into the back of the Suburban. We coasted down the hill to see if we could help and they just said "Nah, this ole' truck just doesn't seem to want to go to the wrecking yard. Say, didn't I see you guys in Centralia yesterday?" We responded in the affirmative and that we really enjoyed Centralia and then we were off on our way, trying to make good time just in case they "fixed" the hitch quickly.

The road winds around but follows roughly the RR tracks and we soon found our way into Castle Rock. Claire and I noticed that Diesel was selling for $4.29 but that didn't stop two fine gentlemen from idling their Dodges in front while they went in for their aforementioned energy drinks, Corn dogs, and Little Nickel publications. Fascinating!

One guy came out and gave us a better route than following the 411 into Longview and so we took it and were happy. Pleasant Hill Rd. is pleasant indeed. We passed a street cleaner and found to our liking that the road before the street cleaning machine was clean as well. The trees were in full bloom and we saw a blue bird or a bluejay. We don't know. It was nice.

Next up, we cruised through Longview and then Kelso and then Longview again (that's just the way they are organized; we went in a direct path) and since Thorvald was sleeping well, we trudged on to Kalama where we arrived at 12:00 'noon. We spent about 2 hours in Kalama at different places, learned how to pronounce the name (you'll have to ride with us to find out), and generally worked Thor until he was docile and ready for riding (napping).

Between Kalama and Woodland lies a cycling conundrum. You don't really want to ride on the freeway because that's kind of like cheating and it's kind of loud, and everybody thinks it's dangerous. The only problem is that the only connecting road looks like this:

Look at what happens when you start up Line Road. That sucker was so steep, we pushed the thing up most of the way, and then high fived each other, not realizing that we were only half way up! It was laughably difficult and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a cycling challenge. On the way down, I couldn't tell if the drag brake was working and once on the flats, found that the brake had stuck closed. Apparently, it still works.

The rest of the ride was punctuated by rolling hills, Thorvald's constant sleep (we're going to pay for that tonight, I tell ya') and a very helpful cyclist named Greg who led us on a new path that turned out perfect. Claire might correct me on his name but he had an older Trek 520 with nice, old brifters. Nice guy.

We arrived in Battleground around 4:30 or 5 and had a great time with Tom and Monique, of which, Tom is Claire's cousin.

We didn't break anything except perhaps the drag brake which is sticky and I haven't tried since, and we parked the bike in the chicken coop, where I'm sure it will work better tomorrow.

Total mileage was somewhere around 60-65, down from 80 because of the ride from Jerry, but felt like more because of Green Mountain Road (#^$%^&^%^%#^%*&^, I mean highlight of the day). Thorvald is having a great time with the 4 kids who reside here and we're having a great time. The weather turned from nippy and rainy to sunny today. Tomorrow will be great!

Well today was pretty fun too.


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