What a crazy journey it’s been the last week! I was just in Kennewick, WA, but I am a little sad to say that we didn’t make it there by bike. For the first time since I started in Minnesota on July 3rd, we had to hitchhike.
My riding partner, Adam and I spent last night in Ritzville, WA, about 80 miles north of Kennewick. The last couple of days were rough, 98 degrees, humid, gritty, hot asphalt roads and almost no shade through wheat field country. Mood was low, but we found a milling company still open just before sunset on the evening of August 10 that let us camp out on site and even kept the bathroom unlocked for us to use through the night. Upon getting ready to head out the next morning, one of the mill managers noticed that the tread on my rear tire had completely worn away, leaving gaps just waiting for a good rock to break through. We created a temporary tread barrier using gorilla tape, which I rode on for almost 50 miles, however going was quite slow as I was worried my tire would give out at any moment.
While pulling off the road for a quick pee break, the bumpy shoulder proved too much for my right front rack, which broke just as I came to a stop. For those of you who remember, this exact thing happened to the left front rack back in eastern Montana! This time, we didn’t have a screw long enough to fix it, so Adam strapped my right saddle bag to the back of his bike, riding with approximately 15 lbs of extra weight. We did try to hitchhike at this point, but alas we were on some of the most desolate back roads we have been on since North Dakota and only saw 5 cars in about 3 hours. We did have someone stop by to give us water, very appreciated as we were dealing with these issues during the heat of mid-afternoon. We had no choice but to ride on and what a pair we were! Me, riding with a bandaged back tire and no rear breaks, (we had no choice but to loosen them so the tape would rotate through), and only one saddle bag on the front and he with an extra bag bulging out from his back rack set. We were able to make it another 25 miles like this to Sprague, WA where we rested at a cafe next to the interstate, hoping we’d have better luck catching a ride south towards Kennewick, the only town on our route for 100 miles with a bike shop. But then a miracle… while contemplating our next move, where best to post up to hitch a ride, a gentleman who had just walked into the cafe overheard us and interjected asking what size tire we needed. It turns out, he was recently retired, was a cyclist and living out of his RV in the area and was certain he had a tire that would work. He and Adam drove back to his RV to pick up the tire and some tools and extra screws and just like that, I had a new (bigger!) tire and a fixed front rack! No bike shop needed!!! And all this gentleman asked for from me was to please pay it forward! This was my road angel moment.
Adam and I rode 25 more miles that evening, putting us at just about 70 for the day when we reached Ritzville, but still about 70 miles behind the rest of our group. Adam was recently accepted into the Peace Corps and has been working very hard to get his legal and medical paperwork completed WHILE biking, so after riding 25 miles this morning, we decided to hitchhike the rest of the way to Kennewick, so that he would have the day to get his medical check up completed and paperwork mailed out. We were picked up by a father/daughter duo on their way to meet the rest of their family for a camping trip! Even with a fully loaded truck and RV, they managed to shove our bikes in and find space for us to cram into the back seat. There are so many wonderful people in the world and I’m happy that I have taken the opportunity to discover that in so many ways on this trip.
I’m super excited to say that I have officially reached 2000 miles on my bike since beginning this trip back on July 3rd! It’s hard to believe that I only have a week left of riding before entering Ochoco National Forest for the Oregon Eclipse Festival. Sandpoint, ID (the panhandle!) was the site of our last Green Riders’ group stop and volunteer project before 8 of us split off to head south. We camped out across from the Springle Mill Blueberry Farm and spent the following morning picking and sorting blueberries. The rest of the group are now tackling the northern Cascade mountains and plan to arrive in Seattle by August 18th. The rest of us plan to arrive in Big Summit Prairie, OR on August 16th, the day before the festival begins, to help with last minute set up of venues. From August 17-24th, I’ll be enjoying my time off the bike, great music, friends that have become like family, zero cell reception, an epic solar eclipse in the middle of a national forest and some much deserved rest and relaxation.
I’d like to say once again, thank you for following my bike adventure this summer. This will be the final video update for the trip, but I plan to send out one more email update once the festival ends reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned while traveling with the Green Riders this last month and a half. I hope you have enjoyed reading about and watching my adventures and I hope it has inspired you all to take risks, give more, grow community where ever you go and make positive, sustainable changes in your own life. I will be returning to the Vail Valley with a rejuvenated sense of place and a newfound confidence that I can weather the storms, the grit & grime, the exhaustion, hunger & thirst and be stronger and happier for it all.
Peace, Love & to the Attainable Sustainable,