The charm and beauty of Port Townsend quickly eroded the further we rode from it. Cute towns were replaced with cold, industrial settlements with blowing trash, mean dogs and rude cars. Beer cans littered the highway, often being the ‘High Gravity’ or ‘Steel Reserve’ variety – these boys aren’t drinking for flavor out here.
Folks up here seem to really enjoy drinking cheap beer, cutting down trees and rooting around for sasquatch (or ‘squatches’ as they’re fondly called up here). All these things are fine to partake in once in a while but making these the focal point of life might get old pretty quick.
Town after town seemed almost identical and unappealing, leaving us with the feeling that central Washington will not be on our list of places to come back and see.
One good thing about the area is that it allowed us to see a ton of wildlife. Otters, possums, raccoons, deer, beaver, salamanders, frogs, and even snakes are frequent sightings… in the road. Granted, they have tire tracks on them, but it sill offers a close glimpse at some pretty creatures. Occasionally, we don’t know what species it is due to it being in ‘less than ideal condition’ which gives us a chance to play our game, ‘Guess That Critter!’
It rains every day, but the rain is quite different from the rain back in Colorado. It’s more of a light mist with little bursts of heavier rain that last for a few minutes before giving up and returning to the mist or quitting altogether. At times the sun will come out briefly which we always celebrate by pulling our bikes off the road and stand facing the sun, soaking it in.
We’ve been having our sun celebrations much more now that we crossed into Oregon. Everything seemed to improve the minute we got on the ferry leaving Washington to cross the Columbia River for the Oregon border. The rain had been the hardest we’d experienced though it quickly abated and the sun came out. The quality of the roads improved vastly with virtually no bad bumps or potholes and minimal road debris. More importantly, there is a huge bike lane much of the time, which is a blessing when logging trucks don’t give us extra room.
Though the last few days in Washington were difficult at times, they taught us a lot about our abilities as well. We completed our longest ride, hitting 62 miles and also have learned how to conquer difficult hills both mentally and physically.
Initially we were intimidated by some of the large hills though after several successful summits we realized that the hills aren’t necessarily difficult, they simply require more time to execute. We’ve applied the same thinking to the rest of the ride- there aren’t hard parts, simply parts that will take more time to complete than others.
On very steep pitches we’ll switchback in our lane when traffic permits which makes the climb much easier. Also, we’ve learned to take frequent breaks on the climbing portions to give our backsides a break as they seem to be the limiting factor on the ride. Standing up on the bikes while climbing in order to rest the butt is difficult due to the added weight, which makes things unwieldy.
We are also keenly aware that every uphill stretch we do will enable us to have a downhill run on the other side. Our favorite combination is a steep ascent followed by a long, gradual descent, which gives us a nice break while still making progress.