Day 11 Longview to Vancouver, Washington: Under the I, - 5: Bingo! - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

May 11, 2011

Day 11 Longview to Vancouver, Washington: Under the I, - 5: Bingo!

Art Birkmeyer is not only an accomplished cyclist, he is an angel. This morning he got up early with us, made sure we ate something, set us up with maps of the next 100 km of our route, some hand drawn (and very accurate) and one photocopied at the library. He then cycled out with us for several km, to put us on the right road!

Art leads us to the edge of town, early morning.
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That road was actually I-5. We had earlier planned to try the 'Green Mountain' road to avoid the interstate, but Art warned that the word mountain is in there for a reason. So off we sailed on the interstate, seemingly with all the rest America. This section featured one semi-trailer every 5 seconds or so, with the boring time in between filled in with smaller cars and trucks. On the other hand, the thing is pretty much level and straight. We made good time, but on several narrow bridges it was a real test of concentration. Thundering tons of log truck, or something, shaking the ground or bridge just a couple of feet to your side would truly be instant death if you slipped or wobbled. It takes a lot of focus to stay on target!

Tons of noisy danger on the I-5
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Everybody loves the I-5!
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The Columbia River, but not yet the part that will lead us East.
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Evan, here is a train photo for you.
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Despite good forward progress, we were eager to get off the big road, in favour of ones on Art's photocopy that looked much more benign. NE 179th Street, for example, a thin black line heading straight East. What the map did not show was the total lack of shoulder, the roller coaster hills that really required effort to even push up, and the heavy traffic. We tried a bit of dipsy doodling, heading South and then East again on similar thin black lines. These had less traffic, but continued to roller coaster.

This innocent looking (on the map) road was a real life roller coaster.
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This type of road is good for staying warm, with all the climbing, at least until the rain starts. In this case, it was the rain that warmed to the task (of drenching us). Towards the end of the day it was coming down in a most convincing way. This is the kind of rain that eventually will soak all but the most protected stuff. Plus, camping is really not on. So we headed for a motel.

Dodie usually leads, but she could see little through her glasses, so she had to stick on my tail. It was quite a bedraggled pair that dripped its way into the Comfort Suites in Vancouver, Washington. Dodie was floating in her boots, my waterproof gloves absorbed twice their weight in water, and Dodie's Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 died by drowning. (It is not just mostly dead, but all dead - could not be revived even by the Comfort Suites' powerful hair dryer.)

Planet Bike Protege 9.0 .. or not!
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Still, the I-5 card did bring us close to where we can finally begin to head East. Remember, this is a tour to the East!

Today's ride: 75 km (47 miles)
Total: 666 km (414 miles)

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