Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pasco to Pullman - altitude profile

This is the altitude profile for the Pasco-Pullman permanent. The horizontal axis is the time I took for the ride. The text along the horizontal axis marks (in order) my house, the start of the ride on Court Street, the beginning of the Pasco-Kahlotus highway, the city of Kahlotus, Washtucna, Colfax, Pullman and then my overnight stop. You can't get around it, it's uphill. But, the longest semi-steep climbs are only 300-400 feet.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pasco to Pullman - RUSA Permanent 184

RUSA, the organization in the US that helps to coordinate and promote a type of long distance bicycle riding, has created a class of rides known as Permanents; see Any RUSA member can submit a candidate route, and any RUSA member can ride them 'for credit'. I've started putting together candidate routes in Eastern Washington, and this is the first.

Route Description:
This Permanent route runs from Pasco (Washington) to Pullman. The route starts under the I-182 bridge on West Court Street in Pasco. There's a small number of parking spaces there; but, even more parking just across the river in Richland at Point Park (full name: Columbia Point Marina Park), and a bike path over the river to get to the start. Getting to the start, you head southwest on Court Street and bike on through Pasco. Tough tires are advised; there's a good bit of roadside glass and some tackweed.

Court Street ends, and bears right becoming 1st Street. Follow that till you do a left on Lewis Street. This part of the route can be seen here. Follow Lewis Street; this street becomes the Pasco-Kahlotus Highway, as seen here. The route to Pullman is simple enough from this point: The Pasco-Kahlotus highway takes you to Kahlotus. When this road ends, take the right turn to Washtucna. Enjoy the hospitality of the Java Bloom in Washtucna (on the right, just before Highway 260 runs into Highway 26). Open 7:00am to 7:00pm. Then a right (East) on Highway 26 to Colfax, and then South to Pullman. This adds up to about 211km.

Support notes: Between Pasco and Washtucna (about 100km) there are no services nor water. For me, this distance is about 5 hours, about 4-5 energy bars or equivalent, and two large water bottles plus a camelback of water. Pack for yourself accordingly. The services are somewhat better from Washtucna to Pullman, with a convenience store in Dusty (open 7am to 7pm Mon-Sat) and a fair number of options in Colfax.

Cell phone: No coverage between Pasco and Colfax.

Weather notes: often the wind is from the WSW, so going from Pasco to Pullman can be done mostly with a supporting tailwind; especially in the summer and fall. I don't think I'd attempt this route in July (or anytime the high is expected to be above 90F). I also don't think I'd recommend attempting this route in the dead of winter. It'd be cold up high. And, I don't think I'd attempt the route when the winds are expected to be above 20mph. It's dusty out there

Football notes: There's a lot of traffic from Washtucna to Colfax to Pullman on Thurs/Fridays before a football game, and before the start of semesters. I'd avoid this route then.

Ride Report:
I test-rode the route this Friday (a great weather day, and WSU is playing in California this weekend). My plan was to ride to Pullman and stay the night at my daughter and son-in-law's apartment. I packed accordingly, with two small pannier's on the back, adding probably 12-15 pounds of weight on the back of the bike. Some of it is overnight and non-bike clothes to wear in Pullman; and the rest is a few more pieces of bike garb (in case it gets cold (it will)).

Starting Friday morning at 8:00am put me going through Pasco after anything that it might have approaching rush hour traffic. The traffic did keep me on or near the shoulders (and the glass and tackweed); but, I'm running with 700x28 Specialized Armidillo tires, and just run through it. Brushed off a tackweed at one point and pressed on. I managed to miss the bear-left where Lewis Street crosses over the Highway; but, the dead end was a good clue and I went back and got the turn. Some agriculture traffic (and UPS trucks?!) on the highway early, and even when the shoulder disappeared into gravel. But, it didn't last long and soon I was mostly alone on the P-K highway. Except for the hawks. The sounds of hunting kept me out of the corn fields for a nature break. Managed to gain some elevation; before that saw an asparagus field going to seed; lots of fall colors. There's a nice, short, steep climb up some switchbacks. And then I'm up. The P-K highway is nice for biking. Then it ends, with a fast downhill to Kahlotus. I lost a pannier at the start of the downhill; must not have clipped it on completely. I heard it fall, stopped, turned around and saw it bouncing nicely on the highway. Went back, secured it to the bike and headed on down. Then to Washtucna. There's a nice view of a canyon for awhile, and then you're in it. The traffic's still light and the bike rolls into Washtucna. There's a public restroom in the park on the left. I head on to the Java Bloom. Coffee. A sandwich. Gatoraide and water. I had a couple of energy bars remaining; enough to get to Colfax.

There's water in the desert. A river along the highway from Washtucna (Cow Creek?). And some graffiti on the rocks, and signs suggesting which law might be broken in constructing such graffiti. The shoulder's good and I take in the terrain. More hawks. Crows. Cattle working in and around the water. Side roads that need to be considered for variations on this ride. And then to Dusty. The road narrows but, in exchange for that and the chip seal; you get very smooth asphalt and hills. An hour later I'm in Colfax. I leave a message on the home phone (I live again!) and then call my daughter (I'll be there in ~90 minutes). Backtrack into Colfax, looking for a convenience store. Found it. A Starbuck's magic can of caffeine and calories (pound it down), and some Donette's (never travel by bike, after 100 miles or more, w/o fuel). It's dusk. The reflective ankle bands and lights are all on. Full dorkage. I head out. A block later I stop and put the windbreaker on over everything (Camelback included). It's getting cold. South to Pullman. And uphill. It takes awhile longer than estimated. It's dark. Cold in the valleys. And then I'm there.

Almost a twelve hour adventure; eleven of them on the bike.