Sunday, September 07, 2008

Biking North


We set out to Grand Coulee Dam at 5:30am from the Starbucks in South Richland. The picture above is from North of Soap Lake - the best part of the ride. We ended up getting 190 of the 250 'available' kilometers, before being intercepted by our pick-up-person a few miles before Coulee City. The ride picked up nicely in scenery and traffic conditions (less!) From Moses Lake on, especially after the highway headed North towards Soap Lake.

The early start made for some interesting light-effects. The angle of the sun gets extreme and the smallest things cast shadows for the longest time. This picture captures it, somewhat. Between Pasco and Basin City. The yellow dot in the picture up ahead is one of us.

Sun's Coming Up

The bike ride North to Basin city has been great both times I've taken it - this ride is the second. There is light traffic, and a sense of direction and purpose (heading North, to get to Basin City. It works somehow). Basin City is small town, and seems to serve the local Ag community/industry. There are a couple of places to eat. I haven't stopped there yet but a restaurant-ride is a good option for the future. The place shown below - mini-mart/gas-station is abandoned.


After Basin City, we get to climb. The name of the town makes sense. We climb up out of the basin onto a Plataea. While biking up, I'm interested in the road-cuts on the way up (I swear it wasn't to catch my breath - there are interesting features to be seen in the cross-sections). There's a lot of loose stuff that was cut-through to get up to the top:

Loose terrain P9060141

The ride North continues up on the top - some rolling, and then a ripping trip down into Othello. We take the traditional mini-mart stop before heading on North to Moses Lake. Pretty much the most direct way, by car or bike, from Othello to Moses Lake is Hwy 17. We take that highway. It's not a road I'd put cyclists on at all during the night. The rumble strip has eaten what little shoulder there is. I spend most of this part of the ride reflecting on that and swearing to find another way to bike between these two nice cities (still haven't found it).

We stop in Moses Lake for a sit-down meal at a sports bar. It's great. We take a lot of time here. Finally we head out. I'd asked the proprietor for how to head north from there to get to the next cities (Soap Lake, Coulee City,...) and apparently muff the translation of his directions. We get to see a lot of Moses Lake before I head into a local Real Estate agent office for relief from our route miscue. The receptionist listens, gets out a Moses Lake map, points us to the bike path along the lake, and on North out of town. She also gives us the map. Very kind.

So, we bike out of town along the lake for which the town is named:

Along Moses Lake Moses Lake - The Lake Fountain Fountain

And then we're out of town. The road's great North of Moses Lake - much better than from Othello to ML. Traffic's died out a lot, and the topography starts to have a different feel. Here's the all-important views of the shoulder-riding-conditions:

North of Moses Lake - Looking South North of Moses Lake - Looking North

The sign in the north-facing picture is kind-of amusing. It says Grand Coulee Dam next right. Not really a lie, but, the dam-and-destination is still 60-some miles away. We make the right turn. And it really starts to get good. This view is a hint:


And I liked Soap Lake - we stopped at a drive-in on the way back. The malt was good. Just out of Soap Lake, the city, we're biking along Soap Lake - The Lake. I took my time:

Lake The scenery is cranking up a couple of notches
Where we were riding along the lake


P9060171 P9060172

The traffic after Soap Lake was very light. I took a picture of the shoulder of the road, on-purpose, as a reminder and indicator. Weeds are growing on the shoulder:

Road side garden

I don't know what else to say. We may have stumbled on the perfect time of year for this particular ride. We didn't quite finish it, though. Our arrangement was to ride North, and when The Driver intersected us, get in and call it good. She found us around kilometer 190. We were close enough to the Dam, and none of us had ever been there yet, that we drove north to take a look before heading back home. Another great day on the bike.

Grand Coulee Dam By Grand Coulee Dam

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tri-Cities to Electric City

This weekends adventure is a ride straight up the middle of the state. We hope we make it, and that we have a tailwind. Here's the proposed route - except for the shenanigans involving getting across the Columbia into Pasco. We'll start at Starbucks (sponsorship would be appreciated - we'd accept tubes and chain-lube).

View Larger Map

Here's a quick route sheet that starts in Pasco.

We'll have services at
0km The Start
50km Basin City
65km Othello
120km Moses Lake
155km Soap Lake
190km Coulee City
235km Electric City
249km Grand Coulee Damn - OK, I don't know if there are actually services at the Dam, but, figure there's a restaurant nearby

Here's hoping for winds from the South.