In which I get my first DNF in a while ... photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronatd/albums/72157689745793150/with/26508418747/
I posted a while back, asking for suggestions for a route from Yakima to Pendleton. A great resource turned out to be the Desert River Randonneurs, who have many routes on RideWithGPS. My goal was to ride the 135 miles (a bit over 200km) from my daughter's apartment in Yakima to my brother's house in Pendleton. This was also the first trip for my recently repainted Bleriot/Travelo. We took Southwest so the bike flew free :-). The forecast had been looking great, but a couple of days beforehand the forecast began to include some troublesome predictions about wind. I'd be traveling generally south and east, and the forecast was for the wind to clock around from south to west. At 24 hours before departure, the forecast was for winds to get over 20mph with much stronger gusts. Looking at the route and the timing, I thought I might be able to miss the worst of it, and the final run into Pendleton would be mostly downwind. Departure from Yakima around 7am was cloudy, cool and darker than I hoped, which made me regret leaving the lights at home. That didn't last long, though. Everything else about the bike felt fabulous. The Bleriot is a terrific all-around bike and, with the fork pulled for a bit more rake, handles a full Boxy Bag nicely. Given the plan to spend the night at my brother's, I had to bring some clothing and "overnight" stuff. MUSA long pants are ideal for this! Compass EL tires are a perfect match and sing over the generally rough Washington roads. Something like 70% of the hops grown in the country come from Yakima, and it's easy to believe as you roll south out of the city. All the farms seem to be small scale, but they all sit next to each other, resulting in endless lines of pine poles strung together at the tops, ready to receive the year's growth of vines. It's hard to do justice to the sight with a quick cell phone grab shot, not wanting to take too much of a break so early in the ride. Navigating out of the city area should have been straightforward, despite having made a last minute change to the route. We had discovered a couple of days earlier that my selected route was closed as a result of an entire hillside being in danger of collapsing. We had driven an alternative route that involved a small bit of climbing, but was quite scenic, so I just made that adjustment in RideWithGPS, downloaded the new file to my Garmin, and printed the new cue sheet. I skipped the all-important step of double-checking the cue sheet, though, and it turned out that RideWithGPS generated a few wrong turn directions. Eventually I found my way, and the climb helped me warm up a bit. I have a couple of bikes that are noticeably lighter than the Bleriot, but I never miss them when I'm riding it. I'm light and have modest power output, but the Bleriot frame has always felt like it swings pretty well for me. The descent brought me to the Yakima Valley Highway, with runs parallel to I-82, southeast along the Yakima River. This is very productive farmland, and you roll along a nice, flat road past all manner of orchards, vineyards, and farms. Annoyingly, the wind isn't south-southwest, it's coming in more southeast, pretty much on the nose. In the town of Zillah, home of the Teapot Dome Gas Station National Historic Site (I didn't stop to investigate...), my cue sheet says right when I should turn left, so I get in a couple of bonus miles. Naturally it's a mile of downhill before I realize I'm off track, so a mile back uphill ... Emerald Rd out of Granger is beautiful and lined with vineyards. I was hoping the skies would have cleared by now, but the moody skies match the late winter/early spring browns of the landscape. Eventually the skies clear a bit and I get occasional glimpses of mountains when I look back to the west. When the road comes back to I-82 and the Yakima Valley Highway, there is a bike path running down to Grandview. This is about the 1/3 point, so I snap a shot of the town welcome sign and send an update IM to my family. I pick up the path on the south end of Grandview and take it the rest of the way to Prosser, where I will cross the Yakima River and climb up to Horse Heaven. The skies finally cleared at this point, so I enjoyed a bit of a rest, snapping a few photos and filling a fresh bottle of liquid fuel. The climb out of Prosser is on a popular road for trucks, but it's a steady 6-7% grade with a reasonable shoulder and it seemed like no time before I was at the top, even taking a quick break on the way up for a photo op. Another photo op at the top, and I climbed over the crest and found the promised wind. Horse Heaven is a high, arid area that stretches out forever, with nothing (and I mean NOTHING) to block the wind. It's around 20mph at this point, south-southwest, and I need to make 20 miles, mostly due south. An ominous sign warns that I'm entering a dust storm area for the next 24 miles. It's rolling hills through here, but the wind means there's no break on the downhills. The wind speed climbs, and my bike speed slows. Around half way across the wind is up to 25-30 (and gusting higher) and starting to kick up the dust. I stop to tie a bandana around my mouth and nose and struggle to get moving again. I've also come back to the truck route, and there is a steady stream of them flying by me, them going 70, me going 8. Another stop is required to clear a tumbleweed from my gears. At this point I'm starting to think I might not finish this ride. A sequence of gravel roads provides a break from the trucks and a brief bit of downwind, but mostly it's still south and into the wind. I finally get to Hwy 14 and get to head east on a smooth road with a big tail wind, running parallel to the Columbia River. There's an ominous layer of brown blowing across the land on the other side, where my route will be taking me. All too soon I have to take another leg south and fight the wind for another few miles. Then it's six miles of blissful tailwind along the Columbia. As I ride along a farm lined with trees, the wind makes an amazing moaning sound in the branches. It's nice to be coasting, but I'm pretty fried. Crossing the Columbia is done on a bike path on the east side of the I-82 bridge. That means climbing into a tailwind with a steady stream of cars and trucks spraying me with sand and grit. Coming off the bridge, turning right to go under the highway, the wind gusts and brings me to a complete stop. And that's enough to make my decision. I made my way to a gas station/Subway, ordered a salad, and called my brother to tell him to fire up than new pickup truck and come pickmeup. It's hard to accept a DNF, but it was almost 100 miles and 20 of the hardest I've ever ridden, in a bit over 7 1/2 hours, so I can't feel like it was a total failure. The Bleriot (with S&S couplers) is, for me, the perfect travel bike. The wheel/tire size is just right for a very wide range of conditions, the frame is the right combination of strength/weight/resilience. It was inexpensive enough that I don't mind it getting dinged up. (Though I'm bummed about the scratch it got in the new paint on the trip home!) I'd prefer a steeper head angle for less trail, but with the fork pulled out a bit I felt that the handling in severe crosswinds and with a loaded front bag is neutral enough. I might be taking it to Ireland in May. We'll see how it handles the Conor Pass. Ted Durant Milwaukee, WI USA -- You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "RBW Owners Bunch" group. To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to rbw-owners-bunch+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com. To post to this group, send email to email@example.com. Visit this group at https://groups.google.com/group/rbw-owners-bunch. For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.