I turned 30 years old this year. I was also about to write the final exam for the accounting designation I’ve been working on for almost 4 years. To make this a year to remember, I wanted to do something “big”.
A long bike ride is just the ticket for something “big”. I figured a ride across the country will be something to remember. Besides, I have always wanted to see the East Coast.
My husband does not like long rides; my riding buddy decided she couldn’t make the trip. I was going to be on my own for the ride. My husband will be in Boston for business as I reach the East Coast, so he planned on flying to Halifax to meet me when I get there.
I saved and planned, bought the proper gear, and added gadgets to the bike. In the mean time, I studied my butt off for the big accounting final exam, while working at my full time job. Six months later, I finished my final exam, got my vacation time approved, and I was ready to go!
Day 1 (Jul 4) 600 km/360 miles (Vancouver BC to Spokane WA)
When the alarm went off at 5:30 am, I jumped right out of bed.
I have thought of this moment for so many days and so many nights. It’s finally here! I finally get to go on a cross-country ride!
Weeks before the trip, I developed a packing list and started packing. The day before the trip, I loaded my bike with all my gear, tools, and spare parts.
The bike has brand new Pilot Road tires on, and had just had a tune-up about a month ago. I was confident in its mechanical condition.
I took Highway 20 and Skagit Hwy to Winthrop, which are some of my favorite roads through the Cascades.
As usual, the weather was lovely until I hit the Cascade Mountain, then it rained, and then turned into sunshine.
So far, the roads are familiar, and I haven’t had to look at my map yet. By the time I reached Winthrop, it was warm and sunny. I found a picnic table in the shades, and sat down to eat my PowerBar lunch.
Between Omak and Electric City, Highway 155 starts with about 20 km of desert type terrain and climate. The temperature was about 40 Celsius. After the initial boredom and heat, however, the road turns into enjoyable mountain roads with moderate curves/sweepers and very comfortable temperature.
Sadly, the moderate climate did not last long. By the time I got to Electric City, my thermometer was showing 43 Celsius. I was refilling my hydration pack for the 3rd time for the day.
When I got to Wilbur, I seriously contemplated shedding my leather suit. I felt like I was wrapped in plastic and being steamed in a rice cooker. Yet every time I thought of the words “skin graft”, I quickly dismissed the thought of taking off my gear.
There was not much to see between Wilbur and Spokane other than the rolling hills. However, it was towards the end of the day, and I was glad to ride some easy roads to make some mileage.
I ended in Spokane for the night and camped at the local KOA site.
Once I got the tent set up, I sat down waiting for my water to boil on the little camping stove. I looked around me, and noticed all the other campers had their family or friends with them. It’s a sharp contrast that I was alone.
I felt this intense loneliness hit me, and I was not ready for it. “What is wrong with me! I’m supposed to be tough!” I thought to myself. I called my husband, and told him I may want to come home. He reminded me how much I wanted to take this trip, and told me that he will support me all the way.
Settling down in the tent for the night, I let the loneliness take over and cried myself to sleep. One tough chic riding alone across the country, eh! Yeah, right!
Just after midnight, thunder and lightning awoke me. The strong winds pushed the tent wall onto my face. I was worried about the rain fly being blown away. After worrying for half an hour, I was too tired and fell asleep.