There are only so many rides I can handle in the dark/cold/grey month of January before I go a bit crazy. And by crazy I don’t mean an armed take over of a federal building, I mean real crazy, like wake up one morning, see the sun poking through the clouds, bail on work and go ride your bicycle for 115 miles. Yeah, I know, two weeks of gloom will do that to you. Unless you live in Seattle and you’re like whatever pansy get over it. Put some fenders on and grow a beard or something…
In the spirit of poor choices I had only a loose idea of where I would go and by the time I got on the bike it was 11:30. I started from the Sage coffee shop in George and headed toward the Quincy Lakes. There’s a cool gravel road closed to auto traffic that takes you around the many lakes with some big panorama views over the Columbia River toward Colockum and Wenatchee. However the closer I got to the turn off for it the more I began to realize that there was still a fair amount of snow on the ground, pretty much everything was white except the paved roads. I got to the road and it looked bad, gave if a brief go and pulled the plug, no way.
Next on my radar was the Old Vantage hwy going down though the Frenchman Coulee rock climbing area and dead ending at the Columbia River. I had not been through here for years but remember it as being very cool. And it was but the farther west I got the more snow was on the ground. The roads were a wet with some slush near the George, but in the shade of the basalt cliffs the road got icy, making the decent to the river slightly less scenic and slightly more white knuckle. Still, a beautiful stretch of road with no reason to ride it other than that it makes you feel pretty small, and sometimes we need that.
From there I was heading toward the O’Sullivan Dam/Pothole area via Frenchman Hills rd. This was a long haul, and it was somewhere in here that I started doing the math in my head and realizing this was going to be a long day. After what seemed like any endless slog I rolled into Mardon, the only services on the trip, for a quick lunch break.
As I got back on the road I could feel the temp had dropped, sun was behind clouds, rigormortis was setting in, and I was about at the farthest point from home. What have I got myself into. The one other part of the ride that I was looking forward to/dreading was the Moses Lake Sand Dunes. This was the only other piece that was not paved and I was a bit nervous about. Especially since by the time I get there it’s 4:30, getting dark, and I’m committed, meaning it’s a long way out to avoid this stretch. It was one of those lure you in, it’s not so bad, just a little muddy, to full on cx mud bog for 4 miles. Welp, there goes any chance of an 18 mph avg.
The final 25 miles was just as punishing (mentally) droning along the I90 frontage road in the dark. I finished and came staggering into the George mini mart looking for a chocolate milk. The lady working there said it was a hell of a night to be out on a bike. I simply answered “why yes, yes it is.”