Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 30, 2013: MIM Day 15, Portland OR to Longview WA

Talking to Kathy last night, I commented that in some ways it feels like the tour is already over. I have long anticipated visiting the Columbia Gorge and Portland (if half a day in Portland really counts as a visit), but I really have no expectations for these last three days making our way up to Seattle. Particularly with the current heat wave in the Northwest, I have no hope of wonderful riding conditions, and, right or wrong, I don't expect any beautiful vistas to rival those of Montana, Idaho, or the Columbia Gorge along the way.

During today's short (51 miles) ride, we caught a few glimpses of Mt. St. Helens in the hazy distance, but somehow it did not measure up to Mt. Hood or the breath-taking mountain-scapes of Montana. It was a bit of a novelty to ride through the town of St. Helen, but my sample of one teenage cashier in a Walgreens store suggests that the eruption is a long forgotten, dusty memory. She had "no idea" of the year of the eruption (1980)!

  In spite of new tire and tube, Fred had another flat about an hour out of Portland. The tire still looks pristine, and there are no detectable anomalies in the rim that might explain his four flats. The hole in the new tube is a perfectly round, 2 mm hole. Our best guess is that it was a manufacturing defect. We replaced the bad tube with another new one we picked up yesterday at Performance Bike and it appears to be holding. Fred did ask me to switch the tubes for him, on the chance that he did something wrong when he changed the tire and tube last night. Anyway, we have our fingers crossed.

Right at the scene of the flat, there was a clean, perfectly usable sombrero, which brought back some fond memories of one of our first meals during the first stage of our trip (the Tour de Fred in 2008). We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and the waiter took our photo with each of us wearing a sombrero.

2008, Tour de Fred
2013, MIM Tour
The only excitement on the road today was crossing the Columbia for the last time from Oregon to Washington. As usual, the shoulders on the bridge were rather narrow, and there was plenty of traffic. One new thing was that the shoulder was peppered with debris from the logging trucks that often use the bridge -- big hunks of bark, primarily. Our recent spate of flats have made us hypersensitive to road debris, so getting across the bridge was like an exceptionally narrow slalom course between the guard rail and the passing cars. I am very grateful that there were very few trucks while we were on the bridge, and no logging trucks at all.

We will be returning to normal mileage days for the final two: 77 miles tomorrow and 66 for the final ride into the Seattle area. It will still be hot tomorrow, so we are going to try to get going very early to miss the worst of the heat and the possibility of increased wind in the afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. It's important to be careful the last two days. Don't let your attention drift.