Saturday, August 09, 2014
Washington Cascades bike tour, Day 2 Bridge of the Gods to Eagle Cliff
Read all the posts about this trip in backwards order (or better yet, start at the bottom and work up) here.
See that bridge? Not only is it windy, but instead of an actual road, it's a steel grate you can look through, straight down to the water far, far below. The grate is loose enough that I'm sure it was designed to grab a Shimano road bike cleat and hang on, just like a snare capturing a rabbit.
It's the Bridge of the Gods, which may be the coolest bridge name ever, and actually has a nifty story behind it (scroll down a bit.)
For us it's the start of the second day of riding from Portland, OR to Bellingham, WA on our two week Adventure Cycling trip. And though the bridge is a morning attention getter, it's beautiful and the speed limit is 5 mph so we felt comfortable taking up the whole lane as we pedaled and prayed our way across.
Our day had started with packing up our slightly wet tent and having a breakfast treat. Bob, fellow rider and coffee enthusiast, had gifted us with a just-roasted bag of Portland coffee from Spella, his favorite roaster. Using Adventure Cycling's large French Press we were in coffee heaven. Life can be good sometimes, even in the morning.
After the bridge, we hadn't gone a mile before the morning light was so wonderful we stopped several times just to look at the illuminated world and smile.
This ride took us uphill, and more uphill, with dramatic views of Mt. Saint Helens, an active volcano that blew it's top back in the 80s.
We also went over some stunningly high bridges we couldn't resist peering over. The lack of traffic made it safe, and looking straight down on very tall trees is really an experience. This one was creatively named "High Bridge."
On one short descent my front brake decided to not return to open properly. I had visions of a broken brake/shifter, far from anywhere. Not a great situation with lots of downhill coming up. But after futzing a while I realized it was in the caliper. I squirted some water on it and that seemed to knock out whatever grit was binding it. What a relief. I cleaned it up more at camp, and added a little oil and its been fine since. This was not our last mechanical issue this trip, but it was perhaps the easiest fix.
After about 35 miles and 3,600 feet of climbing we got our reward: A screaming 10 mile descent down baby-butt smooth roads with no cars at all, punctuated by only a glorious scenic overlook of the volcano, and later a sign warning us about that volcano. We wondered how fast we could pedal if we had to.
Our camp was near a store with beer, and had showers, so I was happy as I could be. It wasn't our night to cook, so even better. The campground may have been named Eagle Creek, or named Eagle Cliff. I'm even not sure they were sure. I think I saw it both ways. They seemed to be obsessed with Bigfoot, but we didn't see one.
We had a nice chat with a group of self-contained tourists riding from Colorado and later a couple of French cyclists who were so excited to see the Adventure Cycling van, because they were OH MY GOD (or the French version of the same) using Adventure cycling maps.
Later I noticed Heather and Greg pouring over the ride map and looking like they were working hard on something. Apparently the fires in Washington were right where we were supposed to be in a few days and they were concocting, unbeknownst to us, clever alternative surprises.
Bonus picture of my bike leaning against an old gas pump. It doesn't fit the story, but it's my blog, so here it is.
Read all the entries in backwards order (or better yet, start at the bottom and work up) here.