Fat Bike Diaries #2

MILE 12

After getting all spun out on that case of Gravity Bullseye Monster I got in Fat Bike Diaries #1, I had a compulsion to take the bike to the desert, I dunno, maybe kinda like a Jim Morrison thing but without the drugs… well mostly.

So I drove out to an area near Wanapum marked as “dunes” on the map. I parked at a wide pull off and rode down a dirt road, breaking off at an old, sandy motorcycle scar which led in the direction of the dunes.

The stretch of sand was stitched together with sage and tumbleweed, but had some open runs to ride. The sun was setting on the diminutive dunes, casting mystically purple shadows.

This is exactly why I wanted to visit the desert!

Near the edge of the wind blown sands, I began to follow a set of tracks. It could have been a spirit animal or something, but was probably just a normal deer.

The tracks wove gently between the clumps of grass and shrub and continued down into a draw, the golden grains splashed pink with dwindling sunrays.

I feel like maybe I should have followed the footprints, but I didn’t. Maybe I was getting a little antsy; the sound of motorcycles vaguely in the distance was kind of giving me a Mad Max meets Deliverance vibe, I’ll admit.

The desert man… Jim knew something man, Jim knew… man!

MILE 19

That night I camped at Frenchman Coulee. During the evening I was surprised to see a tall, basalt spire inexplicably illuminated against the night sky.

Oh, it’s people night climbing, not some gigantic horrifying apparition coming to kill me!

Back to sleep.

First thing in the morning I drove back to George to grab a cup of coffee and something deep fried for breakfast.

Jo-jo’s: The Breakfast of champions

From there I drove out to the Quincy Lakes recreation area. The morning was a little chilly, and the parking lot was completely deserted… my steering wheel was greasy with JoJo juice.

The sunrise over Quincy Lake was warming. The sun rays felt good on my face as I tossed pebbles onto the thin ice covering the shallows.

I’d seen a mine symbol on my map just above Judith Pool, so I took a northwest course toward “H” Lake following paths of various quality to make my way.

The mine was a shallow hole cut into some very fractured and unstable material. I saw a few odd bluish specks of mineral, but had no idea what they were mining here.

From the mine I went a little further along the path to an overlook of Judith Pool and the Ancient Lakes.

On the way back I followed a different path, which turned out to be a much more direct route to the main Quincy Lakes Road.

When I got to the Dusty Lake Trail I decided I needed to do some more exploring so I carried my bike down the steep trail and was able to ride to a good overlook of El Lago Dusty.

From there trails wound through the dry grass leading me around the various lakes and ponds. Trails became faint or non existent in places only to reappear in others.

Glad I got my quantum physics badge back in the scouts!

Aiming myself in the direction of the road eventually got me there, which led back to the parking lot, which was still empty.

I took a minute to reflect on what everybody else was missing out on. Then was saddened when I realized all the great stuff I might be missing out on…

Welp, back to Shree’s Truck Stop at George for more coffee and deep fried wedges of startchy delight! Least I won’t miss out on cardiovascular disease.

MILE 29.6

The sun was high by the time I had returned to Frenchman Coulee.

I rode out towards a big sand dune south of the road leading down to the boat launch.

The sandy trail was a good test for the 4″ tires, and they did well! I had no trouble reaching the dunes on the massive tread.

The big dune is piled against a basalt cliff like the bridge of a nose. From just about where the nostril tops would be it fans out widely. It really bears no semblance to a face, or a nose at all, however.

A pair of trail runners appeared upon the enormous sandy pile shortly after my arrival. One of the two made a Rocky-esque ascent of the tallest part of the gritty behemoth, at the top, she even raised her fists in triumph.

I waved and smiled and whispered to myself through my teeth “gawdammit, I was gonna do that!

The guy looked over toward me and totally didn’t yell “Yeah?! Well you snooze, you lose bike boy!” but it would have been really funny if he did.

They stretched and checked all their watches, and phones and sandy plugs, and merrily ambled off into the horizon. Now it was MY turn to climb the granular golem! It’s steeper than it looks!

From the dune I noticed a faint trail leading up to a narrow notch that led onto the cliffs. I followed it up, carrying the bike part of the way. At the top I continued eastward.

A faint trail was traceable, though often obscured by dried overgrowth. When I finally lost the trail, I contoured the hills, continuing east.

The bike does surprisingly well across the dried grassland of the plateau! Like riding an alloy mule!

I found my way to an ATV road, which literally ended in a lake. Across the water I could see the other side of the road. Oh yeah, ford it!? That didn’t always work out so good on the Oregon Trail if I remember correctly!

I rode the alloy mule around the pond instead, and happened upon a much newer looking road, which I followed. Didn’t take long to see it was heading in my direction.

The road ended up popping out at the top of the Frenchman Coulee road, from which point I triumphantly coasted down to the wide bench which overlooks the waterfall.

A trail winds narrowly along the cliffs down to the falls, it’s uneven and rocky, with a nasty plunge if you really screwed the pooch. I enjoyed having the extra wide tires on this thin track!

At the falls I took time for climbing around and taking pictures. I even discovered a riding lawn mower lodged between some rocks and the cascading waters. Maybe best not to top off the water bottle here.

From there a sandy trail led away into the sage. The grainy grade gives way to a rough and rocky surface in lockstep with the descent of the roadway above.

This rocky old jeep trail eventually gets close enough to the Coulee road that I was able to hop off, preferring the sun baked asphalt.

The car was parked only a short, smooth ride away.

While it was only 6.5mi, I gotta say, it felt like a lot more in the best way.

Now the call of hot truck stop coffee was taking me back to George before the long haul back to Sea Town. Better grab some Jo Jo’s while I’m at it. They are kind of a local delicacy…

Still here? I’ll be damned. Welp, might as well hunker down then and read Fat Bike Diaries #3

The Fat Bike Diaries #1

“Gravity Bullseye Monster”

No, not the methamphetamine charged energy drink only available from the mysterious corners of the Darknet or self proclaimed micro states floating in international waters, I’m talking ’bout my new “fat bike”!

What’s a fat bike, you ask… Well, it’s basically a mountain bike with huge tires…

In this case 4 inch wide trail tearing, holy f#!รท&ing $#!+ ripping, vulcanized fury!!!

Sorry, that was the other Gravity Bullseye Monster talking…

A case of these things showed up a couple days after the bike, must have been a mix up! I thought they banned this stuff in the states… Oh well, down the hatch!

MILE ZERO

The bike was simple to assemble and required very little tuning to get it running nice. I’d never ridden a bike with tires so wide, and some differences became immediately apparent…

PROTIP: You know those suburban curbs that are gently curved? They will try and throw your ass right off one of these things if you’ve got the tires too low! Watch out!

Aside from almost getting curb hurled, it was a pretty enjoyable first ride, but jeez, lugging those big wheels around is a real ‘b’!

Then, when I got home and pumped the tires up to the correct pressure…

it was like riding a whole different bike! Much, much more fun, and no lugging!

Protip: Correctly inflate your tires.

MILE 5

Took the bike to Japanese Gulch to ride with my friend J-Bird. It did awesome on the trails!

We got down to the access road along the ballast, which is basically a long mixed gravel hill which parallels a railroad spur.

J-Bird pulls away so fast that it’s clear to me that he no longer has any regard for his life. I’m timidly feathering my brakes as he disappears around the next bend like a low flying cruise missle.

I was taking a slightly more sane approach, and it was going just fine for me. That is until I started into a patch of really chunky, loose rock. Suddenly it was as if I was riding a mechanical bull hurtling downhill in a shopping cart.

I knew I was screwed, so I ditched before being tossed a dozen feet down the railroad embankment.

The crash landing left me a crumpled mess of man, bike and rocks, but better off than at the bottom of the ditch. As I began to unfurl from the wreck, I smiled and waved at a woman and her dog, who were gawking from a short distance away.

“No, really! I’m doing this for fun!”

The rest of the ride went better, except that my right pedal started twisting out of its thread, most likely due to my mechanical ineptitude. When we got back I was able to reset it, however it had suffered some damage to the threading.

Oh well, what are ya gonna do?

Think I’ll crack open another can of Gravity Bullseye Monster and work on the pedal for ten hours… man, these things are good… so much energy! Gonna go disassemble the shed and count the nails!

Tune in next time for The Fat Bike Diaries #2

Halloweiners

Uh, not going that way.
Uh, not going that way.

Despite the flood warning today a couple of us Bipeds decided to head for the hills.

Due to the inclement weather being particularly inclement, our mine search was called off in favor of a dry hike: The Snoqualmie Tunnel.

Being an abandoned train tunnel, it really fits the bill for a rainy day hike, and when better to visit an abandoned tunnel full of ghost trains and ectoplasmic hobos? Halloween!

That's not bogeyman, is it?
That’s not bogeyman, is it?

 

The trailhead was flooded when we arrived, so we parked along the road near the freeway on-ramp and made our way down an embankment to reach the eastern portal.

The tunnel was pretty much as expected; cool and a little damp. Perfect for a day when the alternative is; cold, and sopping wet.

The sound of rushing water bounced off the walls as we approached the western light.

Rockdale Creek, which flows over the top of the portal was raging. We hiked up and around to take a closer look.

Yeah, it's raining out
Yeah, it’s raining out

At the top, large chunks of wood barreled down the swollen waters. An eerie deep rumble accompanied by a slight tremor, signaled a boulder tumbling through the culvert below our feet.

Heading back to the shelter of the tunnel we saw a group of bicyclists preparing for the trip down to the exit 38. “Beware the bogey man”, they warned as we walked by.

“They were just kidding though, right?”

Rockdale Creek rip roarin'
Rockdale Creek rip roarin’