Day 9 – This was the hardest day of the trip so far. I originally planned to ride all the way to Seattle. It would have been about 57 miles of biking and another 8 miles on a ferry. It started out good. I left Sequim State Park around 10am. It was cool and cloudy and the first 10 miles weren’t particularly hard.
I decided to stop at a cafe around mile 12. I was hungry and my phone was about to die. I parked my bike and went in. They had a great clam chowder, which I devoured before getting my fish sandwich and beer batter dipped French fries. It was such a good meal and I was stuffed. I waited around another 30 minutes to digest and let my phone charge. I felt better and I hit the road again.
It was only a mile before I hit my big climb. I’d fight the road for 10 mins and then pull over exhausted and covered in sweat. After a five minute break, I’d give it another go with the same results. It must have took me an hour to go 3 miles. The incline was grueling. I felt like something had to be wrong. I was too weak, my bike was a piece of shit, or I was overloaded. I think it was something of a combination of all 3.
Finally, I discovered how to ride in my lowest gear. I realized that I could put in little effort up a big hill if I geared all the way down and just accepted that I would be riding at a snails pace. This wasn’t a sprint, it was a marathon. I couldn’t push myself to exhaustion if I had 40 miles a day to ride. That was the first dent in my ego for the day.
The next one came after I conquered the mountain. I was riding downhill, enjoying the breeze when I eventually came to a little convenient store. I figured I’d get some provisions (a box of Pop Tarts) before I continued toward Seattle. I met another cyclist there and had a good chat. I was feeling like I could conquer the world. So I sped off down the road toward Seattle. A couple miles along, I was glancing to the left, looking for my next turn. When I looked back ahead I saw I was heading straight for an asphalt curb that just began on the side of the road. I hit it and corrected to the left, I bounced back over and then the momentum took me to the right and threw my wheel back into the soft dirt and jammed my wheel sideways.
Before I knew it, I was over the handle bars and in the dirt. I got up slow, making sure nothing was broken on me or the bike. My shoulder was sore and I put my hand on it. It seemed like everything was in tact and I had full range of motion with just a little pain. My knee was scraped up pretty good, but not much pain there. I shook off the adrenaline and realized I was okay. Well, except my ego, which now took its second blow for the day.
Next I checked out my bike to make sure it was functioning. One of the panniers had dismounted from the rack. I managed to get it back on and it seemed to be functioning well enough to continue the trip. Then I looked at the pedals and gears and chain on my bike. Nothing appeared to be broken. I hopped on and started to pedal and the gears locked up. Shit. For a minute I thought I was going to have to find a ride to the nearest bike shop.
So I rolled the bike over to a gravel parking lot and started shifting through the gears. Eventually everything lined back up and my bike was shifting properly again. I did a little circle around the lot and figured it was working well enough to keep on going.
At this point I was exhausted and beat up. I decided, screw making it to Seattle today, I’m going to the nearest camp site. It ended up being Kitsap State Park, which was about 10 miles away. I made it there around 6pm – in time to call some friends and family and watch the sunset. My first photo was of Kitsap. The second photo is from the Parliament building in Victoria.
Day 9 was a thought one, but I learned a lot and I think I figured out on how to ride the big hills, and hopefully how not to fall off my bike again. Until the next one, over and out.
(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)