Day 0

July 17, 2004

Everett, WA

 

 

The adventure begins!  Pack up the bike …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… and pray that it doesn’t get lost, spindled, or otherwise mangled.  It seems that on every bike trip I’ve been on, there’s been at least one hardluck story of bikes getting lost or damaged.  On my Eastern Mountain’s tour, one guy from Austrailia had a connecting flight in Denver on his way to the start in Florida.  He barely made his connection but unfortunately, his bike didn’t.  Incredibly, it nearly took a week for his bike to catch up to him.  And on my Paris-Brest-Paris trip, many riders had their luggage delayed due to the power outage that hit the East coast last summer.  Lucky for me, the baggage handling gods smiled on me and my Merlin is ready to go…

 

 

 

It’s a tremendous relief to finally be at the start, ready to go.  I’ve always dreamed about  some day going cross country on my bike.  I’m not exactly sure when this took root, but I’ve always had a desire to push a bit further beyond my comfort level … if you don’t push yourself to the edge, you’ll never know exactly where the edges are. 

 

A lot of preparation went into this ride.  Besides all the training and whipping my butt into shape (literally).  It wouldn’t be possible without the help I’ve gotten along the way.  For starters, there’s Tomias and his crew at Genesis Bike shop who keep my bike in top shape after all the abuse I dish out on it  (it seems I keep paying for my bike all over again, year after year).  And then there are the wonderful riders I’ve learned so much from on previous PAC Tours and on the NJ Randonneurs brevets.  But most important, I’m indebted to my family for putting up with all this …

 

 

… that’s my wife Becky with Annie (age 11) on the left, and Laura (age 8) on the right.  So what are they up to while I’m away for the next 26 days??  They’ll be at a summer cottage on Lake Erie, near Chataqua, NY…

 

 

… where Annie and Laura will be offering some sand meatballs ….

 

 

 

Here’s the PAC Tour registration table ….

 

 

… we got our tee shirt, jersey, and rider packet that includes the cue sheets and maps for all 26 days ….

 

 

 

Getting all the bikes put together and checked out …

 

 

 

This is Rick Houle from Grand Praire, Texas …

 

 

Rick is a guy I definitely want to talk to more during our tour.  His biking experience over the past ten years has been life changing, to say the least.  At breakfast, he told me about some of the ups and downs over this period. More on this later on.

 

This $9,000+ Ottrot is on “loan” from Serotta …

 

 

… the rider cracked his original Serotta titanium frame 3 weeks before the start of the tour.  So Serotta made good on the life-time gurantee in a very generous way.   It’s nice to see manufacturers standing behind their products.

 

Time for a checkout ride in and around the environs of Everitt, Washington (just North of Seattle):

 

 

Looking towards the west at the islands in the harbor…

 

 

 

Discovered a nice waterfront park …

 

 

 

… where I met a lady from Kansas visiting her daughter.

 

Everitt used to be a major logging and paper center.  Apparently, the area got very polluted from this.  With the decline of the logging industry, the area has been slowly recovering.  Boeing, Microsoft, and pharmaceuticals are some of the new industries in the area.

 

 

 

Susan and Lon at the “Rider Meeting” getting us orientated to the PAC Tour routine…

 

 

 

 

… some of the things we discovered that we have to look forward to:

 

On our first day, we’ll start out with a major climb up to the top of Steven’s Pass which is at an elevation of 4,061 feet.  By the time we get to the top of this sucker, we’ll have over 5,000 feet of climbing and that’s before we even get to the lunch break  (NJ600K riders will recall that the big Fox Gap climb is *only* 1,000 feet at an elevation of 1,400).  After the prospect rain, hail and freezing temperatures over the pass, we’ll descend into the valley on the other side where temperatures can approach 100 degrees.  The second day is over 160 miles with over 6,400’ of climbing and we were cautioned about the dangers of dehydration.  We then get 2 shorter days of 90 and 80 miles as “active recovery” days.  This makes day 5 into Missoula the make or break day for riders … if you can make it Missoula without too many aches and pains, you just might make it to the end.