Saturday, February 3, 2018

Today: First JWPT Shakedown Ride

Late last year mostly likely owing to the blackness of the weather and the grim situation at work, I decided that this would be the year I would ride the John Wayne Pioneer Trail to the Columbia Plateau Trail. This is a dream I’ve entertained for years. In fact, in 2014 and early 2015 Shaun Cornwall and I planned to take the young men across the state on that trail with support vehicles. Back then, all I really had to go on for planning was a blog by a fellow-Spokanite named Pat, whose blog documents his cross-state pilgrimage on the JWPT trail.

He picked the trail up in Tekoa and headed West to North Bend, then took connecting trails all the way into Ballard. He rode a fat bike and he rode into the jet stream, which slowed their passage on the second day pretty seriously. Anyway, while I already knew of the trail, Pat’s account instilled within me the drive to tackle it. Beginning in last November, I have used promise of this trip as an escape.
A GPS Map and Cue Sheet Available on 

Shawn Pedersen's Invaluable Trip Post
Meanwhile, since January 2015, a whole new crop of adventure cyclists have tackled the cross-state ride in Pat’s wake, most of them riding west to east. They have chartered different courses and made the GPS maps available. With their help, I've been hatching planning my route. 

Ivy and I explore the Beverly Bridge
I can't believe how motivated I am to see this happen. I drug the family out to the hinterlands to reconnoiter different sections that sound challenging. We drove Lower Crab Creek road along the Beverly, Smyrna, and Othello section of the trail. Admittedly, it doesn’t take much effort, but I somehow convinced the State DNR to give me the necessary permits to ride the trail. Santa brought a saddlepack, a handlebar bag, and a 22 liter Osprey, easily the best backpack I’ve ever owned. In spite of the very short dark days, dreary, wet weather – the font of heaven appears to be permanently broken, and the lack of showers in the office, I have begun riding to work again, at least once a week. The 44-mile round-trip commute, requires some recovery time. Drawing on the experience of one Conferring I never felt this committed to any project or adventure in my life. Mostly relying on the help of Shawn Pedersen, a frame-building JWPT pilgrim, I adapted and refined my backpacking packlist to the rigors of bikepacking. 

All of the foregoing made today’s task possible. Today was a John Wayne Pioneer Trail training day. I spent an hour or so packing all the bags on the fat tire. My goal was to test ride the gear and get some miles on the fat bike, which is not my commuter to get a sense of the challenges I’ll face in May. Below, I include some pictures, my route, and some observations from the trip.

One of the many singletrack sections. This was taken on Sasquatch

  • It would be wise to get an extension for the handlebar bag. The current setup compresses the brake lines in a way that makes me a bit nervous.
  • The saddlepack is probably no more than an inch off the rear tire. To maintain the necessary clearance and protect the bag, I had to do a few things. First, the seat post on the fattie has a tendency to slip. So I tightened the collar to keep the seatpost at the appropriate height. Then, I pulled the pack as high up the seatpost as possible. Throughout the ride I needed to tighten the straps. Conditions were wet the entire time and the straps may have slipped or stretched. Even with all that, the bag would bob up and down and rub against the tire, until I tightened the upper straps on the saddlebag, and then the rubbing ceased. I even caught air on Fresh Squeeze and the pack didn’t come into contact with the tire.
  • All three bike bags are supposed to be waterproof. The handlebar bag did allow some water in, but it was exposed to the most water and I hosed it off at the end. Even still, not very much water got through.
  • I didn’t miss the clipless pedals at all on the ride. I am nearly positive I will ride flats in May, which may require a purchase if my cheap Chinese plastic knockoffs stop working.
  • I didn’t take fuel for my stove.
  • I deemed it unwise to take a sleeping bag in the pouring rain. The plan is to carry my bag on the handlebars in a waterproof compression sack. Since I don’t have any such sack, I left the bag at home.
  • I only had 2.5 liters of water in my pack. I will strap a 2 liter Nalgene to one of the forks.
  • I didn’t use the fork mounted rack, and still managed to fit everything in the three bags on the bike with room to spare.
  • I only had tools, a jacket and water in the backpack.
  • I took a duckback for the backpack.
  • I rode 27 miles today. The route was almost exclusively dirt roads and single track. I made several stops for pictures and sporting events (I met TD at the high school to say “hi” and watch his daughter Ellie play. Then I saw our Ellie play basketball at the stake center.) Even with these pace-breaking elements, I managed to maintain an 8.5 mph hour pace.
  • My phone, which served as a GPS, for tracking purposes, lost about half of its battery power in the four hours I was gone.
  • It’s probably time to throw away the solar charger. But I want to test this during the eastside reconnaissance trips in February and April.
  • In May, I want to take baby wipes and hand sanitzer.
  • I rode the tires at 18 to 19 PSI and didn’t notice too much jolting. I also maintained a pretty good pace at this pressure.
  • I don’t think I need to take a fleece. As long as it doesn’t rain, one of my long-sleeve synthetic pullover and a shell will probably be warm enough.
  • I may want to take eggs, cheese and ciabatta bread for a meal. Or maybe not.
Pipeline Trail

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