Satellite Track of my Trip

Saturday, February 22, 2014


It's that time of year again. Plans are formulating. Where, where, where? State maps unfolded, peered over and towns, distances and mountain ranges are duly noted on a yellow pad. I sit my support crew down and throw out a few ideas for this year's bike tour. Luna The Wonder Pup is amenable always, but me side kick says, what would we do in Middleofnowhereville while you get ready for the tour? And, why am I picking you up in Godforsakenwastelandistan? And so it goes each year about this time.

But- by gawd, I love it. I replay last years tour in my head, scroll through the 100s of pics in Iphoto from the tour, conjure up (hands rubbing) some neat, new, beautiful place to go and always throw in one day (or two) of slogging and grinding up some unimaginably difficult mountain pass and I am in nirvana. Or at least I think I will be on the tour - right? Ah, sitting here writing this reminds me Buddha taught suffering as a noble truth. And my 20-20 hindsight view to last year's 'suffering' makes me indeed feel noble right now, but in reality, at the time, the Winchester Grade on highway US95 in Idaho was brutal! But ya gotta have a least one day when you hammer and suffer and curse and believe your death will be long, painful and no faster than two freakin' miles per hour. 

So- I hear the clan asking - whatcha thinking? Well... one thing I have learned is that riding in an area that is pleasant or, if I am lucky, even beautiful to behold sure is awesome. Last year, over Lolo pass was just darn spectacular. I've done rides in some pretty austere areas, my preference is... it's gotta have some scenery. My tentative plan is to do some riding in Montana. I believe it will be a Western Montana to South Central Montana extravaganza. Missoula to Bozeman is the plan, by way of a little 'feature' called Skalkaho Pass (looker upper). Woopie!

'She' cuts a nice remote path from Hamilton, MT across the Sapphire Mountains and ends up in the Flint Creek Valley by Phillipsburg, Montana. The pass tops out at 7,258 feet and has some long stretches of the road that are gravel. More woopie!

I'm thinking about 4-5 days with a total of 350 to 400 miles ought a do it. And... I may decide to do more camping this trip. But, as I have mentioned in the blog before, like staying in 1 star motor inns! 

So here is a sneak preview of some of the terrain.

So stay tuned. I know Luna the Wonder Pup and Mergatroid are waiting with bated breath. The former- stinky breath for sure and the latter - well, I'm sure she's breathing through gnashed teeth right now while reading all this. More, more, Woopie!!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

How To Be A Road Biker - Funny!

This is pretty stinking funny! I have not blogged since last fall. I'm going to let this vid serve as my 'start' of the new year's blogging. Spring is around the corner! And so is CYCLING! Yea!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Bike Is a Bike Is a Bike

I'm in Florida on vacation. Flew in a few days ago. Staying in Seagrove Beach. It's on the gulf, up on the panhandle. So we rented some bikes while we are here. Lots of beach cruiser bike rentals around here. Very easy to get around... It's bloody flat! Anyway, I have this fine looking steed below. The seat alone must weigh five pounds. But, yah know what?  In terms of wind in your hair (I'm bald, so this does not apply to me), ear to ear grin and bebopping down the road, a bike is a bike is a bike. They are all fun.  Of course, I'm not riding long distances on this barge, but that's not the point. Point is... Hop on, ride, have fun. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Day 5 - Vines to Bitterroots, Up and Over the Top! [Full Update]

Note: This is the last post of the 'full updates' series which means it is the last detailed post of the trip... if that makes sense. I rode into Missoula on July 9. It has taken me over two months to finally post all the daily ride details. It was only five days to write about... but normal life can get in the way sometimes. To all the blog fans (there must be at least 2 or 3 - thanks family!), thanks for being so patient while I doled out the updates ever so slowly!

Day five, the last day of the Vines to Bitterroots Tour. The day's ride entails a brief final climb up Lolo Pass and then its all down hill to Missoula!

I am a bit worried about the "brief" uphill section - it gains 1700 feet in 12 miles. But this final day- when I wake, I am on cloud nine! It's been great trip and I am proud of the accomplishment. I get out of bed, not too early and head to the lodge for breakfast. The lodge opens at 7 a.m. and there is a small line outside to get in. We plod in, a bit of an odd, still groggy bunch. There is the family or two, a few elderly folks- nature lovers who I'm sure have been coming to the lodge for years and a medium sized group of young forest workers - all decked out in US Forest Service green. I grab a seat at a four top - it's the only one left. My coffee shows up and I'm scanning my day's route on my now tattered Adventure Cycling Map and a guy asks if her can sit at the table. I said you bet. He introduces himeself- Steve from Memphis and in a southern drawl - says man it's cold out there this morning. Well, we ended up having a nice conversation over bacon and eggs. He was riding cross country on his Harley. I am riding across state on my bicycle. He had just come over the top of Lolo this morning. My other passion (aside from bicycle touring) is motorcycle riding. If its two wheels, I like it! So we discussed motorcycles and a little bit on bicycling.

At the end of breakfast, I asked if he would oblige me in taking his picture - I told him I do some bicycle tour blogging and I always try to take a pic of the folks I run into. He was very nice and said sure, hand combed his hair and posed for the photo.

To me... this is the best part of touring by bike. The folks you meet.

Well, time to head out. By the afternoon, I'll be seeing Jen in Missoula! Giddy Up!

The climb up the last part of Lolo was no problem. In the cabin this morning, I pitched all unessential items. I got rid of extra food, a half spent backpacking stove fuel can, a few choice, stinky t-shirts and several other now useless items. I also only filled two water bottles instead of also filling my Platypus water bladder. The overall intent was to lighten the load on the rear of the bike - where the spoke blew. It also helped a bunch on the final climb. The climb was actually pleasant. That was a first for the trip!

Heading up the pass.

Looking back down the grade

Using the Iphone panoramic feature

I stopped on the way up and checked out the history information.

While I'm reading the info - I hear these two old, slightly rotund, old coots on their Harley's ranting about some debri and garbage that is strewn across the pullout in front of the history board.

"If I was that kinds Father, I would kick his ass into next Sunday" one guy said.

"Yah, there kids these days. No respect", the other said. "Makes me sick!"

Well- I looked around and sure enough a bunch of crap was left along the side of the road for about 100 feet. Maybe somebody driving by in a car lost a suit case off the top and just kept on driving?

The convo between the two guys on the Harley was hilarious. They put their helmets on and off they road. I decided to get back on the pedals - and road though the debri pile. Oooh! Look at that... a pair of kids angel wings! Saaaaayyy, that will make a cool addition to the Burro! I pick them up. They still fly and I attached them to the bike. Oh coool. Jen is going to love this!

I'm almost, almost, almost to the top! Time for some pics. And a video.

Top of Lolo Pass from Scott McKibbin on Vimeo.

Almost to the top!

Finally! The top! The Lolo Pass Vistor's Center.

I spend about a half hour at the top and start heading down into Montana.

But wait! There is construction starting just past the top. Cue the screeching bicycle touring tires! Turns out they are chip-sealing the top for about 3-4 miles. Hmmm... how the hell is this going to work? I have to wait about 15 minutes with the other drivers before the pilot car arrives. I follow the car in front of me and off we go. After not too long all the cars have gone by me - blasting gravel at me like a Gatling gun. I just keep pedaling and the surface is a bit squirrely. After a couple miles, I come up on some orange vested workers and they look at me like I'm from outer space.  I whiz by at 30 MPH. Around the bend is the end of the construction. A long line of cars and the pilot car are waiting for yours truly - me, the burro, Winchester the stuffed moose and my purple angel wings flapping along behind me. Once I hit clear pavement, I have about 40 miles - all downhill to Missoula!

Lolo Peak

I roll into Missoula about 3 PM. Notice the stuffed moose and purple wings? Jen is going to love these!

My sweetheart and Luna the wonder pup are waiting for me outside the Adventure Cycling Headquarters. Jen grabs the obligatory arrival video.

Rolling into Missoula - Final Day! from Scott McKibbin on Vimeo.

I kiss and hug Jen and am so stoked to be done. Luna is wagging her tail - so happy to see her too.

We tour the Adventure Cycling Headquarters.
see prior blog post:

All in all, it was a great tour! 

Here are the final totals!

Day 1: Dayton, WA to Lewiston, ID
91 miles
4,259 ft of climbing
Ave temp 85F

Day 2: to Kamiah, ID
78 miles
5,348 ft of climbing 
Ave temp 82F

Day 3: to Wilderness Gateway Campgroud
57 miles
1339 ft of climbing 
Ave temp 84F

Day 4: to Lochsa Lodge, Powell, ID
40 miles
1,421 ft of climbing 
Ave temp 70F (thunderstorms kept things cooler)

Day 5: to Missoula, MT
57 miles
2,051 ft of climbing
Ave temp 83F

Grand totals:
323 miles
14,416 ft of climbing
Time on bike: 25:48:30 hours
Ave speed: 12.5 mph
18,057 calories expended

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fall Mountain Biking Begins

Ok, was able to get out on the Santa Cruz Tallboy today... only second time on the durn thing since late June. About a 15 minute ride from my house is a nice suburban mountain biking area. Yep, right in Kenmore, WA we have St Edwards State Park and Big Finn Hill county park. Nice, forested, single track. St Edwards is an old Seminary and is not currently used. Enjoy this pics!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day 4 - Vines to Bitterroots, Starts Wet, Ends in Bourbon [Full Update]

My day four only began after day four's earlier, early morning atmospheric disturbance calmed down a bit. Yes, early in the night, about 1 to 2 am, thunderstorms rattled my tent and kept me semi-awake and out of my normal REM sleep from time to time. I was snug as a bug in a rug in my sleeping bag as flashes of lightning illuminated my humbled nylon tent. As dawn approached, thunder claps were further in the distance, but rain sprinkled still. My iPhone alarm went off and caught me in a deep, short, inter-thunder slumber. I laid and listened, still thunder, still sprinkles. Cancelled the iPhone marimba solo and cancelled rising. There is time to wait the storm out and re-start the daily tour start-up later. I fell fast asleep.

This sleep, wake, assess the outer-world-cycle went on for a few more times. Finally, I had to make a gamble and decide to press "control-alt-delete" to reboot the morning. I emerged from the tent about 7:00.

Ok, not raining, but moisture all around and a dark and ominous gray lid of clouds made me a bit concerned about the day's forecast. More thunder claps in the distance. I needed to fire up breakfast, pack and set out - felt like I had no choice.

In my grand total of two solo supported trips, seven days across this trip so far and last years trip combined, I had not yet faced an adverse weather situation, Well, there was last year's tour, last day over Bluett pass with cool temps, some rain. Not a big deal. Bluett pass was only a minor anoyance. Plus, I would see Jen that day and knew if things were bad, I could hail her for an evac. But today, in the middle of Idaho's Bitterroots, I was strung pretty taught, a spoke on a wheel of concern.

I had left my backpack stove out last night - even after I thoroughly, surveyed Camp Slogger for left out items before I went to bed. And you know what? That stove would not start due to it being rained on during the night. I am already a bit frazzled by the weather and was seriously worried my cup o' joe and bowl o' oats would not come to a... basket o' fruition. I really tried with that thing. I kept hitting the igniter. I kept blowing the fine water droplets out of the burner screen, I cursed, I crossed my finger and toes... finally she caught and little blue flames circled the burner, roared and of it went. I plopped my micro water kettle on the burner and sat down on the picnic table bench and in a few easy minutes had a nice cup of coffee in my hands. Half cup in the gullet, I concocted some backpacker oatmeal. Rather dry.

But wet still threatens. Morning temperatures were a bit cool. I pack up camp Slogger. I head out of camp.

Just as I exited the main entrance to Wilderness Gateway Campground, BOOM, CRASH, HAIL. I thought oh great. I pulled into the camp ground kiosk with its little cedar roof overhang and tried to stay dry. It hailed for about 10 minutes - little white ice pebbles dancing all over the ground. As soon as it subsided - off I rode. Twenty minutes later, BOOM, CRASH, more HAIL. I left the Burro on the shoulder of the highway and sprinted for a big pine for shelter. This is getting old and I'm getting cold.

If I have to deal with weather all day, I'm not going to be a happy, recently departed from my campground, camper. I only have 40 miles today on the docket, so I could likely muddle through it. The hail subsided after about 15 minutes. Hop on the burro and decide to push on.

This time, a weather calm prevails and I am able to start making some miles and feel better. Still, though, the distant thunder is quite active. I'm also feeling buoyed by the fact at the end of today's ride is Lochsa Lodge. I just need to keep riding and get there.

Signs and saying I'm making progress - but you can see its still cloudy and wet.

By about half way to Lochsa Lodge- the weather turns to being quite nice. Its cooler today due to the left over low pressure system and rains, but the sun is out and its nice. I'm thinking its no hotter than 65 or 70 degrees.

Getting nicer...

My hood ornament, Winchester took some rain today.  But, he ain't one to complain that lil buddy of mine.

Yes, now things are swimmingly, er bicycling, well. Then in a moment, chaos sets in. I am riding along and I hear this high pitched metallic "ping". I knew exactly what the sound meant. Broken spoke. I look down and the Burro is wobbling from the rear wheel. And its a pretty large wobble. Wump, wump, wump. I slow down, stop and examine the damage. One spoke is pulled from the rim. I check its 35 other brothers and sisters and they seem ok albeit each will need to do more work for sure. So, I take a minute to ponder the state of my machine and believe if the dues ex machina is to show itself at all, now is the time. I ponder some more. I have a spoke wrench, but no spare spoke (way to go Slogger man!). The wheel on the rear takes the most load on a touring bike and I know I have at least 40 pounds back there in extra mass. Ok, here is what I am going to do since the "God From The Machine" is obviously not coming - I'm going to shift the weight to the front wheel as best as I can.

This is what I came up with. I moved the panniers to the front rack and now most of the weight is on the front. I head off up the road.

Uh... not so fast. The bike is handling HORRIBLY. The front end sways back and forth and I am not able to keep the bike going straight - at least not without a lot of concentration and elbow grease. This is dangerous. Time to make some more load adjustments. I end up with the panniers on the back and the tent and sleeping bag on the front. This seems to be the best fore-aft balance. I get back onto the road and keep my fingers crossed.

The weather continues to improve and it is just one of the glorious bicycling days. I am feeling really good and cannot wait to pull into the Lodge. The wheel seems to be holding.

Thar she blow's! 

I get in about 2 and the afternoon is early. I can't get into my cabin until 3 pm. I park the burro outside the lodge and grab a bite to eat. Food is par excellence!

I ran into this 'guy' hanging around the log convenience store. A hand written sign on the store said "CAT STAYS OUTSIDE!" Ok. Got it!

I got into my cabin about 3:30.

I chilled for a couple hours and got a nap in. There is something so satisfying about a nice nap after a long day's ride. The door was open to my cabin, the windows open and invited a cool breeze in - very special. I went back to the lodge, grabbed a burger and a beer and headed back to the cabin. Time for the flask, I poured Woodford Reserve Bourbon. Cheers to the Burro!

I made it to the cabin w/o any real issues from the broken spoke. I decided to look at the issue more closely as I sipped my bourbon. Yep... broken spoke, separated from its nipple. Not much I can do at this point. Tomorrow is mostly downhill ONCE I get over the final 8 miles of Lolo pass. The downhill side concerns me since I will be moving at higher speeds and the wheels are therefore subject to higher forces. Will the wheel fold under the stress? I don't know.

As usual, I am out by 8:30 or so. Tucked in my cozy cabin... I head off to the Land of Nod.

Here are the daily totals:

Distance:39.82 mi
Avg Speed:11.4 mph
Elevation Gain:1,421 ft
Calories:1,950 C
Avg Temperature: 70.9 °F

A really mellow day except the rainy start and the broken spoke. Tomorrow is the last day of the tour. I feel like its been a success - but still have one day to be sure.

The Garmin routte data: