Day 10: The day of Pond O’Ray

Day 10, Bacon Bike Hostel to Newport, WA: 86.9 miles, 4,035 ft. elevation gain,12.1 mph average speed

Trip totals: 517.8 miles (57.3 mile daily average), 33,820 ft. elevation gain, 10.8 mph overall average speed

Map and stats here.

What a gorgeous day to be on a bike tour.

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We were anxious to be back on the road, yet reluctant to leave the homelike comfort of the bike hostel, so we compromised by leaving at 7:35a, exactly the same time we’ve been leaving every day.

We had a long day ahead of us, but we felt rejuvenated by the day off, and started the day bright and chipper. Not even the 1,000+ ft. evelation gain coming out of the hostel could get us down.

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We spent the first half of our day riding through the highlands above Ione, WA. I think it was the most perfect morning of the trip so far (and I’m fairly certain I’m not just saying that because we weren’t climbing a pass). The skies were blue, the sun was shining—but not too hot—and we weren’t climbing a pass (okay, so maybe that did play a small role in it). About 12 miles into the day, we saw a sign for Crystal Falls, and pulled over to see a beautiful set of waterfalls right off the road!

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Shortly after we stopped for snacks and the restroom at a lakeside resort (about 25 miles in), we descended to the Pend Orielle (pronounced Pond O’Ray) river valley. This was the best descent of the trip. We followed a steeply descending road with several switchbacks reminiscent of Cadillac commercials, with lush evergreen forests on either side and a valley surrounded by green mountains opening up before us.

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After we got to the bottom we crossed the river and turned south. The next 45 miles traced the Pend Oreille River, providing several stunning views and inciting much desire to take a break from riding and leap into the water. We had the road almost entirely to ourselves, and the only downside was the persistent headwind that we fought throughout the afternoon.

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A quick aside: Something that we’ve wanted to mention for a couple of days, but keep forgetting is the uncanny frequency with which we’re passed simultaneously by cars going in opposite directions. We’ll ride for miles without seeing a car, but then we’ll see two, traveling in opposite directions, passing each other precisely where we’re riding. I know it probably seems like I’m exaggerating, but I promise that I’m not.

In any case, we passed a couple of Canadians who attempted to ride the Adventure Cycling Association Continental Divide trail, but were derailed (HA!) by a serious rear derailleur malfunction and were biking back home to Whistler. One of them was significantly more cheerful than the other; I think he was the one whose bike didn’t break. Shortly after passing these folks we stopped at the Manresa Grotto (Tagline: A beautiful grotto exists) to rest in the shade and refill our water bottles. We are always very grateful to the various organizations (USFS, DNR, NPS, state parks, etc.) who put little bits of shade on the sides of very hot roads.

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After that it was twenty more miles into Newport. We were struggling by the end, and were ever so grateful to roll into town and immediately see a Safeway, where we stocked up on things such as cookies, pineapple, lemonade, chocolate milk, and salami. So, you know, the basics.

Danielle was willing to ride on to find a campground, but I was beat, so I convinced her that we would be doing enough free camping in the coming weeks to justify staying in a motel. We ended up at the Newport Antler Motel (complete with taxidermy in the office), where we watched TV, drank a half gallon of chocolate milk, ate salami sandwiches, and fell asleep by 9:00p. It was our fourth consecutive day sleeping in a bed; we’re getting spoiled.

We’re camping tomorrow though!

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Postscript:  I just wanted to mention that I am the subject of the overwhelming majority of our pictures only because Dani carries (and controls) the camera. But I’ll try to wrest it off of her so anyone who’s following along has the opportunity to see both halves of our dynamic duo!

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