Two wheels to conquer the w...

Learning my mental and physical limits by bicycle.

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Cross Washington Mountain Bike Route: aka gateway drugs PB Troy

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(PB means presented by)

Well this is embarrassing.

This ride happened the third week of May and I’m hoping to “publish” this as September ends. It just seemed like such a monumental task each time I thought about sitting down to write something. I lost track of the hours spent writing, and maybe that’s for the best, but here it is nonetheless!

I hope you enjoy!

It is long enough I broke it into more easily digestible chunks. I really hope it isn’t too long; I wanted to capture all the detail at the risk of losing a few people. Feel free to read a section at a time, when you have a free weekend, with a cup of your favorite beverage!

Here is an index for simpler navigation:

Getting There

Day One: Sleepless Toward Seattle

Day Two: Navigationally Challenged in the Rain

Day Three: Surviving the Colockum

Day Four: Gaining Ritzville

Day Five: Riding with Thomas and the Finish...

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XWA: Getting There

This story really begins back in June 2017. Four friends met to celebrate a successful double Everesting; something that had stretched each of us. Ben H greeted us by throwing the RAAM (Race Across AMerica) rulebook on the table in front of us. He was only half joking. We talked about many things that evening and I left with a deepened sense of awe for my riding buddies. I also left with a vague notion. RAAM was big; too big. The intensity was so beyond my comprehension; it intimidated me to think about someday doing such a ride. I built myself a mental list of stepping-stones to make it more palatable. The list has been adjusted over time but eventually I settled on this order of completion:

  • Cross Washington Mountain Bike Route (XWA)
  • Tour Divide
  • Trans Am
  • RAAM
  • Something across international borders; such as Transcontinental or Indian Pacific Wheel Race

“So, I didn’t click on the...

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Day One: Sleepless Toward Seattle

We awoke to steady rain.

The concept of riding in the rain had been one thing, putting on clothes to actually ride in the rain is another! How often do YOU leave the house while it is currently raining for a bicycle ride? Exactly. Breakfast was quiet. I failed at making coffee, we ran out of water pressure to take showers or flush the morning weight savings down the toilet, and you could just about cut the tension with a dull butter knife. I guess it’s go-time!

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We stepped out into the rain and threw our “drop bags” into Troy’s van. Everything we would wear and use outside of food and water refuels was now on our bikes; and they did not feel light. Well, Maybe Thomas’ bike did. We didn’t have a postal scale, but our planning told us his bike came out to around 25lbs while Aharon and I floated right around 46lbs.

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Troy drove off and we rode to the beach in the rain. We saw several...

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Day Two: Navigationally Challenged in the Rain

Finally, the ferry! As I came to a stop at the end of the pier, some people walked out saying something about how I was making good time and asked some questions. They didn’t greet me and I was near panic so I have no idea who they were, but apparently dot-watchers of some sort. I constantly watched the tollbooth at the ferry terminal for Thomas. There wasn’t anything I could do if he rolled up anyways, but man my adrenaline was spiking!

The ferry couldn’t leave the dock fast enough - but it eventually did; without Thomas. I relaxed a bit, although I found less food on board than I’d hoped for. Trackleaders showed carnage in my wake. Thomas was making great time, but I couldn’t help wondering what was going through everyone else’ mind that morning. Although the early ferry would have been nice, my seat of the pants estimate had been 24 hours to make it to Edmonds and I wasn’t so far...

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Day Three: Surviving the Colockum

And that’s exactly what I did! I woke up and felt AMAZING! There was no hurry that morning; I wasn’t back in race mode yet and the sun was out. I WALKED to the nearest grocery store for breakfast and a resupply. The first attempt at bursting my bubble was seeing two bikes propped up in front of the store which obviously belonged to XWA riders. I still didn’t put my hurry hat on. Only feet in the door, I came across Aaron B and Patrick M, who both greeted me. They were moving quickly for some reason and conversation was brief, although Aaron took the time to point out a deli sandwich that looked delicious (it was).

I wandered through a few aisles buying things to eat and some comfort items such as deodorant and a toothbrush and toothpaste. That’s right, a dinky bicycle lock which I only used once the whole trip made the weight cut but I had intentionally left out a toothbrush and...

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Day Four: Gaining Ritzville

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The surface was packed dirt immediately off the highway, but I didn’t have much time to recalibrate as the above photographed spectacle greeted me at the first bend in the new road! Talk about a comforting image as I wheel off somewhere around 1am into what I assume is wilderness. I had never seen a carcass just left behind like that before and the flesh which remained was still fresh. Something had recently killed this reasonably large animal (deer?), dragged it to within a hundred yards of a highway, and proceeded to clean the bones - yikes. I assumed it was a pack of dogs/coyotes, which wasn’t comforting, because I would likely appear an easier target than this had been. I resolved to keep going, but I was very much alert, and I took special note of which direction was downhill because that’s the direction I would go if faced by whatever did that! Side note, when Thomas started...

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Day Five: Riding With Thomas and the Finish Line!

I woke up - PANIC AT THE DISCO! My alarm wasn’t going off and I could see daylight through the curtains!
I grabbed my phone; I’d overslept, which meant I must have turned off my alarm without fully waking. Oops. I’ve learned this lesson before. There were various periods in my life I had to set multiple alarms and keep them all out of reach; my phone had been inches from my face on the motel night stand.

A look at trackleaders confirmed my fears - everyone seemed to be moving. Later, several dot watchers would tell me this was the most stressful part of the event; my dot just stayed off-route in town while everyone else descended on me after all that work and pushing through. Thomas was passing into Ritzville as I watched, with Patrick not long behind him, and Ricky moving again also not far behind.

Although I packed as fast as I could, I resolved that I would not be winning this...

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Aharon’s Epic Finish

And it was - wow!

We each had our own challenges as I mentioned at the beginning of this story and Aharon was no different. He added a few good challenges throughout the event. His rear derailleur had shifting issues he was able to fix at a bike shop in Redmond. There he also swapped out his front chainring for a smaller one because he was in so much knee pain. His shoes were causing him pain because his feet swelled, so he cut out the sides to create some more room until he could buy another pair of cycling shoes in Wenatchee; a pair of super comfy spin class shoes!

I can’t tell his whole story, nor would I choose to, but I would like to relate the part of his XWA experience I was able to share with him after Thomas and I had finished.

The next task was to bring Aharon home!
He is one to push through whatever to reach his goal, long after it doesn’t make sense or others may think it...

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XWA Gear List

In the interest of finally publishing the story, it will be just that for now; a list.
Given some more time I may make this more detailed and add links. In the meantime, feel free to ask if there is a specific question:

Open U.P size large
Mixed component Shimano hydraulic brake 11-speed groupset
Cranks 50/34
Cassette 11-40t

650B Wheels:
Whisky 30W carbon rims (25mm internal)
Front hub SON 28 dynamo
Rear hub industry 9 Hydra
CX Ray spokes
Whisky valve stems
Whisky rim tape
Stan’s Race tubeless sealant

Front Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.1" (54mm)
Rear Schwalbe Thunder Burt 2.1" (54mm)

Revelate Tangle half-frame bag
Revelate Gas Tank top tube bag
Revelate Pronghorn handlebar harness
Sleeping bag compression sack (came with sleeping bag)
Bedrock Bags Coconino seat bag
Topeak cagepack below downtube

Specialized Romin

Aero bars:
Zipp Vuka clip-on with 50mm riser kit


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Rapha #Festive500 in one ride

This undertaking began in 2015.

I got on a bike for the first time since I was a kid in July 2015 and began using Strava within two weeks. The first time I really pushed for a goal was a Strava climbing challenge in October that year. It was more physical effort than I had extended my entire life, but I was able to complete the challenge and even bought the jersey I couldn’t afford because I was so excited about what I had done!

I completed the next climbing challenge in November. It required less elevation, but was no less difficult because of the weather. I also had only one bike which a friend had given to me. It was a steel Schwinn Le Tour someone had converted to flat handlebars. It had head tube shifters. And the brakes - terrible brakes on chromed wheels. Every time you go up, you have to come back down, and it was often terrifying.


December rolled around and I had spent...

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