Day 84 – Kettle Falls, WA to Republic, Wa

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Day 84 – Kettle Falls, WA to 3 miles short of Sherman Pass, WA 25 miles

The best laid plans of mice and men…

We knew we had a strong game plan for our first major mountain pass – the 23 mile climb over Sherman pass. We were well stocked with food and water, woke up at 4:15 am and were ready for the doors to open at the Little Gallea Restaurant at 5 am. We wanted to get an early start on the climb to beat the heat. We were ready & riding as the sun rose at 5:30. We had no idea how this day was going to go, could we make the climb?

We had about 4 miles of downhills leaving Kettle Falls, heading to the Columbia River. We commented that this down hill was not so fun, knowing that every foot we dropped, would just be added to our climb on the other side. We crossed the River and made an immediate right turn, starting the up up up to Sherman Pass. We dug in, and made the climb. In about 1/4 mile there was a tiny down hill, another climb, another tiny downhill and we both thought, well this isn’t so bad. We continued making great progress up the climb. Before too long the little breaks of down hills went away. It was now be impossible to take any coasting breaks to give our legs and backsides a rest so our only way to get relief was when we took some “off the bike” breaks. And we stopped pretty often maybe every 2-3 miles. We were both pleased, we were making the climb, we were getting tired, and the breaks became more frequent, but we were going to beat this thing!! We started counting down the miles after we passed Graves Mountain road, we knew we had 7 miles to go, the countdown started, 6 more, 5 more, 4 more, 3 more…and then, clunk – our pedals slipped. We got off the bike thinking it must be a broken chain, but the chain was intact. We saw that our crank arms (where the pedals attach) would spin freely in both directions. Jim remembered this problem happening 7 or 8 years ago. The pawls, the little pin that drops and holds the “ratchet” of the hub was broken or disabled. Our day of pedaling was over and we were so close to the pass! We were getting it done but now stuck 3 miles from the top!

We thought about walking the last 3 miles and then seeing how far we could coast down the other side but knew there would be plenty of walking on the other side in the 20 miles to Republic. So, it was time to use the thumb. It didn’t take long and a woman driving a jeep pulled over. She asked how she could help. We told her the bike was broken & we needed a ride to the bike shop in Republic, the next town. She said, let me move some things around and I can drive you there. We were a bit worried about space, as she was quite loaded with her recent purchases, until we noticed the bike rack on the back of her car. We unloaded all our bags and got the tandem on her bike rack and Jim squeezed in the back seat, while Shawn sat upfront and we were on our way. We were so grateful!

Turns out this woman, Linda lives in Republic with her husband and 4 children. We got into town and started trying to find the bike shop that our maps indicated was here. That is when Shawn recalled our WS host mentioning in her profile that the bike shop closed. Linda checked around town and someone directed her to a place on the east edge of town. She drove us back out there but sure enough, no bike shop there anymore. OK, time to regroup and consider our options. We were tired & hungry. Linda had to get home so her kids could get to work so we had her drop us off so we could get some lunch & make a plan B. Shortly after that our phone rang and it was Linda’s husband, Dave calling to see how he could help. We finished our lunch and he came by and picked us up. We took the bike & bags up to our WS host’s house before heading off to Omak and Okanogan. Long story here, so I’ll keep it short. Dave was so wonderful to take 3-4 hours out of his afternoon to drive us all over the place. We haven’t figured out the details except we have our spare rear wheel being shipped to Republic (arrives Monday) and a Tuesday 10 am appointment at the bike shop in Okanogan (50 miles west of here).

Dave dropped us off at the home of our WS hosts, DiAnne and Boyd, who were outside. We had exchanged text messages, so they knew there was a long story coming their way. 🙂 They showed us into their home and had a wonderful dinner nearly ready. We had a nice evening of conversation but had to cut it short due to sheer exhaustion on our part. It’s been a very long day. And a day of many kindnesses shown to us. We’re going to be here for awhile, but it’s an awfully nice place to be. Time for sleep!







10 thoughts on “Day 84 – Kettle Falls, WA to Republic, Wa

    Diane said:
    August 2, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Hi you two!!!

    I’m so glad you get the opportunity to stop and enjoy some awesome countryside in a restful manner. No need to be in angst over when to rest. before, during or after your mountain pass!! Your ‘imposed’ rest days seem like a great gift. ENJOY IT!!!! And have confidence, just like every other hurdle you’ve faced…. this one will be overcome as well.

    Way to go!!! Now it’s time to say – way to rest, relax and enjoy!!! :o)

      rathbike responded:
      August 2, 2014 at 10:50 am

      Thanks Diane! We’ll make the most of our unscheduled stop. Maybe we’ll practice our photography techniques 😉

    Dakota Gale said:
    August 2, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Woohoo! Adventure in the mountains. Have fun in the Cascades and enjoy the scenery. The ride will be over soon enough.

    Howdy from the Black Hills of S Dakota! We are riding the 110 mile rails to trails gravel road south through them. So great!

    Ciao for now,


      rathbike responded:
      August 2, 2014 at 10:51 am

      Thanks Dakota! Have fun in the black hills! I

    Judy Lathrop said:
    August 2, 2014 at 10:47 am

    You two are the most flexible and resourceful people I know. You’ll be past this trouble in no time and back on the road. And a wonderful bonus, to get to spend extra time in those beautiful mountains!

      rathbike responded:
      August 2, 2014 at 10:53 am

      Thanks Judy, yes we will get over this hurdle. Sure wish we would have been trouble free this week, but what kind of adventure would that be??

    Bill Pierce said:
    August 2, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    I once had a friend bring a single bike rear wheel to me with the same problem you describe (the freewheel pawls wouldn’t seem to engage, letting it spin free in both directions). I recalled reading that sometimes this can be fixed by judiciously hammering the freewheel body (a twist on the old notion of the BFH being the universal tool) , which I did and resolved the problem, at least for as long as I knew about it. I’m not saying that it would have fixed your situation, but for sure I would have been searching for a rock (lots of those in the mountains) of suitable size to use in place of a hammer. It might have gotten you out of a jam, and then again not. Of course a new freewheel will for sure take care of things for you.

    By the way, I will be in both Seattle and Vancouver next week (Seattle on Wednesday-Thursday, Bellingham on Friday, and Vancouver on Saturday-Sunday). Perhaps that’s just slightly too early to meet up, but I’d still like to explore the possibility. You might send me an e-mail and we could explore the possibilities. It might even be possible for me to drive an hour or two east on the North Cascades Highway (not much there, though, in terms of meeting spots).

      rathbike responded:
      August 4, 2014 at 11:45 am

      Hi Bill, interesting thought! I maybe should have spent more time with it. Our new wheel is in town as I write this. We should be back on the road soon!

    m said:
    August 4, 2014 at 11:35 am

    I pray all is well with your ride. Haven’t received any new posts since this one.. I open up your mail every morning to start my day. Love hearing your adventures. My sister met you both in a Caribou coffee shop in Minn. They live in Maplewood. I live in Huntington Beach Calif. Am widowed and using a wheelchair to get around. I make baby quilts for charity organizations. My husband and I used to enjoy cross county road trips. And I remember a lot of the towns you have gone thru. Think about every town thru Minn has a relative in it. Daughter and her family have lived in Sandpoint. Beautiful area. Best wishes for your travels..Hope to be reading more posts. Eileen Shults (

      rathbike responded:
      August 4, 2014 at 11:42 am

      Thanks Eileen! It’s so nice to hear from people reading the blog. We are fine, just resting in Republic, Washington with a wonderfully friendly and kind warm showers host. Our new wheel arrived in Republic today, tomorrow we go to a bike shop in Okanogan for assembly, and if all goes well, we will be on the road Wednesday! Thanks for your prayers kind words! Jim and Shawn

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