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!