Up and Down, Country and Town, Gravel All Around

Yup, I’m still in Spokane, the queen city of the Inland Empire. I like it here and I’ve been able to pretty much do my own thing while The Feeshko gets together with her sisters and mom. My own thing mostly boils down to riding my bike and writing about it here. And to a lesser extent, cooking, social distancing, buying a new pair of shoes, and hanging out with my dog, Diggity.

I just now took this picture so you could see my little buddy who wishes I would have hauled his Burley Doggy Trailer out here so he could ride with me.

It really is nice to be riding somewhere new and interesting after avoiding any kind of travel all year. As I’ve said, it’s not under the best of circumstances, but I believe cycling is the great healer and cycling in new territory is even MORE therapeutic.

A couple of weeks ago I saw one of Old Grumbleface’s posts and was astounded that there is such a measurement as “Air Quality Index,” but now I get it. I’ve gained some first hand knowledge about AQI in the last week. On the drive out here, we saw and smelled forest fire smoke all the way from Butte to Missoula, Montana. On Monday, fires burst out in many places around eastern Washington that affected the air in Spokane. On Tuesday, when the winds died down, things seemed to clear up. I went back into the smoky haze yesterday while driving my son to Seattle, but things were okay when I got back to Spokane.

This morning the smoke is back and, according to the news, it’s going to get much worse thanks to smoke from the Oregon fires blowing in. I figured this was my best opportunity to explore some of the hills beyond the city.

In some places the gravel had some ridiculously rough washboardy stuff, but The Reckless Mr. Bing Bong and I didn’t care. We pushed on because the scenery reminded me of The Palouse.

I think the rolling wheat fields of the Palouse were one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen on a bike tour. This wasn’t quite as exotic, but still not too shabby.

This wheat has been harvested.

From there I descended from the Palouse-like highlands to a valley of pine view-blockers. I was okay with that.

On a clear day, Mt. Spokane rises prominently in the distance. Today it is obscured by smoke. Maybe if you enlarge the picture, look below the arrow, and squint your eyes, you will see the outline of the peak.

I squeezed my brakes quite often while speeding down this deceptively steep hill. Had it been paved, I would have thrown caution to the smoky wind and hit 100 miles-per-hour or more. (Well, at least 4/10 of that.)

Then it was back up this hill which, thankfully, wasn’t nearly as steep as the descent but quite a bit longer.

There is an Air Force base on the west side of Spokane. I saw several bombers like this one flying overhead. I also saw a fighter jet that was way too fast to photograph. The jet engines on those things are unbelievably loud.

It was a fine day of riding, but eventually I had to get back to my home base. I made a movie along the way. Here it is:

P.S. I think it was on Scott and Rocky’s Cycleblaze journal that I read fellow Cycle365-er Mr. Grumby and Mrs. Grumby had to evacuate their new Oregon home due to the wildfires. If the Grumby’s are reading this, I sincerely wish you the very best.

Hi. My name is Greg and I ride my bike a lot. That is to say, I ride my bike almost every day. I go on long rides and short rides. Sunny rides, cloudy rides, and rainy rides. I like commuting, errand-running, day-tripping, overnighting, and touring on my bike. I ride on city streets, highways, gravel, single track, and snow with equal enthusiasm. Sometimes I ride fast and sometimes I ride slow. I try to keep my feet on the pedals at stop lights and I do not dismount when I hop up on a curb. I have a roadie bike, a mountain bike and a touring bike. I try to accept any challenge a bike ride can throw at me without complaint. But I don't like bugs.

6 response to "Up and Down, Country and Town, Gravel All Around"

  1. By: Bill Stone Posted: September 11, 2020

    Hey! Glad to see you are getting in some miles while the air quality allows. Yep, AQI is a real thing. In Santa Rosa, it has dropped a little right now, but for most of the day we were well up into the 200 range, which is “very unhealthy.” Ditto for Seattle today. By comparison, Hastings was in the low 30s, which is “good,.” At this moment, Spokane is 64, which is “moderate.” But watch out! Forecast indicates tomorrow Spokane will be above 200 and in the “very unhealthy” range. Only thing higher is probably “lethal,” at which point we are supposed to evacuate to the planet Venus, which has a much healthier atmosphere. Based on my experience I do NOT recommend trying to pedal if the AQI gets to 200 or above. Or on Venus.

    Two good AQI resources:


    https://www.purpleair.com/map?opt=1/mAQI/a10/cC4#9.82/47.6699/-117.4291 (But be sure to set to LRAPA to get an adjusted reading for more accuracy in wildfire smoke)

  2. By: Laura Posted: September 11, 2020

    That’s a great wheat field picture! I have the largest tires that Violette can handle, but she really doesn’t do well on anything but pavement. There’s some gorgeous backcountry scenery I’m missing out on. We still have Jim’s GTZLE mountain bike, but it’s a tad too large for me to ride. Riding where you haven’t ridden before adds to the excitement of the ride for me, too. Hope the air clears, so you can ride again before leaving.

  3. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: September 11, 2020

    Enjoyed the photos, and glad you can get out and ride on occasion.
    My CEO was born in Spokane.
    Her cousin’s daughter just moved to OR to a new job, was evacuated from work, and her home burned to the ground. Im hoping the Grumby’s are faring much better.
    (Hi Diggity!)

  4. By: NancyG Posted: September 12, 2020

    Yes, AQI is indeed impeding my riding days!! They say it will decrease GRADUALLY over the next few days, and then we will get some of our beloved rain.
    I love the wheatfields and your photo of these is great. I think we all get rejuvenated when we can ride in a new place and new surroundings. Stay safe Greg — I echo what Bill says about NOT riding in unhealthy AQ.

  5. By: Scooter Posted: September 12, 2020

    It’s amazing to me that the smoke and AQI aren’t worse than they are there, but I think the winds have been blowing to the west and across the mountains for several days. It’s lucky you got out when you did, because I expect that it will start looking grave in the east side when the wind reverses.

    It’s on our list to make a tour up in that corner of the state. You’re right about the similarity to the Palouse – I think its northern boundary is deemed to be roughly the Spokane River. When we go though, I imagine it would be in spring. Too hot in summer, and too much fire risk in the autumn. When we drove home from Canada last summer we could hardly see a thing through all the smoke until we got west of the mountains.

  6. By: The Navigator Posted: September 12, 2020

    I’m impressed that you could still talk and were not out of breath at all on that steep switchback in smoky conditions 🙂 Well done.

    But those corrugations… oh dear, roads like that elicit many curse words from me. And when you ride a road like that, just be grateful you don’t have boobs… that is all I can say, lol!

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