What the HELL was THAT!

Once again, ladies and gents, I am stuck working in Spokane this week. In the past, as we know, this would mean I would be suffering with Spinbitch in a spin class after work. However, this time I came up with a new plan…

My hotel, the Oxford Suites downtown, sits right on the Centennial trail. The Spokane office of the Mighty P is also right on the trail. If I had my bike, I could ride to work! Brilliant!  It’s only a 4.5 hour drive from my house to Spokane, so with tunes from the phone a cranking, I headed east.

I got to Spokane just after 5 on Sunday, plenty of time to check and make a recon run to the office and back.  I always like to make sure I know where I am going! Even though it rained a bit coming over, the evening here was nice and perfect for a ride.

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I was excited to take the route, as it follows the Spokane River the whole way. I got changed, wheeled out the bike, hung a right and headed down the road….

Now I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this. But my sense of direction is directly proportional to the degree of wilderness I am in. Meaning, when I am in the mountains and hiking I ALWAYS know where I am, where home is or where the car was parked.  I don’t get lost. In the city…. Not so much.

Why does this matter? Well turns out instead of heading for the office, which is to the East, I went DUE WEST!!

It was a pretty ride, along the river, overlooking the white water rapids, up and until the point I hit a trail detour.  I will tell you, it was the crappiest detour ever, BUT I worked it out and got back on the trail for a bit, and then it was gone!! I was in a residential neighborhood, and when the overcast broke, I noticed I was heading for the setting sun. (I know that happens in the west, it was then I realized I went the wrong way….)

I had also lost the river (you would thing this would be hard to do, but it foreshadowed the next day…), but I at least knew where it was.  I did a hard left and went toward it. 15 total miles later, I worked my way back to the hotel….

I did go east for a couple of miles to make sure I could follow the trail the next day, it seemed easy…

The next day dawned and off I went! I turned left at the trail and headed toward the office. It really was a pretty ride, it was either trail of dedicated bike lane. I had a bit of a tailwind and made good time.  I even found out there is a dam on the river!

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Who knew!

It’s nice, the route is marked by signs that say Centennial trail.  So I was cruising along, listening to the music playing in my head, and knowing I was going the right way….

And then I happened to look around.

Once again, while riding on the road, the river was gone!! (told you) And the road started to have some pretty decent climbs (I knew that was NOT supposed to happen). I was heading east though, and I knew sooner or later I would hit Sullivan road, which would take me to the office.  Somehow the route I took got me 2 miles away from the river.

When I got to the office I sought out the local cyclists who said, “Oh yeah, you missed the turn right after the library! It’s not marked very well!!” OK, mental note, in the future seek out advice from the local riders before trying a commute in an unfamiliar city! For the record, turn right on Farr St, then left at the T intersection….

A quick aside here for a geography/climate discussion.  In Washington State, Spokane is in the eastern part of the state.  Due to the Cascade mountains causing a rain shadow, the east is must dryer than the west where I live.  So of course, when it is time to ride back to the hotel…. Its raining!!

One of the supervisors offered me a ride back to the hotel so I would stay dry. I thanked her, but told her I would have to turn in my “Seattle Cyclist” card if a little rain stopped me!

So, I took off, I was on the trail, I am heading west, I know where I am when: WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!!!

Something long and furry went running across the path, but I didn’t get a good look at it, later on more did! I didn’t know it then, but they are Yellow-Bellied Marmots

Marmot research. (Photo by Gonzaga University)

Marmot research. (Photo by Gonzaga University)

(I will try to get my own photo today)

I am used to dodging gray squirrels and bunnies, but these guys are everywhere! I hear they can be a nuisance in a yard, but I think its cool to see them on the trail!

By the time I hit the hotel, the rain had stopped.  I changed and walked to the my favorite Italian restaurant downtown for dinner.  I devoured a huge plate of pasta, I was starving! On the way back, nature was again out in force.

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All in all a great day, and I have to admit, it’s a great bike route to work. Today I no issues at all and NEVER lost the river! I am glad I decided to do this, and it sure beats the hell out of spin class!!

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5 Responses to What the HELL was THAT!

  1. sarburch says:

    “Ask local cyclists for advice” is an excellent lesson learned!

    You know, I often think of the Burke-Gilman trail or the Lake Washington Loop from an outsider’s perspective. Us Seattlites know these routes fairly well. But how confusing would it be for non-locals to follow these trails? I rode out to Duvall yesterday from Cap Hill. Having been away from Seattle for a few months, I didn’t realize that the Burke was under construction near the U Dist. I was very impressed by the frequent and easy-to-follow bike detour signs that marked the temporary detour route. I thought to myself, “Geez, I wish all bike paths were this easy to follow.”

    What’s really important, though, is this: aren’t these Spokane adventures totally worth avoiding Spinbitch? 🙂

    • I have NOT missed spinbitch at all! VERY much worth the adventures to avoid her!

      and i remember my first fumble through the Lake WA loop, after a bit you lose the signs. But then thats why we ride! After work today I go in search of IDAHO!! I hear its close by and I can’t miss it….

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