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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Northern Transcon Day 4 - Coulee Dam to Spokane WA

This was one of our shorter mileage days - 89 miles.  The time for breakfast, loading of gear bags, and departing Coulee Dam was adjusted accordingly.

There was no time to warm up the legs before taking a right out of the parking lot and starting a 10% climb of about a mile.  I dropped into the front granny chainring while still in the parking lot, as trying to shift down on a steep hill isn't always easy.  After cresting this tough climb, we had a mile of flat road before turning on Route 174 east and starting a 10 mile climb away from Coulee Dam and the Columbia River gorge.  There were some great views of the Columbia from the road.  Once at the top of the grade, we saw Route 174 looking like a long straight ribbon of pavement, disappearing into the distance with wheat fields on each side.  After the first rest stop, there was a turn onto US 2 which we would follow all the way into Spokane.  Cycling was fast and easy, aided by a tailwind, with one short challenging climb 15 miles from Spokane. 

After leaving the lunch stop in Reardan, I didn't even need the cue sheet.  Spokane is my original hometown, and having biked on the roads throughout Spokane county, I knew exactly how to get to the motel.  One rider lost his cue sheet and waited for me at a light in Airway Heights (near Fairchild AFB) so he could follow me.

Tomorrow's route is another "short" day - Spokane to Sandpoint ID.  This will be interesting for me as I rode most of this route on my very first century in 1971.

Lake Roosevelt was formed by the Grand Coulee Dam across the Columbia River
View looking back toward Coulee Dam
Some PAC Tour riders on the way to Spokane
A ribbon of asphalt and wheat fields in eastern WA
Grain silos in Creston WA
Riding along these wide shoulders was pleasant
View from first rest stop, before arriving in Wilbur WA

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