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Old 09-15-11, 08:00 AM   #1
GlowBoy
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A brief overnight tour on my new Swift

I've only had my Swift for a couple weeks now, but I was eager to test out its comfort for long rides ... not to mention its packability. Last weekend's weather was unseasonably hot in the Pacific NW, mid to upper 90s around here. So I went a bit north, towards the cooling breezes of Puget Sound, to avoid a bit of it.

My wife and child were going north for the weekend anyway, so I had them drop me off Saturday morning in Olympia. Her car trunk was full, but there was still room for my folded Swift and my own baggage in the rear seat next to my son.

Although it added a number of miles to my intended north-south route, I wanted to try out the relatively new Chehalis-Western and Yelm-Tenino trails. They turned out to be very nice trails, smooth asphalt under a tunnel of green Northwesternness. Near the junction of the two trails is a cool find, the Monarch Sculpture Park. Over 100 outdoor sculptures in seemingly the middle of nowhere. Here's a taste:




The Yelm-Tenino Trail makes up part of the Seattle-Portland Classic's route, and from Tenino I followed their route south along a very quiet state highway. Got passed by a car maybe every 2-3 minutes, and it was wonderful to actually have a (narrow) shoulder to ride on. Most state highways in Oregon lack any paved shoulder whatsoever, so the 2-3 feet typical of Washington highways is a wonderful change:


As you can see, I'm rigged up for overnight camping, but I've only brought clothing and sleeping gear. No need to cook because there are a number of towns along the way. Even so, I'm glad I've brought energy bars and such ... it's been a while since I've done a big ride like this, and I forget that after 2-3 hours you need to start eating every 20-30 minutes or else. Lunchtime brings me to Centralia (a good burger and cajun tots -- ! -- at McMenamins Olympic Club) and its "twin city" of Chehalis, whose town park provides a nice break from the heat:


Here I diverge from the STP Classic route. Good thing, because for the next few dozen miles their route takes you down roads with limited shoulders and a fair amount of traffic. I discover the Jackson Highway, running down the other side of the valley: gently rolling farmland, 6 feet of smooth shoulder, and VERY low traffic. I will go for long stretches being passed by a car every 5 minutes or so. Touring luxury, I tell you. Despite the heat and nearby forest fires, you can also just make out Mt. St. Helens through the haze:


And the Jackson also boasts a couple (!) of state parks along the way for rest breaks. Just as the near-90 temps are starting to cook my brain a little, I come to this little gem. No more than a few acres (too small to call a forest, really), this little patch of old-growth woods is not only out of the sun, but only in the mid 80s, with a few nice picnic tables to stretch out on:


A few more miles down the road is Lewis and Clark State Park, a larger camping park with even cooler old-growth forest:


I think from here I got a bit more neglectful with the camera -- still about 25 miles to my camping destination, Seaquest State Park. I got a little more focused on actually getting there. It's easy to forget how much slower you are in touring mode, with a pannier and camping gear strapped to the bike. In retrospect, 80 miles was a bit too ambitious for one day. 50-60 miles is a bit more realistic for me when lightly loaded.

Sunday took me to Kelso, where I picked up the Amtrak Cascades for a luxurious 78mph ride the rest of the way home. Here's the Swift all packed up:


Here it is back in Portland. All told, 106 miles, and the Swift did great!


As I've already mentioned on the Swift thread, I don't think the ride is any harsher than my steel cyclocross bike (except for big bumps, over which the little wheels naturally don't roll as well). Its packed size isn't that small, but it seemed to be small enough for Amtrak. And it only took a few minutes to pack and unpack. Although I bought the bike primarily for train-assisted commuting, I'm excited about the possibilities it opens up for touring.

Last edited by GlowBoy; 09-15-11 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 09-15-11, 10:26 PM   #2
monsterpile
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Nice report and pics of the travels.
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Old 09-17-11, 10:19 PM   #3
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McMenamins eh? That should have been...burger, fries, and a couple of pints. One of the pioneering brewpub outfits, glad to see they're still thriving.

Nice writeup and photos.
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Old 09-18-11, 03:15 AM   #4
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Nice TR.
Can you rig it for fenders as well as a rear rack? I.E. what does it have for braze-ons?
Thanks
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Old 09-18-11, 11:10 AM   #5
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Great write-up and pics, too. Presently sitting in Ocean Shores, WA - on coast directly West of Olympia, WA. We drive through the general area described getting out here from Vancouver, WA. Will have to try those rails-to-trails, plus the one out to Pacific City.

Nice looking Swift, too. Being STEEL, assume it came from Center for Appropriate Transportation in Eugene - more great paved bike trails there and also reachable via the 'Cascades' train.

FYI, McMenamin's is doing really well - almost 60 establishments, most very distinctive.
http://mcmenamins.com/

Highly recommend the "Poor Farm" (the former Multnomah County Poor Farm) a sprawling establishment in East Portland and reachable via bicycle from PDX and MAX + Bicycle from the Amtrak Station. Our other favorite is their Columbia Riverfront location in Vancouver (USA, not B.C. & WA, not D.C. - local joke)

Lou
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Old 09-18-11, 09:02 PM   #6
GlowBoy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clownbike View Post
McMenamins eh? That should have been...burger, fries, and a couple of pints. One of the pioneering brewpub outfits, glad to see they're still thriving.

Nice writeup and photos.
Ha! Thanks, but with 45 miles yet to go that day (in the heat) ... the only pints I was drinking were root beer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foldable Two View Post
Great write-up and pics, too. Presently sitting in Ocean Shores, WA - on coast directly West of Olympia, WA. We drive through the general area described getting out here from Vancouver, WA. Will have to try those rails-to-trails, plus the one out to Pacific City.

Nice looking Swift, too. Being STEEL, assume it came from Center for Appropriate Transportation in Eugene - more great paved bike trails there and also reachable via the 'Cascades' train.

FYI, McMenamin's is doing really well - almost 60 establishments, most very distinctive.
http://mcmenamins.com/

Highly recommend the "Poor Farm" (the former Multnomah County Poor Farm) a sprawling establishment in East Portland and reachable via bicycle from PDX and MAX + Bicycle from the Amtrak Station. Our other favorite is their Columbia Riverfront location in Vancouver (USA, not B.C. & WA, not D.C. - local joke)

Lou
Actually, my Swift is the aluminum Xootr model. I did think about riding down to Eugene and taking the Cascades back, but the temps were also forecasted to be in the mid 90s through most of the valley. It is high on my to-do list though ... the only downside is the train timing isn't great. The last train from Eugene back to Portland leaves around noon, and it's the Starlight. The last Cascades leaves mid-morning. There are a couple of "Amtrak" departures in the afternoon, but they're both "Amtrak Thruway" buses operated by another carrier. Not sure whether they are Greyhound.

The trip I REALLY wanted to do, if it hadn't been so scorching hot, would have been an Amtrak-enabled ride through the Gorge. Here's the plan (unless there are strong westerlies): Take the Empire Builder east on Friday, which drops you off in Bingen at 6:20 pm. Camp at Bridge RV, which has nice tent sites. Saturday, ride east on SR14, crossing the river at The Dalles and riding back to somewhere between Viento State Park and Cascade Locks (numerous camping opportunities in this stretch). Sunday, ride the rest of the way back home. Ends up being about 110 miles or so in total.
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Old 09-19-11, 01:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UberIM View Post
Nice TR.
Can you rig it for fenders as well as a rear rack? I.E. what does it have for braze-ons?
Thanks
It has eyelets on the fork, and two sets of eyelets on the rear dropouts. So it could be rigged up with full coverage fenders. I will be adding fenders in time for our rainy season, but not a fan of the full coverage type, which tend to commit suicide on the curb hops and occasional offroad forays that I'm prone to.
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