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
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.