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  1. #1
    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    Ellensburg to Moses Lake 6-23-12

    This story really starts about a year ago. One day I was in the mood for an everything grinder from Grant's Pizza in Ellensburg for lunch; I called them to order and was told the business was sold and they were not yet open. Grant's in my opinion had just about perfected pizza, at least the exact pizza that I liked: pepperoni, anchovies and pesto (as a topping). With great anticipation I waited and waited until they re-opened under a new name. What a let down that was! The first dropped anchovies from their menu, then an employee told LOML that they had them, then I went in to order and was told that they did not have them. I promptly walked out. Pizza without anchovies is just not pizza in my book however there are exceptions and in due time we'll get to that. By now you are wondering how this relates to a good longish bike ride, well pour a cold one or grab a short black and read on......

    In Moses Lake, a little village (no offense to any members who might live there) in the middle of the state where I was born while it still had an Air Force base is what I consider the best pizzeria in Washington. This place is so good that in a city of barely over 20K and only opening daily @ 4 PM every time I go there it is crowded. A popular spot for pizza parties. They serve great pie. You pay for it but it is well worth the price. Learned last night that they also buy their Chicos home town brew from my favorite craft brewery Iron Horse Brewery, Ellensburg. I've been in the mood for good pizza for a while so I hatch this idea that it is less than 100 miles away why not just ride over. The Mrs. and a couple of kids can meet me and my oldest there for dinner. So it starts......

    When we leave our house at 12:30 I tell LOML that we should take about 5 hours to peddle there. The weather was partly cloudy with a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms forecast. I look directly above and tell LOML that I think we'll be ok but keep the phone close because if it is raining or blowing in Vantage I'll have here come get us as I do not want to brave the Vantage bridge in bad weather. It was barely sprinkling as we left. Living in the rain shadow there are lots of times when a 50% chance means no rain. As we are approaching 10 miles into our ride the sky is looking rather dark and we could see rain in every direction but also a bit of blue overhead. I'm thinking we might get a bit wet. Then we start seeing lightning, shortly there after we start getting hit with drops of rain. I pull over and put on the rain coat. Good thing because we rode through a regular gully washer of a storm. During this we saw the only other cyclists of our journey, they were headed towards Ellensburg. The rain lasted until about the time we crested Whiskey Dick by the Sound Energy wind farm. The sun was shining but the roadway was soaked. As we were stopped I had a pebble in my shoe so needed to remove it. I pulled it off and set my foot down on the pavement. My sock soaked up even more water. I called LOML and had her check the weather report for Ephrata; a front just moved through but was clearing. I told my son that we would make the call when we got to Vantage on if we would continue since we were back into sunshine. Off we go on the decent.

    We arrive in Vantage to a gentle breeze and sunny skies. This was a planned water stop. I bought water refilled our bottles and took a short break. Cleaned off the glasses etc. I have a short conversation with my son about him needing to lead the way across the bridge as I have a red blinker on the back of my bike and he does not. Both of us were wearing red jerseys so we were very visible but riding across the Vantage bridge is just plain dangerous with a posted speed limit of 70/60 mph and no shoulder for part of the span. Off we go as I am nervous as hell. I'm not one to really be afraid of traffic, I am respectful of it and aware of the great danger. I am not keen on heights and this bridge is a moderately high one so it was not like I was exactly looking forward to crossing it. However the only other way is to swim the river and that is not going to happen. I kept aware of the traffic coming up behind us as we peddled our way onto the dike leading to the bridge, along here there is plenty of shoulder. A motor home is approaching so I call that info forward to my son. RV's and their drivers simply scare the beejesus out of me. I spent years driving semi truck and have seen so many where the driver is over his head, lacking experience or confidence in driving large vehicles. The RV passed safely, whew! We then had a good gap in traffic and proceeded onto the actual bridge. I was pleasantly surprised that every single big truck that passed us took the hammer lane so as to give us plenty of room. Every single motorist gave us lots of room. We made it across without one single close call, however if you are thinking of riding across yourself do so at your own risk as it is perhaps the most dangerous piece of road in the State of Washington.

    Up we go the only other real climb of the ride. The shoulder was plenty wide enough, plenty smooth enough but was littered with rocks and debris but little glass. Marred, melted in a few places by vehicle fires of the past. The weather had warmed right up! I was sweating peddling up what Map my Ride tells me is a Cat 4, spinning the whole way in my biggest cog not exactly in a hurry. I catch my son at the turn off for the Wild Horses Monument. I phoned LOML and informed her that we at least an hour behind what I first predicted. We proceed to the Silica Road exit and get off the freeway. Of course this being a summer Saturday there was a concert so some traffic here but we only had to go less than a mile before we turned off onto a county road. Off we go through Grant county farmland. Pass crops such as corn, mustard, wheat, hay, onions, and some others. Hit by occasional spray or mist from overhead irrigation, each time refreshing. I think my son told me the temp was 76 F. somewhere though here. We by pass George as we are on the other side of the freeway and get to water stop #2, the Texaco @ exit 151. A Short break and back on the road we go. We could have followed the freeway but I decided that the better route was up SR 283 to Ephrata where we could stop again to re-water. Just 19 miles (by the sign) up the road. The cashier was very nice. I purchased to 1.5 liter bottles of water and ended up exchanging the second for just a 1 liter bottle which filled all our bottles.

    Up the long straight highway we go. Good thing it was farmland or this could have been very boring. It was slightly uphill almost the whole way. About the point where 283 merged with SR 28 the chipseal changed to actual pavement, what an absolute relief that was. We do not get to ride on much of that nice smooth stuff. At the same point it flattened out so I was able to pick up the pace a bit to about 20 mph. We make our way into Ephrata to the last water stop at a mini mart that I had been stopping at for years. Purchased more water and some advil as my left knee was hurting slightly, filled the bottles and headed out. Made a sharp right and told my son I'd meet him at the top of the hill; he always drops me on the hills. A few miles out of town the road intersect with SR 17. There were a couple more hills that I had not remembered along here. The landscape was what I think is called scabland mostly. A few more houses than the last time I was through there. LOML called me somewhere along there and told me that the wait at Chicos was 2 hours! I said go ahead and order anyway as I didn't ride this far to not have what I really wanted. We slowed a bit as we were no longer in much of a hurry.

    Entering Moses Lake out near Larsen AFB (sorry, even thought he base was closed in the mid 60's since I was born there it is forever in my mind as Larsen!) the shoulder became quite littered with rock and debris but little glass. Not a bunch of traffic for a Saturday evening but can much traffic really be expected in a city of barely over 20,000? Finally we turn off 17 onto a city street, pass a big park with ball fields where games were being played, little league and softball I was later informed. As we passed one field I hear the crack of a bat, someone got a good hit! Go down a slight downgrade and turn in to the parking lot. As I am loading the bikes onto the rack LOML calls and informs me that our dinner is ready. Just in time if not a few minutes too soon as I still had some time left to secure the bikes and stash the stuff from my jersey pockets and then move the suv so that it my bikes were visible from the restaurant, I'm a bit paranoid since I only have a cable lock, likely needlessly so. My pizza was good , not great but worth the ride anyway, so by all rights still better than pizza anywhere else. The family's pizza was awesome as expected. They were having a Hochstetter's, pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, salami, bacon, olives and mounds of cheese. Pics someone else has taken for reference.

    Final stats was 88.62 miles for the day with 2323' of elevation gain. This includes a trip to the LBS before we left town for dinner to get a couple of gels for the kid and a roll of nuun as I wanted to try it as an option for my STP ride in July. Training for the STP was the other reason for this ride. Hope you enjoyed my tale. I'll likely do this again sometime in the future.


    Mark

  2. #2
    Senior Member hodadmike's Avatar
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    Great story. Hats off to you for grinding out a tough ride! Good food is one of my motivators too and I'll definitely try Chico's next time I work over in Moses Lake.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    It sounds like a great ride. Which is a little weird, I've been under the wrong impression about the east side being a hot, featureless desert.

    I didn't know about the Vantage Bridge, and after reading your ride report, I'm going to try to avoid it. Bridges with no shoulders make me nervous.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  4. #4
    Senior Member toddles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    It sounds like a great ride. Which is a little weird, I've been under the wrong impression about the east side being a hot, featureless desert.

    I didn't know about the Vantage Bridge, and after reading your ride report, I'm going to try to avoid it. Bridges with no shoulders make me nervous.
    Yeah that bridge sucks. Never ridden it but remember thinking about it and no thanks. You have to go down to the Wapatum(sp?) Dam to the south.

  5. #5
    Squeaky Wheel woodway's Avatar
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    I am pretty sure you cannot cross at Wanapum Dam.

    Next closest crossing is the Vernita Bridge. From Ellensburg you would ride 821 through the Canyon (nice ride!) to Yakima, then WA24 through Moxee over to the Vernita Bridge.

    Here is kind of a cool video of the history around the Vantage Bridge.

    http://www.gcpud.org/video/crossingatWantagepage.html

  6. #6
    Senior Member toddles's Avatar
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    My bad. Have you ridden on 821? That's a beautiful car ride along the river. That'd be the way I'd want to go anyway if I could.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    Yeah SR821 in the warm months is full of drunken and or tired river floaters and there are places without shoulder, where on the other side of the guardrail is a steep dropoff. It is a nice ride though and I have done it a few times. And in the colder months it is full of commercial combinations, i.e. trucks. Still it is way less on the scare the crap out of ya scale and is really quite beautiful. Also there is a very good chance you'll spot a variety of wildlife on that route: eagles, big horn sheep, mule deer, sometimes elk, rarely cougars or other wildcats and a diverse mix of birds. Then SR24 to Vernita is a long very dry ride with little to look at after you get a bit east of Moxee with a chance of refilling water bottles at Vernita rest area. Really all things considered Vantage is really not all that bad and less than a half mile where there is no shoulder. Each of these routes are likely safer with several riders in a group single file as to increase the visability factor for motorists. Timing also plays a huge part in traffic volumes. Morning to mid-morning being the lightest traffic.

    Thanks for the comments btw. woodway has the correct answer about Wanapum dam, there is no way across that. Interestinly RunKeeper or MapmyRide tried to route me down to Vernita on the west side of the river and back on the east side and I do not think that route is open as it travels through the US Army Yakima Firing Center. Neither app would snap to roads across the Vantage Bridge, I had to manually plug it in.


    Mark

  8. #8
    Senior Member toddles's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info you guys. Good stuff. I'm not at the point this summer, likely, to make that ride -- but I do see it happening maybe next summer. Who knows? Maybe this year. I want to ride from my home in Kirkland/Woodinville to the Columbia river at very least, cross it, and figure out plan B.

  9. #9
    Squeaky Wheel woodway's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black wallnut View Post
    Thanks for the comments btw. woodway has the correct answer about Wanapum dam, there is no way across that. Interestinly RunKeeper or MapmyRide tried to route me down to Vernita on the west side of the river and back on the east side and I do not think that route is open as it travels through the US Army Yakima Firing Center. Neither app would snap to roads across the Vantage Bridge, I had to manually plug it in.
    I've ridden 821 several times and it's a nice ride, but as BW points out, you have to pick your time because it can get busy.

    BW, I have only been down Huntzinger Rd. a little ways, but looking at it from the satellite views I think there are three issues (1) you run out of pavement after a while (which may not be a problem depending on the type of bike/tires you are sporting), (2) the Yakima Firing Range as you point out and (3) have you looked at the terrain? Even if you could ride those gravel roads your going to be in for a BIG workout!

    I would love to go explore that area a bit sometime and see just how far into you can get.

  10. #10
    Ellensburg, WA scozim's Avatar
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    Nice job - I did Ellensburg to Ritzville back at the beginning of the month - 118.5 miles - all on I-90 except from my house to Kittitas. The Vantage bridge is a little nerve wracking but the narrow spot is pretty short - I had on bright colors and a flashing taillight to help out with visibilty.
    1984 Gitane Sprint; 1984 Gitane Tour de France;1982 Trek 610; 1980's Univega Supra Sport (fixie); 1975 Teledyne Titan; 1968 Peugeot PL8; ;1982 Nishiki Marina 12; 1972 Peugeot PX-10; 1987 Trek 800 Antelope (touring/commuting set up); 1981 Trek 510; 1993 Trek 950 mtb; 1996 Klein Pulse II mtb; 1997 Klein Pulse Comp mtb; 1989 Peugeot Limestone hybrid (for touring); 1989 Spectrum Titanium

  11. #11
    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scozim View Post
    Nice job - I did Ellensburg to Ritzville back at the beginning of the month - 118.5 miles - all on I-90 except from my house to Kittitas. The Vantage bridge is a little nerve wracking but the narrow spot is pretty short - I had on bright colors and a flashing taillight to help out with visibilty.
    LOML told me about your ride. Thanks for the advice about the shoulder just across the bridge, nasty it was with debris.


    Mark

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