About a year ago, my father and his wife moved to a place on the Kettle River in north eastern Washington. Offically, the place is called "Barstow." But, actually, more officially, it's a "Kettle Falls" address even though Kettle Falls is about 13 miles south east. So, Barstow is really just a general store. It's on 395, which is a Washington State hi-way. Interestingly, from my door step -- if I go straight up 395 -- my dad's place is almost a perfect century ride away. It's about 105 miles.
I've ridden my bike to his place 3 times now. Twice along 395. And once, "the back way." Actually, I've made 4 attempts, but on the 3rd one, the guy I was traveling with had a knee issue and we had to bail about 50 miles short.
Last weekend, I rode up and back on my Quickbeam. It's set up as a fixed gear with about a 69" gear (40x16). I was curious to see if I could ride up and back on the fixed. I did it. The way there was much easier. The way back was a lot of head winds and more up hill than down hill. Plus it was raining the entire time. Even though the ride back was nearly 11 hours of slow, wet riding, I did enjoy the challenge and the weird head trips that come with such an experience.
However, I won't be riding 395 again. It's just too loud; too busy; too much traffic. The bummer is, is that there is no other way that I can *easily* ride up to my father's house in 1 day. The "back way," which I'll fully document at the next time I ride it, is really a nice ride. In short -- the route follows the Spokane river, then cuts up to Springdale, over a great little pass to Hunters, then follows the Columbia to the Gifford ferry, where you cross over to Inchelium and follow the road up the other side of the Columbia, where you get spat out on hiway 20, back down to the Columbia, then to 395. All up; it's about a 160 miles. I did the 140 mile version in a day once, and it's a bit much. As there is some significant climbing. Anyway; that route would make a great two day route where you could camp on the Columbia. But then, it turns into a longer-than-a-weekend trip, which is kind of a bummer.
One interesting little spot along 395 is a place called "Clayton." Clayton is about 25 miles north of Spokane right on 395. When you blast by in a car, all you see is a burger shack, "home of the Clayton burger," and an old gas station. Next time you drive or bike through, take a right there on "Railroad" street; if you follow it through, you'll see that it cuts the corner 395 takes, so you'll actually save time if you're on a bike. Plus, you'll see an interesting little chunk of an old main street that's pretty dead now. Here are some pictures of Clayton...