Northport

NWP/IDBDR Day #4

Miles Total: 514
Miles Today: 64

Up at 6a again today and had the same old breakfast before packing up to leave. I charged my InReach last night and noticed that the mount was loose when I put it back on the bike. So I opened up my fancy red tool tube, grabbed my tools and fixed it up. Unfortunately, this would not be the only time it was opened today…

There was a bit of mist on the lake this morning…grabbed a quick pic before we took off.

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We continued on dirt for a bit, passing through some active logging areas. There were a couple of spots where machinery had to pull over to let us by. Everyone was very nice about it.

Our first stop of the day was in the town of Northport. They had a very nice park along the Columbia river. They restrooms were well maintained and heated! There was nice grassy picnic area and a boat launch. We actually had cell phone service, so I gave my wife a quick call.

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After I hung up, a train came by…Later on, we caught up to this train again and I got some pretty cool 360 videos going along side.

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After the park, we grabbed some gas and started off toward Boundary Dam. Just after we passed the train, off in the distance, something big moved across the road in front of us. I’m 95% sure it was a bear – I tried to get some 360 video, but when I reviewed it on my phone I couldn’t make it out. Perhaps when I get home on a big monitor I’ll be able to tell. Not 5 minutes after that, there was a big grouse standing on the side of the road.

Eventually, we moved from pavement on to gravel again. The terrain was pretty straightforward and not very difficult at all. I was leading the way and came through a hairpin turn that was a little bit loose. I called back to my Dad on the intercom to see if he made it ok, just as he said he crashed. He wasn’t going very fast and was not hurt at all. I found a good spot to turn around and go help him lift the bike up. I had to take a picture before I helped lift…

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Well it turns out this was a blessing in disguise. After getting the bike up and resting for a bit, we tried to continue on our way. Immediately my dad started freaking out – his handlebars wouldn’t turn in one direction.  The issue – a couple of fasteners on his steering stabilizer had vibrated loose (it was a miracle he didn’t lose the fasteners). The crash had finally pushed it to the point of failure.

If you look at the picture below, the red piece moves with the handlebars, the black rods behind had shifted up to prevent things from rotating. If you look at the close one, you can actually see that the top is scuffed up. If this had happened at the wrong time, really bad things would result.

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Now the problem became tightening those fasteners. Normally they are tightened before the stabilizer is installed on the bike. There was no clearance to get a tool in on either side. After quite a bit of finagling, he got one side tightened up – the other side was just impossible, and was basically not threaded at all. There was so little clearance, the the fastener couldn’t even come out. So, we added a zip tie for insurance, and started toward the Boundary Dam campground. We figured at that point, I could run for tools to do a better fix, or call for extraction if needed.

Here is a pic of him on the side of the trail fighting with the fastener.

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We went very slow through the rest of the dirt section, which gave us an opportunity to chat about our options. We didn’t have the tools to do a proper fix (or did we…) for the stabilizer. The obvious solution – you can actually remove the red piece in the picture above, which essentially returns things to the stock configuration of the bike (my Dad added the stabilizer after his crash on the Dempster a few years ago).

We arrived at the campground and nailed down a spot in case we needed to spend the night. Then it was time to start taking apart the bike. Below, you can see the handlebars off and the stabilizer out.

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With the handlebars off, he tried to get access to the fastener that was still loose. After a long battle, he gave up and put everything back together. To fix the problem, you need to remove the large nut in the steering column – go back and look at the close-up picture of the dampener. The issue was that we didn’t have a tool big enough to take it off. Then it hit me – that nut looks like the same size as the axle nut on my bike, and I have a wrench to take the tires off with me. Sure enough, we gave it a try and it worked.

He really, really, really, really wants that stabilizer installed on the bike. He has had issues with head shake on the freeway when trucks pass by, and the dampener solves the problem. We decided to head into Sandpoint tomorrow and get a hotel room. We’ll take Sunday as a “rest” day, go to a store and get some loctite, and reinstall the stabilizer. It should also give us the opportunity to watch the Seahawks game.

It is about 100 miles to Sandpoint from our current location (at least following the path we are taking, we will complete the Northwest Passage). At this point it is getting to be later in the day, so we decide to camp here for the night.

I haven’t had a shower in 4 days, and my current clothes needed to be washed. So I decided it was a good time to jump in the lake and go swimming. On the way down, I noticed this sign.

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I’m not sure if I should be happy that there hasn’t been a cougar sighting in a couple of weeks, or worried because they have a semi-permanent sign to update the sightings.

Here I am in the lake.

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Here is our campsite.

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That’s about it for today!

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