Author: Mike Hassur
There will be multiple contributions to this blog post; so I will try to summarize what we did this last weekend, and let the other guys fill in the details.
Our goal was to ride from Newhalem, WA on State Highway 20 over the mountains (Rainy Pass and Washington Pass) to Chris Fox’s cabin which is just outside of Winthrop, WA (see map for the ride) on Saturday and to retrace our steps back over the mountains on Sunday. Each leg of the ride is about 75-79 miles with about 7000’ of climbing involved. We had two sag wagons (Chris’ SUV and Mike’s van) which carried food, drink, sleeping bags (for Saturday night), etc. Having sag wagons was nice in that we didn’t have to lug around extra food, drink, and clothing while riding. There was always a sag wagon within a reasonable distance to restock with power bars and water and to shed clothing if needed – NICE!!
Everyone arrived at Newhalem on schedule, and we were on the road by just after 8:00 AM. There is
|Les, John, & Leon at Diablo Lake|
|Ross Lake Viewpoint...|
Next up, the long (~ 18 miles) climb to Rainy Pass. We had only climbed a couple of miles toward Rainy Pass when we came to the spot where I had parked the van. The other guys refilled water bottles, ate something, and resumed the climb toward Rainy Pass. I, on the other hand, jumped in the van, drove over Rainy Pass, down the other side, and up Washington Pass. I parked the van at the top of Washington Pass, grabbed my bike, and headed back to meet the group. I shot west down Washington Pass (38 mph and above almost all of the way), back up the east side of Rainy Pass, and about 8-9 miles down the west side of Rainy Pass before I met up with our group. Chris had turned the driving of his SUV over to Kurt and Mark, so he was riding with the group. I turned around and headed up to Rainy Pass with the group.
Our group descended the short, fast eastern descent of Rainy Pass together. Before we knew it, we were heading up the western slope of Washington Pass (which is about 3.5 miles long and reasonably steep (6% to 13% grades). Chris led the first 2/3 or so of the way up and set a brisk pace. In the last third of the climb, the group broke up a bit as we flogged ourselves to the top (at least that is how I felt).
|Washington Pass Summit...|
At the top of Washington Pass, Martin took over driving my van; while Chris got back in the driver’s seat of his SUV. The rest of us descended together down the long (16 miles), fairly steep descent down the east side of Washington Pass. It was fast, and it was fun to do it together.
After the descent from Washington Pass, we rode together for approximately seven miles over relatively flat terrain. With fourteen miles to go, we had to make a decision:
1. Go 14 miles on pavement
2. Go 4 miles on a gravel road
Most of the guys chose the pavement route, but Kurt and I decided to try the gravel road. What I pictured and what we actually got were two very different things. The gravel road was mostly “washboard” surface with lots of loose gravel and big rocks sticking up out of the road surface. I was kicking myself for taking this route with my light weight, low spoke count wheels and carbon frame. The wheels, especially, were not made for this type of abuse. Finally, both Kurt and I jumped in the vehicles and got a ride to Chris’ house.
|Chris' home near Winthrop...|
Chris’ house is very nice. It sits in beautiful countryside with a river running nearby. The guys taking the pavement route arrived shortly after we did. Soon, everyone had showered and was sitting around visiting.
|Winthrop brew pub...|
|John, Mark, & Mike - HAPPY...!!!|
We arrived back at the house to find a huge bowl of spaghetti and enough sauce to swim in. We had purchased our supplies at Costco, so we had enough spaghetti, sauce, and Parmesan cheese to feed a small army. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I had two heaping plates of spaghetti and did not feel “stuffed” – just sleepy.
|Tired, full, and.... fading fast...|
After dinner, we cleaned up the dishes. By the time our kitchen chores were done, I was fading fast. Amazingly, Chris’ house seemed to have plenty of room for the nine of us to sleep. Only one guy, Martin slept on the floor, and he had a nice camping pad to sleep on. I’m not sure what time I went to sleep, but it was probably between 7:30 and 8:00 PM. I was told later that the rest of the guys stayed up visiting for another hour or so.
The next morning Leon was up at 5:30, I was up at 6:00, and the rest of the crew slowly rolled into the kitchen after that to join us for breakfast. Breakfast was simple: toast, honey, fruit, and oatmeal – perfect!!
|Sunday morning temperature: 32 degrees... warmed up quickly...|
Our journey for this second day would be approximately 14 miles shorter than the previous day because we decided to drive people and bikes over the gravel road to where it met the main road (rather than taking the longer, slightly boring route through Winthrop). This was accomplished remarkably easily with the two sag wagons (with one extra trip for Chris’ SUV over the gravel portion). Before long, we were on the lower part of the eastern slopes of Washington Pass. Martin, who couldn’t find his cycling shoes, was driving my van and Chris was piloting his SUV. Martin headed on up in the van to see if he might have left his cycling shoes at the top of Washington Pass when he took over driving duties the previous day. Chris drove his SUV part way up the climb, parked, got his bike out, rode up the climb ahead of us, and then turned around to come down and meet us.
|Leon & Mike: heading up Washington Pass (east side)...|
From there, the group blasted down the west side of Washington Pass together and proceeded up the short, east side of Rainy Pass. I had been thinking about Martin’s shoes and had a suspicion that they may have worked their way under one of the front bucket seats in my van. At the top of Rainy Pass, we got a chance to look and – sure enough – there they were!!
At this point, Leon took over the driving duties in my van. The group took off down the long descent on the western side of Rainy Pass. We were in a pace line most of the way, so it was really fast and really fun.
|Kurt, John, Les, Dwaine, Mike, & Mark: 35+ mph...|
The last 20 miles or so of the ride were uneventful except that the traffic was picking up, and we had be more vigilant for cars and campers. Everyone made it back to Newhalem in one piece, feeling good, and with lots of memories from our weekend together.
A SPECIAL “THANK YOU” TO CHRIS FOX WHO SUGGESTED THIS RIDE AND OPENED HIS HOME TO US. YOU WOULD BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND A BETTER, MORE GRACIOUS HOST THAN CHRIS.
Read on below for more accounts from this trip…
Click here for all photos associated with this trip…
Les Becker’s Thoughts:
Nice comments Leon, I too will cherish these memories for a long time. The riding was exciting as it always is on a Cyclopath ride. But mostly I value the connection with great friends. Hadn't seen Chris, John & Martin much lately so particularly good to reconnect. One memory stands out. I thought Chris was joking when he suggested dipping into the freezing Methow River. So cold it was painful even to walk ankle deep. But I couldn't let Chris and Martin shame me as they first took the plunge. So in I went... and quickly came out!
Again thank-you Mike for all the organizing (and for riding with me up Washington Pass Sunday) and to Chris for being such a gracious host.
Chris Fox’s Thoughts:
Good morning Cyclopaths. Thanks for a wonderful weekend with you getting high in the Cascades. Here are a couple of photos taken on the eastern descent from Washington Pass. No cars, just cyclists enjoying the open road and alpine splendor.
|Ross Lake Viewpoint|