Thursday, September 18, 2014

2014_09_14 North Cascades_Winthrop Weekend Ride - Addendum (John Winter's Thoughts)

Author:  John Winter

I hadn’t been on an official Cyclopath ride since Triple Bypass in early July so I was very excited about riding with the group again.  I drove up with Mike so we had plenty of time to catch up on each other’s summertime experiences.  We started out about 5am and drove through the early morning darkness for the first hour and a half of the drive.  Our route took us through the Oso slide area just as dawn began to break. The volume of earth that came through that area was nothing short of impressive.  It will still be awhile before that area is ‘back to normal’ again.  We made it to Newhalem 20 min or so before our planned start time and everyone was already there getting ready to go.  We had a total of 9 riders which I thought was about perfect for this route.  Big enough to make a presence on the road but small enough to make the group descents a lot of fun.  Temps were a little chilly at the start (mainly due to a wind funneling through the gorge) but things warmed up pretty quick to a very comfortable level.  Kurt had a flat roughly 10 miles into the ride but that was the only mechanical issue we had on the way out – very lucky!  The gradual climb past Diablo and Ross Lakes went smoothly and the shoulder was wide enough for everyone to engage in plenty of good conversation.  Mike, Chris, Martin, Kurt, and Mark were all kind enough to take turns driving the sag wagon so we always had plenty to eat/drink and lots of opportunity to make wardrobe adjustments. 

The highlight of the ride was cresting the climb up to Washington Pass and beginning the speedy descent into the Methow Valley.  With Liberty Bell towering above we all got in a tuck position and flew down the winding highway.  As the grade began to ease we fell into a paceline and kept a good pace all the way past the town of Mazama.  As we approached Winthrop I opted for the paved route through Winthrop vs. the gravel shortcut.  Mike was not happy with his gravel road choice – too many rocks and potholes – glad I opted for the pavement!   As we relaxed at Chris’s spacious ‘cabin’ Mike was upset that his cell phone had no service while everyone else had at least ‘4 bars’.  Poor Mike was cut off from the outside world.  To ease Mike’s pain we decided to hit the town brewery to pick up a growler of local ale.
Old Schoolhouse Brewery:  beer and pretzels... awesome!!
  Mark, Mike, and I enjoyed a pint and a pretzel at the Old Schoolhouse Brewery in town and returned to the cabin with a local stout that everyone could partake in.  After a delicious spaghetti feed we all sat around for a bit of good conversation but after a long day of riding (and beer drinking) we all felt like going to bed a bit early.

The next morning greeted us with close to freezing temps!  After a quick breakfast we all agonized over how much clothing to wear at the start.  Most of us opted for a moderate number of layers which worked out well due to the quickly increasing temperatures on our way to Washington Pass.  In the early morning light the fields in the valley and the mountains up above were awe inspiring.  I felt pretty good so I decided to push the pace to the top of Washington Pass.  As I approached the top I was beginning to redline it but Dwaine had enough steam left to take the lead so he was good enough to pull me up the rest of the way.   What a great ride!  Lots of fun winding descents on our way back down to Newhalem.  Riding at high speeds with the occasional car passing on the left is always a thrill, and maybe a wee bit risky, but I am glad I can count on the skill of my fellow Cyclopaths to make it as safe as possible.  After we arrived back in Newhalem we all congratulated one another on a great ride, loaded up the cars, and headed back home.  After all that strenuous activity I was hoping for a good greasy burger and a shake at one of my favorite haunts, the ‘Marblemount Drive-In’,  but was extremely bummed when I discovered that they had just closed up permanently after 14 years in business.  Dang!  I guess I’m going to have to search out another North Cascade burger joint for the future.

Thanks to everyone for a great ride and great memories!!

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