North Cascades Bicycling 26-29JUL2010

26JUL2010   Total travel time 2:49, 68 km, 120 m ascent, 2958 cal.
I finally have been able to break away for a week to do some cycle touring. Russ A and I were dropped off in Darrington by Lucas, who rode about 40 miles with us. We spent the first night in the park lawn of Newhalem, having grabbed dinner at the country store, which closes about 5 pm. We were able to order some cold sandwiches and even a beer. I was then able to finish Pat Buchanan’s book and finish writing a review for this book on Betsy’s iPad, which she so graciously let me borrow. I’m beginning to love these little devices, as they are perfect for travel since all I need is some word processing and an occasional Internet connection on WiFi. It is awesome at holding a charge. I thought that I’d never like the bugger, but I now prefer this over my laptop for travel, which is heavy, and energy monster, and not as versatile in many ways. I especially liked the iBooks option, which is a color improvement over the Kindle. The General (Pat C) had a Kindle on our ACA trip last year, and I was quite interested in its ability to provide the availability to multiple books.

27JUL2010   Time 8:40 distance 120.3 km 1594 m total ascent, 6680 cal
Today was a most challenging day. We started from Newhalem, WA, and rode to Winthrop. In the process, we needed to cross the North Cascades, and the pass is not an easy one. Actually, there are two passes, Rainy and then Washington Pass. After completing Rainy Pass on fully loaded touring bicycles, we were getting pretty beat. By the time we arrived in Winthrop, we were exhausted. It didn’t help that the last ten miles were greeted with a very strong headwind. Russ and I survived, especially owing to the spectacular scenery on the Passes. We might be invalids tomorrow!

28JUL2010   Time 3:11, distance 67 km, ascent 166 m, cal 2259
As one could see, today was an easy day. We needed it after yesterday, and today was also quite hot, especially in the afternoon. So, we rode from Winthrop to Pateros. I am now looking out on the Columbia River. We went swimming in the hotel pool to cool off, and am able to relax. We’ve encountered a number of foreign cyclists on the route who are hitting the North Cascades, and it is interesting how much this part of the world attracts everybody else, yet this is only the second time I’ve ever been across the North Cascades highway. The cycle ride itself was reasonably flat, but the heat was still oppressive, as we followed the course of the Methow River before it flows into the Columbia River at Pateros.

29JUL2010  Riding time 4:40 distance 93 km, ascent 381 m, 3250 cal.
Travel today was between Pateros and Wenatchee, WA. The route followed the Columbia River all the way, though it was rolling hills, some as much as a persistent (2-3km) 5% grade. We started at 6 am in the morning, but by 10 am the heat was already quite sweltering. I couldn’t have ridden too much longer today because of the heat. The morning was absolutely gorgeous with the sun glowing on the sides of the cliffs beside the Columbia River. We passed multiple fruit stands, affording us an opportunity to purchase fruit for the road. Peaches never tasted so good! Finally, in Wenatchee, we were able to catch the Trailway bus back to Tacoma. We wanted to take the train, but they would not allow us to check on our bicycles in Wenatchee, so, we took the bus. At first, Mr. Sourpuss at the checkout counter told us that we could not take our bicycles, but a very nice bus driver let us stick the bicycles In the luggage compartment anyway. So, it was a fantastic cycle trip with a fantastic friend.

I again did not take nearly enough photos. It isn’t much different from what I’ll need to do for further road trips except to get in better shape. I hope that the issue is simply that of being a novice in cycle touring, and the more I do cycle touring with friends, I’ll be able to plan better, and utilize the time to not force mileage, but to enjoy each mile ridden. This will take time and experience. Further mid-summer trips should be planned for the coast, and not in eastern/central Washington. Maybe we could do part of the Pacific Coast route next summer.