Monday, June 9, 2008

Four Passes Ride Report

The ride started at 05:00 from Brad Tildon's house near the shores of Lake Sammamish in Issaquah, Washington. There were 60 starters for the 600k brevet, 54 riders finished. Dave Rowe, Eric Alhvin and I carpooled to the start from Portland Oregon and we rode the brevet together.

A rainy start
The ride out of Issaquah was very nice. A lite rain started to fall just after the start but the roads were good and there was only lite traffic. The country side was very rural and the clouds came down nearly to the ground.

Climbing Stevens Pass
The controls were evenly spaced along the route approximately every 100km. The first was at Skykomish Chevron were we stopped for water, food and to gear up for the Stevens Pass Climb. We would be at the summit of Stevens Pass in less than 16 miles. Near the top of Stevens Pass it was possible to see the clouds wearing thin and blue sky just beyond.

Once we crested the pass and started down the other side heading east, the weather began to change rapidly. Before too long we stopped and took off our rain gear and started to dry out. The ride along the Wenatchee River was beautiful. The dry cold air, blue sky, icy white river rapids and downhill highway were an encouraging change from the cold wet climb up Stevens Pass.

Riding up Blewett Pass
The second control was 117 miles into the ride at the Chevron/Subway food stop in Leavenworth. We spent a chunk of time there although neither Dave nor Eric remembered exactly how much. We mostly changed clothes and stored gear, got water and food and took care of personal business. Before long we were ready for the climb out of Levenworth and up the second pass, Blewett Pass. At the top of Blewett Pass we found Brad Tildon with a rest stop with water and a tremendous variety of snacks and liquids. It was chilly so we didn't stop very long.

Winds 35 to 45 mph going into Ellensburg
About the time we got to the bottom of Blewett pass, we started climbing another hill taking us up a ridge separating us from Ellensburg. The hill was a big one but we also had a 35 mph tail wind that made it an easy climb. The best part was the down hill on the other side. It was like being blasted out of a giant air cannon. I looked at my computer several times and I was rolling 30 mph with nil effort.

Canyon Road south of Ellensburg
Our third control was in Ellensburg, just under 300km into the ride. We stopped at a gas station on the edge of town near Canyon Road and got water and food and took care of personal business. It was a fairly long stop and we were anxious to get going by the time the wind picked us up and pushed us out of town and down Canyon Road to Selah. At Selah we climbed up and over a big hill to Naches where we turned directly into a roaring northwest wind on US12. The condition of the highway was as bad as the headwind. The road only had a narrow shoulder that was mostly a wide deep rumble strip. The remaining shoulder was too narrow to ride at night in a group. We struggled against the head wind and the rumble strip for the next 10 miles until US12 turned Southwest to White Pass. The SIR club set up a secret control near the turn and met us with warm pile jackets, hot soup and sandwiches. Brad Tildon was at the secret control and seemed to be turning up everywhere. We were pretty blown away by the wind and I found it hard to walk without and occasional trip or stagger.

Silver Falls Beach Overnight ControlIt was a 25 mile ride from the secret control, up White Pass to the overnight control at Silver Beach Resort. Something in the wind combined with the previous passes to make these last miles seem very slow. We arrived at the overnight control where the SIR staff met us with food and drinks. The resort was an excellent place for a randonneuring overnight stop. We arrived just after 02:00 and left the control just before 07:00, enough time to clean up and take a quick nap.

Riding up White Pass From the resort, it was only 8.5 miles to the top of White Pass where it was very cold. I did not stop to put on extra clothes for the decent and my hands were nearly frozen 12 miles later when we got to the SIR control at the junction of US12 and SR123. Paul let me sit in his warm truck and recover the use of my hands while I drank a cup of coffee.

Warming up after coming down White Pass Cayuse Pass was the last of the four passes. The road enters Rainer National Park and the unspoiled old growth forest is beautiful. It was cold at the top of Cayuse pass and there was plenty of snow at the top. I put on extra clothes for the decent this time around. Much of the next 25 miles was down hill or nearly flat so the ride into the small village of Greenwater was fast. We met a group of randonneurs collecting at the store to take a break and get their control cards signed.

Cayuse Pass
Somewhere in the last 30 miles we came upon Robert a lone randonneur. We rode together until Eric got a flat with a big roofing nail stabbed into his tire. I told Robert he might as well keep going because it would only take Eric a few minutes to fix his tire. The last 35 miles of the ride took us into Redmond and around Lake Sammamish. We picked up Robert again at our last control in Redmond.

The End of a fine ride!
We finished the ride in 35h45 and as always it was good to be done. We rode the last 100k pretty hard and finished with plenty of time to go to Red Robin for burgers and milk shakes before driving back to Portland.

Many thanks to Brad, Jeff, and Ron Tilden, Don Smith, Mark Thomas, Ray McFall, Noel Howes, Todd Black, Allison Bailey, Paul Johnson and Shan Perera!