Last week, I posted about the first day of the Seattle International Randonneurs’ Autumn 600 km brevet. When we sent our riders on their way in the early hours of this second morning of the ride, we did not know whether we’d see them again further down the road.
Ryan and I left our motel in Twisp at the crack of dawn and cycled on empty roads up the Methow Valley. It had rained during the night despite a dry forecast – thunderstorms are hard to predict. The roads were wet, but that is what fenders are for.
By the time we reached Mazama, we were hungry. There aren’t many places in North America where you can buy perfect croissants in the middle of nowhere…
It was a glorious morning, but as we started the climb toward Washington Pass, we could see clouds over the mountains. Did this mean that it was raining on the other side of the Cascades? We hoped that it was just a remnant of the thunderstorm, about to dissipate, rather than a front moving in.
We met a rider from British Columbia coming the other way. We had passed him just before the first pass the day before. He had camped between the two passes, and he reported a little drizzle on the other side of the pass. He was visibly cold from the long descent in the chilly morning air, so we recommended the store in Mazama for breakfast.
Our worries about the weather were unfounded: The clouds soon dissipated, and we looked forward to another sunny day.
After a night’s rest, we made short work of the pass.
As I stopped to take another photo of the towering peaks, I heard a voice yelling my name. It was Brad, standing one switchback above (the blue dot in the photo), who wondered where the other riders were. He had taken a rest and fallen asleep, and they either were behind or had passed him as he slept.
Together, we climbed the last bit to Washington Pass (Ryan on the left, Brad on the right).
The downhill allowed us to work on our aero tucks. My digital camera isn’t quite fast enough to capture Ryan zooming by at 40 mph.
The North Cascades always are windy (read the sign), but on this day, it was extreme. Rounding the curves, the wind hit us with such force and noise that it felt like our eardrums would burst. Even on the steep downhill, our bikes almost stopped in their tracks.
I was glad for a bike that is affected only very little by side winds. Even so, I had to grip the handlebars tightly a few times to fight the wind trying to turn the front wheel. Having descended this road on a bike with less suitable geometry, I know it can be scary.
Diablo Lake’s dam is where Seattle’s electricity is made. We soon caught up with the second rider, Ian (wish I took a photo of him). After 50 miles in the mountains, we were close to civilization, and the thought of a cold drink and a convenience store lunch led us to increase our pace…
Leaving the control into a headwind, the other two riders preferred to proceed at their own pace, and Ryan and I went ahead. Above you see another control. Instead of sitting by the roadside to wait for riders spread over the better part of a day, I affixed the purple stickers to the signpost on the way out. On the way back, each rider put one on their control card to prove that they had come through.
The day before, I had noticed this bridge across the Sauk River. Now we had time to explore. It’s a beautiful paved two-lane road that winds its way to Concrete. We’ll have to ride that some day!
To our surprise, we caught up with our speediest rider, Ed, who had taken an afternoon nap on the bank of the river. We rode to the next town together, then Ryan and I stopped for more food, while he went ahead, since the finish was near.
We veered off the official course to head home. (The riders signed in at the motel at the finish and then mailed us their cards.) We stopped in Snohomish for dinner at a saloon, then covered the last 20 miles to Seattle and were home by bed-time. Another week-end well-spent!
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