Day 92 – Mazama, WA to Rockport, WA – 78 miles
What a day! Two mountain passes and 78 miles! Holy WAH! (But boy we’re tired!)
We started the day with a quick in-room breakfast. As with the other passes, we wanted to get an early start. We took the time to apply our Detroit Lions tattoos – they were a gift from our friends Stu and Deb (so we wouldn’t forget our roots) and since the Lions have a preseason game today, we thought we’d support the team. (And they won – can you believe it?)
Today’s ride started right on the approach to Washington Pass (the locals call it Wash Pass), it’s an 18 mile climb so we dug in and slowly (4 mph top speed) made our way up. We take frequent breaks on these climbs and today was no different. About half way up, Jim asked for a break and we pulled over. He didn’t know whether it was a nutrition issue, maybe thinner air, or perhaps the effects of the allergic reaction from a bee sting he got the night before. We took an extended break, shared a protein bar, lots of water and the issue seemed to pass. We continued the climb. People had told us about the end of the climb where there is one switch back with a steep climb. Two miles from the end, the switch back was obvious to us. We took a break at the start of the switch back, looking up at the road we would be finishing on. Really, way up there? We’ll never make it! We started up, and the excitement of being so close to finishing our last climbs gave us the push we needed to make it up the switch back. We stopped at the top for photos and to marvel at the climb we had made. One of the best parts of Wash Pass is the views, the other passes did not open up to such spectacular views as much as this one did, and as we looked down the mountain(!) valleys we were amazed at our accomplishment. Certainly this view will be a memory frozen in our minds for the rest of our lives. The tire dip at the Pacific will be incredible, but getting over Washington Pass is our payoff for 3 months of “training”, and we both marveled at our accomplishment! We kept saying, “Damn we’re good!!”
We had a bit of a picnic lunch on a guard rail just after the pass, then we made our way down the pass. Wash Pass has a Siamese twin pass that is 5 miles from the main pass, Rainy Pass culminates with a 2 mile uphill to the pass. Our euphoria from our Washington victory pushed us up and over the two mile climb and we made it with out a break. A photo stop at the pass and then we started the long and fast downhill. We rode the drag break most of the way, although it was not always required for a safe descent. With such a heavily loaded bike, we had agreed to a speed of 30 mph or less on the descents. We probably had about 20 miles of coasting downhill. We deserved it though! We climbed all those miles, it was time to cash them in!!
We saw some great scenery as we cruised down the hill. The first thing we noticed was the greenery! The Cascades are the boundary between desert and rain forest in Washington. The transition between the two is dramatic and to be quite honest we are liking the quantity and variety of plant life we see. Our route also took us past high reservoirs, Ross Lake and Diablo Lake. There are high viewpoints to see these lakes and the water is an incredible blue! The mountains seem to stretch on forever, but thankfully they are on our left and right, and we don’t have to climb any more of them.
The only downside of today’s ride was the lack of services. We rode nearly 70 miles before we could get more food or water. We had been carrying lots of food and extra water, and today was the day we needed it! When we finally did get to a store, we grabbed some snacks and enjoyed just hanging out and sitting for a bit in a chair. It was already a long day!
We located a hotel room in the next town but that was 17 miles from our snack spot. We were tired and ready to be done, but we dragged ourselves out to the bike and headed out. What we thought would be a long 17 turned into a fun 17. We are following the Skagit River, making it’s way to the coast, so we had a nice steady down hill to the hotel. We we there in less than an hour!
We swallowed a whale today, and tomorrow, if all goes well, we roll into our destination town of Anacortes. It’s hard to believe that our journey is almost over!
Alf, from Sydney, Australia: