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Exceptional Scenery, Some Hills
Keith's "Two Dam Far" 1000 Report
by Keith Patterson
To start off, I want to wholeheartedly thank Bob Koen for this weekend’s 1000 route. The ride was certainly not an easy one but it was epic and amazing, and for me at least, a truly remarkable randonneuring experience.
Day one started with the usual slog up the valley with some and lots of expectation and trepidation about the climbing to come. Fortunately we made good time and were starting up towards Manning by around 10AM. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Hope-Princeton seemed much more bike-friendly than the last time I rode it four years ago and after a few hours of steady spinning Ross and I were at the top of Allison Pass. A quick snack at Manning and then some more spinning uphill brought us to the top of Sunday Pass and the big descent down into Princeton where the sun came out. From here on we were blessed with strong tailwinds and fantastic scenery most of the way to Osoyoos and over the border to Tonasket and our motel room. We made it in just after 1AM and after a gourmet feast of instant noodles, sardines, and beer we quickly fell asleep.
Day one totals: 411km, 11,663 feet of climbing, avg speed 20.5 kph, one flat tire, three bears and one moose with a calf.
Day two started at 5AM and we slowly rolled down to Omak and a great breakfast. We spent a lot of time talking about what a fine relaxing day we would have touring through the rolling country in this area. Wow, were we ever wrong! If anyone ever tells you that this part of central Washington is “rolling”, don’t believe a word of it. There are big steep hills hiding around every corner. However, the scenery is spectacular and the day was sunny so we ended up taking lots of photos and amusing ourselves by emailing them to friends and family back in rainy Vancouver. The Grand Coulee Dam is of course quite grand but it comes with a price – one of the steeper, nastier hills of the day. From Grand Coulee we faced some pretty stiff headwinds which seemed to follow us for the rest of the day. Fortunately, Ross and I worked together and managed to keep the pace moving despite the winds. After leaving the Columbia River, we made our way up the Methow river valley and yet more spectacular scenery. I’m sure we would have appreciated the lovely evening light a lot more if it weren’t for the ever-present headwinds. We were lucky to have been quick enough that we were in Mazama by around 11 and missed most of the night riding. The Mazama Country Inn had prepared some great sandwiches for us and after eating and a shower were were snoring away by midnight (at least one of us was snoring, the other took a little longer to fall asleep!).
Day two totals: 312km, 9,017 feet of climbing, avg speed 16.8 kph, six bottles of V8.
Day three started with a real kick in the teeth, on the road at 4AM and 3,500’ of steady climbing up to the summit of Washington Pass. Ross was grumbling a bit about the never-ending climbing so instead of being supportive and positive I ate an energy gel and sprinted ahead to the top (sorry Ross!). Nearing the top we were treated to truly spectacular views of Liberty Bell and the surrounding mountains. We stopped for the obligatory summit photo and then descended through increasing fog and mist to start the next climb up to Rainy Pass. Fortunately, this one is not so long or steep and we were soon at the top. Rainy Pass was trying hard to live up to its name but was mostly misting and foggy rather than downright rainy. After bundling up with everything we had, we started down. Never before have I been treated to so much consistent descending for so long. 60 kilometres of near-perfect 1-6% downhill grades brought us to Newhalem and a complete lack of the sort of eggs and toast breakfast I had been dreaming of. In fact there was a complete lack of any food at all as the only store doesn’t open until 10. Another 25 km brought us to Marblemount and some much needed food. From here on Hwy20 is pretty flat and boring and once again we were faced with headwinds. Not much fun but we put our heads down and persevered. By the time we made it to the Chuckanut, the sun had come out and we were once again treated to stunning and inspiring scenery. Finally the wind gods decided to help out and we were pushed along by moderate tailwinds for much of the rest of the ride. A short wait at Canada customs and then we were home!
Day three totals: 280km, 8,224’ of climbing, avg speed 17.5 kph, hours of riding in the dark – none!
In closing, I’d like to thank Sigi and Leona for hosting us at the start and finish and Rick’s wife for transporting drop bags to Mazama. This ride was certainly challenging but the rewards were more than worth all the hard work and the satisfaction of completing this adventure is something I’ll remember long after my knees and quads have stopped aching.
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June 22, 2011