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Aug 18, 2001

S2 Cycling Team does the Ride Around Washington

August 19-24, 2001

In our third year of tandeming, S2 Cycling Team set new goals. After training for our second Seattle to Portland ride (200 miles in two days), we continued riding to be ready for RAW. We did another two-day double-century, from Seattle to Vancouver, BC. called RSVP in early August. All told, we trained about 2200 miles this season in preparation for our first week-long tour.

Saturday, August 18, we packed up our stuff and drove to the coast with our friend Diane Taylor. She was looking for an opportunity to spread her wings and graciously made the journey so we could get our bike and gear to the start line in Westport. We walked through the Westport art festival, saw the end of a fabulous Mariner-Yankee game (Go M’s!) in the office of a charter fishing group, and had a nice Mexican meal before she left.

We spent the night with our next-door-in -Seattle-neighbors, Bill and Sarah. They have a house on the beach and put us up. Cranberry bogs fill their back yard view. Appropriate, since the RAW was listed as “Cranberries to Apples”. RAW, The Ride Around Washington, is in its third year and is sponsored by the Cascade Bicycle Club. This year’s route was a 357 mile journey across the state. The fully supported event boasted 154 riders creating a rolling community traveling from the cranberry bogs in Westport to the apple orchards in Eastern Washington. Each photo can be clicked to view the images larger.

Route Map

Aug 19, 2001

Westport to Centralia

Sunday, August 19: 71 miles

Toni & Ric from Chicago


Michael relaxing while Tamara takes her shower

The crew visits after dinner

Sunday we started riding from the local high school to Centralia. The course was nearly all flat. The day was cool to start, gradually warming enough for us to get down to biking shorts and jerseys. We met a couple on their single bikes who were from Chicago, Ric and Toni. Turns out they are actually tandemists in disguise! We rode with them for about 2 hours, keeping a very good pace. He used to own a bike shop. She teaches spinning and does ultra riding events, including the 720 mile Paris-Brest-Paris endurance ride. They were fun people to ride with. When they stopped for lunch, we continued. We don’t like to stop during the day’s ride.

Centralia’s Riverside park held the 100 or so tents of our traveling group. There were also the 18-wheeled shower truck, the 18 wheeled kitchen truck, the refrigerated truck, the two cargo trucks, 8 support radio vehicles, and the bike doctor van (Courtesy of Bicycles West). We were quite a circus! The shower truck was by far the best. 8 stalls each for men and women plus unending hot water. They were great.

Each night featured a camp meeting when we learned about the next day’s ride. They wouldn’t give out the route map until the morning of because they were afraid people would go out on the course before they sent out the course monitors. It made every day more of a surprise than was necessary. We spent most of our afternoon and evening sitting around camp visitng with our new and old friends.

Aug 20, 2001

Centralia to Packwood

Monday, August 20: 80 miles

Thyce & Amy, other ETC membersMonday dawned cool and cloudy. I even wore my clear lenses. We rode with Michael and Tamara, a couple we know from the tandem club, for much of the day. Got some invaluable lessons on paceline riding from them. I’m always glad to learn new riding tips. The terrain was more interesting on the second day. We were gradually climbing to 1000′ elevation, so there were more hills (both up and down!) which made for more interest. We had one stretch where the road crews were holding traffic for a pilot car as they paved a 5 mile stretch. It meant that when the bikes finally got to go through, there was about a half an hour on newly paved roads before any cars showed up. Sheila acting like it was coldIt was very pleasant.

We lost Michael and Tamara as the ride started its more serious climb to Packwood. But, we caught up with Thyce and Amy from the club almost immediately thereafter and finished with them. Along the way we stopped at the head of a driveway in the middle of nowhere. An 8 year old boy came riding up to the four of us and asked us if we wanted to go riding with him on a new trail he found. He was so sweet. He obviously doesn’t get a lot of drop-in company.

In Packwood we camped on the Fire Station’s lawn. The wind kicked up strongly, threatening to blow us all down. A storm was coming, but we didn’t know when it would hit. Sheila actually spent the early evening in our lawn chairs (yes we brought those too!) inside her sleeping bag, reading. It finally calmed down and we went to bed.

Aug 21, 2001

Packwood to Yakima

Tuesday, August 21: 82 miles

Mt Rainier

Waiting for the blasting

Our first big mountain pass

Day three was the day of the BIG CLIMB – White Pass, 4,500 feet. We knew we’d get hot soon, but it was cold when we started. The UP was about 20 miles long. We just started pedaling. Gorgeous views of Mt. Rainier. And pedaling. Beautiful basalt columns rose alongside the road. And pedaling. There were lots of rest stops along the way with water, fruit, and cookies thanks to the HAM radio guys. They even had plastic champagne flutes and sparkling cider to toast our accomplishment. However, the stop for that was 3 miles short of the summit. It seemed early for celebrating. But there wasn’t anyone to cheer at the top! Would Lance Armstrong climb the Alp d’Huez without a finish line celebration there? I think not. (Actually, he probably does it in his sleep from all his training trips, but that is beside the point).

We started down the pass and had to stop within 2 miles as they were blasting loose rock from the side of the hills. It was a 20+ minute wait. But, again, it turned out fine. All the car traffic went by, then the bikes. As we were going by the flagger, she said we’d have 20 minutes before the next cars came through.

20 minutes of 35-45 mph downhill with no traffic! It was heavenly. We stayed right in the middle of the lane and flew down the mountain. As the only tandem in our little group, we quickly outpaced all the singles. We don’t know how fast we went because the contacts on our cycle computer had grimed up, so it stopped working. Eventually we got to the relative flat portion on the other side. It was HOT and dry on the eastern slope. We saw climbers on the rocks across the river. A single rider caught up to us and hitched a ride for the last 30 miles. Her name was Alison. She was good company. Without her, we would have been pushing the headwinds alone, and that is boring. A second single, Adam, joined us as we left a fruit stand where we’d been stocking up on water.

The last 10 miles into Yakima were along their riverside trail. It was a very pleasant way to get through  a big town. We finished at Sportsman’s Park. We set up our tent to dry the night’s dew from it. Then we repacked and put it on the truck.

Aug 22, 2001

Day off in Yakima

Wednesday, August 22

Greg & ElizabethWe spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights with tandem acquaintances in Yakima. They’d offered to put us up on our layover day. It turned out to be a good thing because the storm finally caught us at 9 that evening. It rained for the next 30 hours.

Pennington eating corn off the cob!However, we were at Greg and Elisabeth’s house that whole time. They fixed us a great Mexican meal Tuesday night. Wednesday we got massages, read, and did laundry while they worked. We made them vegan pepperoni pizza. When Greg learned I hadn’t gotten around to cleaning my bike on the day off, he went downstairs with the Pledge can to clean and polish it! What a host! They also have an incredible cat who eats corn right off the cob. Misses fewer pieces than I do! We had a delightful stay with them. We hope to reciprocate in the near future.

Aug 23, 2001

Yakima to Cle Elum

Thursday, August 23: 70 miles

Thyce & Amy on the left and Ric & Toni on the right

Spencer setting up the Taj

The Taj Mahal towering over the other tents

Thursday dawned clear and beautiful. Our party rolled out of Yakima into the Yakima River Canyon. We enoyed this magnificent scenery all day. The only low spots were the 4 miles of broken concrete road going into Ellensburg, the subsequent flat tire, and the headwinds which started at 1 p.m. which threatened to push us back to Ellensburg from Cle Elum. We rode with Alison for half this day again. We kept on seeing Thyce and Amy and Ric and Toni, but couldn’t stay with either of them.

We were in downtown Cle Elum when we first started feeling spits of rain. I panicked and drove us faster to get the camp set up. I was a whirlwind setting up the tent. Not 15 minutes after it was up and we were safely settled inside, the rain hit with a vengeance. Ahhhhh, to be safe and dry. It showered on and off for a few hours. Our nightly meeting was inside a gym at the school we were camped at. Michael and Tamara joined us for some cards that evening in our tent. Which I have forgotten to mention was the biggest in the campground. We could have had square dance classes in there. We took to calling it the Taj Mahal. (Thanks Steve and Carla!) But we liked it.

Aug 24, 2001

Cle Elum to Leavenworth

Friday, August 24: 40 miles

Yeah team!

The last day took us over Blewett Pass to Leavenworth. It was another beautiful day. The rains that hit the evening before were so far gone that the tent was dry in the morning. I guess that tells you something about the continuing fire danger there, huh! Blewett Pass was a gentle climb the entire 15 miles. We were able to hold an average speed of more than 13 mph going UP the hill. When we screamed down the back 20 miles, we averaged more than 30. It was a hoot. It was even more fun than White Pass.

The ride ended in the Bavarian themed tourist town of Leavenworth with a celebration in a beer garden. Thanks to Carlen and Inma for driving our car over the pass to pick us up. We were very happy to be home to sleep in our own comfortable bed and be with our ailing kitty.

We did it!