We dip the rear tires of our bikes into the waters of Rosario Strait on June 1st then head east out of Anacortes, Washington to ride our bikes to Montana. My riding buddy and I ride out of town past the Shell Oil Refinery and dock at March Point, then up to Bay View where we turn right on the Josh Wilson Road to head east. I turn back to take one last look at Padilla Bay. I already miss Puget Sound and the smell of my salt water home.
It has rained every day and every night of the trip so far! But, we are grateful for the kindness of the strangers along the way as we camp in Sedro-Wooley (the waitress filled our water bottles), Marblemount (the hot showers were free) and Colonial Campground in the North Cascades National Park (our neighbors donated a open bottle of red wine).
It is now June 5th and I’m sitting in the library in Winthrop waiting for new brake pads to be installed on my bike. We’ve ridden a 180 miles, but under our goal of 50 miles per day. Yesterday we rode up and over Washington Pass (5488 feet) in the pouring, cold rain. It took me 9 hours to ride 50 miles. My riding buddy made it in 7 hours. In places the snow along the side of the road was as high as my handlebars. It is safe to say I wouldn’t have made it if I had carried my 38 pounds of my gear. We had a sag wagon that carried everything, but our rain gear, water and snacks.
The descent from Washington Pass was a thrill. I braked nearly the whole way down and it was the fastest I’ve ever ridden my bike. As I left the snow and glaciers behind in the misty fog and rain, the pine forests of the Methow Valley started lining the road and scenting the air. By Mazama, my feet and hands finally began to thaw. I wore 2 hats, 3 pairs of pants, 4 shirts and 1 rain jacket, plus booties over my shoes and thick winter cycling gloves. I nearly fell asleep at dinner.
The roadside flowers have been spectacular: purple lupine, red Indian paintbrush and yellow honeysuckle, purple and yellow violets, and white trillium. I’ve seen osprey, bald eagles, yellow finches, western red tanagers and blue birds. I’ve also seen lots of black slugs on the road shoulders and assorted blue beer cans in the ditches.
Today, I’m so happy I could juggle pine cones. Tomorrow we tackle Loup Loup Pass. I hope my enthusiasm and legs last!