The Redmond Cycling Club (http://www.redmondcyclingclub.org/) ran their Mazama weekend trip this weekend. It its a 2 day trip that is 75 miles from Marblemount, WA to Mazama, WA via North Cascade Highway 20 and then back the next day. 6800 feet of climbing the first day and 4800 feet the second. I was fortunate to get a ticket because Mitchell Shoenfeld decided he wanted to not risk complicating an injury, and so I was able to buy his ticket off of him and do the trip.
Summary: Do this ride! The weather on the trip can be tricky as it has been known to snow and sleet some years in June, but if you can find a sunny weekend like this one, I have not ridden such a dramatically pretty stretch of road. Highway 20 parallels a river that leads up to a set of dams and lakes for Seattle City Light and then climbs up Easy Pass, Rainy Pass and Washington Pass at 5700ft. Having support on the ride is a requirement as there was definitely a need for extra water and food along the ride. By splitting the ride to two days, you get a chance to socialize with a bunch of bike enthusiasts and hang around the Mazama Country Inn and use the swimming pool, hot tubs, and just lounge on the porch.
Day 1 Highlights:
Driving up to Marblemount meant leaving Seattle at 5:30 to get up to the parking lot by 7:30 and start the ride. There we 3 different groups climbing the hill. The Bellingham Bike Club, Redmond Cycle Club and a third group. SAG wagons powered by the family members of one of the RCC group brought our bags and food and water up the passes. With all the riders climbing up we were in good company for our 8am start in ascending the mountain. The first and last 10 miles are relatively flat, which means of the 75 miles about 55 miles of it are either ascending or descending. The ascent is relatively fast as the grade averages about 3.2% over the total distance. The amazing part is the spires that rise over Washington Pass are stunning and still had snow fields by the side of the road. The descent off the mountain was uneventful other then being fast and almost running into a brown bear! I was screaming down the road at 35mph when a bear popped out across the road 50 yards ahead of my bike. I slammed on my brakes (slightly skidding) as did an oncoming car. We both waited until the bear crossed the road and made sure no other bears were following. The Mazama Country Inn was a great stop on the east side of the mountains. The weather was a warm 85 degrees and the RCC members were all in a great mood after the ride. Everyone was social and talking and either hanging around the pool, jacuzzi or the dining room. We ended up staying out until around 10pm when everybody went to bed for the next days ride.
Day 2 Highlights
Day 2 had everyone waking up around 6:00 to 6:30 for a 7am breakfast and 8am ride start. People were up early talking and breakfast was pancakes, oatmeal, granola, fruit and egg souffles. The ride starts with 10 miles flat and 10 miles of climbing up to the Washington Pass. I was a little worried about the climb first thing in the morning, but it was a beautiful morning and the road was clear and the climb was just finding the right gear. The descent past that point was swift, but with the persistent wind coming from the west there was a lot of speed shaved off what should have been an equally fast ride. The only thing to note coming back was that the views down the canyons and gorges were beautiful, and I got two flats on the way down. The first was easily replaced and patched, but the second happened 3 miles from the end of the ride, and without a spare, I had to ride the last 3 miles with a flat rear basically riding on the rim. Given that I need my bike next weekend for STP I will need to make sure that tire and spare is ready to go as it has had 3 flats in the last 200 miles of riding.