We started up the climb and split apart somewhere along the way to the “town” of Farmer. I saw nothing but maybe a farm or two. Our controle was in an old community building, complete with stage and disco ball spinning. I made a PB&J, filled my water, put on sunscreen and was off again. I caught up to Gary (BC) and we rode together for a while. At some point the San Fran guys caught up, and were awesome to let us draft again. They would trade pulls, and I would try my best to hold on, unable to go that pace without the draft and mental support of having something to chase. This stretch of road was as straight as could be for about 13 miles too. Towards the end, I did slow down again coming down the grade into Bridgeport, as my knees were becoming more sore and I didn’t feel as comfortable in the aero tuck position. Quite a few randos were already at the store as more came in. I ate a mini pizza which was so bad yet sooo good.
Gary and I left Bridgeport together, and navigated through the road detour. I realized that the sunscreen from earlier seemed to be wearing off, so I tried to put more on while rolling, but wasn’t very successful, and also ran out. I stopped at the next store in Brewster just a few miles up the road to buy more and put more ice in my bottles.
While there, the remaining pack of BC riders caught up. We climbed up Old Rt 97, which drops back down to the Okanogan River. The next “town” of Malott didn’t offer much, but there was a small store with a few things and this was the controle before climbing up the pass. I bought a full bag of ice for only $1.60 to fill my bottles with, and poured ice for everyone else there. The peak of the hot day seemed to be over, although there was the huge climb of Loup Loup Pass ahead. I filled my water to the max – two 20oz tall bottles, plus my 32oz Platypus in my jersey pocket.
The route up makes a few large steps, starting with a very steep climb. We still had a large pack of people as we rounded the net-enclosed farms, but the next climb was longer and steep and people were stringing out – I was somewhere in the middle of this. I took a break in the shade partway up to dump half of my Platypus into my waterbottles and drop in more electrolyte tablets. At the first peak before a short descent, I was still feeling good. But the climb ahead proved to be tougher. I’m now at 100 miles for the day, but with little sleep and plenty soreness from hundreds of miles ridden this week so far. I had 34×28 as the smallest gear, which worked okay, but clearly isn’t the 1:1 or better than many people had for getting up the passes. I traversed in a few places, took a few more breaks, but eventually made it to the top, just as the road enters the Okanogan National Forest.The next 8 miles of descent made it all worth it. It’s difficult not to look at the mileage while climbing, and it changes so slowly, but while descending I hardly get a chance to notice the mile numbers flying by. I got into Twisp where there was a grocery store, and bought another smoothie drink and water. The remaining ~20 miles into town would be mostly easy, with a slight uphill but no major climbs. Other people at the store didn’t seem to be in a rush to keep going, but I didn’t want to linger longer than I already had, so I left alone. I got on the drops and made good time on the remaining miles along the Methow River.
The town of Winthrop was really interesting, with a western vibe. Even the chain stores were in buildings with a classy wood log finish. There seemed to be a lot going on, with restaurants and shops and tourists everywhere. I zipped through town and back onto the open road, when I was met with a stiff headwind. What was a 16-18mph pace turned down to 9mph. I had 10 miles to go, but my time estimate only kept growing. At one point I looked back and saw two people in the distance. I didn’t know if I should let up and tag along with them, or just keep trying to push through, but I did the later. Eventually Bob and James (Seattle) caught up with little more than 5 miles remaining. Bob said we could do 1/3 mile pulls, and we rotated through until we had about a mile to go. This brought the pace back into the 15mph range, which was great. We cooled down on the last mile, and got in at 8:50pm, just before sunset.
Everyone already at the Mazama Inn seemed to have showered and put normal clothes on, so while I’m feeling totally dead, they all looked fresh! I got a plate of spaghetti and salad, chatted for a little while, and got a room in the Inn with Tyler. Thankfully this “short” day meant plenty of time to sleep before one last long day to head back to Monroe.
Strava data for day three: 06/23/2014 Cascade 1200 – day three – Ephrata to Mazama 144.7 miles with 9,036ft climbing