Brianís Cross-USA Bicycle Tour
Day 4 - Thursday, June 21, 2001
Once again, Tom and David got an earlier start, although I was packed and on the road by 8 AM.
The climb up to Rainy Pass, although scenic, seemed to go forever and ever. I was on the verge of bonking, but managed to eat enough food to prevent that from happening. I had expected the climbing for the day to only be 20 miles. In fact, it was 28 miles from the campground to Rainy Pass, at 4855 feet. I made it to the pass around 2 PM.
Just when you crest Rainy Pass, you descend for a bit, and then there's another pass - Washington Pass at 5477 feet, 33 miles into the ride. Ugh. I had expected there to be water at the rest stop between the two passes (where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses Highway 20), but there wasn't any. Luckily I had enough water to get to Washington Pass.
Once cresting Washington Pass the view opens up into a mountain panorama. Pictures don't do it justice. The road then turns into switchbacks down the mountainside. The wind gusts would almost blow me off the road, forcing me to keep my speed under 30 mph. Then I'd turn on one of the switchbacks, and then I'd have to be careful not to be blown across the yellow line.
The road then straightened out a bit and all was well again. I stopped at the first campground - Lone Fir at 3800 feet - to stock up on water. Tom and David had already set up camp. They had seen the tandem couple during their ride - they would pass the tandem, then the tandem would catch up and pass them, etc. They invited me to stay with them, but I was running low on food and decided to push on to Winthrop. So we bid our farewells for a safe journey and I gave them my business cards telling about my trip website (glad I made those up).
It was indeed all downhill to Winthrop, which is at an elevation of 1700 feet. The weather started getting warmer, the scenery a little browner - welcome to eastern Washington! Winthrop has been restored to an "old west" look for touristy purposes - it reminded me of Tombstone, Arizona ("the town too tough to die") in many ways, although I would say Winthrop is less cheesy than Tombstone.
I could have stayed at the KOA campground about a mile east of downtown, but it was a long day and I had things to do in town tomorrow, so that justified a motel (although a bit overpriced, due to the tourist area status).