The first 17 miles were all UP, with an elevation gain of 3,300 feet. That's three thousand three hundred feet. It took us four hours to struggle up to Washington pass.
What I really want to know is this: Has any ten year old kid done this ride, ever? I really want to know. I am competitive that way. I kept cheering Kai on, “I don't know any ten year old who could do this!”
Kai functioned as my cheerleader in turn.
Me: “My butt hurts.”
Kai: “Just think of the ride down once we're up on the pass.”
Me: “My thighs are really cramping up. Are your thighs hurting?”
Kai: “Yes, Mom, but just think of the ride down once we're up on the pass.”
Me: “Kai, you are doing so awesome!”
Kai throws me a cold, sideway glance and remarks, “I don't FEEL awesome.”
Me: “Now that you mention it: me neither. Wanna take a break?”
It was cold. Our whole family left the house at 7:20am to have Steve drive us over the pass to Mazama, stock up with sandwiches and treats at the marvelous Mazama store, and then have Kai and me start our ride at 9:10am. Steve, Lukas and Eva would function as the support team and meet us every couple of hours to check in with us, cheer us on, rub our sore legs, and carry extra water, food and clothes.
I started out the ride with several layers of clothing, which I quickly shedded. My saddlebags felt pretty heavy with all these extra pounds of wool. But the ride climbed quickly once we left Mazama, and although we could see each others' steam emanating from our huffing breaths in the cold air, we got warm quickly. There were dips in temperature when we rode close to the creek in the shade, which drained our reserves, I think.
The weird thing is that I rode over the pass a couple of years ago, only in the other direction, leaving our house in Marblemount and arriving in Winthrop eight hours later. That ride was in the summer and added up to over 85 miles, but it seemed much, much easier than what we did today. I wonder if it was because of the cold. Or maybe I'm just getting old. Plus, I didn't train at all for this. No bike rides, no runs, not much exercise.
|More climbing, climbing...|
|We're not there yet, but we are enjoying the view!|
|Muscles are burning, but he gives me a thumbs up.|
The last two miles before reaching the pass felt murderous. We both hit a wall, with our muscles burning. By the time we reached the pass, elevation 5,476 feet (or 1, 669 meters for my Germany family), we scared some tourists because we screamed so loudly. Victory!
We ate lunch up there, with gorgeous views of snow covered mountains and vibrant fall colors, and also copious amounts of chocolate.
|Yep, that's the two miles before the pass. Steve took the picture. I don't think you can see us there, since we were probably laying in a ditch somewhere...|
|The last hair pin turn.|
|Here we are! When Kai saw this picture, he said, "I look like I got stabbed by a knife."|
The cool thing about riding from East to West (as opposed to the other way I did a couple of years ago) is that you get all the hard stuff out of the way, and then you get to ride DOWN for a loooong time. We battled a strong headwind that threw leaves and pieces of debris into our eyes, but it was fun anyway. Except when you reach the bottom and then have to climb all the way up to Rainy Pass, elevation 4,875 feet (or 1,486 meters). By the time we were done with that one, all we wanted is to pass out on the road.
Here's the fun part: Coasting down:
Here's the hard part: Climbing up yet another pass:
|We are really pooped. This picture is not staged.|
After Rainy Pass, it all went down hill from there. Literally. We didn't have to pedal very hard at all, just sit on our bikes, coast down, shift our sore butts in the saddle, snot and spittle and tears from the wind splattering every which way. It was fun, in a painful sort of way, and very scenic. Except it got colder and colder, since we weren't working our bodies much, and since the afternoon sun hid behind the mountains. Plus, when I stopped to take a picture, my camera/smartphone wasn't there, and I was convinced I had lost it up on Rainy pass. So my obsessive-compulsive, anxious little mind kept fretting about if and how we would find it, and then I got angry at Steve for not suggesting to meet up with the van earlier so we could start our search for the camera sooner. Instead of enjoying the effortless ride down the pass, I sat frozen on my bike, imagining all kinds of ways my camera would be lost forever, and how some weirdo would access all my pictures and e-mail and Facebook and...
... And then we found Steve at Canyon Creek Parking lot many miles later, and he told me he had the camera/smartphone, since he had taken pictures of us collapsed on the road. Here are Kai and me smiling for one last shot.
And you know what? It was all worth it! Bonding with Kai during the ride, spending time in nature, enjoying the fall colors, exercise, and all the chocolate I got to eat!
And Steve, Lukas and Eva got to do some bonding as well: sledding, eating treats, and making Andy Goldsworthy sculptures by the river.