This year I decided to do the “Ride Around Washington” (RAW) bicycle trip instead of Cycle Oregon. The decision wasn’t really difficult since Cycle Oregon ends on September 14 and we leave for South Africa on the 16th. That timing is just a bit close for travel plans. Moreover, this year RAW begins a special four-year cycle that really will circumnavigate the state. This year we will ride from La Conner to Ilwaco. Over the next three years, the ride will continue on to Walla Walla, somewhere north of Spokane, and then across Highway 20 and back to La Conner in 2017. I expect to be among those who completes the full circuit.
|This must be the place to start|
|Penn Cove - Home of some of the best mussels|
After check-in, I changed into my bicycle clothes and took off for Coupeville along with the 250 other riders. Because of the later start on the first day, we would only travel 43 miles, but they included three of the biggest hills we would encounter on the ride. Two of them were about ¾ of a mile at at least a 10% grade. The third was just as steep but less than ¼ mile. Two riders whose electronic gear includes something that calculates grade said they had readings of 19% and 24% on part of those hills. For comparison, the old Columbia Gorge highway seldom has a grade of over 6%. Several riders walked portions of each of these hills. I managed to stay on the bike for all of the hills, but I do have to admit that on the third one, I followed a walker and never gained an inch as we both sped up the hill.
|The final rest stop of the day|
After Cycle Oregon last summer with its 2200 riders, this ride seems tiny in comparison. Instead of six shower trucks, we only need one and meals are served from a single station which makes the lines a bit longer for food, but still bearable since there really isn’t much to do besides enjoy conversations about the day’s ride. We do have a meeting each evening to provide a bit of information about the next day’s ride and some entertainment from the local community. That usually lasts about 30 minutes so we have the rest of the evening free to entertain ourselves.