DAY 63 JULY 29 81.7 MILES
When spirits are low, when the day appears dark, just mount a bicycle and go for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Due to a scheduling change, 15 extra miles were added to today's ride and subtracted from tomorrow's. While it made the ride somewhat longer, the entire extra 15 miles were downhill and it created the perfect ending to a strenuous day.
The 4,500 foot climb up to Sherman Pass represented the most elevation gain of the entire tour. It was a major challenge because the climb occurred after already riding 41 miles and the legs were no longer fresh. That the climb was spread over 20 miles was a mixed blessing. The grades rarely were steeper than 5% but the climbing was seemingly never ending.
After 3 hours of steady climbing, it did finally end, however, and the van and trailer were parked at the top with cold watermelon and honeydew to celebrate our achievement. The views were not as impressive as some of the previous passes because we never rose above the tree line. Tall evergreens bordered the road which limited the view but provided welcome shade from the afternoon sun. There was very little traffic so I usually rode on the side of the road that provided the best shade.
The ride down was spectacular! We coasted for 14.8 miles with only 2 short pedals up slight grades around the 8 and 13 mile marks. It was not as steep as some earlier passes so our speeds were not as high but I topped out at 36.2 and, when we rolled into Republic, I felt guilty when the radar sign showed my speed at 32 while the speed limit was 25.
Earlier in the day, as we entered the small community of Kettle Falls, we noticed that the welcome sign read "Welcome to Kettle Falls--1,640 Friendly People and One Grouch." Each year the townspeople vote on one person to be the grouch for the year.
Tomorrow, the Wauconda Pass is only a 2,000 foot climb. That should be a ride in the park after today. I found a quaint hotel in Republic to rest up for it!
Tip: If you have the right of way at an intersection, do not coast through or drivers will assume that they can cut in front of you. Keep pedaling but be prepared to brake.