DAY 65   JULY 31   86.2 MILES

Lazy people invented the bicycle because they didn't like walking or carrying things.                                                            Lech Walesa 

The area in which we rode today had been closed to all traffic only a few days ago due to the worst wildfires in Washington history.  Some of our roads were bordered by the blackened evidence and smoke from several remaining fires were still visible in the distance.  Fire fighters are present in most of the restaurants and area hotels as well.  They appear to have the fires under control but they are not nearly ready to pack up and go home. 

Due to the length of our day combined with the 3,000 foot climb, I arose early, had breakfast and was pedaling down the road by 6:30 AM.  There was a gentle wind on my back and I was making excellent time.  Too good, as it turned out.  Not realizing how far I had progressed, I missed a turn and went 8 miles out of the way.  With another 7 miles to return to the course, it added an extra 15 miles to what already was projected to be a difficult day.  

The ride up to Loup Loup Pass, although arduous, was uneventful.  The land was more arid than that of previous days so the dry scrub was not as attractive as in the other climbs.  Toward the top, the evergreens returned but they were not as tall or as healthy in appearance as those of the earlier days.  The 3,000 foot climb was spread over a distance of 20 miles so, although there were a few steeper portions, most of it was not comparatively difficult. 

The ride downhill, once again, was spectacular.  Shortly after cresting the pass, there was a sign which read "6% Grade Next 8 Miles" so we knew it was going to a thrill!  The top speed reached today was 40.3 mph and we simply crouched down low, hung onto the handlebars and enjoyed the ride.            

Tomorrow is another 3,500 foot climb to Washington Pass.  It is
combined with a smaller pass so the total climb will be more like 3,800 feet.  It will be our last major pass of the tour so bring it on!

Tip:  Never experiment with food, beverage of eating patterns during a long ride.  Go with your tried and true riding habits.