Friday, July 15, 2011

Methow Training Week, Day 6

My last big day and my last road ride.

I wanted to ride back up the Chewuch again but also wanted something a bit different than an out and back. On my last trip I'd started by riding to Twisp, then heading north. Since I'm in Twisp this time, I wanted to avoid highway 20 as much as possible and leave the Winthrop-Twisp eastside road to the end, thus making a loop out of the ride.

A document I found on the web piqued my planning interest. The mention of our "local Alp d'Huez" really got my interest. Nothing like a challenging climb to make me wanta go do it!

I wanted to get at least 60 miles so adding up the various distances (here to Winthrop, Winthrop to Chewuch turnaround, Falls Creek side trip) it looked like I could get it all together.

To get the loop started I headed north on Hwy 20, but took a parallel side road (old Twisp-Winthrop highway?) for a couple of miles. Then I turned off the highway and headed up around Twin Lakes. A nice diversion with a minor climb.

This brought me right down to the bridge at Winthrop.

On through town and north on the East Chewuch Road. This is also the road to Pearygin Lake State Park. All my maps showed East Chewuch Road joining the West Chewuch Road a few miles outside Winthrop but also showed that it continued up the east side of the Chewuch River. I made an on-the-road decision to follow the pavement to its end on the east side. Which it did in just a few miles. However, there is a paved road that goes east and uphill - exploration for another day.

I retraced my route to the bridge, crossed the river, and headed up river on the paved road. This is a very gently rising route with a few very minor hills thrown in so I could cruise along. To my surprise there was practically no car traffic. My experience has been that there would be at least the occastional vehicle, but this was a slow day for cars.

At 30 miles on my trip meter I stopped for a snack and a look at the Chewuch River.

Then back down-river to the Falls Creek road and my big challenge. On the way up I'd passed Falls Creek Campground and a signed trail indicating Falls Creek Falls. Ah, that's why it's named Falls Creek - it has a falls!

But I was too zoned to stop and take a side trip, just wanted to get going uphill.

My directions had said steeper at the start then easing off so I was thinking "Use your triple; spin, spin, spin." It was pretty steep at the beginning, actually for about 1.5 miles and I did use my triple a bit.

Then it just leveled right off and straight across the valley was the falls! After a moment to look and capture photons I was back on my bike and headed uphill, slowly.

Within 100' or so I came to a cattle guard which I walked across. Generally I'll ride them but this one was pretty beat up and I was moving so slowly that I didn't think I'd have sufficient momentum to carry me across.

This "flat" area was very short lived: it merely took me around a corner and over a 1-lane bridge that crossed Falls Creek, then the road kicked back up to triple chain wheel again. By this time I'm doing mental calculations: 4.5 MPH it's gonna take a couple hours to go 8 miles.

Then it eased off to relentless but steady climbing. No triple but no big chainwheel either. Just up and up and up.

From the directions I figured that I'd run out of pavement in 8 miles. However, 8 miles came and no pavement end, so I kept going. Big black clouds were gathering and it was getting cooler as I continued to gain altitude. Finally I just stopped at 9 miles, took a short break, and headed back downhill.

Now I hafta talk about the road itself. Even though paved it's pretty bumpy. There are sections missing along the sides and in some places the undergrowth has come right up to the edge of the pavement filling the ditch with plants. And there are lots of patches: asphalt patches here and there and bigger patched sections of this blackish material with a small layer of loose gravel/sand on top.

And then there are the cow "pies". It looks like a herd of cows with diarrhea have been using the road. No, not nice little piles but long splotted trails of bovine fecal matter. Mostly dry, but the occasional moist one.

So you can see that I really didn't want to go whipping downhill as fast as I could coast. If I did there's a good chance that I'd get my teeth rattled out, hit a chuckhole, and slide downhill through a bunch of cow poop. Not a pleasant image.

So, more mental calculations: 20 mph average downhill is still gonna take me almost a 1/2 hour. That's a long time to be squeezing the brakes. And it was a long time; my hands took turns going numb and I kept shaking them out.

I stopped for one last look at the falls then finished my descent back to the Chewuch River Road. From here it was just keep my head down, keep those pedals spinning, and battle the headwinds back into Winthrop then down the east side road to Twisp.

As I was posting this route on Map My Run, it revealed a posted ride to me that showed the pavement ends at 12 miles up Falls Creek. Ah yes, another time.

No comments:

Post a Comment