Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 5 - Cashmere to Ellensburg, via Blewett Pass

Today was my best and worst. The new tires were both smoother and steadier than the old ones -- what a relief! Most importantly, the trees and streams going up Blewett were stunning, peaceful, and invigorating. The construction along the highway worked in our favor -- gave us a wide shoulder to ride on behind the orange barrels -- and the construction guys were kind. Trucks veered away from us as much as possible. All in all a pretty idyllic ride. The final couple of miles upward were the steepest today; I thank Marji for pushing me to keep up with her as we neared the summit. Then, we all stood for a group photo at the "Blewett Pass" sign -- all stood shivering, that is, in our cold sweat. Heading down from there, going fast into freezing wind, I started to shiver and couldn't do anything about it. I stopped my bike and tried but couldn't warm up, and the crying started. Suffice to say, I walked on and off those five miles downhill to our stop for lunch, then sat in the truck for an hour, heat blowing (Thank you, Monica). I learned some things: Listen to myself (I had known I should change into dry, warmer clothes back at the summit); ask for help; and accept it.
~Teresa's post

Today was one of the best days ever. Jim Armstrong met us at the hotel in Cashmere and rode to Ellensburg with us. We had a slow ride from Cashmere to the 97 cutoff and up Blewett Pass, due to the wind; however, once you have ridden Loup-Loup Pass, Blewett Pass is a piece-of-cake. The day started off comfortable, but ended up very cold at the top. We ate lunch at Swauk Campground, put on our "cold gear" for the first time and sat in the truck with the heater on for awhile to warm up. It took us four hours to get to our lunch spot. Sarah and I left at 2:20 and cruised home in one hour and fifty minutes ~Debbie's post.

As I was mixing my Perpetuim cycling drink (thank you Fred at Recycle Shop for providing this!) in my water bottles this morning it struck me that this stuff was very similar to the infant formula that I used to make for my kids years ago. Hmmm...maybe that is actually what it is? No matter, it helps tremendously with the climb days, and that was what I needed. I had heard about cyclists doing Bluett and back in one day, so I knew it could be done, but I was dreading the climb, mostly because of the length. But when I got on it, I found it much less demanding than Loup Loup. The only problem today was the cold wind at the top which did a chilling number on a few of us. I was glad that I had tights and long sleeves along for that part of the ride. It was so exhillarating to ride into Eburg at the end. The Hwy 97 hill was not the huge climb that it used to be and I appreciated the strong wind coming down the hill which allowed full on highest gear pedaling for at least 6 miles. As I rode through town to Marji's house I felt a great sense of accomplishment that I rode all those miles and I'm so glad that I took part in this great activity.
Chris' post

Wow! I rode up Blewett Pass four weeks ago during the Courage Classic and today I rode the other direction. That means I've cycled five mountain passes in one month. Am I a stud or what!!! Probably the "or what"! Seeing the Ellensburg sign today brought a big smile to my face. I love coming into town as it brings back so many wonderful memories of my time at CWU. Jim Armstrong joined us today and it was great seeing him. He's got some pretty rocking cycling socks....chili peppers. Marji has graciously offered sleeping accommodations this evening as there was no way I could drive home with any lucidity. Pizza and beverages rounded out our homecoming celebration this evening. I've made some wonderful new friends and already have plans with the Bruya's for Homecoming in October. Birkin has been an inspiration and I can only hope that my son grows up with the same qualities that his parents have instilled in him. Debbie has taught me about resilience. Marji has a beautiful singing voice. Teresa is always positive and just radiates sincerity. Chris is a kick in the pants (and is also the former roommate of my son's music teacher - small world). Monica has been the best "sagger" in the world. Her positive demeanor, "thumbs up" signs as we pedaled by and her organizational skills in keeping us fed and hydrated were top notch. Thanks for a great ride - I'm going to sleep well tonight and then it's off to home in the morning. This has been an experience I will never forget.
Sarah's post

I can't believe this whole experience is winding down and I have to go back to normal routines! In my fantasy imaginary world I picture myself continuing this ride but it is because these experiences are so sparse that they can be valued as such. I want to thank all of my fellow riders for a great experience; we've endured sattle sores, blown tires, heat waves, fierce winds, breathtaking views, intense hills, muscular bonding and most importantly, benevolent comradery! Best wishes to everyone and I hope I see you all soon! Birkin's post.

Six months ago this ride was just an idea, and now a wonderful group of fellow cyclists have made it a reality. Thank you, thank you for your 1,000s of pedal revolutions, sips on the camelbaks and water bottles, putting up with unanticipated hills, enduring 100+ degree temps on the toughest parts of the ride, and the constant support and upbeat spirit all the way. Two C words come to mind regarding this adventure---confidence and comraderie. I think we all feel more of both because of our experience together--thank you!! The Blewett Pass sign we hugged today was both sweet and sad---sweet because we knew the toughest climbs were over, but sad because we were reentering Kittitas County and knew we'd be saying goodbye soon. I was surprised by how easy Blewett Pass was to climb compared to Loup Loup---just one of the many surprises on the trip. Thank you Jim Armstrong for joining us on this special day of the ride---we all loved your bright, bright orange shirt helping to make us the most visible things on the road----except perhaps for the horse loose at the start of the pass. It was great fun to relax together after showering and to look at the nearly 500 photos from the trip. Thanks to all those who took such super shots without us even knowing. The success of this trip was due not only to 7 energetic and determined cyclists, but also to our many supporters/sponsors, AND especially to our terrific "sagger," Monica Bruya. We could not have done this trip without her!!!!! We are grateful beyond words to all of you!!!! Marji's post.

Day 4 - Chelan to Cashmere

What a day! While this was, by far, the easiest ride of the "odyssey" it had to be one of the most beautiful as well. Like Birkin, I have learned a thing or two during this ride. While I live on the "wet" side, I am an honorary "509er". I feel special! As we left the parking lot of the Midtowner Motel in Chelan and rounded the lake, there was water everywhwere. I have never been to Chelan and I was impressed. We headed up this killer hill - complete with a hairpin curve - and when we got to the top it was a sight to absolutely stunning view of Lake Chelan. I'll be back for sure. The benefit of getting to the top of a hill is going downnnnnnn! We rode through the town of Entiat and lunched along the Columbia River. Getting back on our bikes and heading for Cashmere took every bit out of me but the end result was worth it. Debbie and I were able to take the last tour of the Aplets and Cotlets factory and our tour guide was a CWU student - I tell you Wildcats are everywhere. I stocked up on some yummy treats for my husband (Jon - thanks for allowing me to do this and supporting me in this adventure) and then found some fun things for my kids (Brendan and Lauren - mom will be home on Friday). Dinner was just the best and we had a guest join us - Birkin's father Norbert. He was a delight. No sleep since the air raid siren went off at 2 am (big fire somewhere) and the trains were relentless. Nevertheless, tomorrow is another day and another adventure.
Sarah's post....

We left the hotel around 9:30 and spent the day on a leisurely fast jaunt around bodies of water and I felt right at home. The temperature was also very comfortable (for a change). We stopped in Entiat at the park for lunch and saw lots of interesting things on the way out of town: graffiti on this rock hills, flowers on the side of the road, signs saying "Big Elkhorn Sheep for 5 miles and lots of DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE SIGNS with people/families listed. We arrived in Cashmere around 2:30 p.m. and Sarah and I went to the Aplets and Cotlets factory and got our own personal tour with a CWU student that knew one of our math professors. We ate dinner at MOJO'S and got to bed about 10:30 p.m. Tomorrow is another day...the last day...kind of bittersweet because our adventure will be over ~ Debbie's post.

Thank you, Birkin, for bringing along your father for dinner. And thank you, Norbert, for your lovely company and conversation.
Thanks also to the fine mechanics at the Wenatchee bike shop Arlberg's for noticing that my tires had been recalled. I had intended to merely ask some questions about bike tires but walked out of there with two new ones.
~Teresa's post

To start a day with a beautiful lake on your right and lovely hills in every other direction is about as good as it gets. There was a challenging climb out of Chelan, but it provided such stunning views that we had to stop--thank goodness--for photos. A very thin, sharp rock in my rear tire sent me to the bike shop in Wenatchee, which was incredibly helpful. They sold me on an armadillo tire, which took me back to my Louisiana days. Lovely historic town of Cashmere for dinner and sleep, and a special treat to have Brikin's father with us for dinner and blogging.
Marji's post.

On the subject of continuing my education, I've learned a lot about parenting! When going on an extended trip, it's an excellent idea to surprise them by picking them up from an activity unexpectedly and then taking them out for ice cream! Also, if I ever go out of town, I should have a responsible college student take care of them in my absence. I have to extend a special expert in parenting- my father, Norbert! Thank you for joining us for dinner and meeting everyone! Birkin's post.

Today I gave Monica the camera to take shots from the road...and only a few minutes into the ride I regretted not having the camera. Then I remembered that I had my cell phone camera, so I took a couple of shots part way up the hill from Lake Chelan...beautiful!! When the hill finally topped out the ride went through a beautiful forest cool! Next stop was lunch at Entiat City Park, a lush oasis on the Columbia, then on to Cashmere, with very familiar road from Wenatchee area. The most exciting part of the day was getting T's tires replaced at the shop in Wenatchee...what a great shop! Then the wonderful dinner at Mojo's was a treat, especially watching Marji enjoy the Mojo Special!
Chris' post

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

DAY 3 - Twisp to Chelan

Methow to Chelan
Smoldering road like sweet tea
Hot heads in water -Birkin's post

Bakery breakfast courtesy of Central Music Student Claire---very appropriate. Perfectly pastoral ride through Methow Valley, with some unexpected hills, due to my lack of memory. Alta Lake State Park entry road was a killer. Clean, clear, cold water with no toilet paper on this day.
Marji's post.

The day started off with a 20 minute walk to the Twisp Bakery and a 20 minute walk back to the hotel. It was going to be another hot day. After the two mile trek uphill to Alta Lake for lunch, we all took a long dip in the lake. After heading up Apple Acre Road into Chelan, the thermometer on Chris' bike read 108 degrees; they told us 93 degrees at the motel in Chelan. So far three days with over 90 degree temperatures! CWU gathering in the park and pizza at Local Myth. Everybody's favorite was BobO Likes it Hot ~ Debbie's post.

The news for today was that I did not bonk. I made it up Apple Acre Road - the views were fantastic. Earlier in the day saw me having yet another tire issue. Some people say I am full of hot air but my tire would just not hold any. The views at Alta Lake were stunning and the well water we all filled our bottles with stayed cold until we reached Chelan. What a ride. The Midtowner Motel in Chelan was very comfortable - think I'd better take the family there for a vacation. Dinner at the local pizza joint was a lot of fun - I haven't had pizza this good since my trip to Italy in 1982. Guess I don't travel much. Tomorrow is another great day - I only hope my "saddle" doesn't get too sore.
Sarah's post

So we started out our pre-ride talk with this statement from Marji: "there are no climbs today". Nice, just what we needed after doing Loup Loup. A beautiful ride through the Methow Valley following the river. Then the turn off to Alta Lake, our lunch stop. Straight kidding. 98 kidding! When I got to the top I called back to Monica to tell her to give the others a warning about the hill. Probably didn't do any good, we all had to ride it. Then we recovered over a great lunch spot right on the lake where most of us jumped in with bike clothes on. Then we left for the next ride, but were told about "a climb" in the next stage. Sure enough a humongous climb up a road called Apple Acre Rd. My bike thermometer was hitting over 100 degrees and I'm thinking "this is fun...this is fun". Then finally I rode through an orchard area and the temp dropped at least 10 degrees, then down the hill into Chelan. Cooled off under a nice shower, then to the CWU presentation then great pizza! Overall a fun day.
Chris' post

What I've been learning from my peers, in alphabetical order:
from Birkin:
--River therapy. Immerse tight muscles in the cold stream/river/lake, let the water flow around you, either sit still or grab onto rocks with your elbows and let the current float all the tension out of you. Stay like that until your toes go numb. A spiritual experience.
from Chris:
--Mine is not the best method for changing bicycle tire tubes.
--Four-inch bungee cords come in quite handy.
--A truck bike rack makes a perfect bike-repair stand.
from Debbie:
--It is recommended to continue one's yoga practice during one's five-day bike ride.
--Like the rest of us, Debbie wasn't sure she could do this ride. However, in her case, I don't see why. She's done half-marathons, marathons, 50-mile ultra races, and 100-mile ultras. Really -- 100 miles. The true athlete among us.
from Marji:
--All bicycle shorts are not created equal.
--So many people and groups are supporting us through this ride. We are not alone out here.
--One cannot measure hills by Marji alone (especially when she's checking out the route beforehand from the safety of her car).
from Monica:
--One does not need to bring one's own ibuprofen. It is fun to rely on friends.
--A big orange "Bikes on Road" sign does not always stand on its own the first time one attempts to place it along a winding, mountain-pass route.
from Sarah:
--This woman is bravery incarnate. She's been through three surgeries in two years. She bikes up hills with marked steadiness and determination. And she flies down them ... no brakes.
--When filling a Camelbak or water bottle, start with ice.
Other, generalized knowledge acquired:
--All bicycle tires are not created equal. Had to change my bike tire (thanks, Chris) midway through this ride, and what a difference! No more vibration over 20 mph. Turns out my tires had been recalled.
--One finds poetry in unexpected places ... an evening's dinner gathering ... a bicycle blogging post ...
Teresa's post

More pictures day 1 through 3

Pictures Day 1 through 3

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I was assuming that the 5th day would be the hardest, but this one was quite a challenge.  The temps were close to 100 degrees, and there was little relief from the sun, as we made our way up the 4,000+ ft. pass.  I encountered a rather unusual problem after about 6 miles.  As I drew water from my camel back, I got mouthfuls of an unknown substance in my mouth.  At about mile 7, I realized that I was swallowing mouthfuls of toilet paper--bits I had put in the bladder to dry it out.  I also discovered that I have been cycling on deflated tires.  So I had one embarrassing mishap and one revelation on this second day.   Thank you to our CWU Bridges mentors for organizing a College Fair in Tonasket---that was on day one, but we "blogged" before it happened.  Many, many thanks as well to all those who fed us on this evening at the Fish Hatchery in Winthrop - Judith and Mike who live on the grounds and Carol Hassen and Bob Fisher.  We had some of the best horseradish cheese, spaghetti, and blackberry crisp ever.  The tour of the Fish Hatchery was a real treat---lots fish and beavers.  It was the perfect way to end a challenging day of bike riding!!!!  Marji's post

On the subject of continuing my education, I recently learned that Winthrop is comprised of about 75% vegetarians despite the overpopulation of deer in the area ("High-kill Zone" said the sign). The local fish hatchery keeps the Methow (pronounced Met-how as any local would remind you) River supplied with local fish: Chinook, Steelhead, Coho, Rainbow and Bull. Many of you out there might not be aware of this, but there exists a type of food item that sounds like 'poo-poo' but actually refers to the Hawaiian hors d'oeuvres 'puu-puu'. Beware so that you won't be mislead as I was! Also, many of you are aware that biking uphill is more difficult than biking downhill and as I was cycling up the pass I kept reminding myself of why I'm doing this: for my wonderful sponsors! This ones for you Big D! It's too bad I won't be enrolled in Marching Band this fall to continue Mr. Bruya's proud school-days tradition of having gallons of fizzy, yellow, euphoric liquid before practice! Birkin's post

Day 2 saw the first "bonk" of the  While pedaling toward Loup Loup Pass, I was overcome with a unique smell - I thought it was a delicious barbecue.....but it was actually the remains of a recent forest fire and the trees were still "burning" on the inside.  There were even some smoldering areas as well.  I don't know if it was the heat or my lack of good nutrition or a combination of both, but I had to admit defeat and I was "sagged" to the summit.  Once there, we all enjoyed a great lunch and then headed down 8 miles to Twisp.  There's just something totally exhilarating about going down a hill at 38 miles per hour!  The Blue Spruce Motel in Twisp had very fluffy towels an comfy beds.  We were treated to a marvelous meal at the fish hatchery in just outside of Winthrop by a CWU alum (Carol Hassen) and a great dessert of blackberry crisp.  I must get the recipe.  Tomorrow will be a much better riding day.
Sarah's post....

After a fast 20 mile ride from Tonasket to Okanogan, we headed up the first ten miles of grueling Loup-Loup Pass.  The going was very slow; the weather was pushing 100 and the grade was very steep.  We stopped after the first ten miles, ate lunch and hesitatingly trudged up the last ten miles to the summit.  The downhill was about twenty minutes long, going about 35 mph.  We arrived at our destination in Twisp (The Blue Spruce Motel) around 5:00 p.m. (after being on the road for 8-1/2 hours.  We were treated to a magnificent spaghetti dinner, blackberry crisp and a tour of the Winthrop Fish Hatchery, courtesy of CWU alum, Carol Hassen.  Please check out the Oak Hollow art showing of Carol Hassen and Bob Fisher at 56th and Summitview in Yakima on September 11th ~ Debbie's post.

What a climb it was going up Loup Loup. Near lowest gear on my bike, so it wasn't as steep as Reecer Creek Rd, but close. When we finally made it to the top, I didn't even think ahead to the next part...which was an eight mile long 6% grade. Wowee! 40 miles an hour for 8 miles with no let up! No hills like that in Eburg. Then we took the truck over to a bike shop in Winthrop to replace one of my water bottles that cracked...what a cool town. Then the evening meal at the Winthrop Fish Hatchery was a treat complete with a tour from Mike the Fishguy. We saw smolts and juvenile fish, then beavers too....they also relocate "bad" beavers. Then following the tour blackberry crisp made by Carol Hassen, a CWU art alum. Thanks!
Chris Bruya's post