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.

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