Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ride Around Washington: Day 6

Day 6: Yakima to Bickleton - Friday, August 9

After spending our night NOT in Yakima Sportsman State Park, but rather at David's sister and brother-in-law's home in Yakima, we were very refreshed and ready for the day. Okay, actually our butts hurt like the dickens and we're beginning to think our detractors might be right! We are crazy!

Our morning route took us through vineyards, orchards, hops fields, and even some cornfields. It was one of the organizers called "Army biking." Turn left, turn right, left, right, left, right. We cross-crossed our way through the Yakima Valley fortunately under high clouds that kept the heat at bay. Our big climb for the morning was Konnowac Pass, elevation 1,310 ft., which has the distinction of being the lowest pass in the state. 

After Konnowac Pass, the scenery was mostly rolling grassland. A farm here or there but it would be indicative of today's ride. Get ready for a lotta heat and nothin much else. 

But one of the interesting points along our way was the Teapot Dome gas station in Zillah. The Teapot was built in 1922 and was intended as a reminder of the Teapot Done scandal that rocked the presidency of Warren G. Harding. I'm sure you know all about that. It's also a piece of Americana roadside novelty history that I'm a fan of. So it was cool to finally see it in person. 

The next unique roadside novelty was in Granger. Back in 1993 locals came up with a plan to lure more tourists to their community. They built life-size dinosaur models from steel rods and chicken wire then packed with cement mix. The first dino was built in 1994. Now there are more than a dozen dotted throughout town. 

The route into Mabton for our lunch stop took us high on a road overlooking a river valley below. A herd of cows was grazing down beneath us and I could literally see for a hundred miles. 

Once we arrived in the small community of Mabton, I noticed an espresso stand across from our lunch stop. I rolled up to the window and ordered my usual--iced white mocha. It was fantastic. Exactly what I needed. 

After our lunch stop in Mabton, David rejoined us for our long climb up from the valley to the Horse Heaven Hills. Now these hills might be heaven for horses, but today they were downright hellish. It was a 7 mile climb up 3000 ft in 90+ degree heat. However my thermometer on my bike read "11". It's a 2-digit display. 

I took this photo on the climb to convey the confusion, pain, and dismay I was feeling. So you can imagine my elation when halfway up I spotted a support vehicle with ice water. I pulled alongside the car and immediately filled my bottle with icy cold water and then promptly poured it over my head. Then I drank a full bottle of water, filled both, and continued up the climb. 

Now let me be clear. There is NOTHING in these Horse Heaven Hills. It is desolate. It is the definition of desolate. Look up "desolate" in the dictionary and you will see a photo of Horse Heaven Hills. It was here in this barren landscape under a blazing sun that we pressed on. 

To add insult to injury, I noticed my front tire was losing air. My first flat of the ride. We found a shady spot next to an abandoned farm building and set to the task of changing my tire. Upon inspection, I found the culprit. GOATHEAD. Goatheads are the devil of the desert. They are tiny thorns that live along desert highway roadsides. There they lie in wait until some hapless soul cycles by. Then they POP out, onto your bike tire, and lodge themselves firmly in place. I pulled out the offending goathead, replaced the tube, reseated the tire, inflated, and we were off again. It was just a few more miles until we would see our next water station. 

There it was like a vision in the desert. Again, I experienced further elation when I realized our water station was not a mirage, but very real and very needed. I dismounted. Went straight for the water. And this time dumped TWO bottles on my overheated head. Jim and I then each downed a bag of chips, some fresh fruit, and cycling's version of crack cocaine: Rice Krispie Treats. 

We now only had five final miles to reach our last RAW camp in Bickleton, population 90. We would quadruple their population tonight. We rolled in, set up our tents, showered and relaxed before dinner. Following dinner we had our evening rider's meeting. About halfway through the meeting, the wind started picking up. And it was picking up in a hurry. 

Campers scrambled to affix tent flys, tie down their tents, stake everything extra tight, and then watched as this storm with 50-60 mph gusts blew across our camp. Some laid on top of their dismantled tents. Others sat inside their slightly dismantled tents. I was very impressed with my $99 special from REI. 

The wind blew hard and strong until 10pm when the rain finally came. I heard the wind start again around 1am followed by more rain. As my tent whipped back and forth in the forceful wind, I began to wonder two things: how much wind speed is necessary to pick up and toss a Specialized Venge Expert? And secondly at what point does the RAW team call the local sherif and get the schools unlocked so we can hide inside?!

Distance: 76.02
Time: 5:35
Avg: 13.5 mph
Max: 38.9 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 4,250 ft. 

No comments: