Cycle Washington is a tour run by Adventure Cycling. It lasts for ten days riding along the northern Puget Sound area, over the North Cascades Highway into the Methow Valley, on to Lake Chelan and finally into Leavenworth - the Bavarian Village. Here is the route.
Our tour director was Tom Radley. At our orientation meeting the evening of Day 1, he introduced himself and his staff that would be with us for the entire ride. He also explained how the tour operated and gave us a rundown of the route. This was a camping tour, but it included baggage transport and all meals. All we had to do was to set up and take down our tents and make sure our baggage was at the truck for the day's portage.
I took my camera on the ride, but I didn't take a lot of pictures. One reason was because I was having too much fun riding. Another was because of some bad weather.
7/31/05 - Day 2 - Redmond to Bremerton - Our first day of riding took us out of Redmond onto various Seattle area bicycle trails. We followed the eastern shore of Lake Washington and went north, then west, then south past the Ballard Locks and into Seattle. Lunch was on the waterfront. We then caught the ferry to Bremerton. On ther ferry, we had magnificent views of the Seattle skyline, Mt Rainier and the Olympic Mountains. After leaving the ferry, we rode to the Kitsap County Fairgrounds for our night's camping. The campground was fine but the showers did not have much hot water.
8/1/05 - Day 3 - Bremerton to Port Townsend - We woke to wet tents and soft showers. Our morning ride was wet and cold. The first rest stop at Kitsap State Park was welcome, especially the fire that was built by our thoughtful crew. In a few short miles, we had to cross the Hood Canal Bridge. Maintenance was being done on it. That plus the wet conditions and truck traffic made it very dicey going over it. All rider but one made it safely. The one rider crashed and got a lot of road rash and a damaged bike.
During lunch at Oak Bay Park, the sky started to lighten up. The bad weather was over for the rest of our tour. Because of the bad weather, I did not use my camera today.
After lunch, we continued north to Port Townsend and the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. This time we had plenty of hot water in the showers.
I sould mention that Kathy Jordon is an outstanding caterer. Our first meals were delicious. Tonight, though, she outdid herself by serving steamed butter clams for appetizers.
8/2/05 - Day 4 - Port Townsend to Deception Pass State Park - Today's ride was short. It started out with a ferry ride to Whidbey Island and Fort Casey State Park. We then rode the entire length of the island past Coupeville and Oak Harbor and finished at Deception Pass State Park where we had lunch. I grew up in western Washington and had never been to Deception Pass. I had heard about the tremendous current that the tide creates, so I was anxious to go see it. After lunch I rode over the Deception Pass bridges to check it out on my way to Rosario Bay. It was very scenic. You can see lots of pictures of it in my Cycle Washington 2005 Photo Album. Showers today were up the road in the campground. Hot water was coin-operated.
8/3/05 - Day 5 - Deception Pass State Park to Marblemount - Today it was back to the mainland. We crossed over the Deception Pass Bridges and traveled through Burlington and Sedro Woolley. We got onto State Highway 20 and made no turns until we arrived in Concrete for lunch. From there it was on to Marblemount and our campground. Showers today were in a small hotel. We had to roust the owner to let us in.
No pictures today. I was too busy riding.
8/4/05 - Day 6 - Marblemount to Winthrop - This was the day I was most looking forward to - riding over the North Cascades Highway - and it almost didn't happen. On Day 5, we were told that there were forest fires a few miles out of Marblemount and we might not be able to ride past them. We got lucky, though. The fires were controlled enough so that we could get past them. They were, however, right next to the road.
We started our long, gradual climbing almost immediately. We had some relief from time-to-time but it was pretty steady up to Rainy Pass at 4855 feet and then Washington Pass at 5477 feet. Lunch was at the observation point on Washington Pass. The views climbing up the passes were spectacular.
After lunch, we had a very steep decent and then a long, gradual downhill all the way to Winthrop. We knew that we had passed into eastern Washington because the temperature rose at least 20 degrees. Our campsite was just outside of town in a KOA campground next to the Methow River. The shower facilities were excellent.
8/5/05 - Day 7 - Layover Day/Twisp River Ride - Obsessed with miles, I decided to do the optional ride today along the Twisp River. The ride was an out-and-back. The out portion was mainly uphill while the back portion was obviously downhill. After the first few miles, we stopped at the Smoke Jumpers base and took an interesting tour of the facilities. I was especially anxious to see it because my brother-in-law trained here in the 1960's and did several jumps at fire sites. after the tour, it was a long grind getting to the turn-around on the ride but the scenery made it worthwhile. We had lunch in a small campground. I was with about 5 or 6 other riders. They all sagged back while I rode. The short stretch before the KOA campground on new black asphalt saw the temperature rise to 108 degrees. I was glad to get back.
I forgot my camera on the ride.
8/6/05 - Day 8 - Winthrop to Chelan - We all packed up this morning and took an easy, gradual downhill for the first 40 miles. It was here where we stopped at The Rest Awhile Fruit Stand. Tom Radley sold most of us on the peach milkshakes, but there were lots of other goodies with both fruits and sweets. This is also where we had lunch.
After lunch it was on to US 97 to ride along the Columbia River into Chelan. We camped on a field in a high school and showered in shifts in the school locker room. The shifts seperated women and men. Our dinner was in a city park alongside Lake Chelan. Lots of riders went swimming in the lake.
8/7/05 - Day 9 - Chelan to Leavenworth - The first part of the ride today went WNW along Lake Chelan. We then climbed over a steep hill and turned south to ride back to the Columbia River. We cruised down the west bank of the river until we reached Wenatchee where we had lunch at the Wenatchee Confluence State Park. After lunch we turned NW and followed access roads along the Wenatchee River until we reached Leavenworth. This part of the ride took us past many apple and pear orchids. Camping was at the Leavenworth KOA Camp. I did not stay there because I had a room with my wife at my mother-in-law's house.
8/8/05 - Day 10 - Leavenworth to Lake Wenatchee and Back - The scheduled ride today was to Lake Wenatchee State Park and back to Leavenworth. The ride to Lake Wenatchee was up the Chumpstick, a ride I have taken many times. The ride back was along US 2 and the Wenatchee River. Because my family has a cabin at the lake, I rode to the state park to have a snack and to say good bye to Tom. I then continued on to the cabin.
Ride Assessment - This was one of the best bicycle/camping tours I have taken. The routes were outstanding and the camp food was exceptional. General support was very good with friendly staff and adequate snacks at the rest stops. The small group size allowed me to get to know people much better than on a huge ride like Cycle Oregon. I particularly enjoyed the bull sessions that we had around the iced beer tub. I am waiting for the 2007 ride schedule to be posted so that I can chose another tour.