Skykomish to Wenatchee, WA

A tough start for the day….after breakfast, I had packed my bags and prepared all my gear for the day. The last step was to pump up my tires–and I found that my rear tire was flat. I should have thought to check it last night, because I topped it off at lunch yesterday, and it did seem to need more air at that time than it should have. I got a new tube put in, but it still wasn’t holding air. I noticed a small slit in the tire itself. Luckily, the baggage truck had not left yet, so I got one of my new tires out of my bag. I got it put on and pumped up, then noticed that I had put it on with the tread facing the wrong way. I left it on that way, since it wouldn’t matter in the dry conditions expected today. By this time, it was 7:25am; I was the last person (other than staff) to leave.

There were some short, flat sections at the start, but it was pretty much all uphill for the beginning of today’s ride. I caught up with David from California (on the recumbent bike) and Roberta around eight miles in, just before the turn-off to the Iron Goat Trail. This was a short side spur off of the main highway, a steep, narrow road through lush rain forest-like woods, with more views of streams and waterfalls. At about mile 10, it re-joined with the Stevens Pass Highway.

The next seven miles were a continuous climb to the Stevens Pass summit, where also sites the Stevens Pass Ski Area, which I had visited in February of 2003. We gained about 4000 feet of elevation from the start of the day. The air most of the morning was cool and comfortable.

As I started the descent down the east side of the pass, I pedaled hard to see what kind of speed I could get. But there was a pretty stiff head wind, and I could never get better than 38mph. So, I just relaxed and enjoyed coasting down the nine-mile descent. There were a few false flats near the bottom that made the descent feel like more work than it should have been. Then it was relatively flat for the 20 or so miles leading to the lunch stop.

After lunch, the pine forests thinned and eventually gave way to low scrub-brush foothills as the route wound along the Wenatchee River to the Bavarian-style town of Leavenworth. The temperatures really started rising as the sun beat down for the rest of the ride, through other small towns such as Cashmere, Monitor, and finally our destination of Wenatchee. At one point, the thermometer on my bike computer read 119 degrees. I know this is not accurate, depending on the sun and wind, but it gives you some idea.

With about five miels to go, my rear tire started feeling squishy again. I stuck my frame pump on it – the gauge showed about 40psi. I pumped it back up to 100 and hoped it was just a slow leak. I could tell it was getting low agin as I approached the end of the route, but I made it all the way, arriving at the school at 2:30pm. Once there, I replaced the tube again, this timebeing sure to install the tire tread in the proper direction. Just to be safe, I went ahead and installed the other new tire on the front wheel.

Total mileage for the day was 75.64; average speed was 15mph; maximum speed was 38mph. I spent most of the evening indoors to avoid the heat.

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