Well, we certainly didn’t get our money’s worth out of our stay at the Anderson School as we spent only a little over five hours on the premises. The same guy who had checked me in a twelve fifteen checked me out at five thirty. We rolled out under cloudy but dry skies and coasted to breakfast at a hip coffee shop, surrounded by early riser joggers, and then we were off to push our bikes up the hill at Blyth Park.
Fortunately, I had pre-ridden the urban portion of the course and knew from experience that after crossing the parking lot at Blyth Park it is much better to resign yourself to pushing from the start than to do the on/off, on/off routine. At the top of Norwood Hill we each grabbed a Gatoraid out of the XWA rest stop cooler – how cool is that.
I’ve ridden the Thrilla out of Redmond over three dozen times but only once – during a recent training outing – have I ridden it on a fully loaded rig. The loose uphill section following the short pavement sector was best done on foot – it’s ridable but the secret to this endeavor was to not cook ourselves on any one big effort. A couple of minutes gained here could result in hours lost later.
The obscure trail riding around Trilogy seemed endless but soon we were descending Novelty Hill Road. Despite the fact that I was traveling at well over twenty-five miles per hour some clown decided that it was prudent to pass me on a blind curve. The uphill driver interfered with Bozo’s well-laid plans and I nearly ended up a statistic. I arrived at the stop light at the bottom of the hill three seconds behind the clown car, his nearly fatal impatience had gained him nothing.
We were now on the plush yet monotonous Snoqualmie Valley Trail. I decided that it was time to put down some miles, so I put in a headphone and cued up Mathew McConaughey’s book Greenlights. Good ole boy Mathew wants to be President, and he’s laying the groundwork with some myth-building. After and hour or so I switched over to the Jesus and Mary Chain on my bike trainer playlist.
In North Bend we stuffed ourselves at the Dairy Freeze before embarking on the gradual yet continual climb up to the tunnel at Snoqualmie Pass. Here Mykenna and I were allowed to each go at our own pace and by and by we arrived at the tunnel. This section of trail is a real treasure, easy safe riding with rewarding views at nearly every turn.
The trail was wet on the east side of the tunnel, which was surprising as we were now on the “dry” side of the Cascades. Luckily the precipitation had stopped, and we rolled through Easton finally arriving at Cle Elum at dusk. Decision time.
The 2021 XWA allowed for two options: turn north at Cle Elum and climb towards Blewett Pass or continue east to Kittitas and then turn left up the Colockum. The snow and downed trees on the Blewett option tipped us towards the Colockum, so we saddled up and continued on into the night, bound for the Thorpe fruit stand. A strong tailwind blew us east as we made good time along the trail. A stunning full moon rendered our headlights nearly irrelevant.
We fueled up at the Thorpe gas station. My dinner menu consisted of a hardboiled egg, a spicy dill pickle, a bag of cheese curds with pepperoni logs and bag of Bugles. Pretty good actually. After “dinner” we rolled a quarter mile back to the Palouse-to-Cascade Trailhead and, for the first time on this trip, rolled out our bivies and sleeping bags. The picnic area was flat and partially protected from the wind – good enough.