Day 5: Colonial Creek Campground to Winthrop - Racpat Northern Tier - CycleBlaze

June 5, 2021

Day 5: Colonial Creek Campground to Winthrop

When is a hill too far?

"Here comes the rain,” Rachel says, as it’s just getting light. It is a soft rain, builds a bit and then tapers off. When it stops, we quickly pack up, eat oatmeal and coffee, dress in rain gear and get on the road before 6am.

When is a hill too far? 

Maybe it is the first steep hill right out of the campground for 2 miles that Rob and John had warned us about. The headwind didn’t help. But then, maybe it is the hill to regain the elevation lost after a downhill and 400ft loss. Then again, maybe it is all the hills and gradual climb for the next 25miles to the summit of Rainy Pass.

We keep plodding along, stopping for snack breaks between intermittent raining and clearing. We are slowly climbing above Diablo Dam, then Ross Dam. At a pull out, two men in old model pickup trucks each pulling a huge old camp trailers have stopped. They passed us earlier doing about 30 miles an hour. Since it is not raining we stop as well to have a break of ham and cheese sandwiches. They become our first road angels of the trip, giving us water and pastries. They are moving the camp trailers to Tonasket where they bought property and are going to plant trees. The older guy says he’s been a logger his whole life and now wants to give some trees back.

We continue climbing, and watch as a small RV pulls over us ahead of us, still partially in the road. A woman jumps out and waves at us to stop.  Corey from New York is our second road angel. She has a brother who cycled coast to coast, and wants to know if there is anything we need, maybe a hot cup of coffee at the next pull out? It is raining steadily now and we cannot refuse a hot drink.  She points at the kids peering through the rear window and explains she is trying to teach them kindness and helping strangers. www.coreyhacker.com

When we see her up ahead, we stop just as the rain comes down stronger….but boy, that hot cup of coffee tasted good. She is traveling with kids and husband to the National Parks. And by stopping to help us she is teaching her kids about helping strangers and judging when it’s ok to interact. We fit the lesson and surely benefited. We keep plodding along, and finally reach Rainy Pass Summit. The rain stops and starts. The wind is our friend now, a beautiful tailwind.

When is a hill too far?

Maybe it’s the next pass. After a downhill, we start a steeper climb up to Washington Pass. This is where we earn the status of camping in a hiker-biker area. Rachel has to hike the bike up, Patrick who could cycle it, is patient and stays behind giving Rachel a head start then catching up. The last bit levels off and we both cycle to the summit. We learned from the downhill off Rainy Pass that we need to layer up more before heading down the mountain.

The first section of downhill is a big 7% grade loop. This is scary for Rachel, as breaking is difficult at high speed and controlling her bike. Once the grade levels off, and the tailwind continues, we make good progress reaching Winthrop at 5-5:30pm. We head to The Old Schoolhouse Taproom even though the line is out the door. There are people everywhere, there’s a breakout from COVID lock down. Patrick manages to get a table inside quickly. Most people want to sit in outside beer garden, we’ve been outside all day and just want a beer and food. We thoroughly enjoy a beer, hamburger and fries before setting off to the Warmshowers host. We see the directions are a mile out of town and a few more hills.

When is a hill too far?

Never when at the top of the hill one sees beautiful sights and there is a warm welcoming place waiting. David and Betsy are not home, but they gave us directions to their house, and the out-building we are staying in is unlocked. We take hot showers, connect to the WiFi and settle in.

Today was one of our longer riding days, we started before 6:00 am and got to Winthrop at 5:00 pm. Sixty five miles and two passes in between. Just before dark our hosts get home and David comes in to introduce himself. Tomorrow will be a restday.

Big foot crossing
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Before the weather turns worse
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Our first road angels...they gave us water, so if we ran out we wouldn't have stop to filter....and pastries
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Our second road angel...Corey from New York, drove further then had coffee waiting for us when we caught up at a pull out
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Are we having fun yet?
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Ron SuchanekBeats working!
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4 days ago
Rainy pass summit
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Washington Pass, we layer up for the downhill
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Ron SuchanekWow, so much different from a few days ago when we passed through
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4 days ago
The 7% downhill....and there is a tiny yellow dot on the right, spot the cyclist.
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About 10 miles from Winthrop, a great tailwind, must be the whiskey toasts last night.
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Rode directly to the Old Schoolhouse Taproom for a beer and food.
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Arriving at Warmshowers hosts, Betsy and David
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Today's ride: 65 miles (105 km)
Total: 219 miles (352 km)

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Terry OBrienHi racpat,
Just want to give you a heads up. On 20/97 between riverside and Tonasket there is construction. They are grinding up the road in preparation for re-surfacing. The shoulder is not ground up and is bike able. The flag man let us ride through the work zone which was about 1/4 mile before the turn on to 7s. It is a bit dusty through the area but very bike able.

Good luck!!
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5 days ago
Rachel and Patrick HugensTo Terry OBrienThank you guys.
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5 days ago
George HallI'm enjoying your journal, hoping to get some good info for our own ride west. Best of luck,

George (Buddy) Hall
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4 days ago