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Friday 13 May 2011

Day 4 - White Pass and Over

Todays mileage: 73
Total mileage: 239
End Point: Yakima, WA

I got up far too late today and didn't manage to leave the camp ground until
around 10am, bad idea! Had a brief chat to the man who looked after the
grounds about his eletric tricycle he was whizzing around, wish I had
grabbed a photo.

After leaving the campsite, I headed for what would turn out to be the most
gruelling physical challenge I have ever completed: the climb up white pass.
White pass is one of the only 3 routes the keep open to get across the state
at all times (the others being i90 and a route which runs along the border
with oregon further south.)

The climb essentially involved me in first gear for nearly 3 hours going
about 6mph. For those of you from the UK imagine cycling up Marlow Hill for
3 hours.. it was truely epic and I could feel my muscles burning. Little
bursts of standing combined with a pack of skittles to try and ease the
pain! I bumped into a few people stopped on the way, what I have come to
realize is not to trust any motorists sense of distance - 'its a just over a
mile, 2 more turns' - is it heck. About 5 miles from the summit I reached
the snowline, and as I approached the summit I had 2 metre walls of snow on
either side of the road!

Reaching the summit was an amazing feeling. Over the last 3 days I had
constantly battled with how to get over the cascades mountain range
(wikipedia calls them 'america's alps'!) and I knew I was in the clear now.
At the summit there is a ski resort, which should in my humble opinion have
been open, there was tonnes of snow!

There was a little shop / cafe at the top were I did some refuelling and had
a chat to pam (big love). I got talking to the restaurant owner about the
wildlife and she was telling me about her only interaction with a bear, it
came and had a fight with her snowmobile, ripped the seats and the
windscreen off! She said it was the first time anyone had made an insurance
claim of a bear attack of that nature.

Oh and before I forget two things - firstly yesterday I saw elk and not
deer.. secondly my snake count is at 2.. (I rode passed them not near my
tent or anything)

The descent from summit was epic, 7 miles of downhill!! Woop! I had to take
it fairly easy though because the road was in a terrible state, bumps and
potholes, from the constant snow clearing. Apparently its about to be
resurfaced. I went down passed rimrock lake (beautiful).. and after a couple
of hours was out of the mountains.

I decided to press on to Yakima averaging about 20 mph for the last 15
miles! And booked myself into a motel 6 for a nice shower and bed... this
was probably the hardest day cycling ever. I can't wait to get on my carbon
bike after this ride and zoom up hills. The weather difference over this
side is crazy, from snow at the top, its in the low 20s c here (70f for my
american friends..)

Anyway I have noticed a few comments about burning out and making sure I
take it easy, so I'm only going to do a half day tomorrow. I found a really
nice campground about 35 miles away, so will have lie in and then arrive
early afternoon..

Thanks for reading and sorry about the posting issues, I think blogger has
been down for the last few hours, but is now back up..


  1. Hi hon! Great pics on today's blog. Happy to hear you are doing a half day today--it's still 35 miles, though!!! Your ride up to the summit sounded incredibly hard. Did it get a lot colder as you went up? I bet it was awesome to go downhill after that climb. I will talk to you soon! Keep it up!!! I'm so impressed.

  2. Biking with elk...wild, Brian. Wild. ;) Sounds like a cool experience. Then again, everything you're doing is pretty awesome. Love the pictures. Good work climbing up the mountain! Hope you had a nice (easier) day today and can relax/recuperate a bit. Can't wait to see Pam this week! :) Love the background of this page, by the way. I just noticed it for the first time. Stay safe and much love!

  3. Brian just wanted to let you know that we are following along with you on your journey! Sounds like you have had some challenges (nothing you couldn't handle)and met some interesting folks along the way so far. I'm hopeful Vern will be joining us in Louisville for the wedding - beard and all :) We are rooting for you - keep up the great work and be safe! Talk soon!