Day 14 Chelan to Tonasket WA
On Day 13 I observed that sometimes a day that starts badly, ends well. Today I'll do the corollary: sometimes a great day can end badly because of a relatively minor change during the day. My example: today I hoped to get to Oroville, some 17 miles north of here, but the day suddenly became windy after I had ridden about 70 mile in nice conditions. I was going for 100 miles, but had to quit at 85 miles, with 2000 feet of climbing, after spending the last two hours of my day in a situation similar to the first two hours of Day 13: cranking into a 15 to 20 mph head wind.
Heading out of Chelan on Alt97
Leaving Chelan this morning, after breakfast at Subway - not bad, but it doesn't stick with you like those high fat, high carb breakfast do - I rode over yet another ridge on Alt 97. Riding was easy, there was very little traffic and the weather was very comfortable.
US 97 crossing the river below the ridge
I discovered that taking US 97 instead of Alt US 97 would have been a very bad move. I was eight miles north of town, having ridden over a 500 foot high ridge when US 97 (US 2 having headed east to Spokane) and Alt US 97 rejoined. Going that way to Chelan would add at least 15 miles and not save any climbing. Alt US 97 is also a prettier route, staying closer to the river and the lake formed by Rocky Point Dam.
US 97 heading north before Welles Dam
Lake formed by Welles Dam north of Chelan
Riding north, north of Chelan, was pretty much like riding north, south of Chelan. It was much more peaceful than riding the US 2 / US 97 combination. It had good shoulders, good views, and some hills separated by long stretches that were nearly level. Easy riding and fast riding with a gentle tail wind. I stopped at Pateros for a snack at a convenience store and again in the Okanogan valley south of Malott for a snack alongside the road.
Heading up the Okanogan valley
This stretch of the valley is real desert. I found a copse of trees along the road for shade, but had to walk through deep sand to reach the trees. There was very little undergrowth beneath the trees and the overall impression was one great dryness.
Riding into Pateros, I saw signs for WA 153 to Twisp and Winthrop. That was major nostalgia for me. Nearing Okanogan, I kept looking for WA 20 coming down from Loup Loup Pass. It was neat to go over the river into Okanogan and revisit my memories form riding The North Cascades Route in '96. It was also frustrating since so much of Okanogan had changed, and the one thing that hadn't changed was that I still couldn't find a decent place to eat there! I should have waited to Omak, but instead stopped at a Mexican food vendor selling good stuff in a grocery store parking lot. When I stopped, a local bicyclist stopped and we visited while I ate lunch. I stopped again at a McDs in Omak for a milkshake - without any milk in it of course! - and to use the bathroom. Then I rode on, planning to stop for supper in Tonasket and the night in Oroville. Tonasket was 25 miles away and Oroville was an additional 17 miles. I was averaging 13 mph, so I should have made Tonasket in less than two hours and Oroville maybe two hours later, allowing for eating supper in Tonasket.
Flag near Tonasket
It wasn't to be. I got about ten miles from Omak, and, as I was climbing a hill, the wind started picking up. By the time I reached the top of that hill, I was riding into a 15 mph headwind. Instead of 13 mph, I was doing 8 mph on the flats. Instead of cruising into Tonasket at 15 mph - it is a bit downhill - I ground into town doing 6 mph in one of my granny gears! When the wind first picked up, I thought it wouldn't last. Then I though: I can get Tonasket, eat supper, and be revived enough to get to Oroville. Then I just thought about getting to Tonasket and out of the wind. My legs were tired from my hard riding yesterday and after 70 miles of relatively easy riding, 15 miles of riding into a 15 mph wind did them in.
Out of nostalgia, I stopped at the same place I stayed in Tonasket in '96. Unfortunately after checking in, I discovered that the have the same phone system they had in '96: rotary dialed phones that I can use for either my computer connection or the calling card phone call I need to make tomorrow morning. I haven't seen a motel with rotary phones in over two years, so I didn't think to ask. Nostalgia has its price. Next time I'll try the other motel in Tonasket <grin>.
Looking up the Okanogan Valley from near Riverside, 17 miles south of Tonasket