Day 1: Delta, BC to Marblemount, WA. 111 miles. We are off and running - or rather riding - on our transcontinental Go The Distance bike ride to raise money for cancer research and care.
Our journey started with a great send-off from the folks at Canada Metal, and they could not have been more encouraging. John Mitchell, Canada MetalÕs president, is using our ride as a fundraiser for VancouverÕs BC ChildrenÕs Hospital. The folks at Canada Metal gave us each a nice care package, which included, among other things, Ace bandages, some marbles (on the chance that we might want to put some back in our heads), and a nice comfy pillow on the chance we decide to take a nap along the way.
After expressing our gratitude to John and his team, we were off, across the Alex Fraser Bridge and towards the US / Canada border.
After posing for some photos at the border, getting back into the States was not a problem – we found the US border crossing to be extremely bike friendly.
We then rolled along to Lister Chain where there was another group of people to wish us well on our journey. As part of our ride program, Lister is supporting the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, which is a center of excellence and a contemporary of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. After being refueled with doughnuts and pastries (a long distance cyclist can eat just about anything at any time, which is a nice benefit to riding), we were off towards Marblemount, Washington for our first overnight.
From Bellingham, the ride down Chuckanut Drive was absolutely breathtaking, and the scenery did not let up when we turned onto WA-20 and headed inland. The road was long and winding, with a fair amount of heat thrown in by Mother Nature, but we survived. Other than the sendoff, we would have to say that the highlight of the ride came about a mile from our stopping point for the night. Just as we crested a hill, we passed a fast-moving river and the temperature dropped by roughly 15 degrees. I think if we had not seen our stopping point up ahead, we might have decided to stay there for a while.
Day 2: Marblemount to Twisp, WA. 101 miles. This started out nicely with some spectacular scenery, but it quickly went uphill. We spent all day on WA-20 otherwise known as the North Cascades Highway. We had 2 mountain passes that we climbed over, the first was Rainy Pass, which capped out at 4,855Õ, and the second was Washington Pass, which topped out at 5,446Õ. And what was really amazing is that there was still snow on the ground above 4,000Õ. Our support crew of Sandy Howerton and Glenda Downs met us at the summit with snowballs, which was a welcome relief after the extended climbing in the heat. From the visitor center in Newhalem to the crest of Washington Pass was almost a continuous climb of 40 miles.
Day 3: Twisp to Grand Coulee, WA. 84/94 miles. This day consisted of riding from Twisp WA to the Grand Coulee Dam, which is truly an amazing facility to behold. The day was hot, with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees and the land was barren, almost desert-like, except in those areas that are irrigated. This was a huge surprise to both of us that this portion of Washington is so profoundly dry. It really goes to show how vital the harnessing of the river is to the people out here. David was on the verge of heat exhaustion in a particularly bleak area, but after 10 miles cooling off in the van was able to persevere for the remainder of the dayÕs ride.