Sunday, May 3, 2009

NW Crank: Spring is here!

Last week was NW Crank. Being a relative newbie rando ... this is year three of my randoing ...I had not participated in NW Crank before. But since I had the time available (i.e. unemployed) and wanting to get as much riding in as possible before I started working again (I was rehired at Bank of America effective April 28), this was my chance.

NW Crank is five days of riding in eastern Washington around Wenatchee each spring. Being in eastern Washington, the weather tends to be warmer & dryer than western Washington (aka the dark side). So the springtime riding is usually pretty nice. Granted we tend to be easy to please, but low 60's and partly sunny is a pleasant change from 40's, rain, and grey.

Rides are quite civilized ... most days starting at 9:00 AM. So on Thursday (day 1), I got up early and drove over, arriving shortly after 8:00 AM. It was snowing at Snoqualmie pass (3,100 feet). The day's rides were out towards Ephrata ... I joined the ride headed out 28 towards Quincy and then Palisades Road ... it was a very pleasant, flat ride. At about the 30 mile point Jon Muellner had set up a support stop, so we stopped and had a nice snack. From there the ride continued on dirt for several miles. As I almost lost control in some soft dirt, I decided to head back. While it made for a relatively short day, it was quite pleasant.

Friday's ride was on the Wenatchee side of the river, south on the Malaga Highway, with several climbs. Here is John Kramer on the top of the first climb, a little ways above the support stop manned by Ralph & Carol. The second climb headed up towards Mission Ridge ... but not quite. That was the third & final climb of the day. I passed on that one ... another 60 mile day was fine by me.

Saturday's riding was up towards Badger Mountain ... there were varying routes up there. The most adventuresome was up the Rock Island Grade ... 10-12 % on a dirt road. The last 2-3 miles on any of the routes was on dirt, so I decided to pass on the Rock Island Grade. I thought another 60 mile ride with mostly paved roads sounded better. Jeff Loomis, Kristi, Mitchel, and I headed upriver and took Browns Canyon Road up towards Waterville. It wasn't till we got there that we realized that it too was 10-12 % on dirt. Oops. Should have read the route sheet more closely. Oh well. It was a nice day and it was a nice climb. Once we eventually made it to the top of Badger Mountain we rested at the support stop, then had a great descent down to town ... I hit 50 mph! Almost worth a climb back up :)

Sunday's riding was up towards Chelan. As I didn't think my butt would sit for two days of 200K, I decided to take a rest day. Wow! Is that a nice change of pace. Sleep late. Watch a movie. Take an afternoon nap. Could be habit forming.

Monday Mark Thomas, Mike Norman, and I rode the Dry Falls Ramble, a 200K Permanent that goes up the Orondo Grade on US-2 to Waterville (a 2,000 foot climb at a nice 6-7 % grade), across to Dry Falls, then south to Soap Lake, Ephrata, Quincy, and back to East Wenatchee. With the headwinds going up the Columbia and then the climb up the Orondo Grade, we almost missed the first control. But not quite. We did have a great stop at the Coyote Pass Cafe. Highly recommended. We picked up the pace after that. Lots of wide open spaces to see. Very different scenery from western Washington. A nice ride to finish with.

Thanks to Michael Hale and all lthe folks who helped out!

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