Monday, April 15, 2019

North Cascades Highway 2019

I returned once again this spring to ride the North Cascades Highway car free.  Usually, this is the time of year that the miles in my legs is increasing with the daylight and sunshine; however, this year’s late winter and spring have been spent on house renovation and moving projects.  Prior to the ride, I had been hoping that the hours put in working on the house would translate to some kind of benefit as far as endurance goes, as I haven’t touched the bike in weeks.

The beginning of the ride at the closed gatepost, snowline above and in the distance.

The week before the ride, the weather had been snowy, and I could see the snowline above at the start of the road closure.

One of the aspects of riding that I enjoy the most is getting into the rhythm and flow of the ride, which stopping to take photos or even taking them from the saddle seems to interrupt for me.

The ride was also made slightly less enjoyable this year by the WSDOT workers who hassled me to turn around on several occasions, though I did feel as though their admonitions against proceeding somehow entered me into some kind of Campbellian mythical realm.  The WSDOT site had said that Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays were non work days and that folks could use the road for recreation at their own risk.  WSDOT needs to get their workers and webbies on the same page on this matter.  At any rate, the further up the road I headed, the less of them there were.

I did take a few pictures from my turn around point at around mile post 153 where it looked like recent snowfall had filled the tracks.  The turn around point came just as I was contemplating how much further I could or should continue given my lack of recent riding.  Despite this lack of training, I was purposely not holding back because I was just enjoying going at the limit of what my legs would allow for the grade ahead.

I could have gone further, but it's probably not advisable.

So I turned around and was immediately hit by a cold rain/sleet mix which added with the velocity of winding out my biggest gear descending made me quite cold, but only on the outside.  I was glad that I had dressed in almost full winter gear.  A couple of miles into the descent, I flatted at the rear wheel, pulled over to the side and tried to keep the process of changing the tube as quick as possible to avoid getting cold.  The change actually went really easily, as I was able to spy the piece of flint that had entered the tire casing from the outside and then confirm it with the hiss of air from the hand pump.

The trusty steed.

I got hassled by WSDOT a couple more times on the way down, but just breezed past them down hill, and the further I descended, the warmer it got.

The way back down.