Any Road Tour: Day 49 – Wauconda Forever?

I stayed at a Warmshowers host in Republic. I could have camped but Martin reminded me that DiAnne Hewitt wrote an interesting thumbnail on the app.

They live high above Republic. With chickens and a blind and deaf dog. Dianne fixed us a fantastic dinner. She’s a postmaster do we talked postal stuff for a while. When Boyd came home he told stories about his life in the gold mining industry. Yep, it happens every day on a bike tour. You stay with bee keepers and gold miners.

After coffee we rode down the hill to town where we had more coffee. Martin took off as I lingered at Sparky’s coffee house.

Wauconda Pass is at 4,310 feet but Republic is at 2,569 feet. The climb was only a little over 1,700 feet in 13 miles. And I had a light tailwind. It was a piece of cake.

The ride down to 1,000 feet over about 30 miles was a blast. It wasn’t until I reached the bottom that I realized the wind direction had changed as well.

And the temperature was no longer the 60s and 70s of the last few days. I was now in the dry desert-like conditions of the Okanogan River valley.

In Tomasket I caught up to Martin who was finishing breakfast and talking to a couple who had arrived on a motorcycle. They bought his meal for him. Trail angels on a Harley.

Martin took off as I enjoyed some lunch. When he stepped into the sun he remarked that it was hot.

He was right. The temperature had climbed into the mid-90s. No worries. I took my time and everything was fine until I hit four miles of road construction. I had to slog along through gravel under direct sunlight. Ugh.

I finally reached East Omak. For the first time in memory, I saw homeless people. Crossing the river to Omak, life didn’t seem a whole lot better. The final four miles into Okanogan were mercifully flat. The town park had camping and there were plenty of people camping there. No bikes though. It was also 95 degrees. My gut and my broiling skin convinced me to get a hotel room. I’m at a low Quality Inn. Weak AC and a broken washing machine. Well at least it has free breakfast. (My money’s on stale cereal.)

Miles: 75.5

Tour Miles: 3,530

Tomorrow I ride the over Loup Loup Pass. Into a headwind. 3,000 feet up in less than 20 miles.

I have looked at my schedule again and realize that I can’t easily make a flight home on July 21 so I’m going to push my return back a few days once I get to Camano Island.

Any Road Tour: Day 48 – Pickett attacks Sherman

Yesterday’s early dinner involved craft beer and pizza. Small town America is crushing the brewing thing big time.

I awoke at 5 with a very urgent tummy rumble. The town park restrooms were locked. I found a gas station in town and the crisis was averted.

I packed up and read The Beekeeper’s Lament which is about the bee keeper I stayed with in Gackle ND.

Once the grocery store opened I stocked up on fruit, water, and donut holes. Then I rode down to and across the Columbia River. It’s beautiful but there was no shoulder on the bridge so there’s no photo.

Then the fun began.

Up. The first three or four miles were switchbacks in one of my lowest gears. Then the climb mellowed out. I was rolling along at a decent pace I stopped to check out a log flume from logging operations from 100 years ago. A few miles later I stopped to check out an old CCC camp site.

Then up. And up. The sign said 8 miles to the pass.


A tiger swallowtail started doing loops around me as the tailwind pushed it and me up the hill. The butterfly won.

Miles of climbing passed slowly by. My head was hanging. I looked up. There, standing across the road and looking right at me, was a moose. He was not a big bull moose, more like a young adult with a small set of antlers. I stopped and reached for my phone to take a picture. Then a white sedan came around the bend beyond the moose and the moose moseyed into the woods.

A Lycra clad cyclist rode past me and said, “Nice moose. Too bad about the car.”

More uphill slogging ensued. A second tiger swallowtail came to play. I appreciated the diversion as the climb steepened. I was counting down the miles to the top. A mile and a half to go. Then I saw a sign. I had reached the pass a mile early. Saints be praised!

I took the obligatory photo then jumped on my bike and headed over the top.

The western approach is shorter (13 miles) than the eastern approach (27 miles). So the ride down was a total rush.

Three miles from the top a woman was pedaling furiously in her granny gear. She looked up and smiled. I yelled “It’s worth it!!” as I zoomed past at 30 mph.

For most of the descent I was doing 30 or more. Runaway train down curves and switchbacks. What a blast.

At the bottom my legs were sore from maintaining control of the loaded bike.

I climbed a few hundred feet into Republic. After lunch in a cafe I called DiAnne, my Warmshowers host. She gave me directions just as Martin rolled up. We rode to her house together. It has an amazing view of the landscape.

The town is part way up to the next pass, Wauconda. So we are psyched for tomorrow’s shorter climb.

Miles: 45

Trip miles: 3,647.5