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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 07-07-11, 11:58 AM   #1
Seattle Forrest
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Mountains on a road bike: climbing in North Cascades Nat'l Park (pics)

I've got to the small end of being a Clyde, but I'm not quite out of the club yet. And so I thought other people in here might get a kick out of my adventure.

This past weekend I went camping in the North Cascades, with my girlfriend and my road bike. We stayed at lovely Diablo Lake, a slice of glacial heaven. When some puffy white clouds blew in to provide some shade and help me avoid sun stoke, I went on a ride, toward Washington Pass.













My camp was at 1,200 feet, and the climbing started immediately. The grades were mostly gentle at around 5 or 6 %, and probably never steeper than 10 %. Two miles up the road is a lookout, about 600 feet higher in elevation. Immediately the mountains started coming into view. Riding was fairly easy, probably because it's all I expected to do, and I'm sure it helps that Seattle isn't exactly flat ... but I stopped a few times because I was blown away by the scenery and wanted a picture.

After about 1,500 feet of climbing and only ~3 miles, my heart sank when the road started to descend. Going down hill is fun, but I knew I'd be exhausted when I got back to this point. Oh well. It was a long stretch before the road started to ascend again. Pretty soon I was near the top of a mountain canyon, and my Garmin lost its connection to the satellite, for what felt like an hour.

Unfortunately I had misplaced my water purifier on my last hike, and didn't have it with me. So I only had two bottles, and ultimately had to turn back when I got low on water. Here's a mistake I've made before: it's all up hill, and it won't take more than five or ten minutes to get back down. I should have turned back sooner. I got a bit dehydrated on the way down. In fact, I had to stop at a scenic overlook and ask the tourists there for drinking water. These are the most heavily glaciated (and steepest) mountains in the lower 48, and stream water is delicious, but it's really not wise to drink it without purifying unless you're right at the source ... right at the road is a bad idea.

I had a better time climbing than descending. The shoulders felt generously wide compared to city streets, but 35 mph was as fast as I was comfortable with in the shoulder. There were patches of sand, and pot holes, on the way up, and I didn't want to hit anything like this on the way back down, at speed, in a corner with my luck. So I coasted more than I'd like, and I also held my weight further back than normal, in case I had to brake quickly, which left my shoulders pretty sore. The road was fine going down, though, and I probably would have been better off with normal posture and more speed.

There's a sign that says "Severe side winds next 30 miles." Eventually my attention fell back on the road and scenery. About 15 miles later, a gale-force cross wind almost took me down.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/97015772
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Old 07-07-11, 12:48 PM   #2
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Beautiful pictures! I couldn't imagine having scenery like that to ride on a everyday basis. Great pictures,it would be worth the workout just to have the chance of seeing this.
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Old 07-07-11, 02:31 PM   #3
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The climbs on the passes actually never get above 7%, that's why they grind on and on for 20-some-odd miles. SR-20 is fairly pitted up, so I can see why you wouldn't want to descend much faster than 35mph even though it's very easy to do. It took me 3.5hrs to climb Stevens Pass (SR-2) and then 20-ish minutes to get back down at 40+ mph.
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Old 07-07-11, 04:39 PM   #4
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How is Route 2 for cycling? I haven't been on it (at all) in a few years. Can you recommend other scenic mountain rides? Around the state, and also not too far from Seattle, like for a day trip?
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Old 07-07-11, 08:31 PM   #5
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SR-2 is great once you're past Index. Check out the Seattle Randos route for the Stevens Pass Summit 200k for the bypass route on the backroads from Sultan through Index to avoid the nasty, narrow bits. The climb up to the summit has huge shoulders (about a full lane) all the way from Skykomish to the top.

Other great day climbs are to head down to Rainier and do the Paradise climb, or Skate Creek Rd. The climb on SR-410 past Greenwater and through Rainier NP (Cayuse and Chinook Passes) is excellent. If you want long day (3hr drive each way) or overnight, then head to Packwood and try the climb through the Giford-Pinchot NF up to the Babyshoe Pass summit. Bring fat tires (32mm) for that one because the top 7 miles are unpaved gravel service roads.
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Old 07-07-11, 11:04 PM   #6
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Great pics!
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Old 07-08-11, 11:54 AM   #7
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A few more photos - this time, unfortunately, they mostly aren't as good:

Diablo Lake, about 100 yards from my camp site:






You really can't do waterfalls without a tripod.


Lupines!










Can you tell that I love mountains?
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Old 07-08-11, 01:15 PM   #8
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Looks like a great ride!
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Old 07-08-11, 01:55 PM   #9
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Ahhhhh... beautiful - my type of scenary and now I am depressed! I want a vacation!

Actually saving money to trip a Idaho MTB trip next year. Hope the scenary is as lovely.


PS: Nice bike!
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Old 07-08-11, 02:53 PM   #10
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Where in Idaho are you going, Pam?
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Old 07-08-11, 03:58 PM   #11
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I have to get more information - the plan is to do a sagged ride through Escape Adventures. This is suppose to be around the Hot Springs (where those are I have no clue) and I know we stage out of Boise. It's an "intro" ride - I am an experienced mountain biker but did the North Rim trip last year through Western Spirit and found out how not experienced I think I am! Anyway, always wanted to MTB in Idaho - can't wait!
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