Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Desert River 300km Pre-Drive

Over the Snake River

The ride sets out from Richland, and in short order you're cycling by the Columbia River, and then over the river on the Cable Bridge. The next short stretch is a desultory tour of Pasco. It ends and you cross the snake river and into Burbank. The scenery starts to pick up again after the control, and then there's a long stretch w/ limited services from Burbank to Prescott and then Waitsburg.

It's easy (in a car) to miss the Bolles turn off of the highway to Waitsburg. Catch the turn to get off the highway, and then a right-turn into downtown Waitsburg. Enjoy the town. Stop at the store to get your card signed, and continue South.

Right out of town is the right turn onto Middle Waitsburg Drive. A local cyclist encountered on the pre-drive gave it a thumbs-up - a great ride "if you like hills". It's hilly enough. And then you're in Walla Walla. A sequence of right turns places you at the outstanding Pioneer Park for an information control, restrooms etc. Leave the park the way you entered (construction on the south side) and take Alder to 9th. Hang a left. There's services all over the town - and in Milton-Freewater just to the South.

It's a decent stretch from Milton-Freewater to Pendleton. If it's windy you'll be exposed there, so ride in groups. Good looking shoulders on the road. It's a sharp descent into Pendleton. If you follow the Hwy 30 signs you'll work your way through town just fine. It'll take you by the place of the Roundup, and plenty of place to stop and eat/refill-bottles. This highway takes you into the Pendleton/Reith/Echo canyon. Then Stanton, Hermiston, Umatilla.

Cross the Columbia and prepare to Climb about 1200 rolling vertical feet. When you crest, you'll see the lights of the tri-cities. It's a dark descent from the top of Clodfelter into town. Once you've crossed over the bridge over the interstate, start braking to shed speed quickly - the left turn onto Leslie is easy to miss. After the turn onto Leslie - coast down that hill to the stop sign by the Shell Station. Don't stop there - you're ~2 miles from the end. Cross the intersection. You'll then have a stretch of packed gravel or fresh pavement before getting one last coasting opportunity into the finish.

Assorted pictures are here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

200km Pre-ride

Benton City

The pre-ride for the 200km resulted in only minor changes in the route, due to construction in Prosser. The route sheet indicates the needed changes (and fixes a typo or two) as a result.

The pre-ride started (w/ Coffee) at the Albertson's Express at Leslie and Gage in Richland. Coffee in hand, I set out along Keene road, making use of the bike path along that first part of the route. A few joggers out at 7:00am. The weather report had no hint of rain, and whatever winds there were promised to be mild. Made it to Benton City in easy time - and began the process of explaining route cards to the local shopkeepers. The control in Benton City is a Conoco with a tag-name of "The Taco Maker". I opted for the starbucks double-shot instead. Heading on out through Benton City - it's worth noting a well-kept portable toilet near the skate park, on the right, just before turning left onto the Old Inland Empire Hwy (often marked "O I E" on road signs).

The O I E was fine, as always. Worth noting a gang-of-4 dogs about 12km along that road. They bark, they're untethered, they'll approach from the North. Not sure how serious they are. Anyway, the scenery is great and some outstanding views of the river are available. There's no control in Prosser; but, there are services. The restroom at Farrand Park is open and (the men's at least) was clean. Byron Road parallels the river for a few miles, and is a very nice part of this route.

Once out on Hwy-22, heading towards Mabton, I got increasingly good views of Mt Adams and Rainier. The Texaco at Mabton is very busy and well stocked. The porto-toilet is truly disgusting. Recommend holding it till Toppenish.

Various wild-life sightings along the route, notably coyote, heron, hawks. Domesticated animal sightings include cows, sheep, llama, mules and dogs. Not sure if the cats seen were feral or otherwise.

There was a Heron under this bridge, before  I took this photo Coyote

The weather was clear enough to provide views of Mt Adams and Rainier. There's still snow on some of the ridges along the Horse Heaven Hills. Then, you get to turn off of Hwy 22 and bike along the RR tracks. A note on traffic - there wasn't much at all on Hwy 22. Along Track Road, there was some. I pulled over once to let a trailer by, and got a friendly wave as result. Drivers were near-uniformly careful with me out on these roads.

Toppenish is a busy, active and working town on a Saturday morning. There was some sort of livestock auction in progress. And a large collection of yard-sales. Seemed like a nice town. I had some navigation uncertainties through Toppenish; but, managed fine. Will attach this map to the cue sheet:

View Larger Map

One leaves Toppenish heading straight north on Hwy22/Buena road. This was a well-trafficked road, but, again, no real problems. At the stop sign of this road and the Yakima Valley hwy is the Golden Nugget store - our next control. And then, it's virtually the Yakima Valley Hwy/Wine Country Rd all the Way to Prosser.

Teapot Gas Station

From the Prosser control (take your choice among the options near the Rest Stop), it's almost a straight reverse-ride home. A great ride - hope to see you there.