Pre-ride notes for the upcoming Tri-Cities-based 200km, on March 5, 2011
Courtesy of the intrepid pre-rider, Norm Carr.
The Tri-Cities 200Km pre-ride was completed with temperatures below freezing for much of the day, which created its own challenges, primarily frozen bottles and Camelbak tubes. Wind was generally light, although, as usual, just enough to be annoying along WA-22 from Mabton to Toppenish. Although very cold, it was mostly a beautiful sunny day. Fortunately the current forecast for the weekend of the brevet is milder, but with a chance of some precipitation.
This is a good choice for an early-season 200Km, as the route follows the Yakima valley and there are a few lumps, but no large climbs. The most challenging is probably the climb back over from Benton City to Richland with tired legs at the end of the day, and, for some, in the dark.
Paul has made some improvements to the course this year. There's a pleasanter route through Benton city, avoiding the busy main street. The same control is used both out and back in Prosser (well-appointed with plenty of provisioning choices), and there is a new route from Prosser to Mabton on the out-bound leg. This replaces a portion of the exposed and, frankly, somewhat bleak section of WA-22 with a much more interesting trip through some typical Eastern Washington farmland. The return trip from Toppenish through Zillah, Granger, Grandview, remains as before.
Things to look out for:
Roadworks along Keene Road in Richland, near the ride start, cause lanes to narrow. Most of the route is through working agricultural landscapes and communities. Roads are all surfaced and generally well-maintained, but expect occasional mud and gravel spillage from farm traffic. Especially if conditions are wet, surfaces may be unexpectedly slippery. You will meet plenty of dogs, sometimes, annoyingly, unsecured. I've never felt especially threatened by any of them on the roads hereabouts, but caution is, of course, advised.