1004. km; 10,500 m climbing
Seattle International Randonneurs
August 11, 2016
Organizer: Bill Gobie
RwGPS with controls, times, & resupply points: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/14084385 (Revised 5/30)
Route sheet (Google Sheets): http://tinyurl.com/grawlpx
Expression of interest requested: If you are interested in riding this brevet please email the above address. Registering for the ride at this time is not required. A preliminary count of riders will help me reserve rooms.
I once remarked to a fellow rider on a tour, “Randonneuring is easy.” We were discussing route finding. On a self-designed tour you can never be certain the lesser roads are as mapped. On a brevet riders are assured the designer has verified the course is passable. One road I intended to put in this course, which the maps implied was a good secondary road, dwindled into a narrow Forest Service road with deep streams running across it. The portion I could drive passed through some beautiful country. Perhaps that road will appear in a future route. But not this year.
The Sinlahekin 1000 makes a large loop from Monroe to Republic, traversing mountains with alpine climbing and descending, the dense wet forests of the western Cascade slope, the dry open forests and scrubland of the east slope and Eastern Washington, and a portion of the Washington Scablands. Grand Coulee Dam, the Columbia River, Lakes Wenatchee, Chelan, Diablo, and Ross are notable sights visited along the route.
This will be a minimally-supported brevet. Drop bags will be transported to the overnight controls. Registration includes accommodations at the overnight stops at the rando standard 2 riders per bed. Some food will be provided if riders are projected to arrive after nearby restaurants close. Riders are responsible for their own accommodations at the start/finish.
Some of Washington State’s prettiest country is only accessible from gravel roads. Beginning at kilometer 596 south of the village of Loomis, the road through the Sinlahekin Valley to Conconully is such a road. I chose to name the ride after this valley due to its remoteness and beauty. With 25 km of gravel, or 2.5% of the route, Sinlahekin Road should not present an enormous challenge. The photo below provides a small sample of its scenic appeal. I was relieved to see last year’s terrible wildfires did little damage to the valley. While you will pass through one burned-out area of dead trees, most of the valley was either untouched or the trees were singed yet not killed, such as the tree in this photo.
The road surface varies from excellent hardpack to average gravel with moderate washboarding. I encountered one 50 yard patch of soft sand. Apart from the sand this road should be ridable on any road bike. Wider tires will improve your experience, of course.
At the south end of the Sinlahekin Valley the road climbs to Conconully Lake and the small resort town of Conconully. Most riders should pass through the Sinlahekin-Conconully area in the afternoon or evening of the second day.
What of the other 975 km? The route starts in Monroe and heads east over Stevens Pass on WA-2 or side roads where possible. Reiter Rd before Index gives an early taste of the forested roads ahead. The route climbs the pass on the Old Cascade Highway, impassible to cars, across the valley from noisy WA-2. Descending the east side of the pass the route leaves WA-2 for a glimpse of Lake Wenatchee, then descends on the Chumstick Highway. I could nudge the route into ersatz-Bayern Leavenworth if enough people express a desire for beer and brats. The route completes the descent to the Columbia River on side roads as much as possible.
The route runs upriver along the Columbia, taking a side trip over Navarre Coulee to Lake Chelan. The route returns to the river until Bridgeport, where it climbs over a large hump and finally descends to the first overnight at Electric City in the shadow of Grand Coulee Dam. With a little luck tailwinds will propel you through this section.
The second day opens with a stiff climb out of Electric City to views of Lake Roosevelt from Manilla Creek Road. Following a quick descent the road runs north climbing at river grade through open forest along the Sanpoil River to Republic. From Republic you turn west, climbing to Wauconda Pass. Forty-five kilometers of descending later you arrive in Tonasket. The final descent into Tonasket will make you glad I ran the route counterclockwise. After riding north a few miles you turn west to the Sinlahekin Valley.
After the Sinlahekin the taverns in Conconully may beckon but you must press on to refuel in Okanogan for the push over Loup Loup Pass. The east side of Loup Loup irritates with an 80 m drop forcing you to re-climb those 80 m. Crest the summit, then hang on the for the descent and you will reach the second overnight which will likely be in Winthrop.
The final day you can warm up gently, cruising through the lovely Methow Valley. However, you must summit Washington Pass, the highest on the route. With only a little luck the weather in August will be splendid and the scenery will distract you from the steepness of the final two miles. But wait! There’s more! The North Cascades challenge you with a final 100 m climb over Rainy Pass before rewarding you with the 60 km descent to Newhalem.
From Newhalem the route works west and south, climbing a bit to Darrington before descending to Arlington. En route it passes the site of the tragic landslide in Oso, where the road has been rebuilt through the landslide debris. In Arlington you pick up the Centennial Trail for 33 low-stress kilometers to Snohomish. Twelve unremarkable kilometers later you arrive at the finish, back in Monroe.