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  1. #1
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    May 2013
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    north cascades highway????

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    I've really enjoyed my Wa. rides and for awhile have been thinking about a ride from Bellingham to maybe Okanogan using the North Cascade highway. Bellingham because it has an airport and I remember what a beautiful road Chuckanut drive was and well, Chuckanut means downhill from Bellingham to the Skagit valley.

    Any one ride the North Cascade highway over the Cascades? Any experiences/tips you'd share would be appreciated. What’s the weather usually like in late Sept?
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    WA State
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    I haven't ridden the highway, but I've driven it… It is quite beautiful and I'm sure it would make an extraordinary bike trip. As far as late September goes - Fall weather can be really wonderful here - but do remember you will be going quite high up in the mountains - the weather can be erratic - It may not be terribly warm in the passes, rain and even snow would not be unheard of, but the pass generally remains open until November and I've driven it in October when it's been lovely (photos - https://flic.kr/s/aHsjKX7FA8 ) The days start to become short for us in the fall - the sun likely comes up later and goes down earlier than you'll be used to down in California, so be sure to have lights and plan for that too.

    There's pretty much nothing between Marblemount and Winthrop, which is an 88 mile stretch with several mountain passes, so you'll have to plan accordingly to either have a long hard day or camp. If you are out during the week, traffic should be light, at least once you get out beyond the towns.
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
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    I haven't ridden it either but my husband Chris and his rando buddies have, and we've talked about doing part of it on the tandem. There also was just an article in the paper about riding this highway, which I'm trying to dig up for you. When Chris gets back from his out of town trip, I'll ask him for his thoughts and let you know. What Eden says about the weather is what I would say also.

  4. #4
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    May 2013
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    california
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    thanks!!!

    I was wondering about snow. That would really make me not want to do it, well, this year anyway. I can prepare for rain though. I’ve looked at weather averages over the years and they indicate days of high 60’s to mid 40’s in the mountains through Sept. I can happily switch to the San Juan’s if snow is there or forecasted though. Wondering if mid-week in late Sept. means less travelers/cars ???

    I think getting water is what I really need to plan out especially if I do it in one day. I’ll get a hydration pack if necessary. I’ll be riding my touring Waterford (it’s easier for a plane trip too) so camping is a possibility but I would prefer a one day lighter bike ride. I have found a good masseuse in Twisp. Planning on renting a car in the Methow valley to drive back to Bellingham and also to do some hiking in the beautiful Cascade country all of you keep posting photos of.

    Salsabike… Road/riding conditions etc. would be appreciated...like any downhill’s that will make me cry when screaming down I find gravel around a corner!!!!
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Oregon
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    468
    It's been so dry here it seems we will never get rain or snow again. We couldn't find snow this year in the Cascades and in Oregon, the ski areas didn't open.

    Quote Originally Posted by rebeccaC View Post
    thanks!!!

    I was wondering about snow. That would really make me not want to do it, well, this year anyway. I can prepare for rain though. I’ve looked at weather averages over the years and they indicate days of high 60’s to mid 40’s in the mountains through Sept. I can happily switch to the San Juan’s if snow is there or forecasted though. Wondering if mid-week in late Sept. means less travelers/cars ???

    I think getting water is what I really need to plan out especially if I do it in one day. I’ll get a hydration pack if necessary. I’ll be riding my touring Waterford (it’s easier for a plane trip too) so camping is a possibility but I would prefer a one day lighter bike ride. I have found a good masseuse in Twisp. Planning on renting a car in the Methow valley to drive back to Bellingham and also to do some hiking in the beautiful Cascade country all of you keep posting photos of.

    Salsabike… Road/riding conditions etc. would be appreciated...like any downhill’s that will make me cry when screaming down I find gravel around a corner!!!!
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Pacific Northwest
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    Tada! Here's the article. I'll get back to you with Chris' thoughts in a few days. Highway 20 is GORGEOUS, one of my favorite drives in the state.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/life/out...te-bike-route/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
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    I was in Winthrop in February, for x country skiing. There was about 3 inches of snow, perfectly groomed, but, really almost impossible to ski with such a lack of snow. None of the alpine ski areas were open. Twisp and Sun Mountain were similar. The whole time I was there, I was thinking about what it would be like to ride there, as it was 48 degrees and perfect cycling weather in February...
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    WA State
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankin View Post
    I was in Winthrop in February, for x country skiing. There was about 3 inches of snow, perfectly groomed, but, really almost impossible to ski with such a lack of snow. None of the alpine ski areas were open. Twisp and Sun Mountain were similar. The whole time I was there, I was thinking about what it would be like to ride there, as it was 48 degrees and perfect cycling weather in February...
    That was not typical…. (and there was still serious avalanche danger in the passes - the only year the highway is recorded to have not been closed was 1976). There is usually a period of time in the spring that part of the road has been plowed, but it's not finished, that you can ride part of the way blissfully car free. Unfortunately for us another El Nino year is forecast, so we will likely have another warmer winter with low snowpack. It does bode well for Rebecca's trip - it generally brings us drier, warmer fall.
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

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  9. #9
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    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
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    I know it was not normal. I still had a seriously good time. Definitely will go back when there's a snowy winter, and maybe for riding, too, during the fall or summer.
    I waited years to go to the Methow Valley, because it's not at altitude and has so much snow, most years. I left 8 feet of snow at home, but I decided to just enjoy the place, no matter what.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    california
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    Quote Originally Posted by salsabike View Post
    Tada! Here's the article. I'll get back to you with Chris' thoughts in a few days. Highway 20 is GORGEOUS, one of my favorite drives in the state.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/life/out...te-bike-route/
    thanks!!!!!....'USBR 10' gave me some searching with lots of info...looking forward to what Chris shares.
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
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    Here you go! See below Chris' compendium of his experiences on this route. I would only add, have a Plan B just in case the weather doesn't cooperate. You could even feel free to call us if you want! PM me if you want a phone number. And doing anything after Labor Day makes the roads a little less crowded--late September is our favorite time to go to places like this. If you do this ride, you'll see some stunning scenery, among the best in the state.

    From Chris: Chuckanut is beautiful but not really a descent. It starts at 100 feet and ends at 20 feet but you gain and lose several hundred feet in a series of climbs and descents between. It's worth it though. We've done it on the tandem several times.

    If you continue down Chuckanut and bear left on Cook Road you will get to Sedro Woolley. That's the most direct way but there are nicer routes. Highway 20 from Sedro Woolley to Concrete is scenic and rideable but not very pleasant. I prefer the South Skagit Highway a few miles south of Sedro Woolley off Highway 9. You can take that as far as Concrete and it is possible to go as far as Rockport before you join Highway 20. It is a nice low traffic road but it has chip seal.

    I have ridden over the North Cascades Highway twice from east to west but never from west to east. The first time it was sunny and warm but we had strong headwinds in the afternoon. The second time it was overcast and pleasantly cool. I also drove over east to west while supporting the Cascade 1200. That was in July and it was just above freezing and raining hard. Several riders DNF'd due to hypothermia on the descent. It can be in the 80's or snowing in September so be prepared for anything. Usually it is nice around here in September and the road stays open until November.

    The last actual town before the pass is Marblemount at MP105. Newhalem has a convenience store with limited hours and water always available at MP 120. No services in the 74 miles from Newhalem to Mazama (MP194) but the park service says that there is water at Colonial campground (MP130) and Rainy Pass Picnic area (MP156). The summit of Washington Pass is at MP162 and it's downhill from there to Mazama. The Mazama Country Inn is a nice place to stay if you don't plan to ride through.

    You get a nice gradual descent from Mazama to Twisp (MP202) then you have a 10 mile climb at 5% average to Loup Loup Pass. The Loup Loup section basically goes straight up the hill. The first time I did that was on a hot day 160k into my first 400k brevet and I suffered. If you've done Death Ride it probably won't bother you too much. The descent has some steep parts, up to about 10%, and there are a lot of deer in the area so be careful. I also saw a black bear cross the road once on the Okanogan side. No services between Twisp and Okanogan. The road is generally good (circa 2012) but the shoulders can be narrow. Okanogan is at MP232.

  12. #12
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    May 2013
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    california
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    thank you sooooooo much for the info!!!! pm sent!!
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
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    What a great ride on washington’s north cascade highway. Started in bellingham at 6:45 as the sun was rising with overcast skies and in the low 60’s, had a fun wake up ride down chuckanut drive to the skagit valley floor and then a reasonably flat ride to concrete and the start of some minor but longer climbs. No real serious climbs the entire route though. Rainy and Washington passes were long gradual climbs though. Stopped at lake Diablo to stretch and relax for a few minutes and reached a 100 miles on a nice long downhill about 40 minutes past the lake. Before the summit of Washington there was a build up of clouds, a slight mist in the air and temps went down far enough that I needed a jacket, leg warmers and full gloves. There was an incredibly long descent from the washington summit where I was doing high 40’s for a few stretches on the way down to the methow valley. Got into winthrop at 5:00 and it started to lightly rain a little after that. Ellie drove from where we are staying at sun mountain lodge to pick me up. I was glad she did as the road to the lodge was narrow with no shoulder and my concentration was starting to wane. 162 delightful miles.




























    Last edited by rebeccaC; 09-14-2015 at 09:55 PM.
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  14. #14
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    May 2013
    Location
    california
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    con't















    Last edited by rebeccaC; 09-14-2015 at 10:20 PM.
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
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    Awesome! The places I love so much. It's great riding country! I'm so glad you got to do this.

 

 

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