I spent a couple days riding secondary routes in northeastern Washington a couple summers ago, and the experience left me keen to do more. The pavement is generally good, the weather is drier than on the coast, the scenery is fine (especially in the higher, open, grassland areas), and the small towns are friendly and interesting. I convinced LCPeter to join me for a weekend, and RubHerDown (Stuart) decided at the last moment to join in when an out-of-town obligation evaporated for him.
We left home really early and crossed the border at Sumas by 7 am. Our long distance overnite trip had somehow become conflated with a group of day-trippers heading for Winthrop and back, and since they rode fast but didn’t have much incentive to ride long, we found ourselves in Arlington, just 110km south of the border, at 10am. Here we left them to their conversations and set off to ‘cover ground’.
The ride to Winthrop and lunch at Jacks were as good as they normally are, as was the run over to Omak. Here we left the well-travelled routes, and headed east onto Hwy 155. The 60km to Nespelem is open and fast, but the really enjoyable riding begins where you branch off east onto Cache Creek road. The descent to Hwy 21 is especially winding and exciting.
Six or 8km north along Hwy 21, the ‘side roads’ break out east again. Bridge Creek road ought to be superb, but there was a solid coating of sand (left over from winter, I suppose?) on all the higher terrain, so the curves needed to be taken delicately, not at speed. It’d be worth hitting this road later in the year, once it has cleaned up, as it is packed with bends, and it’s miles from anywhere, so traffic will never be an issue.
Bridge Crk road
We crossed the Columbia on the free ferry at Inchelium (sailings every half hour each direction), then plunged off east into more secondary routes to Colville. The route included: Gifford-Addy road, Marble Valley road, Haller Creek road, and Valley Westside road, all of which offer really pleasant riding thru sparsely populated ranching and farming country. We had consumed nearly 11 hours to cover just under 700km (inclduing an hour for lunch and half an hour waiting for the ferry), but this could be reduced to 9 or 10 quite readily.
the start of Gifford-Addy road
The nite was spent at Benny’s Colville Inn ($69 plus taxes for 2), and beer, food, and the hockey game were enjoyed at the Acorn Saloon on Main Street, both fully acceptable and authentically 'local', if not outstanding.
A map of the day is at:
Second day follows in next post...