Saturday, June 27, 2009

Goose Tour Day 7: Grand Forks to Osoyoos

Pope Doug

Whenever a day begins with Nalesniki (blintz), it will be a good day. And so it began at the Russian eatery in Grand Forks when Marie and I were craving something other than pancakes and toast. We saw Nalesniki on the dinner menu but made a special request and the cook was happy to make it for us (or he bitched and moaned about those damn Americans reliving their Russian-Polish pasts). Whatever.

The road out of town started to undulate and then climbed more steadily up toward Eholt Pass. I was on my own for a while until I was startled by Pete coming up behind me. The grade was not steep at this point so when he kept moving up the road, I jumped and got on his wheel. The vortex effect was even stronger than the other day and I was sucked in and soon was shifting into my big ring, moving along at 18mph. The climb had leveled off a bit and we were accelerating. I should say Pete was accelerating since I didn't feel like I was doing anything except holding on to my handlebars. The last bit steepened a bit but I hung in and then there was Marie, greeting us at the summit. One pass down, one more to go later in the day. I unweighted Pete and waved goodbye, for he was off to roar downhill.

After the descent, we came upon Greenwood, a town worthy of the name of my neighborhood in Seattle. The prominent feature of the town was its quaint storefronts and, most notably, the Copper Eagle Bakery & Cafe, a gathering point for all passing cyclists. I went in to use the restroom and saw the "Quote of the Day" on the wall that now graces the bottom of my emails: "Enjoy the ride because the ride is all there is". Yes, the ride in a larger sense, of course, but we cyclists like to think everything is about us.

After lunching at a park by the river, I set off with Doug and Steve toward the bigger climb of the day, up Anarchist Pass. Anarchist Pass? Is there a big population of Anarchists in Canada? Did they fight a battle against the Green Party there? No one seemed to have any answers. While the history that happened there has been forgotten, the ride up it won't soon be. The three of us found ourselves on a hot, steep, busy highway. Doug's GPS was reading 7% but, due to the conditions, I would round that up to 9 or 10% in real-feel grade. I let out a yelp as we passed a rocky section where the heat was reflecting off the rocks and was baking me. How hot does it have to be for rubber to melt?

After a while, we got a break from the climbing and the guys figured we had made our first summit. I wasn't so sure since my cue sheet implied some other nastiness was before us. The numbers didn't seem to make sense.Then, off in the distance, I saw what I dubbed, "The On-Ramp to Hell". It was a long, steep stretch of road that climbed straight out of the valley (we were currently descending- what a waste) and up, up, up to a point we couldn't quite see. All that and heavy traffic, too. I got into my granny gear and started spinning and Doug was next to me, doing the same. I asked him, "Is it sacrilegious for a totally secular person to begin to pray for their own benefit?" He responded that praying was good anytime and there would be no repercussions. Oh, god....

We all made the summit and it was 11 miles shorter than I was
calculating in my head, even with the bonus climbing after reaching the true summit, complete with sign and pretty flowers. I guess Anarchists are ok after all. Dottie was driving the SAG and wished us well, telling us it was time to relax. Apparently, Dottie had not been briefed on the descent into Osoyoos. My cue sheet said it would be steep and winding.

But nothing was mentioned about the strong crosswinds that would move me from the inside of the lane to the outside. I knew things were bad when I saw the tandem of Chris and Kim pulled over, instead of enjoying the cruise down. Chris said, "watch this!" as he poured
water over his rear disk brakes. They could have cooked a squirrel on that thing- what a waste of water. Then he adjusted the brake to act as a drag brake that would slow down their rate of descent and we set off together, with me passing them soon after thinking that was a very odd sensation- to pass a tandem on a descent. It was like the time I was learning to skydive and the instructor said that I would black out for a moment because my brain couldn't figure out why I'd just jumped from a perfectly good working plane.

Just before my hands gave out from squeezing the brake levers, I was in the town of Osoyoos and headed for our hotel and, more importantly, the lake. I had been the Lantern Rouge for a good part of the day and now it was time to celebrate.
80 mi/ 5,000'

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