Winter is ending quickly, temperatures are around 50 F, and the snow at higher elevations is melting – due to the rain pouring over it. This brought with it the opportunity for a couple rides a bit east of here.
The first ride had me starting in North Bend and taking the Iron Horse trail, going past Rattle Snake lake, and then in a big 20 mile-loop catching the Middle Fork road, where I connected with the CCC trail and road. The Middle Fork road was soggy and covered in gravel and potholes. Wheew, was glad to be done with that and riding on the amazing CCC trail for a while. Lots of smooth, sweeping switchbacks and good XC fun was head. I turned around at the end, and retraced my steps instead of taking the Middle Fork pothole road. And for some odd reason, I just had to take the CCC road, which is a double track, riddled with about 1000 creek crossings – all in pretty good flowing conditions.
The next week’s ride started on the other side of the Cascade mountains, in the little town of Cle Elum. I had some high hopes that snow-levels might be above 3500 ft on the eastern side of the Cascades, where the Rat Pac and Teanaway trails were peaking my curiosity. However, I ran into snow at 2700 ft., and then followed another trail contouring the hillside up to 3000 ft, before running into wet, white snow again. All that meant, was that I would go with plan b): exploring the Iron Horse trail east of Cle Elum. It was a good ride; I was playing with my heart rate to see how long I can go at 90% of max. It turns out that the answer is 3 hours, including a few photo stops and a 5 minute power break. I was completely done after that. Not something that I usually experience on a mountain bike, as trails make an evenly-paced ride very difficult. About 10 miles east of Cle Elum, the trees end, and just like that you are in wind-swept prairie. Quite different and a welcome change from the constant long-hanging clouds in the Seattle area.
Here are the pictures. First the Iron Horse / Middle Fork / CCC road trip:
Next, the ride in the Cle Elum area: