Or, the tour of the Horse Haven Hills!

This ride in eastern Washington appealed to me although I have never ridden in this region before. I’ve wanted to try a brevet which involved some dirt road riding and this one offered a little over seven miles of dirt in its route. This ride also had a good deal of climbing in it and while there were no major passes to climb, a couple of moderate climbs and the endless rollers of the Horse Haven Hills added up to a significant amount of uphill.

In Europe there’s an informal tradition of naming particularly hilly randoneés as grimpeur (“gram-purr”) routes, referring to french translation as “climbers routes.”  Although this route might not measure up to other great climbers routes it is not easy.

Overall the route is remarkably traffic free and with the exception of the dirt road section the pavement and road shoulders are in great condition for bicycling. The weather was also better than it could have been with generally light winds and temperatures topping out in the mid 80’s. Out of seven pre-registered riders, four showed up to ride that day. Our small group started out together but after 10 miles or so we split up as we each tended to our own needs. During the day riders were often not that far apart and we overlapped at some of the controls but in the end we finished an hour or more apart.

Riding through the sometimes lonely “Horse Haven Hills”

At mile 55 the adventure begins

Back underway after my first flat tire

Approaching the top of the Grimpeur

Overlooking the Yakima River Valley

Bringing it home along the river

In the end it was a good day to ride and a good event. The dry climate and the heat made it difficult to drink enough during the day and I did get a little behind on my hydration. One interesting thing I noticed on this ride was the different nature of the road hazards. I’m used to seeing gravel and other debris on the road but here there was something new to watch for! Corn cobs and onions were frequently on the shoulder, apparently falling from the many produce trucks that pass through this area. I can just hear you calling out to your fellow riders a warning of “corn cob” or “onion!”

I was prepared for my two flat tires that day but fixing the one that I had on the dirt road seemed more difficult than it should have been. Trying to keep dirt out of the tire while changing it was time consuming. Sometimes a simple thing can get very complicated due to the circumstances. I finished the ride in just under 11 hours which was over my estimated time. With bigger rides coming in the near future it is apparent that I need more rides like this this to get in shape.

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