Ride day: 7 - DGB

Well, I was incorrect. Today we did NOT go to Mt. St. Helens. I read the itinerary incorrectly. Today's journey took us from Madras, OR to Yakima, WA, actually setting the stage for our trip into Mt. Rainier National Park and possibly Mt. St. Helens tomorrow.

We rolled out again at 9 AM. We adjusted our riding attire for what was suggested to us as "hot" weather. Madras is in a climate that is considered high desert, which means cool evenings and mornings, and very hot afternoons. What we didn't consider was how quickly we would transition from high desert to mountain elevations and climate, and we found ourselves without adequate layers in pretty short order.

Our route took us across the base of and nearly to the timberline of Mt. Hood. At least one of the riders was in shirt sleeves, and judging from how cold I was in a mesh jacket, he must have been freezing, but on we rolled, past Mt. Hood and descending into lower elevations on the north slopes. As well, we went from bright, arid sunshine to low, humid overcast. Very chilling, but the imposing views of Mt. Hood were worth it.

We layered up at our first gas stop, and all was good for our trip on to the Portland area and the Columbia Gorge. We made a photo op stop at Vista House, a wonderful tourist stop overlooking the river and gorge. We had great fun setting up for the photo, and several tourists paused to have their photos taken with (and on) our bikes. Kazoos all around.

We left Vista House and traveled on down a wonderfully twistie road into the gorge and past several beautiful waterfalls. We had hoped to stop for photos at one of the falls, but tourist traffic and lack of parking made that impossible. So on we went, along the Oregon side of the Columbia River. The clouds gave way to bright, hot sunshine, and we stopped to layer back down and hydrate. We crossed the river at Maryville, WA and rode up out of the gorge past an immense wind farm with hundreds of wind turbines. Very impressive.

We rode into the town of Goldendale, WA and arrived at our target for lunch, The Glass Onion, where we were treated to a phenomenal menu. We ate well, rested up, and cooled down, then got back on the road for Yakima. Our route followed what are the vast, ancient lava flows of Mt. Rainier, and the mountain peered over at us from the horizon, never letting us out of her sight.

Hot. Really hot. Now is a good time to sing the praises of our unsung heroes, the chase vehicle drivers. For this ride we have a chase van and a chase pickup truck, each with a pair of drivers; Eddie and Diana, and Scott and Rebecca. The chase vehicles are ever present and generally behind us. If any rider has a mechanical concern and needs to pull over, a chase vehicle will stop to assist and stay with the rider until a solution can be found. Barring any problems, the chase vehicles also carry tools, kazoos, first aid supplies and most importantly, cold bottled water. At each and every rest stop, the chase drivers check in with each rider and offers cold water and evaluates the rider's condition. They are critical to making the ride safe and successful. Thanks, chase team!

So, we arrived on schedule in Yakima, had dinner and now prepare for our final day touring the big volcanoes. We'll finish the day tomorrow where we started, in Seattle.

Where has the week gone????