Day 7: The day of extreme hospitality

Day 7, Tonasket to Republic: 40.5 miles, 4,363 ft. elevation gain, 9.6 mph average speed
Trip totals: 370.3 miles (52.9 daily average), 24,912 ft. elevation gain, 10.6 mph overall average speed

Map and stats here.

We woke up and packed up camp relatively quickly, eating a breakfast of mostly snack food in an effort to save time. We still got on the road at 7:48a (no matter how hard we try, we always leave in the 7:45a – 8a range) and immediately started a steep ascent out of town. We climbed through more dry, rolling pastureland. It was hot. Hot hot hot. We need to start leaving around 6a just to avoid the heat! The cars (mostly pickup trucks) on this two-lane highway were also giving us a narrow berth and there was very little shoulder, so we also need to leave early to avoid traffic. During one of our water breaks, three police cars, one ambulance, and two fire department vehicles (not fire trucks) sped up the road with their lights flashing, so we both had terrifying daymares of one of us getting hit by a truck.

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There was virtually no shade on the road, and although the climb to Wauconda pass was much gentler and more rolling than previous climbs, we both hated it. We stopped in the “town” of Wauconda (quote marks because there is a population of zero and the town consists of only a post office, a single gas pump, and a recently closed store/café) about 2-3 miles before the top of the pass. We found a shady spot outside of the post office to sit and cook ramen for lunch. We took out our camp chairs and really made an event out of it. The post office serves folks living in the rural area we biked through, and people came by periodically to collect their mail and had lots of questions for us. Some folks said things like, “ah, taking a break before you get to the hill, I see.” To which we replied, “what do you mean ‘the hill?’ We’ve been climbing for hours!”

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We sat there for over an hour before mustering up the energy (or guilt?) to climb the rest of the hill. As we were getting on our bikes, Clive, an Englishman who’s lived in Boston for a very long time, rolled up to Wauconda. Clive is a semi-retired physicist who is riding from Anacortes to Boston via a very similar route to ours. He’s carrying an absurdly small amount of luggage (a handlebar bag and a Carradice saddlebag) with full camping/cooking gear somehow clown-carred in his two small bags. As a result, he’s able to ride a Cervelo road bike and cruise. We sheepishly rolled away with our nearly 100-pound bikes knowing that he’d catch us on the pass, which he did. At the top of the pass we all decided to grab a beer and food after the 10-mile descent into town. We found an excellent brewery (Republic Brewing Co.) right next to an excellent BBQ shop (Freckles BBQ) and sat around for a couple hours chatting, eating (chili cheese fries, among other things!), and drinking.

As we were planning our trip, we heard about a website called warmshowers.org that allows people to sign up to host cyclists at their homes, either in a tent or in their homes. Ideally, the sleeping privileges also come with warm showers, but it’s mostly about having a free place to stay. We hosted someone in our tiny apartment in NYC and were excited to stay in our first warmshowers home in Republic. We stayed with the most wonderful people, Patty and Rob, pharmacists who run the local drugstore. They have three college-aged boys who were not home at the time, so we were able to sleep in one of their beds! We showered and Patty had prepared some lovely bruchetta as an appetizer for the most incredible meal we’ve had yet (and there’s been good competition): grilled salmon (caught by Rob), baked asparagus, oven-roasted potatoes, and a delicious fruit salad with local cherries that happen to be in season right now. This was followed by brownies a la mode. They hit both of our favorite foods (salmon for Dani, brownies and vanilla ice cream for Ted) and we could not have been more pleased. We sat and chatted with them on their porch overlooking the mountains for hours before heading to sleep in a comfy bed. It was the perfect end to a tough day.

We’re so grateful to have stayed with Patty and Rob and encourage any cyclists coming through to stay with them via warm showers!

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