Sunday, March 29, 2015
Permanent #2678 -- George Weasley Populaire
This is a fun one! Well, Fun for me, at least. YMMV.
Like #2600, this is a trip to Ellensburg and back. Unlike that route, though, this one takes a much more interesting way to head north.
You go the same way through Selah, but head northeast onto Wenas Road instead of going along the Yakima River's canyon. This climbs gradually for about eighteen miles, with consistently nice views of desert ridges and one lake that will seem rather inviting on a hot summer day.
At mile 26, there's an info control to make sure you're actually doing this silly ride, then the magic happens: the pavement ends, gravel begins, and the road starts going way the hell upwards.
Or, specifically: it goes up about 900 feet in 3.7 miles. Hardly the highest amount in the world; it's a little tougher in sheer elevation than Cornell Rd in NW Portland from 25th to Skyline. A lot tougher in practice, though, since it's mostly exposed desert roads covered in dirt and loose gravel.
With that said, as the photo indicates, I was able to pass through without too much trouble on 23mm tires back in the early fall. After you summit at about 3100ft, there's a little bit of gravel descending that's mostly straight-ish and not too hairy; then, thankfully, the rest of the downhill back into Ellensburg is on pavement.
Get some fast food (I recommend the cheapo chicken sandwiches at Carl's Jr), then it's back to Yakima via WA-821. It's flat-ish compared to what you did earlier in the day, all on good pavement, and will offer a little cool air coming off the Yakima River in even the hottest weather.
There are two long stretches between services on this ride, so be careful and pack plenty of water especially in summer: from mile ~20 (a RV park with small market) to Ellensburg at mile 45, then from there to Selah at mile ~75.