Old Blewett Pass

Old Blewett Pass

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Last week, I rode through a bit of history and came out thinking of the future. I rode over Old Blewett Pass, which used to connect the Washington towns of Leavenworth and Cle Elum.  Old Blewett Pass was decommissioned in the 1950s and a new road (US 97) was built through Swauk Pass — now referred to as Blewett Pass. The old road is still there (mostly), paved (enough), and maintained (somewhat) as USFS road 7320. It is, quite possibly, the best climb I have ever ridden.

I climbed from the North side, after an approach of about 25km on US97. Once on the old road, the climb is 730 m over 16km, with grades from 5 to 8%. The interwebs tell me this is a category 1 climb. My legs tell me it was perfect. After a summer full of riding and with a mojo still glowing from the joy of my new carbone, I spun uphill steady and fast. Hands on the bar-tops, eyes forward, face relaxed– a pro in my own mind, the mountain laying down before me.

I rode alone, and I saw no one– car, bike, or otherwise. My own private mountain stage to the past. And now I think of the future. What other roads await?

Photo and information from
http://oldblewett.blogspot.com

// The Rides

  1. Awesome, just awesome!

  2. Outstanding post, Jim!  Sometimes a lonely road is the best road.

  3. Nice. I was riding with McSqueak Saturday, and we were talking about one of my favorite climbs; McKenzie Pass OR. East of Eugene, it’s a stout climb that gets closed most of the winter, then in spring, ODOT will plow out one lane and allow cyclists and pedestrians only (lasts from May-July depending on snowpack near the top.). Fantastic climbing on a newly paved road without a trace of cars, and very few other cyclists especially if you can pull off doing it during a weekday.

  4. Very cool, a touch of history, a bit of a look inside your soul during the ride. Nice! I still think about your commuter article all the time, often when I’m commuting! I haven’t been riding as much as I’d like lately, work and stuff, and it’s amazing how much I find myself daydreaming of past rides that were just awesome and looking forward to having the time again to go on really nice long weekend rides. Been limited to mainly 1-2 hour rides lately, can’t wait for a nice fall six hour loop.

    scaler/’squeak – Very jealous that you two get to ride together on any given weekend! Gotta get me a local Velominatus pal. Too many of the folks I ride with just aren’t that much fun to be around.

    And Jim, a new bike? Have you shared it? Always excited to check out new additions to the Velominati Stable.

  5. @Ron

    Yeah I feel very fortunate to have met some really great people through this website.

  6. Simple and brilliant.  Thanks for sharing

  7. That’s why in my opinion, Rule #62 is pure gold.

  8. We did this route last year from the south out and back. You are exactly right on all accounts – no traffic, maintained just enough. Quiet, gorgeous. Thanks for sharing and reminding!

  9. Great article.  The photos on the linked blogspot site are fantastic.  Did you look at them before riding, and try to spot features on the way?  The last photo suggests time may be running out for this ride.  Beter get there soon … 

  10. @Ron I believe this might be the new steed Jim’s talking about

    http://www.velominati.com/the-bikes/a-new-decade/

  11. Beautiful post Jim, we’re pretty lucky in Adelaide with something similar as one of the main climbs just outside the city.

    When there was a re-development of the main Adelaide-Melbourne Freeway that goes out through the hills they kept the old road & set up a purpose built bike path that goes along both the new & old roads all the way up to the highest peak overlooking the city…voila, instant 12k climb, which happens to start basically right outside my front door.

  12. Aesome, Jim! Thanks for the post.  That’s the dream to me: spinning up your own private mountain.  Very cool.

  13. *Awesome

  14. What a great concise post ….  some of the best rides are ones that Ive had where the route is unplanned and solo.  The mind is void of all such nonsense as cadence and heart rate and strava points and I just ride…..  average K’s per hour are a distant memory and I just ride…..  we have a few such roads down south such as Pambula loop and Crows nest just out of Port Elliot and Victor Harbor ….   awesome scenery and very few traffic hindrances…

  15. @Barracuda not to mention Old Willunga Hill now that the Victor road has taken all the southbound traffic away.

  16. Amazing!  I find that my most memorable rides are the solo ones that the only company I have are the ghost of myself when I was 18 years old and the spirits of all my cycling heros surrouding me.   Beautiful piece.  Thanks for sharing.

  17. @mcsqueak

    That sounds like a perfect day on the bike.

    One of the nice things about road development, I guess – lots of old routes to be found that are almost nearly abandoned!

    You just have to find them, which is the problem… I spend a lot of time looking at routes on google maps, wondering if they would be any good.

    Yeah, and it seems the Cascades are virtually littered with them. I’m really excited to take the cross bike out on these rides as having the option to ride long sections of gravel will open up even more routes.

    But to your point, the real trick with this stuff is finding these rodes; even in Seattle itself, finding great routes takes a long, long time…its a lot of fun, though, and its very exciting as you figure out little back roads or discover a great new climb.

    Who doesn’t want to point their front wheel up this thing?

  18. @Buck Rogers

    Amazing!  I find that my most memorable rides are the solo ones that the only company I have are the ghost of myself when I was 18 years old and the spirits of all my cycling heros surrouding me.   Beautiful piece.  Thanks for sharing.

    Yup, and sometimes I have Boonen chasing, who can’t quite close the gap!

  19. @frank

    @mcsqueak

    That sounds like a perfect day on the bike.

    One of the nice things about road development, I guess – lots of old routes to be found that are almost nearly abandoned!

    You just have to find them, which is the problem… I spend a lot of time looking at routes on google maps, wondering if they would be any good.

    Yeah, and it seems the Cascades are virtually littered with them. I’m really excited to take the cross bike out on these rides as having the option to ride long sections of gravel will open up even more routes.

    Speaking of the cross bike – I haven’t seen any updates in a while over on The Bikes page.  How is the build coming along?  Cross season is at our doorstep after all.

  20. @Mikael Liddy

    @Ron I believe this might be the new steed Jim’s talking about http://www.velominati.com/the-bikes/a-new-decade/

    Ah! Got it. Yup, I’ve seen & read that one. Thank you though for the reminder!

    Frank – yup, my cross bike has opened up a whole new realm of cycling for me. I only owned road bikes until I got it. If forced I think I could live with just that bike with two wheelsets, one road, one offroad. Not that I’d give up any of my road bikes!

    Long, quiet rides out in the middle of nowhere are truly my favorite. Just a few hours of pedaling, forgetting the time, the week, etc.

  21. @frank

    Who doesn’t want to point their front wheel up this thing?

    I DO I DO !!!!!!

    @Frank:  Has anyone ever attempted a gravel, high altitude cogal??

     

  22. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Amazing!  I find that my most memorable rides are the solo ones that the only company I have are the ghost of myself when I was 18 years old and the spirits of all my cycling heros surrouding me.   Beautiful piece.  Thanks for sharing.

    Yup, and sometimes I have Boonen chasing, who can’t quite close the gap!

    That  commercial always gives me goosebumps, especially after actually riding them this last year.

    But even these days, it still seems to be Kelly or Fignon that is trying to catch my wheel.  I guess it is just a case of “old heros never die, they just fade away”, huh?

  23. @theChaz

    @frank

    Who doesn’t want to point their front wheel up this thing?

    I DO I DO !!!!!!

    @Frank:  Has anyone ever attempted a gravel, high altitude cogal??

    yeah, me too. This looks like much more fun than running up some muddy embankment with cx bike on shoulder. I’d rather be graveling on cx bike up in the cascades, lookin’ for sasquatch scat.

    Jim-nice ride on your nice ride. How did you end up on this road? And is the Felt a beast? We need details.

  24. that commercial is perfect. It illustrates the feel of this post.

    Jim, nice. the last mountain climb I did was in Banff. no getting away from traffic there. But did pass a family of three making their way up the mountain (right after switchback 5). The six year old boy was on a BMX. I just told him he was awesome as I passed by them.

  25. Great ride. We start in Cle Elum go north to gas station on RT2 and turn around and go back. Great training ride, fun to mix in the old road.

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