For our second century in June we drove four-plus hours to Walla Walla, and a climate and landscape dramatically different from that of Seattle. And all for a great cause:
The Wheatland Wheelers ride honors Ann Weatherill, a cyclist and middle school teacher in Walla Walla who was struck and killed by a motorist while on a Mother’s Day ride in 2004.
The Bicycle Alliance of Washington and the local cycling community worked together for the Ann Weatherill Safe Passing Act, which makes it illegal to pass another vehicle if there are bicyclists or pedestrians approaching from the opposite direction on the roadway.
For that reason alone, the ride was worth doing.
But there was a last-minute hitch before we could get going …
In Paula’s hasty packing the day before, she’d grabbed a pair of bike shoes without bothering to look at them. Turns out they were her mountain bike shoes. No way would those cleats work with the Look Keo pedals of her road bike. The day seemed headed for disaster.
But! Amazingly and day-savingly, Allegro Cyclery in downtown Walla Walla opens at 8 a.m. on Saturdays!
So we planted ourselves in front of the store at 7:55 a.m, and promptly at 8 got some emergency Crank Brothers pedals (cheaper and faster than buying yet another pair of shoes …) and while we were at it, a couple of jerseys.
After riding “home” to drop off the jerseys at our Airbnb cottage, we started the century some 90 minutes after most other 100-mile riders. That put us just about last at every rest stop — which helped us get to know the fine folks of the Wheatland Wheelers really well. What a friendly and helpful group of people. And an added bonus: the daughter of one of the club members strummed her guitar at every break.
As for the route itself: a tremendous diversity of wheat and alfalfa fields, vineyards, apple, pear and cherry orchards, a lot of windmills, and the striking Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington.
Oh, and the bees. Lots of bees, kept on hand to help the alfalfa thrive (and to produce honey while they’re at it). An added element of interest!
For recovery the next day, we made our way to several wine tastings, plus the Walla Walla Multicultural Festival. Sort of like a street fair in New York. Sort of.