For our third century of June we headed to Lake Chelan and the Chelan Century — promoted by some of our Cascade friends as the most beautiful in the state and featuring a challenging climb up McNeil Canyon Road. It more than lived up to our expectations, with 103-plus miles, 8,600 feet of climbing and some drop-dead gorgeous views (not to mention that drop-dead climb).
The route is a cloverleaf design consisting of three loops (one, two and three), each starting and ending at Don Morse Park — right across the street from our Airbnb place and, most importantly, the condo’s pool.
McNeil Canyon offers itself up in the second loop: a 7-mile chug, average 6.4 percent grade with some notable 12 percent stretches. And no shade, to speak of. Totally manageable, even for the climbing-challenged among us, but also totally exhausting. And: totally worth it, especially when it comes to the descent back down again. Plus you can get a special KOM-like jersey commemorating the achievement, which Paula of course had to do.
The rest of the ride was as spectacular as promised — vista after vista of mountains and water, all manner of color and texture, wide open roads, happy-making descents.
And at the end, a terrific festival with local wine and beer and we made friends with a great group from the Mount Baker Bicycle Club of Bellingham — whose president, coincidentally, is the star of one of Paula’s photos from mid-ride.
Like Walla Walla, Chelan is a prime winery area so of course we made plenty of time for a few tastings on Sunday. Recovery drinks, redux.