Have you followed this whole journey from the beginning? Follow this link to find all the episodes of our North American Cycle Tour – 2019.

Sunday 30th June: Cycling from Twisp to Winthrop (Washington, USA): 21kms

Ride Time: 1hr 30mins / Ave Speed: 8.3mph

We would be staying at yet another Warmshowers host again tonight. This was a little special, though, as we’d already met their brother and sister-in-law out on the road before Libby, and we’d be meeting them again tonight.

Setting out to Winthrop down the picturesque Methow Valley.

It was another lazy morning, taking our time. We had only about 20 km to ride, so there was nothing to get excited about. The ride was mostly flat and down one side of the wide Methow Valley. We gazed across the farmland to the snow-capped mountains opposite. It was a bit scary to think that we’d be riding up and over them in two days’ time.

Plenty of agriculture along the Methow Valley. Washington Pass on the far right-hand side.
A great day with beautiful views.

After a series of gently sloping hills, we rolled into Winthrop. Being a Sunday, and the fact that it is a tourist town, the main street was jam-packed with visitors and all kinds of vehicles. From big RVs trying to find a space big enough to park to the inevitable Harley riders and their Weekend Warrior mates, making it impossible to hear yourself think. It sure is a popular place!

At Winthrop, we parked the bikes in the shade and took turns to look around.
The Wild West in Washington. Winthrop main street.
Old-style facade in Winthrop. Just missing a hitching rail.

Dave and Betty wouldn’t be home until 5 pm. So after a walk around the Wild West-styled town, we took up a table in the riverside beer garden at The Old School Brewing Company. It was the original site of the one we visited in Twisp. We settled in for lunch, relaxed in the shade, and watched the people come and go and the river flow.

Settling in at The Old School Brewing Company beer garden in Winthrop.
Horses are valued around here!!!

It was soon time to get to Dave and Betty’s. The ride north out of town began with a long rising hill that seemed to keep going. Maybe it was the beers holding us back, though! We’d bought ten more local beers to take with us and share. We never turn up empty-handed!

We eventually found their house at the end of an unmarked cul-de-sac on an (otherwise) undeveloped estate. Dave’s brother Jim and his wife Barb lived next door. They were the only two houses in the street and had decent-size blocks on which they grew fruit and veggies.

Dave put us in the spare room in his workshop, and we got cleaned up for dinner. Jim and Barb joined us later, and we sat and chatted about everything that had happened since we saw them last, just downhill from Libby Dam about two and a half weeks ago.

With Dave and Betty and Jim and Barb in Winthrop.

They told us the road to Washington Pass was in good condition with a generous shoulder. They often rode their road bikes up there, but not as far as the pass. Our plan was something similar. We would ride up to Lone Fir Campground, six miles below the pass, and stay overnight. We could then attempt the pass early the next morning without too much traffic, hopefully.

Barb had baked an apple pie. It was the perfect way to end the day.

Monday 1st July: Winthrop to Lone Fir Campground (Washington, USA): 44.4kms

Ride Time: 3hrs 37mins / Ave Speed: 7.59mph

We left Dave and Betty’s place at 8.30 am, saying goodbye to Jim and Barb on our way past their place. With advice from our new friends, we avoided the ACA’s route going up Goat Creek Road and got straight out onto the 20.

Winthrop bids us farewell.
The Methow River from Goat Creek Road, heading to Mazama.
The Methow River near Mazama.

We pulled off the highway to go into Mazama and stock up for the next two days at their store. It is a very active hub for hikers and mountain bikers and carries everything you need to survive in the backcountry. It is also very expensive. We parked our bikes against the fence and got a table in the outside garden area in the shade.

The next stop after Lone Fir Campground was Colonial Creek Campground, another 64 km without any services available, and then another 16 km to Newhalem, where there was a general store. So, we needed to ensure we had enough food and water to get us through and up over the highest of the passes on our route.

We stocked up for the next two days at Mazama Store.

After hanging around for about an hour, we set off for our last pass. We cycled back onto the 20 and rounded a long, flat bend. The initial part of the climb had a 6% grade and had us pushing. It only lasted about four miles, though, but kept on upwards.

The road, now known as The North Cascades Highway, was pretty busy with all kinds of traffic now, and we even saw a few road cyclists who were out for the day to climb the pass. It was Canada Day, so there were a lot of vehicles with Canadian license plates.

Highway 20, The North Cascades Highway. Washington Pass is towering above us.
Being a warm day, we made sure to take our time.
Up and up, we pushed.

It took us about two hours to get up to Lone Fir. The 20 rose straight up, hugging one side of the mountain range, following alongside Early Winters Creek. At least we could get fresh water if we needed it.

Although we were fairly tired again, we pulled into the campground pretty pleased with ourselves. We’d put ourselves in a position to tackle the pass tomorrow morning and make it down to the next place in good condition.

At Lone Fire Campground, an idyllic spot in the forest halfway up a mountain.

We found a nice camping site opposite the toilet block and with nice, soft ground to pitch the tent. Unfortunately, there was no bear box, but we did get friendly with a young couple who pulled in next to us. They were from Alaska, and he would climb The Bell Tower tomorrow morning. The Bell Tower is the oddly-shaped peak that stands guard over the pass and can be seen all the way back in the Methow Valley.

With fresh water in the nearby creek and a small toilet block, we were set for the night.

 I explained our predicament, and he offered to put our food in his van for the night and give it to us when they left early the next morning. We would also be up early, so that was great. He also offered to leave us a big bottle of water under this van at the car park where he’d begin his climb. How nice is that?

If you want to see if we made it up and over Washington Pass, you will have to read Last Pass to Success: Cycling Lone Fir to Rockport.