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

Thursday 27th June: Cycling from Republic to Tonasket (Washington, USA): 65.5kms

Ride Time: 4hrs 25mins / Ave Speed: 9.4mph

Boyd made us coffee before we packed up our bikes and said goodbye. We called into the Knotty Pine once more for breakfast and met a couple of touring cyclists who appeared to be traveling very light. Bacon, eggs, and toast would provide some solid fuel for Wauconda Pass, and we were pleasantly surprised by the tailwind that greeted us.

Sharyn pushing up the final section of Wauconda Pass.

The forecast rain never happened and it took about two and three-quarter hours to reach the pass (4,310 ft). This time we did it relatively easily and sat and had lunch on a log while we rested. The looming specter of Loup Loup Pass lay ahead of us in two days’ time. I had read that it was very steep in places, especially towards the top when your legs were nearly spent. It also lacked a decent shoulder for a lot of it and was notorious for logging trucks.

On top of Wauconda Pass, our third pass with two to go!

It had been weighing on me for days, and I’d been thinking about it a lot. It was the most dangerous of all the passes on bicycles, and I wasn’t keen to have Shazz go over it, although I didn’t want her to think that I thought she wouldn’t make it. That would make her more determined to do it!

I tentatively suggested that if we could arrange a ride up for her, I would attempt the pass myself. I was a little surprised when she said she thought it might be a good idea. That made me feel better, but it meant she must have been harboring some serious doubts herself.

Some nice scenery on the west side of the pass.

Just over the pass, the wind unexpectedly turned around on us. Nor did we have a giant downhill run into Tonasket. The road flattened out for long stretches, even though it was leading slightly downhill most of the way.

The Postman has a pretty easy job up here!

We battled the wind for the next 27 miles, not helped by drivers buzzing us for fun. The last steep downhill into the town was winding and without a shoulder. Several cars and trucks nearly ran us off the road, and we were relieved to get down safely.

We headed straight for Shannon’s Place, a diner that accommodates cyclists overnight on their side lawn for $USD5. Shannon came over and chatted as we settled in with a few beers and dinner later. A couple of other cyclists dropped in, both heading east. They joined us for dinner and we discussed our routes and swapped information over a few drinks.

Happy to be safe and sound at Shannon’s Place in Tonasket.
Owner Shannon went out of her way to make sure we were comfortable.

As the toilets were inside the cafe, Shannon left the side door open so we could use them during the night. She said she’d never had anything stolen. Only in the country!

Simple but safe. At Shannon’s Place, Tonasket, Washington State.

Friday 28th June: Cycling from Tonasket to Okanogan (Washington, USA): 46kms

Ride Time: 3hrs 9mins / Ave Speed: 9mph

We got away this morning at 8.20 am after a quick breakfast at Shannon’s Place. We took the alternate route out of town, avoiding the rather busy Highway 20. We would have to rejoin it at some stage, but the further we went away from its increasing traffic, the better.

The Okanogan Valley is something of a dustbowl, which is more reminiscent of our outback hometown in Australia than of the wettest state in the US. The main difference is that they have mountains and a river running its entire length, a river that seems to be over-exploited.

The high desert environment relies heavily on the Okanogan River.

Right along our ride today, we saw orchards growing and lush lawns watered by large sprinklers. Everyone seemed to have watering systems running full bore. I had to wonder just how the river would cope with drought. This place is a high-altitude desert and quite arid, and whether or not all this agriculture and water usage was sustainable was a mystery to me.

After about 11kms, we were back out on the 20. The traffic had picked up, but the shoulder had also improved. We stopped for lunch in Omak at their KFC and contacted Leone, our next Warmshower’s host, just down the road outside Okanogan but on the other side of the river.

We did a shop at Safeways to prepare for tonight and tomorrow. Then we headed off. We didn’t get far! Shazz had a puncture. It was the dreaded rear tire, too, the hardest to remove. No need to worry, though. We still had plenty of time. We unloaded her bike, released the brakes, and upended it. On inspection, she had run over a piece of glass. We threw on a new spare tire and inner tube, then headed down and across the river to Leone’s. We don’t usually waste time repairing inner tubes, and the old tire had a fair size hole in it.

Leone is a solicitor and lives by herself in a lovely house on the river that is on acreage. A long, dirt road stretches from the highway to her place. It wasn’t hard to find, and we were soon at her front door, her dog going crazy inside.

Leone was quick to tell us all about herself. She was separated from her husband, has a small group of good friends, a brother in town who is also a solicitor, and her partner-in-law. They would be around for dinner later on, and we’d meet them all.

Leone, our Warmshower’s host in Okanogan.

When the conversation changed to us, it opened the opportunity for Shazz to mention the possibility of getting a ride up to the top of Loup Loup Pass. Without even blinking, Leone said she had a pickup truck and was going up over to it tomorrow to a wedding. I could see that Shazz was visibly relieved. How fortunate was that? We always put down these instances of serendipity to good Karma. Good things happen to good people, we reckon.

So, with everything arranged for tomorrow, we relaxed and met her brother and friends and had a great night out on the front porch, the river gurgling softly somewhere close by in front of us.

If you want to see if Tim made it over Loup Loup, you’ll have to read – Here we go Loup de Loup: cycling from Okanagan to Twisp.