The East Slope Epic is a self-named ride I have wanted to do for just about 2 years. It is a route established by the Backcountry Discovery Route motorcycle group whom puts together some crazy off road routes across AZ, OR, WA, and UT. When I first came upon their site I thought, this is one cool route and wouldn’t it be an amazing bicycle ride! The WA route travels the east slope of the Cascades over a mix of paved and gravel roads. It travels from a south to north direction. Starting in Stevenson, WA and ending all the way up at the Canadian border. All in all, the WA route covers about 560mi and something along the lines of 65,000 ft of climbing. The route conveniently stops through some towns with good services (stores, food, and lodging): Stevenson, Packwood, Ellensburg, Cashmere, and Chelan.
The Logistics and Route:
- Day 1 starts with a short ride from the house down to the Amtrak train station. A few hours later I jump off the train in Vancouver, WA and ride a nice route, about 50 miles, to Stevenson. I’ll leave the house around 8am and be in Stevenson by 6pm. Not bad for a first day!
- Day 2 is a big day of about 120 mi. End point is a hotel in Packwood
- Day 3 is slightly more manageable with a fair amount of paved roads and slightly fewer miles, ~100, ending in Ellensburg
- Day 4 starts with a great climb up in the Johnson Ridge area. Day totals out to about 60 mi and a hotel in Cashmere
- Day 5 looks to be a fairly remote day with lots of climbing. Mileage runs about 100 mi again and ends with a hotel in Chelan
- Day 6 climbs out of Chelan and over the ridge, dropping into Carlton. From there it’s up to Loup Loup. From the top, for me this year, I’ll go off route and descend down through the Beaver Creek area for an ultimate finish in Winthrop. Hopefully in time for some East 20 Pizza!
Check out a detailed map of the route here.
The Gear and Set Up:
For those that know me, know that I like to roll the Redline Cross bike with full disc brakes and nice fast but wide tires. No change for this ride just some added items to help with the length of the trip. I’ll be running a Garmin Edge 500 which allows for the entire route to loaded in with turn by turn directions. My tire choice will be a 700×40 Kenda Happy Medium. These are a tad wider than my beloved Tioga Bloodhounds and plenty fast. I like the wider tire cause I can run a bit less pressure and not worry as much about pinch flats. Rounding out the bike is a great frame bag that carry’s a lot of hard goods, ie tools, light & battery, steri pen (water purifier), small first aide kit, energy bars and gels. Lastly, I modified a seatpost rack to help carry some extra clothes. Everything will be inside a waterproof compression sack to keep it safe and dry. I have tied the rack into two additional mounting points, ie my canti bosses, for extra security. Bump terrain means a need for reinforcement. Overall it is more weight than I hoped, about 15lbs of gear. I know once I get rolling I won’t really notice it much BUT rolling light and fast is really the intent. I’ve repeatedly scoured through what I am bringing and not really coming up with anything that I am willing to do without.
I, of course, will be running a SPOT beacon so feel free to follow along at this link. It should update every ten minutes or so while I am out on the route.
My depart date is Tuesday Sept 18th. I had hoped to team up with my great friend Roger Bown but an untimely (not that it ever is) break of his collarbone put an end to those plans. It will be a bummer having to go solo but sometimes that is just the way it is. Look for a ride report write up a few weeks or so after the ride