If you’ve read my writeup on the Palouse To Cascades Trail, then you know that the stretch between Cle Elum and Thorp is one of my favorites. It’s a great experience for riders of all ages and skill levels, as long as they have a bike that is capable for the surface and you prepare them ahead of time for what to expect.
Stickers! Look Fast, Ride Slow is an ethos. How slow should you ride? It’s relative, and it’s entirely up to you. Can you ride fast sometimes? Yeah! It’s fun. But stop trying to race everybody all the time.
I want it all. I want the ability to ride miles of pavement at road speed, and then climb an 18% forest road while carrying all of the necessary supplies for an overnight trip. And I want to do all of this on the same bike.
Get rad! 90’s rigid mountain bikes tend to make the best party bikes. They typically have massive tire clearance, they can be built with basically any components you want, and they’re pretty much indestructible. Plus, they’re cheap, easy to find, and usually come in some fun color schemes. 26 isn’t dead.
Riding on gravel can take a serious toll on your body. You have to work harder to pedal through it, and your bike is probably heavier than a dedicated go-fast road bike. Even on flat-ish rail trails, you can’t really stop pedaling because you will almost immediately come to a stop.
Capitol State Forest is an absolute wonderland of gravel. The nearly one hundred thousand acres of land is managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and contains almost six hundred miles of gravel roads. It is a destination for hikers, horseback riders, campers, and dirt bike enthusiasts. It is also home to some amazing single track for mountain bikers.
The entire Westside on the Palouse To Cascades Trail- Rattlesnake Lake to The Columbia. How to plan and what to expect when you ride the Palouse to Cascades Trail.
Back in May of 2015, a friend invited me to a self-supported gravel ride in the hills around Elbe and Eatonville put on by a local frame builder. The ride was in its second year, and looked like it would be a fun chance to explore some places that I had never been on a bike. I figured that forty-ish miles with 4k of vertical would be hard, but well within my limits.
I was wrong of course..
What began as a seemingly ridiculous plan over beers at a dining room table in 2014, has grown into an annual ride across the cascades filled with gravel, good beer, and great friends.