The Rolling Hills of Palouse

I decided to create a blog for all those of you interested in my cycling training, racing, and adventures.

I have been racing bikes for two full years, going on my third year. I am a Cat 3 for non collegiate races, and in the A group for collegiate races. Cycling has become a significant part of my life, and I am only beginning to appreciate the sport. 

The Palouse is a fantastic place to train and ride nearly year-round. Aside from a couple winter months (December through February) when there is most often snow on the ground, the fall includes indian summers quite often, and although spring is often wet, there are windows to ride through the spring days. I have often referred to training on the Palouse as a secret weapon as there is almost always a good amount of wind, cold, and endless rolling hills. The area is filled with amazing views during all seasons of the year, and I think serves as a reward as you see these scenic views that most people will never see while on the Palouse. 

Riding on the Palouse is never boring unless you already have that mindset before you ride. There has to be nearly 40 different routes that range from 10 to 110 mies around the Palouse that include road and gravel riding. There is always another road to explore, or another place that I have never been. When I am training, I often only repeat a route every two to three weeks which makes riding a lot more enjoyable when you have options. There are amazing sunsets and views if you are at the right place at the right time. 

A Sunrise on the Palouse, Just North of Pullman, Wa

Unfortuantely, althougth the area has numerous rollers and wind, there are not a lot of long hills to work on climbing. However, again the Palouse has a few tricks up it's sleeve. Steptoe Butte, (shown right from the top, and under cycling history) is a very unique climb and I don't think there is another one like it in Washington. The climb is only 3 or so miles, but the road spirals around the oddly placed hill surrounded by the small rolling hills. On a good day, you can see to the Mountians of the Coeur d'Alene National Park nearly a hundred miles away. Photographers come from all corners of the nation and sometimes world to obtain a picture of the unique landscape of Eastern Washington. 

This is just about the only climb around the Palouse, and it is not very long. Wawawai (pronounced wa-wai) is one other climb that is just over six miles and is located South of Pullman, on the Snake River. This climb is interesting as it travels up a valley and wonders in and around the area and is a pretty good place to get some training in. Finally, there is one other place in the Palouse to get some climbing in, and it is probably one of the most beautiful places in the region to climb - Lewiston, Id and Clarkston, Wa, about 30 miles south of Pullman, Wa

View Near the Top of Highway 129 Climb

There are three good climbs around the Lewiston area that very from 3 to 9 miles in length. The first is a gradual four mile climb up highway 129 just outside of Asotin, Id (about 7 miles south of Lewiston) shown above. The climb is slightly steep at the beginning (for approximately a quarter mile) and winds in and around the valley as you can kind of see in the picture above. This climb is great to do repeats on as it is relatively short, and you could even do over-gears on it since it is not very steep. Total climb distance is only three miles and elevation gain is just over 1000 feet with most of it at the beginning with an 11% grade.

The next climb, is probably my favorite in all of Eastern Washington and my most favoriate I have ever done. Located just west of the climb described above, this climb is almost five miles long and consists of five hairpin turns and a few sections of an 11% grade, totaling just over 1400' of climbing. The climb itself is somewhat indescribable as I don't think I can write well enough to justify the extraordinary climb. Next time I go there, I will take some pictures and post them.

                    A shot of riding on the Palouse during the spring.

                           Another view of the Palouse during Sunset

                              View From Steptoe Butte During Sunset