8th Annual

Tour De Chelan Bike Ride

June 25th, 2011

June 2011
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Estimated Distance: 100 Miles
Estimated Ascent: 8,606 Feet

McNeil Canyon is Still a Challenge!

The Chelan Century Challenge consists of three (3) loops, each between 30 miles and 40 miles in length, combining challenging hills with captivating scenery. Each loop has an elevation gain of more than 2500 feet with all three loops totaling 8606 vertical feet of elevation gain. Riders are encouraged to complete all three loops in sequential order but are free to ride only the first loop or the first and second loop if they wish. The ride passes through orchards and vineyards into the mountainous terrain surrounding Lake Chelan; one of the world’s most spectacular glacial carved lakes and some of Washington State’s most impressive scenery. For interested riders there will be a timed hill climb uo McNeil Canyon on the 2nd loop and Chelan Butte on the 3rd loop.


First Loop - Manson


Second Loop - McNeil Canyon


Third Loop - Navarre Coulee

Riders Need To Know

Riders are required to wear their RIDE NUMBER. This indicates that you are a participant and are eligible for ride support.

General: Each of the three (3) loops of the Century Challenge are designed to be ridden in sequence though riders are free to ride only the first loop or the first and second loop if they wish if the full Century is not your cup of tea. Riders may start at their own discretion anytime after the course is open at 7:00 AM)

Loop Support: Each of the loops will be supported during the following times:Loop 1 - Manson 30+ miles – supported form 7 am until 10:00am

Loop 2 - McNeil Canyon, 40+ miles - supported from 9 AM until 1 PM Loop 3 – Coulee, 31+ miles - supported from 11:30 AM until last rider

Directions: There will be white directional signs (white with black arrows) placed along the roadside and approximately 100 to 200 feet before intersections. Signs with Red circles with a diagonal line through them mean you missed a turn and should not proceed. There will be support staff at strategic intersections to assist riders along the correct route.

Aid Stations: Aid Stations including Port-a-Pots will be located at strategic locations on each of the three loops as follows:

Loop 1 - Upper Joe Creek Road.Loop 2 - Junction of Hwy.97 & 97ALoop 2 - Bottom of McNeil Canyon (no Port-a-Pot)Loop 2 - Top of McNeil Canyon.Loop 3 - Top of Navarre Coulee (open till last rider passes).Loop 3 - Water will be available at the bottom of the Butte Road hill climb.

Public Restrooms: Public restrooms can be found at Don Morse Park (start and finish), Manson Bay Park just off the Manson (Loop 1), PUD Park at foot of McNeil Canyon (Loop 2), Chelan State Park and Pat & Mike’s on the Coulee (Loop3).

Safety: SAG wagons with large white signs will be on all loops.

McNeil Canyon: DO NOT attempt the McNeil Canyon climb (average 12% grade) after noon (it requires ~1 to 2hrs.). McNeil Canyon support will end before you reach the top and there is no cell phone service. The Aid station at the top of McNeil will wait for the last rider that passes the lower station before noon and do a final sweep at 1:30.

Cell Phone Service: Cell phone service is absent or sketchy in the canyons, along cliffs, along Southshore Road.

Bicycle Service and Repair: Repair service will be provided by Pedal-Paddle Bike Shop at Don Morse Park and will provide mobile service as needed

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is the weather normally like in the middle of June?

Answer: Normally the weather can be expected to be fine and dry. You should not need a sweater! Temperatures can be expected to be in the mid 80's and the humidity should be low.

Question: In the past the number of restaurants in the Chelan Valley was very limited. Has there been any change in the past few years?

Answer: The has been a significant change in the past few years. There are now a number of very good restaurants providing good choice and a variety of price ranges. This includes restaurants in Chelan and Manson and at a number of the local wineries. Take a look at the Restaurant page.

Question: How well is the ride supported?

Answer: The rides are fully supported with rest stops no more than 15 miles apart. Each rest stop will have refreshments and basic first aid available. Sag Wagons will cruise the entire Centruy Callenge course to provide rider assistance. Emergency support will be provided by the local hostpital EMT service.

Question: What ride merchandise is available?

Answer: Each rider will receive a commemorative T-Shirt specific. A Ride Jersey and a commemorative Water Bottle will be available for purchase. The Ride Jersey can be ordered when you register or you can order by e-mail and pay for the jersey when you check-in at the registration desk. A limited number of Ride Jerseys will be available on the day of the ride. Water bottles can be purchased on the day of the ride.

Question: How many people participate in the Century Challenge?

Answer: We are expecting about 250 riders and hope for more. Last year the numbers were down from previous years. Some say the price of gas and other economic factors but who really knows. This year we are making a much more concerted effort - more advertising, much improved website, e-mail communications etc.

Question: What kind of snacks and drinks will you have at the Rest/Aid stations?

Answer: There will be a variety of drinks (water, Gatorade, Pepsi, juice) and snacks (energy bars, bagels, muffins). We will cater to people who have special dietary needs to the best of our ability.

Question: I would prefer not to register on-line. Is it possible to register by mail?

Answer: Yes, you can register by mail or on the day of ride. You can download a mail in registration from the Registration Page on the website. If you prefer you can register on the day of the Rides.

Question: Why did you change the date of the Rides?

Answer: The main reason for changing the date is firstly we are hoping that the weather will be more reliable in mid June. Second, we hate competition! The first week in June conflicts with the Apple century in Wenatchee and the second weekend in June with Flying Wheels in Seattle. Now we are in conflict with the Tour de Blast. It is difficult to find a weekend without competition.

Question: On which loop will the McNeil Canyon Hill climb be? Will the hill climb be a timed hill climb?

Answer: McNeil Canyon will be on the 2nd loop. The McNeil Canyon climb starts at 850ft and climbs to 3100ft over a distance of 7.2 miles. The climb will be timed for those pepole who are interested in recording their time.

2009 Challenge Feedback

There are many ways to summarize the 2009 Chelan Century Challenge but I think the best way is to defer to outside opinion. Below is an article taken from Tom Meloy's Blog. Tom is a well know rider in WA and a staff member of Cascade Bicycle Club. You be the judge - I think you will agree with Tom the 2009 event was a great sucess and a good time was had by all both riders and volunteers.

Published Monday, June 22, 2009

Tom Meloy – Cascade Bicycle Club

Despite presenting the Cascade Bicycle Club with the concept for the High Pass Challenge, and working with CBC staff to develop the event, I’m not much of an event guy. I’m going to try and describe why I have added the Chelan Century to my short list of what I consider the premier organized ride events in Washington State.
My “requirements” are rather specific and demanding. First and most important, I have to feel that the ride conditions are safe and this obviously encompasses traffic conditions, road design and cycling compatibility, as well as the number and experience level of the riders in the event. Next, the route must be interesting, and for me that requires varied terrain with lots of climbing, including at least one long or epic climb. Last, but not least, the event support must be good, otherwise why put up with the hassles that can come with riding with the crowd. If you have to stand in line for 10 minutes to use the Sanican or grab a bagel, I’d rather just go it alone on my own.
The Chelan Century, the High Pass Challenge (I already did the disclosure), and the Tour de Blast are the three events that I would go out of my way to do. Unfortunately, all three are a long way from Seattle, and in 2009 the Chelan Century and the Tour de Blast were held on the same day. Ramrod would likely be included on most riders' lists, but for me, those first 50 and last 30 miles kind of spoil the outstanding riding during the 100 miles in between. Narrow roads with no shoulder, and a lot of early morning “Urgent Hour” traffic give me the creeps in the early miles. You will likely be in pacelines as you negotiate your way through this section, and the pacelines that form along 410 during those final 30 miles into a headwind are some of the scariest I have been in. Everybody is tired, and you are as well, so going it alone isn’t a great option either.
This was my first Chelan Century, and it met all of my requirements. My estimate of participants was only 300 riders, and everyone I saw seemed to be very experienced; I never saw a wheel out of line, or anybody do something stupid, as seems to happen when a group mentality takes over. There were enough bicycles to give you that “safety in numbers” effect, but not enough to ever feel crowded. Car drivers in the Chelan area are used to seeing cyclists, and the roads are just fantastic for cycling. None of the roads were super busy, and there was a wide shoulder available anytime there were more than a superficial number of cars on the road.
This fairly new event is produced by the Chelan Rotary, and you would never know that they are not “bike people”. There were a large number of volunteers given the number of participants, and every volunteer appeared to be dedicated to doing what they could to insure the safety and comfort of the riders. Food was fresh and plentiful, and there were a large number of mini-stops provided for water and a quick banana or bagel. I never waited in a line for anything; in fact, I never even saw a line. The support stop at the top of the out and back McNeil Canyon climb reminded me of the support provided by Cycle Miles at the top of every col during my 2007 Pyrenees trip. The Rotary even had the event t-shirt and jersey design dialed in. Despite the distance from Seattle, it’s easy to see why this event attracts more riders every year.
One word describes the route—magnificent. The Chelan Century route is little unusual in that it is comprised of three loops of similar length, with all loops returning to the ride start at a lakefront park in downtown Chelan. Given the option, it appeared that some riders did just one or two of the loops. It’s just incredible how interesting and varied the terrain is, and at times it made me feel like I was back riding in Colorado. I love living in the "green zone", but it’s great to be able to access a totally different world east of the Cascades.
With 8600’ of climbing, there was ample opportunity to get in the climbing groove, and the descents on smooth roads were fabulous. While McNeil Canyon isn’t the longest climb around, it certainly ranks as epic. Gaining 2250’ over the 5+ miles of the main part of the climb works out to an average grade of 8.42%, and it would appear to be just a very hard climb. The last 1.25 miles at 10.6% guarantees that the overall grade that your legs feel is considerably steeper. This final section caps off what is an extremely hard climb, similar in steepness (but longer) than the Mt. Constitution climb on Orcas Island. Try to visualize four Montreaux (Village Parkway) ascents in a row, or use your imagination to link five Somersets...well, you get the picture. It’s a beast of a climb. There were a lot of happy faces at the top of that monster.
With one exception, all of the other climbs give you a choice as to how hard to punish yourself. With moderate grades and some good length, the Echo Ski Area and Navarre Coulee climbs were a perfect contrast to the brutal McNeil Climb. There were a lot of climbs on which it was easy to pick a pace and enjoy the flow. With the exception of the grinds up McNeil and the final climb, it never felt like we were riding all that hard, yet the three of us seemed to be making good progress compared with most of the crowd. At the end of the ride, I wasn’t really that tired, certainly nowhere near as spent as I am after the typical 70-75 mile summer Hills of the West Coast.

The whole day seemed to go off without a hitch. I had only one little frustration during the entire ride. As we started up the steep McNeil Canyon grade, my chain did not want to stay on the largest cog. Riding this monster without that cog was not an option, so I stopped to snug the rear derailleur cable adjustment. Funny how the new cable installed several weeks ago picked this moment to stretch enough to not provide enough tension for the rear derailleur to move the chain up the cassette. It could have occurred on any one of the earlier climbs, but it didn’t. The third time I stopped for a cable tweak was in the middle of steep sustained climbing, and I decided to wait for my mates in the shade. Never once stopping mid-way on a climb in the Pyrenees or Alps, here I was stopped on McNeil. Initially, I forgot that we were being timed on the climb, but I quickly decided not to worry about that. In the grand scheme of things it just didn’t seem important, besides, I was timing myself, and I was pleased overall with how I rode the climb.
Everybody doing the full three loops seemed to be aware of the final climb of the Butte lurking at mile 98. Volunteers at the turn in for the out and back climb let us know that it was “voluntary"--funny that Tim never mentioned that. Mercifully it was only a mile long, and at over 10% average grade with a max of 15%, I'm not sure anyone was complaining. Honestly, it was the least attractive climb of the day, and skipping it would still give you 100 miles if that type of milestone is really important to you. Actual total mileage was a hair over 103 miles, and in my opinion, leaving this one out would not compromise your enjoyment of the event. Judging by how few bodies we saw on the climb, it appears that many did skip it.
After all, it was an event, not a race, and opposed to some other events, this one had a laid-back feel to it. I was invited to Chelan for the weekend by my friend Tim, who has had a lakefront house in Chelan since 1994. With us was Tim’s friend Daryl, and Tim, who has ridden in every Chelan Century, provided us insight during our journey. Team HPC was well represented, and we ran into the gang a number of times. At the top of McNeil, it was really nice to be around many riding friends from Seattle, and here I was, three hours from home.
We never encountered the sometimes huge pacelines that form at other events, and there was none of that “team” mentality evident at some of the large rides. Not once did we see a large team “sheltering” their leader from the wind, protecting him, and then launching him in his quest for his own PR, or for bragging rights over someone else.
We didn’t see anyone treating the ride as anything more than it was: a well-organized, small event on superb roads winding through a beautiful area of the state. It was one of those rare days when the breeze seemed to be at your back 75% of the time, and thankfully it actually was on the way up McNeil Canyon.
I hope to see you on the road.

2011 Results

253 people conquered the McNeil Canyon! 358 riders participated in the challenge!

Overall Pre-registered riders: 293
Male: 216
Female: 77

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