Written by: Ryan Iafigliola
Day 3: Skykomish to Sunnyslope
4,621 feet of climbing
After a few days of riding to warm us up, today was the first great challenge! After leaving one of our favorite places, Skykomish, we immediately start climbing up to Steven’s Pass. It starts gradual at first, but it doesn’t get easier until you reach the top, which for us was around mile 16.5. The total climb brings us from around 1,000 feet of elevation to 4,061 feet, but it feels higher! It’s a ski resort at the top, after all.
The climb is slow and arduous, but as long as you keep moving forward eventually you’ll get there. It’s an intense challenge for a group of volunteers on bicycles from around the country — after all, many of them don’t live anywhere near a mountain to train on. I’m amazed at how well the group did, all but a couple made it to the top with nothing but the power of the pedal.
What followed was a gorgeous descent on a beautiful summer day, following the green rushing Wenatchee River for mile and miles. One of my favorite moments is seeing the bright red ripe cherries right next to us on the swaying trees as we arrived into Sunnyslope, because the sweet and juicy Ranier cherries are definitely one of my favorite parts of Washington.
The start of our rides is always the hardest — the complications of arrivals, the abundance of information during orientation, the new group dynamics and bonding, the nervous energy, our bodies still needing to get conditioned, etc. If today was any test — and it was a pretty intense one — this group is off to a good start and going to do just fine. And best of all, so many of them are already passionate about the Fuller Center and making a difference not only through their fundraising, but also through their relationships back home and even starting Fuller Centers there!
So great to join the team this week for its early challenges, always one of the highlights of my year!