History of RAW

From the beginning: 

In 1993 Marshall Brown participated on a cross state ride over the North Cascades Highway and wanted to re-create that experience (this time without the freezing rain of the first trip!).  Fast forward to 1999 and RAW was created by a volunteer commitee and Cascade Bicycle Club. RAW has now been going strong for over 20+ years, bringing cyclists all over the state of Washington.  

RAW is a ride created by cyclists for cyclists and routes are chosen for the scenery, challenge and fun.  We look forward to new routes and revisiting some of our past favorites. 

RAW History

1999: RAW 1, Cascade Bicycle Club's First Ever Cross-State Event!

In late 1998, a small group of volunteers, spearheaded by Marshall Brown, decided it was time for Cascade Bicycle Club to have a cross-state event and RAW was born. Following a route similar to that made popular by the "Great E.S.C.A.P.E. rides staged in the late '80s and early '90s, RAW left Bow-Edision in August of 1999, crossing over the Cascades on Highway 20 and Okanagon mountains to Newport.

2000: "Oysters to Onions - Ilwaco to Walla Walla"

In its second year, RAW passed through some of the most dramatic scenery in the Pacific Northwest and locations made famous by Native Americans, Lewis and Clark, and Northwest engineering pioneers. It is said the Lewis and Clark Expedition was one of the most dramatic and significant episodes in the history of the United States. In its scope and achievements, the Expedition towers among the major explorations of the World. RAW's route followed the Expeditions path with variety and diversity for all participants. Riders had the opportunity to visit Historical sites, Native American Heritage sites, modern hydroelectric projects, American War Memorials, and world famous museums.

2001: "Cranberries to Apples"

RAW 2001 began rolling away from Westport on the Pacific Ocean and headed east through cranberry country. The route continued east crossing over White Pass with majestic views of Mt. Rainier and a wonderful descent along the Naches River into Yakima. Yakima offered a first for RAW; a lay-over day with optional riding in the rain. Yakima is famous for 100 degree summers but RAW experienced gray skies and wet conditions. As skies cleared, riders enjoyed a bright morning spin up the "old canyon road" and on to Roslyn, the filming location for the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska in the hit television series "Northern Exposure". RAW 2001 finished with another climb up and down over Blewitt/Swak Pass and finished in Washington apple country in the Bavarian city of Leavenworth. What a trip ... Cranberries to Apples!

2002: "The Forgotten Corner"

RAW 2002 traveled through unspoiled climatic regions of Washington State with vast tracks of coniferous forest; including a haven for the last herd of wild caribou in the country and home to scores of eagles nested beside salmon-rich rivers. Along the way, riders enjoyed quaint and historical cities, beautiful rivers and lakes, and experienced views ranging from mountains filled with Ponderosa Pines to wild flower covered lava flows. One highlight of the ride was having the opportunity to ride across the top of Grand Coulee Dam, one of the largest structures in the continental United States.

2003: “Follow The Sun”

RAW 2003 returned to its roots in Washington’s North Cascades but with a special twist - in reverse East to West. Washington’s North Cascades is one of the most spectacular cross-state bicycle routes in the country and 2003 was no exception. The route had three days of new country from our original in 1999 but still traversed four mountain passes with the week’s total elevation gain in excess of 22,000 feet. RAW2003 offered majestic rivers, unspoiled scenery, multiple climatic zones, ghost towns, and stunning mountain views. RAW was again blessed with warm weather and great overnight locations to relax and swim.

2004: "The Palouse"

RAW 2004's riders experienced a fun, albeit warm, week riding from Newport on the Pend Oreille River to Walla Walla via The Palouse. Overnights were at Nine Mile Falls outside of Spokane, Cheney, Palouse for two nights, Washtucna and Walla Walla. The layover in Palouse was for many the highlight of the week. The town came all out for us, opening museums at night and hosting live music at a local tavern. A local farmer offered wheat harvester rides -- we were there at high harvest -- which many riders enjoyed tremendously. Those cyclists who enjoy climbing took off on the 110 mile Palouse to Palouse loop by way of the Spiral Highway just inside Idaho off the Snake River; others toured WSU and Pullman. The last day was a tough one in high-90s heat with a strong headwind in the morning. The week's route, however, through and around rolling wheat field after rolling wheat field gave new and personal meaning to "...amber waves of grain." RAW had completed three of four sides of Washington State.

2005: "Closing the Loop-Olympic Peninsula"

For the first time in its seven years RAW stayed completely west of the Cascade Mountains. Already having ridden the north, south and east sides and points in between, the RAW Committee decided this year to ride the far west side of Washington State. RAW followed the Puget Sound shoreline and around the Olympic peninsula; leaving Bellingham on renowned Chuckanut Drive, crossed Deception Pass Bridge and onto Whidbey Island. Rolling around Discovery Bay and through the Dungeness Peninsula, RAW spent a well deserved day off in Port Angeles atop the Peninsula. Some brave souls rode up Hurricane Ridge, others headed for high tea in Victoria, British Columbia. Leaving Port Angeles, RAW headed west to the legendary timber town of Forks. Riding through part of the Olympic National Park and along the coast through Ocean Shores, Westport and Raymond, finishing up with a grand Salmon dinner in Ilwaco.

2006: "Canada to the Columbia"

The tour started on the shores of Lake Osoyoos near the Canadian border, in the town of Oroville. The first day’s route takes a westward trip to visit the beautiful Sinlahekin valley. After cruising past Palmer Lake and through the Okanogan valley at Tonasket. Day 2 veered westward, up to Loop Loop Pass on SR-20, over the pass & down the lower Methow valley to the banks of the upper Columbia River to the day’s end in Chelan. On the third day we followed Lake Chelan and then climbed out of the Chelan valley, returning to the Great River. Once again we headed south along the Columbia to Wenatchee, where we will say goodbye to the river until the end. Turning right up the Wenatchee valley, we will ride past Ohme Gardens and through Cashmere by way of available back roads, to come to rest in Leavenworth. Day 4 was the longest day (95 miles). Via SR-97 south over the Wenatchee Mountains, by the old Blewett Pass road. Once over the pass, we headed into the Kittitas valley, and through Ellensburg to Yakima. The day ended with a glorious ride down the river canyon, through the Basalt ridges to Yakima. Day 5 headed east crossing the Rattlesnake Hills wine country by way of Konnowac Pass, then traveled down the Yakima Valley to Mabton. From Mabton we climbed over the Horse Heaven Hill to end in Bickleton, the Bluebird capitol of World, and site of the Bluebird Inn. The final day continues southwest on the scenic Goldendale Bickleton Highway, then south for a final 4-mile plunge to Maryhill State Park.

2007: "Oysters to Onions - Columbia River Valley Tour"

In its sophomore year of 2000 RAW offered riders a wonderful route from the Washington coastal town of Ilwaco all the way to Walla Walla via the Columbia River Valley. This "Oysters to Onions" route was one of the most popular routes we have offered so this year we brought it back for a much deserved encore performance! This time around we started slightly north in the Coastal town of Raymond, but then pretty much followed the same amazing route. What this route lacked in big mountains it more than made up for in pure scenic beauty as we headed east from the coast skirting the Mighty Columbia all the way. We also cross into Oregon for a day, enjoying United States' first ever scenic highway along the Multnomah Falls area. This SOLD OUT ride enjoyed amazing beauty around every corner and riders agreed it was one of the best organized RAW rides ever! Our overnight venues included Raymond, Skamokawa, Battle Ground, Stevenson, Maryhill State Park, Crowe Butte Park and Walla Walla. The highlight of the tour for many, was the multiple wine tastings in camp and the amazing taliwind we enjoyed along the river!

2008: "Tour of the Volcanoes - Cascade Mountains Tour"

What better way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ride Around Washington than with a brand-new spectacular route. The Tour of the Volcanoes offered something for everyone – cooler, moister air of Western Washington and the warmer, drier climate of the east side of the mountains – tall trees and sage brush – great climbing, grand long descents, and some flats for good measure – four stupendous volcanoes and a magnificent river. With this kind of pure scenic beauty you’ll need a big memory card and extra batteries for your camera.
Starting and ending in Packwood, this loop route wound in, around and over the scenic southern cascades, travelling through quaint towns such as Randle, Carson, Underwood, Glenwood, Goldendale, and Moxee. Riders truly enjoyed the lesser known passes of Elk, Independence, and Konnowac... We rode a total of 30,000 of elevation and stayed in great overnight towns; including Packwood, Swift Forest, Trout Lake, Brooks Memorial State Park, Naches. Raw veterans and novice agreed- this could have been the most scenic route ever offered in Washington State!

2009: "Highway 20 Revisited"

The 2009 Ride Around Washington (RAW) marked a return to the beginning of RAW: the North Cascades Highway, an exploration of Grand Coulee Dam, and the upper Columbia River. This year’s route could have been renamed “Ride Amazing Washington”, as we cycled through so many different types of geology, climatic zones and vegetation.

From the cooler, moist marine weather in historic La Conner, through the flat delta of the Skagit River, along the forested river valley floors, up over the north Cascades, From Coulee dam around Lake Roosevelt and down into central Washington, RAW 2009 surely spun our wheels!

2010: "Remembering the Forgotten Corner"

Tucked away in the northeast corner of the state, where tourists seldom travel and locals are few and far-between, is Washington’s own Shangra La.
Broadly interpreting the phrase “Ride Around Washington,” RAW 2010 started at the Idaho border and traveled north into Canadian territory. Beginning in Newport and ending in Soap Lake, the Forgotten Corner included many amazing, little-known treasures, such as Manresa Grotto, Lake Curlew, and Dry Falls. The ride featured a variety of climate zones, from the green, ponderosa pine country along the Pend Oreille River to the arid prairies of the Inland Empire. Along the way, we travelled through towns most of us had never heard of before, let alone visited, such as Metaline Falls, Ione, Kettle Falls, Echo, Laurier, Bodie, Wauconda, and Republic.

2011: "Cranberries to Apples"

In 2011, Ride Around Washington followed the well-liked “Cranberries to Apples” route of 2001. From the bountiful Willapa Bay estuary town of Raymond to the productive Leavenworth orchards, this spectacular ride was a study in ecological diversity. We traveled from the lowlands of the Washington coast to the highlands of the Cascade Mountains and the rivers, canyons and lakes of eastern Washington. We rode through lush forests, agricultural fields and desert vegetation along many of RAW’S favorites routes of past years, ending the Bavarian capitol of the PNW, Leavenworth , WA, with much rejoicing!

2012: "Pedal Palousa"

Ride Around Washington 2012 celebrated our 14th year with a loop route that brought together the beauty and splendor of two of our favorite past routes.  The route began north of Spokane, in the town of Chewelah, among the ponderosa pine trees.  Riders enjoyed spectacular vistas through the Colville National Forest, then along the Pend Oreille River into Idaho, and by the scenic Lake Coeur D'Alene. The  route continued south for three days of riding through the amber waves of grain and rolling hills of the Palouse, enjoying  the panoramic views from Steptoe Butte. Finally the route looped back north through Cheney, from the Riverside State Park along the Spokane River, and back to Chewelah

2013: "Pines to Vines” 15th Anniversary Special

The route started north at Curlew Lake State Park, rolled up the Kettle River and through the ponderosa pines to Tonasket. For Day 2 we cruised through the orchards along the Okanogan and Columbia rivers on our way to Chelan. Day 3 started with a scenic ride along Lake Chelan and along the Wenatchee River to Leavenworth. On Day 5 riders continued south over Old Blewett Pass, across the plains near Ellensburg and through the always-gorgeous Yakima River Canyon to Sportsman State Park.  For Day 6 we headed east through the Yakima River Valley, climbing  up onto the Horse Heaven Hills to enjoy the rolling terrain on our way to Bickelton. Finally, on Day 7 we headed on a wonderful descent towards the Columbia River to our final venue at Maryhill State Park.

2014: "Olympic Peninsula & Coast"

The “Olympic Peninsula & Coast” ride was designed with newbies in mind. This route featured numerous iconic Pacific Northwest locations throughout the tour, and was a favorite because of its diverse terrain, excellent roads and gorgeous scenery. The bike tour started in the historic maritime community of La Conner. For Day 2, we headed south towards Ft. Casey State Park and the ferry to Port Townsend and finished in Port Angeles. From Port Angeles we headed northwest towards the Straits of Juan de Fuca and finished the day in Forks. Day 5 took us to Amanda Park, day 6 through Raymond and on Day 7, we passed through Illwaco on our way to our final destination, Cape Disappointment State Park.

2015: "roll on, columbia"

RAW 2015 was the second of our four-year RAW Cycle, reprising one of the annual tour's most popular routes - the Columbia River.  The tour started at Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco and journeyed upriver along the historic Lewis and Clark Trail highway.  Day 3 was a highlight for many riders as they cycled along the Historic Columbia River highway, enjoying gorgeous views at the Portland Women's Forum, Crown Point Vista House and thru the waterfall region on the Oregon side of the river.  Scenery and climate took a dramatic change as we travelled into the Eastern part of Washington & Oregon with rolling terrain and grand views of the Columbia River, ending in Walla Walla wine country with tastings along the way.  

2016: "pedaling the inland empire"

Pedaling the Inland Empire highlighted the beauty of the Palouse with mesmerizing fields of golden wheat and rolling, quiet roads.  From Walla Walla, riders were up and away into farm country with stops in small communities along the way.  On Day 2 riders were challenged with the epic Spiral Highway climb and rewarded with Ferdinand’s Ice Cream on the way into Palouse where riders spent a rest day.  The tour continued to Post Falls and into the Pondera Pine forests of Usk where the community welcomed riders with homemade cookies and ice cream. The last day of the tour featured winding roads along the Pend Oreille River to the historic Cutter Theatre in Metaline Falls.   

2017:  "Taking the high road:  

RAW 2017 completed the "RAW Cycle" for those cyclists that have been with us for the past four years.  Taking the High Road traveled the state’s rural northern frontier, challenging riders with epic climbs and rewarding them with a sublime scenic cycling experience.  The 2017 tour featured four mountain passes, including Washington and Rainy passes on the North Cascades Scenic Highway, one of America’s most beautiful mountain highways.   Riders began in Metaline Falls up to Lake Curlew (a RAW favorite), through the Methow Valley to the North Cascades Highway and finished in La Conner in the Skagit Valley.