The RAW Cycle: a series of four great routes 2014-2017
The RAW Cycle paid homage to composer Richard Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen,” a cycle of four epic operas based on Norse sagas. Just as Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” is a monumental adventure, Cascade Bicycle Club’s Ride Around Washington (RAW) has provided monumental, week-long touring adventures to our riders since 1999. Starting in 2014, we began an epic, four-year cycle of routes which, taken as a whole, circumnavigated the state counter-clockwise. Just as each opera in the Ring Cycle stands on its own, each year of the RAW Cycle was also a magnificent stand-alone ride. But when linked together, the pieces form a magnum opus fit for Wotan, the King of the Gods. If you missed the RAW Cycle, look for similar routes in the future!
Year One will take us around the Olympic Peninsula and down the coast to Ilwaco. Year Two will begin on the coast and head east, retracing Lewis & Clark’s journey along the Columbia, ending in Walla Walla, the unofficial wine capitol of Washington. Year Three takes us north through Palouse and the forgotten northeast corner of the state to Metaline Falls. The final year in the RAW Cycle takes us back west along Washington’s Crown Jewel Highway (Highway 20) all the way to the Bellingham area. Riders who complete all four rides will get a free RAW Cycle jersey to wear on the last year--a badge of courage and commitment and a small token of our appreciation. Of course, each route stands alone and will offer the very best in riding opportunities, so riders can pick and choose to do as many parts as they wish.
Year OnE: 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.
year two: Roll on, Columbia
Year two reprised 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.
year three: Pedaling the inland empire
"Pedaling the Inland Empire" featured quiet rural back roads, quaint farming communities, dramatic rolling hills and Ponderosa pine forests of far Eastern Washington. The tour followed the eastern border of the state, beginning in Walla Walla and traveling north to Metaline Falls, just a few miles from the Canadian border. This challenging route featured some of RAW’s favorite roads and overnight venues from previous tours of the Forgotten Corner (2002, 2010), and the Palouse (2004, 2012). The Inland Empire offered some of the best back road cycling Washington has to offer.
year four: taking the high road
"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.