The “Chelan Century” is a regular event on the High Performance Cycling team calendar. Over 100 miles and 9,609′ of climbing make this an ambitious cycling objective, and during the past few years we have typically had 25+ teammates at the ride.
The ride consists of three loops that all return to Don Morse Park along Lake Chelan in the town of Chelan. This cloverleaf configuration is great for groups like ours because it makes for an easy meeting spot in-between each loop.
The first “Manson” loop is my favorite. It starts with some challenging climbing within a mile of the start, then wanders up and down and through scenic vineyards north of Chelan.
The second loop is…notorious…because it includes the ~6-mile McNeil Canyon climb which ascends from 850ft to 3100ft at a steady 7-8% with considerable stretches that are 10% and above. If this kind of climb isn’t your thing, it’s easy enough to do an abbreviated second loop and return to the park via Chelan Falls Rd.
The third loop heads west from Chelan and the first ~10 miles are along alternate Hwy 97, complete with high speed traffic. The highlight of that stretch is a fast descent through a tunnel. The route then turns north on to Navarre Coulee Rd which has relatively little traffic, and gets increasingly scenic as you climb.
This is my favorite organized event ride in Washington. The organizer’s attention to detail is fantastic. There are water and food stations strategically located along the route, the route is well-marked and there are even flaggers at the key turns, and the atmosphere at Don Morse Park is festive.