I was pretty slammed by work upon my return from tour so it has taken longer then I’d hoped to sort through the 1200+ photographs I took on tour. But I have finally gotten through them all and have sorted them into galleries by day with a comment for nearly all of them. I made a new web page to organize all of these and to work as an index to the related blog posting. So check em out if interested.
...now browsing by category
Today was the first day back on my bicycle after the tour. I knew I’d need a couple of days off after so much riding, but the knee was still giving me a bit of trouble so I extended it another two days. Well the knee is still a bit tender but it felt good to be back on the bicycle. Additionally the patched rear tire continued to hold, which is nice and means that whatever caused those punctures must have shaken out. So I felt I was due to post some impressions, lessons learned and thoughts from the tour.
First off I should explain about the posting’s I did here during the tour. Normally what I do on tour is I get into where I’m staying, generally a campsite, setup, make dinner then do some sightseeing until dark. At this point I’d get into the tent and write out the days events for an hour or so and then read till I wanted to sleep. Well I decided this tour that instead of keeping a paper journal I’d post directly to the blog using the iPhone. So those posts are pretty unfiltered and are meant to have details that I’d want to draw upon when I do a real journal. I keep my journals at Crazy Guy on a Bike but I make an attempt to make those more like a travelogue with a sense of narrative. You can read my last journal, to see how that differs from these posts. I did edit all of these posts upon my return to fix typos, misspellings and to add some links but no content was changed.
So why has it been three years since my last fully loaded, self supported tour? Well I had another tour planned at one point, but scrapped it on the day I was supposed to set out. I just wasn’t feeling it. I ended up spending 5 days at the Washington coast and I did a series of day trips. In fact I cycled almost everyday on that trip but it wasn’t what I consider a “tour”. You can see pictures (with comments) from that trip over on my cycle trips page. Apart from that I went to New York city two falls in a row for a music festival and I went to Ireland last summer in a non-cycling vacation. My job only offers me so much vacation time and it was hard to dedicate a big chunk of it to a tour. Luckily that has changed and I now have twice as much vacation time. I should be able to do a two week tour almost every year, and up to a month long tour if I find I want to spend all my time on a more epic event.
On to this tour in specific, thinking about training, planning, routes and so on. First off I decided to do it pretty late, not much more then a month before I set off. I had been reserving time off for two potential music related events that ended up not occurring. So I put in for five days off around the Labor Day weekend giving me ten days of riding time. I tried to pick up my riding during this time, but I never really did any “training”. Also I bought a bunch of new equipment as I intended to do this one a little differently then the last time. Most of this equipment arrived the day before I left and several key pieces did not arrive in time. Whenever I do a trip anywhere I compile a document of restaurants, places to stay, things to see, routes, references and so on. A bit of that can be seen in my Tour 2007- References post. For this tour, once I established the route I was going to take (I almost did a loop around the Cascade Mountains but was uncertain if I was physically up to that much climbing) I really didn’t expend much effort on mapping out exactly where to stay, what to do and so on. I had the Kirkendale and Spring book so I knew I could fall back on that if I had to. But mainly I just wanted to be out there and to make my way as it came.
So about that equipment I mentioned above, what was I doing differently? Well I decided that instead of using the four Arkel panniers I used last time I’d use a large saddlebag and front panniers. Why you ask, well mainly in that I wanted to carry less. This tour was much easier for me even though I arguably was in much worse physical shape. I’ve put on pounds since that last tour and as I said I did much less training. I do of course have three more years of cycling in my legs, but still I feel I was much less ready. So carrying less would be beneficial I thought and also force more interaction with the places I was going. The things I changed in order to carry less was I used a smaller tent, I carried less food and less clothing. I figured I’d eat out more, pick up dinner on a daily basis before camping and wash my clothes more often. This all worked out very well barring to the two nights I pretty much had no food for dinner.
How did things go with the various bits of kit you ask? Swimmingly for the most part. The Eureka Spitfire tent worked very well, much smaller then the REI Half Dome Plus 2 I used last time, but still big enough to sit up in and to feel comfortable in. Its not a free standing tent which was fine but I bent its lightweight stakes pretty much immediately. When you are using the rocks and sticks at hand to pound these in it’s hard to keep them in good shape. A minor complaint though. The Paladin Saddlebag I got from Rivendell was up to their usual standards of quality – tough, spacious and handsome in appearance. My Arkel GT-30 panniers again proved their worth, they are the best production panniers out there. I used the same cooking equipment as before, a Brasslight Turbo II alcohol stove and a Snow Peak Trek 900 titanium cook set and they performed the same as last time – excellently. My sleeping bag was again the Kelty Light Year CD 25 which did its job admirably and the Therm-A-Rest® Backpacker ¾ Length again helped preserve my body from the hard ground. For the gear that was reused on this tour, my comments I wrote about them before are still vaild.
The major change for this year was the bicycle, instead of my Novara Safari I used a Rivendell Atlantis. While it may seem like I had quite a few bicycle issues, these were almost all related to the poorly built rear wheel. The bicycle itself performed flawlessly and I have to say I was in much better condition the whole ride. Barring the knee issue, which was caused by hiking, not cycling, I pretty much felt fine even with day after day of riding. Sure my calves would be sore after a long ride and my ass was pretty tender most of the time but that’s pretty normal for me. On my 2004 tour by about day 3 I could barely swing my leg over the top tube. Not having this kind of pain I attribute directly to the improved fit of the bicycle. When I’ve gone back to the Safari when the Atlantis is in the shop I experience this immediately. Its a fine bicycle but mine just doesn’t really fit. 50 miles on the Safari feels like about 80 on the Atlantis, it is that dramatic. Another new feature was my Schmidt Hub which proved to be very useful on this tour. The ability to have a real light, one you can use to see unfamiliar roads proved to be of use on several occasions.
My other main bit of tech was cameras – I used my larger Canon S2 as the replacement for my shattered a70 had not arrived in time (ended up taking nearly 4 weeks). This camera is great if a bit bulky for out of the saddle shooting. I made do and we shall see how those came out. I’ve got 2GB worth to transfer over and need to free up some space first! I did take some pictures with the iPhone which I was able to email to Flickr during the tour. It certainly would have been possible to just use the iPhone camera, but I like to be able to zoom and such. I’ll put a few pictures up here when I start going through them, but keep an eye on my Tour 2007 set over at Flickr for the real goods.
Finally a few words on the overall experience. I find touring to be wonderful thing, seeing a slice of country at a sedate pace. It puts a lot of things into perspective stripping yourself down to the bare minimum like that. Ones focus completely changes, even with the increased connectivity I had on this tour. I love the Pacific Northwest and reveal in its beauties on pretty much a daily basis. But on a tour like this that becomes such a focus, the land you are moving through. Some of that is frightening or depressing but so much of it is glorious and revelatory. You learn a lot about a land and yourself when you are one tour and these are lessons I hope to keep with me. I thought about a lot of things on this tour and perhaps a few of them will make their way into these pages.
I’d always planned for this tour to be pretty opened ended, without guaranteed destinations or pre booked places to go. There are a lot of options for camping, motelling, hostels etc on the route and I’d figured I’d stop when I felt I was done. That being said I did do a bunch of research beforehand to discover just how flexible I could be. Once I was out in the National Forest I heavily used Kirkendale and Springs Cycling the Pacific Coast as a guide. Though after having done so, I’d question a lot of their decisions (more on that in another post). So since I did all this research, here is the information I gathered.
Port Townsend Bicycling Association:
Main Page: http://www.ptbikes.org/
Maps and routes: http://www.ptbikes.org/maps/
Port Townsend Guide:
Main Page: http://www.ptguide.com
Bicycling pages: http://www.ptguide.com/recreation/bicycle.html
Maps pages: http://www.ptguide.com/maps/index.html
Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce: http://www.portangeles.org/
Thor Town Hostel: http://www.thortown.com/
Olympic Peninsula Cycling
Bicycling the Olympic Peninsula:
Main Page: http://www.youra.com/2002/bike.html
Olympic Discovery Org: http://www.olympicdiscoverybike.com/
Olympic Discovery Trail http://www.olympicdiscoverytrail.com/
National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/olym/
Olympic National Park: http://www.nps.gov/archive/olym/home.htm
Forest Service: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/olympic/
Campground guide: http://www.forestcamping.com/dow/pacficnw/olyminfo.htm
Bounded Shores (My Last tour):
I woke as if I was still in the tent but I had slept reasonably well. This was the final day, the ride home and I did have a few concerns. First the knee, did my ministrations of the evening before help? What about the rear tire? And of course I’d kind of cobbled together this route and wasn’t really sure how long it was going to take. I wanted to have as much time as possible so I got up and moving pretty fast. The tire had held it turned out though had lost some air. I gave the knee another session of icing and elevation and then hit the showers. I popped a couple of Advil and hopped that would suffice. I got out of the motel a bit after 9am and did a quick circuit of Shelton and then headed out a back road to 101.
The knee felt all right so far and the back road began with a pretty long decent climb and I weathered that fine as well. The road then continued through a kind of outskirts/strip mall part of town then joined 101. This section of 101 was one of the nicer of the whole route- at least 9:30 on a Sunday morning. It went through woods, had a good shoulder and not much traffic. It also had a long descent and not too much ascending which was good. After one really long descent, maybe around a mile it flattened out a bit then I turned onto 106. I’d follow 106 for the next 18 miles it truly was one my favorite, if not my actual favorite bit of riding this trip.
The knee was doing fine, just the occasional twinge so I was able to fully enjoy this road. It began in the woods which then opened up to a valley with farmland on one side and a wooded hillside on the other. The road wound along assiduously avoiding that hillside and though it was mostly chipseal the shoulder often was not. The shoulder was pretty small and sometimes disappeared or was overrun with overhanging weeds but the traffic was very low. I forgot to mention but again it was totally clear and sunny and it was getting warm already. This turned out to be another saving grace of this route in that it wended in and out of the trees and I never got hot even as the temps headed up to 80 degrees (f). Eventually the farmland became salt marsh and then opened up to the coast. A short time on the coast and I was at the little town of Union.
I stopped at the Union Country Store for water and ended up finding that it was a deli and bakery as well. I got a fantastic cinnamon roll that was still warm and not over iced (a common failing in cinnamon rolls) and a cup of coffee. I sat in the window eating this and resting a bit. Shortly I set off and found the rear tire a bit low on air. Ah the proverbial slow leak. Not too shocking with a patched tire or it could have been the mysterious object that poked through the last two tubes. I pumped it back up and rode on. The road went up and down hugging the coast, but never to big of climbs or descents. The cool sea air and stunning vistas of Hood Canal made for this incredible ride. I’m sure it wouldn’t be as much fun 6 hours from now when endless traffic returns from the coast but in the morning with little traffic this was a fantastic ride. The tire wasn’t holding for long enough though so at Happy Hollow where I had stopped for some more Advil, I changed it to my other patched tired. I’ve gotten a lot of practice, it only took me about 10 minutes.
Only a few miles after Happy Hollow 106 ended and I joined with Highway 3 at Belfair. Now I had been skipping this highway, not being interest in fast traffic right in the beating sun. The route I had worked out was to take the old Belfair highway that paralleled 3 and was supposed to be much quieter and scenic. Well I never saw the turnoff and I wasn’t willing to risk the time to explore for it so I just ended up doing 3. It was the usual no fun: hot, dusty, fast traffic and so on. But the worst of this was miles of climbing right out of Belfair. It kept going up and then a bit of down then further up for maybe 5 miles of this route. The headwind at this time was fierce and as I’d crest this hills I’d take it full in the face. This sustained climbing was not good on the knee and it began to ache again. At last this climbing ended and there was a couple of miles of plateau (with headwind natch) but then a long, long descent maybe 2-3 miles. At the bottom of this I had to do a flyway bridge on the route to Bremerton.
This part of 3 was along the coast, very flat but packed with fast traffic. It wasn’t too long till the navy shipyard came into view with multiple ships and an aircraft carrier in the water at the yard. The route to the ferry wended through Bremerton and included two horrifically steep climbs that pretty much wrapped it up for the knee doing alright thankfully after these it was over I was at the ferry dock. No charge for eastbound walk ons so I parked the bicycle and when I got a massive fish burrito. This thing was unbelievably huge, but I just wolfed it down waiting for the ferry. It was almost 3 in the afternoon and I hadn’t been eating enough. Just after I finished it they signaled to board the bicycles and I rode onto the ferry.
As far as I can recall I have never been to Bremerton before and this was my first time on this ferry. It is the usual scenic Puget Sound ferry crossing the water with the various nooks and crannies of the Sound for scenery. Not to mention in this perfectly clear day, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker and soon the Seattle cityscape were all there for the eyes. I got a Widmir Hefeweizen and enjoyed the scenery and putting my leg up for a while. The ferry is about an hour to Seattle and I needed that rest. On landed in Seattle I had to ride through the city including about 8 blocks uphill to the I-90 trail. An added complication was the Seahawks game had recently ended (I heard them setting off fireworks at the stadium a few blocks south – guess they won) so there was throngs of pedestrians and cars jamming the routes to the freeways.
Finally I hit the I-90 trail and took this now familiar route. I was doing okay, the rest on the ferry seemed to have helped for the knee. I did the first bridge, and then the Mercer crossing, both of which have their hills and then I stopped as I felt the rear tire was a bit low. Well it wasn’t, which was nice, but after that point my knee was screaming out in pain. I nursed myself the next 8 or so miles home, stopped and walking now and again but mainly just manning my way there through the pain. I was never so happy as to see my place. Piled on my porch were three packages of items I’d bought for the tour but hadn’t arrived in time. Ah well, next tour. I washed my bicycle (it deserved it) took a shower (I deserved it) ran out for beer and ordered a pizza. And that’s it, tour 2007 over and done with.
Total miles today: 63
Total miles for the tour: 564.4
When I got out of the tent this morning it was absolutely clear and already warming up. Now the one thing I was particularly fearing this morning was to find my rear tire flat again. Alas these fears were realized and again the rim was resting right on the ground. Sigh. I put it off till I was done with breakfast packing and so on. Then I pulled the wheel found the small hole and patched it. The patch kit Rivendell dubs as “Einsteins” is truly a great patch kit. Anyway I then patched the previously flatted tire and it was punctured in the same spot. But no amount of searching could find anything in the tire. With that all taken care of I set off.
Now as you’ll recall I was off the route I’ve been using but there was another road that met up with the route in Aberdeen. I set out for his and damn of I’d didn’t turn out to be a nightmare. No shoulder, chipseal, hills and lots of traffic. The road eventually developed a shoulder and even lost the chipseal for a while, the the there was a series of heroic climbs and descents. Definitely the toughest so far. I feel I’ve neglected to mention this but during that hike a couple days back I hyper-extended left knee. It didn’t seem to be much of an issue at the time, but yesterdays riding aggravated it and it became quite painful. I had hoped a nights rest would help but it was clear now this was not going to be the case.
The twin issues of the roads and my knee are really the bulk of today’s experience. After I did those aforementioned climbs I descended into Hoquiam where ‘The Loggers Playday’ was in progress and I rode into the staging ground for the days parade. Well this was unexpected but charming. Small town America at its finest. I made my way through the parade and walked across this big bridge and was soon in Aberdeen. Now things deteriorate a bit as I wander all over Aberdeen looking for a bicycle shop- I wanted some real tubes. They all seemed gone or I couldn’t find them. Eventually I left in digest and rode over this horrific bridge. And it turned out to be the wrong bridge! Luckily I figured this out immediately and just turned around and did it again. The correct bridge was actually an east one though with a metal grate surface.
After all this I got lunch at Subway and then one last try for the tubes I went to Big 5 Sporting goods. Well cycling isn’t one of the “big 5” sports it appears but I did get at knee brace there. This would help, for a while anyway. From here the route is on Highway 12 for the next 30 miles. This is a full on two lanes in each direction super trafficked route. With the sun beating down on me and around 80 degrees (f) now the next couple of hours weren’t much fun. This route did have a couple of things going for it- a massive shoulder and it was pretty flat. Alas my knee got steadily worse even with the brace an favoring the right leg. Eventually the route breaks northward on a little two lane blacktop route thorough the woods and clearcuts.
This road had no shoulder (literally none for stretches) and chip seal but it was such a relief to be off the highway. In fact were it not for the knee I would have enjoyed thus part quite a bit, even with all that I enjoyed the views. Luckily it was more down then up and while it was trafficked it wasn’t overly heavy. I finally reached 101 around 6pm and had traveled about 70 miles. Well the route was for about 73 miles for the day but what with my different start point and sinking around in Aberdeen I still had 18 miles to go. Pedaling was pretty much torture at this point. I decided to stop in Shelton in eight miles or do and get a hotel so I could tend to the knee and stop riding for the day. So I did and I’m now at the Shelton Inn with the knee elevated and iced. I grabbed some eats from Safeway after a quick turn about town. My route tomorrow is sufficiently short that this isn’t a bad place to be. This is the last night out for the tour, tomorrow night I’ll be at home.
Total miles ridden on this day: 76.4
After I posted last nights update I went on to do some reading of Huck Finn. Not too far into it the bulb went on my flashlight, can’t think of when that’s happened before. So I ended up going to bed early and hence woke up a bit early. On getting up I discovered that my rear tire was completely flat- why I ask you? Well nothing for of but to put on my final spare and hope I make it to Aberdeen. So I change it and make breakfast and pack up and head out. I think I forgot to mention thus yesterday but there seemed to be TWO other south bound touring cyclists in my camp that night. One was a Dutch girl doing the whole coast from I believe Alaska, and the other I discovered as I passed him just outside of camp was the fellow from the Sequim campsite! I bid him good morning and continued on.
There was two aspects to today’s ride and the first was just like the day before- rolling hills, clearcuts though there seemed to be even more logging trucks. I made pretty good time through this section helped along by the bright sunny skies. For once the day had opened clear instead of the usual morning fog and clouds. There was no stores till Humptulips do I stopped there for water and batteries for my camera. Just past this store was Kirkpatrick Road, well as that’s my surname I was pleased to see that. Continuing on 101 there was one of those famous no shoulder roads then a long climb just past Humptulips. Another mile and a half I see another convenience store and I wonder if I should stop, services had been pretty few and far between so far. I was a bit reluctant as an ambulance had pulled in just ahead of me and was treating someone- kind of a downer. Checking my route guide I found I had missed my turn back at Humptilips.
I rode back and yes ended up on Kirkpatrick Road. This was some great country riding and it was a relief to get away from all the traffic of 101. But Kirkpatrick road had a log of chipseal and a tough long feisty climb at the start and if course no shoulder to speak of. After that climb it was miles on a plateau with only a bit of up and down now and again. But I wad approaching this coast again and reading due west so the headwind was fierce. As Kirkpatrick road ended the next road was even more into the wind and them it turned right into it and I found one of the toughest climbs of the tour so far. Ouch. But after that I was on the coast and the wind was with me and the road mostly flat.
The road was mostly shoulder-less and a lot of tourist traffic but in general it was easy riding. I passed trough several little coastal towns and then finally the largest burg in these parts Ocean Shores. Now the proscribed rout has you go up this peninsula and take a passenger ferry to another coastal town with the days campsite. There was some doubt as to whether this would still be running so I rode there first thing. It turned out tone about 4 miles south of Ocean Shores and was only running weekends. Well a bummer but not devastating as there was a campsite just north of Ocean Shores and a road back to my route that skirts the ferry passage. I did want to do the ferry, but it’ll keep.
The ride north directly against the wind was tough maybe the strongest headwind I’ve ever ridden in. Eventually I slogged my way back 6 miles and set up camp at Ocean City State Park. It looks like it will be a crowded site all told as people head out to camp in the last days of summer. I showered and unloaded the bicycle then rode into Ocean Shores for dinner. I’m at the Galway Bay Irish Pub and greatly enjoyed a seafood Pasty, potato soup and of course several beers. Next up some time on the beach.
I did a quick detour to a hardware store to get either a new flashlight or a bulb for my mini Maglight. Happily I was able to do both, by buying a new Maglight they fame with a spate bulb. The I headed to the beach with a quick stop at Murphy’s handmade ice creams where I had a chocolate mint ice cream – very good more creameries should make this flavor. I rode up to the beach and walled up it as the sun set. Spectacular, the red ball of the sun sank below the horizon you could watch it directly. After it set I rode up the beach a bit and excited by the hotels. The back to camp and to bed. Well I did some reading in Huck Finn but I as beat so I so retired. Or st least tried to, as I feared it was loud in camp with dogs going at it, people jawing and then after I had actually fallen asleep for a while a big group arrived and loudly setup. Eventually they settled in and just the sound of the surf was audible. I ended up sleeping quite well.
Miles ridden to campsite – 66.3
Additional miles in Ocean Shores – 6.8
Total miles today – 73
This was my one day of not cycling of the tour but due to the spread out nature of the various services I did end up riding a bit. I didn’t get up too much later then usual, but it probably was the best nights sleep yet – it was very quiet here away from the main road unlike the other campsites. I went through the usual morning routine then unloaded the bicycle but for laundry in the saddlebag and set out. First of was back up the two miles to Amanda Park to get cash. I also was able to get some HEET which was good as I was down to about my last use of the alcohol stove. I then parked myself in an Internet cafe for an hour of two, drank coffee, worked on the journal and let the phone recharge. Then it was off all the way to the other end of the road to the Rainforest Resort to use the showers and laundry.
It was a beautiful nearly completely clear day and u enjoyed thus weather during the wait for the laundry hours. But first I showered which I have to say I was overdue for. I washed my shoes on the shower and all my clothes. I had bought a cheap pair of shirts and had one clean shirt that I wore- everything else went in the laundry. During the waiting period I walked around the resort and down by the lake. I saw the worlds largest Sitka Spruce. There was a restaurant and lounge here but they didn’t open till 4pm which was a pity, I could have enjoyed a beer and lunch during this time. Instead I had a terrible bagel with cream cheese and a cranberry juice. I put the laundry in the drier then went and walked into the rain forest.
The woods along the road are permeated with trails that penetrate various distances into the rain forest. I was able to do a mile-mile and a half loop during thus time one that followed a babbling brook. It would have gone to a falls but as is quite common the trail was closed due damage from the 2006 November storm. My laundry done I bicycled back to camp and put things away- including the bicycle which I was done with for today.
I spent the rest of the afternoon hiking, starting with the trail from my campsite that follows the Willaby River. This joined up with a signed Nature Trail which I happily followed die a while. The forest here was filled with big trees, dripping with lichen and moss and the excited jubilation of the river. The trail then merged with a longer loop trail, one they was a bit too much for this afternoon. But I followed it till it joined with another out to a big cedar. The sign for thus had been smashed and a little further end I found a tree had flattened the trail marquee. On one sign was a number if dated notes from hikers describing the trail conditions. It sounded bad, trees down all over and only one group had made it to the tree. A river fording was the half way point and most notes said you could make it there. So I decided to make that my destination.
The trail started out nice even in its undamaged state you could see it was much less traveled. There was a long sawed in half tree you had to walk on and some plank walkway over marshland then untrimmed bushes to push thorough. But now and again would be sections where many trees had fallen and you had to clamor over them. Several points I would walk from tree trunk to tree trunk or up a long trunk to get back to the path. Near the end I ran into a fellow hiker who told me how lost the trail at the river crossing, which was okay as I wasn’t gonna go further. The final approach to the river was like a bomb, no a bombardment had devastated the forest. The river was stunning though, wild carving through rocks and falling trees, with a shallow bit that people forded it at. I lingered for a bit then retraced my steps back to camp. This was an adventure especially ad I was just in my cycling sandals and any injury would have been extra bad. But I really enjoyed it and wish I could spend more time in these forests. I’ll return for sure.
On these trips I always like to go out to one nice place for dinner. With my body and clothes washed and the Roosevelt Room at Lake Quinault Lodge at hand tonight was clearly the night. There turned out to be a classic Thunderbird competition/show at the lodge with a gods dozen and a half of these cars parked on the lawn out front. Only in America. Due to this they were busy but I was squeezed in. I had a salad, pan fried trout and a blackberry cobbler. All good but not as good as they were charging- being the only fine dining around pretty much allows for that. I hiked the mile back to camp and here we are.
A really nice day off the bicycle and it was definitely the better place for it. Also I think this was a better locale then the closed campground would have been. More services at hand and a lot more to do.
Miles ridden today- 9
The roar of the nearby ocean lulled to one of the better rests of late. When I woke I fell to thinking snout what to do today. I had thought to rest but there didn’t seem to be much to do here beyond the beach. While I live Washington beaches I do get out to them now and again. I wanted to spend a day in the rain forest and the route guide informed me that the next destination, Lake Quinault was a great place for that. I then saw it was only 33 miles to the lake so I decided I’d go for it.
But first breakfast at the Kalaloch Lodge. Again I ended up with French Toast and potatoes but these were crunchy toady and chopped new spuds. Cost here was $14 to compare to the $8.60 at Hungry Bear. Not any better either. The view was superb on a bluff overlooking the pounding surf and the gray misty clouds. After breakers I hit the local store for supplies then packed up. With a short riding day ahead I explored camp for and hour or so before leaving. I walked a good way up the ocean beach which was nearly deserted at this hour. I find the ocean clams me and fills me with a sense of peace. But always with a hint if melancholy. From the beach I did a short nature trail into the woods, with its many shades of green, dripping moss and some truly large trees. As it was in all the parks signs from the big November 2006 storm was everywhere with fallen trees and broken paths.
Just a bit after 11am I hit the road. 101 only follows the coast for about 4 miles then it curves inland. Those four miles were nice, gently rolling with glimpses if ocean. When the Quinault Indian Reservation is encountered to bends eastward and returns to rolling hills, second growth forest and clearcuts. Some steep-ish climbs around the midpoint and lots if chipseal in thus section. The burnt off most of the clouds and it warmed up. I was beat but I kept a decent enough pace that I made it to North Quinault Lake Road in less then 3 hours. I got supplies at the grocery there then headed down.
I do mean down, a goodly descent down to the lake. The shoulder-less road wended along the lake edge mostly deep in trees. I outpaced the sun here and returned yo the cool mists. As I passed July Creek Picnic area unease sat in. I was supposed to camp at July Creek Campground and I feared it had been closed. I cycled another two miles down the road to the ranger station (closed) and determined that I had passed the campground. I rode back up there and found signs of the old campground but it seemed not to have been repaired from the big storm. I knew there were campgrounds on the other side if the lake so I headed out. Of course now I had to climb out.
I manned my way back up and once back on 101 it was totally blue skies and warm. It wasn’t too far to South Lake Quinault Road which of course turned out to be pretty hilly itself. Two miles in I came on Willaby Campground and pulled in. It said there were no showers but there was at a laundromat(!) at another campsite. So I rode on. I came upon the Forest Service lodge and the little town area by it. Falls Creek campground is right there and would have Bern the ideal place to stay. Alas it was closed. And so was the next campground half a mile or so up the road. So I rode I to the town area and got a root beer float and a grilled cheese and a bit of groceries. Then back up to Willaby.
Of course all the sites overlooking the lake were taken, well one was free but was between kids and teens. So it was closer to the entrance got me but around a bend from the road. I set up and then took the mile long waterfront trail to the Falls Creek Campground. I found I was put of cash and I went back to the store, but they had no ATM. In fact the nearest one was two miles back up the road at Amanda Park. D’oh.
I walked back made veggie soup for dinner and retired. It was supposed to be a light day and it wasn’t too bad but all that backtracking added up.
Total miles: 49
Throughout the night it rained sometimes just the dripping of the trees but st other times pouring down. Whenever I’d wake in the night I’d hear rain. I began to worry about the next day, it was a decent distance and riding in the rain like that us taxing and can be dangerous. Yet this wasn’t a great place to stay what with the store closed and not much around. Luckily when I finally got up if had stopped raining and there was only drops falling from the trees. In fact by the time I was done with breakfast there was patches of blue sky and sun!
I did a bit of exploring before I set off and the place had changed with some sun. The lake was brilliant blues and turquoise and crystal clear- a glacier fed lake. The trees look no greener anywhere this side of Ireland and they sparkled in the sun. Pleased with thus change of events I headed off. Now the route today really isn’t much to speak of for the bulk of it. All on 101 through wooded rolling hills with clear cuts the only break. The real story for today was the weather.
As I rode away from camp it seemed I was leaving the sun behind. It became increasingly cloudy and some of these clouds were pretty threatening. The road went up and down and the clouds moved brusquely in the wind. Ah yes I don’t think I’ve mentioned the wind yet. There has been a westward blowing wind pretty much the entirety of my ride on the peninsula. This would continue and only get stronger as I neared the coast. Soon drops of rain began to fall, which became a drizzle and as it was nearly a light rain I spotted the Hungry Bear Cafe.
Well I was a hungry bear, or something and I needed more coffee for sure. I’d been hankering for pancakes and a classic greasy spoon such as this, with its breakfast served all day would be sure to oblige. I got coffee right off but was informed they were out of pancake batter! The busy weekend she apologized. No matter French toast and hash browns sounded just as good. I snuck some power for the iPhone as I was waiting (still no real connection) and watched the rain. The food arrived and was hot off the griddle and excellent. I pretty much wolfed it down. I ate half the toast then dump the hash browns in so they could mix up a bit and as Huck says “things go better”. By the time I was done the rain was as well, so off I went full and mostly dry.
Now as I said before the real story of this day was the weather. Well from about this point on I was always seeing these patches of blue sky and then these big bock clouds. The sky would clear nest me then the road turn toward the dark sky. Of course it seemed that every time I hit a hill the sun would be out and heating me right up and die every descent the clouds and must would be there to make it extra cool. This pattern kept up all day but from the Hungry Bear to Forks it was mostly clouds and the occasional drop or two.
Forks is another of these typical little old logging towns. Kept going by the remaining logging and tourism they are always an odd mix of the two. I’d planned for lunch in Forks but was still full so I only stopped long enough to shop and visit the forest service center for some maps. The road continues as described out of Forks but the super huge shoulder disappears and the road quality goes down. There was a big descent not far out of town and the shoulder was completely deteriorated in parts. Also chip seal began to put in an appearance, and not a welcome one.
I was really beginning to feel the effects of five days riding on this section, the constant headwind, the bad road, the rolling hills, all were taking there toll. I decided I’d make mt rest day at the next campsite. The road seemed to dip in to the national now and again the most significant being at the Hoh Rain forest, a place I’d like to spend some time at in the future, but for today ride past. Not too far from the Hoh turnoff I finally was approaching the coast and man did the headwind pick up. Luckily it was flatter for thus directly west bit but it was a real slog. At last the road turned south and I caught a glimpse of the ocean.
There was five miles on the coast to the campground and they were the hilliest of the day. Insult to injury indeed. The weather had cleared up finally but periodically chill mists would envelope everything and it’d be like the cold and rain was upon me again. It wasn’t though and when I got to the Kalaloch Campground it was all blue skies. Enough so they after setting up and eating dinner I was treated to a brilliant sunset.
Distance ridden: 65.8 miles
There was no service with AT&T at the Fairholm campground last night so I wasn’t able to complete my daily dispatch. No matter, but worth mentioning for those following along at home. Limited power for tonight so I’ll keep this short and sweet.
I awoke in the Sequim campground and went through the routine of packing while the water boiled for coffee and oatmeal. My fellow touron was still in his tent which must have been about 12 hours in there. By the time I was fully packed, dishes done etc he was out having a smoke! I made my way up the hill from the campground to 101 and headed for Sequim with thoughts of pancakes. I explored a forthcoming segment of the Olympic Discovery Trail but it dead ended forcing backtracking. As I descended into town now on the actual trail I saw my former camp mate riding the 101 along the trail. I waved and said hi as I passed and he returned my greeting- the only words we had spoken.
The cafe I had been to before here wasn’t open Mondays or Tuesdays so I assembled a passable breakfast from several coffee ships. Buzz has good brew, FYI. I soon left town and now it was the Olympic Discovery Trail (henceforth ODT) all the way to Port Angeles. I’ve ridden thus trail the other direction and it’s a fun trail- mixed terrain though mostly paved, some steep bits where you go into river valleys where the trestles haven’t been rebuilt, some bits on roads and one bit at the end that skirts around a gas storage facility. At the end the trail joins the Port Angeles waterfront trail and ends right at the docks.
It was lunchtime, I was right on my schedule: roughly 30 miles in each segment. I wanted to find a brewpub and get Fish ‘n Chips and I did find a brewpub. No food but they had (the winter beer) Pyramid Snowcap on tap so I had to have one. From there back to the waterfront where I got my fish n’ chips. I saw several other tourons at the port but coming I’d going who can say? After my grub it was time foe the second leg 35 miles to the Fairholm Campground.
The weather had began gray but it was mostly sunny now and warm. The stiff climb out of Port Angeles up a steep shoulder-less well used route was not improved by thus show of sun. The route back to 101 goes through son nice residential PA and then some country riding but damn if it doesn’t have some climbs, especially the last one to the highway. From here I’d is 101 riding with the usual- traffic, rolling hills, trees and the occasional mountain view. The weather though began to get threatening and then it began to mist. Then drizzle. Finally it was raining good. I stopped to get water and pulled on my rain jacket but felt I’d wasn’t hard enough yet for the pants. That would change just a few miles up the road.
One of the most notorious parts of this route us the ten mile segment around Lake Crescent. The shoulder disappears but the traffic does not. It was at the sign where you push a button to warn drivers that cyclists are on the road that I pulled on my rain pants. I hit the button and began thus dangerous route in what was now pouring rain. It begins with a long descent which soaked me thoroughly. Then it twists and turns goes up and down hugging the contours of the lake. The shoulder us small but not entirely gone which was nice. Also while there was a steady stream of traffic going back not nearly as much was fount my way. That was fortunate and I had few points where I held up any cars. A grueling ten miles which I rode flat out and it rained the whole way. I was quite relieved to see the end if the lake and the campground.
I set up in the rain then paid and went to the store to get something for dinner. The store was in process of closing for the season and had nearly packed everything up. I got water and an apple and went back and made ramen. This was my emergency supply I had laid in just today after the oatmeal for dinner the night before. Good thing. The hot ramen and a cup of hot tea earned me up good. I then crawled into my tent arranged my wet things and spent the evening reading Huckleberry Finn and listen to the fairly raucous group a few sites away. They didn’t let some rain spoil the good time.
Today miliage: 57.3