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