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Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017
Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Onward into the woods

NFE in Olympic National Forest

out of the dense green canopy
the sound of a lively stream

I awoke to a sunny and clear day in the woods outside of Port Townsend.  On this day I planned to ride all the way to Dosewallips Campground in Olympic National Park but I also wanted to spend a little bit of time in Port Townsend. So I quickly packed up and rode down the Olympic Discovery Trail, through the marina and into downtown to my favorite PT coffee house: Better Living Through Coffee. There I enjoyed sumatra pour-over and broke my fast.  I had a few more errands I wanted to take care of and so I ended up staying in PT through lunch. It was nearly 1pm by the time I finally rode out of town.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Pirate Ship in Drydock

Clearly a pirate ship here in dry dock

I had about fifty miles to do this day, but this included a pretty long climb into the State Park and about 16 miles on trails, so I felt I was leaving pretty late.  It was also all backtracking for the first 15 miles (and then on pretty familiar roads) so I mostly just pedaled through it.  I couldn’t resist a quick stop at Finn River Cidery once I was back on Center Rd. I’ve ridden past them many a time but I’ve always been pushing through to PT and never stopped.  I figured on this day, with long summer nights and no riding planned for the next day, though I could spare the time.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Finn River view down Beaver Valley

The view from Finn River looking down Beaver Valley

I’m glad I stopped — good cider and a lovely locale with long views up Beaver Valley. But after leaving I knew I had it maintain a steady pace to get where I was going by nightfall.  The wind was with me as I rode down Beaver Valley and through the hillier section the lies beyond the intersection with 105.  There is a good climb up into hills above Quilcene followed by a long descent to the intersection with Hwy 101.  I stopped in Quilcene at the market there where I bought a Blackberry Ice Cream cone where they must have put near a pint of ice cream on it.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - NFE at sea

NFE in Quilcene

The next stage was a stretch on Hwy 101 from Quilcene to Brinnon.  This includes crossing Walker Pass, which at 741′ barely qualifies as a pass climb, but it is a gap between Mount Walker and you do climb up for most of the five miles between it and Quilcene.  Once you descend there is a stretch along the coast a few ups and downs and then you come onto Brinnon.  Right before you cross the Doeswallips River is the turnoff to Dosewallips River Road, which begins my journey into the National Park.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Dosewallips River Valley

Dosewallips River Valley

It was stretching into late evening now and I was hoping that I could make this last 16 or so miles in relatively short order.  At first the road was paved and it climbed steeply nearly immediately. I was following the Dosewallips River, which was pretty active with sections of rapids, but also these beautiful coves and pools.  There were houses and then farms and what kind of appeared to be a cult compound before the paved road ended and became gravel.  I was in the National Forest now and after a mile or two the road ended at the washout.  There were a number of cars parked here for those hiking in to the campground, day hikers and dog walkers.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Dosewallips River road after a car has passed

Dosewallips River road after a car has passed

I walked the bicycle through this first washout and then it was just like the gravel road had continued on. The trees were a little closer and the road was less washboarded and of course there were no cars. So pretty nice.  Then I came to the second washout.  This one was as if an entire hillside had washed down into the Dosewallips River.  There was a goat path on it, clinging to loose rock on the hillside and also a path that steeply wound above it.  I park my bicycle and explored along the hillside route first.  That clearly became impossible to push  bicycle through so I returned and checked out the path above.  It had a series of switchbacks and was pretty steep but seemed passable.  So I pushed my bicycle up which I have to say was pretty difficult. At the top it was like I was on a hiking trail for a spell until it descended in a similarly steep set of switchbacks.  Then I was back on the gravel road.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Dosewallips Trail 2

Dosewallips Trail

Past the second washout the trail narrow and was a lot more overgrown. This was really great riding, as it was fairly flat, empty and yet deep in the woods near a rushing river.  There were several more rocky washouts, but these were small and I just had to dismount and pick my way over them.  But I was pretty tired and hungry now and ready to reach the campground.  When I came to the Elkhorn Campground, the first of two, I was really tempted to stop.  I gone a long way, it was right on the river and looked nice.  But since I planned to spend the next day exploring the area I knew that the Dosewallips Campground would be better and it was my destination after all. So I pressed on.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Further up Dosewallips Falls

Dosewallips Falls

The trail immediately began to climb at this point and was much closer to single track.  Apart from the multiple washouts and a couple of bridge crossings, it pretty much was uphill the rest of the way.  I could ride most of this, but I was pretty hard work.  There were numerous washouts, again usually of the big rocky types.  I passed a couple of hikers during this stretch, one couple commented they had passed me riding on the road a ways back. “I managed to catch up!”, I quipped.  The highlight of this stretch was Doswallips Falls, which was a rock falls with a short free fall section. The road alongside was super steep and there was an old sign informing vehicles that they shouldn’t stop on this section.  Apart from all the washouts it was pretty hard to imagine cars ever driving this road.  I had to push the bicycle up this section and I was pretty close to bonking. It was after 8pm and I was tired and hungry.  Happily it wasn’t too much further from the top of the falls and it was a flatter stretch with only a couple more washouts.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Dosewallips River Valley walls at sunset

Sun sets behind the valley walls

Finally I arrived at the campground which probably half a dozen of the sites — all along the river — were occupied. I pretty quickly settled into the last really viable site at the north edge of the park. The river was an all encompassing presence here and looking up above the trees, the high valley walls were golden with the magic hour light. I filtered water, cooked dinner and setup.  As I was about done for the day one of the hikers I passed on my way in stopped by and told me he had forgotten a key part of his water filter.  I was using my new gravity filter that I bought after my stint on the Sierra-Cascades where I found I needed to filter a lot of water so I was able to filter a gallon or so of water for him in short order.  It was fully dark now, so after he departed water bags in head I retired to the tent and a well earned nights sleep.

Photos from this day: Olympic Mountain Dreams day 2
All photos from this tour: Olympic Mountain Dreams

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1

Sunday, August 27th, 2017
Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - NFE on the stoop

NFE on the Stoop: Ready to Ride

a blue dragonfly
flies backwards down the path

When a retreat that I was going to take part in fell through I suddenly found myself with five free days in mid July. Within a couple of days I worked out a trip I wanted to take that would maximally use those days and take me to a place I hadn’t been to before. I had found out that a road had washed out on the eastern side of Olympic National Park cutting off two campgrounds, but that you take your bicycle on the old road.  This was technically within a days ride, but would, I thought, be a pretty long hard day. I planned to ride to Dosewallips State Park, on hwy 101 which is around 20 miles from Dosewallips Campground, in the Olympic National Park.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - Ferry terminal to BI

Ferry to Bainbridge Island coming in

My touring setup is pretty much set in stone these days, all kept in one bag in a closet. I can pull it out and be pretty much ready to tour within a couple of hours.  Buying and packing some food and selecting appropriate clothing is about the only variables not preset.  Of course I do have several options depending on length or type of tour and for this one, where I’d be camping and then day hiking in the woods, I adjusted things accordingly.  I swapped out my Rando bag for my basket and put on my old Baggins Hobo bag for the rear facing pockets.  This gave me enough space for the supplies needed for time in the woods.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - In which we leave the city behind

In which we leave the city behind

I made it to the ferry terminal by 10am which is pretty good time for the first day of one of my tours.  But I had just missed a boat and when the next one came in there was a crew change and the hauling off of a dead motorcycle.  When we finally departed it was about a quarter to eleven.  I was in the cafe buying a coffee when the woman next to me in line asked: “Is this the bar?” It’s happy hour somewhere… At one point during the crossing the boat slowed and the engines stopped. There was an announcement over the PA for a crew member to come to ‘Fan Room 2’.  Was this going to one of those trips?

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - Coming up on Bainbridge

Crossing the Puget Sound

As I made the crossing I contemplated my preparations and realized I had neglected to bring my headlamp.  That a bit of food I still needed sent me to the little town of Winslow on Bainbridge Island where I also was able to get lunch.  I found my forgotten supplies and proceeded to ride across the Island a bit after noon.  Now his route is one I’ve done several times: Bainbridge to the mainland via Hood Canal.  There are several options and several highways but of course the goal is to stay on backroads.  However right after crossing Agate Pass off of Bainbridge I failed to take a turn and thinking Google Maps had just put me on a different crossing of the Kitsap Peninsula I continued on the hwy.  As I came up on Pouslbo I knew I was off route but I also knew this busy road would get me where I was going. I peeked at Maps on my phone and found an alternative backroad option that I didn’t have to backtrack to.  This road, Big Valley Road, turned out to be just top drawer country riding.  Much flatter then the normal cross Kitsap route I’ve taken, but equally low traffic and scenic.  Nice.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - Waiting on the bridge

Waiting on the Hood Canal Drawbridge

Big Valley Road intersected with Hwy 3 at Four Corners and from there it wasn’t too much further to Hood Canal Bridge. As I climbed up the last hill before I’d descend to the bridge, cars were backed up — the bridge must be open.  I was able to easily wend my way down to the bridge and along the nice shoulder all the way to the barriers.  The drawbridge was indeed up, but for no discernible reason.  There are long views both north and south of the bridge and there was no sign of any boats. Even when submarines come through here — which is often — there are jamming boats along with them.  So perhaps just some sort of test or safety check.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - Clouds over the Canal

Dark clouds down south

There was a stiff wind blowing south, which happily was the direction I was going. But things were dark and forbidding that way whereas the wind was blowing the clouds away from the north.  Once the bridge finally opened I continued west, mainly on Hwy 104 but taking side roads when I could.  Once you climb up from Hood Canal to the north is Beaver Valley which I’ve ridden many time to and fro Port Townsend.  All the sudden I felt a pang of desire to go to Port Townsend. It was almost cold now under dark clouds and there was even the slightest of sprinkles.  As I crossed Center Road which goes north up Beaver Valley to Chimicum and then PT and South to Quilcene where it intersects with Hwy 101 I saw a handprinted mural that read 24 miles to Brinnon. Brinnon was just outside of Doswallips State Park, my destination.  PT on the other hand was 14 miles to the north up Beaver Valley.  To the south was Walker Pass (not an epic pass, but a couple mile climb) and dark menacing clouds.  To the north it was blue skies, easy valley riding and PT with restaurants and pubs.  I went north.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - Mount Rainier looms beyond Marrowstone Island

Mount Rainier looms beyond Marrowstone Island

There are three roads that run down Beaver Valley: one on the west wall, one down the center and one at the foot of the east wall.  I was on the middle way, Center Rd. which is the easiest of the three (the west wall is the hilliest fwiw) and the valley protected me from that northerly wind. So I made good time to Chimicum and then to Fort Townsend State Park. This park sits about 5 miles south from PT proper and it is a favorite of mine to camp at. Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - At the PourhouseThe Hiker/Biker site is a bit away from the rest of the campground and is basically a clearing in the woods. Of the half-dozen plus times I’ve camped there only once has there been another touron there.  Once!  It is about a mile from the Olympic Discovery Trail so you can easily ride into PT which after setting up I did. I had dinner at a very busy (and just okay) Thai joint and then retired to the Pourhouse for an after dinner pint.

As I rode back to the campground, the sun had set and a light purple glow lit up the Cascade mountains far to the east.  A truly lovely evening.  It was dark in my wooded campsite when I arrived, but I only had to lock up my bicycle and retire to my tent for the evening.  I was happy to be here.

Photos from this day: Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1
All photos from this tour: Olympic Mountain Dreams

Late May Two-Nighter

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Late May Two-Nigher day 3 - The ur-Washington photo

Late Spring on the Sound

We had a particularly wet winter and early spring here in the Pacific Northwest (record setting rain even) but things have really turned around. April was above average temperatures and we’ve had many days in the 70s (f) and even a few low 80s (f). There was a string of weeks where it would be really nice mid-week and then rain on the weekend.  All of this has led to my taking my first bicycle camping outing at the very end of May.
Late May Two-Nigher day 1 - Atlantis at 1616

Atlantis at 1616

My touring plans for 2014 have shifted from a doing a series of two-three day trips to far more ambitious plans (more on that forthcoming) but the situation in the above ‘graph meant that my riding has been commuting with the occasional rec ride.  I’ve been really picking up the rec riding of late and I wanted to get in a few overnighters for both the riding and to test out some changes to the kit.  So with predictions of days (five days it appears now) of warm sunny weather I decided to update a planned overnighter to South Whidbey State Park to a two-nighter trip around the norther Puget Sound.  With thoughts of future touring in mind I also took more or less my entire planned setup, minus only some extra clothes I’d take for more sustained touring.
Late May Two-Nigher day 1 - Everett

Everett in the distance

Day 1: Seattle to South Whidbey State Park
48.1 miles ridden today
Late May Two-Nigher day 1 - Interurban SignageAs is always the case I left a bit later than I’d hoped and I had to make a couple of stops on the way (for lunch and at the co-op for supplies). I left my apartment a bit after noon and left the store in Fremont (about 5 miles away) around 2pm.  I was on the way, taking a pretty familiar route to the ferry at Mukilteo.  I rode on the Interurban Trail for a good bit of the way and then at Lynnwood I left the Interurban and crossed the 99 and rode arterials and suburban roads until it intersected with the Mukilteo Speedway and the road down to the ferry Terminal.  I had arrived just as the ferry was unloading so it was a pretty short spell before I was on the ferry and we were heading to Whidbey Island.
I’ve ridden this ferry countless times – I grew up on Whidbey Island – and it is always enjoyable. It’s pretty short, around fifteen minutes, but it nicely breaks up the ride.  On a nice day the views are spectacular and it’s bracing to be out on the deck.  Soon enough I arrived at the Clinton Terminal on Whidbey Island and rode off the ferry after all the cars.  There is a long hill up from the terminal, fairly steep at first and then it flattens out a bit and is a long steady climb for over a mile.  Then it is rolling hills on Hwy 525. At this end of the Island there are nice scenic roads that route you away from the 525 but they almost always go way out and then back to the highway and can feature steep climbs. So for about 8 miles I stuck with the highway.  Google Maps route me off for one section that I had actually never ridden before. This was a nice scenic route past a wildlife sanctuary and brought one into the tiny burg of Freeland from the backside.

Late May Two-Nigher day 1 - Deep gloaming at S. Whidbey State Park

Deep gloaming at South Whidbey State Park

From Freeland I returned to the 525 but after less than 1/2 a mile I was on Smuggler’s Cove road, taking heavily wooded backroads to South Whidbey State Park. There’s some serious rolling hills on this route and I was definitely feeling it, as I’d ridden pretty much continuously from Fremont to this point with only the ferry trip as a decent break.  But it was good I did so as I arrived at camp just after 7pm. The Hiker/Biker sites are right by the entrance and I quickly picked my preferred site (I was the only one there) and setup and cooked dinner. Then I went and paid up and walked around the camp. The h/b sites are on a bluff and I could see there was a fantastic sunset but there wasn’t a really clear view and it was a steep trail down to the beach.  So I enjoyed the obstructed view and after it was pretty deep twilight I retired to my tent for the night.

Late May Two-Nigher day 2 - Commerce

Blue skies, clouds hovering above the Olympics and commerce

Day 2: South Whidbey State Park to Old Fort Townsend State Park
30.2 miles ridden today
78.4 miles ridden to date
I awoke to a cacophony of twittering birds including the knocking of a woodpecker.  Said woodpecker kept it up for a good hour or so at one point working a fallen log on the edge of my campground.  It’s pretty amazing how just away from the towns, in these relatively small reserves there is just so much more wildlife.  I cooked breakfast and then headed down to the beach.  It was shaping up to be a marvelous day. The winds I’d rode against yesterday had yet to arise and with it already clear it looked to be even warmer.  This was my short day so I lingered at the beach, reveling in the view of the distant peninsula with the Olympic Mountain range. There were numerous families with their kids already down at the beach and more came down as I hike the half mile trail up from the beach. Back in camp I packed up in short order and hit the road around 11:30.
Late May Two-Nigher day 2 - Looking back from the ferry

Looking back from the ferry

It was just over 12 miles to the ferry dock with a bit on 525 and 20 and a bit on side roads.  I arrived there about 20 minutes before the ferry and I got a coffee and wander around the beaches.  Soon enough the ferry had arrived and I was on my way.  This is a longer trip than my previous ferry ride, around half an hour with of course time for the loading and unloaded.  I was in Port Townsend by 1:45 and I headed straight to Waterfront Pizza where I got two large slices of pizza. I wandered around town, mostly just taking in the sights but I did stop at one of it’s small bookstores.  After a bit I decided to ride up to Fort Townsend State Park where I’d camp for the night.  This campground I feel is ideal if one wishes to mainly hang out in the southern parts of PT (where the brewery and best alehouses are) as you can just ride the PNW Trail most the way to the ‘ground.
Late May Two-Nigher day 2 - Towering above Port Townsend

Classic architecture towering above Port Townsend

I setup my camp there and rested for a bit and then headed back into town. I went to the Pourhouse, an alehouse near the port that specializes in craft beers.  I spent and enjoyable evening there tasting several fine beverages and getting a bottle to go as I headed back to camp.  Back in camp I cooked dinner, enjoyed my takeaway beer, cleaned up in near darkness and then hit the tent.  All in all a relaxed and enjoyable day.
Late May Two-Nigher day 2 - At the Pourhouse

At the Pourhouse

Day 3: Old Fort Townsend State Park to Seattle
45.7 miles ridden today
124 miles ridden total
I once again woke to chattering birds and the knocking of a woodpecker (though I never saw this one).  This day dawned overcast and cool, especially among the trees of my campground. I made a hearty breakfast of coffee and oat bran with walnuts and dried cranberries, trying to use up my supplies.  I packed everything up and left the campground around 11am.
Late May Two-Nigher day 3 - Campground at Old Fort Townsend

Campground at Old Fort Townsend

It was sunny and mostly clear now, with streaks of clouds across the sky. The route began on hwy 20 and continued onto why 19 as 20 veered westward.  At the tiny town of Chimicum 19 becomes Beaver Valley road and follows the valley all the way to it’s end. I’ve ridden both sides of this valley on different tours and it is always a pleasant and scenic ride. Though for a sunday afternoon there seemed to be more traffic than I’d have expected.
Late May Two-Nigher day 3 - Atlantis above the low tide

Atlantis above the low tide

The valley ended at a T intersection at hwy 104. As I turned left onto the highway an RV was also making the turn and as it did it’s side door swung open dumping a bunch of stuff right into my path. I stopped before hitting an empty plastic container and watched as the RV kept going a bit and then pulled over to the side. There was something protruding out of the open door that looked like a hobby horse. I had to ride into the highway to ride around the RV as they completely blocked the shoulder.  The route was on 104 for a bit and then a nice section on a frontage road that was right on Hood Canal.  I stopped to take the above picture and eat an apple on a bluff above the tideland.  There was a super killer hill off this side road back onto 104.
Late May Two-Nigher day 3 - Sailboats in the harbor

Sailboats in the harbor

The road came out right above the Hood Canal Bridge which last time I rode it, it wasn’t much fun. The drawbridge bits were steal grating with no shoulder and plenty of traffic. But it has been improved since then and is now totally no big deal. There is a shoulder the entire way and the grated bits have a shoulder as well with decking on it.  I climbed up from the bridge and about a mile from there was Port Gamble where I stopped for lunch. The last time I was here – my first tour! – there was a medieval fair at Port Gamble and it is here this time as well. If it is a “first weekend in June” sort of thing then this would make sense as it was around then of my first tour.
Late May Two-Nigher day 3 - Ferry coming in

Ferry coming in

The route from Port Gamble was on back roads that were incredibly hilly. For narrow winding roads there was more traffic than I’d have thought, but not constant or anything. The road was through woods and farmland was winding up or down almost all the time.  At one point I was passed by a couple of roadies as I was climbing a hill while coming down the other side a man was walking two horses as cars came at just this time from both directions.  Eventually I was down with the backroads and at the Suquamish Reservation I crossed another bridge onto Bainbridge Island. I’ve of course ridden Bainbridge many times, usually the scenic loop along the water. This time though I just stuck to the highway and rode straight across the island to the ferry terminal.  This was an easy ride on long rolling hills with big wide shoulders. Plenty of traffic of course, but it was only about 8 miles before I was to the ferry terminal.
Late May Two-Nigher day 3 - Seattle Cityscape

Seattle Cityscape

As I waited for the boat more and more cyclists arrived to take the ferry back to Seattle. It was a beautiful day, sunny and pretty hot after the morning clouds. So no surprise that a lot of cyclists, roadies for the most part, took the ferry over to Bainbridge for some sunday cycling.  The ferry arrived after 20 minutes or so and I mostly just relaxed on the boat until we docked at downtown Seattle. From there it was a ride on the waterfront, through Pioneer Square, up to the International District and back to my apartment. I arrived home around 6:30 in the hot evening – another successful and enjoyable jaunt.
Check out all of my photos from this trip: Late May Two-Nighter on Flickr.

Autumn ride around the sound

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
An autumn ride around the Sound - The Mountain
The Mountain as seen from Fay Bainbridge State Park

After an unseasonable cool and rainy September the first weekend in October was one of those perfect PNW Autumn days. I’d recently gotten a new camera (a Nikon 1 J2 for you trainspotters out there) and I went out for rides on both Saturday and Sunday with picture taking as a goal but taking advantage of the beautiful weather as my primary motivation.  I’ve been wanting a bit more of a “prosumer” camera for a while with a goal of note only being able to take better photos but being somewhat forced into greater deliberation. That is I’ve done a lot of shooting “from the saddle” and I’d like to think I have a certain proficiency at it. While this allows one to easily document one’s travels it tends to generate a lot of photos and frankly I think this style of documentation just isn’t all that interesting. I’ve moved away from this style of photos in the last couple of years but I felt that having a camera where I’d have to get off the bicycle and spend time on each photo would further facilitate this.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Ferris Wheel on the Seattle Waterfront
Seattle Waterfront

I initially planned to ride down to the Seattle Waterfront and meander along Elliot Bay, perhaps into Magnolia and along the Ship Canal. But as I rode down (heavily under construction) Jackson Street and then up Alaskan Way I decided instead I’d ride around Bainbridge Island.  I turned off at the Ferry Terminal and caught the ferry ten minutes later – good timing!

An autumn ride around the Sound - Seattle from the Needle to the Smith Tower
Seattle from Space Needle to Smith Tower

It was a fantastic day out on the waters and as Seattle receded in the distance our ferry was amidst countless sailboats and other recreational watercraft.  Mount Rainer, of which I would take many pictures throughout this day, was commanding to the Southeast, particularly towering above the West Seattle Bridge. Arriving at Bainbridge Island, I quickly disembarked (always nice that bicycles are first on first off) and riding into town I quickly got onto the Chilly Hilly route which circumnavigates the island anti-clockwise.  But as I was riding I began to think that I’ve done this loop plenty of times and it would actually be more fun to strike out on a more unfamiliar routes.  I began to think that I could pretty easy cross the bridge to the mainland and ride up to Kingston and take the ferry across to Edmonds and then make my way back to Seattle.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Kite
Good kite flying weather

So I pulled over at a little store and sitting on their porch consulted Google Maps and worked out a route.  It turned out to be only 15-16 miles to Kingston from here, which seemed like a perfectly reasonable Sunday afternoon ride.  That settled I continued on to Fay Bainbridge State Park where I sat on the beach, ate a sandwich and watched the sailboats, kites and beachcombers. I didn’t linger too long as there was riding to done, but it was a pleasent break on the beach.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Sailing around Bainbridge
Sailing around Bainbridge

From Fay Bainbridge I was able to stay on nice, country roads usually deep in the woods with occasional open fields of glimpses of the water, but eventually I had to take Hwy 305 off the island.  Not a bad road as hwy’s go – big shoulder and at least on a sunday afternoon, not heavily trafficked. It crosses a nice bridge over Agate Pass after which I took an immediate right and headed north. This was a pretty busy road but again with a good shoulder and among the trees.  This road brought me to Suquamish which was right on the water. I made brief stop here primarily to take pictures and consult the map, before hitting the road again.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Totem Pole
Totem Pole in Suquamish

From here the roads became particularly fine riding. Mostly in the woods a bit away from the coast, it was just ideal riding. Winding roads, a bit of up and down, brilliant colored trees amidst the evergreens all lit by the westering sun. I left the Google Maps route , following a red Dan Henry, at Indianola Road which took me a bit in the opposite direction of Kingston for a spell but was more scenic. Once again it was just perfect riding, especially once I turned onto South Kingston Road where the climbing I’d been doing turned to descending. This route descended down Appletree Cove on twisty roads through the trees. Very nice! After Appletree Cove, there was a slight climb and I turned on West Kingston road which heads straight to the ferry terminal.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Kingston
Autumn in Kingston

However I didn’t ride straight to the ferry – it being 5pm I felt a stop at the Front Street Ale house was in order. I checked on the ferry schedule and resolved to catch the 6:10 sailing and thus spent a nice hour drinking a couple of beers and eating a couple of appetizers. Fully sated I left the pub a bit before 6 and pretty much rode right onto the ferry just before the cars began loading. It was again a beautiful trip with the sun setting behind the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier, Seattle and Edmonds all glowing in magic hour light.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Mt. Rainier in the setting sun
Mount Rainier in the gloaming

It was deep twilight as I arrived in Edmonds and I had a good 20 miles or so to get home. I’d jotted down a Google Maps route from Edmonds to the Interurban Trail while on the ferry and in the dwindling light I set out on it. There was a pretty stiff headwind now and it was definitely chillier – I wish I’d brought some socks along! Google kept me mostly on the signed bicycle route and by the time I reached Shoreline I pretty much knew my way home. I took the Interurban trail – which has a nice new cycle track along Bitter lake – and then the signed Interurban route to Fremont. From there it was a short jog on the Burke Gillman Trail to the University district and then my commute route home.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Setting sun
Sun setting behind the Olympic Mountains

I made it home by 8:45 after having ridden about 48 miles all told. It was a great Sunday afternoon ride with two ferry trips and a nice loop around a good chunk of the Puget Sound.

Check out more photos in my Flickr photoset of this ride: An autumn ride around the Sound

Bainbridge Island Ride

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Bainbridge Island - 18
The weather had really turned nice over the Fourth of July weekend, with Saturday predicted to be the sunniest, with temps edging into “hot” territory.  When it gets hot I like to ride into the mountains, or on an island and as I’d ridden into the mountains (or at least foothills) the weekend before, islands it was.  I’m still rather lacking in my fitness this year (though improving) and while I wanted to push myself, I knew I couldn’t do anything too epic so I thought a ride around Bainbridge Island would be ideal.

Bainbridge Island - 06

Seattle across the water.

This would be the fifth time I’ve ridden around Bainbridge Island; it is of course the destination of Cascade Cycling Clubs, Chilly Hilly which I’ve ridden three times.  The other time I rode it was in the late spring as I was trying to get in shape for a tour.  I had noted then how different the ride was compared to the winter and that certainly held true for the summer. Even moreso though is riding alone as opposed to with 7000+ other cyclists. My ride on this day was particularly tour like – stopping to look at things, trying side roads I’d not been on before and so on.  Bainbridge Island is great for this style of riding, with beautiful views of the water, little cafes and shops in unexpected places and some really top notch country roads.

Bainbridge Island - 02

 Typical Bainbridge Island road

Of course I had to ride into Seattle first, which is a pretty standard route for me now: Lake Washington Loop to the I-90 Trail, across Mercer Island, across the floating bridge into Seattle, through the International District  to the waterfront and 17 miles later I’m at the ferry terminal.  It was the fourth of July weekend so the terminal lot was packed with cars with a line waiting to get in. I had to wait with the cars to get my ticket, but then it was right to the front of the queue to board -the bicycle, always the best way to travel!  It was a nice trip as always across the water and then I was off riding on the island.  I was roughly following the Chilly Hilly route as it is a loop around the Island, but I’d dip into little side roads it avoided as the fancy struck. The above picture shows what these roads were like and this really is my favorite kind of riding: low trafficked roads with a mix of sun and shade, woods and views of the water. Can’t beat that.

Bainbridge Island - 01

Totem Pole at Camp Yeomalt

I passed Camp Yeomalt and attracted by the Totem Pole pictured above I pulled off the road.  This was a WPA park from the 30s and along with the pole had a nice wooden lodge. It seemed pretty focused on day camps and the like (which I think are great programs; I loved day camp in my youth) and was a nice small park.  There not being too much else at the park I was pretty quickly back on the road.  The route in short order turned out of the woods and descended to a road along the beach with some spectacular views across the sound.

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Mount Rainier across the sound

Of course it was a pretty stiff climb back up from the beach as the route returned the woods. This hill is of course part of Chilly Hilly, but there is a side road in which one half has been blocked off for cyclists and walkers that that ride doesn’t take (too narrow for so many riders I suspect).  It’s a nice little jog of the main road and as it rises over a bluff above the water is far more scenic. As always I’d left a bit late (though not as late as some days) and while I’d had a snack on the ferry I found myself ready for lunch more or less about a 1/4 of the way around the island. Luckily on hitting a cross roads there was the  Rolling Bay Cafe, which I immediately pulled over to get some lunch. I ordered a Mozzarella, tomato, Basil panini and noticed they had Mexican Coke.

Bainbridge Island - 07

I don’t drink soda very often, but I used to in my youth. It took me a while to figure out why I lost interest, but I think a lot of it has to do with the transition from cane sugar to corn syrup; it just didn’t taste the same to me anymore. A bottle of Coke made with real cane sugar is like liquid nostalgia; a mainline to countless childhood drinks in the hot sticky summer, washing down burgers, or any other time I could talk my parents into it.  I still don’t drink soda very often but now that you can find Mexican Coke (still made with real sugar) fairly readily I do have one now and again.  Still would generally prefer a beer, but mid-ride with lunch, Coke was it.

After my late lunch I wander around the Bay Hay and Feed which was a garden and farming store attached to the Cafe which had a nice outdoor nursery that was almost like walking through a garden.  Soon though the lure of the road called and I moved on.

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Just a few miles from my lunch spot was another park, Fay Bainbridge State Park. I rode into the park to take advantage of facilities and to check it out, not having been in this park before.  There was a steep descent and then I was right on the beach.  Now this beach was pretty packed with people sunning themselves and playing in the water. Taking an alternative way out of the park I was on this little enclosed bay lined with houses. The road wound along this bay but then ended, so I back tracked and rode up a hill that paralleled the park. I was back in the woods now and wending on and off more main roads.  Due to the late start and my rather meandering ride it was starting to get late and I knew I wouldn’t get home until near dark now.  So while I kept exploring, I did begin to spend more time in the saddle between stops.

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I still always turned off the main routes when I could though, even when it just added miles without much progress toward the ferry. I was after all pretty much prepared to ride into the dark if I need to (or so I thought).  The weather was not supposed to be quite as nice on Sunday and as the sun got lower in the sky there was a subtle shift in the weather. A wind picked up (mostly with me thankfully) and these fantastic scattered clouds appeared. One of those sections that just added miles, but is one of my favorites on Bainbridge is riding down to Crystal Springs Drive (pictured above) and then up along Point White Drive (pictured in my header image).  I spent a bit of time at the beach where I took my header image and then rode back to the main route at the intersection of which is the Treehouse Cafe. The Treehouse Cafe is a great looking place with good looking pizza, beer and other food. However I’ve never eaten anything but Ice Cream there which I did once again; having my usual Huckelberry Cone. I think on the times I’ve ridden here its either too crowded (Chilly Hilly) or I’m running late (every other time) and am making for the ferry.

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The road up from where the Treehouse Cafe is wends back into the woods and there is some good up and down.  The picture above is of one of the steadier climbs over rather beaten up roads.  I was energized from my ice cream cone and rode easily through these hills. I one point I passed a couple of kids struggle to get their bicycles up the hill, one of whom which was being assisted by his mom on foot pushing him up the hill. At the top of this stretch of hills was a new little park, set up for peaceful contemplation with a little stream, wooden benches, a peekaboo view of the sound and a Tibetan Prayer Wheel.

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“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion”. – Lao Tzu


Bainbridge Island - 25I stopped here for a rest, and spun the prayer wheel which on it’s ninth rotation a bell rings out.  The prayer wheel is cast bronze, beautifully embossed with the above saying form Lao Tzu embossed on it. A really nice spot and a beautiful addition to the islands many treasures. From here it was rolling hills into the little town of Winslow. Usually on Chilly Hilly I ride to the end of the ride, which is on the edge of Winslow and then right down to the ferry skipping the finish line crowds. But I wanted to see a bit of Winslow and rode around it a bit. A cute little town with lots of shops and cafes; I wished it wasn’t so late and I could linger, but I soon rode down to Eagle Harbor where the ferry dock is.

Then it was simply waiting for the ferry, the trip across and the ride back home. This was about the same as the ride in but it was getting dark when I hit Mercer Island and it was there that I discovered the lightbuild in my headlight had burnt out. A bit later I found out that my backup light was not in my bag – I’d taken it out to replace the batteries and not replaced it.  I have to say I rather disappointed myself here, as I consider myself to always be prepared and here I wasn’t.  Well it wasn’t quite dark yet so I booked it home. It was though after 10pm when I got home and quite dark. I of course was well lit from behind with my three blinkies and my generator powered taillight but was unhappy to not have had the front light.  I made sure to get spare bulbs and to put my backup light back in my bag as I got home.

Anyway this was a great ride on a beautiful day.  All in all I rode around 68 miles. You can see more pictures from this ride in my Bainbridge Island Flickr set.

Chilly Hilly 2007

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Getting on the ferry I’ve been a member of the Cascade Cycling Club for many years now, but I don’t really take much advantage of their rides. I really enjoy cycling by myself, able to go as fast (or more often) as slow as I want, stop when and for how long as I please and take the route as I find it. I’m a member of the club as I support their advocacy and educational work and I feel that is well worth my membership costs.  But every year I do their first ride of the “season”, Chilly Hilly. This ride takes place in February and goes around Bainbridge Island, a winding hilly route mostly on the islands perimeter. I do this ride for several reasons, partly because it has the least amount of people, partially because I find the winter ride element interesting, but mainly to remind myself why I don’t really care for group rides. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy it immensely every year as it’s so different from my normal rides and it is wonderfully well run but in the same way that being out in crowds wears me down I’m always glad to ride home alone at the end.

Riding to the Ride

The first time I rode Chilly Hilly I drove into downtown Seattle with my Bicycle on the back of my car. The next year I had embraced the “ride to the ride” concept and rode into the city from my home in Woodinville. This was a very easy familiar route along rail trails for the bulk of it. This year I had moved and that route was not the most direct by any means. The route I needed to take instead used part of the Lake Washington Loop, the I-90 trail and then a meander through the ID to the waterfront. Apart from the last bit this was a route I had done before but I didn’t have much of an idea on how long it would take. Part of my strategy is that I take the last ferry over, mainly because I’m not a morning person and could use the extra time, but also as it seems to have the least amount of people. Cyclists in general seem to be morning people, another way I really differ from them. So I got up early enough to get ready, make coffee and still have about a two hour window to get to the ferry. The day dawned overcast and a bit blustery and I layered myself appropriately. I was dressed in high Rivendell fashion with a wool undershirt, Musa Seersucker long sleeved shirt and a wool cardigan on top and wool tights under Musa long pants below. This turned out to be pretty much ideal for the day which was drizzly most of the day, but with some good showers and then cooler and windy at the end. Heading out from my house involves a climb, so I was hitting those hills right off. I cut acrossLooking back at the I-90 Kirkland pretty much parallel to the I-405 until I intersected with Northup which I rode on until  116th. I took this road, which skirts the bad Bellevue parts of the Lake WA loop route, to Main street from which I got onto the Lake WA loop. There had been a few drops of rain here and there and a bit of wind but so far not bad. Arriving at the I-90 trail was 7 miles from my home and I had made decent time. I don’t cross the I-90 bridge very often so it’s always kind of fun. Except for the Mercer Island section, which is kind of a pain. New this time for me was continuing on the trail to its end. I have always in the past jump onto Lake WA blvd after doing the trail.  Through the tunnel the trail wind around through parks and splits at one point. I had gotten the best route from some kindly posters on the Cascade Forums but I ended up taking the wrong split. Well it got me to the same place in the end, just with a bit more climbing. From the end I crossed a bridge and heading roughly North and I stuck with that till I intersected S Jackson Street which I rode through the ID and Pioneer Square to the Waterfront. Then it was a short jaunt up Alaskan Way till I hit the ferry dock.

Ferrying over to Bainbridge Island

I had made pretty good time, but the ferry started loading pretty much as I arrived and I was among the few later comers well in the rear. We got on board and after the traditional shedding of gear I headed up to get more coffee. I never get enough coffee in these early morning jaunts even though I had brought a large mug that I stashed in my handle bar bag as I rode. As I approached the ferry coffee machine with my tumbler in hand it turned out they had just ran out of coffee. Several other caffeine Exiting the Ferryhounds and myself waited eagerly for the machines to refill, impatiently hitting them up about a third full. Another one of my quirks is that I really hate wearing my number (I’m not a number, I am a free man!) any longer then I have to so I always put it on (and take it off) during the ferry rides. Well carrying all my crap upstairs to get my coffee and do just that I dropped my Chilly Hilly packet. I realized this as I went to sit down and searching proved fruitless. Oh well, I guess I’d be among the other “pirates” on this ride something I wouldn’t feel too bad about as I had paid up.  Shortly after this I saw a ferry worker with a packet in hand and I asked her if it was number 132 which it turned out it was. Thus ended my short career as a ride pirate. I returned to my bicycle and attached the front number to my handlebar bag and put the sticker on my helmet. As always I received no clothespins to put on the chest number so I just stuck it in a pocket in case I was hassled (which of course I wasn’t). Now we were approaching the island and the throng of riders packed in a bit in anticipation of exiting. We landed and all the cars disembarked. At last we were free to mount up and start the ride.

Chilly Hilly

There is a pretty good scrum as we disembark, everyone riding slowly up the hill from the terminal, some jumping out into the opposing lane to get on with it, but most just keeping pace. The peleton thins some as we ride through town around a bend then down a nice grade that launches one over the first hill with little effort. Things head downwards for a while with the occasional easy bump upwards. The bicycle traffic stays pretty thick with this easy riding but as we hit sea level and pass a nice little beachApproaching the first real hill there is a right angle turn and the first real hill. This hill things things out quite a bit and gets ones legs in order. Its not a soul destroying hill by any means, but after sitting on the ferry for nearly an hour and then some easy downhill riding you definitely feel it. At the top on wag breathlessly inquires if that was it for the hills, to which his companion sarcastically affirms that its all downhill from here.  Around this time I am passed by some of the “pirates” from the .83 cycling club. They choose to do a ride around Bainbridge Island every year at the same time as Chilly Hilly. Its a free road and as they don’t use the Cascade services I see no problem with it. Many of them are riding single speed or fixed gear bicycles which is an impressive feat on such a hilly ride. Not far after I was passed there were two other pirates on the side of the road and those ahead of me pulled over to see what was up. “I desperately need a beer” was the answer as one of them dug around in his backpack. My kind of guys 🙂 These pirates also seem to have fenders and mudf laps on their bicycles in a much larger percentage then the average “racer wannabe” I so often see. A lot more pleasant to ride behind on a day like today.

There had been drops of rain on and off up to this point but now it begins to rain more in earnest. Pictures become hard to take as raindrops keep getting on my lens and nothing I’m wearing is dry enough to wipe it off. We plug on in the usaal fashion on these rides, you seem to pass and get passed by the same people over and over again with the occasional rider blowing by never to be seen again. Some of the larger hills appear about 1/3 of the way into the course including the one I think is the most difficult which is the end of NE Battle Pt Drive (if I’m reading the map correctly).  This time as I drop into the third ring my chain drops off. Damn. I pull over and put it back on and then its back to the ascent. This is one that leaves you gasping at the top, which then is a right angle turn and a gentle continuing uphill. Not too far from here I see some of the unicycles that I’ve seen every year and always impresses the hell out of me. Its hard enough on a multi-geared bicycle much less a single speed unicycle.At the Cider Stop My hats off to that crowd. One of the pirates that I kept passing and being passed by had his kid with him on a tandem and not too far from the cider stop I talked to him a bit. Nice guy, just saying hi, but they kept on going as we hit the turnoff for the cider stop.  The cider stop is a place to get hot cider, free calories, bike repair if needed and to use the facilities. I try to spend a decent amount of time there as its the only break I take. I drink plenty of hot cider, and eat nuts, rice krispie treats and peanut butter cookies. The goodies are made by the Girl Scouts and I always leave them a nice tip. I’m glad its the girl scouts as they are a laudable organization unlike their discriminatory male counterparts. The Rivendell always seems to draw some interest from some and at the cider stop a couple of guys as me questions about it. Earlier in the ride I had talked briefly with a fellow riding a Redwood (first of those I’d seen) who also had a Schmidt Hub on his front wheel. He was a local so just doing his every day ride for him. I don’t think I saw anymore Riv’s on the ride, but I did see one on the ride home.

My Atlantis that I rode for this ride.
Chilly Hilly Part Two

From the cider stop you can take a short cut right back to the ferry terminal. So far I’ve never done this even though for the last two years I have already ridden further then the entire ride by this point. Again I opt for the full ride and set off on my own. I don’t see anybody for a while and I’m rather cold at this point. I had taken off my soaked seersucker shirt and was wearing my cardign, but there was no replacing my soaked gloves and my feet were rather damp. I knew there was a big hill coming up and that would warm me right up but I was pretty chilled getting there. As anticipated after a bit more downhill and a right hand turn one of the longer hills was reached.  This hill I’ve always just spun up, its long but not as steep as some. Still I was a lot more beat this year, I’m not in as good of shape and the ride to the ride was more demanding. Still not too much or a problem andA nice looking cafe about 3/4s the way around from the top of this hill its a windy descent to sea level. The route winds around the edge of the island with some small ups and downs and then with a short climb you pass a little cafe. They always advertise their own chili and beer and other enticements and normally you see a few riders parked out front. This year a pretty sizable crowd was in the cafe, maybe trying to wait out the steady rain.

This cafe is about three quarters of the way around. The route from he climbs for a while over these very rough roads. Every year I wonder if they’ll repave this section and so far they have not. This part is a bit tough in that there are a lot more people walking their bicycles, a bit more traffic and of course one is a bit played out by this point. If any other Chilly Hilliers are reading this, I’d just like to ask, nay beg, that when walking up hills please, please do it single file. Those of us who choose to ride have to make it around you, often into opposing traffic, uphill (a hill let me remind you that you feel the need to walk up). So make it a bit easier on us all. Thanks.  Anyway things are winding down now, there is a small groups of us here, some passing on the A nice bit of the final section of the ridedownhills and being caught on the uphills. Or vice versa. The terrain is rolling hills, gentle curves along the edge of the island. You can see the ferry terminal every so often and not too much later the signs posted by Cascade encouraging you to the finish line appear. We join a much more major road and traffic picks up. I keep passing these two guys wearing shorts and t-shirts, that are totally soaked and seem to be on their second time around the island. The very last hill of the ride, up into town, is the worst one in my opinion. No where near as steep as the other major contenders, nor as long, but it has several features that put it squarely at the top of the unpleasant list. First of all its the end of a lot of hills so one is as burned out as one is going to be. Secondly it seems to be a major road in so there is a constant stream of traffic. Finally the bicycle lane is constrained on one side so even one person pushing their bicycle (and there are many) means its out into that traffic to pass. This is another hill that I just put it into the grainy gear and spin, spin, spin as its better to pass as few as possible and it helps ones weary legs. Cresting this though its a bit of ride through town, a bit of downhill and the finish line.


At the end of the ride is a Cascade booth where you can buy commemorative shirts and the like and of course the ubiquitousThe finish line chili feed. As always I order a shirt as they always run out and as always I stick my head inside look at the chili feed and pass.  I’ve got more riding to do and chili just never seems like the thing I need. A beer on the ferry and some calories in an easy to digest form is more in order. So I don’t linger much longer and head to the ferry which has a massive crowd of cyclists loading on. I ride on with the rest and lay my cycle down with the massive amount of other bicycles. I get my beer, a hot pretzal and a cookie and enjoy the ride across. As we dock at Seattle it is obvious that the weather is clearing up and it will be a nice partially sunny afternoon. Figures. I’m pretty beat as I reverse my ride in and it is getting colder. I’m a bit slower getting home, hindered by strong headwind on the I-90 trail and general exhaustion. I pull into my place around 4:30 in the afternoon having put more then 66 miles on the bicycle and a solid days ride. Some pizza and beer surely help ease the pain.

The return trip

All of these thumbnails can be enlarged and are from my gallery of Chilly Hilly pictures.