Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hood Canal Repeat Hood Canal

Don Boothby, Bill Gobie, Dave Harper, Vincent Muoneke, and I met at the 6:10 AM ferry yesterady to do the Hood Canal Loop. Don, Bill, and Dave did the Hood Canal 2.0; Vinceent and I went for the original - having just done 2.0 on Wednesday.

The courses are very similar, sharing the same start from Bainbridge to the Beaver Valley turnoff on 104, the same Center Road to Quilcene, 101 to Potlatch, and Gorst to the ferry sections. They differ in that 2.0 has a 104 to Chimacum to 104 stretch and takes 106 along the south end of the canal and then Old Belfair highway to get from Potlatch to Gorst, while the original gets there via Shelton and SR-3 and a loop to Grapeview. The original has more climbing 6,600 feet vs. 5,300 feet. They both share the opportunity for German Sausage & beer at Fritz' at the Bremerton ferry terminal ... a great motivator!

Having just done both, I'd say the new one is the nicer ride, but it does miss out on the wonderful Grapeview loop ... and more fast food choices (in Shelton). We went for the taco option. They took a while to kick in, but did in time for the climbs up SR-3.

We all rode together Port Gamble and then across the Hood Canal bridge over to the Beaver Valley turnoff from 104 ... with Bill on his recumbent lagging behind on the uphills and zipping past us on the downhills. Then we parted ways, meeting back up at the ferry terminal in time for the 5:30.

The first half of the ride was foggy and cold, barely above freezing ... and with a wind chill of 15 degrees as we zipping down from Walker Pass. There was evidence of black ice ... a van spun out in front of us on 104, ending up at a 90 degree angle across the opposite lane. The sun came out midday and we actually had blue sky. It was a nice day for a ride!

The ferry rides were enjoyable too, as we relived our SIR exploits. Did you remember when ...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

No Coffee for Mark?

Breaking News
SIR volunteers and news service reports
updated Thursday PM

There was a confirmed sighting of Mark Thomas without coffee at the start of a permanent yesterday. Multiple witnesses confirmed that Mark passed up coffee at the start of the Hood Canal Loop 2.0 ride. No coffee on the ferry ride over from Seattle either. Witnesses were torn as to whether Mark was actually taunting the coffee stand at the Bainbridge ferry terminal by turning his back to it (above).

This odd behavior lasted for 28K until Port Gamble, where he made a beeline for the Espresso stand. Subsequent stops at the Chimacum Bakery and Brinnon pie shop (not to mention the German sausage & beer at Fritz's next to the ferry terminal) confirmed that the morning's start was an aberration and all was back to normal.

Theories for this unusual behavior abound, with the leading premise being the rush from almost showing up at the start of the ride without his bike. Mark confirmed that on the way to drop his wife off at the airport before heading to the ferry, she asked "where's your bike?". Oops! Fortunately for us all, but unfortunately for his son, Mark was rescued. A rendevouz with his son (and bike!) in the wee hours along 405 saved Mark valuable minutes, and he made it to the start in time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

All Clear? Not!

Riding around here has been a bit of a challenge recently. Snow and cold in December, rain and floods in January. Watching the city, county, and state transportation web sites to keep track of road closures and subsequent reopenings to find a clear route was a bit of a task. With a Saturday permanent in mind, Don Boothby was optimistic that the roads would be clear ... above water. When we last did this ride a few weeks ago, we had several detours due to snow. By Friday though, the all clear sounded ... no road closures on 531 Mercer Island - Redmond - Orting - Mercer Island.

A huge crew ... sixteen riders ... headed off at 7:00 AM. While we all rode together for a while, we soon broke up into smaller groups riding at our own natural paces. Ward Beebe, Vincent Muoneke, and I took the front by the time we hit Renton. Around Kent we were swallowed up by a club ride that was going our pace
... not especially fast (no drafting, honest!)... for a few miles before they turned off. A few miles after that we hit our first obstacle ... a road closed sign. Not water, but a slide had closed the road. It was a small slide and we easily rode past ... just a moment of consternation about whether to believe the sign or not.

Refueling at Orting, then on our way back home ... at the next info control (on McCutcheon) there was another road closed sign. Now this was at the top of a hill (sort of). If we went on and the road really was closed, we'd have to back-track up a hill. Decisions, decisions. Several Pierce County dump trucks drove by and then one stopped, the driver rolled down his window, and told us that the road really was closed and they had all sorts of equipment down there. So we backtracked. We ran into Greg Cox and filled him in, that the control was open and he'd have to backtrack and rejoin the route in Sumner. I thought we'd see a few more riders on the 4-5 mile stretch of 162 that we rode north on, but didn't see anyone. I gather that Don and crew rode through, braving the "hostile looks" from the bulldozer operator.

Our next challenge - a little one - was a short stretch (10-20 yards) of the Interurban Trail that was under water. Don Boothby said it was "almost knee deep", but I guess I'm taller than Don, as it was only just above my ankles !

Someday I'll get to ride this Permanent without any detours.

Unlike my last attempt, with detours due to snow, we were able to ride the Duwamish and West Seattle Trail sections ... not that I particularly want to ride them again, but at least now I can say I've ridden them.