Sunday, October 25, 2009

Road Closed Ahead ... They don't mean us - do they?

Vincent Muoneke, Kole Kantner, Steve Davis, & I rode the inaugural (as a Permanent) ride of the Olympia - Vader - Olympia Permanent (#545). I had hoped we'd get some of the Olympia area randos to join us, but the late notice and distance (a 300K) kept that from happening. It was a ride of surprises ... pleasant and otherwise.

The first surprise was that the weatherman was right ... it was a pretty nice day. No rain and there were even stretches of blue sky and sun. It was chilly at the start ... it got down to 37 and at the end, but Kole and Steve weren't too cold in their shorts the rest of the time.

No surprise was the gorgeous ride through the Capital Forest on D-Line road. A relatively short albeit somewhat painful climb up to 900 feet, then a long gentle descent along a picturesque creek. This is one of my favorite sections in the state. Today did not disappoint!

A brief ... well, not so brief ... stop at Porter Creek, and then hours of meanderings through the backwoods of southwestern Washington. Relatively flat, with periodic hills thrown in to keep us honest. An unscheduled stop in Adna to refuel, then a long stop in Vader for real food.

Vincent had two breakfasts; the rest of us had Mountain Mash .... it was real good, but then we were real hungry and almost anything would have tasted good.

On leaving we noticed my rear tire was low ... I decided to just pump it up and see if it would hold (I'd topped it off the night before) my surprise it held just fine the rest of the way (I need to change it today ... it's almost flat now). We pumped it up just past a "Road Closed Ahead" sign. We had detoured around this closure (without seeing it) last month on our ride up to Johnston Ridge, but I knew that it had been passable, as James Gutholm had gone through it a few days later. So we figured we'd be able to work our way through.

Wrong. At least not easily. However, rather than a 6-7 mile detour, we passed our bikes from one ledge to another (top part of picture ar right) to get them down into the gap, then carried our bikes up the ladder on the other side (bottom part of picture at right). As soon as we were done, the ladder was pulled ... if we had been five minutes later there would not have been a way to get through here.

There was so much mud/sand/grit in our cleats and on the bikes that the clips were useless. Fortunately there was a hose at Winlock where we washed off. I don't think we saved any time compared to the detour.

It was just getting dark as we arrived in Chehalis for the last real control (two more info controls), so we finished prepping for night riding. Then set out again.

We had to adjust the information control question at the next stop ... couldn't find a sign for the gun club in the dark ... and then another road closure sign. Three miles ahed the road was closed. Was a bridge out ... a slide take away the road? No clue, but we went for it anyway. It would mean a 15 mile detour instead of a twelve mile detour if we couldn't get through, but why not? We were able to get through ... it was just a repaving project ... but they had sealed off the ends pretty well. We managed to find our way through / around the barricades and were off and running again.

At Bucoda we had a pleasant surprise as we ran into Ian Shopland. He had been biking back roads with John Pearch. We rode with him a little ways, then parted as our route back was much less direct than his.

The last major stretch of the ride was on the Chehalis - Western Trail. Normally a nice ride, I have no plans to ride it again this time of year. In many places it was covered in several inches of big leaves ... unsettling to ride through, especially in the dark. Where is the trail anyway? And is that a log under those leaves?

We finally made it back at 11:02 - just over 16 hours ... With almost three hours off the bike, it wasn't our most efficient ride :) 8,100 feet of climbing (per Training Center; 8,377 feet per Garmin Connect.


tripieper said...

Nice ride Geoff. We had the same experience with leaves over the trail in the dark as we took an early start from Leschi and covered the Burke Gilman in the dark - along with the ever-present Gilman lumps it was not a relaxing part of the ride!

lightman said...

After riding through a pile of leaves on the trail the leaves got tangled up in my cassette so it would not shift any more. Ended up riding the last 20 miles single speed. (I did not figure out what the problem was until today when I had some sunlight.)
Steve Davis