Sunday, May 25, 2008

Loop out to Salkum

On Saturday, I wanted to do a route that was over 50 miles. I decided on a ride out to Salkum. The LCHR went out there and I really liked some of the roads. I decided to enjoy them again.

To start out, I headed south on Jackson Highway at 6 AM. The temperature was 46 so I wore tights and a long sleeve shirt with a vest. I stuck with half-finger gloves and no ear cover since it was forecast to warm up when the sun crested the trees. I brought along shorts.

I was feeling weak and slow and the cycle computer confirmed it, though I felt like I was going faster than the readout showed.

Only a couple miles down the road, my hamstrings started to get tight so I stopped and stretched and checked my seat height. For some reason, my seatpost has been sinking down into the tube. My check confirmed that the seat was low again so I adjusted it, this improved my hamstring problem.

By mile 6 I entered into a fog bank. My glasses got foggy and my shirt got damp but it was nice otherwise. I turned left on North Fork Road and headed to Tauscher Rd. I had not been on this section on Tauscher and wanted to see it. The road was wonderful and the fog lifted, I crosses some real nice forested area and had to take some pics.

One of the pics is of this weeks flower: the Toughleaf Iris. This variety is only found in Washington and Oregon.

After the pictures, I climbed up to Middle Fork Rd and turned left. Shortly after, the sun rose over the trees to shine upon me. I opened my handlebar bag to switch to sunglasses when I found that one of the screws had fallen out of an arm and they would not stay on my face. I stopped and attempted a fix with a tiny stick, which ended up working for about 20 miles. The sunglasses problem got me thinking. It isn't only the bike that I need to focus on for reliability on a Randoneur ride but ALL of my equipment. If this had been a super bright day and I was on a 300K riding east, things would have been bad. While I was dealing with the sunglass situation, I also noticed that the bike computer was set on 'bike 1' which is my MTB. No wonder I was going so slow! I switched the setting to 'bike 2' and continued on.

At about the 16 mile mark, I turned off of Middle Fork onto Deggler and descended into Onalaska (ONY). The town was as quite as the roads had been. Deggler Rd turns into Leonard Rd and heads up a big hill. I felt fortunate that I was turning left part way up the hill onto Burchett Rd. After turning though, I quickly came to rethink my happiness for this road. The surface was in bad shape and I soon was riding though an area where the residents were the type that are not so enjoyable to see.

The type where they fill their property with broken things and put up threatening 'No Trespassing' signs. I saw a couple that were real gems, the signs had large Confederate Flags and lots of writing . I wanted to take a pic of one, but the resident was sitting in his yard, so I thought otherwise. But I found one that was close here.

This road continues as Lacamas and then Shanklin. I stopped on the Shanklin portion to eat a gel packet and some dried apples. Then I turned left on Stowell and headed towards Salkum which is about at the halfway point on the ride. I needed to use a restroom by this time and was hoping to find one to use in Salkum. Finding a restroom seems to be one of the problems that I run into with riding in a lot of rural areas. I reached town at 8:30 and none of the places with one were open. I also ran into problems with Bikely maps here. It showed Wilcox Rd as going though but it did not. But I got a chance to stop at the cemetery since it was Memorial weekend. I backtracked to Fuller Rd and headed west. A mile or 2 down the road I came across a store with a porta-potty and took care of my need. I also changed into shorts since it was warming up.

At the end of Fuller, I turned right on Spencer Rd. This is the road from LCHR that I really wanted to ride again. It follows along the Cowlitz River and good for seeing wildlife. This time a spotted several Mouring Doves and a bird that was brilliant yellow and red with black wings. I tried to take a picture but it flew away. Further along the road, I spotted a patch of watercress in a stream, yum!

This road ends at the Cowlitz Mission and I took some time here to wander the cemetery and take pictures. Then I turned onto Jackson Highway and headed home.

Total distance: 55.82

Avg MPH: 12.11

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