Tuesday, June 24, 2008

60 mile route of 2 hills and 2 valleys

Today's ride headed northwest into Thurston County and then hooked south. Combined with Sunday's ride this has been the most scenic week of riding that I have done yet.
I headed north on Airport Rd and then turned onto Military from Mellen. This allowed me to get on Cooks Hill from a different direction and the choice was a good one.

Graf and Blanchard roads follow a creek and the climb is easier than the 12% grade up Cooks Hill Rd. The traffic is much lower as well.
After topping Cooks Hill the route dropped down to Galvin. This town was really slammed by the flood.
After a couple turns, I headed north on Old 99 towards Grand Mound. The shoulder on this road is wide and smooth and was recently swept so it was real smooth. I quickly came to Old 9 turn off. The road goes past the Maple Lane Corrections campus and to my turn onto James Rd. This road is probably the aesthetic low point of the ride.
Once I turned onto Independence Rd the scenery improved again. But the moment I crossed into Lewis County the scenery and the quality of the pavement improved dramatically. The ride so far had been real easy and I was in that back-road blissful state that comes with exploring a new road that is sparsely traveled and lined with forests and neat farms.

At a creek crossing I noticed a well made beaver dam and tried to take a pic but it did not turn out.
The valley ended all too quickly and I was climbing up and over to the Lincoln Creek valley. My route only traveled on Lincoln Creek for a mile before I turned onto Ignalis Rd and up and over to Bunker Creek. This area is just a row of long narrow valleys with ridges separating them.
Bunker Creek Rd is one of my favorites, since it has all of the right things: very low traffic, nice pavement, beautiful scenery and a gentle grade. A couple times on this road I scared deer in the road.
I turned onto Ceres Hill Rd. This part I was a little nervous of. There were unpaved parts and I was going over a 1,000 foot hill. I also wondered if there were any problems at the far end due to flooding. Soon, my worries were over, the road started out on a gentle grade. I spotted a family of raccoons in someones yard with a cat watching them on the porch.
When the road turned to gravel, I was surprised at quality of it. I had no problems riding up it. The only annoyance was the occasional car that kicked up dust. The crest of the hill offered outstanding views of the valley below.

If there was an issue with this road it was the descent portion which was also gravel and a steep grade with hairpin turns. I took it slow and made sure that I was unclipped from the pedals in case I went down. Fortunately, it ended without mishap. In the valley the road crossed the South fork of the Chehalis River, the bridge somehow survived. There was a large salvage operation going on here. The flood had piled up massive amounts of wood and they were grinding it up and loaded it in trucks. The smell of the ground wood was divine. I stopped and gulped large amounts of the scent.
The road ends at SR 6 along a forested section. I stopped to look at a sign showing how high the water got in the December flood.

The ride on SR 6 was a bit aggravating. The pavement is good except on the shoulder. The shoulder is also full of debris from logging trucks which pass by on a frequent basis. Once the road reaches Adna the shoulder gets better but I had had enough by then and did not want to cross the bridge over the Chehalis which has no shoulder in the traffic level that was out. I turned onto Twin Oaks and rode that, I again flushed a few deer and came to the end at SR 603.
My choice here is to either climb the 12% grade to get on Tune Rd or attempt the gravel railbed that is a walking trail. I chose poorly and took the rail bed which is coverd in pea gravel and bigger rocks and weeds. Riding was miserable and the Teasel tore up my legs. Chalk that up to a never do again.
Overall, the ride was outstanding and my hill climbing for the day was one of my best yet.
By combining parts of this ride with parts of Sundays ride, an idyllic route could be constructed.
I will report on it once I design it. First, I need to explore Lost Valley Rd and Pe Ell-MacDonald Road.

Monday, June 23, 2008

55 mile loop to Vader

On Sunday, I took a ride that I've wanted to take for a long time. To head out to Curtis Hill and then follow SR 506 to Vader. I was a bit nervous since I would be out on pretty remote roads with no cell phone service so if something went wrong I would be on my own.

I finally did it and was it worth it! The most beautiful ride, that I have done in Lewis County.
I started at 10 AM on a Sunday so there were not many cars out. The ride begins by heading down SR 6 which has nice wide shoulders as far as Adna. The last mile or 2 were rougher but not bad. Then the turn off on Curtis Hill Road, this was my first time on this road and the hill was as tough as I heard it was. I had to stop several times on the way up. The crest of the hill was built up with McMansions.
Down the other side was a fast descent though a forested section and drops into the valley. The next 20 miles pass through nice farms and forested sections that bring a very contented state.

I had a nice tailwind and was just effortlessly gliding along in a state of near bliss when it was shattered. At 1246 Wildwood there was a large dog in the road barking and to my dread there were 3 others in the yard. I dismounted and used my bike as a shield and yelled at dog to STAY!.
At this point a second dog came at me and this was the one that really put a scare in me. He was about my size and was just on the other side of my bike all bristling and snarling. Fortunately, I had my Halt! and gave him a squirt. The spray had an instant effect and the dog whimpered and went back in the yard. I backed the other dog down and left the scene.
My bliss was gone and it took a while for the adrenaline rush to subside.
The next problem was a truck coming down the road that I could hear from a mile back. Once it got up to my I found out why. It was full of teenage boys and they were running on a bare rim.
This part of the road was secluded and the passengers in the back stared at my as they passed.
About a quarter mile up the pulled into a side road and got out of the truck and fanned out in the road. I did not like the looks of what was going on, were they trying to jump me or what? I stopped and turned around and went a little way down the road trying to decide what to do. In the meantime, they got back in the truck and took off. I waited a bit and then continued on my ride. I closely watched the gouge in the road left by their bare rim to make sure they were not waiting for me somewhere. As the miles passed, I saw pieces of their rim lying in the road. Near Ryderwood, I passed them on the side of the road. I was doing about 35 mph on a long descent at this point.
Once I came to the turn onto the Vader-Winlock Rd, I stopped at the store and had a V-8. I was feeling great again, now that the problems were behind me and I had some very pleasant riding still to come.
Overall the ride was very easy, though I still struggle with hill climbs and there were several extended ones on this ride.
I look forward to riding in this area again.
After the ride was over I contacted the Sheriff's office to report the dog incident.

Posting Dry Spell

It has been a bit since the last post. This is because work blocks my access to Blogger and I have been away from home. Riding has still been occurring.

I am now at the point where a 50 mile ride is no big deal. I still a poor at climbing hills though.