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.

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