Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Perfect Shakedown Ride

The purpose of a shakedown ride is to try out or practice things before the big trip. In my case, I wanted to try a few things. I got a new sleeping bag and sleeping pad and not only did I want to use them, I also wanted to figure out how I wanted to pack them. My old sleeping bag was much bulkier and my old sleeping pad was abit smaller than the new one. I used to put my sleeping pad in a pannier. This time I put both bag and pad in the waterproof bag that my old sleeping bag used to go into and strapped them next to the tent on top of the rear rack. That makes for a little more space in the panniers. That seemed to work out fine. The other things I wanted to try was boxed mac 'n cheese using powdered milk and to see if a single batch of pancakes was not too much food to eat in one sitting. The mac 'n cheese was okay, but 1 box is alot for one person to eat (yes, Connor eats a whole box easily, but not me). I think I'll check into Easy Mac and see if that might work. The pancakes were great and not too many.
As for the ride itself, it was the perfect shakedown for reasons one may not expect. It started (well, about 1 1/2 miles from home) with a flat tire. As I was changing the flat, I was hoping no one I know would drive by and see all my stuff laying on the sidewalk. So, that took 1/2 hour (have to take all the panniers off and the tent and sleeping bag/sleeping pad combo too. Then put them all back on after the tire is fixed.). Finally, I was on the road. Got as far as Oly HS and had to stop and put my helmet cover on as it had started to rain. I already had all my other rain gear on. I stopped at Blue Heron Bakery on my way out of town. Picked up some granola and a couple of cookies. I also got a slice of raspberry/apple bread and ate it there. It had already been quite awhile since breakfast. I went up Old Hwy 410 to Hwy 8. There is alot of steady climbing for the first few miles. Climbing in full raingear is always soooo much fun!
Along Hwy 8 after McCleary, but before Elma, I caught up to another gal on a bike. She was riding to Oakville. I told her I've done that ride and good for her for getting out in the rain! Since she was riding slower, I said goodbye and continued on. I was following the Google Maps Bike Route so I got off at Fairgrounds Rd. and cut over to McCleary/Elma Rd. Coming into Elma, the directions had me do a weird little detour off Main St. then back on Main. I've been on Main all the way through town before and didn't find it all that difficult. Oh well, something different. Main turns into Monte/Elma Rd. after Elma. The last time I was on this road, I was heading to Lake Sylvia. Just as it was then, the wind was blowing like mad! Makes for slow going. Finally I got to turn off onto E. Satsop Rd. Whew, out of the wind at last! E. Satsop meanders through valleys of farms. At 7.8 miles (the Google directions were very good here) I turned onto the park road. Schafer State Park. It was only 47 miles and had taken me 4 hours and 45 minutes. I hate flat tires!
The park was very nice as were the park staff. The park aide even escorted me to the hiker/biker site! The campground was fairly full (Memorial Day weekend). I got my tent set up, took a shower, ate a bagel and went for a walk around the park. They have some nice well-weed-whacked trails. The park sits along the Satsop River. According to the park ranger, they get alot of cyclists in the summer riding the Pacific Coast Route. He said I was the first for this season. About 10:00pm two more very weary riders arrived (the ranger told me about it this morning). They had come from Seattle. That's a long day! They were still asleep when I left this morning. According to the ranger, they were also doing a practice ride in preparation for a trip down the coast this summer. Who knows? Maybe I'll meet them later.
After my dinner of mac 'n cheese, I was reading and there was either a mower or a generator running. Everytime it would quit, it would make this loud backfire sound. Each time it would make that sound, a guy in another campsite would yell, "Wooooo!!" really loud. Later on, after the backfiring had stopped, he would periodically yell. Several other people throughout the park would "Woooo" back to him. Kind of funny actually.
I went to bed in my toasty new sleeping bag on my super comfy new sleeping pad. Sometime in the middle of the night it started raining. It was still raining when I woke up. I have set up camp in the rain, but I've never packed up in the rain (or cooked breakfast). First I rolled up my therma-rest pillow and put my sleeping bag in it's stuff sack. Then I let the air out of my sleeping pad and rolled it up and stuck it in it's sack. Put them both in the dry sack. Then I got my bike clothes on and put all my raingear on, including my helmet (it's my rainhat). THEN, I cooked my breakfast of pancakes with granola and banana on them (YUM). After doing the dishes, I continued to pack up saving the tent for last. It takes so much longer to pack in the rain as I am trying to keep what should be kept dry, dry. Finally, I was ready to roll.
I had decided to go back the other route Google Maps had suggested along Cloquallum Rd. to W. Delight Park Rd. then to 101 at the Hwy 3 exit. There was another route as well, but it involved a dirt road (Cloquallum Truck Trail). I also had a Mason Co. map. I left the park and turned onto Satsop/Cloquallum Rd. Out of curiosity, while I'm riding, I'm looking for Cloquallum Truck Trail. All I see are forest service roads with closed gates. I'm wondering, is one of these Cloquallum Truck Trail? So, I ride along and pretty soon I come to the intersection of Satsop/Cloquallum Rd. and Cloquallum Rd. I pull out my Mason Co. map and I'm looking for this intersection so I can know which way to turn. Turns out, this particular chunk of Mason Co. isn't on the map! Well, the sign says right to go to Elma. Left to go to Shelton. I figure I don't want to go to Elma so I should go left. Several miles later, I finally see a crossroad that is on the map. So, now I start looking for Delight Park Rd. As I come up on a crossroad, I look and, what do ya know, it's Cloquallum Truck Trail! I decide, WHY NOT? It is a dirt road, but Stella can handle it! Off I go....for about 1/4 mile before the road (excuse me...TRAIL) ends. CRAP! I turn around and go back to Cloquallum Rd. I continue looking for Delight Park Rd. After another several miles I see Lake Isabella to the right. Wait, I'm not supposed to go on that side of the lake! I stop and look at the map again. I see that W. Delight Park Rd. is actually off of Elson Rd. Well, I passed Elson Rd. about 2 miles back! I turn around and go back to Elson. I go down Elson looking for Delight Park. The road is getting narrower and no Delight Park. For that matter, no side roads at all. I see a guy burning brush and stop to ask him if he knows about this road. Of course, he JUST bought the property and knows nothing about the area. I continue on. Pretty soon I see this very steep hill up ahead (by now, the road is barely one lane wide). I shift down to super granny and muscle up the hill. When I get to the top and look ahead, a sign says "End of County Rd" and beyond is a "Private Property/No Trespassing" sign. DOUBLE CRAP!!!! Now I have to go back to Cloquallum and continue on the part I have already been on TWICE! AND, I now realize I am going to have to go all the way into Shelton and backtrack to get onto 101 as Cloquallum does not have an onramp! TRIPLE CRAP!!! And all this time, it is still RAINING! What with all the climbing, the Jacket-of-Awesomeness can not keep up with all the moisture my body is producing so I am rather damp on the inside too. Anyway, I make it to Shelton and stop at the Arcadia Chevron, get a chocolate milk and also use the restroom. From there I headed toward 101 on Hwy 3. I don't particularly like Hwy 3. There is alot of traffic and not much shoulder. At least from Arcadia it is only a mile or two to the junction. I finally got onto 101 and as I was riding I hear this sound that sounds like something is caught in the rear fender. I stop and get off to look and, about that time, the rear tire blows with a loud BANG. QUADRUPLE CRAP!!!! ANOTHER FLAT!! Off comes all the gear...again. New tube put on...again. All the gear put back on...again! I think when I changed the tube before, it got caught between the rim and the tire (aka a "pinch flat"). How I went that long before it blew, I'll never know. Also, it had stopped raining, but while I was changing the flat, it started again. NICE!! When I got to Steamboat Island Rd. I decided to stop at Subway for a late lunch even though I still had food (another bagel and peanut butter). I thought I had earned it! The rest of the ride (still in the rain) was uneventful. With all the backtracking and non-existant roads, I went about 9 miles further than I should have ending with 56.3 miles for the day.
This was the perfect Shakedown ride because, in spite of all the crap, I still managed to make it!
My nice little campsite in the sun (briefly).
The Satsop River. Schafer Park sits alongside it.
I wondered what these curious little red things were until I realized they were pieces of weed-whacker string.
The weed-whacker has been here.
A non-weed-whacked trail (I'm guessing they just hadn't gotten to it yet).

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