I guess there are bound to be some surprises when one is riding a route purely by following the Dan Henry route markers! It's also interesting to do a supported ride route without the support. That's what I did today. I rode the route for the upcoming 2 County Double Metric Century. The actual ride takes place this coming Sunday, the 24th. That happens to be the day I am departing from my house for the two week Olympic Peninsula tour I'm doing with Christian and Carol. I wanted to get in one more long training ride for STP. A double metric century seemed just the ticket.
I was able to pick up the route just two miles from my house. Of course, that was a mere 4 or so miles from the finish so, I did the last part first. I rode over to Peter G. Schmidt Elem. where the ride will officially start. I had seen route markers while I was out on another ride last week so I knew the route went down Littlerock Rd. to Littlerock. The first surprise was that it went up 128th to Mima Rd. I thought for sure it would stay on Littlerock Rd. to Rochester. I knew the route went to Rochester, which it did; just not that way. It turned off Moon Rd. onto School Land Rd. and then headed over to Rochester. The chip seal on School Land is pretty rough. Turns out, rough chip seal was going to be one of the themes of the route.
From Rochester, I headed out Independence Rd. as I was going toward Independence Rd., I saw a doe and two fawns on the side of the road. When they saw me they came back across the road. The doe and one of the fawns went right into the bushes. The other fawn was not quite so smart. Instead of leaping into the bushes, the fawn headed down the road in the direction I was going. I rode to it's left so it wouldn't go back across the road. As it picked up speed, it started doing that kind of bouncing type of running. It was really quite cute! Finally, it found a suitable place to leap into the bushes. There was an oncoming pickup truck that had slowed down. After the fawn made it into the bushes, I gave the pickup driver the thumbs up.
Independence Rd. was the route of the Capital Stage Race that I (along with Lorraine) was a Corner Marshall for last Sunday. I knew the Double Metric Century went up Manners Rd. because there were Dan Henry markers at the corner we had done our "Marshalling". I figured, to get to the turn to go up Manners Hill, I would also have to go up Michigan Hill. Sure enough, the route turned to go up Michigan Hill.
After coming down the other side of Michigan Hill, I fully expected to turn right on Lincoln Creek Rd. to get to Manners Rd. But, again, I was wrong as the route went left. I was thrilled by not having to go up Manners Rd. (I was also mistaken, but more on that later). I figured Manners must be one of the shorter routes.
As I was blissfully riding along, I came to Cooks Hill Rd. The route turned up Cooks Hill! Really?!! Cooks Hill is like a 13% grade hill! Why not the less steep Joppish Rd. that still goes up to Cooks Hill? Ah, but that would be one of the other themes of the route--go up the steepest hills whenever possible! I stopped to remove both my vest and arm warmers. It was warm enough by then anyway. I worked my way up Cooks Hill in my easiest gear wishing I had a couple more gears to ease the fire in my thighs. The one nice thing was getting to come DOWN the other side of Cooks Hill which is an even steeper 14% grade! Below is a photo of Mt. Rainier from the top of Cooks Hill.
At the bottom of the steep descent, I was thinking the route would continue into Centralia. I was also thinking I would stop at the Subway there for lunch. Again, I was not correct as the route turned onto Scheuber Rd. before coming all the way into Centralia. Well, so much for THAT lunch plan! However, I had never been on Scheuber Rd., so that was okay by me!
Scheuber was really nice. Just slightly rolling, but with a nice smooth asphalt. I knew Scheuber came out to Hwy 6. Of course, I thought I would be turning left onto Hwy 6. Nope, wrong guess again! I turned right and then almost immediately turned left onto Hwy 603.
I stopped at the gas station/mini mart to use the restroom and remarked to the clerk that the downside to doing a supported ride unsupported, is that there are no rest stops with potty shacks (or food and water for that matter).
I thought I would be continuing on 603 to Napavine (I remember one of the years I did STP, the route went that way to Napavine). I didn't, but I did see a paved bike trail. I want to check it out to see if it is the trail that goes to Pe Ell. If it does, then Carol and Christian and I can ride it when we are coming back from Rainbow Falls. But, I digress...
The route turned onto Twin Oaks Rd. This was another nice smooth road. When it got to what will be a food stop (but not for me), the route markers pointed left for the 125 mile route out, and straight for the 108 and 125 mile route BACK. I was slightly confused, but then I decided the 125 mile route must loop back to that stop. I was right, but not in the way I thought. I went out Pleasant Valley (it really was quite pleasant!). I kept expecting to turn right at some point to do the loop back. Instead, the route kept turning left! Finally, I came into Napavine, turned left again, and started heading back. As I came down this nice hill, I crossed the train tracks and returned to where I had turned onto Twin Oaks before. Sure enough, the route markers said to turn onto Twin Oaks again (at least it was a nice road to have to do twice). Then I realized what the 125 BACK meant. When I got to the food stop again (strangely, still no food for me!), I continued straight this time. Eventually, I came back to Hwy 6. By this time I was running low on water. I thought I would stop again at that gas station and get water. Of course, the route didn't go by the gas station again. It turned before I got there onto Bunker Creek Rd. Fortunately, there was another gas station/mini mart. I got water (drank a bunch) and got more water. I had a snack and used the potty shack as well. As I was exiting the potty shack, a couple pulled in on bikes with panniers. I asked where they were headed. They were just out practicing for a tour they were planning later this summer. I told them I had just done the same thing yesterday and the day before to Vashon and back. Although we were headed the same direction, they were going to rest a bit more, so I headed out.
Bunker Creek Rd. was another new one for me. As I was riding along, though, I started to think that I was going to end up back at Lincoln Creek Rd. and that those route markers at Lincoln Creek and Manners Rd. were likely part of the route I was on. Sadly, I was right (one of the few times). Bunker Creek came out onto Ingalls Rd. which came out onto Lincoln Creek. Darn! I was going to have to go up Manners Hill after all!
Manners wasn't too bad even though I had already gone about 77 miles or so. Coming down the other side was certainly nice!
The ride on Independence Rd. was uneventful except that I was once again running low on water. Did I mention it was 85 degrees? I decided even if the route did not go directly by the Subway in Rochester, I was going there anyway! I needed some real food!
At US 12 in Rochester the route went straight onto Littlerock Rd. I turned right and went to Subway. After eating a sandwich and filling my water bottles, I rode back to Littlerock Rd. I thought now it was going to be a boring ride back up Littlerock Rd. You'd think by now I would have stopped trying to second guess the route! I was wrong again. The route turned off Littlerock onto 180th. I then wound my way on various roads avoiding US 12 altogether to Tilley Rd.
Riding along Tilley, I wondered if the route would go up 113th/McCorkle Rd over to Hwy 99. As I was pondering this, the route suddenly went left on 140th. Now...I know this road. It is a roller coaster of steep hills that goes up to Reeder Rd. before coming back down to Maytown Rd. I thought to myself, WHY WHY WHY??? This is purely gratuitous hills! But, I did it. Turns out it was definitely gratuitous as the route turned left onto Maytown and returned to Tilley Rd.!
I was correct about the route going up McCorkle. However, when I got to Hwy 99, the 125 mile route turned right. Fortunately, I just had to go back a short distance to Waldrick where the route turned and headed over toward the Chehalis Western Trail. The route turned on Stedman Rd. first, but I went the 100 yards or so further and got on the trail from Waldrick.
From there I just rode the trail home for a total of 128 miles with an average speed of 14.3. I'm satisfied with that average considering all the hills. This was definitely a good training ride for STP. What it lacked in distance, it made up for in difficulty. Nothing on the STP will be as hilly as the 2 County Double Metric Century! By the way, the two counties are Thurston and Lewis.
I'm now as trained as I'm going to get for STP. I will return from my Olympic Peninsula trip just 4 days prior to STP. I've done five 100+ mile rides with one being 150 miles. I should be okay.