Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Finally Finding the Paved Road

Last February I did a couple of blog posts about the road through Fort Lewis from Hwy 510 to Rainier Rd. (well, I didn't make it to Rainier Rd. on the first attempt, but I did on the second). At the time, I was looking for a road that was paved, but I never found it. A couple of days ago, I was talking to Brian (a fellow teammate who also works at Joy Ride Bikes), and somehow got onto the topic of this, supposedly, paved road. Brian tells me there IS a paved road that goes through from 510 to Rainier Rd. This time I get more information.

Of course, now I am itching to do this road. So, even though it's raining, I decide to head out and give it a shot. I needed to do an hour and a half of a lower threshold ride anyway. Slowing to dodge potholes should keep the heart rate down. I figured it would only be around 25 miles or so.

I went out Yelm Hwy to 510 as I did before. Not far after the casino, I took the right turn across from the left that does the JBLM route. As I reached the place where I previously went right, sure enough, although the road straight was narrower, it was, indeed, paved. I was still paralleling 510 just as Brian said I would. Soon, I came to the end of this road. As I got there, I realized I could have stayed on 510 to this point because there was a turn-off there also. 

I turned right again and started a gradual climb. This time I was confident I was on the correct road. The pavement was pretty decent. There were occasional potholes, but someone had done a nice job of spray painting arrows to avoid them. At one point, a section of pavement seemed to be fairly new--nice and smooth. 

Several minutes later I heard the unmistakable whup-whup of a big helicopter. At a brief moment of clearing through the trees, I could see one of the big Army (not a Chinook) helicopters hovering low on some kind of maneuvers. At first I was a little nervous, but it seemed far enough away. Earlier, a car had passed me, but it wasn't a military vehicle. I continued on.

I went up and down hills, and dodged the occasional pothole. At a point when I thought I should be getting close to Rainier Rd. (not quite), a military hum-vee passed me going the other direction. I waved. Oh, I forgot to mention, I was recording a video as I was riding this road. It occurred to me after passing the hum-vee that, since I was on military property, perhaps video was not a good idea. However, I kept it running. Either they didn't care, or didn't notice the Go Pro on my helmet, because they didn't turn around and come after me. 

As for why I have not uploaded the video with this blog post, well, I didn't quite position the camera far enough back on my helmet. It is a lovely video of the road in front of my wheel. I'm sure, even if the Army guys somehow tracked me down and demanded to see my "spy" video, they would look at it and say, "Oh, nevermind. You can keep it." Yeah, it's that bad. As I was watching it at home, I kept trying to tip my head back in some weird effort to make the camera tilt up too. It didn't work. Hmmm...lesson learned.

Anyway, I finally came out to the prairie section that Rainier Rd. goes through. I was met with a rather strong headwind. Fortunately, I didn't have too much farther to go. Before long, I could see the cars travelling along Rainier Rd. Woo Hoo! I made it, and all on pavement! No dirt or gravel this time!

From there it was about another 7 or so miles until I was back home. The total ride was just over 26 miles. The section from 510 to Rainier was about 9 miles--about a mile more than the gravel/dirt road (also came out farther south on Rainier than the gravel way). Ride time was 1:48. Pretty close to my 1:30 plan.

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