Sunday, January 26, 2014

Practically in my Backyard!

For today's dirt ride, I only had to ride a mile to get to the start! We met at Horizons Elementary. There were just four of us today--Brian, Derik, Michelle, and I. There was some speculation that last week's ride was a little too epic for some--perhaps a bit too much of an adventure. My thought is, it is all about the adventure. If I want same ol' same ol', I'll stick to the roads! But, I digress...

Brian and Derik were on their purposely-built-for-this-kind-of-riding bikes. I was on Stella, and Michelle opted for her single-speed cross bike (she heard some crazy talk about the route being flat). Speaking of bike choice, this is our third ride. Michelle has ridden a different bike for each ride. Here's a short interview of sorts I did with Michelle while out riding today (well, waiting for Derik to sort out something with his bike).

This just shows that, within reason (meaning, maybe not a race bike), any bike can be a dirt ride bike! Even Stella has been doing quite well! 

We spent the first few miles on the road--Yelm Hwy to Spurgeon Creek, then into a gated community (gate was open). In the neighborhood, there was a closed fence gate that we went around onto a moss covered, but still paved, road. That took us to another fence gate that we went around. My guess is this "access" road allows for an alternate entrance/exit from the neighborhood in the event of an emergency. 

We came out to Evergreen Valley Rd., which I have ridden many times. As we were riding, I looked at Derik's rear tire and thought to myself, wow, he is running a pretty low pressure. About that time, he looked at his tire and realized he had a flat. Okay, so he didn't mean to have that low of a tire pressure. We pulled off, coincidentally, at a driveway that has a sign on the fence with a picture of a big dog that says, "My dog can make it to the fence in 2 seconds. Can you?" Fortunately, although the gate was open to the driveway, there was no dog in sight. 

Michelle and I rode ahead while the guys changed the flat. At the stop sign, instead of going left onto Johnson (which goes back out to Yelm Hwy), we went right, down the "Dead End" road. We got to the gate at the end of the road and circled back to the guys. As they were on their way, we turned around again. 

The sign at the gate said "JBLM--No trespassing". We lifted our bikes over the gate, and heaved ourselves over as well. It's Sunday, I doubt the Army guys would be out on maneuvers. The guys also decided that if we were "caught", they would let us gals talk us out of it. Hmmm...

We did a bit of climbing. The only thing that made it challenging was the looseness of the rocks and dirt. Well, that and the fact that I have zero clearance through my fork for the bigger tire. The noise of the bits of sandy gravel spewing out through the fork was somewhat annoying. I told the others that maybe the gravel would "file" the inside of the fork enough to create more clearance. Derik was skeptical of that possibility. 

We reached the top where we had a nearly 360 degree view of the forest below. It wasn't as high as Minot Peak from last week's ride, but it was still in the sunshine and pretty awesome. Since we were at the top (for now) that meant we got to go down. I was tentative at first, but then I just held on and let Stella fly (okay, maybe fly is not the best term--bump along crazy-like would be a more realistic visual here). I'm still not descending as fast as the others, but I chalk that up to less experience, and a greater  desire to not crash.

After some more ups and downs, we popped out at Hwy 510. But, no need to go out onto the road. We stayed parallel to 510 until we came to a "T". Left went out to the road, so of course, we went right. Our fearless leader, Brian, didn't exactly know where right would take us, but hey, that's what makes it an adventure! Except for a couple of steep get-off-and-walk hills (for Michelle and I), the road was fine and just brought us around behind the Casino (although we couldn't see it), and back to JBLM property (or maybe we never left).

We went through a mud puddle section and came out to the gravel road I did last year. However, they have widened, and regravelled it. It was kind of loose, but Stella handled it well. Since I knew where we were, I knew there was a steep downhill and uphill coming. Funny thing--last year I picked my way down at a snail's pace, afraid if I let go of the brakes I would be dead for sure! This time I went about 100 times faster, and kept wondering if it was the same hill (but, I'm sure it was!). 

This time, we didn't follow the same road out to Rainier Rd that I had taken, but instead, turned onto a somewhat muddier and bumpier road (FYI--coarse crushed concrete does NOT make for a smooth road surface). Here's a video of part of that road. You'll see we even went through a rather large puddle! 

At last we were, sadly, forced out to Rainier Rd. near the other end of Spurgeon Creek Rd for the rest of the ride back to Horizons. Michelle was ready to be done. Remember, she was on a single-speed. I was repeatedly amazed at her ability to get up some of the hills just purely muscling it out. As for me, it was super granny gear for sure! 

Once again, it was a great ride! And, the coolest thing of all is that it was practically in my backyard! How lucky is that??? In all, it was 37.5 miles, and 1,541 feet of elevation gain in 3 1/4 hours. Awesome!

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