There wasn't supposed to be a dirt ride this weekend. Afterall, today is the Super Bowl, and the Seahawks are playing. Super Bowl parties are everywhere. Who wants to be out riding in the dirt? Apparently, there was some chatter about some people wanting a dirt ride, so Derik put out a late email yesterday calling a ride starting at Horizons again. I had planned to do the Sunday Team ride (only because there wasn't a dirt ride planned), but I couldn't pass up an opportunity in my backyard! Besides, the Team ride was Johnson Creek. It's not a bad route, it's just that I've done it so many times.
I rode over to Horizons for the 10:00 start. Although it was cloudy, the forecast called for sunshine. I went with less clothing this time, as last week I was too hot (and it was colder). My fender was rubbing, making an annoying sound. It is not straight. I've tried bending the stays, but haven't been able to straighten it out enough to stop it rubbing. When Brian arrived, he reefed on it a bit. Whatever he did, it worked! No more rubbing!
A new guy named David showed up. He had ridden from the Westside. Derik drove. We waited around until 10 minutes after 10:00, waiting for all those people who wanted a dirt ride. No one else showed up. Unfortunately, Michelle had to work today. It was just me and the guys.
This time we headed down Rainier Rd. We popped up onto the trail. As we passed a couple out walking their dogs, I heard the gal say, "Hey, it's a girl!" Little did she know, I was no girl. I was probably no more than 10 years younger than them! Bwahahaha!!!
We cut back over to Rainier at Fir Tree, and rode to Steadman. Just a short distance on Steadman, then we turned onto the road that follows the pipe line. There were a couple of steep, walk-a-bike parts. David had a flat, so we stopped while he changed the tube. I thanked him for the break. We continued on and came to one downhill that was so steep, I had to put my foot down (the guys rode down it) to negotiate the big rocks before I could get back on the saddle and ride it out.
I looked ahead to see a monster of a wall. Fortunately, we turned and went around it. I still had to walk up part of the "detour", but it wasn't as steep as the other way. We came out at the top on the prairie, west of Rainier Rd. We rode by some cows, and eventually came out to the road. We crossed to the other side and rode a long stretch of actual gravel. The guys were much faster than me and were soon a ways ahead. They passed a couple with two dogs. As I went by, the guy took my picture with his fancy camera. Funny...you'd think the people we saw today had never seen a female on a bike! Then again, maybe they haven't seen someone with my...maturity...out riding the gravel roads. I suppose that's possible...
We came to the paved road I was on yesterday with the gals. We weren't on it for long before we returned to the dirt. We did a loop that ran along a fence line that I've ridden along, on the other side where there is a road, many times. Now I can say I've been on the both sides of the fence! We came to an intersection and turned left which, almost immediately, took us down another very steep and rocky hill. Once again, I felt compelled to put my foot down. At the bottom, the guys asked me how I liked that one. I gave them the thumbs up and said there was nothing like having my life flash before my eyes!
We returned to the paved road just a short distance from where we left it. Again, we didn't stay long on the pavement. Back on the dirt, we came to a big tree down across the road. Derik and David lifted their bikes over, but I noticed Brian rode to the left around it. I followed him. That was much easier than hefting Stella over, ala cyclocross style.
Again we returned to the pavement. This time we rode a little longer before exiting back to the dirt. We came to the top of a moderately steep downhill. At first I put on the brakes, but then I just got into the drops and hung on for the ride down. It was so much fun!!! When I caught up to the guys I couldn't stop giggling! I think they might have wondered if I liked it, but I loved it! I would have ridden back up, just to ride down again!
While I was getting over my giddyness, I looked up and saw a bald eagle circling above us! Could this day get any better? And, it was sunny too! As we continued riding, little did I know we were actually riding part of last week's ride, only in reverse. Seemed totally different to me! We ended up coming out to 510 in the same place as last week, even though, to get there, we were partially riding the reverse. I was looking forward to seeing the Strava map of our route!
We rode toward the Casino as we had last week. Except this time we hung a left out onto 510 instead of doing the steep climb up behind the Casino. We rode the road past the Casino, and seemed to take the next available right turn back to the dirt. This parallel-to-510 dirt required some whacking through Scotch Broom. I managed to not take any whacks to the face.
This brought us back to where we were last week. From there we just went the same way as before to get back to Rainier. I must confess, I was getting tired--not having any less fun, mind you. But, the legs and wrists were feeling it. At one point, I kind of lost focus for a moment, and ended up going smack into the middle of a pothole puddle. I didn't crash, but it was a bit of a jolt. Coming down a hill, I picked up some speed and managed to smack into another pothole puddle. Oooommmph!
We went through the same big mud puddles as last week (actually, I think there were more this time). I made it through all of them (the trick is to not stop pedaling). We also negotiated the same mud bogs (same thing there--don't stop pedaling). It was all just as fun as last time, and I think I rode it better.
Out to Rainier, and all we had left was the road back. Derik and David took off, but Brian stayed with me. I told him he didn't have to, but he said he was in no hurry. That was good, because I was certainly not going fast!
We all agreed it was a most awesome ride! 42.6 miles in 3:40 ride time (for me, anyway). Here's a map of the route.
If you squint, it kind of looks like Barney the Dinosaur! Here's the actual link if you want to see the roads better (zoom in and all).
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Another successful dirt/gravel ride!