Geraldine, Maria, and I met at McLane Elementary this morning at 10:00 for another gravel ride in Capitol Forest. Geraldine had planned out two possible routes. One was a route we did last winter, and part of one I did this last summer, and the other was something mostly new. Since I knew the first option might include having to hike-a-bike across a ravine while walking on a log (last summer DJ or Derik was kind enough to take my bike across), I suggested we do option 2. Afterall, if we wanted epic, what's more epic than unknown roads for unknown miles?
We came into Capitol Forest off Maple Valley Rd. Someone has placed a big pile of large boulders to block the dirt road. We had to carry the bikes over them. A short while later there was another pile, but it was easier to go around. Our guess was that they didn't want any motorized vehicles accessing the Forest there. Fortunately, we gravel grinders can manage.
We went up the first long steep climb with Geraldine seeming to climb like it was flat, Maria turning the cranks on her cross-bike (not the easiest of gears) until she couldn't, and me on Mama Cass bringing up the rear (thankful for that 23-34 gear combo--slow, but the pedals can keep turning). We had a bit of downhill, but then back to climbing.
We reached the turnoff to go up to Rock Candy Mt. (to the left). I was thinking the next right turn would be the Rock Candy Rd that would take us to the entrance off Hwy 8. We made the turn, and started another steep climb, only to find out it wasn't the right way. At least we got to come back down! Back to the main road, we continued on until we actually came to Rock Candy Rd. There were a couple of trail runners that popped out onto the road right as we came by. Since we were climbing pretty slowly, we told them they could probably go faster than we were. I could hear their footfalls coming up behind us, but then we had a short downhill, and we stayed ahead of them. They also went off onto the trail.
We finally came down the big descent to the entrance at Hwy 8. We crossed the Hwy, and picked up the S Line. I had tried to do the S Line a couple months ago, but ended up going the wrong way and, coming upon an active logging operation, had to turn back. I had figured out which way I should have gone, but it was too late. So, today, I knew exactly where to go.
Of course, there was more climbing, and then...more climbing! Geraldine continued to exhibit her super-human climbing skills (I may be Super Biker Woman, but Geraldine is Super Climbing Biker Woman!), reaching the top of each climb well before Maria or myself.
We knew the S Line dead-ended (according to the map). We were prepared to do the out and back, but we were hoping there might be a trail that would bring us out to Whittaker Rd. near Hwy 101. As we were riding along, we began to hear traffic down below. This sounded promising! Soon, we came to the end of the S Line. There were two options of less-travelled double-track. Geraldine surmised that the one to the right was the correct direction to come to Whittaker Rd. We rode on, dodging tree branches, until the double-track ended. Again Geraldine looked at the map and said, "If we just keep going straight, we should come to the road." There was a slight semblance of a trail going in the direction we needed to go. Well alright, let's do it! We wanted epic! What's more epic than bush-whacking your way through downed branches, trees, and brush while pushing/carrying a 30+ pound fat bike? Geraldine and Maria just slung their bikes up on their shoulders as if this was a cyclocross course. All the while, Geraldine is continuing the mantra of "just going straight and we'll come to the road."
We came to a pile of timber, and there we found a logging road that took us to...Whittaker! Woo Hoo! We did it! Now, which way to Hwy 101? Both Geraldine and I thought right, so off we went. Riding along, I mentioned how I'd always wondered where this road went. Turns out I got to see exactly where the road went because, we ended up at the end...the wrong end. Oops! Turn around!
We came out to the Steamboat Island exit. From there we took Madrona Beach Rd to Mud Bay, and back to McLane. Maria and I said goodbye and good ride to Geraldine as we went left on Mud Bay, and she went right to go home. I left Maria at her car at McLane, and rode myself home.
Now I can say I've done the S Line. Even with the bush-whacking (just maybe because of the bush-whacking), it was another great gravel ride with loads of adventure and the right amount of epic-ness!