Sunday, January 24, 2016

This Adventure Was a Keeper!

Today was another Joy Ride sponsored gravel ride led by the most awesome Cam Sloan (in Facebookland, Cam Chowdah). Karen was unable to ride today, so I rode over to Skep and Skein. It was fine because...THE SUN WAS SHINING!!! Yes, here we are in the middle of winter, and it didn't even seem like it! It gives one hope that Spring is coming.

We started the day with 20 riders. Again, a mix of bikes from the usual gravel, to mountain bikes, and even Will on his ECR (mid-fat bike). The gal contingent was a little small today with just 5 of us (myself, Jean, Katie, Erin, and Victoria). 

Although we were, in some ways, riding a similar route as the Kennedy Falls ride, Cam had done some mapping to keep us off the hwy entirely. We also entered the gravel from near the end of Cedar Flats, instead of the usual Maple Valley hike-a-bike to B-8400. When we got to the fence gate, there was a "No Trespassing" sign. We had to lift the bikes over, then shimmy through the cable on the side. Two of the guys decided to go back to Maple Valley, and go that way as they didn't think it was a good idea to trespass. Indeed, as we got most of the bikes over the gate, a guy started yelling at us from the house up above (we were down under the powerlines). Cam hotfooted it up to the guy's house and talked to him while we waited for the verdict. Actually, Cam had already gotten permission to go this way, but it never hurts to get the neighbors on board. Sure enough, Cam returned saying the guy was okay with us going through. As Cam put it, "We're friends now."
Waiting for the verdict.

So, we continued on. Soon, we came to another gate. Interestingly, there was a no trespassing sign on the other side of this gate. So, we surmised that just that one section was private property. From there it was smooth sailing. Well, if you are judging the quality of the "sailing" by not having to go through anymore gates. Because, it was definitely not easy riding. In fact, it was quite steep, and required walking up the rocky, run-off trenched road. It was shorter than B-8400, but I'm not sure about easier. However, it was a new way to go, and for that I was thrilled.

We regrouped at the top. This was the view from what we came up.
We came out back on B-8400. At first I didn't recognize where we were, but then it became clear. 

Once we continued, I rode with Will for awhile. Although I was jealous of his easy gearing, I preferred to be on Hal rather than Mama Cass. The ECRs are rather heavy going uphill. 

We regrouped once again where we picked up the B-Line. Then we did the few rollers before heading down to the Rock Candy Trailhead Parking. As we were going up one of the little hills, one of the guys said he had met me on a tour. He couldn't remember exactly where. I asked his name. When he told me, I knew exactly where we had met! His name was Kalen, and I had met him and his wife Claire on Pender Island when I did my "Bike and Boats" tour. They were on their honeymoon bike tour. In fact, Kalen found out about the gravel ride because he had seen the post on my Facebook page! I thought it was a small world when I met them on Pender, and found out they were from Olympia! Then, to end up riding gravel with Kalen...crazy awesome!

From Rock Candy, we crossed the hwy to head to Green Diamond. We regrouped again (Joy Ride takes the "No-Drop" policy seriously, which is great) at the turn onto North Shore Rd where we access Green Diamond. There's another gate, but this one is relatively easy to get under. Cam even managed to almost ride under it (I'd say he did it, even though he had to put his foot down while he was still partly under the gate). I only wish I had gotten a picture. 

When we got to the junction of 2700 and 2705, Tim mentioned he could take those who wanted up 2705, while the rest stayed on 2700. This was like the last gravel ride, only in the opposite direction. Tim said it was easier climbing from this direction. Since I've done the other way 3 times now, I was thinking it would be nice to go a different way. Jean said, "Come on, Colleen, let's do it!" That's all the push I needed. Erin came too. 

Turned out, it was an easy climb, and the views were great! 
Almost to the top.

Then, it flattened out for awhile. The view was even more spectacular!
That's Puget Sound out there!

At the beginning of the descent, we came to this swimming hole (actually a quarry pool).
Although it was a very nice day, it wasn't quite warm enough for a swim!

The ride down was super fun! I was quite glad we were going down this. Up would not have been so much fun. When we met up with the others at the bottom, I told Cam if we did this route again, we should all go on 2705. It was great!

We popped out onto Old Olympic Hwy. This time, instead of heading back on Hwy 101, we took the road we had started to go on the last time we went this way. First we had to figure out what happened to one of the guys. A couple went back, but then returned when they figured out that Jimmy was actually ahead of us (he had come down a different way). Cam said we could go ahead. Most of us had to walk up this part that, in addition to being kind of steep, was muddy and rocky. When we came to a "Y", we couldn't remember if Cam had said go right, then left, or left, then right. So, we waited. 

With everyone back together, we continued on. It was supposed to be "right, left, right". Still, some of us ended up at a singletrack. As we were deciding whether we were supposed to do the singletrack, Jean spotted an unusual sign post through the trees. We all went to have a look.
Somebody went to a lot of trouble...

We returned to the bikes, and headed back to the rest of the group.
Kalen and Aaron...and a mess of bikes!

When we got back to the others, Cam said we needed to go back. We were trying to get to Whittaker Rd, and the way we were going was going to take us back toward Hwy 8. So we went back to where we had gone right, and went the other way. Then we came to another "T". We went right, but eventually Cam determined we were still not going the right way. We turned around again. The great thing was, every time we had to turn around, it meant we got to go downhill. As we were continuing the other way, we stopped because Cam spotted a trail. Tim, and maybe Cam too, knew the road we were on was a dead end. Whittaker Rd. was very close. So we did a little hike-a-bike on the trail, but we were also able to ride some of it. Then we had to go around this.
Not too bad.

A bit more riding, and we came to Whittaker, and one final gate. 
By this time, we were getting pretty good at teamworking the bikes over the gates. 

From there, we rode to Steamboat Island Rd, then Madrona Beach Rd down to Mud Bay, and back to the start. Jean and I toyed with getting a sandwich at Willy's (next to Skep and Skein), but decided we would just ride home. It was after 3:00, and I didn't have lights (including my tail light that I lost somewhere along the way today).

This could not have been a better day for a gravel ride. I've loved them all, but this one was a keeper!

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