Monday, March 22, 2010

Making Wrong Turns (even with a map!)

After last week's ride where I didn't know where I was, I opted to take a map with me today. Fat lotta good it did! I rode up to Steilacoom, but instead of going all the way down to the last road before the ferry dock, I turned on Sequalish (it was on the Pierce Co. Bicycle map). After I got up to the top of the hill, I pulled out the map to see what street I would turn on to get to Military Rd. Funny thing about this bicycle map. It doesn't label all the streets! So, I didn't know what street to turn on to get to Military. It only showed a turn. Well, apparently, I didn't pick the right one. Oh, I got to Military Rd...eventually. But, not the way I wanted to go! After riding Military until it becomes Washington Blvd. then following Gravelly Lake Rd. back to the freeway, I got on I-5 then got off at the next exit which is Thorn Lane. My plan was to ride Perimeter Rd. between McChord and Ft. Lewis to Hwy 7 and make a nice big loop AND go on some roads I'd never been on (hence another reason to take the map). I crossed back over the freeway and ride for a mile or so and come to a Ft. Lewis gate. I stopped and, once again, pulled out the map. I was on Murry Rd. at 150th. I needed to turn onto 150th which would take me to Perimeter Rd. where I would turn right and eventually get to Hwy 7 (so I thought). 150th did take me to Perimeter, but turning right was wrong. After a couple of miles or so of going toward what I thought was Hwy 7, I came to yet another Ft. Lewis gate, the Rainier Gate, to be exact. I pull up where the MPs are doing 100% ID checks (waiting my turn in line). The nice young man asks if I have a decal on my bike (uh, no). Do I have one on my helmet? (again, no) Well, then I'll have to show my ID (no problem, I have my driver's license!). I pull off so I can get my license out of my trunk bag. I give him my license and he asks if I have a "gate pass" ( Well, he can't let me ride through then. I ask if this is Perimeter Rd. because I have a Pierce Co. bike map that shows Perimeter Rd. running all the way to Hwy 7. The MP says yes, but this is the Ft. Lewis Rainier Gate. I tell him I don't want to go to Ft. Lewis. I want to go to Spanaway and Hwy 7. I get out my map. The other young man, who was eating his lunch, looks at my map and comments about "the button-hook" (???). Then he shows me, on their map, where I am and where I need to go (clearly NOT through Ft. Lewis). As I said, turning right was wrong. I should have turned left off 150th. That being straightened out, I asked if I could use their potty shack. They, graciously, said, "Yes", but warned me of it's condition. Apparently, the OTHER gates have nice BUILDINGS with FLUSH toilets, but THEY get a SANI-CAN. I told them, as far as I was concerned, I didn't care. I'd been in some pretty bad potty shacks. I told them about my "Potty Shack Rating Scale" (1-10 10 being a brand new, in the shade, fully stocked potty shack--it's very hard to rate a 10). Well, this one wasn't bad at all. In fact, I gave it a 9! It even had a sink! Anyway, after abit more chatting, I turned Stella around (the MP couldn't give me back my license until I was turned around), put my license away and bid them farewell. The rest of the ride was uneventful. After I got to Hwy 7, I was on roads I've been on for the STP, so nothing new there. Today's total (with wrong turns and all): 76 miles.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wind Wind Wind (and I have no idea where I am)!

For today's ride I thought I would go to Eatonville. I've only done that ride once roundtrip and once from Eatonville to home (the last day of Kyle's and my 17 day trip). It's a nice ride and has, when not too cloudy, great views of Mt. Rainier. As I was riding, I noticed there was abit of a headwind. I thought, "No problem! I'll have a tailwind on the way back!" So, I continued and got to Eatonville about 12:30.
I had lunch at Subway (told the gal there I have eaten there 3 times, but never driven there). While I was eating I thought about the ride back and how it would be nice to go a different way. When I crossed Hwy 7, I saw the sign to Pioneer Farm pointing to the left. On Hwy 161 there is also a sign to Pioneer Farm on Ohop Valley Rd. Hmmmmm...wouldn't that mean that I could turn on Ohop Valley and end up on Hwy 7? I decided to give that a shot. When I came out of Subway, I was immediatly suspicious that the wind had changed direction (and increased in force). Oh yeah! When I turned onto Ohop Valley, the wind blasted me in the face! At least I was going downhill. I rode past Pioneer Farm (remembered the fieldtrip I taken there with Mr. Brainerd's class)and came to a stop sign. Did it say what road this was? No. I figured I needed to turn right so I did. The road immediately looped back toward the direction I had just come AND started climbing. I just kept going, hoping I was on Hwy 7. After I came up out of the valley I started seeing mailboxes. Here's a piece of advice: If you don't know what road you are on, look at the mailboxes. Sometimes they will have the street name on them. That's what I did. Did they say Hwy 7? No. They said Mt. Hwy. What the heck is Mt. Hwy??? Oh how I wished I had my Pierce Co. map with me! Well, too late to turn back now! I knew (okay, hoped) I was headed in the right direction. At one point the road curved and there was a sign that said "Olympia--Tacoma" and pointed to stay on the road I was on. That made me feel better. At least at some point I would get back to Olympia.
After a few more uphills and downhills with the wind blowing first from the side then the front (oh, and it was raining too), I could see a flashing light up ahead. Then I saw a sign the said "Hwy 702 Jct". Hallaluia!!! I was right where I wanted to be! Whew! The rest of the ride was just "Head down and pedal". Fortunately, there is more downhill than up going back. I stopped at DQ for a cone then finished the last 13 miles in the wind, but no rain. Total miles today: 69

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Three County Ride in Reverse (Sort of)

Did not expect to wake up to sunshine this morning! Quickly decided a ride was in order. Headed out to do the previous Three County Ride that I did in February (or was it January?)except going the opposite direction. Although the sun was shining, the wind was also blowing, supposedly from the SW. It made for a pretty strong headwind at times. I just told myself it would be a tailwind on the way back. When I did the ride before, I did not take Summit Lake Rd. This time I did. It is a nice diversion from Hwy 8 and all the traffic. There can be some nasty traffic on Summit Lake Rd., but not on a Wed. in March. Got back onto 8 at the other end of Summit Lake Rd. Did Mox-Chehalis Rd. like before. Also a nice diversion from Hwy. 8. Rolled into McCleary in time for lunch at Subway, of course. After lunch, I headed out of town on Hwy 108. I was hoping to get to Hurley Waldrip Rd. with a minimum of log trucks passing me as there is limited shoulder on a good chunk of 108. Only saw 1 log truck, and it was going the other direction! Yea! Last time I came from Kamilche Point Rd. This time I turned onto Hurley Waldrip. So, instead of Oyster Bay and Kamilche (Old Pacific Hwy), I did Summit Lake and Hurley Waldrip Rds. Also, I came through downtown instead of Tumwater Hill. Nothing spectacular on today's ride, but a good one nonetheless. Total miles: 60.5

Monday, March 1, 2010

An Attempt at Uncharted Territory

The plan for today's ride was to ride to where Tono Rd. comes into Big Hanaford Rd. and go left on BH. As I rolled up to the intersection and looked to my left, what to my wondering eyes do I see? A DEAD END sign. Dang, I hate dead end roads! BUT, I decided to ride it to the end anyway. In a previous post (How a 45 mile ride became 65--or something like that), I mentioned that I came out onto Big Hanaford Rd. from the forest service road. Well, less than a mile beyond that point, the road ended at the TransAlta property. However, one cool thing I saw, as I was riding on this dead end road, was a herd of elk. They were running along in a pasture. I got a picture, but they are a ways off. Here it is anyway.

On the way back, before I reached Tono Rd., I was trying to decide whether to continue on Big Hanaford past the steam plant or go back up Tono (the very hilly option). I looked down at my front tire and noticed it looked low. When I got to a wide spot in the road, I stopped and felt the tire. Sure enough it was squishy. I had checked both tires before I left. The front was not squishy then. So, I changed the tube. Ironically (or luckily), when I left the house this morning, I got about 1/2 mile down the road and realized I didn't have my bike pump. Yesterday, I had put a new rear tire on Stella as the sidewall had blown out on the old one. I hadn't changed the front tire (I have now!)Anyway, I turned around and picked up the pump. Good thing! After I changed the flat, I decided it was Tono Rd. (hills and all). When I got to Tenino, I stopped at Subway for some lunch. It was only about 1:00 so I figured I could ride to Rainier on the trail and take the road back. When I got to Rainier, I calculated that it would be another 18 miles if I continued to Yelm on the trail and took the road back from there. I had plenty of time, so that's what I did. The ride ended up being 74 miles of which only 2 were uncharted territory! Still, a good day in the saddle (flat tire and all)!