Saturday, January 30, 2016

It Was All Good Until the Chainsaws Started

Today's gravel ride didn't go quite to plan, but it was still a good ride for everyone, even though we didn't all finish together. I'll get to that.

I planned a Chick Gravel Ride based on a route I've done two other times. Start at McLane Elementary School, head down Delphi to Cedar Flats, then Maple Valley, and into the forest. From there we would go up B-8400 to B-8000, then come down almost to Rock Candy Parking before turning to continue on the B-line. We would follow that to B-5000, then to C-4000, then C-8000, and down to Noshka Rd. From there it was pavement all the way back to McLane.

The weather was looking pretty good, a little bit chilly, but some decent sun. We ended up with a pretty good turnout of 8 gals and 1 honorary chick (Andy). The gals were: Karen (who drove me to the start), Jean, Maria, Geraldine, Juliann, Cindy, Sarah, and me. 

When we got to the hike-a-bike part, we found that the evil "Mr. McGregor" (I don't know the guy's real name, so I have named him after the mean farmer in "Peter Rabbit") had put more logs and branches across the path in an attempt to keep us from passing through to the forest road. He also moved a rock that had previously been used to step across the creek (much to the dismay of his neighbors too). But, never fear, we always find a way! This time we went further up the road to an old road that may or may not be part of the property of the house further up the hill. No one stopped us. As we popped out onto the forest road, a couple with a beautiful Doberman named Cody were walking by. We asked if this was their property (in an effort to state our case for a reasonable path to the road). Unfortunately, they were not. They said they just jump across the creek. The issue stems partly from the people on horseback. The horses erode the side of the road. It is understandable that that is not a good thing. However, bicycles don't have that kind of impact. If only there could be some common sense and consideration made...

Anyway, back to the ride. When we all reached the top of the first three steep hills Andy took this photo of us.
L to R--Juliann, Geraldine, Karen, me, Jean, Cindy, Sarah, and Maria

Here's the photo I took with Andy in it.
And Hal in the foreground.

We worked our way to B-8000, then down to the turn for the B-Line. At this point, Sarah opted to head out to Hwy 8 and head for home. The rehab plan for her knee didn't really include massive amounts of climbing. She was okay heading back on her own, so we said goodbye and continued on the B-line. 

We began the climb back up. As we were going along, a guy came down who had passed us going up. He stopped and said the road was closed ahead for some timber cutting. Based on where he said, we thought we would be turning prior to the closed part. Not long after we turned onto B-5000, we came to the closed section. We couldn't hear any chainsaws, so we decided to continue on. As we came around a curve, we could see the evidence of the timber cutting. There were about three trees at an angle across the road from up above (I didn't stop for photos, as I thought it best to just get through there). We were able to easily ride under them. Not far beyond, we came to the end of the closure. At this point, it was me, Karen, Jean, and Maria. When we looked back, the others weren't coming. Maria turned around to go tell them it was okay. Jean, Karen, and I waited on the other side of the tape and sign.
Waiting for the others.

After a few minutes, we heard some yelling (male voice). Then, after another couple of minutes, we heard chainsaws. Hmmm...still no others, and no Maria. We saw a couple of trees go down. It was starting to sprinkle a bit, and standing, we were getting chilled. Neither Karen or I had service. Jean attempted to call Maria, but the call didn't go through. We logically determined that they turned around. As the chainsaws were still running, we had no choice but to continue on. This kind of deflated the mood a bit, but we still had miles to go. Karen had hoped to be back by 1:00. With the delay, that was not likely going to happen. 

At one point, the road came to a "Y". We started to the right, but I wasn't sure that was correct. We stopped and I consulted the map on my phone. Nope, we were supposed to go left...and up. I'd kind of forgotten about this climb. At the top, I checked the map again to make sure. Yep, it was the right way. I attempted to send a text to the others, as I had 3 dots. It didn't send. 

As we continued, a vehicle came up from the other direction. We told them the road was closed ahead. We told the same to the next one we saw. Soon we came to the intersection to turn onto C-4000, which then took us to C-8000. As we started the long descent down C-8000, I stopped to take these photos. 

We would end up down in that valley.

The rest of the descent was as fun as always. I told Karen that the first time I came down that on Stella I could only go about 12 mph. I glanced down today and saw I was going 20 mph. So much fun!

Eventually, we ended up on Noshka. From there it was pavement. As we were riding on Delphi, Maria came along in her car. She wanted to make sure we were okay. Since Karen was going to be really late by the time we got back to the cars, Maria put her bike on the car, and drove Karen back to McLane. Jean and I rode back. I could have turned on 62nd for a shorter way home, but since the day was nice, I didn't mind riding with Jean back to McLane.

When we got back to McLane, I looked at my Garmin to see that the route I had planned was just under 33 miles. I will try to remember that for next time.

As I was heading home, it started to sprinkle a bit. The sun was still shining. As I looked back to change lanes so I could make the turn onto Mottman, I saw a rainbow. After I made the turn I took this photo.

I made it home just as it started to rain again. Perfect timing! As for the other group? They did turn around and took a slightly different way back to the Rock Candy parking lot. According to Maria, it was a little bit more mountain bike worthy, but everyone survived. Then, they took the hwy back (like Sarah had done). 

You never know what you are going to encounter out in the forest, but chainsaws and falling timber is a first!

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!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Partly, the Worst Ride Ever...Or, Surviving the Gauntlet!

I say "partly" because no ride is ever all bad. If it was, I'd have not left the house!

I'm in Eugene visiting my kids, and My Sweet Baboo grandson. For this trip, Hal, the cyclocross bike turned gravel bike, got to come with me on the train. This morning, with a weather forecast of 80% chance of rain, I headed out in my raincoat, but not my rain shorts. It wasn't raining at the time (I would regret the decision to not wear the rain shorts).

My plan was to head out the Fern Ridge Path to its end, then pick up Green Hill Rd and go on out to the Fern Ridge Reservoir. When I've been out there in the past, I've noticed a potential trail along the top of the dike from a marina to the county park. I thought, since I was on Hal, I'd check out that trail.

Everything was going well. I did have a minor detour off the trail because it was closed, but the detour was well signed. It started to rain a little while I was still on the Fern Ridge Path. Looking at the sky, I was glad I would be turning north after getting off the path. There was still bits of blue sky north. The sky southwest was an ominous black. I even contemplated continuing north instead of going over to the reservoir. Follow the blue sky, right?

I reached the end of the path and got onto Green Hill Rd. The rain was picking up, but I was fine. I was headed for the blue sky. Green Hill Rd, going north, is a long straight road that after a short section, is out amongst fields with no trees (this is very important because no trees means no protection). As I was riding along, I noticed the wind was picking up some. It was a cross wind. I went through a roundabout, and then I was out in the open area. The wind was really starting to pick up. I thought I was definitely going to continue north because, to turn west would put me ride into the wind--not fun.

At this point, the rain was coming down more heavily. Well, I should say it was coming at me sideways more heavily. The more I got out into the open, the harder the wind was blowing. After maybe a quarter mile, the wind was blowing so hard I couldn't stay on the road. I stopped and braced myself against the wind. There was no question, I needed to turn around. This is where I really wished I had my rain shorts. I was getting cold standing in the wind and rain. My left side was completely soaked, and my left boot was filled with water. When there were no cars coming, I crossed the road and turned around. The wind was blowing so hard that I had to walk. The only time I have ever been in a cross wind so strong was in Germany when Christian and I were crossing the bridge to Fehrman Island. At least then it wasn't also raining. Now my right side was completely soaked too. I continued walking until I finally reached a place where the wind wasn't so bad. I was able to get back on. There were a few gusts of a heavy head wind, but at least I wasn't getting blown off the road. 

I made it back to the shelter of some bushes, then back to the path. The wind was still blowing on the path, but at least I didn't have to deal with traffic. I could zig zag back and forth across the path as much as the wind wanted to blow me.

I made it back to town. The wind wasn't blowing nearly as hard, and it wasn't even raining! I got back on the Amazon Trail. I could see blue sky! As I got back near the kids' house, I had only gone about 20 miles. Now the weather was getting nice! Even though my hands were cold (gloves were soaked), and my feet were still sloshing in water (and now rather cold), I decided to continue on. I told myself I'd go up Fox Hollow (the hill would warm me up for sure) as far as Donald, then turn and come back on Donald. 

I got to Donald, but now I was mostly warm, and it was nice out. I decided to go on. I'd go as far as Willamette, then come back into town. This was the best part of the ride (see? No ride is all bad). I even stopped to take this photo.
The valley south of Spencer Butte.

Once I was around Spencer Butte, the wind was a little stronger. Prior to that, I'd toyed with continuing past Willamette, and going to MacBeth where I could come down and go back up over Lorane Hwy. I turned on Willamette. Enough was enough. I did the rest of the climb up Willamette, then the thrilling 14% grade descent (which cooled me right down!).

I worked my way back to the house. In the end, I did 32.1 miles in 2:38 (ave speed a whopping 12.2). I survived the gauntlet of terrible crosswinds! I would prefer to not experience that again for a long time!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Attempting the Perimeter, But Being Thwarted By Lakes

Since KITT (my rain road bike) is still at the spa getting a new derailleur and hanger, I decided it would be foolish of me to try to keep up with the guys on tonight's night ride whilst riding Hal (my gravel/cross bike). I can barely keep up when I'm riding KITT! 40mm tires would not make me faster! So, it was either a ride on the trainer, or gravel on JBLM. Luckily, Area 20 is still open.

Now that I have this awesome map on my phone, I looked at it closely, and could see a possibility of doing a ride that was mostly around the perimeter of Area 20. That could be interesting...

I called in my plans to Range Control and set out at about 11:00. It was raining, but the temps were a balmy 43 degrees (I didn't even wear liners in my lobster gloves!). I got out to the gate at the end of Johnson Rd (side note: the road onto JBLM continues to be called Johnson Rd). I let some air out of the tires because I had inflated them almost to the max pressure to lead last night's Joy Ride sponsored Beginning Night Ride. When I got to the first intersection, I went left. Not much further, I came to another intersection. Going left again would keep me close to the perimeter. I've been on this road before. It has some steep little climbs, but they're not too long. According to the map, there was another left I could take that would bring me even closer to the edge of JBLM. When I got to that road, I went for a short way, but it was pretty gnarly and overgrown, so I turned around. I continued along the main road. I came to a junction where I needed to go right. Then I would be on the road that borders 19 and 20. Except there was this.
Yes, that's an icy lake with no end in sight. Hmmm...thwarted! I turned around and went back. When I got back to where I had started this road, I turned left. I was missing a good chunk of the perimeter. This is the road Jan and I were on last Sunday. This took us up to where we could see the helicopter. About halfway up there's a road that goes to Fiander Lake. I decided to go check out the lake. I knew it would be out and back. 
Fiander Lake. Not much of a photo, but it wasn't much of a lake either. More of a big pond.

I made my way back, and continued to the top near the Pinnacle HTA. Just for fun, I rode up to the Pinnacle. Actually, I didn't go quite to the top because there was this.
If I had been able to come to it from the other direction, I would have ridden through the HTA. There were no helicopters today, and it's just a short distance to the other side (in fact, you can see the back of the other sign).

On a clear day, there is a good view. This is looking back toward the road that is the border of 19 and 20.

When I looked at the map, I could see that the border road continued after crossing the paved road. So now I was back on my perimeter quest. I rode along a decent road until I came to a big intersection. I looked at the map, and assumed I would go left. So, I did. Before long, I came to this gate.
Cool thing--I knew what that road was! I looked again at the map because there wasn't really an option except to go back. Turns out, I was no longer in Area 20. I was in 19. Oops...I turned around. I went back and went the other way at the intersection.

There has been a lot of logging in this area. Before long, I came to these.
Fortunately, there was no one around. I followed the road to the right. When I came to another junction, I looked and could see on the map that I could go to the left, and then ride along the fence line of the JBLM boundary (and still Area 20). 
See the fence?

This road was quite the muddy roller coaster. I came to where the road curved to the right, but also went straight. Wanting to continue along the perimeter, I went straight. Up, down, up, down. I had to walk around an icy muddy puddle. I even had to walk up one of the hills. But, hey, I was still following my plan! I was, however, getting a little weary of the crappiness of the road. I figured I didn't have too much farther to go before I would come out to the prairie. But, then I came to this.
Another lake thwarting my quest to ride the perimeter of Area 20! This time, I had to go back through the crappy stuff I'd just ridden through. Now I was really weary of this road! But, back I went, as far as the last turn. That was a much better road. When I came to another option, I turned right. It kind of looked familiar. I think it was one of the roads Jan and I had been on. However, somehow (even looking at the map now, I can't figure out what I did), I managed to circle back to where I had mistakenly turned and ended up on 19. At that intersection, at least I knew where I was. So, from there, I just rode back toward the Pinnacle, and came back down, past the turn to Fiander Lake, and eventually back out to the gate at Johnson Rd. 

I no way managed to ride the perimeter (the Strava map looks rather strange), but I did see some places I don't think I've been before! Also, it was 30 miles by the time I got home. So, it's all good!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Being Rule Abiding Good Girls

I called JBLM and found out Area 20 was open. Areas 19, 21, and 22 were not. That's the way it usually is. I asked Jan if she wanted to go and she did. So, we met at my house at 11:00, and headed out to the end of Johnson Rd., and the gate onto Area 20.

Last week I downloaded the maps for JBLM. I was interested in seeing just exactly which area, and where in that area, I was riding. Through the app, using gps, it shows exactly where I am. Jan was okay with me stopping to check the map. This was her first time on JBLM since she got her Access Permit.

We rode up the gravel to the first intersection. I checked the map. I had intended to continue straight, then go right just before this one big hill. Oops, the right would put us onto Area 22. Instead, we went left. When we got to the next intersection, I knew exactly where I was, and knew we needed to go straight. At this point, the road starts climbing. I knew this was the way to get up to one of the highest points on JBLM. I was thinking maybe we would go up there, as we were coming out of the fog and into the sun. Maybe there would be a good view. 

As we were climbing, I could hear a helicopter. As we came to the next intersection (go left to go to the view), we could hear the helicopter approaching. I knew we were still in Area 20, actually the road that borders 19 and 20. On the map, the high point is listed as the Pinnacle HTA (helicopter training area). is in Area 19. So, we would not be checking out the view! We did, however, watch the big Chinook helicopter for awhile. We even took pictures (probably a no no).
See the heli at the top of the road?
A little further down the road, we looked back and could see it hovering over the Pinnacle.

We came out to the "paved" road. I say, "paved" because some time ago they laid down a layer of smaller than pea gravel rock on the whole paved stretch (runs from Hwy 510 to Rainier Rd). I used to ride my road bike on that road, but not now. However, it is getting better. I think a roadie could make it now if they were careful, and had puncture resistant tires.

We looked, again, at the map. I didn't want to just ride the paved road. Besides, getting to Rainier Rd would involve going between areas 21 and 22. I saw where we could get off the pavement and still be on 20. We did that, and eventually came back to the paved road, but we were able to go back a bit, and get on another dirt road that took us back over to Johnson Rd (the part on JBLM). Once we got back to Johnson, we rode out to the prairie at the junction of Areas 20, 21, and 22 so Jan could see the prairie.
Looking across Area 21. This particular spot is the Merrill DZ (drop zone). 

We turned around and followed Johnson Rd. back to the gate where we started. Along the way we came to this.
I'd say there hasn't been much vehicle traffic along here.

When we came down the big hill, I stopped at the bottom to show Jan where I had originally planned to turn (onto Area 22). As I looked back, I noticed this.
Beautiful, right?

We made it back to the gate. We had done about 10 miles on JBLM. It was a good ride, and all on Area 20! We are such good rule followers!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Two-fer Post--Road and Gravel

Post #1--Even Road Rides Can Be An Adventure (I would have written this yesterday, but I ran out of time.)

My new riding buddy, Eric, and I set out to set out to ride to Centralia via Tono Rd, Tzietzal to Little Hanaford, and on into Centralia, where we had lunch at Berry Fields Cafe (my favorite take-myself-to-lunch place). All of that was awesome. The valley along Tzietzal was beautiful, even in the fog. 

After lunch, for the ride back, we opted for Zenkner Valley. After rather heavy lunches, Zenkner was a bit of a struggle, but we made it to the top of Flumerfelt. After the flying descent down Flumerfelt back to Hwy 507, Eric told me he just about crashed. I apologized for not warning him of Flumerfelt's steepness and curves.

We headed back to Tenino on 507, and Crowder Rd. As we were leaving Tenino, climbing up Hwy 99, all of a sudden my rear wheel came to a screeching halt. When I looked down to see what was wrong, I discovered KITT's rear derailleur hanger had snapped, and the derailleur was firmly tangled in the spokes. Hmmm...not good. Eric caught up to me, and I gave him the bad news. He said, "What do we do now?" Realizing we were nowhere near a bike shop, I told him we would flag down a pickup, and get a ride, at least into Tumwater where we could catch a city bus home. After a busted spoke on my race bike a year or so ago, I always carry a bus ticket for a day pass as well as a single ride ticket. So, if we could get a lift to the nearest bus stop, we could put the bikes on the bus bike rack and get back to town.

I commenced to flagging down a pickup. The first pickup went by, then slowed down, but kept going. As I was trying to flag down another truck, that went by without stopping, I noticed the first pickup was turning around. Yay! He came back! We told him the situation. Now, you might be thinking I was the only one who needed a ride. There was nothing wrong with Eric's bike. But, Eric is new to the area, and had no idea where we were. In addition to that, his phone battery had died. So, I didn't want to leave him to try and figure out the route home. Our hero, Terry, was happy to give us a ride. He is also new to the area having recently retired from the Navy, and moved here from Mississippi. He lived just up the road a ways, but was willing to take us into Tumwater, and the nearest bus stop.

Terry dropped us at the stop for the 13 bus in front of the State Library. Fortunately, the 13 comes every 15 minutes, so we didn't have to wait long. We loaded the bikes on the bus, and rode to Tumwater Square. Here, we needed to change to the 68 to get out to Lacey. As the 13 pulled up to the stop, the 68 pulled away. Dang, just missed it! Eric had to go get change as he had used the single ride ticket. When he came back out from getting change for the bus, I told him we had just missed the 68, and there wouldn't be another one for an hour. We were both getting cold when I had the bright idea to call my friend Debra. She doesn't live far, and she has a Tahoe. Fortunately she was home, and able to come get us. We threw the bikes in the back of the Tahoe. Debra drove us to Eric's car (at Starbucks in Lacey), then took me home (after stopping for pizza at Mod Pizza). 

We still managed to get in 50 miles. KITT is now at Joy Ride being repaired. It should be on warranty as he is less than a year old, and has never crashed or even tipped over. Plus, I didn't even ride him most of the summer! Even road rides can be adventurous!

Post #2--A Gravel Ride With Even More Gal Pals!

Today should have been a Joy Ride scheduled gravel ride, but the guy in charge is out of town. No worries! Tim called a ride. Basically, the route was the reverse of the last JR ride (without the hike-a-bike to Kennedy Falls). We were meeting at Skep and Skein. On my way over to Karen's to ride with her to the Skep, I noticed my front wheel wasn't turning very good. I looked down at the tire and saw that it was going flat. I was running a little late, so I didn't want to stop. However, when I got to the neighborhood next to Karen's, I stopped, because there is a downhill, and I was worried I would roll the tire off the rim. When I stopped, I noticed a sharp little rock embedded in the tire. When I flicked it out, the tire went completely flat. I had about 1/2 mile to Karen's so I just took off walking as fast as I could (I even ran for a short bit--it felt very much like cyclocross!) I got to Karen's and loaded Hal onto her rack. I would wait until we got to the Skep to change it. Once there, I had the tire changed in a jiffy. Brian was nice to hold Hal for me.

It was another great group of riders, but the best part was the 6 of us gals who showed up! Jean was our only regular gravel gal who was missing. We even got Sarah, Chris, and Cindy to join Karen, Jen, and I! I've been trying to get Chris and Sarah to come, so I was thrilled when they said they would. It was also another Norco Threshold party. There were at least 9 of us riding various colors of Thresholds (5 of the 6 of us gals were on our Thresholds).

This ride started with some miles on the pavement. We went up to Steamboat Island via Madrona Beach Rd. Hopped over to Oyster Bay Rd, then got on 101 to Old Olympic Hwy where we picked up the gravel. While going around the gate, one of the guys snagged his shoulder on this sign that sticks out, and went tumbling off his bike down a short embankment. He was okay, but remarked that he would probably feel that tomorrow. Ouch!

After we were rolling again, we had to be careful of the horses. Fortunately, at the first turn, the horseback riders went left while we continued straight. At the junction of 2700 and 2705 (now I know where 2705 comes out!), those wanting steeper climbing and more elevation gain took 2705. Basically, that was the guys, with the exception of Steve. He still has cross gearing on his bike, so a steeper climb was not a good idea. So, Jen led us gals and Steve, continuing on 2700. Although we didn't do as much climbing as the others, we still had to climb. Before too long, we passed by 2710 (where Karen, Jan and I had gone last Saturday). I pointed it out to Karen. 

We rode the rest of the way back to the gate at South Shore Rd. The guys weren't there. We figured they must be ahead of us (even though we had planned to meet them there), so we continued on the pavement. At the Rock Candy Trailhead, Jen texted Tim. She thought it would be a good idea for her to wait there in case the guys were behind us. The rest of us began the climb up B-8000. This was a first for me. I've only come down B-8000. Although it's longer than B-8400, it's not as steep. Since the temps have gone up some, the road was muddier. It wasn't too bad though. At one point we could hear a vehicle coming down. Turns out, it was an 18-wheeler pulling a flat bed trailer. We all "yielded the right of way", pulling over to let him pass. 

The rest of the climb was uneventful. Without the easier gears, Steve had to walk a bit, but he wasn't that much slower walking than those of us who were riding! We continued on to the descent. Steve's water bottle went flying off his bike, but Karen retrieved it and got it back to him. When we got to the top, near where B-8400 picks up, we stopped to enjoy the view. It was the farthest we've been able to see since the gravel rides started this season (sorry, I didn't take a photo)! All that was left, gravel-wise, was the descent down B-8400. Strangely, it was much more fun than going up! 

We did the hike-a-bike through the bushes out to Maple Valley Rd., then rode the last 4 or 5 miles back to Skep and Skein. We were a little worried because when we got back, T-shirt Bill's car was gone. If the guys were already back and gone, then Jen would be riding the whole way back by herself (not that she is not totally capable--she definitely is). About 30 seconds later, in came the guys (T-shirt Bill had cut it short, and ridden Hwy 8 back in, however he was still there, or maybe he went home, changed, and came back). So, they were behind us! Apparently, Henry had a flat.

A bunch of us had sandwiches and celebratory drinks at the Skep. Once again, it was a great gravel ride! All of us gals had a fabulous time! It was so much fun to have so many of us! Thanks to Tim and Jen for planning this great ride!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Sun is Still Shining, So Let's Go Exploring!

Today was another beautiful, freezing cold sunny day. Karen and I wanted to go gravel riding (of course we did--I don't think we ever don't want to go gravel riding). Jan wanted to join us, so the three of us met at the Rock Candy Mtn Trailhead parking lot. We wanted to do some exploring on the Green Diamond property near Summit Lake. This is where we went last weekend to get to Kennedy Falls. Although we didn't want to do the hike-a-bike trail to the falls this time, there were lots of other gravel roads to check out. 

We remembered taking a left once we were on the gravel last week. When we came to a fork, we went left, thinking we were going the same way as last time. Well, we weren't. As we were riding along, I said to Karen, "Do you remember this part?" She said, "I don't remember riding through this Winnie-the-Pooh woods part." I didn't either. But hey, we were exploring! We came to where another road went right. I thought maybe it would take us to the road we had been on last week. It seemed like if we continued on the road we were on, it would take us back to Summit Lake Rd (further down). We didn't want that, so we took the other road. It went a quarter of a mile or so, then dead ended. We turned around and came back. Then we went back to where we had made the erroneous left. Once we were on the other road, I remembered it. The correct left was just further than I had remembered. 

We made the correct turn, then down a steepish hill to a sharp right turn to get down to another road (2720). We passed the trail to the falls (we stopped and showed it to Jan). This time we continued on. After awhile, we came to another spur road (2710). I was pretty sure (but not positive) if we continued on 2720, we would eventually come to the intersection we had been at last week that led down down down to Old Olympic Hwy. So, we turned on 2710. It was a nice road, but it, too, dead ended. As we were coming back, I could see another, somewhat less traveled road dropping off to our left. We decided to save exploring that one for another day. 

We came back to 2720, and rode back the way we had come. Every road we passed, I thought to myself, I wonder where that one leads to? All roads for another day! 

We made it back to the pavement, then back to the cars. At 16.7 miles, it wasn't the longest ride, but it was fun exploring new roads.

Here's a couple of photos...
Hwy 101 is somewhere off in the distance (we could hear the traffic)
Selfie time! Jan, Karen, and me.