Wednesday, September 4, 2013

BRSCI-XIII: Loop around Hood Canal (Labor Day Weekend Aug 30-Sept 2, 2013)

Text from Ocean. He and Dyno were on their way over to kickstart BRSCI. I knew I had to get out of the Yurt before the merriment ensued or no chance of catching up on work. Slogged through a pile of charts in the stuffy, un-airconditioned office then got home at 8:40 Saturday night. My BP was 175/95 despite my BP pills, but that was about to change: there was homemade banh-mi and movies waiting, and still a sliver of Pendleton left.

Not sure why we had to get up at 5 AM since the first water taxi from Seattle was at 8:30, but that is the way Ocean rolls. Not sure if I got any sleep except I think I remember dreaming. Went to Glo’s, a dive on Capitol Hill with mirrored walls, which serves huge breakfast portions with questionable ketchup freshness starting at midnight. There is nothing in life than better than that first cup of AM coffee and eating a lot (preferably with bacon), then biking a lot, then eating a bunch more washed down with whisky.

We took off early to Pier 50 just 2 miles away, to catch the first West Seattle water taxi.
The day started out cloudy, but dry for the ride around the West Seattle coastline.

Dilly dallied looking at giant purple starfish and such. Just missed the 9:15 ferry, so perused posted adverts for upcoming rides, including the “Passport to Pain” where a guy in a white coat points out the course on Vashon resembles VTach on an EKG, or the “Edible Pedal” which tours peninsula farmlands and is catered by Chef Dan. Caught the 9:45 ferry from Fauntleroy to Southworth.

Plan was to ride from Southworth to Belfair, then stop for lunch. Dyno had an elaborate route all mapped out so we could avoid highways, but…. left the cue sheet at the Yurt… Doh! So he puts in an earbud connected to his phone GPS and we’re on our way.

It is hard to lug gear- sleeping bag, tent, clothes, snacks… had not ridden Raul since, well the last time I’d been out here, on the 3 ferries ride 8 months prior. Little hills that would not have been anything on Davey were starting to provoke anxiety attacks. Before noon, I was starving; luckily there was a taco truck.

Shortly after that, Mechanical #1. While Dyno was exploding one tire and using the last spare tube, Ocean confirmed what we had suspected when he kept stopping to text someone, that he was bailing. He had his own anxiety issues, having been hit by a car on a ride one month ago. That long stretch Hwy 106 had some shoulder, though ¾ filled with gravel, and occasional unpredictable stretches with no shoulder. Cars and trucks go fast on that road, and everyone and their mother with RVs and boats seemed to be in a hurry that day. It had stopped being fun for him. We dropped him at a gas station just before the junction with 101, and he settled down to wait for Mrs. Ocean to leave her golf game and pick him up in 2-3 hours. Later we heard, in a minor BRS miracle, his old friend CW whom he had not seen in 6 months called at that moment to see what he was up to. She happened to be in Belfair that day, so she was able to give him a ride home.

Of course, as soon as Ocean left the roads got much better, and traffic thinner. The next part until Dosewallips was probably the most scenic, with smooth winding roads and cool sunny evening weather. Made good time to the campsite. I don’t know why I can’t spell Dosewallips. Dosey…. Doci…. Dosewallup… wallips

Found our spot, #67, pitched our tents,
took a swig of some of the finest Kentucky bourbon one can find in a shatterproof vessel, then headed off to Geoduck Tavern in Brinnon for dinner. Got to sit outside and look at the silver water while eating burgers and debating which was the less worse beer, Corona or Heine, since their tap was out of order.

Back at camp, getting the fire going was not easy, even with the help of Evan Williams. After several shots went to fuel the fire, I wandered over to our Good Samaritan fire neighbors who gave me paper bags doused with cooking oil, which did the trick for kindling. Pretty soon the whisky and beef jerky were gone and it was time to retire.

Next morning I awoke to loud chatter in Vietnamese coming from the next tent. Opened my sandy eyes, 6:45 AM, sun was up. I was still wearing my jacket, lying upside down on my sleeping pad with my sleeping bag just covering my feet and the pillow on the other end of the tent, next to… a pool of vomit? What, I don’t even remember puking. I turn to the other side to grab my shoes to go pee, and there is another, even larger pool of vomit. I look around. Luckily the projectiles had mostly missed my belongings but there was spatter and chunks everywhere inside my tent. Oy.

Climbed out of the tent and saw Dyno, who was looking a little green himself, heading toward the tents. The neighbors had woken him over an hour prior. He hadn’t puked yet, but apparently needed to (and did shortly after). It aint a BRS event without puke somewhere in there. He comes up with a plan to get the puke out of the tent so we can pack up and go. When there is no paper/ soap, wash with rocks. It took a little while to get cleaned up and head out.

Luckily closeby was the Halfway House. French toast stuffed with ham and cheese for Dyno, eggs, bacon, hashbrowns for me, a pot of coffee between us. In my stupor I had forgotten to turn my phone off so it was nearly dead, but I saw Ocean had texted. When were we expecting to arrive in Kingston? Maybe he could meet us there with the car. I was a bit miffed. Why, that’s 90% of the way home, why would we want a ride back to Seattle at that point? I texted back he should meet us with his BIKE in Edmonds, around 1. It got crowded quick. A lady stepped up to the counter and started chatting with Dyno. She spoke of how she sure felt for this cyclist she passed just starting up the base of the Mt. Walker when she drove down from Quilcene. We nodded and smiled, but afterward, we were both like, “You know where that is?” “Nope. You?”

We were about to find out. After about 2 miles of climbing, “this must be that mountain that lady was talking about”. Not steep but it kept going up and up…. But the long descent past many campsites in the Olympic National Forest sure was nice, especially with the disc brakes! Plans already to camp in one of those next time.

After another bit of highway, Dyno stops to consult his phone map. “we could take these 2 highways to the bridge, OR (glint in the eyes) we could go on an adventure”. Well, who could say no to adventure? We decide to zigzag local country roads, adding a few extra miles but subtracting a lot of cars. At first it was nice, rolling roads lined with trees, quiet enough to hear ourselves whistle show tunes. After a long stretch, I hear, “turn on your first left”. But there was no left turn. There was one long climb, and another, still no left turns. “I think we missed it”. “Over here!”. Backtracked to find Dyno at the entrance of a private property tree farm. “Let’s see what Raul can do on this”.

I could tell right away this path was not going to be fun. I would rue the moment I ignored my inner voice telling me to turn around, but I didn’t feel like repeating those climbs. Loose gravel became loose rocks. Every time I put torque on the bike to climb, the bike slipped and felt it would tip over. The bumps jostled the rear end of the bike and my butt felt sledge hammered, but if I got out of the saddle, felt like I would tip over. Descending, the tires slipped on loose gravel and I could not swerve to avoid rocks without scary feeling bike would tip over. So I walked. I know Dyno just could not believe I couldn’t ride on such a benign trail, on such a tough bike, but I really didn’t care what Lance Armstrong could do on Raul. I was used to getting that reaction from trail runners who just can’t believe people who suck as much as me really exist. I felt like I signed up for the Chicago marathon and suddenly found myself in a James Varner trail run.

On and on for over an hour. “we’re nearly there, just a short connector back to the highway”. Then, dead end. Barbed wire. 

Undeterred and ready to be done, Dyno wanted to go around the barbed wire fence. “I don’t think they’re going to prosecute a couple of cycling tourists”. But something told me this was not a good idea, so we tried to find a way around.

I had only a ½ bottle of water left, I could feel my neck sunburning, all my chocolate was melting, both our phones were nearly dead, endless rows of trees. Dyno still sounding chipper, “we’re headed in the right direction”. Another hour. Then finally …. PAVEMENT! Was never so happy to see a highway. It was already 1:15, so Dyno texted Ocean to yes, pick us up in the car in Edmonds.

It’s still another 1.5 hours to the Hood Canal Bridge. Coffee stand lady in Port Gamble generously fills our water bottles.  Then the painted stripes lane indicating proximity to ferry and food….. at the Grub Hut where there was cheesesteak with jalapenos and fresh cole slaw, and the best GD diet coke ever. 

Another couple of touring cyclists approached us. They were locals who were very familiar with the route, and had some suggestions for their favorite multiday ride, in the San Juans. They had raised their family on bikes and had just had the joy of teaching their grandkids to ride. We pretended like we intended to ride the Burke Gilman back to seattle but were too glad to meet Ocean and the car on the other side. 

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