5 Days of Riding and Camping on the Fat Bike. The general idea was to figure out how far and easily I could travel bike touring for the rest of my vacation days later on in the summer. I’d been planning on circumnavigating the Olympic Peninsula, but had no idea of what kind of milage was reasonable. Another goal was simply to to scout out road conditions on Highway 101 which I’d heard was sketchy.
It was a fun trip and got me out of the house for a bit.
30.91 mi, 1,424ft elev gain
Weather, Partly Cloudy, 59-88F
The first day was an easy ride. Good weather and only had to hike-a-bike up hills once or twice. All the riding was on roads I was familiar with. The Garmin Edge ended up routing me in an odd way a few times. I didn’t worry too much and ignored the directions from the computer after a while (not a good sign really).
Campsite was reserved in advance. $27 for a normal site. Next time I’ll use the Hiker/Biker sites. Cheaper and I didn’t need the extra space. Campsites were “normal” state park sites. Some privacy.
The restrooms and showers were clean and well maintained.
40.51 mi, 1,788ft elev gain
Weather, Clear, 64-111F
Lots of urban riding today, on mostly unfamiliar roads. Some of the scenery was pretty, mostly it was boring urban riding. It still felt good just to be doing a little adventuring.
The Garmin Edge again mis-routed me. First it missed a turn off the highway and routed me into the Bremerton Naval Base. It kept giving me bogus directions. I started ignoring it in Poulsbo and missed a turn with all the whining it was doing and lost 10 miles. For route recording and stat collection it’s a fine product. Not so much for touring.
The ride wasn’t awful, but lacked a lot of neat scenery. It was pretty hot.
Campsite was reserved in advance. $27 for a normal site. Next time I’ll use the Hiker/Biker sites.
Campsites are pretty closely spaced, with maybe 10 feet between them. Little privacy. Lots of noise late into the night. Mostly tent camping spaces. There are cabins available, and 3 hiker/biker sites which I didn’t know about.
Varmits ate into my Ortlieb bags. The beach was closed at the Park too. Ugh. At least the facilities were clean and well maintained. The park itself is suprisingly small, and the campgrounds felt cramped.
I bought some tokens to take a shower, which fealt great. I bought $3 worth, which gave me 18 minutes of shower time. A 9 minute shower was plenty of time to clean off and scrub my cycling kit down.
33.36 mi, 2,090 elev gain
Weather, Clear, 66-100F
Got out of camp with some relief. The weather looked great, but it was supposed to get pretty hot lat in the afternoon. I was looking forward to crossing the hood canal bridge. The original plan was bike up into the forest to Camp Collins. Considering the heat, I figured it might be a bad idea to be so far off-grid. My other options included Seal Rock or the Dosiwallips State Park. Figured I’d nail down a campsite when I got tired.
I finally turned off navigation on my Garmin Edge, and just used a pre-defined trail on my other garmin (etrex 22x). It worked WAY better for touring. Of course, I was on only 1 highway the whole day, so there wasn’t a lot of navigation to be done.
The ride itself was actually very scenic. Crossing the Hood Canal was okay and not the exciting adventure I thought it would be. I cross the Narrows Bridge every day on my bike commute so maybe my appreciation of bridge crossings is kind of dulled.
Immediately after crossing the bridge I turned off the highway to Shine Road. It was great decision. The views after climbing were awesome and there was no traffic. The rest of the ride on Highway 104 wasn’t notable really. Just a nice long climb to get me hot.
Getting bored with the highway, I took a “shortcut” down Center Road. It saved me a few miles, but was otherwise not noteworthy. I rejoined HW101 near Quilcene and climbed… and climbed some more.
I remember at one point climbing up around Mount Walker wondering if my bike was broken. I was crawling along near granny gear, and it looked like I was going downhill. Turns out it was an optical illusion … It happened more than once.
The super fast descent after that climbing didn’t last long but was a ton of fun.
As the heat started climbing and still tired of my hillclimbing, I gave up on the notion of finding a dispersed campground in the National Forest. It seemed… risky. I was hearing clunking from my bottom bracket, so I didn’t want to be stranded away from the highway if I had a mechanical issue. I was lucky Seal Rock had an open campsite. I grabbed the first one I saw and setup.
The campgrounds were good, if a bit close to the highway. The facilities at the campgrounds were NOT awesome. Everything looked worn down and beat up. There were pine cones in the restrooms plugging up the urinals, and the soap was long-gone.
Self-registration was pretty easy and cheap. I have an interagency pass, so the campsite was only $9.
I slept well.
30.31 mi, 1,299 elev gain
Weather, Clear, 68-98F
It was already getting warm when I rode out of camp, so I totally gave up on heading west into the national forest at the get-go. I had planned on either doing some dispersed camping or trying for a spot at Big Creek NFS campgrounds near Lake Cushman. The weather again looked to be gearing up for heat, and the next day a total scorcher. I didn’t think a 60 mile ride the next day would be a good idea. So I planned on riding down to Potlatch State Park and hoping I could reserve a campground.
The ride itself was scenic, although at times there was quite a bit of weekend traffic with mostly 12 inches of road shoulders (sometimes no shoulders). Weekend traffic on HW101 seems to be either slight or heavy. No in-between. Lots of RV’s and big pickup-trucks hauling boats.
Near noon the heat was becoming enough to discourage me from going anywhere else but straight ahead. I pulled into the park and cruised up the beach. The day-use portion of the entire park was overwhelmed with people. It was insane. The campgrounds looked full too.
I pulled into the office and used the yellow phone next to the camp office to socially-distance register a hiker/biker site and viola! Instant campsite! The process was easy. $12 was gladly paid.
The hiker/biker sites are all the way in the back away from most people (and closer to the bugs). I had a continual fight with biting flies and mosquitios. Bug Spray didn’t do much. I pretty avoided the beach like the plague as a result.
I did take a shower, which felt great. The facilities were well maintained but seemed kind of old. I imagine they get a lot of heavy use.
Also ate up the last of my adventure meals. Yum!
The bottom bracket clunking continued.
48.36 mi, 1,831 elev gain
Weather, Clear, 66-114F
This ride was both the best and worst of my trip. Tried to get out of camp early, but didn’t manage to get out as soon as I’d like. Left at 8:30am. The first few miles were ho-hum/so-so. Easy riding, flat and little traffic (it was Sunday Morning after all).
After turning onto SR106 things improved. A lot. The scenery was awesome. I was shaded by the sun by forests on the east side of the highway. Flat riding and cool breezes. Stopped twice at little hole-in-the-wall convienience stores. Both were awesome.
Eventually HW106 ended (for me) and after a muffin and an iced mocha in Brinnon WA, I turned east onto Highway 3. At first it was a nice ride, if a bit familiar. I was back in the area I regularly cycle in.
Then the ride just got brutal. The heat started climbing and I started guzzing water. I must have hike-a-biked 6 or 7 times and started stopping to rest for longer and longer periods. I thought it would get better once I got close to Purdy and Gig Harbor. It ended up being the worst part of the entire trip. The Purdy spit/bridge was overcroweded, with massive amounts of foot and vehicle traffic. Getting across was hairy.
Once I got off of the highway I figured the rest of ride itself would be nice (low traffic, familiar roads and trails). The heat by then between 108 to 110F on the asphalt, and the hills around Gig Harbor were forcing me to hike-the-bike and absorb all that heat. It probably took me an hour and a half and 3 litres of water to get through Gig Harbor. I stopped at a gas station on Kimball Drive, guzzled down some gatoraide and chocolate milk. It made getting home a bit easier.