(It’s “Mostly Harmless”)
At 108 miles, Day Five was our longest segment and alleged to be an easy century because of there were very few turns and the last ten miles are downhill. The morning temperature was a cool 47°F. Several miles into the ride was an open beacon of caffeinated warmdom (an espresso stand). The scenery kept getting better each mile, tempting me with interesting side trips to the Hoh rainforest (36-mile diversion), Duncan Big Cedar (20 miles), and Hoh Tribal Center (10 miles). I met up with Steve Hastings again and enjoyed more great conversations. The miles zipped by as we came up to Kalaloch (pronounced CLAY-lock).
Then, at mile 39.8, the route turns inland, skirting the edge of the Quinault Indian Reservation. There’s not much here but chip and seal. (Curiously, my copy of Microsoft Streets & Trips 2005 shows a SR 109 continuing along the coast. However, now that I’ve been there, I can’t say I would have noticed the exit.)
|Chip Seal Heck|
The photo at the left better illustrates the difference between chip seal and reasonable pavement. For a lot of this, there was a varying swatch to the right of the fog line (averaging about 8 inches wide) where the chippy part wasn’t. I tried to stay on this. Anytime I veered onto the chip seal, whether to avoid an obstacle or because the smooth portion vanished, I’d get a vibrating awakening as my speed dropped 1mph. I hate chip seal. On rare occasions when I’d be biking adjacent to someone, we’d conjure up conspiracy theories about the windshield replacement industry being the leading advocate of chip seal in cahoots with the Hummer division of GM, whose vehicles’ fuel economy drop on chip seal would not be as precipitous as, say, the Toyota Prius’. Yeah, we had a lot of open road to think about stuff.
The lunch stop was at Queets/Clearwater Elementary school. It’s hard to miss because it’s the only freestanding building for miles. The temperature had creeped up into the low 80s. This not what you want to have at 11:00 a.m. with sixty miles left to ride.
The next stretch was brutal. I recorded temperatures of 93°F in the shade, 105°F in the sun. As if that weren’t bad enough, there was nothing — nothing — in terms of facilities until the town of Humptulips at Mile 84.3. I had long since exhausted my Camelbak (100 ounces) and two water bottles. I filled up at the stop. Every few miles, I’d squirt some water on my shorts, arms, face, hands to cool down. I took very few pictures, too.
The last ten miles were definitely not downhill. The delerium of being dehydrated and the sudden increase in traffic from “civilization” was surreal. After checking in with Dave Flood, I chugged three cold sodas, set up my tent, showered, signed up for a 15-minute sports massage and ate dinner. I didn’t appreciate how dehydrated I was until noticing that I hadn’t had to go to bathroom until 10pm.
Each night during RAW “tickets” were given out for various things including best decorated helmet, being a septigenerian, etc. Each ticket was an opportunity to win a prize ranging from a grab in the schwag bag (water bottles, old STP jackets and multi-tools) to a free entry in next year’s RAW. Additional prizes were awarded for specific milestones. I won a $25 gift certificate for having the most flats (four). Captain Obvious, sitting next to me, suggested I could use that for new tires.
Day 6 ran from Aberdeen to Ilwaco. When I rode from Seattle to upper-middle Oregon back in 1990, fully overloaded with camping gear, fuel, clothes and tools, I took the obvious shortcut – Montesano to Raymond on SR 105, bypassing the coast. I kind of regretted bypassing the coast and was adamant about doing the whole thing (adding about 40 miles of “Spur 105.”
The ARES folks coordinated temporary closure of an onramp to the bridge we’d take to State Road 105. With a group this size, they were concerned that cyclists making the beeline to the right would get jumbled up with traffic trying to enter the freeway. As a compromise, they batched us up in groups of 12-18 and had flaggers stop the traffic while we ambled past. Once across, riders kind of bunched up for the minor winds. Except for segments with Steve, this was one of the few times I was able to maintain a pace with other people. Unfortunately,
I was still very sore from the previous day’s “downhill.” My thighs protested anytime we stopped for a traffic light and reaccelerated to cruise speed. Maintaining my normal, high cadence, low gearing was okay.
|Oyster Farm, photo by Lisa Parsons|
Most of this route had coastal mist. It’s not quite rain, but it’s cool and you still get wet. I kept my fancy rain jacket on all morning. We crossed a couple of bridges adjacent to oyster farms then rolled by the quiet coastal communities. The beautiful setting made up for yesterday’s ride.
The lunch stop was in a park in Raymond, WA. Next door, the Northwest Carriage Museum offered a $1 discount on the $3 admission. This was a neat diversion. The guide showed me some of the prime carriages with built-in suspensions. You had to be very well-off to afford the multiple shifts of horses and support equipment to run a carriage any respectable distance. Towards the back was an exhibit of more common carriages and the specialized tools necessary to maintain them. It’s not unlike owning a German luxury car, where repair cost multiples of $400.
|Osprey, photo by Lisa Parsons|
After lunch, we meandered along an erratic path paralleling (more or less) US 101. For obvious reasons, traffic was noticably higher than the before. It lightened up out of town. However, once we got to Ilwaco, it was nuttier, possibly an artefact of my excitement at finishing.
Camp was on a field at Ilwaco’s high school. The local Rotary had organized a salmon bake as a fund-raiser (this was paid for us) and it was the best meal we had. Huge pieces of salmon, corn on the cob, coleslaw and spicy pinto beans. What a nice way to end the ride.
Towards the back of the field was a nest containing what many speculated was a pterodactyl or bald eagle. It was really an osprey.