Ride Around Washington 2005: part one of three

Best T-shirt slogan seen all day: Does “anal retentive” have a hyphen?

This year’s Ride Around Washington was a loop around the peninsula:

DayStartMilesTimeCaloriesAscent*Comments
0To Bellingham
1Bellingham to Port Townsend80.16:505,1263,860Three flats just past Chuckanut. Whidbey Island has some hills
2Port Townsend to Port Angeles69.26:374,2113,340Olympic Discovery Trail into town had everything: harrowing descents, punishing climbs, switchbacks, headwinds, gravel, chip seal, deer… and The Fog
3Layover in Port Angeles2.4I biked into town to do a kayak tour
4Port Angeles to Forks70.85:58n/a3,660This wasn’t as hard as it was billed; route was very enjoyable
5Forks to Aberdeen107.88:285,5393,26048°F when I left, 93°F by late afternoon; long stretches of nothing.
6Aberdeen to Ilwaco100.07:504,5301,860Another very enjoyable stretch
7Trip home
Flickr photos: here
GPS log of the last three days: here — in many formats

(*Ascent is based on a barometric altimeter sampling once every 15 to 60 seconds. GPS users will typically see higher numbers for the ascent.)

Day 0: Saturday, 8/20. RAW was to start in Bellingham’s Fairhaven district. Bike and rider transportation was available from the
Cascade Bicycle Club intergalactic headquarters in the Magnuson Park area of Seattle.
Buses were scheduled to leave at noon, though loading of bikes was available as early as 10:00 a.m. As I am compulsively prompt, I brought a puzzle book to keep busy.

We arrived at Fairhaven Middle School around 2pm. It’s a pretty campus on top of a hill, only four blocks from a cluster of boutique stores and restaurants. Registration wasn’t supposed to start until 4pm, and neither our bags nor our bikes had arrived yet. Thankfully, someone opened registration early.
Tchotchkes included a 3-LED headlamp that strapped to our head, helmet, leg (or whatever); an event T-shirt; and a reflective triangle.

While I was checking out the limited toilet facilities, the baggage truck
rolled up. One reason I hate being compulsively prompt is my bag (and bike) often gets loaded first but unloaded last. Today was no exception. (As I shake my fist at myself.) But, I was soon encamped in a cozy
spot on the hill behind the main building. I wandered into town for a bite
to eat, finding the Colophon Cafe. Delightful.


Let my people go!
Late arriving sani-cans would occur twice more.

Bikes were being unloaded when I returned. As expected, mine was nearly
last. I rolled it over to my tent for some last-minute tuning up: new chain, tighten everything, put the extra baggage carrier on, pump up the tires, take the extra baggage carrier off. The baggage carrier served as my surreptitious third bag.

The first mandatory rider meeting ran that evening to break the ice.
They gave a quick overview of road hazards and lunch stops and whatnot, emphasizing the presence of ARES and keeping track that everyone was safe. Typically, we’d check out when we left, check in at lunch, and again when we got to the final destination.


Day 1 came all-too-early. Most of us were up around 6:00 a.m. peeing, queueing for the catered breakfast, packing up our stuff and putting the bags on the truck… not necessarily in that order. The ride officially started at 7:00 a.m. or when we checked in with
KD7MYC (Dave Flood), whichever came last.

Maintaining my compulsive promptness, I was out as soon as the minute hand crossed the “12,” rolling downhill to join Chuckanut Drive (aka State Road 11) southbound. I stopped a few times to take photos and getting past the jitters on any event like this.

Somewhere on Bayview-Edison road, I had the first of three flats. A small sliver of something had lodged itself well into my front tire. I dug out the chip, patched the tube, and zoomed off again. A mile later, it went flat again because I hadn’t let the patch fully cure before putting it back into circulation. The rest of the riders had started and each time a group passed, people inquired if I was okay, did I need anything, etc. Since it would be a bit embarrassing to admit I was a dumbass by not letting the patch vulcanize, I just politely waved and said “doing great, thanks,” while balancing my bike and doing tire-replacement things.

In all the excitement, I had put my front wheel on backwards. Until last week, this wouldn’t have mattered but my new wheel set had disc-accepting hubs, meaning the wheel was not totally centered. The brake rubbed something awful and the little wheel magnets weren’t aligned. I loosened the brake and planned to attend to the data collection issue at the next official stop when bam another flat. Once again, the front tire had let some piece of shrapnel pierce the tube. I pulled over to a corner store and sat on a concrete highway barrier to patiently fix everything.

When I put the front wheel on correctly, the sensor to my cycle computer broke off. Here I am, less than 15 miles into the ride with three flats, a brake problem and a broken cycle computer. I just started laughing. I was one of the last ones to the lunch stop at Pass Lake, but food was still plentiful.

The bridge across Deception Pass is very busy. We were asked to walk our bikes across in the pedestrian area cordoned off from each side. It’s already narrow, but having traffic whizzing by makes it feel even smaller.

Once past the bridge, I was back on the bike. The route zig-zagged around Whidbey Island in an effort to keep us off of the high-traffic SR 20 as much as possible. This added several hills to the mix, including two long grades that left a lot of people out of gears, so to speak. The clacking of metal cleats on roadway had a near-rhythmic sound as riders walked up the hill.

Shortly after this, I ran into Steve Hastings, Denise Chan’s husband (both of whom were on the Chelan Century Challenge in June). Miles fly by when he’s around because he’s very fun to talk with and has a diverse set of knowledge. Conversation somehow drifted to a comparison of the efficiencies of capitalism versus communism. Although I am mostly a capitalist — it’s part of the indoctrinationMBA — I generally avoid discussing politics. I think I annoyed him with a comment that I felt some comparisons were less than crystal clear. He soon excused himself and rode on.

On the final stretch to the Port Townsend ferry, I rode with Peter Verbrugge, Cascade’s events promotor. Peter coordinates the Bike to Work Commuter Challenge, which I’ve been helping out with the technical infrastructure for the last couple of years. He’s got a tour to New Zealand coming up in a few months and we chatted about folding bikes, putting it to the airlines, and New Zealand.

Once off the ferry, everyone made a mad dash to Fort Worden State Park. The shower truck, a bunch of sani-cans, and all our luggage greeted us in the “mule barn” area of Fort Worden. We were told the caterer’s contract with the park meant they’d be serving us dinner and breakfast. Although this sounded like a bad thing, the food was much better than that served by the usual catering company.

I should note that as the ride went on, I became less fussy about eating.

8 thoughts on “Ride Around Washington 2005: part one of three”

  1. Do you have puncture-resistant tires on your bike? I know that they don’t always work, but I heart mine almost as much as the bike itself, and cannot recommend them enough.

  2. Yep. My front tire is a Schwalbe Marathon Slick, which purports to have a kevlar belt in it. On the back tire, I have a Comet Primo, also with a kevlar belt.

    What’s puzzling is usually the rear tire flats out because the front one disrupts road debris enough the rear tire hits it.

    Schwalbe has a good reputation among several small-wheel riders, but I’ve not reaped that good experience with the Marathon or the Stelvios. (The Stelvios, which are more suited for lighter, racer types, were great until they had about 700 miles on them.) Since the front tire was a problem and had a lot of wear on it, possibly from the Olympic Discovery Trail/Western Washington Chip Seal, I removed it.

    Possibly TMI: I have tried a Continental Top Touring tire. It’s not very grippy, which is a problem when it rains, but seems to be very resistant to road stuff. The one flat I’ve had with it was a half-inch glass shard that no tire would be able to withstand.

  3. I admit it: I looked at the photos first. Wow some of them are amazing! (I’m a kid: I like the salamander in the river best). Thanks for the clarification on what chip-seal is; we don’t have that here on the right coast (which would be the left coast, I suppose, if one were facing South). It looks like you had a helluva time. Glad you made it back OK (and yeah, your stubble grows *fast* Now I understand the waxing questions). I do have to say, though, that route numbers inside an outline of G. Washington…just a little freaky.

  4. Way to go! Glad to see you enjoyed the tour, even if the start was rough.

    I’d give you tire advice, but I ride Vredestein Tricomps…

  5. Congrats on a great ride, and thanks for all the pics.

    I’ve been riding Bontrager Race Lite Hard Case tires for several months, with no flats up until day 2 of RSVP, when I took a the business end of a staple in the rear. In my haste, I didn’t properly seat the replacement tube, and it blew with a loud report shortly after being filled.

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