Ride Report: Exploring the Olympics
July 12, 2010 at 7:32 pm #4100
Fantastic weather here in the NW the past week so last Saturday I decided to finally go ride to Hurricane Ridge. This is one of those “must do” rides you always hear about but for one reason or another I had never done it. Time for that to change. It’s not the longest ride for me so I scoped out some other roads in the area that looked interesting. Some of them would be gravel and that would add to the fun. One of them looked more than a little interesting, 9 miles of one lane gravel road up a steep, twisty road with sheer drop offs. Wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I found a picture online that made it look easy so it was plugged into the GPS for the end of the day. Figured that would be the highlight of the day and so was saving it for last. Posted the ride on meetup and got three other hardy to souls to join me. A guy on a V-Strom, another guy on a Versys and a 60 year old arthritic lady on a Magna (cruiser). I was worried by this last one as I’ve ridden with her before and she is not the best rider around but she was not for changing her mind. Oh well, this could be fun…
So Saturday morning the four us headed off to the Olympic National Park and Hurricane Ridge. The ridge is so named because of the high winds it experiences but today was a warm summer day so no worries on that score. After the heat of the past week the cooling breezes coming off the sea made for a very pleasant ride there. Surprisingly it was actually warmer at the top of the mountain than it was at sea level. The ridge itself has a billiard table smooth road leading to the top and is a popular tourist destination. I was hoping to beat most of the crowds but we did have some traffic going up (~5500 feet). The V-Strom took the lead and was blasting past the traffic. I tried to keep up but I really felt the altitude/steepness of the road affect me. Acceleration was sluggish to say the least and I had to be cautious. Not a big problem as the views were amazing and I was okay with being a tourist at this point. At the top it was time to take in the sights.
Now it was time for the first gravel road. Couldn’t find it at first as I could not see it. GPS says it is 30 feet to my right but I don’t see it. Walk over and then I see it dropping over the side of the cliff. Errr, okay, this could be more fun than I had planned on. When they said sheer drop offs they were not kidding. And this is the easy gravel road! Definitely felt my heart start to race as I rode along this road. In truth the road was not too bad, a little bumpy perhaps, but apart from the consequences of making a mistake was quite easy. It was a fairly short ride as the road was closed about 3 miles along due to deep snow drifts so it was a good way to get a taste of the gravel roads up here. Then it was time to blast back down the mountain and we lucked out and had it traffic free. Nonstop twisty perfect road for about 20 miles before I got stuck behind a line of cars. Heaven
Next it was time for a change of scene as we headed along the valley at the bottom of the ridge. Very nice but not quite as nice as I had hoped. Then it was time to head out to the coast via the northern portion of Lake Crescent. I had high hopes for the Lake Crescent part but again it was a little disappointing. I have ridden the southern edge of the lake and that was really good. Northern part, not so much. That was made up for by the coastal section which was just a fantastic road for bikes. Plus the sights and smells of the rollers coming in off the Pacific (or technically the Juan de Fuca Strait) with Canada (Vancouver Island) in the background was very refreshing.
But then it was time for the grand finally, Deer Park Rd. The older lady decided to give this a miss despite handling the first road very well. I guess she decided not to push her luck. Heading up the road quickly gained altitude as it wound its way among the trees. I pulled over and waived the V-Strom and Versys on ahead as I knew I was holding those guys up. My scooter can handle gravel very well but bumps not so much. I guess my little 12” wheels crash through the bumps those guys glide over. I slowly and carefully wound my way up the mountain starting to question my sanity. I am not one to suffer from vertigo but I have a healthy respect for heights. I found if I glanced over the edge I was starting to get dizzy so I very firmly kept my attention on the road. I clattered and bounced my way onwards not seeing anything but the road in front of me. I was also starting to get concerned as I could see the road was very steep. Not a problem for the uphill section but coming back down could be interesting. I have next to no engine braking on the scooter so I would be on the back brake for about 9 miles downhill on a steep bumpy gravel road with 1000 foot drops over the side. Nice!
But onwards and upwards and I finally made it to the top. Wow. Felt like I was on top of the world up there. Could see for miles and it was later in the day so the light gave all the hills that kind of watercolor pastel affect. Just breathtaking.
Then it was time to head back down. It was not as bad as I had feared but I certainly took it easy. Have to say I was glad to get back to smooth roads more suitable to my ride. Then it was back towards Seattle, with a few more twisties thrown in. All told it was a 300 mile 12 hour day with very little stops. One of my best rides to date and one I will do again (when I have something more suited to those roads).
Note: Sadly the battery in my camera died and I got no shots of Deer Park Rd (apart from 10 seconds at the end of the vid). The gravel road in the video is the easier one of the two.July 13, 2010 at 3:57 am #27475
Simply stunning. I’m jealous.July 13, 2010 at 4:12 am #27476
Don’t be jealous, you live here to! Get out that old Ninja of yours and get out thereJuly 16, 2010 at 12:13 am #27529
Looks like an awesome ride, some parts that would definitely make me nervous, lol. Thanks for sharing, I’m going to have to head up your way for some riding soon, my brother-in-law live in Lake Stevens and just got an ’05 Sportster 1200.
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