by Vinny Muoneke
Started the ride in La Quinta in Tumwater at 6am as the riders will, went straight under the freeway and had a gentle warm up as I approached the first information control after passing the northern tip of Black Lake and going a little south on the west side of the lake to Delphi Road. I snapped a few photos and continued on Delphi. The first rays of sunlight revealed that there was some kind of work on the shoulder of Delphi almost for its whole length, but at this time on a Wednesday there was very little traffic to concern me and the ride became even more bucolic as I rode further on to begin the gentle climbing of the Coastal Range on Old Hwy 410 and Old Olympic Hwy.
This 300k is dumbbell shaped and I was thinking how dumb it was that I did not bring extra warm clothes as I was freezing. Sunlight revealed frosties everywhere and I distracted myself with views of the southern sound to the right as I climbed. I snapped to attention as I crossed WA-8, but again, at this time, traffic was not that heavy. The gentle climbing continued on WA-8 and I noticed the Summit Lake store was already open—on the right and convenient side of the highway. Nothing for me at this point, and I also ignored any chance for refueling as I exited to McCleary. You will also find services in Elma just before the timed control at Montesano.
WA-107 from Montesano will take you to the US-101 as you continue west towards the Pacific, dipping south on the 101 to Raymond. The bridge after Montesano was under some repair with flaggers, though they were gone on the return phase of this section. If you are in Party Mode, there is a restaurant in Arctic on the left side that’s open early and has saved my bacon on many a Flèche. The crossing of the coastal range continues on the 101, and, in this episode, I counted 5 significant rollers. The 5th one was a dwarf like the “planet” Pluto, but I counted it as it crested to a long descent into Raymond, and I know from experience that it is a bit of a whopper in the opposite direction. Watch the shoulders on the 101 here as mini-lahars may lead to some washing down of the road on the shoulder.
The timed control at Raymond is at the Chevron but there are a few places to refuel besides for something different than gas station fare. Retrace your steps for just a bit, head north and west along the scenic Willapa Bay, and pass through the little towns of Tokeland and Grayland with services. Ride past the cranberry beds on the way to the little fishing town of Westport, your information control and the turn-around point. More pictures snapped and I returned eastward.
By Grayland the clear sky was beginning to gray, but there were still good views of the snow-capped Olympics. And still great views of the mountains as I returned east, but shortly afterward, the sky went completely gray. I guess I should have listened to Captain Fambles who predicted better weather on Tuesday, but I needed recovery from a 400K on Saturday.
I don’t know why I expected tailwinds at this point, but what I got was cold rain almost till the end of the ride. So, hopefully the weather will be great Saturday for the brevet. I could barely stay warm with all my clothes on. I stopped at Aberdeen to warm up with a hot drink, and again at Cosmopolis where I got off the bike trail to find hot chocolate. The rollers on Blue Slough Road were welcome to warm the core.
Back on the handle of the dumbbell, heading east now, I ignored services at Montesano and Elma. At Elma, head south to go around the southern part of Capitol Forest with an informational control at Sharon Grange in Oakville to keep you honest. This grange may be easy to miss at dark, so watch out for it. After the penultimate control at the “End of Trail Shell” by the Chehalis Reservation, I did a short stint on the US-12. There is debris on the shoulder here; I took my eyes off the road to check my instruments as I was getting antsy for the finish and darn, flatted the 42mm rear tire on my Thompson 650B. I pulled a big screw out of the tire and put in a new tube, under rather conveniently placed street lights. All pumped and ready to finish, I rode a little further on US-12 and turned left, across oncoming highway traffic to more bucolic roads back to the finish.
For more information on this 300K brevet, head over to the Seattle Randonneurs website.