By John Pearch
Theo Roffe and I pre-rode the Brevet Week Olympic 600k last Saturday and experienced some of the heaviest rains on the Olympic Coast! This 600k route follows a similar route I created in 2011, however I am very glad I took out the Joyce-Piedmont hill and the Little River hill climbs as the Highway 112 has its fair share of hills. The weather looks promising this weekend – much better than what Theo and I experienced.
The 600k follows the same route as the first 600k of the 1000k, starting at the La Quinta Inn & Suites in Tumwater. We decided to finish the 600k and 1000k Tumwater Control at the Pints Barn tavern, only 500m away from the La Quinta. There’s great food and beer to celebrate and to tell all the stories of the Olympic Peninsula. We have uploaded all the revised cuesheets and RWGPS on the SIR’s RWGPS account, based on the preride of the 600k. Mark Thomas and Rick Blacker also pre-rode the 400k and had some revisions; thanks Mark and Rick for all your help!
Starting off through Tumwater, the route goes through city streets of Tumwater and west Olympia. The climb up Old 410 and Highway 8 is one of the bigger climbs, but there is long descent into Elma along Elma-McCleary Road. After Montesano the route takes the backway into Cosmopolis. From the Chevron Station, the route takes the bike path that leads to the US101 bridge over the Chehalis River. Be advised, just after the top of the bridge, stay left and follow signs for 101, and don’t exit right! The route takes you quickly through Aberdeen, up the beautiful Wishkah River valley, and along the back way to Humptullips onto 101; totally missing Hoquiam.
Theo and I skipped the re-supply at Humptullips since we had enough food to get to Amanda Park store. But just after Amanda Park, we were getting drenched. It was pretty darn cold once we got to Kalaloch. The Kalaloch Lodge are very used to wet riders and put us in the back room. It’s the perfect place for a control! They have best clam chowder bread bowl too! It was very cold getting going again along the coast to Ruby Beach, with wind coming off the ocean and through the cedars. The climbs out of the small streams and Hoh River valley were a relief as they warmed us up. There was a tailwind all the way to Forks and beyond. The descent down the Bogachiel River reminded us of previous years, riding and volunteering on the “Watery Olympic 600k.” In Forks, the Thriftway has a good deli and large outdoor gear clothing department that Theo and I took advantage of getting dry rag wool gloves and socks! You should stock up on water, food and any caffeine as after 10pm there is only Clallam Bay Inn tavern that is open until 2am. However, bars sometimes don’t let you take any water or other beverages, so carry extra water and food from Forks.
After Forks, we had a sweet tailwind almost to the Highway 113 turnoff. The climb up Hwy 113 Burnt Mtn is a pleasant climb with a nice view of Beaver Falls and Beaver Lake, if you get there during the light. It was just getting dark for us, but it still was quite peaceful. Once you crest Burnt Mtn on 113, it’s a pretty steep descent down to Clallam Bay. There was a surprising amount of traffic by the time we got onto Hwy 112. We stopped in the Clallam Bay Inn tavern where there was a big crowd for a local charity fund raiser and raffle. Clallam Bay Inn have a variety burgers and deep fried food and they said they are open until 2am on Saturdays. After Clallam Bay, you will continue west to Sekiu. Just look for Curley’s Resort, on your left, for the info control. There’s no time limit in Sekiu, but if you feel you need a place to sleep there are a couple motels. Be sure to call in advance and book ahead – nothing looked open at night. Although this is the 300k mark, there is about 3,000 feet in 90 km’s to Port Angeles, with four big hills on highway 112. So plan leaving Sekiu in time to make Port Angeles by 7:12am! It took us about 6 hours to ride from Sekiu to PA! [Theo’s note: I usually find that riding while cold and tired is very slow. Sleeping, even for a short time, in Sekiu would have been good for me, despite the longer second day. Consider choosing your sleep stop based on your riding style and experience!]
Climbing back out of Clallam Bay, you’ll take a left onto Highway 112 which then follows the Pysht River valley. You eventually start to climb out of the Pysht valley. It was still misty for us, but after a while the stars came out along this stretch and we could see lights over on Vancouver Island! The first two climbs are about 200 to 300 ft in 2 miles. But the third climb, about 12 miles from the turnoff, is about 400 ft in a mile, and the fourth climb, about 17 miles from the turnoff, is about 600 feet in 3 miles. This was the toughest part of the ride since it was so late into the night. At the top of the last climb, I looked at the profile and noticed we were just as high as the next climb which is Walker Pass (beyond PA). Getting to Joyce is a relief. Most of the climbing is behind you! Just after Joyce, you will take the Elwha River Road. However, be ready to stop just before you cross the Elwha Bridge. You need go right and go around a gate, and take a gravel road for about 40 feet and at a lit building, you’ll take a sharp left onto an asphalt path that will take you back, and go on the pedestrian bridge, that is suspended about 20 feet beneath car bridge. This will eventually turn left onto the Olympic Discovery Trail and leads all the way into Port Angeles. However, there is no place to access the trail on the east side of the Elwha Bridge! The Olympic Discovery Trail also tends to share access with Milwaukee Drive.
Once Milwaukee Dr comes to South N Street, the route will take 6th Street, which is a nice quiet neighborhood street through Port Angeles. The Safeway is supposedly open 24 hours, however for us they were closed for waxing the floors when we arrived at 0400! [Theo’s note: I hope they got it right and won’t be waxing the floors again for the brevet weekend!] So we stopped in the drive-in at the Jack in the Box along 101, further east of downtown. Usually they don’t allow bikers at drive thru’s though, so it’s best to stock up on food you need at Safeway. We eventually arrived at the Super 8 Motel on the east side of PA. Remember, the 600k and 1000k are not supported so you’ll want to carry extra gear for the last 200k. I carried an extra pair of shorts and socks and other warm clothing. The Super 8 also has continental breakfast at 6am with waffles, boiled eggs, cereal etc. Or Joshua’s Restaurant that is right next door, also opens up at 6am.
The route goes on Highway 101 toward Sequim, and takes Old Olympic Highway. Just look for the Applebee’s build board sign to turn left! The Old Olympic Highway eventually turns north on Cay’s and goes to the overlook of the Dungeness Spit and Cline Spit along Marine Drive. You’ll eventually head back to 101, via West Sequim Bay, but we did are best to avoid busier sections of 101 around Sequim.
At Blyn, Chevron Longhouse Market & Deli has some of the best hot food and lots to restock. For those riding through, this is the last after hours store open until Shelton, about 75 miles!
101 south to Olympia is full of climbs, particularly the Walker Pass! We got to Walker Pass and started to rain hard as the mountain had trapped a cloud and was wringing it out over the road. After we escaped the trapped cloud, it was mostly sunny and we had a tailwind all the way back to Olympia! Remember, you’ll need to take the Wallace Kneeland exit off 101 to get to the AM/PM or Open. There’s only 26 miles to the finish and hopefully it will be a tailwind!
The route then takes the Steamboat Island Rd exit and avoids the busy 101/8 intersection by taking Madrona Beach. Once you get back to Mud Bay, it’s the same route back to Tumwater as you started except a small difference in the last mile to get to the Pints Barn tavern. One thing to note: when you descend down 4th/Desoto, it’s a free right turn at the bottom of the hill, immediately get into the far left lane to take another left onto Custer Way.
For those riding in the 1000k, Pints Barn is also a control and their food usually comes pretty quickly. The last 400k of the 1000k has many scenic views of the Cascades and there is plenty of options for services. We recommend overnight in Kelso Econo Lodge as it is about 720k into the ride, about 117k from Tumwater. There is also no support there but you can pickup more gear from your car at the La Quinta when you pass by.
For those riding the 600k and 1000k, remember to reserve your own rooms at the suggested towns (or in another town of your choice).
An important note for 1000k and 400k: we changed the last 400k of the 1000k and the 400k to avoid Chehalis. The route instead goes on Scheuber Rd on the west side of the Chehalis Valley. So, please update your Garmin’s if you already downloaded the RWGPS file. We plan to have staff control in Kapowsin (at 933k and 330k of 400) for anyone arriving after the store or bar closes. We’ll have some food and beverages to get you in the final 44 miles! Mark and Rick got about 10,000 ft on their Garmin’s on the 400k preride, so plenty of climbs out of the Cowlitz, Toutle, Highway 7, Nisqually and Ohop Valleys.
Stay tuned for an updated cuesheet, as Ward and Hugh are planning on pre-riding the Brevet Week 300k this Sunday. Thanks Ward and Hugh! The 300k, 400k will start/finish at the La Quinta. The 200k will start at the La Quinta and finish at the Pints Barn since it will still be open before the closing time.
Also, please let me know if you have a spot tracker.
Hope this is helpful and we are hoping for sunny weather and lots of tailwinds!!
Hope to see you Saturday or any of the Brevet Week rides here in Tumwater next week!