Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tahuya III: North Shore Road (2017-06-03)

Finally linked together Tahuya and Dewatto via the road around the far side of the Kitsap Peninsula.

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More after the break…

A couple of days before this ride, a mechanic at a local shop accidentally dropped my bike while working on it, and sheared a rivet in my right/rear shifter clean off. Shifting on this ride was pretty terrible, but since the bike only has seven speeds in the rear, it wasn't untenable.

Part 1: To Ferry

I started at about 05:00 like usual, then headed out on my typical route to and over West Seattle to Fauntleroy. I was riding a bike with a new setup for nearly the first time, so I knew I was in for a lot bike fit issues throughout the day.

Part 2: Kitsap Peninsula

On the other side of Puget Sound, I had a pretty hard time taking SR-160 from Southworth due to the hills. I didn't have much in the way of knee pain, but I felt like I had no power, and had to stop halfway to Belfair because I was sweating and overheating too much.

It gradually got easier as I approached Belfair, culminating in a fast descent into the town.

Traffic was pretty heavy in Belfair, but I didn't spend much time in the worst of it as I headed out on SR-300. Traffic thankfully dropped off to near-zero levels after the familiar turnoff to the formidable Belfair–Tahuya Road.

I started worrying about water as I got further along the road, which was now called North Shore Road, even though it was on the southern end of this 'lobe' of the Kitsap Peninsula. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get water in Tahuya.

I tried asking at the local fire station, but even though there was a pickup truck parked out front, an open garage door, and what sounded like a television turned on inside, nobody responded. I also tried the post office, but I couldn't figure out how to open the hose faucet. I was a bit dismayed, but I continued on.

Luckily, I did eventually find the Summertide Resort & Marina, which had a store with a supply of bottled water. I bought three bottles, topped off my own bottles from them, drank some, and kept a spare bottle of water in my bags, just in case. After all, the shopkeeper said it was 14 miles to the other side of the gravel.

I continued on from there, and it was still a ways to the end of the 'modern' road. At a park, a group of women asked me where I'd started, and they were pretty surprised that I came all the way from Seattle. I couldn't stick around to talk for too long, so I was quickly on my way.

The climb up from Rendlands Creek was pretty arduous! The road kept climbing up and up, but remained paved the entire ascent.

I finally saw the "PAVEMENT ENDS", and was in for a bit more than I'd expected. The road surface featured a number of large, round, loose rocks that I had to watch out for. The road was very windy with many blind corners and steep descents into tight curves. I tried my best to ride as much as I could, but had to walk these steep descents since I couldn't slow down quickly enough while maintaining traction on the loose and dusty surface, lest I wipe out in one of those curves. I did ride up as many of the climbs as I could until my legs couldn't keep at it without some rest, and applied some hard-learned lessons to make the steep gravel easier. Thankfully, there was very little traffic.

While dealing with North Shore Road, I found a couple in an old Toyota van who were taking photos of the area. Hearing of my troubles, they offered to help if I couldn't make it, and also mentioned the sheriff who I saw making a round earlier. Thankfully, I was able to get to the end, as it was only about four miles to its end, not fourteen.

I thought I was done when I saw a straight portion, but I still had the longest climb of the entire gravel section ahead of me. I ran out of steam pretty quickly, and had to walk a ways before the grade relented. I started to see houses again at that point, and it wasn't long before the road straightened out and turned to chipseal. Boy, was I glad to be back on pavement after that. Something like this would've been a lot better with less load on the bike.

When I finally got to Dewatto Bay Road, I had to decide: Did I want to continue along the west side of the peninsula, or did I want to deal with Belfair traffic and construction again? I chose the former, since there's less going on out there, then sped down to familiar territory.

I started my way northeast along the peninsula, trying to scope out sources of water again, even though I probably had plenty.

Soon, I ran across the Dewatto River campsite, which had electricity…but no water I could find.

Rather than spending too much time looking around, I pressed forward.

Each climb took its hit on me, since it was obvious that my saddle position wasn't the greatest, but at least I didn't have any knee pain so I wouldn't risk that sort of injury.

I eventually got to a familiar intersection and bad memories flooded my mind. I decided to change course and started heading east across the center of the peninsula, which started with quite the climb.

While there were no more crazy climbs like that after the first one, it was by no means a flat road. The rolling hills and headwinds kept my speed down, but I persevered until the final descent, which was as crazy as the climb up to these highlands earlier was!

Around this point, this thought came to mind: "This ride features two things I'm not a fan of: having to walk because the terrain is too advanced for me, and riding through seemingly endless tree plantations." True forests are always nice, but these "working forests" are all so short and dull.

I finally got to the Old Belfair Highway and a place where I was able to get water and a coffee drink.

The hills to Bremerton weren't too bad, but I felt pretty drained despite never ending up hungry. I was relieved when I finally got to SR-3 and the car drafting, which always does a good number on headwinds. I did have to stop twice in town to eat some, and at the gas station where I stopped for chips, the cashier/attendant was fascinated by my seatpost.

SR-304 has a lot of climbing within Bremerton itself, unfortunately. I tried, but after some female passenger shouted stuff from a car I couldn't understand, I decided to walk up the narrow sidewalk until the end of the climbs instead.

After that little break, I had an easier time for the last mile or so to the ferry terminal, where I had to wait for a bit for the next boat.

I ended up eating a hotdog on the ferry, which was pretty good after all that riding.

Part 3: Return Home

The ride from the ferry terminal home wasn't too bad. I'd considered using the Westlake path to avoid the climb over Dexter, but managed my way over the hill just fine.

I ended up raising my saddle over 1cm the following week, which made things a lot easier. I was a bit too reluctant earlier, based on when I'd torn a quad years ago.

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