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Biking The Washington Coast  July 15-19 2010

Port Angeles, Washington

Day 1   My second major bicycling journey started July 15, 2010 and  headed down the Washington coast from Port Angeles to the Columbia River.   Once again I had invited several people to join me on the ride but once again no takers other than my friend Paul.   Paul and I both had new Trek 7.5 FX bikes and were anxious to see the difference they would make.  WOW what a difference it was! They are so much lighter and so much faster than our previous bikes.  I must admit I had only ridden my new bike 3 times and never with added baggage so I'll be honest I was a little apprehensive when we started out the first morning not knowing exactly how it would react. By the end of the first day my bike was doing great and I felt real comfortable in my new saddle.....OK  I don't think you ever feel real comfortable in the saddle.  Paul and I have discussed this at great length......why can they send a man to the moon but they can't make a comfortable bike seat/saddle???   As we left Port Angeles, a picturesque city looking towards Canada across the Straits of Juan De Fuca, we headed down Highway 101  towards Forks, Washington.  That's right Forks, Washington of "Twilight" fame.  It was a 58 mile ride with a few good hills ,one being a 5% grade. Our new Treks climbed like champs. 

About 12 miles south of Port Angeles is Lake Crescent, the second deepest lake in Washington State. Over 620 feet deep, Lake Crescent is located in Olympic National Park and is one of the most beautiful places on our ride. It's just too bad I couldn't enjoy it.  As we rode around the lake these are the two signs that greeted us.  After reading the warnings all I wanted to do was ride the next 11 miles as fast as we possibly could and get to the other side.  The few times I took my eyes off the road and glanced at the lake it was the most  gorgeous turquoise water I have ever seen.  I will have to take Paul's word for it that the entire lake was amazing.  Notice the shoulder in the picture below  that was much larger than most of the shoulder around the lake and sharing that area with huge log trucks and RV's was a little unnerving.  It was really one of the most beautiful areas of our ride.

How about a tailwind ?  We would love to know what it is like to ride with a tailwind. We fought a stiff headwind all day.  This was a much needed rest as we had head butted the wind all afternoon.  Finally we had reached our first days destination!   Paul and I were the only people in Forks that had no idea what "Twilight" , the Vampire/Werewolf series was about.  We rode into town totally oblivious to the whole Twilight thing.  Forks was obviously a little town that was dying on the vine until Twilight but not anymore.  Edward and the vampire gang have brought this tiny rural community back to life.  Everything in town is Twilight, Twilight motel rooms where Bella slept, Twilight clothing that Bella wore, Twilight jewelry, Twilight firewood ,Twilight food, Twilight restaurants where Edward ate and yes even the grain and feed store has Twilight merchandise.  I'm sure before Twilight a motel owner would have been happy to get $60 for a small out dated  room but now with it's notoriety that same little motel room was $150 a night and you were lucky if you found a room! 


Day 2   It's time to leave this mystical town and head for our next destination of Amanda Park 66 miles down Hiway 101 with a 6% uphill grade.  Little did we know we wouldn't see the sun for more than  2 hours the next 3 days and  the temperature was never above 56 degrees.  We also had 35 miles of the roughest road imaginable. We peddled fast trying to stay warm and our bikes  performed flawlessly! We rode many miles through the Olympic National Park where trees and foliage are awesome.  The Hoh River was an amazing aqua color from the glacier melt. 

Lake Quinault at Amanda Park WA was our destination for the day.  Lake Quinault is nestled in the mountains of Olympic National Park and is glacier-fed.  I don't believe there is a lake or river in Washington or Oregon that would ever get warm enough for me to take a dip in not to mention the coastal waters are always ice cold. This is a temperal rain forest with annual rainfall of up to 15 FEET !!!! Here are a few pictures of Lake Quinault. 

Day 3  It's time to saddle up and leave this picturesque area and head out again on the roughest roads we have ever ridden.  They call it chip-and-seal.  In the Midwest we have chip-and-seal but tiny rocks are used on our roads but in Washington they use what seemed like boulders.  Someone forgot to tell them the chip stands for tiny chips of rocks and not rocks as big as your thumb.  I ride with a really sturdy white light on the front of my bike. Well I did ride with a white light....as I'm being jolted down the road my light exploded into several pieces from the vibration of the horrible road.  If they wanted to resurface their roads in large rocks and tar that's great but leave it off the shoulders of the roads there is just nowhere to escape it.  OK I'll stop complaining but it was a most miserable ride on the roughest roads we have ever faced.   We had a lunch stop that we won't soon forget.  Humptuplips!  That's right Humptulips, Washington, population 216, salute!  We stopped at the Humptulips Grocery and bought our delicious lunch which consist of beef jerky and Combos... yum yum.  We did have wonderful entertainment during our lunch as the male store clerk came out to talk to us and ended up doing a hilarious stand up comic routine about his life in Humptulips. To get through the rainy winters he said you need a good book or a good woman. His first winter he had neither.  We still laugh thinking about it. 

After finishing our lunch and entertainment it was time to get back on the washboard they call a road (can you tell I was not happy with the road conditions) and complete our 45 miles of  the kidney bruising ride to Aberdeen.  It's a darn good thing Paul or I don't have any loose fillings in our teeth but we probably will at the end of this ride.


Day 4  Leaving Aberdeen was a chilly experience.  Think cold mist and fog with temps in the high 40's. When you see Paul wearing two shirts and one with heavy long sleeves you can bet that it is really cold!!  Riding through Westport , Greyland and Tokeland on our way to Raymond 52 miles down the road  it was like we had our own parade.  There was a classic car meet and they were all headed in the same direction as us.  It was a fun experience seeing at least 75 classy chassis's passing by.  As we headed down the highway hoping to find a little more upscale place for lunch than the day before we rounded a curve to find a small Indian casino at Tokeland WA with a very small Sunday buffet.  This was also the destination for the Hot Rods.  Even though we had seen them up close-up as they passed us it was much more fun seeing them parked and not feeling the cold cold breeze as they whizzed past us.  Our stop for the night in Raymond Washington was as close as I ever want to come to meeting Rod Sterling and entering the Twilight Zone.  This little town had obviously seen better days as have many logging and mill towns in the Pacific Northwest.  We were the only people on the streets and the owner of the only Motel  told us how he could not wait to find a buyer for it and get out of town. 


Day 5  Today we will finish our ride and why wouldn't we want to make our final push in the rain.  Paul says it's not considered rain until the vehicles have their windshield wipers on so there was no stopping us even though I can't see out of my glasses due to the fact they are covered with water (not rain).  Being in the Pacific Northwest where some areas we rode receive 14-15 feet of rain from October to May, these "Washingtonians" are a soggy bunch....really nice but a little soggy.  During one of our rest stops in the "mist" (we'll just call it mist as no one has their windshield wipers on) we were visiting with a couple from California and the husband was admiring our bikes and then he turns to his wife and says "oh see these tires on these bikes they're called road slicks and are very dangerous in the rain and on wet pavement"!  Well that won't affect us because it's "not raining".  Funny that it's not raining but Paul has his rain jacket on.   ( Paul Here... the guy was an idiot and our tires were perfectly safe)

As we approached our final destination on the Washington side of the Columbia River the sun welcomed us.  The end of our ride always brings  mixed emotions of joy and sadness.  Joy for reaching our goal and doing it with perseverance and determination but sadness that our ride is over. Within 20 minutes we began planning our next journey. There's not a more fitting place to do it but at the "Dismal Nitch" where Lewis and Clark were trapped for 6 days of storm in the pouring rain and howling winds.

Final Thoughts:  WOW another great ride!!   When you start with the best it's not fair to judge the rest.  Our ride down the Oregon coast last year was  by far the most picturesque and breathtaking scenery you will see on the West coast.  Washington has very little coast line that you're able to ride and what there is just isn't that scenic and the roads were horribly rough for miles and miles.  Our ride could have been done in 4 days but accommodations are far and few between we had to do it in 5 .  I would ride the Oregon coast again and again and I don't think I would ever tire of the beauty.  I am glad I can say I rode the Washington coast but I wouldn't do it again and wouldn't recommend anyone else to ride it.  If you're going to put forth the effort ,and it is a lot of effort, ride the Oregon coast!!!! 

Because of Paul's planning and prep work our trip was flawless. Thank you and thanks for having my back again!

I love the feel of freedom of a long bike tour. Many more are in my future. Keep pedaling !


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  Mark Twain