Get rolling again
Jon is already awake when I leave my room. He has setup coffee and is standing in the door between his kitchen and the garage to inspect my bike. It seems like he knows almost all the specific parts which are assembled on my bike. He congratulates me on the bike and states that my bike is very well equipped for my trip to Tierra del Fuego. I tell him about the problems I faced with my Ortlieb panniers and he immediately jumps in. He knows about the exact same problem I faced and is complaining about the cheap mounts they use. He would replace them all with stainless steel nuts and bolts if he would eventually buy some one day. The original screws which are used for the mounts are basically wood-screws and the counter part is a piece of plastic. And on top of that you need a torx screwdriver to tighten them. A regular multitool which almost every biker uses doesn’t provide that unfortunately.
While I’m having my breakfast I start planning my route for the next few days. Jon knows the area very well and has helped to create some bicycle maps. He gives me some useful tips which roads and trails to take around the Olympic peninsula. I end up losing a lot time this morning as I also manage my photos and activate my US SIM card. It’s already 3pm when I finally leave the house. I do another stop at the outdoor outfitter shop in Port Angeles to get some tent pegs which are more suited for rocky surface. They also convince me that I need a bearproof food-container. If a ranger would pick me up in one of the national parks without one I could be facing a serious fine. I don’t want to risk that and so I pay 80$ for that bulky piece. One more thing I need to carry with me. Actually I wanted to get rid of some stuff but I’m still pretty bad at that.
Since I only started so late I only make 30km. I stop at the Salt Creek Campground which is located directly at the coast. I don’t have to afraid of any bears here but I see a racoon sneaking around between the tents. These creatures are not dangerous but can be very nasty as they steal your food if you don’t watch out for a short moment. At least therefore the container should be useful tonight.
Tough but beautiful roads
The next day I want to do a “regular” stage again. I’ve planned to reach Aberdeen by tomorrow and will have to cycle a total of 260km to get there. So, I want to do the first 130km of that stretch today. But I’m a bit lazy this morning with my time management again and it’s already past 10am when get my bike in action. I’ve had a big breakfast and should be able to cycle a while before I need to fuel up again. But I have only 9 hours of daylight left which means I would have to pedal with an average pace of 14km/h to reach my target in time. That’s not impossible but very challenging and leaves almost no room for longer breaks. Or mechanical breakdowns…
Today’s tour winds past lake Crescent. The cycling guide I bought proposes to follow the southern street along the lake. But according to the cycling map I received from Jon the trail along the north shore of the lake is more scenic and actually a trail without any cars. And actually it turns out to be a wonderful trail in the beginning. I only have to share the path with a few hikers. I’m cycling through rain forest again and every now and then there are nice spots where the dense green opens up a little bit and reveals a beautiful view on the lake and the surrounding mountains. It’s fun riding on this trail. Most of the time it’s flat with a few little hills which actually give a nice variation to the ride. But all this changes at the middle of the trail. The path is getting narrower and the rocks on the way get bigger and force me a couple of times to quickly get out of the pedals to not fall of the bike. Eventually it turns completely into a single trail which I definitely cannot cycle anymore. Although my bike might be suited to still go on my bike panniers are way to heavy and big. They could get stuck between some of the rocks in the narrow sections and would catapult me out of the saddle and into the lake. There is not much to my left which would actually save me from falling into the water. So I have to push my bike for the next couple hundred meters. Luckily it turns into a regular trail again and I can get back on my bike. Despite the difficult and cumbersome passage I enjoyed cycling this trail. But at the same time I’m also really glad I didn’t try to still ride this part in the dark yesterday. Which I had actually thought of.
After Lake Crescent it continues mainly on highway 101 or on parallel bike paths along the Olympic peninsula. The terrain is hilly but the grades are moderate and I make good progress. But since I lost some time on the trail around the lake I will not make the 130km today. I want to reach 100km at least. But this revised plan gets stress tested shortly after when I approach the town Forks. Since there was heavy traffic on the highway I had to ride on the shoulder most of the time and ran over a piece of metal which is now stuck in my rear tire. That’s the tire which got the special treatment against flats in Duncan a few days back actually. Since I have some routine by now I manage to fix the problem without any further problems. But still I lost another 30 minutes. I do a quick stop in Forks to eat a sandwich so I don’t need to cook tonight. While eating my sandwich I check where to spend the night and decide for the Cottonwood Campground which is about 30km away from Forks. I already know that I will not make it by daylight. The campground is close to the highway, but I overlooked that it’s separated from it by the Hoh river and I need to turn off the highway already 5km earlier and ride through dark rain forest. I have to think of all the mountain lions which are living on Olympic peninsula and hope that none of them will be around waiting for me. I’m relieved when I finally reach the campground. It’s a silent spot and after I set up my tent I quickly end the day. Tomorrow I have to do 160km.
160km till Aberdeen
It’s short past 8am when I’m in the saddle the next morning. I mainly have to follow highway 101 today which will make navigation pretty easy today. I do only a quick stop at Ruby Beach. Since I’m under time pressure I have to pass the walk on the beach which I actually would like to do since the scenery is so nice. Luckily there are no major hills on today’s stage and I make good progress quickly. When I reach lake Quinault after 80km I’m pretty confident that I can reach Aberdeen by 7pm tonight. I contact my warm showers host Marnie to inform here about my estimated arrival. She responds that dinner will be waiting for me then. Awesome! Since the terrain gets more flat I end up rolling into town even earlier than projected. Dinner is not yet ready, but that gives me time to take care of my wet stuff and take a warm shower.
It smells already very delicious when I enter the kitchen again. Marnie has hosted already a couple of cyclists the past months and knows about their appetite. The portions she has made are enormous. She encourages me several time to take more but at the end the casserole remains half full. And she has already made some apple pie which I need to taste. At the end of the day I go to bed very saturated. The first days in the USA are very promising.