Maybe monkeys CAN fly and chickens DO have lips... okay, I'm almost ready for anything now. Saturday we (TT, Alex and me and Jenn on the Stealth) road the SW Washington loop in cloudless sunny skies and, most unbelievably, above 50 degrees!! TT, it IS possible!
The first time I rode this loop we did the 100+ mile version in February, high 40s and cold rain, on my rainbike - it was total crap!! What we do for friends. The best part of the ride was getting off the bike. TT has only talked us (the Kids) into it once since - in February.
Thing is, this is a really wonderful loop - either the 75+ or 100+ mile version. Late spring to early fall you couldn't ask for a nicer, rolling, quiet country road, low-traffic, perfect water/food-stop, 4,000 ft vertical loop. Or for that matter a perfect tandem loop - Jenn loves it.
Exit I-5 in Washington at #49 or Castle Rock (same spot as the Tour de Blast). The folks at the Texaco station are cool about parking behind their building (do tell them). Roll out over back over the freeway and the short descent through Castle Rock, right in the middle of town on A st. over the Cowlitz R. and right on Hwy 411 - this is the only "busy" stretch. Settle in for 9+miles of rollers under a canopy of tall maples. The left down the hill into Vader - through "town", don't blink, and out Hwy 506 (store on the left - loo around back) and enjoy the next 16ish miles - a mile long climb at 5-8% out of Ryderwood keeps it interesting (KOM points - but who's counting). TT would never let me forget it if I didn't point out the Burma Shave signs (read sprint point here) as you approach the little village of Ryderwood - which proudly proclaims itself a "55+ Community", it may be 60+ by now. Oh, and look for the camel - YES, a camel.
Now its decision time - 75+ or bit off the century plus? At the T-section of 506 (Wildwood Rd) and Pe Ell McDonald Rd there is a little store (water plus). Today we stayed in the valley and north 5 miles and right up Curtis Hill Rd. and the last real climb, 2 miles @4-6%. At the top turn right on Pleasant Hill Rd. - then follow it 2miles left, right, left until it Ts with Penning Rd., turn right and up a short steeeep hill to an awesome sweep of the Cascade Mountains including Mt Rainier (l), Mt Adams, Mt St. Helens (r). Now behold a lovely straight up, 50mph plus, downhill scorcher - yahoo! Right on Frogner Rd, then left on Brown for 3 miles of serious forest enclosed rollers (photo above) descending (NOTE - the '19% trucks-on-cheese sign' is insane, the road crew was smok'n something, its maybe mid-teens for a few hundred meters at best) to Pleasant Valley Rd, take a right. Five miles to a right on Tennessee Rd. for 3 miles of wide-open farm field rollers eventually descending down into the town of Winlock (left on NW Byham - right on NW Dexter - left on King Rd and over the bridge through town to Walnut St.). You're @50ish miles into the ride. Head east out of Winlock on Walnut (Hwy 505) and split left up Nevil Rd (its short relax!), its way too busy on 505, and a couple miles to N. Military Rd. then right back to Hwy 505. Left on 505, a descent shoulder, back over I-5 and 5 miles down into Toledo, through town, across the Cowlitz R. again and a 1/2 mile later curve right onto Jackson Hwy S. wind up the hill and 2 miles look for the barn on the left - its worth a stop and a read, they just don't write sales promotionals like that anymore - weak women beware! A mile later right on Herriford Rd (careful you'll blow by it) and down and around to a right on Mandy for 3 very quiet miles along the Cowlitz R. Right on Imboden (Mandy) 2 miles to Barnes Dr., and another right. Its the home stretch, wide shoulder, one more cross over I-5, less than 8 miles of moderate rollers to go. Enjoy!
And the post-ride brew - we checked out Salmon Creek brew pub in Vancouver, WA on the way back to Portland. The IPA is suppose to be good, tonight's sucked, too flowery, we opted for the ESB, great onion rings, and garden burgers.
As one of our favorite pros would say - "Damn it was a 'ripper' out there today". Thanks Jenn, TT and Alex. All you Pedalpaloozers - hope you had fun day as well!