Monday, August 12, 2019
Excerpt from the 2019 Russell Ride Journal followed by a Utube clip
Day 1-Following a grinding work day on Friday the 21st, I opted to leave at 7:30 AM instead of 6:00. This decision proved stressful as weekend traffic was thick, post summer solstice and hitting the peak of tourist season in the Pacific Northwest. Luckily, I knew the route, slamming along Route 3 past the navy ships mothballed on shore until I exited onto “old Belfair Highway” and a bike lane. Then an easy mostly flat 10-mile ride into Belfair and a climb along the tree-lined highway towards Shelton. Past Herron Island and the northern Puget Sound outposts of Allyn and Grapeview, the route to the logging town of Shelton is preceded by a paved shoulder which is 24 inches wide at most. This seemingly adequate safety zone fails to consider the intrusion of mirrors which extend 18 inches from the passenger side of the commercial trucks, pickups, and recreational vehicles. Consequently, the cyclist must ignore the danger and ride a steady line.
Aside from the late start I was soon pelted by rain all of the way into Mason County’s largest town. Nathan spotted me and did a quick pull over so we could take a photo to document the conditions, wet and miserable. Shelton is a 2-hour ride from Bremerton and entering the timber hub requires meandering around warehouses and various highway intersections. I am always relieved when I see the “Welcome to Shelton” sign as I leave town. There may be amenities here but they are opaque to the visitor, even someone going 15-miles-an-hour. I do not even recall a park with a restroom.
After a short highway jaunt on 108, I turn off at the McCleary casino which is my half-way rest stop. No flush toilets here, but a nice selection of porta pots and a picnic table with some historical markers. Nathan meets me here, right on schedule and we chat for 20 minutes. From here, I am now riding on smooth pavement along country roads, past farms and scaling a surprising number of hills. Once in the village of McCleary I turn left onto a beautiful bike path all the way into Elma, a sweet little town with some urban planning forethought including actual bike lanes. The land becomes flatter here, but the headwind increased to 20 MPH. I wryly observed my speed decrease on my odometer despite my best efforts. At one point I pulled into a bus shelter for a respite. Luckily, the rain had abated and it was sunny. I soldiered on to Montesano and the smiling face of my son, in the IGA parking lot.
Nathan rode from Montesano, with a westerly crosswind and I waited for him 30 miles away in Raymond, a timber town. Weyerhaeuser owns most of the land in the region, but the town is on a river and is quite scenic with verdant hills all around. It even has sculptures along the road, a sure sign of affluence. I don’t remember much about it from last year, probably because I was so intent on getting into Astoria. South Bend is a charming town just west of Raymond with a bike path along the water and a great bike tool station with restrooms! I waited for Nathan here. He seems to be a strong rider and looks awesome in his made-in-the-US Borah gear! The goal is to camp tonight, so I need to find a site before dark and then circle back and find him. Destination-Cape Disappointment State Park on the Long Beach Peninsula.
Having plenty of time to kill, I decided to try and visit the man whom had helped me last year on the inaugural Russell Ride. I drove to his humble home and the place looked fairly deserted. I also saw a “for sale sign” off the road. I sure hope he didn’t die from his diabetes induced dialysis. Anyway, I left him the articles about the research the Russell Ride contributed to in 2018 and about this year’s ride. I also left him a brochure from Benaroya Research Institute.