After a quick stretch, I set off into the fog that was thick in the foothills of Capitol Forest. I followed the familiar roads west managing to outrun all of the local dogs in the valley. Finally, up ahead a sign read "pavement ends". Gravel had become a staple of mine this winter. As the mountain passes become snowed in, I'm finding local adventures by seeking out harder and gravely roads. These roads reward me with beautiful views and swollen streams from the heavy winter rainfall. Many days I'm the only person on the road passed by a confused driver in a big pickup truck. Today, is an exception and a dozen gravel trucks pass me filled with gravel to resurface the road I am on. This time the descent was a little slower as my tires sunk into the fresh rock. It still was easier than last year when we had to cary our bikes over a washout. In no time I was back on the pavement and enjoying the sunshine of Brooklyn, a treat in western Washington in December.
Some day I am going to stop and explore this town, but not much was open at 10:30 as I whooshed through. The Brooklyn Tavern was still closed and only a dog was interested in my presence. Just when you think the gravely hill climbing is over, this ride treats you again with an equally challenging climb up and over the ridge to Raymond, Washington. With my stomach growling, I began to envision the Subway sandwich just over the river. I found a sunny window and engulfed a sandwich. The only evidence a sandwich existed was the slight smell of onions on my breath. A local asked me where I was riding to and from. They were surprised that I came from Olympia and told me to be carful out there.
With fresh legs, I pounced on the large rolling hills into Montesano. The first of the headwinds occasionally gusted around a hill and made me work in the little chainring. By now the sun was setting and my legs were getting tired. The ride back from Grays Harbor is rarely exciting and I needed some caffeine to perk myself up. I discovered a new coffee shop in town on the main street. The soup from the grocery store and hot cup of joe warmed me up. I had to make a choice at this point, ride the cold dark windy miles back to home or sit and take a nap in the waning moments of sunshine. Of course I set off again without a nap and was rewarded for my efforts in Elma. I came around a corner and saw a new round white billboard, no...water tower?No, a huge full moon was rising above the trees. The thought of having the extra light on the way home was encouraging.
With an ever shortening distance home, I hesitated to stop, but a bulging bladder marked a good time to put on the warm layer and reflected gear. It is convenient that this ride finishes in the city I live in. Without needing to read a cue sheet, I fly through the intersections, battling traffic again. I bike past my house and then climb the last hill to Lacey and the official start/finish. The Starbucks attendant asks if I am doing some kind of scavenger hunt, and I say simply, "yes, a bicycle scavenger hunt." "Cool" he grins. This marks my 22 consecutive month of riding at least one 200k per month, bringing me closer to my annual goal of 8,000k of official events.