I started the morning off with a run. Why should I give up my newly found running fitness just because I’m on a bicycle trip? But I am scaling back to the bare minimum: two miles every other day at an easy pace. (And on a flat route below.)
Then, after walking all around town to find a place open for breakfast before 8 AM on Sunday, it was time to get to business with the climb on Hurricane Ridge Road. And the climb didn’t disappoint, with 7-8% grades in the first five miles.
Things started to level out after that, with grades of “only” 4-5%. The worst part about the climb is hitting the three tunnels, which are back to back to back. These aren’t like newer tunnels which have lighting or are otherwise designed to help motorists/bicyclists cope with the brightness change. Instead, you hit the darkness of the tunnel, and then when you’re old like me, you can’t see squat through the bicycling sunglasses. Fortunately, the outer lens flips up on my prescription sunglasses, so I could see well enough to ride through.
Getting closer to the top, I could then start seeing the snowy peaks of the mountains in Olympic National Park.
I met another cyclist about six miles from the top. He was a local who told me, “the next three miles are about the same grade as this, about 4-5%, then it’s only three miles after that to the top.” When we parted ways, I thought about what he said, and then I thought, “wait a minute!” Sure enough, those last three miles were the grueling 8% grade.
Then finally, after 20 miles, I made it to the visitor center at just over 5200 feet elevation!
I spent a couple of hours roaming around on the trails at the top. There are numerous short trails that are easily walkable in bike shoes with recessed cleats.
From the visitor center, there were excellent views of the mountains.
As well as views toward Port Angeles.
Here’s the obligatory “snow at ridiculous time of year” photo.
And, finally, the obligatory Strava brag.
It was then an uneventful ride back down the mountain to my hotel in Port Angeles. I got some helmet camera video of the downhill!
Dinner tonight was excellent. One of the locals on the ferry recommended Bella Italia, and it did not disappoint.
All packed up and ready to get an early start tomorrow. I may have a long (but flatter for sure!) day and will likely be camping tomorrow night.