My first Century

September 13, 2002. I had been planning the route for a week -- I was going to ride from Seattle, WA to Aberdeen, WA where I have some renovation properties, and was going to spend the rest of the weekend working on one of my houses, as usual. The car trip was about 116 miles, so I figured it would be a decent century trip as well. One problem with routing was to find roads that would NOT be freeway based. I decided on taking the ferry from Seattle to Bremerton, and then there would be just 4 lane and 2 lane the whole way with no freeways at all.

I started around 6:00 AM, and rode to Seattle to get the Passenger only ferry to Bremerton. The ferry is a commuter run and in the AM on weekdays it is full going into Seattle but nearly empty heading back to Bremerton. They had two five-bike bikestands on the deck. The ride was about 40 minutes and as they got closer to Bremerton, they just kept going slower and slower as they reached Rich Passage, a narrow strait where the people living on the water had gotten the ferry to slow down to halt erosion from the wakes.

I got to Bremerton and started up a hill (every road that gets off a ferry around here goes up a hill!) and onto Route 3. This wasn't too bad and was rather scenic along the water for a ways. Then it headed inland and was pretty nice, 4 lane but not much traffic and a real nice shoulder to ride on. A long hill later I reached a plateau and the Bremerton airport. And not too many miles later, the junction for route 106 which headed more due-west as route 3 headed southerly. Route 106 is narrower, 2 lane and hugs the Hood Canal.

The road is lightly travelled, the shoulder is decent (about 3 feet wide) and the scenery is to-die-for. Trees, water views, green hills, and the Cascade mountains towering off in the distance. The road runs within feet of the water along rocky beaches and you can stop and dip your feet if you feel inclined.

I met up with some Kayackers at a small town where I spotted a convenient port-a-potty by a boat ramp, who asked if the shoulder wasn't a bit narrow, but two feet is plenty on a lightly travelled back road.

Then came the chip-seal. This is a road surface where they spray oil or tar onto the road and then dump small (3/4") sharp pieces of gravel on it and let the traffic press it into the pavement. The stuff I was on was very fresh and there was loose gravel all over the place for about 5 miles. It was noisy, rough, slow and a little scary for the traction on the loose stuff. The poor people who lived along the road had mounds of it piling up on their properties and in their driveways. I was s-o-o-o glad to get past it!

Next stop was Union where I planned on turning south. I stopped at a roadside fruit stand to get some plums and an old collie decided to take a nip at my thigh, twice. She didn't do it with much power but I could tell she meant it. The owner said she didn't like bikes.

So I headed south and met up with highway 101. It was busy and wide and I did not like it much. On consulting with my map I found a road just to the east I could ride, and headed for it. It was WONDERFUL. I think I must have had a tailwind, but the road was flat, straight, with no traffic and I was crusing at 18mph with no effort. Making great time, in the sun, and it was very very good.

Came into Shelton and got a little lost. Stopped at a Burger King to borrow the bathroom and fill up my water bottles at the pop machine. Got back on 101 and headed south to my next junction. Only when I got there, it was the wrong road. What the heck? Where is my road that crosses 101? Look it's right here on the map. Hm... no, it's back there. But I didn't see any road back there. (At this location, 101 is limited access). Well, pehaps I went over or under it back there. So I headed north again and bushwhacked to where my road SHOULD have been, and found it. Sure enough, it went OVER 101, never intersecting it. I've seen other maps and they make it clear that there is no access but my map was silent on the issue.

So the road I'm on is heading about 24 miles across this flat part of land toward Elma, through logged out and re-planted lands. There is one rest stop 12 miles in. By this point, I've got 75 miles under me and I had started to get tired, and needed to start taking rest stops, of anywhere from 5-10 minutes. And then I'd be charged up and good for another 15 miles or so.

I found the mid-point and there was a small store I could get water and and ice-cream sandwich, with a picnic table out front to chat with the locals. When I told them I was from Seattle, they sort of poo-poohed and said they'd had travellers there from New Zealand, around the world bikers so I was just local to them. We had a nice visit while I polished off my ice cream, and then I headed out again. The road had many false-flats where you'd be grining up a hill that wouldn't look like a hill, and you'd wonder if you were losing it again and should rest or what, only to finally find the top of the hill. It was very frustrating. And the road was cut into a groove between surrounding land so you often couldn't see around much. But in another hour, I broke through to Elma. Now I was very close to Aberdeen, just 20 more miles or so. Stopped at an Exxon gas/convenience store for some more water and Doritos. I regretted the Doritos shortly after I got going again, they didn't sit well.

The road from Elma to Montesano parellels the main road, and it mostly flat and straight. The sun by this point was directly ahead and was hard to ride into. School was getting out and I met a bus or two heading to take their kids home. Traffic was light, and there was a pretty good shoulder to ride. But it was just grinding out the miles to Montesano, not much to see or fun.

When I got to Montesano, I stopped again for water and a snack, and then headed to the back road to Cosmopolis. As I crossed the railroad tracks, I hit the 100 mile mark -- my century was in the bag! But I wasn't at my goal yet, so I kept on riding.

You have to head southwest from Monte, toward Chehalis and after about 4 or 5 miles, there's this cutoff road that heads west again. I didn't realize how far it was to the cutoff, but I eventually found it and after a couple miles, decided I was due for another break. My rest stops were becoming more frequent, and every part of my body was aching.

The cutoff road was OK, no shoulder but very little traffic. A few gentle hills, rough surface but not too bad. I came out in Cosmopolis by the Weyerhouser plant, and headed into town where I laid on my back on a park bench for about 10 minutes for my last rest stop before the final push. It was very relaxing, the air was warm, the sun was out and the park was full of trees to give nice leafy shade.

OK, up and at 'em. The final push was just a few miles, over the 101 bridge into Abereeen and then finally down the street to my project house. I met two college kids that were painting it and then into our on-site apartment for a shower and something to eat. I would up taking about a half-hour nap and woke surprisingly rested and feeling great.

Statistics:
Aberdeen WA in 7:23. The actual century took 6:30 at 15.5 avg mph. This was my longest ride in my life. I started riding to work a year ago, and did some 20, 30 45 and even 63 mile rides earlier in the year.

I had toyed with the idea of doing this as a 200k, and in fact was only 11 miles short. After my nap, I could easily have knocked it out, but I'll save that milestone for next year on a real organized Randonee (sp?)

I had a great time on the trip. I had planned it out and except for the mixup in Shelton, the plan worked great, the weather was wonderful, I held up as well as I might have hoped for and I will remember scenes and the feeling I got from the ride for a long long time.