Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Bicycle Ride

A little bicycle ride? Oh yes I went for a little ride last weekend. I mentioned in a recent post that I was going to do a little route scouting on a logging road on private land hoping to be able to close the loop on a 200K permanent route that would start in the Olympia area, run down to Morton, then to Elbe and then this short piece, from Alder Lake to the little town of Rainier and then finish back in Oly.

Saturday I did that route scouting and though I believe it is possible to go just about anywhere on a bike, some places, under some circumstances don’t make a lot of sense. This is one of those situations, though I have to say it would probably be a blast on a Mtn Bike.

The first part was faboo: A gated old chip seal county road in pretty good shape with almost no traffic (it’s gated but there are some private homes behind the gate). This stretch climbed but it was no problem, not too step, no traffic and good surface.

But that petered out pretty quick, probably a little over a mile down (or should I say up) the road, it became the classic private logging road: Made and maintained for log trucks. A logging company has a whole different set of criteria for road design and maintenance. They don’t have to worry much about public safety, Road design, alignment, etc is mostly about the most economical route from the stump to the mill.

Grades, curves, sightlines, and yes, even road surface are oriented toward log trucks.

Since the route from stump to mill is usually downhill (referred to as favorable haul, or favorable grade), it can be pretty steep. And log trucks don’t really need that butter smooth chipseal or crushed rock surface. These roads are often surfaced with oversized or ‘pit run’ material.
It’s cheaper to produce, usually lasts longer, and needs less maintenance than fine crushed rock. That’s what this road was about. Steep, and surfaced with crushed rock, but not too crushed.

I kept stalling out, either because my front tire would slip between big rocks or bump up against big rocks. It was akin to riding my bike up a dry creek bed, only instead of round river rock it was angular crushed basalt.

I gave up about two more miles up the road, it just was not going to work on my bike with the wheels and tires I had. Like I said it would be a good route on a Mtn bike I think. Once I quit I turned around and it was almost as much trouble to go down as it was to go up. In the couple miles I descended, I had to stop three times, to give my hands, wrists, and forearms a break.

It was fun, and hard, and I wish it had worked out, but like I said, some things just don’t make sense.

1 comment:

  1. I seriously need to find the roads like that around here. (I suppose asking Kent P. couldn't hurt. I'm sure he knows them all.) That looks like a heap of fun and a massive challenge.

    I just got the cojones to take my bike on a few miles of crushed rock and hardpack dirt path earlier this week, and crossed a (wimpy by comparison) 20 yard section that is 3" - 5" cracked slag. Then I went rolling through some loamy dirt paths around Redmond Ridge.

    It's nice to reunite with the "go anywhere" riding I remember doing as a kid. I didn't realized how much I was babying my bike until just this week.