I did not want to get out the door.
I didn’t have anything epic planned. Just a little bike trip. Not every adventure has to be epic. Sometimes it’s nice just to start from home and get out there. Nonetheless, I was dragging my feet Saturday morning.
The weather called for sunny skies and warm temperatures. Well, there was that pesky Red Flag alert for high fire danger due to dry conditions and high winds, but maybe I could ignore that? I’m still training for my Cross Washington (XWA) race, and I wanted to do a 2-day bikepack. I didn’t want to drive far; I wanted to spend time on the bike, not in the car. And it would be more environmentally conscious to not drive.
After thinking about where I might go, I decided on the Ophir Creek Campground at the end of Nome Creek Road. I’d been there before but never camped overnight. The distance was perfect – about 70 miles from home with a couple of big climbs along the way. The only drawback was that most of it would be on paved roads. Oh well, I decided to do it anyway. Not all rides have to be epic.
But then I stayed up way too late Friday night finishing a good novel that I was reading. (Does anybody else do that? Stay up too late just to see what happens in a book and then regret it the next day?) Then I had to get up early for a phone call with a friend before getting on the road. It’s not good to start a big weekend of exercise without enough sleep, but, hey, I could consider that part of my training. I will be sleep deprived during the race, too. At least that was my thinking as I kept arguing with myself about whether to put the book down and go to sleep.
After I got off the phone with my friend, Eric offered to make a pancake breakfast, so I stuck around for that, too. Procrastinating, I know. Outside I could see the trees swaying in the wind. I checked the forecast, 15-20 mph winds from the northeast – the direction I was headed.
I told Eric that I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. Maybe I should have an easier weekend. He encouraged me to at least start – I was packed up and ready to go. The mind battles continued: It’s never as bad as you think it might be. Plus, I might have a lot of wind on the XWA ride too. Plus, it would make the ride more epic. But wait, didn’t I just say I didn’t need every ride to be epic? I finally got out on the road. The wind wasn’t as bad as I expected, although it was annoying.
|Poker Flat Rocket Range|
Once I got over Cleary Summit, the winds, including the gusts, picked up even more. But at that point I was committed to the ride. When the wind started getting on my nerves, I got out my iPhone. I listened to some Hidden Brain podcasts (always thought provoking) and then put my music on shuffle. I love not knowing which song may come up next. Fast-paced songs usually help me to pedal faster. Sometimes, it’s one that I have to sing out loud to, even if I’m going uphill. Sometimes I even need to stop and dance a little, certain songs just make me want to move. And sometimes a song comes on that I have no idea why it’s on my playlist. Either way, the distraction helps me keep pedaling with less complaining.
|Music helps the big climbs go easier|
At 53 miles into my ride, I finally turned off the pavement onto the gravel US Creek Road. It starts with a 3-mile, 9% grade up to the high point. Ooh, my legs were tired. But I just put my bike in its lowest gear and slowly ground up the hill. At least the views were spectacular. Everything had turned green.
|Yes, it really was 3 miles of at least 9% grade.|
I wanted to take a break on top, but the wind was gusting to 30 mph pushing my bike around, so I quickly headed down toward Nome Creek. At 60 miles, I turned west onto Nome Creek Road and finally had a tailwind! It pushed me all the way to the campground! I didn’t even mind that the road had a lot of chunky gravel from some recent maintenance work. I barely needed to pedal and before I knew it, there was Ophir Creek Campground.
|My bike kept getting blown over as I tried to take a quick photo on top|
|Yay! I made it to the campground|
I had to ride around the campground multiple times to find the perfect campsite. Does anybody else do that? The campground was very quiet with only 2 other spots (out of 20 campsites) taken. This campground is usually very buggy, but with the wind the mosquitos were almost non-existent. I looked forward to a quiet, restful evening.
After setting up my tent and eating dinner, I walked down to Ophir Creek and to the put-in for Beaver Creek. Someday, I’d like to come back and float Beaver Creek, then hike out the Summit Trail by way of Wickersham Dome, but that’s an epic adventure for another day. I headed back to my campsite and was in bed by 8:30.
I got up at 5 AM (uggh, another night with not enough sleep) and was on the bike by 6:15 AM. I wanted to get home early so I could relax and get ready for work on Monday. Although I had to start with a headwind, the rest of the trip back home was mostly with tailwinds. Amazingly, thankfully, the winds hadn’t changed overnight. Yay! How often does it happen that tailwinds turn to headwinds when you turn around? But not this time!
Even though my legs were tired, I made good time thanks to the wind. Before I knew it, I was back atop Cleary Summit and, not too much later, I was making the final 2-mile climb up our road. My total stats: 72 miles with about 5300 feet elevation each way. It wasn’t epic, but it was good training and a nice getaway to a remote campsite.