Oly Pen Loop for Labor Day

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Lumitalo, Sep 17, 2015.

  1. Lumitalo

    Lumitalo Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2015
    Oddometer:
    89
    Location:
    The Columbia River Gorge
    Every year my buddy does a week long dual sport ride over labor day somewhere in Washington or Oregon with a few other guys out of the Seattle area. The plan for this year was to do the full WABDR round trip on dirt (no highway return). Unfortunately the fires around Mt. Adams and further up in Lake Chelan were making that distance of back country travel sketchy, so the group decided to redirect and try out the Olympic Peninsula loop. We acquired the tracks from Griptwister Tours (http://www.griptwister.com/) which were well worth it. Great roads, an entertaining guide book and lots of great scenery on this route made it a must purchase if you’re going to see the peninsula on dirt.

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    Ferry to Vashon Island.

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    The weather held on us somewhat; being one of the rainiest places on earth comes with a certain expectation of rain. But it only rained every other day and most of that was in the form of mist, nothing torrential. The biggest downside of the rainy days was the missed views of the mountains all around us. I definitely feel like I have to do this loop again and hope for sunny skies in those sections.

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    450 EXC with Reckless 40.

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    The route is an amazing mix of everything – lots of unmaintained two track, high speed grated gravel roads, some twisty paved sections and not too much highway. The highway is mostly 101 so I can’t even really complain about that since it’s not I-5. There’s even a section of pavement that has deteriorated away so much that it reminded me of some post-apocalyptic movie where the rainforest grows over the ruins of our society. Unfortunately didn't get any pics of that section, it was towards the end of day three when we were looking for a camp site.

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    DR650 with Reckless 80.

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    Note the circle of smaller trees - looks like it was logged some years ago.

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    Not sure how long this section of road will last.

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    Reckless 40, perfect for packing the swim trunks and the flippy-floppies.

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    A scree field about 20 yards across, one creek crossing and a bushwhack around a recently downed tree were the only technical spots on the main route. None of those were sketchy, though I could see the creek crossing being near impossible during high water (I believe there was a bridge option up the road). What it lacks in technical challenges it definitely delivers on lots of elevation change, a mix of road surfaces and lot and lots of corners that are a blast to slide around.

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    BFT in the trail.

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    Walking the DR through the brush.

    There were a couple of single track out and back sections that were detailed, though we found at least one of them does not appear to be appropriate for riding. The out and back just NW of Quilcene WA did not have motorized vehicles listed on the trail head sign – it appears as if this is just a hiking trail now. It might technically be open to bikes (though I doubt it) but I would suggest not doing this section for the sake of not conflicting with people on foot.

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    Cool single track, but best left to foot traffic.

    Somehow we managed to get two flat tires in the first full day of dirt riding, both of them from nails. That slowed our progress a bit but there are worse fates than changing a tube by headlight. I personally enjoyed the challenge of fixing my first flat on this bike in the dark, though admittedly I was less than stoked in the minutes after I felt that rear tire go all wobbly. It’s just never a good feeling when something goes wrong just as it’s getting dark.

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    First the KLR....

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    Then the DR. No center stand, but it's a DR so shut off the fuel and clamp the tank vent, let's tip it over. Thumbs up, we're having fun!

    Even though we got rained on it was a bit strange to see all the signs of an extremely dry summer. There were a number of bone dry creek beds that looked as though they should be flowing. The moss on the trees was dry and crunchy in some of the places we stopped. And though it was much greener than the crispy golden brown of the Columbia Gorge, it did not feel or look as lush as I had come to expect. Pray for rain (and snow) this winter so we can get out of this drought.

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    Epic views, fast and fun two track, free riverside camp spots, what more could you ask for? Great folks to ride with I guess. Thanks Taylor, Chris, Josh and Chad for keeping the energy high, the pace exciting and the conversation entertaining. Ride on!
    #1
  2. TheMarmot

    TheMarmot Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Lyle, WA
    Was a blast! A much different ride than the eastern routes; which are usually very dusty.

    Thanks Matt for the sweet 450. And thanks Lee for the Mosko Reckless 40 setup. Look forward to refining my pack even further.
    #2
  3. ghte

    ghte Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2010
    Oddometer:
    173
    Location:
    Bright, Victoria Australia.
    Stunning scenery, looks like lord of the rings country. Thanks for sharing
    #3
  4. MasterMarine

    MasterMarine Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,317
    Location:
    Now serving just Snohomish County
    Thank you for sharing. :clap

    This is a great route. I learned a lot about using my GPS and also about camping off the bike riding this route.
    #4
  5. NWBoon

    NWBoon Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    106
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Nice pictures and cool ride report! Thanks, I need to try this route someday.
    #5