Monday, April 16, 2012

Lake Dawn to Granny's Cafe on Hwy 101

About a mile past Lake Dawn, the paved road turns into a gravel road, mostly descending and very well maintained.  Very few wheel-busting ruts or potholes.
(Little River Road.  It gets a lot narrower in places, careful)

You can descend as fast as you dare in some sections, but keep in mind you'll be sharing this part of the road with dirt bikers, 4WD trucks, clueless deer, possibly cougars (don't ride it alone at dusk or dawn unless you're very fast).  And there's at least one place where the local redneck shootists like to set up targets and dial in their scopes for next hunting season (don't worry, they hardly ever aim at cyclists).

(Turn left at the little red barn)
After about 4 miles of downhilling on dirt, you dump out onto the pavement and go left at the little red barn onto Black Diamond Road:

If you like descending, this is the best part of the whole ride. A very fast (but not crazy fast) eye-watering descent on smooth pavement losing the rest of the altitude you gained on the way to Lake Dawn.

The first time I rode this stretch, it was a beautiful day in August, my legs were feeling great, and I was literally laughing out loud. Wow, fun. Damn, it's good to be alive.  Shift into your biggest chainring and littlest cog and crank on it to average 30mph for the next 3.4 miles, or just mostly coast and rest your legs.

Black Diamond Road eventually levels out and turns right onto Olympic Hot Springs Road, and then a quick left onto HWY 101, where you immediately cross over the old Elwha River Bridge. (Note for 2107: this is where we re-group with the folks who opted for the flatter alternate 1st leg of the ride.)  Incidentally, this is smack-dab in the middle of the famous Elwha Dams Removal Project and if you look to your right as you cross the bridge, that's where Lake Aldwell used to be.  A river runs through it, these days.

There's not much shoulder on that bridge, and your best strategy here is to try to time your crossing of this bridge so you don't have to share it with any westbound motor vehicle traffic.

You're now heading west on Hwy 101, and starting a gradual 4 mile ascent to Granny's Cafe, everyone's favorite spot to stop and grab a soft-serve cone and/or lemonade. It's probably too early for lunch, isn't it? Too bad, they make some pretty good burgers here. Oh, man. It's not too early for pie, is it...?

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