Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Big Ride I Wanna Do: The Olympic Peninsula Loop

Here's the route I came up with, starting and ending in Bremerton, WA (just a ferry ride away): (zoom out to see the whole thing)

View Larger Map

Notice the detour out to the north west tip of the North West: Neah Bay. It looks like there's a road to get out there, which is enough for me. I wanted the route to hug the water as much as possible, to ensure the best scenery.

I did this loop in a car about five years ago, and remember thinking at the time that I'd love to do it on a bike, but that it would be super scary: the tiny shoulder combined with huge trucks and RVs. But that was before I'd ridden with SIR, and tackled I-90, Highway 2, and other crazy paved beasts of roads.

And around Lake Crescent there was a big climb, and that seemed like the scariest part, since RVs seemed to drift into the bike/emergency lane often - but this route skips that section of Highway 101, heading towards Neah Bay. (at least I think)

The route also skips Highway 101 around Aberdeen, which I remember to be quite the bustling sprawl going on (e.g. not where you want to ride).

Maybe there's a permanent set up for this route - and if not, perhaps I'll try to submit it as one? I think SIR might have done something like this already as a 600k.

Distance: 386 mi (622 km)
Route: Bremerton, Port Angeles, Neah Bay, Forks, Elma, Bremerton (these could be some of the controls, of course!)
Max time: 40 hours

The best part about creating such a route would be actually attempting it! While quite a few have done this route over the period of a few days, I'd like to do it as quickly as possible. I'll just bring a sleeping bag & bivy in case I want to sleep. Can't wait!

This is all for summer-time by the way, I'm not that crazy!


Robert H said...

Yeah... you are actually.

Anonymous said...

SIR ran a similar 600k brevet in June of 2007-I believe it started from the Edmonds ferry. It was a great route.

Anonymous said...

For best effect (you said you want to stay by the water) take 112 from PA out to Clallam Bay. Going all the way to Neah Bay will add some miles of seriously crappy road, but also very beautiful. And once you are there you can actually say you have been out PAST the middle of nowhere - to edge of the world.

Then on the return take 113 (the Burnt Mtn Rd) to reconnect with 101(this is the climb you remember).

This is essentially a 600K brevet (except for the leg out to Neah Bay) we have ridden a few times.

Yr Pal Dr Codfish

Rides Chair said...

We still have an opening for someone to organize the June 13,14 600K - this is your chance!!! You could pre-ride it on SIR's dime, sleep inside!

Let me know if I can put your name down for that one.

Noel said...

Great two map set from Pt. Townsend Cycle club would give you all the traffic density on side roads of your route from mid east peninsula out to thw NW corner. Just published 2008 and they were free.

Unknown said...

Hey, Matt, remember me? I exchanged a couple of BikeForum posts with you last summer after I saw you on the STP one-day ride and we both did RAMROD. Anyways, I did a nine-day solo tour of the Olympic Peninsula last September that was almost identical to the route your are looking at. Check out the journal I created for that trip at

Anonymous said...

Dr. Codfish is right. Heading out to Neah Bay in my opinion is a choice that depends on the weather and the company. It's far from any support/services and adds some less-than-stellar road surface. Not a problem for randonneurs, but not necessarily to the average touring cyclist's taste.

Here's my recommended route:

1. depart Kingston
2. Quilcene (28 miles)
3. Hoodsport (37 miles)
4. Aberdeen (59 miles)
5. Quinault (44 miles)
6. Forks (56 miles)
7. Neah Bay (67 miles)
8. Port Angeles (48 miles including loop to Piedmont/Crescent Lake)
9. Port Townsend (55 miles via the Olympic Discovery Trail)
10. Kingston (35 miles via Port Ludlow)

Using secondary roads as much as possible, this loop totals about 450 miles. You could easily throw in Hurricane Ridge if you enjoy climbing.

matt m said...

thanks everyone for the feedback/comments!

Rides Chair: I just might be up for something like this, although since I've only finished one 600 so far, I'm not sure if it's a good idea..

Skyler: yeah I remember you! Thanks for posting the link to your tour - that's exactly the kind of scenery I'm looking for!

J: thanks for the route suggestion. I'm thinking that instead of the jaunt to Neah Bay, I'd rather do a big climb, like say Hurricane Ridge. In fact I've mapped out this alternate route: here

It drops the Neah Bay leg, but still comes out to about 600k - perfect! Even if this route doesn't become a permanent or brevet route, I'm gonna do it!

daermi said...

Did you ever get to do this route? I've been really wanting to attempt a ride out to Neah Bay to see Cape Flattery, but the shoulderless highways with blind corners are a little terrifying, even if they are low traffic. I'd love to know how it was.