My ongoing quest to ride all the "big" mountain climbs in the state of Washington took another step forward when I went up the 18-mile climb to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula (Washington state). I'd been warned by a couple of folks that it was a tough ride, and I'd have to agree that, other than some passes I've hit after lots and lots of miles, this was one of the more challenging climbs I've done.
To get out to the Olympic Peninsula for this ride from Seattle, one takes the ferry. I realized that I'd never taken my bike on my car on the ferry - normally I'm just riding the bike onto the ferry. Here we are on the 7:10 a.m. Kingston ferry:
I parked the car in Port Angeles, and started up the road to Hurricane Ridge. I'd been warned that the first part was the toughest, and I think it was. I was in my lowest gear (on my triple!) practically the whole time, just chugging up a chipseal road at 6 to 8 mph with nothing to look at but the trees on either side. Boring. After about 6 miles, I got in line with the cars to pay my $5 entrance fee to the National Park:
Another few miles and you start to get a view. This is looking back toward the coast line down at the bottom of the mountain - this view is toward the Northeast, across the Strait de Juan de Fuca. I think the point of land to the right is Dungeness (as in the crab).
There were three tunnels on the way up, all about 100 yards long, or a little longer. I had a tail light and a flashing headlight with me just to stay visible. No problem in the tunnels except each had a nasty little grate about 9 inches across with just enough space in the grate to catch a bike wheel. I slowed way down for those and made a mental note to remember them on the way down.
From around mile 7 to mile 12 the road is not nearly as steep. I probably rode at about 8 to 10 mph in this section, sometimes as fast as 11 or 12.
Then it starts to get steep again...the last few miles is climbing up a series of switchbacks. You can see the road in front of you climbing up and out of sight. But you can't really see the "mountains," just the road on the ridge in front of you, like this:
Then, when you're sick of climbing, all the sudden you pop over the top and you are on "the ridge," with this spectacular view of the Olympic Mountains:
How do I know they were the Olympic Mountains? Because your tax dollars paid for a sign to remind me: