Words and Images by ambassador Lita Monaghan.
I recently embarked on a multi-day bike ride with an amazing group of women cyclists, as well as my husband, “The Eric,” who provided luxury SAG during the ride. The route took us not only on a tour around the Olympic Peninsula but also took us back in time, sharing a bit of history of the various places we encountered along the way. My customized 2019 Kona Libre turned time machine served as the perfect instrument for this little bit of time travel.
On Day 1, everyone met at my house, loaded up the van with our gear, and then we departed from Fircrest, WA. Fun fact: Fircrest, incorporated in 1925, was the last “dry” town in the state, which prohibited the sale of alcohol by the glass. Fortunately, in the November 2015 election, voters overwhelmingly overturned the law. A lesser-known fun fact: The back of the van may or may not have been equipped with a wine refrigerator!
We stopped for lunch at Manchester State Park, a 111-acre camping park with 3,400 feet of saltwater shoreline on Rich Passage in Puget Sound. The Eric provided a white linen vegetarian lunch buffet while we enjoyed beautiful views of the water. Fun fact: The picnic shelter was a former torpedo warehouse, built-in 1901, built to protect the shipyards at Bremerton.
We spent the first night of our ride in Union, WA, a small community that lies along the southern shore of Hood Canal, at an area known as “the Great Bend.” We stayed at quaint cabins at the Robin Hood Village and Restaurant, built in 1934 by a Hollywood set designer that had worked on the classic Robin Hood film. Fun fact: Robin Hood’s star, Errol Flyn, was an early visitor of the Robin Hood Village and Restaurant.
Day 2 of riding was a nice, mostly flat spin, taking in the views as we rode along Hood Canal. We stopped for lunch at the Hama Hama Oyster Saloon, an outdoor restaurant flanked by old-growth forest and the west shore of Hood Canal at the mouth of Lilliwaup Creek. Fun fact: Hama Hama started out as a logging company in the 1890s and is now a fifth-generation family-run shellfish farm.
At the conclusion of the ride on Day 2, we loaded up our bikes and drove to Port Angeles to spend the night. The next morning, Day 3 of our ride, would come too soon as Hurricane Ridge was our next big challenge, destination: 5,420 feet. Olympic National Park is nearly a million acres and hosts several distinct ecosystems from glacier-capped mountains to old-growth temperate rain forests to miles of coastline, and is home to Hurricane Ridge.
Hurricane Ridge is named for its whipping gales and winds, which can exceed 70mph. Fortunately, when we reached the top, it was calm and almost achingly scenic. Much of the Olympic National Park could be viewed from the Hurricane Ridge viewpoint, which we thoroughly enjoyed in between cheering each other on as folks arrived to the top at their own paces. Fun fact: Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard opened in 1958 and is one of the few lift service ski areas located inside a U.S. national park.
Continuing the theme of natural diversity in Olympic National Park, we settled into Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort for an evening of relaxation and recuperation after the day’s long climb. A dip in the hot springs, as well as the bone-chilling Sol Duc river, helped flush the lactic acids out of our tired legs. Lack of cell service and internet made for a perfect evening, reliving the day’s accomplishment under a perfect pitch-black sky dotted with millions of stars. Fun fact: The name, Sol Duc, is a Native American term meaning “sparkling water” and its namesake, the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, was originally built in 1912.
The ride for Day 4 was a “downhill” ride and a much welcome route after a few days of riding. We rode along several parts of the Olympic Discovery Trail, a 130-mile trail comprised of road and more than half on multi-use path. The ten-mile stretch along Mary Clark Road engulfed us in thick, luscious green forest and nothing but the sounds of our cranks turning and laughter from the stories we shared. The ODT It is a must-do!
We finally reached our destination at Rialto Beach, located on the Olympic Peninsula near the mouth of the Quillayute River. The skies were blue and we were serenaded by the sounds of crashing waves. This lesser-known beach has breath-taking views of offshore islands known as sea stacks with plenty of seating on giant drift logs all along the rocky shoreline. Fun fact: The beach was named after, Claude Alexander Conlin, a famous magician of the Rialto theater chain. Conlin had a home at the beach in the 1920s until it burned in the 1930s.
Planning, organizing, executing, and riding in a multi-day ride with a group of diverse women provided memories and bonds that will last a lifetime. This trip flew by and now we can’t wait to do another multi-day ride again next year! My time machine awaits…