So it comes to my attention that it is now January 11th, of our new year of 2010. It’s going to take me awhile to get used to this whole “10” thing.  In fact the “O’s” rolled off the tongue so easily, I want to say O’Ten. Which, technically is acceptable since there is an “0” preceding the 10 part, but I don’t think people will like that.

The new year started out great. It started with leaving the house, at 7:50am to the Seattle Ferry Terminal to catch the 8:45 Ferry to Bremerton for a new years ride around the Hood Canal with some people from PNWRIDERS.COM.  It is a yearly ride that is put on by Jim Whipple, who you may have read about before in my blog post “Across the Sound – Destination: Phinney Bay Machine Works” .  If you haven’t read about my little trip over to see him, take a moment to click on the link there and read through it. I’ll wait…

I don't remember what they were talking about. Maybe Donny was pointing out that it was raining.
Donny pointing out that it is raining.

All done?  Good!

Wasn’t that worth reading?

So back to the ride.

Meeting time was 10:30 in front of the QFC off of Kitsap Way. Kickstands up at 11.

Due to the ferry schedule, the latest ferry we could take, and be there on time was the 8:45 ferry. This ferry would dock at about 9:45, as the ferry trip is around an hour.  The next ferry was at 10:30, so that wouldn’t work.

At the ferry terminal in Seattle, we ran into another buddy of mine going on the ride. It looks like we were the only ones from that side of the large body of water called the Puget Sound that was going to make the trek across.

After the hour long ferry ride over to Bremerton, because we had plenty of time, we stopped off and had some breakfast at one of the local final establishments. Ok, it was McDonald’s, but it was still damn welcomed.

So we took our sweet time, since we had an hour to kill, the QFC was just down the road, and we needed to discuss the weather outside, as it didn’t seem all what we were expecting.

You see, a little back story before I continue.

The weatherman the night before told of a wet, but not so wet day ahead for us in the Peninsula. Calling for light off and on rain throughout the day with sun breaks, and no more than .25″ accumulation of rain. Sounds extremely bearable.

Insanity is best experienced in groups
Insanity is best experienced in groups

So we get around to finishing up our breakfast, and we take our leave. We go down a block so that JD can fuel up (He’s on a WR250X not a whole lot of distance can be had on these) and Donny left us while we let our bikes warm up to do the same.

We head down the road and meet up with the rest of the group at the QFC. To my surprise, there are a lot more insane people in this world than I was expecting. This came as a humble relief, as I was not expecting for there to be such a turnout. Final count of committed riders for that day was 16 riders, 18 people (2 bikes were 2 up). An impressive amount of people for the day. But then, it is supposed to be rather decent today.

So with kickstands up, we take our leave and start today’s journey around the Hood Canal.

Getting started was a rather large cluster. Because of being in town, the group got broken up from the point of trying to get out of the parking lot, to the traffic signals. It wasn’t long before it was broken up into 3 groups spaced apart. The only hope is that people knew where they were going, because I didn’t.

Eventually we left the city limits, with the traffic signals disappearing and the speed limit increasing, the group finally reunites and the day official begins.

A wet line of riders
Standards, Cruisers, Dual Sports, Sport Bikes. It was all represented

Up until this point, it seemed as if the weatherman was right about our day. We had a very light rain falling. Nothing that wasn’t easily handled by my gear. My body was staying warm, and I was staying dry. However, that would all change.

The clouds decided to open up. And by open up, I do not mean open up to let the sun god greet us, and dry our way. No, I mean open up as in let the rains come down.

Now,  at this point, it still wasn’t too bad. My gear was still holding up well, my legs were dry, feet were dry, hands were mostly dry. My left hand always gets water running back into the glove off of my jacket, so it was starting to get damp in side, but still warm.

As far as I was concerned though, it still wasn’t too bad. A typical Puget Sound rainfall. It rained for about 15 minutes, then it stopped, giving us the break we were hoping for.  So it seemed that the leader of the group would pull over, and we’d take a break.

Now there are several things that one eventually comes to terms with in the Puget Sound, and that is, weatherman cannot at all, predict the weather.

Zilch, nadda, they cannot. I don’t know why they have a weather segment during the news to be honest. What may be fine and dandy, 15 minutes later could be anyone’s guess.  I should know this by now! I have lived here now for 4 years. You would think I would eventually learn, instead of tormenting myself with the fantasy that today is the day. Today is the day that the weatherman is right.

Not Today…

It was after this break that the sky really decided to open up, as if to punish us, or to put us through some type of sick and twisted trial of endurance.  The rain started to come down lightly, then it picked up, and it came down harder, and harder, until the water was running off of everything. My gloves finally gave their last and best, and began to get soaked, the water running back into them eventually absorbed into the liner, and started to wick its way up the cuff of my under garments below the jacket layer. It seemed however, the Protection of my Obenauf’s would keep the majority of the water from entering. I was still comfortable, and we pushed on.

A New Years Stimulus Package for this little Cafe on the side of the road
We packed Loggers Landing, a small cafe located just off of US 101 in Quilcene. A welcomed New Years Stimulus to their business

Fortunately for us, we eventually made it to our lunch stop at Loggers Landing just off of US Highway 101 in Quilcene. This was a much welcomed stop. Not only to finally get out of the rain and hope for it to let up some, but also because hot coffee sounded wonderful at this point. Also, this little cafe had a dryer located in the Men’s bathroom that we were welcomed to use to dry our wet gear. So in my gloves went!

Lunch was good. I got the french dip with steak fries. The beef was good, and lots of it on the sandwich. The one complaint is that the au’jus they prepared was way to watered down.  The Tartar sauce they provided with my fries however made up for this. It was exceptional.

I will say though, the burgers looked really good. I kinda wish I got one instead! Next time I’ll get a burger, or the chicken fried steak, as that looked like a great meal as well. Seriously though, how can you go wrong with Chicken Fried Steak!

So we all took our time eating, in fact by the time I finished the last of the people were just getting their order. Like I said, we packed this place full, so I guarantee they are not used to having 18 orders come in at once.

While the others finished up their lunches, some of the guys go out to enjoy a smoke in the light drizzle that graced us at lunch.

By the time everyone was ready to go, my gloves were dry. I refreshed the heat packs I had stuffed in them, and we buttoned up to head out.

It was at this point, that I realized that not only was the weatherman a liar, but he was the devil.  The sky opened up, and the rain began to pour. And by pour, I mean buckets of rain.  The drying of my gloves was pointless. They were the first to go. It didn’t take but a few miles for my hands to be swimming in the gloves that were supposed to be protecting them from the elements.

Next to go in my protection against the elements, was my over-pants. They were soaked through to my under armor layer.  But still, my upper body and my feet were fine.

With about 30 miles left of the ride go go, I made a terrible mistake. I stood up on my pegs to stretch out. Water rushed from my pants, into my water proof boots. Boots, which up until this point, had kept my feet perfectly dry.

Now a larger problem was at hand. Not only are my boots exceptionally well at keeping my feet dry, but keeping water out, that means they are exceptionally well at keeping water in, once it makes its way in from the top.

During this whole period of time, the arms on my jacket were continuing to wick the water from my gloves, and eventually they too gave out.

Reflections from our seat aboard the ferry

But with all of this, I was still fine, and wasn’t completely troubled by the wet.  My core was still dry, and that was the most important of all.  That is, until we hit Belfair. The rain was continuing to come down in buckets, and my jacket, finally could not keep it all out. The water finally soaked into the final layer of clothing, and my core started to cool. I could feel myself starting to be troubled by it. My fingers seemed to instantly go even more numb, and controlling them was getting tricky. Just the simple process of switching my gas to reserve when the bike started to sputter took several precious moments longer than I would have liked, having to raise my hand to alert people behind me (Yes, the racer in me) that I was under powered, and moving to the right hand side. I rode on the shoulder for moments while my bike continued to slow down, and I thought it was going to run out of fuel when I was finally able to get it turned upward and it sputtered back to life.

Shortly after this moment, we passed a road sign that alerted me to relief, 15 miles until the end of our ride. I knew however, it was going to be a miserable 15 miles.  But forward we pushed on, and what seemed like hours, we finally came into Bremerton. Myself and my roommate broke from the rest of them, waved goodbye, and headed to the ferry terminal.

Once at the ferry terminal, I had to try to get my wallet out of my pant pocket. At this point, even the “dry” pocket in which my wallet was in, was completely filled with water. I handled the Toll man a rather wet debit card, received our 2 tickets for the trip back home, and made our way down to the front of the line.

Now, one thing I checked on was our departure to Bremerton, I did not however check times going back to Seattle, as I figured we would just catch whatever one was after the ride and wait. I wish now, however, that I had taken the time to find out the times. This would have given us the chance to go find some place warm to drip in, while we killed time.  Instead however, we spent our time trying to keep warm huddled behind a concrete pillar as the wind whipped around us.

I think I poured at least 3 cups of water out of my boots.

The 45 minute wait for the ferry eventually passed, and we found ourselves boarding the ship.  From the time both of us stopped to park on the deck, to us getting ourselves off of the bikes and up on to the heated passenger deck could not have taken more than 15 seconds.  It was a very quick, and fluid motion, that to this day I am impressed with happening so quickly.

We quickly pulled the layer off, letting the water slowly drip from out jackets and over-pants.  We removed our boots, and poured cups of water out as the onlookers laughed at our discomfort.

Slowly, we warmed over the next hour, and then put on our soggy gear for our final 15 mile push home.  Seattle, was a welcomed sight getting off of the ferry the first thing I took notice to was the absolute lack of rain. In the last hour, we went from monsoon to relief. The final 15 miles passed, and we eventually made our way to the house, to finally bask in the comfort of dry clothes once more.

Our day of riding, which started 10 hours prior, had finally come to an end. And as miserable as it seemed we were, the experience was amazing. It shined light on to just how important keeping dry is. Knowing your bodies limits, and planning for the future.

I own a set of over gear rain gear. I should have used it after lunch, but instead continued to feel like the day was going to let up, especially considering it did slightly let up while we were on lunch. I’ll now make sure I wear it if I feel at any point during a long ride, I may encounter rain. Although I treat my gear with waterproofing, the fact is, waterproofing, no matter how good it is, only goes so far. Once an area starts to go, the wicking from inside will spread the water throughout your entire body.

And with that, the 12th annual New Years day ride, came to an end, and I look forward to the 13th Annual.

Until Next Time,

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  1. February 1, 2010 at 12:59 PM — Reply

    […] Across the Sound – Destination: The 12th Annual New Years Day Ride […]

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