The band was back together again! Jimmy and Dr. B flew up from California. My dad flew up as well. We had three big vehicles raring to go at 8:30 AM (that's really early for me!). As we headed out to the Camp Creek trailhead from Port Angeles, we experienced a light drizzle and got a bit concerned of what the day had in store for us. Once we got out there, we could really care less. The beauty was breathtaking. We were surrounded by huge trees, ferns, moss galore, and that beautiful reddish-brown color of the leaf litter scattered throughout the forest floor. To top it off, there was the smoothest trail one could imagine going on for 15+ miles through this beautiful isolated area.
When we arrived, we were greeted by numerous volunteers ready to rock. My awesome grandmother was in charge of the registration table. Other participants slowly started trickling in. We didn't expect a lot of folks, because we were out in the middle of nowhere, but we had two other wheelchairs, my crew, and a number of other cyclists. One of the biggest challenges for the day was the lack of cell service. We had anticipated this in our scouting and had radios at every aid station so we could provide support if anyone needed it. The biggest highlight of those first 5 miles came from a young woman named Makyla who rode her wheelchair past the first aid station with an enormous smile on her face. Her happiness was contagious to us all and we had a wonderful time underneath the huge trees chitchatting and taking in the beauty that was all around us.
We crossed the Sol Duc River and could hear the current flowing by through much of the first 5 miles. We saw Garter snakes, kingfishers, a bald eagle, a baby mouse, and the famous running Jimmy powering along in his sneakers. Another wheelchair joined us at the first aid station. We all snacked, filled up our water bottles, and chatted some more before heading off to aid station number two (AS2). It was smooth sailing through this section, we crossed the 101, had a few elevation changes, and came down some switchbacks. We arrived at AS2 to lots of chalk encouragement on the pavement and a wonderful family running the station. We had more snacks, lively conversation and headed on to that day's finish line. Here I would like to mention another special guest appearance of the day. Jeff Bohman. Jeff is the president of the beneficiary of this ride, the Peninsula Trails Coalition. His support, optimism, and presence was much appreciated by all of the riders. Big thanks to him for joining us.
Through the last segment, we continued on the silky-smooth trail where we would get beautiful glimpses of the stunning Lake Crescent through the scattered trunks of enormous trees. We were continually uplifted by the sounds of birds and smell of forest around us. The final stop was just about 15 miles from where we started and we arrived to cheers and sandwiches after the day's ride. Running Jimmy jumped in the lake, our good friend Denise was there to greet us, and we enjoyed a well-earned lunch. We shuttled a number of people back to the starting point, some riders continued the entire distance to the Elwha bridge (Dr. B jumped in the lake at Devils punch bowl), and a few of us chair users decided to finish the last mile or so of pavement before getting a lift to the Elwha bridge.
When we arrived at the Elwha bridge we were greeted by a few great friends, Sandra Boggs, and Todd & Karen Stabelfeldt. Kenny Salvini and Marsha Cutting also joined after riding their chairs all day with us. We explored the area, discussed the day's events, and waited for our three cyclists who were riding the final 25 miles of single track and highway that were not wheelchair friendly. We greeted them with shouts and cheers before all heading off to celebrate the day at Barhop Brewing.
A couple things I have to mention about the after party… Barhop was kind enough to brew a beer special for our ride and even named it the Sea to Sound Session IPA. We were all thirsty and thoroughly enjoyed this beer. Big thanks to everyone at Barhop and Josh Blue for brewing this tasty beverage. The other big highlight was that Barhop was putting on a fundraiser while we were there for a woman who recently became paralyzed. Her name is Sara Hanson, better known as Chew, and she just got out of rehab earlier that week. The courage to come out in the public so recently after that kind of trauma is truly inspiring to me. The fundraiser seemed like a huge success and it was an honor to get to meet Chew in person. I'm really looking forward to spending more time with her once she's settled.
Altogether, we saw over seven wheelchairs throughout our day. We had 20+ cyclists and probably a total of 40+ people in our group.
Check in tomorrow to see how the second day of Sea to Sound 2019 went. It was a doozy!