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Two days after thanksgiving, November 24th, Aaron, Hahn, Daniel and Ira rode Kitsap Peninsula, a 75-mile loop mixing flats and rollers, forested hillsides, views of the Olympics, small seaside towns and steep climbs. The ride starts at the terminus of the one-hour Seattle-Bremerton Ferry ride, which goes across the Puget Sound . The ferry costs three dollars, runs hourly, bikes are not a problem and you are able to literally ride right on.
After disembarking the vessel you make your way past a collection of images best described as An Officer and a Gentlemen gone bankrupt. Decommissioned submarines and battleships wearing funky green tide lines, along with abandoned blue-gray metal buildings, litter the coastline of the small hilly town of Bremerton. Food and water are available in limited spots throughout the ride but this is the last reliable and complete option.
Once out of town, which entails some light climbing and navigation through a few busy streets, the ride quickly becomes quiet and scenic as you make your way northwest past weekend homes and series of rural neighborhoods.
At the town of Seabeck, 10 miles across the peninsula—think oyster shells, seagulls and fishing boats—the ride picks up Hood Canal and opens on the right to amazing views of the Olympics. The course climbs off and on over hills dense with both deciduous and evergreen trees. As you head south the rolling road, increasingly remote and unpopulated, provides ample space to spread out and enjoy the dappled sunlight latticed across the cool dark pavement. At 30 miles in you’re presented with Dewatto Road and the first climb of the day. It’s not long but it’s steep and mean, and tricky with a number of very false summits. At the top you break through the trees to an exposed ridge covered in an alpine red-green moss. Here the road continues to roll higher, now along a ridge.
The ridge continues for several miles undulating south until eventually giving way to a progression of meadowed valleys flanked on either side by tree-covered hills. You pass over, and ride along with, a number of small streams and creeks until the road drops quickly to Dewatto Bay. You skirt the bay for a few minutes before ascending the second and last major climb of the day. Like the first, this is steeper than it is long, and is thankfully over after a short series of staircase-like, forever-cresting pitches.
From the top, the ride heads south and east on Belfair Tahuya Road where it loops back around for the eastside return. A quick descent brings you to North Shore Road and a 15 mile almost dead flat straight-away up the coastline. On your left is the tree-covered interior and on your right, a series of docks and piers and floating homes.
As you approach Bremerton the ride cuts inland once again for five miles over a handful of medium-sized hills, taking you past farm country and more tree-covered hillsides. The final descent into Bremerton takes you quickly down a tree-lined road under a bridge or two before delivering you for the first time in awhile back to the world. After a number of last minute climbs and less than wonderful intersections you’re safely back at the Seattle-Bremerton Ferry and a limited, though welcomed, selection of places to eat.
"When you make a plan with someone to catch a specific ferry you’re “all-in”. That’s it. Don’t screw it up, you better be there. Even if your bike isn’t together. Even if it’s 30 hours since you could keep any food down. Any food. Even if you have to drill it down HWY 99 at an average of 24 mph in the dark with cars and busses buzzing by. Even if that means unhappily passing Zeitgeist where you had planned for weeks to start the ride. And finally, even if that means drinking ferry coffee. You never drink ferry coffee. Nobody drinks ferry coffee. But the boats don’t wait and they’re never late."
– Aaron Erbeck
"We had all pretty much written Aaron off. He didn’t leave his basement for an entire day. Except to expel (exorcist-style) every last bit of water and waste, and nutrition, from his body. Which was often. So I guess he did leave the basement quite a bit. On rails, though, to the bathroom and back. He was green and smaller than normal when I left him in his kitchen at 11:30 the night before the ride. So you can imagine how blown-away we all were, his wife included, when at five the next morning he was pulling shots for the ride into town and the ferry."
– Daniel Pasley