We rounded the south end of Puget Sound and headed northward to Poulsbo for the only time we will be northbound on this entire trip. It’s a launching point to ride around the Olympic Peninsula.
I’d been to Poulsbo in 2019 on a cruise of Puget Sound, the last cruise my mom took me on. I didn’t know she was preparing me for this bike trip. On the cruise, we went straight to the economic heart of the compact picturesque port of Poulsbo for a quick visit, barely enough time to go to Sluy’s Bakery and the chocolate shop. This time, we approached Poulsbo by land on our bikes. It was hard to reconcile how different the experience was.
The day we neared out hotel in Tacoma, we spotted before us a truly monster hill. I knew it was on the route to leave Tacoma. I didn’t want to do that to my team. That night, I spent two late hours on RideWithGPS to find a gentler way to get up and over it. In 30 minutes, we conquered that hill on the new route. That put us close to the Scott Pierson Trail directly aimed toward the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. This splendid bridge is the replacement for Galloping Gertie that collapsed just four months after it was completed. It’s a classic engineering failure that all engineers have to study, but I think I also learned about it in high school physics class.
After the bridge, the Cushman Powerline Trail, delivered us well along the way to Poulsbo. Then we came to a sign that stated “Road Closed.” Often, bikes can get by where cars can’t so we went right up to the sign. The young lady guarding the construction gave us a flat no. While we were deliberating alternate routes, a fellow named Wayne stopped in a big truck. As a cyclist, he knew our dilemma, but also provided a solution — the freeway. We don’t generally love freeways but they often have wide shoulders, gentler elevation profiles than side roads, and are often more direct. We took it.
Freeways also deliver noise and their nice wide shoulders often harbor evil things to bike tires. In fact, the other Lynn picked up a piece of glass and flatted. Brenda and I figured that out when we noticed that neither Lynn nor Kurt was in sight. Of course, Kurt was helping Lynn with the flat. When I tried to talk to Lynn on the phone, I couldn’t hear at all. Knowing that Kurt was taking care of her and there were no other turns before Elandan Gardens where we planned to meet Mary with our Chinese food leftovers for lunch, Brenda and I went ahead. Before too long, Lynn and Kurt arrived, ate, refreshed and we were all ready to roll again. Well, roll, not so much. In minutes we were facing the stretch that Wayne described as “hilly” that he saw on our route. These were wicked steep pitches that tested our gear, legs, and resolve. I said they were just preparing us for Northern California.
After a relief through the town of Silverdale where Brenda’s car was getting refreshed, we faced the giant hill behind Poulsbo. (Pronounced “paws’ bo). It was a long slow steady climb with a great shoulder. I could see a stunning view in my rear view mirror, so once a reached the summit, I walked back aways to get the best picture.
After the summit, a plummet. Then a Poulsbo Viking welcomed us. We made a dash by car to the Suquamish Museum I had visited before. We couldn’t do it justice in the 15 minutes we had, but absorbed as much as we could about the story of the tribe that is alive and well today.
Finally, by car, we went to the city center, the tiny sliver of shoreline that was the Poulsbo I recognized.
Start: Tacoma WA
End: Poulsbo WA
Distance: 51.9 miles
Elevation gain: 2984 feet
Cumulative distance: 263.2 miles
Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/5939170157
Relive video: https://www.relive.cc/view/vrqDdXzPmLq
© 2021 Lynnea C Salvo