Tahuya Loop

It had been far too long since I had ridden with anyone else. I had been riding a lot, nearly daily but it was all commuting back and forth to work with the odd evening ride to blow off steam. I had been noodling the idea of getting Dan to ride out to Seabeck with me. It was on the back burner as a short ride just to fill a little time when we had a spare hour. Dan and I were discussing possible places to go and he suggested Tahuya. This was going to be perfect, I immediately expanded on that and we settled on a route from Bremerton, to Tahuya, up to Holly, over to Seabeck and back to Bremerton. The GPS told us it would be just a hair under 2 hours and we figured with stops etc. we could easily make it into at least 3 hours. Perfect for an afternoon ride. 

Something we aren’t used to anymore during the Pandemic………. Traffic.

A small side note, at this point in time my bike had been having issues for a couple weeks. Some sort of electrical issue tied in with the starter system. I wasn’t sure if my starter was starting to give up or if there was a short somewhere or another issue I hadn’t thought about but it had gotten to the point where I was crossing my fingers every time I turned the key and hit the button. Dan had wanted to wash his bike and I wanted to throw on my saddlebags to bring along my tools, water etc. By the time Dan was about done with his chore I was ready to warm up my Triumph and boy it was a tough start. The hardest start to date, turn the key, hit the button, click and the dash goes out. Turn the key, push the button and the starter just starts to go and click, the dash goes out. Turn the key, repeat, repeat, repeat…. Finally the Kid comes to life and I blow a sigh of relief for now. I know I have only about 30 miles left in the tank so we can’t get far before I’ll need to stop for gas and that could be an issue, but in previous occasions the first start of the day has been the only real issue and Danger is my middle name. I decided to risk it.

Easy to smile with views like this right?

We ran down the 16 to connect with the Old Belfair Highway which I have covered before. It’s pretty much my standard route out of town when I head southwest. When we were just about a mile outside of Belfair we hit traffic. Actual traffic, something I haven’t seen this riding season with Covid and all. About a half hour later we decided that we were going to grab lunch here too since we needed to stop for gas. Food was first which meant shutting off my bike. We ate, we enjoyed it, and then it was time to run across the parking lot to get gas. The bike fired up on the first touch and it was a breath of fresh air. The gas station was more of the same, as if my bike hadn’t had a single issue with starting before. We were really now taking off into our little corner of unknown. The only part of this ride I had previously been on was the trip to Belfair and then part of the road between Seabeck and Holly back to Bremerton so we had planned out a route that was roughly 50% new to me. 

There are worse places to get a little turned around though. Oh no I had to drive by this twice!

A road gives you a feeling when you first meet. It doesn’t take long for the introductions to be concluded, just a few hundred yards is all and then you get a sense of what you are in store for. Moments after leaving Belfair behind I knew that we were on a good stretch of road. We went through a handful of swooping corners; meanwhile, the traffic in front of us seemed to melt away leaving Dan and I to our expedition. As we carved our way down the road we were treated to little peaks of the Hood Canal, busy with people out and about enjoying the water; aboard boats, kayaks, paddle boards and jet skis. As people pulled off the road to let us by, the sun was shining and the road was twisting; this is what riding in the PNW is all about and it always puts a smile on my face. 

What you can’t quite tell from the picture is how convex this turn was,

I was trying out a new map app, a problem with many of the most common apps is that when you reach a checkpoint on a plotted course you have to press a button to move the directions on to the next section of your chosen route. This typically involves pulling over and taking off a glove. What I hadn’t realized as I plotted our checkpoints is that I had not created smooth transitions. As we reached Tahuya and rumbled through the little town, suddenly my directions went blank and when it came back I was being told to turn around. Dan and I pulled over to investigate and that’s when I realized my problem. The directions as I had set them brought us all the way into the heart of Tahuya, but the turnoff for our next checkpoint was just over a mile behind us.  Knowing that this next section was the last part that was completely foreign to me, we headed back up the road to journey north to Holly with just a smattering of confidence that we wouldn’t get lost again.

The road is actually dry here despite how it may appear.

We had chosen NE North Shore Road on our way into Tahuya to enjoy the view of the water but from the taste we got of Belfair-Tahuya Road, and the way the rest looks on the map, it’s on my list to revisit in its entirety. This little peninsula jutting into the Hood Canal has a hill in the middle and we began to climb almost as soon as we turned off onto NE Belfair-Tahuya Road. This is an alternate inland loop from Belfair to Tahuya as the name may have suggested to you and we were only going to be seeing about a third of it before turning off on Dewatto Road. This section of road starts out with an uphill S turn before mellowing out into a lazy curved wooded road. We briefly got caught up behind a lost pickup truck but after a couple of “false alarm” turn off attempts the truck finally cleared the way for us just in time for us to turn off onto Dewatto Road. 

Another picture from a twisty turn? Sure why not.

Dewatto is probably my favorite part of this ride. The road was deserted, the vistas were; at times, breathtaking. There are several tight technical turns and enough open stretches to let your heart rate normalize before diving into another section of twisties. We didn’t see a soul until all of a sudden someone in a hybrid pulled out in front of us traveling at a blistering, snail’s pace. Just as the frustration of riding 10 miles per hour under the speed limit was setting in, we saw the sign for a 10 mph turn ahead. This wasn’t just a turn, this was a tight hairpin S, downhill. This hybrid wasn’t here to torment us at all! This was a Guardian Hybrid sent to usher us safely through this gnarly switchback! We aren’t particularly reckless riders, we aren’t running around ripping up your neighborhoods and waking up your sleeping children, but everyone can miss a traffic sign from time to time and if we would have been traveling at the speed limit when we hit this section of road there really could have been trouble. Guardian Hybrid, thank you wherever you are. I personally like to think that this silver slug appears at this very corner in your time of need, to gently caress you down the hill before disappearing in a cloud of mist and glitter… but that’s just me. 

Not all angels have wings. Check out that sign, there’s some serious curves ahead.
I don’t know if this picture really conveys how steep this hill already is but trust me, it was steep.
Very steep and very slow.
And just like that our Guardian Hybrid was gone, gently signaling its turn as if to wave goodbye and Godspeed to us.

Shortly after the Guardian came to protect us we enjoyed another fun waterfront road and then there was a strange intersection. It almost looks like the road takes a 90 degree right hand turn while a new road shoots off ahead. If you veer to the right you actually are changing streets while staying straight on to the unmarked road is the continuation of Dewatto. Soak it up now because this is the last section of really technical riding. Once we leave Dewatto behind the road becomes much more open and sweeping. Rider beware, what you can’t see on a map is how tight and narrow some sections of this road are. It’s also fairly remote so ride within your own skill and stay frosty. Safety warnings aside, a superb riding experience will be had and words can’t do it justice so get out and experience it yourself! Dewatto terminates at a T intersection of the Holly-Seabeck Highway. Having learned from my mistake in Tahuya and being slightly more familiar with this road; I knew that we wanted to take a right at this junction rather than taking the left to continue into Holly. We pulled off the road at a nice wide spot to get some water and stretch our legs having tackled roughly 60% of the ride so far. The road continues to be lined mostly with trees and a few neighborhoods and small farms.

Check out that little section of map! Lazy twists to ease us back into things after the Guardian was called down to protect us.

Seabeck is a cool little town. Really it isn’t much more than a few blocks along the waterfront. Kids who grew up where Dan and I did, got to do a few nights at camp as 5th graders. There were a couple different camps that the schools sent kids to, but the one I went to was right here in Seabeck. The camp is closed to the public and it looks like there is some construction going on so there was no opportunity to stop and take a look around. From what I remember a lot of the cabins are old historic buildings and there is a cemetery behind the main camp back in the woods. Perfect for gaggles of 12 year olds right? Dan hadn’t gone to Camp Seabeck until high school as a camp counselor so we were able to reminisce somewhat in the rather brief time it takes you to traverse through the town. There is a small low bridge just on the other side of town that lots of people stop at. I have seen people with their cameras set up on tripods, some aimed out at the water while others were aimed up in the trees where there is an eagle’s nest. Today it’s warm and sunny and there appears to be a few cars loaded down with kids that are now swimming right off the side of the bridge itself.

The road here isn’t in great condition but it does lack any real obstructions to avoid.

We are now in what I would consider the home stretch. Our path is meandering and lazy, perfect for Dan and I to rehash all the fantastic twists and bends we rode in the past hour and a half. This section of our trip is 55 mph the whole way with some great long stretches of straight pavement. Less savory types may take these opportunities to give the throttle a little extra twist but certainly not us. Eventually we came to a roundabout(traffic circle to some). If you take the first exit you’ll end up at a charming little lake that I’m sure gets slammed with  people when the weather is right. We are taking the second exit though, and continue on straight towards Bremerton. There are a few more turns of note on this last little bit including a great big downhill left hand swooper followed shortly by another to the right but sadly we are now back in civilization and we have more and more vehicles to share the road with. 

Pretty much cornering heaven. When we got back to Bremerton, Dan and I realized we hadn’t really stopped to take any pictures or anything, it was a short ride and we were having too much fun to think of stopping.

This is one of those rides that makes you feel lucky to be near it. Knowing that, with an afternoon to kill, I can tackle those curves again is what my office desk daydreams are made of. From the amount of traffic we saw on those back roads I am pretty confident we found some hidden gems of the Olympic Peninsula. It’s afternoons like this that make the ferry trip from Seattle so worthwhile. 

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