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CELESTIAL MUSINGS | Pardon me, which way to Tour de Kitsap?

In times of panic and chaos, not even the familiar is familiar. On Sunday morning, I stood, half-perched upon my lavendar Felt FW20 road bike, dazed and confused. I was lost on Viking Way, where it intersects with Scandia. I’d been on Viking Way — at that exact point — a thousand times. But not under this extreme, near-survival circumstance.

My legs were achy and shaky, my Camelbak was dry and my MoJo bar had long been consumed.

In the 20-some miles I’d ridden to get to that exact point, I’d come to detest my yellow Tour de Kitsap race number I’d so carefully safety pinned to my biking jersey a mere two hours earlier. This was not the Sunday I’d planned for myself.

It started simple enough.

Clad in biking gear and packing water the way a Western movie star packs heat, I trudged down to the Silverdale Beach Hotel at about 7:30 a.m. to take part in my first Tour de Kitsap. At the registration table, the smiling, well-rested man asked me which ride I was signing up for. The choices spanned from 12 to 100 miles, with 33 and 65 milers stuck between for good measure.

“I still haven’t decided between the 12 and the 33,” I said.

“If you can do 15 comfortably, you can do 30. Can you do 15 comfortably?” he asked in half-taunting manner.

“Yes,” I said, not hiding my indignation, scribbling a check-mark next to the 33 choice.

He described the route, then apologized for not having any more maps. He told me to follow the blue Dan Henries — circles with arrows in them.

Starting at the Silverdale Beach Hotel, riders headed toward Central Kitsap High School, then over to Clear Creek Road. I made a few observations about Clear Creek. Mainly that it was entirely uphill. Yeah, there was some pretty scenery along the way, but it, too, sloped in the uphill fashion.

About the five-mile mark, I noticed I’d not seen another biker in quite a while. I was beginning to get a bit spooked. I began searching (somewhat frantically) for a blue Dan Henry.

I was freaking out, man.

Out of nowhere (actually, from the vast, open road behind me) a Mr. Miyagi-type with full head of gray hair and a club jersey riding a Specialized pulled up beside me and struck up a conversation. Well, he conversed. I spewed words between my huffing and puffing.

“You know, a lot of bikers make the same mistake climbing hills,” he said. “They get in their lowest gear and push real hard. It’s all about cadence,” I think he said. It was hard to concentrate on his words as I was busy shifting to my lowest gear. He made it look so easy. I hated him.

And, like the scene where Pat Morita jumps over the fence and beats up the villians in “The Karate Kid,” he disappeared as quickly as he’d appeared.

As a sidenote, it was right about then my ride became spiritual. That is, I was begging a higher power to either kill me or help me get up the next hill.

I had dutifully followed the blue Dan Henries, as instructed. Only I must have missed one. I was trekking along somewhere near Lemolo when I saw a group of riders on the side of the road. I stopped to see if anyone needed help. Turned out, someone did, but it was me.

They were excited discussing the best rest stop ever in Port Gamble. “My rest stop is in Keyport,” I said.

Mouths dropped, faces scrunched. They looked upon me with pity.

“Uh, this is the 65-mile loop,” one of them not-so-casually informed me. “You missed your turn.”

“Huh?”

They figured my options were to either turn around and get back on course or just push on with them (how nice! An invitation!). I thanked them kindly, took the map that was offered and headed back on course.

Once I got back on the 33-mile track (Viking Way where it intersects with Scandia), I pulled out the directions I’d stolen and realized I had a decision to make. By the written sheet, I was sitting on what should have been the 12.9-ish mile. My Garmin told me I’d already gone some 20 miles.

I could have either gone back on the 33-mile route, which would put my ride at about 45 miles, or ride Silverdale Way back in, making it about a 30-mile ride. From where I was, it would basically be all downhill into Silverdale.

It wasn’t a tough decision. The decline into Silverdale was glorious.

Celeste Cornish is the editor of What’s Up. And she’s already looking forward to next year’s Tour de Kitsap.

Editor's note: This column has been corrected to note the markers are Dan Henries, not Don Henries.

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