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Ride report: Thurston County, Wash. (7/9/2010)

The first ride of my roadtrip took place on the backroads and trails near Olympia, Wash. I'd done most of this 53-mile ride before, but today I did it in reverse just for fun; with less than 1,000 feet of climbing on the entire route, the direction didn't really matter much at all.

One of the joys of cycling in this area is the extensive network of off-highway multi-use paths that continues to grow. From Yelm to Rainier to Lacey and into Olympia, I traveled 26 miles nearly uninterrupted on Class 1 bike paths, sometimes far away from any road. The quality and scenery are outstanding, with views of Mount Rainier on clear days like today.

And it was hot today, with temperatures over 90 degrees and a heat advisory in effect. That means it was almost just like what I probably will experience next weekend in Indiana. And to make the experience even more Indiana-like, I didn't make any significant stop until the 43-mile mark, just like on the Ride Across Indiana. By then I had exhausted my Camelbak and my water bottle, and I was clearly not drinking enough anyway -- a crucial lesson to keep in mind for next weekend.

There's much more cycling I could do around here, but I must get back on the road tomorrow and actually begin heading east.