Important Closure: North Interuban Trail

Normally this notice would be titled “High Impact Closure,” but few people voluntarily ride the North Interurban and we only have two affected routes. Nevertheless, a some riders have been caught out by ongoing construction closures so here is some detour advice. Because there are no good all-hours options for the Maple & Ash Way detour, it is recommended to ride these detours only in the early morning if at all possible.

Affected routes: 1078, 1317

Maple & Ash Way

As of the date of writing, there are two closures. The longest-lasting is at Maple & Ash Way. The project webpage unhelpfully informs that the project will last “two construction seasons.” The closure will likely stretch into 2020. The recommended detour is taken from the 2018 Spring 400. This is likely to have light traffic only early on weekend mornings.

A shorter detour is possible by turning east on 164th St SW. You have to climb a multi-lane road busy with freeway-bound traffic.

52nd Ave W to 44th Ave W

This closure is supposed to last only through February 2019. It is possible to bypass the closure by riding north on 52nd W (which has a bike lane), east through Scriber Creek Park, and continuing east through the Lynnwood Transit Center to rejoin the trail at 44th Ave W. You have to climb a short stairway between the trail and transit center. About half the trail is a graveled path which has some boggy spots.

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Iron Horse Mountain Unpopulaire

Pre-ride Report

by Bill Gobie

Pre-Riders: Yogy Namara and Bill Gobie

The Unpopulaire is back! We are finishing the season with a Populaire with enough climbing to make it un-Populaire. But fear not, most of this Unpopulaire’s climbing is at the Iron Horse Trail’s gentle railroad grade. Which means the climbing goes on for a while. For pretty much the first half of the ride, in fact. The trail’s gravel surface adds an extra bit of resistance which will keep you warm in the weekend’s forecasted cool conditions.

The ride quickly leaves North Bend on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. After passing under I-90 the trail settles into a steady, relatively steep railroad-grade climb to Rattlesnake Lake State Park. At the park we stay on the gravel trail and make a couple of sharp turns to reach the Iron Horse Trail. There is a short bit of steep climbing on the transition between trails.

Next, and it is a long next, the route heads up the Iron Horse Trail for almost 19 km to the Snoqualmie Tunnel. When you are crossing the high trestles imagine the experience when the trail was first opened and the trestles did not have railings! The surface of the trail was in excellent condition on the pre-ride, with just a few muddy spots. The conifers seemed happy from the recent rain. Deciduous foliage was displaying fall colors.

There are two climbing areas close together where you will probably encounter rock climbers on the trail. Watch for loose dogs.

At the tunnel entrance you may want to don a windshell or other warm clothing. It is always chilly inside the tunnel. The tunnel surface was very hard, with a few depressions where drips from the ceiling are eroding holes. Be happy the tunnel was relined a few years ago; previously one had to brave chilly waterfalls in the first 50 yards at each end.

Beware of pedestrians and other cyclists in the tunnel. Your MegaBriteUltra headlight may seem to light up the tunnel superbly, but pedestrians are surprisingly low-viz in the tunnel. Something about the tunnel makes it very difficult to judge distances to oncoming lights and reflective striping.

Emerging from the tunnel you will find yourself at the Hyak Trailhead. Water and restrooms are available in the building on the left. The water spigot is on the west side of the building (facing the tunnel).

The route continues a few miles on the trail past Hyak. There are a couple of gates to ride around. The turn-around point and info control is at an interpretive sign at a scenic spot on Lake Keechelus.

Retracing to the parking lot, we exit and make a couple of turns to head toward the ski area. The climbing on this road is rudely steep after the long cruise up the rail trail. IGNORE the Bike Detour sign! That will put you onto I-90. At the route’s summit we stop at the control at the Chevron Summit Deli. This control is untimed since it is at the top of a mountain, so don’t stress if you are short on time or a little behind the closing time.

The route passes under I-90 and then turns downhill on Forest Road 58. This was the original road to Snoqualmie Pass. If you miss this unsigned turn you will discover the road ends at the Alpental ski area.

Road 58 quickly steepens to a narrow and twisting 9% descent. Enjoy it but be mindful there could be cars driving uphill.

Road 58 continues swooping downhill through lovely dense forest.

After crossing I-90 (which is suddenly, shockingly, noisy) we glimpse a brief, “secret”, vista down the South Fork Snoqualmie River. It is hard to believe this coexists with the freeway just yards away.

The route continues under heavy tree cover on Road 55/Tinkham Rd. Tinkham Rd is a dirt road, with a generally very hard surface but frequent potholes. The potholes cluster in pothole minefields. Stay alert and watch your speed here.

Tinkham has two hazards noted on the route sheet: At around 46.4 miles there is a wooden bridge with a gap down the center, in the direction of travel. A bit farther at around 48.4 miles there is a huge drainage grate that runs all the way across the road. It resembles a diagonal cattle guard. The grate was dry when we encountered it. We rode across without a problem. It is a surprising thing to encounter without warning. Be very careful if it is wet.

All good things must come to an end: The route uses I-90 for about four miles after the end of Tinkham Rd. An advantage of riding the route in this direction is the freeway segment is downhill and over quickly. The shoulder is wide although it had a lot of debris. We got through without problems.

After I-90 we cruise for a couple of miles on paved Homestead Valley Rd. Next is a left for the Iron Horse Trail. This is marked by a sign for Ollalie State Park that you cannot read until you turn. But there are no other nearby candidate left turns, so this turn is not hard to find.

After going around a gate an 8% climb to gain the Iron Horse Trail is the final big effort of the ride. Then you have a serene cruise down to Rattlesnake Lake. The Cedar Falls sign cues you for the unmarked right turn to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.

After leaving the state park you will find yourself making good time down the Snoqualmie Valley Trail – if you thought the trail was oddly difficult for a rail trail on the way up, you were right.

Back in North Bend, the finish is at Pour House, a few blocks past the start. An SIR volunteer will be there to collect your brevet card.

 

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2018 Summer 600K Pre-Ride Report

by Tom Beck

Mt. Rainier through clouds and haze.

Get ready for a challenging and scenic ride!  The Summer 600 km route starts at AAA Washington headquarters at 3605 132nd Avenue SE in Bellevue. Secure free parking is available to all participants. Bring a drop bag for the overnight control and, if you’d like, another one for the end of the ride. You will have access to rest rooms and showers (with towels).

Given the heat and smoke we have seen for the past several weeks, there was some concern about what we Tom Beck, Jim Ryan, and Eddie Bishop  would have to endure during the pre-ride this past weekend. While there was still some smoke in the air, it only obscured the views. The morning was cool and crisp, and more layers of clothing would have been a good idea because it took quite some time before the temperature warmed up. The first part of the ride takes you from Factoria (initially via bike path) to Coal Creek Parkway through Newcastle and Renton to the Cedar River Trail. Don’t forget to exit the Cedar River Trail before Testy Chef (mile 16.6) be careful of the loose gravel.

In Maple Valley, there’s a Starbucks on the left at mile 20.6 in case you need a shot of caffeine. There are also services in Black Diamond. The shoulder goes away on the Green River bridge deck (mile 26.7), so stay alert and take the lane. In Enumclaw, there is a QFC on the left and a park with Porta-Potty on the right. Use care making the left turn onto 410; you have a stop sign and cross traffic does not. Unfortunately for all you Egg McMuffin fans, the McDonalds in Enumclaw is currently closed for renovation. Plan accordingly.

The road to Cayuse Pass.

Top-up water bottles and snack packs at Greenwater because it’s a long climb to Cayuse Pass and a long ride down to next control in Packwood (47 miles and 3,500 ft of elevation gain). On the pre-ride, the Greenwater General Store was low on stock. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, there’s more to choose from about 100 yards farther up the road on the right. Enjoy some spectacular views of Mt. Rainier as you climb to Cayuse. Once you reach the pass, keep right at the huge Y to follow highway 123 toward Packwood. Do not follow 410 left up toward Naches.

In Packwood, there is a convenient convenience store, where you can get your card signed and enjoy the usual rando food. They also make great sandwiches to order  If you’re in need of water or a bathroom, Ohanapekosh Campground (mile 86) has restrooms and water. Expect headwinds between Packwood and Randle on highway 12 – winds are much less noticeable once you make the turn from Hwy 12 onto Silverbrook Road at mile 108.3. Leaving Randle, top-up again. You get about a mile of flat terrain before the climbing starts. There is an initial steep section, followed by miles of rolling terrain – some really great riding through here. The second half of the climb is more work for the legs; road conditions on the climb are good, and there are ample turn outs to pull off for pictures or a quick break. Be prepared for anything weather wise – and expect colder temperatures at the top.

If you make it to Elk Pass in daylight hours, you’ll have a couple of amazing scenic vistas of Mt. St. Helens, but you’re going to want to pay very close attention to the road surface to get there safely. The descent of Elk Pass has cracks, uneven pavement and slide damage, along with some smooth stuff. In the dark you will want to be especially careful. If you have a high intensity light setting, this would be the time to use it. The good news is it’s a lightly traveled road and traffic should be minimal.

Take a left turn at mile 160.4 to get to the Northwoods control (Eagle Cliff Store and campground). After you make the left, cross the bridge and start looking for an uphill gravel driveway on the left 1/2 mile after you made the turn – that’s your control. After checking in, head back the way you came – cross the bridge and turn left – at this point NFD 25 becomes Hwy 90. The store closes at 8:00 p.m., but this control will be staffed for all but the very fastest of riders. Eddie Bishop will be there by late afternoon. Restrooms are unlocked but unlit, so you might want your headlamp at night. There’s about 75 km to the overnight control and nothing in between, but it’s flat-ish and the air should be cool, so you may not need much.

Hwy 90 during daylight. (Photo by Theo Roffe)

Hwy 90 is a fun road; it parallels several lakes first Swift Reservoir, then Yale Lake, then Lake Merwin, along with the Lewis River in places. Around mile 175, Hwy 90 changes to Hwy 503 you don’t even need to turn your handlebars. Hwys 90 and 503 have some climbs, some rollers, some great flat sections, and twists and turns. You’ll be riding in the dark, and the road has no shoulder; stay alert and make sure your taillights have ample power. The town of Cougar has services, but only if you get there early enough. The gas station on the left as you ride through town has a picnic table with umbrella if you need a place to sit and take a break.

The overnight control will be Best Western in Woodland. It’s close to, but not directly on, the road, nestled among some industrial-looking buildings. However, it was easy to find in the dark. There will be food available at the hotel. If you don’t care for what’s offered, there are several restaurants in close proximity.

After Woodland, you head to what may be the crown jewel of the pain cave Green Mountain Highway. Your legs will get about a 10-minute warm up. Is it a long grind like Cayuse Pass? No. Is it a combination of long climbs and shorter flat sections like Elk Pass? Well, no. It’s a couple of miles of graduated climbing ranging from 8% to 15%. Once you get to the top (however you choose to get there on foot, paperboy, full-gas straight line, or secret granny gears) you’ve got a few spots of tricky descending to do. At mile 211.8, while flying down the hill, you have a sharp, tight downhill turn to stay on Green Mountain Hwy. Again, around mile 213, you start down a steep grade and there is a 90-degree right-hander if you overshoot the turn you’ll ride into some guy’s living room. Bottom line: There are a lot of tricky sections descending Green Mountain that you’ll need to be alert about.

In the next section you’ll be riding parallel to I-5 with rollers, decent roads, and wide shoulders (watch for occasional glass and debris). There are services in Kalama and Kelso. These towns can have a lot of traffic even on a weekend especially Kelso around mile 230 (a popular I-5 exit for motorists seeking services). Be mindful and watch for inattentive drivers.

You’ll enjoy rollers after Kelso on Pacific Avenue, and later when it becomes Bond Rd. In a few places you’ll cross intersections with I-5 access – be watchful as we saw a lot of morning traffic at all of these. Your last I-5 intersection is around mile 249 by Peppers Truck Repair (truck stop across the street) – you’ll cross I-5 and then make a left onto Jackson Hwy South and head to Toledo.

At the control in Toledo, mile 255, you’ll find services including a mini-mart, IGA market, and some restaurants. This is where the pre-ride ended. The next 80 miles has all the climbing that is left: You’ll ascend and descend just over 4,000 feet as you ride through Mossyrock, Morton, Elbe, Eatonville, and Orting. These roads generally have good shoulders, but watch for holiday traffic given the proximity to Mount Rainier National Park and Mount St. Helens.

You’ll be greeted and congratulated finishing at AAA where you can get a little food and something hot or cold to drink. You are welcome to shower (towel provided) as well, so bring along something comfortable to change into and we’ll hang onto it until you get back.

The route is available on Ride With GPS: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28231241

Please preregister for this ride.

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High Impact Closure: Maxwell Road

Maxwell Rd will be closed for a culvert replacement from Aug 22 through Sept 5. Fortunately the detour should leave no one testy: continue on Cedar Grove Rd and turn left on the Maple Valley Trail.

King County Road Services link for the project

Affected routes include:

0341 Leschi – North Bend – Leschi
0541 MI-MV-Redmond-MI
0606 Redmond – North Bend – Leschi-Redmond
1234 WAYNES CHOICE
1315 Factoria-Maple Valley-Redmond
1801 Club Car Populaire Permanent
1904 Seattle-Mv-Mi
2013 Winter Solstice
2293 Testy Bumps
2297 Lakemont Testy and Bumpy
2436 MI-MtSH-Rimrocl
2525 Uncommonly Testy 100K
2575 Uncommonly Testy-Factoria Start
2795 Leschi-Hobart-Redmond Loop
2971 MI-Hobart
2981 MI-AUBURN-HOBART
3159 Kirkland Testy

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RUSA 20th Anniversary Populaire (8/18/2018): Pre-ride report

by Jeff Loomis

This populaire celebrates Randonneurs USA’s 20th anniversary. All finishers will receive a commemorative medal.

 

We met at the 65th Street Portage Bay Cafe.  It’s a good place to fuel up for the ride and is very near to the park-and-ride start.  If you would like to do the same, make a reservation because they are busy.  Bus Stop Espresso, Broadcast Coffee, Whole Foods, and Wayward Vegan Cafe are also in the vicinity.  The later than normal 11:00 a.m. start allows plenty of time for pre-ride eating and pushes the post-ride party into the evening hours.

 

Leaving the start, riders will make their way along Ravenna Blvd to the Burke Gilman Trail.  There is a bit of navigating to get over the Montlake Bridge to the 520 trail.  Make friends with any out-of-town riders to help them through this part.  Once on the 520, we didn’t see Mt. Rainier views due to the first cloudy day in months, but the event riders can hope for some nice views.

 

After the bridge we headed south through Medina near the homes of Bill Gates and other elites.  Nearing downtown Bellevue we passed through a waterfront neighborhood with some nice mid-century houses.  After downtown we grunted up the first serious climb of the ride, followed by some other older Bellevue neighborhoods on the way to the I-90 trail.  We mixed it up with some of the riders on the Obliteride charity ride and get some cheers from their supporters.

 

U-turn on the I-90 trail.

 

The loop around Mercer Island is always pleasant and we enjoyed the winding roads under the cool shade of the trees.  The less pleasant I-90 bridge trail was a good opportunity to push the tandem across in minimum time.

We leave the trail before the tunnel to make the fun descent to Lake Washington Blvd. and enjoy the views on the way to the Seward Park.  The park restrooms are convenient if you need to stop and there is water available at the fountain across the street.

 

 

Dave enjoys some blackberries.

 

 

Circling Seward Park.

 

 

We circle Seward Park and catch another info control.  Shortly after leaving the park is another steep climb up Orcas St. that was new to me.  We then have to connect the beautiful parts of the ride with a trip through the working industrial zone between Beacon Hill and West Seattle.  Watch for the Chili Dog stand to find the best route to the 1st Ave. Bridge bike path.

 

Editor’s note: this is not a chili dog.

 

West Seattle is reached by climbing Highland Park Way which is not the most bike friendly route but there aren’t really any nice ways to the top of the hill.  Fortunately weekend traffic isn’t that heavy.  Getting across West Seattle to the shoreline involves several more ups and downs where Dave starts questioning my route creation abilities.  Finally we drop down to Fauntleroy via a fun series of switchbacks.  It will be even more fun for those of you who don’t have a nervous stoker on the back of a tandem.  A traditional gas station control is a good place to grab a cold coke or maybe a $1.50 taco from the truck that is permanently stationed there.  Most of the climbing is done at this point so if you are close to the time limit you shouldn’t have a problem finishing.

 

The iconic Seattle views continue around Alki point with a control stop at the lighthouse.  On the day of the pre-ride, the road is closed for a Sub Pop event which will culminate with a Pearl Jam appearance later on.  We walk and shuffle through the crowds and then jump on the trail to reach the West Seattle Bridge.

 

 

 

Views from West Seattle

 

Cruise ship passengers and ferry arrivals keep us on our toes through the waterfront.  The route goes through Myrtle Edwards Park, but Dave points out that next weekend during the ride, Hemp Fest will be taking place.  It may be possible to walk your bike through the crowds of potheads and pick up some supplies if that’s your thing…  We scoped out a less scenic detour on Elliott Ave. until we can rejoin the trail at the Galer St. flyover.

 

We enjoy the quiet trails and ship canal views before crossing the bridge into Fremont, the Center of the Universe.  A gentle climb up Stone Way brings us to Green Lake and the final two uphill blocks to the finish.  There was no welcoming party for us, but the Populaire riders will find a party underway.

Please preregister for the ride so we can be sure to have enough food and drink for everyone!

Check out the route on Ride with GPS.

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2018 Barlow Pass 400K Pre-Ride Report

by Jeff Loomis

Ron Himschoot and I checked the route for the Barlow Pass 400k. It is unchanged from previous years except for two construction detours on the Interurban Trail in the Lynnwood area. The first detour is short and signed relatively clearly. The second requires leaving the trail behind the Kohl’s store and riding parallel on Alderwood Mall Parkway / Manor Way for a few miles. All the riders should be past that section quite early in the morning so traffic interaction will not be a problem.

There are several options for the first control in downtown Snohomish. We opted to stop at the traditional Snohomish Bakery at First and Main, which has great pastries, restrooms, and a water spigot to top off your bottles. Leaving Snohomish, you will enjoy many quiet miles on the Centennial Trail.

Once off the trail and onto Route 9, we shortly climb up Finn Settlement Road. Ron was not a fan of the extra climbing, but it is quite pleasant to be on a quiet road. The descent back to Route 9 is very enjoyable as well.

Welcome to Concrete!

After passing Big Lake and Clear Lake on Route 9, the turn onto Old Day Creek Road offers a very steep climb to wake up the legs. Once down the other side the quiet South Skagit Highway leads to Concrete, the next control. Cascade Burgers offers the standard drive-in burger, fries, and shake experience along with friendly service. For those who would like to exercise better control discipline, the neighboring gas station stocks the usual basics. The adventurous are free to foray into Concrete proper where another bar and café might be open.

Leaving Concrete the way we came, we enjoy the quiet-but-chip-sealed Concrete Sauk Valley Road before joining the busier highway along the Sauk River into Darrington. This is not a control, but riders should ensure that they stock up with enough water to make it to the top of the Barlow Pass climb.

The paved portion of the Mountain Loop Highway is freshly chip sealed, but otherwise in good condition. The gravel is also in relatively good shape, but there is one short work zone with loose gravel.  Several short, steep pitches are quite washboardy. I had no issues making the climb on 32mm tires. At the top of the climb there will be a staffed control with food and water available. The extended paved descent to Granite Falls is interrupted by one short gravel section, well signed in advance.

There will be a staffed control at the top of Barlow Pass.

With the adventure portion of the ride done, the rest of the route follows SIR standard roads to Lake Roesiger and the Sultan control. There is a 24-hour Chevron available to meet your late night caffeine needs.

From Sultan to the finish there will be few surprises. Some riders may not yet have enjoyed the short, steep climb up from the Burke Gilman trail. You’re welcome! You may be tempted to stop at your car when passing the Park and Ride, but make the short trip up the hill to the finish where we should have a few treats waiting for you.

The ride details and online registration can be found here:

https://sir.clubexpress.com/content.aspx?page_id=4002&club_id=928629&item_id=827539

 

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Crescent Beach Summer 300 km Brevet Pre-ride Report

by Bill Gobie, ride organizer

Pre-riders: Peg Winczewski, Mitch Ishihara, and Adam Glass

 — Important Notes —

The finish

The finish has been moved to the 24-hour AM/PM convenience store in Kingston. The AM/PM is virtually as convenient to the ferry as the previously planned finish at the Filling Station. The finish will not be SIR-staffed. Riders will be given a stamped, addressed envelope to mail their cards to the organizer (Bill).

Mitch & Adam discovered the Filling Station was in the process of shutting down at midnight. Peg found it was entirely closed up at 1:30 AM. Without an attractive finish venue that will definitely be open, it is too much to ask a volunteer to hang out for hours waiting for riders. We regret this departure from SIR tradition. Early finishers will probably find the Filling Station a nice place to wait for the ferry.

Potential delay at the Hood Canal Bridge when returning

WSDOT is conducting work on the bridge that can only be accomplished at slack water (minimum tidal flow). The bridge is closed to all traffic during this period. A slack will occur at approximately 11:30 PM Saturday night. WSDOT is vague as to whether work will actually occur on a given night. While WSDOT has posted a standing warning about the work, the pre-riders did not encounter a delay. You should be prepared for a delay of up to one hour in the window from 10 PM to midnight. A closure like this is part of the unpredictable conditions randonneurs are expected to overcome; no extra time will be given if the bridge is closed. You may want to pack some warm clothes in case you are forced to wait.

Weather

The weather forecast for the weekend calls for significantly cooler temperatures than we have recently endured. The pre-riders noted a cooling marine effect near the water, and much warmer temperatures after leaving Crescent Lake. Generally high humidity may make nighttime temperatures feel chilly.

Parking

There is ample parking in the Park & Ride lot on Hansville Rd NE, just north of the start location, if you elect to drive your car to the start. The SIR ride page discusses the issues of overnighting or catching the last ferries either to Edmonds or Seattle and why you may want your car.

The Olympic Discovery Trail

The route uses the ODT extensively. While the ODT is a marvelous facility, it is not a bicycle superhighway. It has poor sightlines preceeding sudden 90-degree turns and 15% pitches that can take you by surprise. Some road crossings are a little vague – the trail may resume a bit to the left or right vs straight across a crossroad. It is popular with walkers and families with small children; please ride cautiously and be respectful of all users. Portions are paved with rough, slow chip seal.

Support

There will be vanishingly little support. A volunteer might be available to assist with an emergency DNF until early evening. Phone coverage is spotty; do not count on assistance being available. Bus service is available on the Olympic Peninsula.

Cell coverage/roaming

Bill’s cell phone connected to a Canadian network in the vicinity of Crescent Beach. If you do not want to be hit with surprise roaming charges you might want to put your phone in airplane mode in this area.

— The Pre-Ride —

Our day began with a surprise rain shower in Edmonds. Dawn broke as the ferry reached Kingston. The pre-riders departed on schedule in pleasantly cool conditions.

  

The route begins with a ramble over to Big Valley Rd, then heads north on WA-3 and across the Hood Canal Bridge. We leave the main highway for the quieter, and steeper, parallel route on Larson Lake and Eaglemount Rds.

The first resupply opportunity comes at the Discovery Bay Village Store at 54 km. The store opens at 9 AM, 2 hours 15 min after the ride starts. Fast riders may arrive before the store opens. They should plan to resupply in Sequim, at 87 km. Water is available sooner, at 77 km in Sequim Bay State Park. The Longhouse Deli in Blyn is not recommended because reaching it requires crossing busy US-101.

After Discovery Bay the route uses Old Gardiner Rd. Old Gardiner Rd is remarkably tranquil for being so close to US-101.

In Blyn the route sheet directs your attention to the pedestrian tunnel under US-101. Riders navigating by route sheet should take note of the tunnel’s location. The return route uses the tunnel. Its entrance is difficult to see in the return direction.

In Blyn the route picks up the Olympic Discovery Trail. The pre-riders discovered a wee problem with the trail. Fortunately detouring around the collapsed bridge is easy. The detour has been added to the route.

A few miles after passing through Sequim Bay State Park, the route leaves the trail to approach Sequim on Brownfield Rd, avoiding the strip mall congestion that the trail would lead you into. It is important to stop when turning off the trail because the road to the left is an uncontrolled exit ramp from 101. Traffic does not stop! An information control at this spot reinforces the need to stop.

In Sequim the route passes by the Safeway. Other food options are available off-route on Washington St.

Leaving Sequim you visit the salacious intersection of Woodcock and Kitchen Dick Rds. Proceeding west, the route eventually returns to the Olympic Discovery Trail, remaining on the trail all the way to Port Angeles. If the waves are high you may literally get a taste of salt water!

Port Angeles offers resupply opportunities. The route returns to the trail after leaving Port Angeles. At the Elwha River you cross the cool bike bridge suspended beneath the highway bridge.

The route follows WA-112 for a few miles before turning for Crescent Beach. At Salt Creek Campground military history geeks can take a short off-route detour to see the casemates built shortly before World War II for two 16″ naval guns. Uniquely, the park road goes right through both emplacements.

Scenic Crescent Beach marks the westernmost point of the ride. After passing by the beach, the route climbs and turns inland on a narrow, forest-hemmed road heading for Crescent Lake. At the WA-112 crossing you can go a short distance off route left to the Blackberry Cafe in Joyce for a milkshake, pie, or something more substantial. But don’t get too stuffed; you still have to climb over the hill to Crescent Lake.

Alongside Crescent Lake, Beach Rd offers pretty views of the east end of the lake. After climbing out of the lake’s basin, the pre-riders suddenly encountered much hotter conditions on US-101. The control at Shadow Mountain General Store is a good place to prepare yourself for the challenge of Little River Rd. Be sure to leave with full bottles and good energy. The store’s ice cream is highly recommended!

After some noisy miles on US-101, you turn onto Olympic Hot Springs Rd then onto Little River Rd. Little River has the longest and steepest climbing on the route. The grade reaches 15% in places. About 4 km of this road is dirt. There is not much large gravel. Mitch & Adam rode 25 & 28 mm tires with no trouble, although there are places where you may have trouble resuming riding if you stop. The road heads uphill through a mix of forest and clearcuts. If the day is warm the clearcuts will be exposed and hot.

The route turns downhill on Hurricane Ridge Rd. The road is newly resurfaced and very smooth. However, it has some odd divots, so stay alert on this fast descent.

After passing through Port Angeles, with its resupply opportunities, the route largely retraces itself on the Olympic Discovery Trail. The Sequim Safeway or another restaurant is a good place for a substantial meal. For many riders this will be the last, best resupply opportunity. The 24-hour Longhouse Market at Blyn is a final option but requires crossing 101. The deli in the market may not be open much later than 6 PM.

In Blyn use the tunnel mentioned previously to cross safely under US-101. The route stays on 101 to Discovery Bay; using Old Gardiner Rd in this direction would require multiple left turns across 101.

Fast riders will be able to resupply at the Discovery Bay Village Store. The store closes at 8 PM.

The route leaves 101 at Discovery Bay to again take the parallel route on Eaglemount and Larson Lake Rds. The final information control is at Center Cemetery Rd, just before the turn onto Larson Lake. The control asks a question about the stop sign on Center Cemetery Rd, not Larson Lake. Don’t mix them up.

With some luck you will not be delayed at the Hood Canal Bridge, and can cruise the last miles to Kingston.

As a special consideration for riders overnighting at The Point Casino Hotel, you may ride directly to the hotel and have your card signed there. This is a harder finish than going to Kingston! Mitch and Adam report that the food at the casino is better than a convenience store.

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High Impact Closure: East Lake Sammamish Pkwy & Trail

During August 6-20 the road and “likely” the trail will be closed for a culvert replacement. The closure extends from Louis Thompson Rd NE at the north to 212th Way SE at the south.

There will be a signed detour on Louis Thompson Rd, 212th Ave, and 212th Way. However, judging from Street View images, this will be an unpleasant and dangerous bicycle route. Louis Thompson Rd and 212th Way climb steeply with narrow or no shoulders.

A safer bicycle detour should be NE Inglewood Hill Rd, 228 Ave NE, and SE 43rd Way. This route has adequate shoulders or bicycle lanes the whole way. This detour has about 660 ft of climbing vs 170 ft on the road. The detour adds about 5 km vs the road.

Map: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28173893

City of Sammamish project page: https://www.sammamish.us/government/departments/public-works/current-projects/zackuse-creek-fish-passage-and-stream-restoration-project/

Affected routes (not guaranteed comprehensive, courtesy of Yogy Namara):52, 359, 401, 531, 541, 605, 757, 758, 838, 1004, 1005, 1305, 1315, 1321, 1322, 1449, 1511, 1514, 1515, 1516, 1522, 1704, 1755, 1756, 2173, 2174, 2176, 2292, 2432, 2525, 2575, 2576, 2795, 3022, 3081, 3159, 3226, 3227, 3502, 3539, 3591.

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Filed under Notable Detours, Permanent Change, Permanents

Border to Border 1000K

by Theo Roffe and Rachel Wood

Complete route on RWGPS: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/27656925 
Cue sheets: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nmGcZ86ygDuhFXS0zd_5VuAZgG0SrGz-xAYvsSDB-I0/edit?usp=sharing

Day 1, Friday: Olympia to Bellingham

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28158220

On Friday morning, in the chill air of the South Sound, we started our ride to the Canada border by heading south east. That felt a bit confusing, but the first control is in Rainier and, from there, the route backtracks along the Seattle-to-Portland route into Seattle. While this routing isn’t as scenic as sticking to the edge of the sound through Tacoma and Des Moines, it sure avoids a lot of climbing. And, despite what the cumulative elevation of 6713 m might suggest, avoiding big climbs was a goal for this route.

Riding the Interurban

Beginning in Sumner, you’ll be on the Interurban trail. During the pre-ride, some sections were closed for a repaving project that should be completed in time for the ride. We were able to make it through with only minimal swerving around “Trail Closed” signs and riding through gravel. You’ll also want to watch out for railroad tracks along the trail – some were barely noticeable, but others were quite bumpy.

The Interurban trail drops you off in Renton, where you’ll find your way to the coast of Lake Washington for 40 km of watery views. Along this section, we stopped in Seward park to refill our water bottles, have a snack, and admire the lake with its variety of boats. After the lakeside riding, the route features a section of the Burke-Gilman and Lake Sammamish Trails. Even on a weekday afternoon, these are popular trails, so be attentive to other cyclists and pedestrians who may be moving more slowly.

Things get steep for a while through Woodinville and Maltby before descending into Snohomish County where broad plains offer bucolic views framed by the Cascade Mountains to the east. Marysville offers up some traffic and one of the route’s less pleasant roads, but the rolling hills from Tulalip Bay to Warm Beach are a great payoff. Due to a road closure just north of Warm Beach, you’ll trek back inland to Silvana before heading up through Stanwood and Conway to the Skagit Valley; however, the detour has a nice curvy descent into lovely farmland. Come back in the spring time for a wonderful display of Tulips in this area!

If you catch Bayview State park before 8 pm, there are bathrooms and nice views across Padilla Bay to Anacortes and Gumes Island. Chuckanut Drive, to the north, is a highlight of the route. Yes, it’s climby, but it sticks you right on the edge of Samish and Bellingham Bays where you can watch the sun set behind Lummi Island.

Sunset from Chuckanut, just before the climbing starts

You’ll be able to get food in Fairhaven or Bellingham before the out-and-back to the Canada border. But don’t make the same mistake Rachel and I did and save that out-and-back for day 2! It’ll make for a very long, tough day – day 2 already has more climbing, it doesn’t need more distance. (Our splits for the pre-ride were 325 / 415 / 260 km. The official splits with the revised route are 405 / 338 / 264 km.)

Anyway, the route from Fairhaven to Bellingham features a nice gravel trail that is totally rideable on a road bike with narrow tires. But if you can’t stand that kind of thing, feel free to stay on State Street into town. Keep in mind that Bellingham is a college town: Friday night downtown can be a bit of a party. We didn’t have any trouble, but you should keep both eyes open for young, dumb drivers and bar-hopping pedestrians.

If you’re fast, you might pass through Lynden in time for services, otherwise plan on packing what you need before leaving Bellingham. On the pre-ride, we had some trouble with a dog within 5 km of the border, but he’s likely to be locked up in his kennel at night. We just had the bad luck to come by as his people were opening his kennel and the gate! They came out to the street with his leash and treats and we squirted him with our water bottles until he finally went home. If you meet Duke, squirt him right in his face for us. Thanks! He hates that.

At the overnight control in Bellingham, we’ll have your drop-bags (if you choose to leave one at the start) and beds, but little else. For the pre-ride, we fit a change of clothes for day 2 in our bags. There’s a 24-hour Denny’s in the same parking lot where you can get dinner and breakfast regardless of your timing. We slept for 5 hours at this control. That was restful, but probably too much time by 1 or 2 hours; we were behind the clock all day Saturday.

Snohomish Day 2

Day 2, Saturday: Bellingham to Olympia

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28158228

The route leaves Bellingham without passing many services, so be sure you have what you’ll need as there’s really very little over the next 50 km. There are some steep climbs to get out of town and wake you up, but the bright side is that they aren’t long, and they lead into a lovely descent on a quiet road along Lake Samish, followed by the similarly nice Old Highway 99. We had to avoid a road closure near turning off Old 99 (don’t let the signs scare you up Bow Hill Road! The route uses a much shorter, flatter detour) and headed into Burlington, which was terrible. Lucky for you, the route now skips Burlington and goes into downtown Mount Vernon. There is one section where you’ll have to rejoin main-road traffic to cross the Skagit River, but there is a bike lane on the bridge. In Mount Vernon, the Skagit Valley Co-op has everything, but we enjoyed a leisurely stop at the Calico Cupboard Café and Bakery. It’s an open control, so feel free to stop wherever you like to get your card signed.

The 200K riders were also at the Calico Cupboard Cafe! In Anacortes… 🙁

You’ll stick to frontage roads along I-5 returning nearly to Conway before heading east to Lake McMurray and the Centennial Trail. The trail is a popular place for slow cyclists and pedestrians, so please be cautious and attentive. You can keep a decent pace nonetheless, just ring your bell and pass with plenty of space. The Centennial Trail brings you back in Snohomish where you controlled on day 1. But leaving town you’ll head south east into the Snoqualmie River Valley to Carnation. This section offers mostly shaded, rolling roads with views of the Cascades and picturesque farms. Resupply in Carnation before the hill out of Fall City; there are a couple cafes in town, plus the grocery store where we went. As Rachel said on the pre-ride, that hill is no joke. Descending from the Issaquah Highlands you can pick up some good speed (we were going 40+ mph on our single bikes). Just be sure to get over to the left lane and avoid joining the freeway onramps!

Control in Issaquah and then head out for more climbing: the highest elevation section of the route begins just as you leave Issaquah and ends 50 km later with a lovely descent into Orting on the Foothills trail. There was some road construction on the bridge between Enumclaw and Buckley which narrowed things down to one lane and stopped traffic in alternate directions. This seemed like a bad thing, but it resulted in making the left turn from 410 to Park Ave much easier than usual – there was only traffic coming from one direction by the time we finished the climb up from the bridge! From Orting, you’ll climb a steep ridge and work your way back to familiar roads: 507 to Yelm, the Yelm-Tenino trail to Rainier and Rainier Road back into Tumwater. We got here very late on the pre-ride and it was cold and slow going. Bring your layers for night riding!

After chasing the clock all day and riding extra distance to Eatonville (no longer on the route!), we arrived in Tumwater at 5:00 am. We slept ~3 hours (I really didn’t want to tackle day 3 on any less) and started Sunday behind the clock again. Fortunately, the clock slows down this far into a ride and we started picking up a buffer with each control.

Day 3, Sunday: Olympia to Longview and Back

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28158231

For the pre-ride, day 3 was forecasted to be the hottest, as it is for the event. We started relatively late in the day (9:40 a.m.) and thus missed out on the typically cool morning hours. Instead, we hit the beginning of the heat with a high temperature reportedly about 93°F. According to our cycling computers it was 105°F. Considering that official air temperatures are measured at a height of 2 meters above ground, while you’ll be riding just above the hot asphalt, it’s going to feel much more like 100°F than 90°F. And there’s less shade than you’d expect. That said, we had a strong tailwind for most of the morning and early afternoon.

Curtis Hill Road will probably have you cursing us (blame Ian!), but the descent is fantastic and the roads on either side of the Boistfort Store are beautiful. You’ll get patches of shade here (though Rachel pointed out that all the climbs were sunny) and on the Westside Highway where the route heads south along the Cowlitz River to Longview. Longview has some big terrible roads, so we won’t go all the way to the Columbia river where the border is drawn between Oregon and Washington, but you’re very close. Instead, we’ll stick to lower traffic toads and then cross the Cowlitz into Kelso to join frontage roads along I5 where you’ll head north on the final leg of the journey. These frontage roads were shady and rolling – quite nice to ride!

At the control in Toledo there’s a public bathroom at the boat launch just left after crossing the bridge into town. There’s also an IGA market (grocery store) open until 9 p.m. (they locked the door precisely on the hour!). The info control is at a gas station convenience store that’s open until 10 p.m. If you don’t want to stop, read the question in advance: you should be able to find the answer from your bike and remember it to write down later. Jackson Highway featured, for us, a beautiful sunset. If you’re earlier you’ll probably get great views of the valley, Mt St Helens, and Mt Rainier (we could just see both in the fading light). You’ll also get the last big climb through Lewis and Clark State Park at 939 km. But this means plenty of good descending into Chehalis and Centralia. Then you’ll go on through the valley with a few rollers to Bucoda and Tenino. Another info control at a gas station will leave your card with just one more slot to fill! Climb the last of the climbs out of town and (mostly) descend back to Tumwater. Of course, you can never believe “it’s all downhill from here,” but in this case, it mostly is.

We rolled into the finish at 1:30 a.m. for 68 hours elapsed (the pre-ride started 30 minutes later than the brevet will start. Also note that we rode 1032.9 km and your route will be 1007 km). Then we enjoyed a celebratory beer, a well-earned shower, and bed!

Strava users can look at our ride recording here: https://www.strava.com/activities/1721889143 (if you don’t log in, only high-level details are visible).

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Filed under Pre Rides

2018 SIR Summer 200K Report: Snohomish–Anacortes–Snohomish

by Narayan Krishnamoorthy

NOTE CHANGE OF START and FINISH LOCATIONS

Ride start: 7 am
Registration start: 6 am
Ride start Location: Snohomish Library
Ride Finish: Trails End Brewery
Parking: Plenty of on-street parking along main drag and near the Library
Warning: Watch for road closures along Downtown Snohomish

Registration and additional details: http://seattlerando.org/content.aspx?page_id=87&club_id=928629&item_id=827535

As 200Ks go, this one is a fairly known commodity, but it combines elements from different types of routes in one rarely found package: low in traffic, high on trails, scenery, frequency of services, and quality of pavement.

We start early on Saturday from the Snohomish Public Library to avoid the hullabaloo of the Kla Ha Ya Days festival in Downtown Snohomish (and some possibly heavy headwinds later in the day); the early start allows us to enjoy cooler temperatures for longer, and the trail is less crowded (it promises to be a zoo once the 5K run starts at 8 am. Don’t be late). The first couple of miles are downhill – and feature very new smooth pavement – but the trail ventures gently uphill past the Machias store, and kicks up one more percent past Lake Stevens. You should have lovely views of the valley and the farms that line the sides of the trail. You’ll have a brief stretch of riding on Highway 9, but traffic volume should be low that time of day. You may begin to notice the first signs of a headwind or a crosswind here, but that bodes well for the return home.

The first control at Lake McMurray is a delight: it features a fabulous lake view and a very happy control volunteer eager to apply her bicycle stamp to your card, but only if you don’t block the gas pumps; if you do, you will get a bit of a talking to. Please make sure you clean up your garbage/recycling here (the store is a one person operation). This is a wonderful opportunity to refuel and to support the local economy. But fret not if you forget something: a brief and easy climb on Highway 534 leads you to Conway where even more services are available. Once you get past Conway, you will be blessed with lovely views of Mount Baker and, as an added bonus, will not see traffic until you hit the right turn onto Best Road. You’ll cross the Skagit River and find one more country store to refuel at (Rexville Grocery, can’t miss it on the right after you descend the Skagit River Bridge).

A short pedal brings you to lovely La Conner (a good coffee stop right as you enter town, should you feel the need) and our first possible hiccup: Maple Ave is easy to miss. Look for the Washington Federal Bank. Traffic was a bit higher than usual for the pre-riders because of Ragnar 2018, but you should have no traffic issues. The pre-riders found brief stretches of glass on Snee-Oosh Road, but the lovely water views more than made up for that risk. A brief battle with the headwind should bring you to one of the gems of the route: the Tommy Thompson trail that goes over Fidalgo Bay and brings you into Anacortes. On a hot day, the cool breeze off the bay will cool you right down and the water views will make you happy that you chose this ride. The trail does feature bollards, road crossings, and some weird chicanes, but it allows for a mostly stress-free ride into Anacortes.

The Calico Cupboard is lovely and has baked goodies and savoury foods that are sure to please your tired self. There is also a tavern across the street, but we found service slow on a previous ride. For quick service, get things to go at the bakery. A sit-down meal is recommended here as you are more than likely to be blessed with a tailwind on the way back. The route is an out and back, so you will have the luxury of retracing your steps with few complications.

The finish is at Trails End Taphouse, where eager volunteers will be on hand to shower you with kudos (and mooch free beers off of you).

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Filed under Pre Rides, SIR Rides