Author Archives: Bill Gobie

Permanent Change: Gifford Pinchot Forest Road 26 is Open

After being closed for many years due to severe washouts, road 26 in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is open again. This road runs from south of Randle up to road 99 near Spirit Lake and Bear Meadows. We last used this road on the 2014 Summer 600 brevet. It features in two permanents, which are available again: #511 Elbe-Bear Meadow-Elbe and #512 Ashford-Bear Meadow-Elbe.

Special thanks to Tyler Gillies for checking on the status of road 26.

 

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2019 Makeup 200K

Whidbey Island Views & Hills Pre-ride Report

By Mitch Ishihara, Adam Glass, and John Nguyen

Reviving our islands and views theme from previous years1, we bring you scenic vistas on Whidbey Island with the added bonus of sufficiently steep and copious hills compressed into 202K (7900 feet elevation). Whidbey Island’s back roads also offer an escape from (un)civilization showcasing mouth watering baked goods, boutique coffee, plenty of real food options, and of course refreshing beer options at the finish. We reshaped SIR’s RUSA Permanent 998 Whidbey Coast, giving it a trim to down to 202 km and a detour away from the automobile-congested Deception Pass. For those who’ve never been to Whidbey Island, we think you’ll discover why tourists are attracted to it after a sampling on this ride.

Parking

Depending on if you intend to be on the island with a car or ride your bike onto the ferry instead, there are a few common options. Mukilteo has various park and ride locations located along I-5 which is a fair distance from the ferry terminal. Various signed 4-hour street parking spots are located near the ferry terminal up the hill along 3rd, 4th, and 5th Street. These are rumored to be unenforced on the weekend; use at your own risk. Your volunteers took a calculated risk. Also beware of automated speeding cameras on Mukilteo Speedway heading down to the ferry. Of course you can consider giving the city of Mukilteo a modest non-tax-deductible donation.

As for Clinton, it has a park and ride conveniently located near the finish: SR 525 at Clinton P&R.

Departing Mukilteo

After paying the $6.10 fare each at the toll booth, John and Mitch proceeded ‘like regulars’ to the passenger loading zone on the left side of the ferry dock and waited. A morning chat with the friendly ferry attendant ensued as we described our upcoming bike ride on the island – a common destination for cyclists. We scanned our paper tickets and walked our bikes aboard the 7:00 AM ferry sailing. Once on the ferry, you’re allowed to ride the bike to the front to secure your bike to one of the many yellow ropes for bicycles. For those who happen to arrive at the ferry after the cars begin loading, you’ll be boarded last with your bikes at the back of the boat in addition to being last off the boat in Clinton. As an aside, there is an option to pre-purchase your ferry ticket but it is mostly used by folks with an automobile.

Arriving Clinton

The crossing is a quick 15 minutes! Make use of the facilities expeditiously as there is limited restroom capacity at the start. After scouting out a location to process registration on the ferry, we decided we’ll be hanging out on the bow, port side of the ferry. Given the current weather forecast, you may be greeted with this welcoming view below. We disembarked the ferry around 7:15 AM.

Whidbey Island Bagel Factory – Start Contrôle

Finding an open business early on Sunday morning for a manned start location proved a small challenge. A short 2.7 mile and 450 feet ride up WA-525 gets us to an open complex apparently popular with the locals. Barring a misfortune, this stretch should take about 15-20 minutes, in plenty of time for an 8:00 AM start. We arrived at 7:30 AM.

Of course, once Mitch found Whidbey Island Bagel Factory, it was on the list of candidates to verify for the pre-ride. The peanut gallery couldn’t resist commenting on bagels and how many a certain volunteer rider would consume that day. After taking a bite, the commentary shifted to, “these are pretty good bagels.” Good enough for a New Yorker!

    

We were a little disoriented leaving Ken’s Korner Shopping Center heading to the loading zone behind the complex. We’ll get you going in the right direction for the Brevet – head south near the Les Schwab Tire Center. We then turned left onto Surface Road which is a one mile descent down to Bob Galbreath Road.

The Views & Hills

Freeland Park @ mile 19

Freeland Park on the right offers public restrooms for those who need it. For those who don’t, you can enjoy the view while waiting for your riding buddies. Or you can zoom on by covering ground while the clock is ticking.

Honeymoon Bay Road @ mile 20.4

An eastern view of Holmes Harbor down Bercot Road on Honeymoon Bay Road with the Snohomish convergence zone (clouds) in the distance.

Resort Road @ mile 24

The hills, where do we start with this? They are relentless repeats oscillating somewhere between sea level and about 400 feet as the course hugs the coastline of Whidbey Island (hence the original Whidbey Coast permanent). One volunteer brought their fresh legs to this ride while another went all out the day before.

WA-525/WA-20

There are portions of this route which require traveling on WA-525 or WA-20 – the main highway down the middle of Whidbey Island. Ride well on the shoulder at all times on these stretches in single file.

Greenbank Farm @ mile 27

Looking to your left around mile 27, Greenbank Farm shines in the morning sun. Unfortunately they do not open until 10 AM. You can only dream of eating scrumptious fresh baked pies from here for another time. Heads down, we continued on.

Houston Road @ mile 31.4

After you’ve scribbled your info control answer, take a peek at the Olympic Mountains in the distance.

Coupeville @ mile 41.5

About ⅓ of the ride done for the day, we arrived in Coupeville ready to gobble down a few fresh baked goods. We needed the calories later in the day for sure.

Knead & Feed Restaurant

4 Front St NW, Coupeville, WA 98239

https://goo.gl/maps/nXABiepHvuAM4Y4U8

The peach pie features a perfectly flakey crust with an exterior crunch. The peaches are firm and sweet. You may see the volunteers hanging out here the day of the ride too! We promise to try to not eat all of the goods before you arrive.

   

Note that there are public restrooms on Alexander Street on the side of the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce building.

View of Penn Cove @ mile 45

Oak Harbor @ mile 52

By the time we made it to Oak Harbor, the island life awakened with a hustle and bustle. We rode the permanent on April 27th, greeted by a parade and street fair on Pioneer Way. For the May 26th pre-ride, we encountered light traffic. There are plenty of services options in Oak Harbor, as well as Skagit Cycle Center (but it is closed on Sunday).

Descent down Monkey Hill Road @ mile 64.4

What goes up must come down. This is one of the many descents to enjoy on the island. Be safe!

Cornet Bay @ mile 66.5

For the brevet, we rerouted to Cornet Bay instead of Deception Pass Bridge to avoid heavy automobile traffic near the bridge. Cornet Bay features panoramic views in an open setting. Boat tours of Deception Pass are available, though we didn’t take time to do the hour long tour while on the pre-ride.

For the Makeup 200 Brevet, we reserved the picnic shelter below for a SIR manned food stop and contrôle. There’s running water conveniently located nearby.

After finishing our scouting of the location, we left Cornet Bay with about an hour in the bank, returning on Cornet Bay Road back to WA-20. The route continues on WA-20 for 6 miles where we banked some time. The shoulders are wide.

Ault Field Road @ mile 74.1

Swantown @ mile 80

After scribbling down the info control answer we captured some photos on West Beach Road.

A bit further down the road on the right we stopped at West Beach County Park to enjoy the views of Puget Sound.

Callen’s in Coupeville (Fort Casey/Keystone) @ mile 93.6

At about the ¾ mark on the Brevet just past the Coupeville-Port Townsend ferry terminal, there’s a nice restaurant and market, Callen’s Restaurant and Co. The right side features the restaurant. The left side features a market with coffee, drinks, and water. Callen’s is open Sunday 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM. We stopped here for an early dinner.

Cozy’s Roadhouse Finish

We made it to the finish at 6:32 PM with 3 hours in the bank.

Heading back to Mukilteo

There are plenty of ferry sailings to return to Mukilteo departing approximately every half-hour until 12:30 AM.

Schedule: Mukilteo/Clinton

Summary

This is a pretty but hilly 202 km with about 8000 feet of climbing on mostly quiet roads to be completed in the 200K ACP Brevet maximum time of 13.5 hours. We’ve modified the brevet route slightly from the permanent route. Searching the SIR permanent inventory, 998 Whidbey Coast permanent is in the top 10 most climbing for a SIR 200K. The winner is of course 517 The Alps permanent at 9900 feet of climbing over 202 km.

Weather Forecast

The weather forecast for Sunday June 9, 2019 is looking fantastic!

 

Pre-registrations

Help the organizers by pre-registering for this brevet here:

https://www.seattlerando.org/content.aspx?page_id=4002&club_id=928629&item_id=896680

 

 

  1. 2017 Chuckacamano Views 400K, 2016 Island Views 300K (Camano Island and north Whidbey Island), 2015 Bainbridge Island – Port Townsend Easter 200K

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Pacific Beach 400 km Spring Brevet Pre-ride Report

 

By Bill Gobie

Pre-riders: Kate Hotler, Bill Gobie

Distance: 406 km

Climbing: 9300 ft (Ride with GPS); 9100 ft (Wahoo Elemnt Bolt)

Seattle ferry terminal: The vehicle entrance has changed due to construction. If you have not driven onto the ferry recently, read WSF’s directions! Google Maps’ directions are wrong! Don’t miss the boat! Driving to Bremerton takes an hour and a half!

The bicycle entrance is still at Yesler, although from the south left turns are not permitted – use the crosswalk. Read WSF’s directions (scroll down to bicycles).

From the start at the Bremerton ferry terminal Starbucks we ride three blocks north and turn left on 4th St. Taking 4th avoids the difficult hills and impatient drivers on our traditional route on Burwell. The route turns onto Burwell for the plunge to the left turn onto Callow.

In another break from our traditional departure from Bremerton, the route soon turns steeply uphill and works through the residential areas on the hillside. Thus we avoid the narrow debris-strewn shoulder on WA-3, which is a dangerous place to lose a water bottle or get a flat. Fear not: you will not have to ride these hills at the finish. The inbound side of WA-3 is much safer, although still debris-strewn.

Old Belfair Valley Rd sets the tone for the rest of the ride: rural, usually quiet, and hilly. In Belfair you can make a pit stop at the Shell convenience store.

These days Belfair is almost a pleasant place to ride a bike. Highway 3 has a bike lane!

Outside Belfair the route turns onto WA-108. 108 is not as peaceful as in former years. Expect a fair amount of traffic.

The first control comes in Union. Sadly the old Union Store is out of business. The control is across the street at Union City Market in the marina building. There are nice restrooms.

From the control make a U-turn, then find your lowest gear for the climb up McReavy Rd. This is a good foretaste of what you will face on PBP entering some of the medieval towns perched on hilltops, although without cobbles.

McCreavy lets us avoid the long noisy climb on 101. There is still a short stint on 101 before turning onto Dayton Airport Rd.

Most people should not need to stop at the Dayton Store, but it is an option if you miscalculated water or food. There are no restrooms.

You should load up on water and food at the Matlock Store, 57 mi / 91 km. The store has a nice restroom. The next supplies are 42 mi / 68 km away at Prairie Mart.

The next miles until turning onto US-101 at 152 km are some of the loveliest on the route, as we pass through deep forest, crossing from one river drainage to the next on steep and winding roads.  On paper this is the most challenging segment of the route. 

Early in this section we encounter Cougar Smith Rd with four kilometers of light gravel beginning after the bridge across the west fork of the Satsop River. The transition at the end of the bridge is rough; do mind the danger instruction! Cougar Smith has been recently graveled. The good news is all of the potholes we saw on our Fleche have been filled. The gravel is only deep off the sides. Traffic has swept most of the gravel off the road, leaving behind a sparse scattering that will annoy but not seriously impede those riding skinny tires. The grade reaches 12-16%. I walked the steep part. It was hardly slower than riding and gave my legs some relief.

Back on pavement, the highest elevation on the ride, 660 ft, is soon reached followed by a splendid downhill. Alas, starting from such modest altitude, visions of coasting to the coast are soon dashed and we must hump over innumerable humps to the next control at Humptulips. Fill up on supplies here. The store charges 45¢ to use a credit card.

The run to Copalis Crossing is a pleasantly zoomy, nearly steady downhill. You will encounter a couple of small bumps with noticeable grades on the way to Pacific Beach.

At 200 km, Pacific Beach is the halfway point. You & I Market has an Asian grill in back, which closes at 7:30 pm. The control is open. The Schooner Pub and Surf House Cafe are options if you want a sit-down meal. (Sitting at You & I meant sitting on the floor. Worked for us.) Seagate Restaurant and Lounge is a dive bar with pizza and bar food that was really nice to us on the fleche. It is off-route a bit more than a kilometer north on WA-109.

Leaving Pacific Beach you will cycle through scenic coastal forest that just may distract you from the crushing difficulty of the climbs as the road winds through deep ravines. Survive to Copalis Beach and you are rewarded with a pleasant flat run to the next control at the Chevron in Ocean Shores (postal address Hoquiam).

On the way to Hoquiam there are several bridges with raised curbs/sidewalks that appear abruptly in the shoulder. I found the curbs difficult to see at night. Be on the lookout as you approach bridges. These hazards are not noted on the route sheet.

Approaching Hoquiam we turn off the highway, visit an information control to keep everyone honest, and cruise through a residential area of Hoquiam.

From Hoquiam to Aberdeen to Cosmopolis we must cross two evil bridges. The Hoquiam bridge explicitly bans bicycles from the vehicle lanes. Trust me, you don’t want to be on the road! From 10th St turn onto the sidewalk on the far side of the road. The sidewalk/channel becomes pretty narrow. I chose to walk across. Please walk if you are at all nervous.

The Aberdeen-Cosmopolis bridge has a pedestrian ramp up to the bridge. Approaching, stay right on H St, do not go up the vehicle ramp. The ped ramp is right underneath the second overpass. The ramp has a very tight hairpin turn. Tandems and recumbents may need to dismount. I found the sidewalk on the bridge dicey. So again, walk if you are uncomfortable.

The control in Cosmopolis is a 7-Eleven. At night it did not have a good vibe. I am keeping it as the control since it is open 24 hours. The control is open; you may use the 76 station just before the 7-Eleven if you prefer.

From Cushing St in Cosmopolis you must find the bike trail on the right. The trail is not signed. It should be plenty obvious in daytime. At night, it is inconveniently located in deep shadow between two street lights.

The next supplies are available about 12 miles away at the Chevron in Montesano. This is a pleasant, clean, well-kept store! Stock up here for your passage through the Goose Prairie wilderness. The next certain supplies are at Twin Totems, 42 mi/ 67 km away. Faster riders will be able to resupply at the Dayton Store, which closes at 9 pm.

Just before dawn our GPS’s called for a right turn into a hillside. Our intended road was decommissioned, blocked by an enormous berm. I was too foggy to know what to do. In fact, I kept riding straight since no turn was possible. Then I realized Kate had turned around. She had sensibly consulted her Elemnt and saw there was a connection around the closed road. This defect in the route is now corrected.

Twin Totems is the penultimate control. For many, it will be the last supply stop before the finish – Belfair closes between midnight and 5 am.

From Twin Totems we return to Union and then substantially retrace the outbound route to the finish.

After the turn from Sam Christoferson Ave onto WA-3 stay in the left lane to go up the ramp to WA-3. The shoulder is filthy with debris; take care.

Entering Bremerton, there are two places on WA-304/Callow Ave where you must move left to avoid forced right turns.

Again departing from our traditional route on Burwell and its intemperate drivers, we cross Burwell and turn right on 6th St. Then we dodge onto 5th St and enjoy a relaxed (although not flat) run to the finish. After two right turns you will fetch up at the finish, the Fairfield Inn & Suites on 4th St.

If the hotel allows us, we will have an SIR Control sign out front with a note telling you which room to come to for the finish.

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Permanent Change: Closure on the Interurban Trail in Kent

The Interurban Trail in Kent will be closed until late 2020 between a detour point south of S 212th St to James St. Theo Roffe has investigated the signed detour on 68th Ave S and does not recommend it. He recommends going one block farther west to 64th Ave S. This detour adds about 2 km to a 2 km long section of the trail.

According to the City of Kent, “There are times when the roadway at the trail crossing will not be affected by the construction for several weeks or months. During those periods of time, the trail will be open“.

Theo’s recommended detour

City of Kent blog post about the project

At least six of our Permanents are affected: #751, 978, 1076, 1132, 3066, 3592. As noted, detouring does not add much distance so no one should feel discouraged from riding these routes.

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Permanent Change: Restoring the Human Touch to Routes

By: a gang of beer-drinking randos sitting around a table after the Populaire

Online mapping tools like Ride with GPS have made randonneuring routes precise and accurate. Laborious work with paper maps that only provided approximate distances are a thing of the past. We no longer have to ride or drive a route to determine distances between instructions. And those distances were only as accurate as one’s bike computer or car odometer calibration. Complementing Ride with GPS, we frequently use a Google Script to create route sheets directly from a Ride with GPS route. Tedious spreadsheet work is avoided; no transcription errors due to hand-entering distances occurs. The result: Dependable routes unaffected by human foibles.

And yet, some feel such extensive use of technology has removed the human touch from route documents. To that end, we have developed the TrueRando script. TrueRando randomly inserts errors in the route sheet, flipping left turns to right turns, altering distances, and so on. Everything you fear and dread on the road in the dark at 3AM can be made to happen with TrueRando!

Wait, there’s more! Through the use of nerd knowledge the enhanced TrueRando+ script also injects different errors into the Ride with GPS route. Not only will the route sheet be unreliable. The GPS track will disagree with the route sheet at other locations! Truly, no better simulation of human weakness when handling details is available today.

TrueRando and TrueRando+ are available for a per-use fee of $1000 payable via anonymous wire transfer from your numbered Swiss bank account to permanentsteammallorcajunket.

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Permanent Change: Good Scans make for Happy Volunteers, or, How to Avoid Doing It Again

The new Perminator relies heavily on users uploading scans of annual waivers and ride results (cards, receipts). Volunteers have to review these uploads, so we ask you to please do everything you can to make them legible and well organized!

We very much desire you to upload multipage scans as a single pdf! This greatly reduces the number of files the volunteers have to open to do their jobs. Sure, one person’s waiver in two uploads means opening just one extra file, but multiply that by the scores of active Permanents riders SIR has and one less mouse click per job really matters! This also helps prevent the digital equivalent of dropping a file of loose papers.

It is easiest to get good scans with an actual scanner. However, if you’re using a phone or tablet, you can use one of the native apps to scan multiple pages into a single PDF:

You can also take pictures and combine them into one pdf. But do this only if you know how to set your camera to its highest resolution and adjust the exposure for good legibility.

If you are using a phone or tablet, please place the documents in good light without shadows, and hold the device as level and square as possible over the documents. Review your images. If they are blurry or not turned the right way up, please correct the problem.

Please do not try to scan or photograph two letter-size pages in one image. Doing that compromises legibility.

Some phones and tablets may display a scan or photo the right way up, but include incorrect orientation data that causes the image to be displayed sideways or upside down on other devices. If you can, please download a test image to a computer to check for this problem before you upload scans to the Perminator.

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Permanent Change: Hail the new Perminator!; New waivers required

Return of the Perminator

Thanks to Adam Glass’ intense work and randonneur never quit spirit over the last several weeks, the new Perminator is available for online registration of SIR’s Permanents. We have to expect some glitches as everyone begins using it – please be patient and send bug reports to permanents@seattlerando.org.

Please note the new Perminator works differently in some important ways from the departed Perminator:

  • You will download ride materials from the site once the Perminator approves your registration. You will not receive an email.
  • You no longer snail-mail your card after your ride. You will enter your ride result (finish or dnf) yourself. You will upload scans of your card and receipts as proof.

All of this is detailed on the new Perminator’s home page.

Emailed paper registration remains available for a short time while all you eager k-hounds stress test the new Perminator.

 

New Annual Waivers Required

The annual waiver that you filed for 2019 didn’t account for the permanent owner change. Mark Roberts and Mitch Ishihara have produced an updated annual waiver form and it’s ready for you on Perminator. We’ve expired the previous 2019 waivers so you’ll need to fill out and upload this new form to register for permanents on the returned Perminator. Please  allow some time for annual waiver review/approval. Paper registration will continue to be available during this weekend with the expectation that we’ll return to Perminator-only registration next week.

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Permanent Change: Permanents have a new Owner

Permanents Change Owner

After many years as a Permanents owner, Geoff Swarts has handed ownership of his Permanents to Bill Gobie. While we speak of “SIR’s Permanents,” under RUSA rules Permanents are developed, administered, maintained – “owned” – by individuals. Geoff did an amazing job developing many of SIR’s Permanent routes himself, adding routes suggested by others to the inventory, administering the Permanents, and as the number of routes and volume of rides grew, supervising a team of volunteers who keep the system running. SIR’s collection of routes, numbering 370 and growing, is by far the largest under one owner and stimulated the development of the Perminator automated registration system. Thanks Geoff!

 

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SIR Permanents Available via Emailed Registration

In light of the clamor to take advantage of the current good weather, and the willingness of several volunteers to process paper registrations, SIR’s Permanents are available via emailed registrations.

You can peruse SIR’s Permanent routes at: https://ridewithgps.com/organizations/29-seattle-international-randonneurs/routes

Download, fill out completely, sign, scan and return the ride registration. If you use your phone or tablet to photograph the registration set the camera to its highest resolution, take the picture under good light, and ensure it is focused, legible, and includes the entire document. The Permanents volunteers who review the registrations have final and unappealable authority to reject unsatisfactory registrations. We will make every reasonable effort to approve applications, but the volunteers lead real lives so please apply with as much lead time as possible. Quick processing is not guaranteed. Do not pester the volunteers with queries asking if your request was received. If you do not receive approval by your requested start time, you may of course exercise your free will to ride as you please, but you will not be riding under the auspices of the Permanents program and you will not receive credit for your ride.

Email your completed registrations to permanents@seattlerando.org . Include “Ride request” in the subject line. If approved, you will receive an email with the card and route sheet.

After your ride, snail mail your signed card and the original registration to: Millison Fambles, 3520 Sunset Beach Dr NW, Olympia WA 98502.

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SIR Permanents Suspended; New Perminator Coming

We regret to announce SIR’s Permanents are suspended currently due to the Perminator’s infelicitous demise. Permanents will be reinstated when the new Perminator is available. In case the new Perminator is not running by next weekend, we are considering having several Permanents volunteers lead group Permanents requiring signed paper waivers. The Permanents volunteers are discussing whether to take on the workload involved in handling paper waivers.

From Adam Glass:

As some of you have likely noticed, Perminator is offline and has been for a bit. It suffered a serious failure related to changes in an external service. The data is accessible but Perminator can’t talk to it. Fixing the existing Perminator would require addressing a chain of breaking changes and EOLed components in its dependencies that have accumulated over it’s the 3+ years of operation. The result would likely still be brittle and require replacement soon. As the volunteer developer of Perminator, I need to balance the clear value of Perminator with the cost to maintain and run it.

I’ve been working on and off on a replacement for Perminator for a while. Recently I switched gears to Perminator v3, which was designed to be substantially more robust and easier to maintain for the long term. I made the judgement call after Perminator v1’s failure that the time spent temporarily fixing v1 would be better used completing v3. I consulted with SIR leadership on this decision and have been pursuing that path aggressively since—aided by the crappy weather, but constrained by some family issues and lack of access to good coffee or beer.

Perminator v3 is almost complete and is already being debugged by some alpha testers. We hope to make a public version of it available within the week. Beyond replacing Perminator v1, this new version is more maintainable, more robust, simpler to use and more powerful. In particular, it puts the pieces in place for near term introduction of alternate starts and EPP (Electronic Proof of Passage).

That said, despite my efforts, Perminator v3 will not be ready for this weekend.

 

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