Author Archives: Bill Gobie

Recently Added Permanent Routes

With the growing number of revived permanent routes, it can be difficult to notice recently added routes on the overview maps. Since the last update one route has been added:

  • 03387 U Village-Carnation 111 km. Formerly Gary Prince’s point-to-point commute training route, on the occasion of his retirement it has been changed to a loop which should make it more interesting to other riders.

Additionally, controls were added to 03505 Snoqualmie Valley Trail Run in Carnation and North Bend to provide alternate starting locations.

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Recently Added Permanent Routes

With the growing number of revived permanent routes, it can be difficult to notice recently added routes on the overview maps. Going forward I intend to publicize routes added in the preceding week or so.

This week two routes were added:

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Longer Permanents Opening in October

Beginning October 1, RUSA will allow permanents up to 600 km. A link to an overview map of 300 km and longer routes has been added to the SIR Permanents page. Initially these local routes are available:

02576 Lake Forest Park-Big Lake. 300 km. This route was the most frequently ridden of SIR’s 300 km routes, with 26 completions, accounting for 27% of 300 km rides in the last four years of the old perms program.

00751 Bremerton-Elma-Rainier-Seattle. 300 km. This is likely the flattest 300 km route in SIR’s collection. Most of it is on pleasant low-traffic rural roads and bike trails. If you live on the Seattle side of the sound, riding it in the Bremerton to Seattle direction means you don’t risk missing the last ferry home.

00592 Bainbridge-Hurricane Ridge-Bainbridge. 306 km. This was formerly a sub-300 km route. Modernizing the route to use the Olympic Discovery Trail and avoid the frequently crowded section of Hurricane Ridge Rd below the entrance station pushed the distance up to 306 km. Cap your season with this route!

No 400 or 600 km routes are ready yet.

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SIR Site Permanents Page Updated

I have tried to pull together everything you need to know about the revived Permanents program. On the SIR home page select the menu item Rides>Permanents.

Also, Yogy Namara has come up with better maps of Permanents, linked on the updated page. The maps on the SIR Ride with GPS home page announced in the previous blog post have been replaced with these maps. The advantage of these maps is they pull routes from the RUSA route library, rather than SIR’s. The new maps always display the official version of routes, rather than depending on SIR’s library being synchronized with RUSA’s.

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Maps of SIR’s Permanents

If you have registered for a permanent since the new national system started up, you know searching for a route is a bit inconvenient.

If you want to find a route using a map, from the main RUSA page you can pick the Permanents drop down menu and choose Route Search. On the next page click Search for permanents on a map (created and supported by Jake Kassen). Jake’s search will show you routes that are currently available in the new program. Unfortunately it only plots start locations. It does not show where the routes go.

Until the national site displays maps of routes, the SIR team is using Ride with GPS’s Events facility to show you SIR’s routes. For technical reasons a few of the routes displayed may not be active yet in the national system.

Go to SIR’s RwGPS Club page. Click on the Events tab. (You might want to bookmark the events page.) On the left we currently have three groups of Permanents to view: all of them, 100s, and 200s. Click on the set you want to view. It takes a few seconds for the set to load. In the future we might further subdivide the routes by region to keep this process from becoming too slow.

The routes are listed on the left. The selected route (green highlighting) is displayed on the map on the right. To see all the routes at once, click on Show all on map at the bottom of the list. You might have to scroll the list down when we have more routes available.

Now the map will display all the routes.

The various colors just distinguish the different routes. If you mouse over a route in the list, its trace on the map will highlight black.

Thanks to Yogy Namara for realizing Events could be used for this purpose, and keeping the lists of routes regularly updated.

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Permanents are back!

Yes, that’s a bison, and it has nothing to do with the new program.

The new permanents program starts up August 1st. Changes from the old program include:

Administrative aspects

The program is run on a national basis.

Ride registration and result reporting is online.

Routes are no longer locally “owned.” Route contributors will likely stay engaged with their routes for maintenance, but they will have no administrative role – no longer processing ride registrations and results.

There will be an annual fee.

Changes for riders

Getting started

You need to create an account on the RUSA site. Use the link in the upper right corner. Once you have an account you will access Permanents through the My Account link.

There is a fee of $10 to cover the remainder of 2020. (Not live as of 7/29)

Registering for a ride and reporting results

Registration is online (not live yet as of 7/29). 

The registration page will have methods of searching for routes.

You will report your ride result online (not live yet as of 7/29).

Ride results are self-verified – you will click a button to promise you are truthful.

Proof of passage materials should be retained for a year in the unlikely event of a RUSA audit.

Proof of passage options

You may choose to take photos at controls, record a gps track of your ride, or use a traditional brevet card. Information controls are eliminated.

Photos: Controls will have brief instructions specifying what to photograph. At a business photograph the front of the establishment if not otherwise directed. The time embedded in a photo’s metadata is adequate for establishing when you reached a control.

GPS track: Alternately you may record a gps track of your ride.

Brevet card: Or you may use a traditional brevet card, noting times of arrival yourself.

Only the overall elapsed time matters. Intermediate controls are no longer timed. For convenience the time limit is listed in the last cue of a route, and sometimes the first as well depending on the route contributor.

Route materials

The primary route document is a Ride with GPS file. If you want a paper route sheet, you will have to create your own using RwGPS’s printing options. (There are other methods, too, discussed below.)

Likewise, if you want to use a brevet card, you must create your own.

Start locations

A significant change (for SIRs) is a loop route may be started from any control and ridden in either direction. A point-to-point may be started at either end. Generally a RwGPS file for only one start and direction will be provided. Riders must create their own route materials for other start locations or direction of travel.

As a practical matter, most gps devices will begin following a route from any point on the route. When you reach the formal end of the route you will probably have to restart navigation and continue to the control where you began your ride.

Reversing a route is a less trivial matter because of one-way streets, curious road configurations, and the possibility of hazards existing only in one direction of travel. Be careful planning a reversed route.

Free routing

All routes are now free routes. The provided RwGPS routes are only suggested ways to get from control to control; riders are free to take alternate routes so long as they pass through the controls in the sequence defined by the suggested route, and as long as the route you ride is at least as long as the suggested route. You only receive credit for the distance of the suggested route, not for any additional distance you cover. While shorter routes between controls may exist, the RUSA rule requires: “The rider must ride at least the distance of the official route. If the rider’s route ends up being shorter than the official route, the rider must make up the distance at some point during the ride (e.g., at the finish).” RUSA allows omitting additional controls to force riding the suggested route if the shorter route is deemed too hazardous by the designer or bicycling on the shorter route is illegal.

At controls

If you are recording a gps trace of your ride, you do not need to stop.

If you are taking photos, the control cue will tell you what to photograph.

If you are using a brevet card, note the time you arrived.

A practical note regarding photo controls with gps navigation: Many gps devices will not adequately display the somewhat lengthy instruction of what to photograph at a control. You should have a backup method of reading control cues. Two options are:

  • Use the free Ride with GPS app on your phone. Even if you only have a free RwGPS account you can download routes for use without cell coverage and read the cue sheet.
  • Download the route sheet and edit it and print it to just show the controls.

The routes

Due to the Covid-19 crisis only 100 km and 200 km routes are available. (200 km means routes shorter than 300 km.) Initially only existing routes are being offered; new routes will be accepted at a later date. Since RwGPS files are now the primary route documents, and are required to contain all the information that a paper route sheet would have, many routes have required extensive overhauling. Route owners were also urged to update their routes to make them as current as possible. Volunteers at RUSA are reviewing updated routes to ensure they meet the new standards. Consequently only a limited selection of routes is available right now. New routes are added every few days.

Many SIR routes will be permanently retired. Examples are: All alternate start routes, since one may now start from any control; routes that have an improved “2.0” version; routes that are very unpleasant or are ill-advised due to road changes or increased traffic volume, such as riding I-90 or US-2 over the Cascade crest.

All routes using the Centennial Trail between Snohomish and Arlington are being held back until the sinkhole in the trail is repaired. After consulting with Centennial “frequent flyers,” it was decided rerouting on parallel backroads (such as Burn Rd) would change the nature of the routes too much.

The SIR Permanents team is endeavoring to add routes to the new program as rapidly as we can. Criteria for selecting routes are:

  • Popularity based on counts of rides in the last several years
  • Geographical diversity of start locations and terrain covered
  • Whim of the volunteer who is revising a route

The RUSA route library is here. To see available routes in Washington, enter “, WA” in the location field (note the comma and space). Don’t despair if your favorite route is not available; routes are being added as rapidly as they can be processed by the chain of volunteers.

Some of the routes have significant changes due to new bike trails or other opportunities for more pleasant routing. While free routing means you can still probably ride your “old familiar” by memory, we have tried to improve the routes where possible so please try the new versions. Some routes have one or two controls added to provide alternate start locations. Other routes have seen controls moved to locations more suitable for photos.

Permanents info on the RUSA site

Go to for the latest info direct from RUSA. Direct questions to

Other route sheet printing options

If you prefer to format route sheets yourself in a spreadsheet app, here are two options to get the .csv:

  • Download the .csv:
    Click at the end of the RwGPS url in your browser and type “.csv”. Hit return and a .csv file will download to your computer.
  • Pull the route sheet into Google Sheets:
    • Copy the link to the RwGPS route.
    • Enter this formula in a cell, pasting in the link and typing “.csv” after it. Include the quotes:
      =IMPORTDATA(“copied rwgps link.csv”) 

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High Impact Detour: Bothell Landing Bridge Replacement

Replacement of the Bothell Landing pedestrian bridge will begin soon. The project is projected to finish in August of 2020. A portion of the Sammamish River Trail will be closed. A number of permanents will be affected, as well as commuters. Fortunately there is an easy detour.

Eastbound detour    Westbound detour

City of Bothell project page

Routes known to be affected: 341, 401, 1321, 1704, 1851, 3788

Thanks to Tom Brett for bringing this to the Permanent team’s attention.

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Iron Horse Unpopulaire Pre-ride Report

By Bill Gobie

Pre-riders: Bill Gobie, Jason Hansen, Keith Moore


Bright morning sun and a half hour spent inside a warm bakery mislead yours truly into underdressing at the start. After a quick stop to add clothing the pre-ride got underway in earnest. The air was very cold, and continued to be cold all the way to the tunnel. While the Iron Horse Trail’s location on the shady north-facing side of the valley makes the trail very pleasant on a hot summer day, on a cold fall day the trail is cold, period.

At the start the course follows paved streets in North Bend for a few blocks, then turns on to gravel and remains on gravel for more than 50 km, all the way to Hyak. The return is on pavement, very hard dirt, and gravel. In all there is 76 km of gravel, 10 km of hard dirt, and the balance pavement.

We rolled up the trail without mishap, this dog with his prize stick notwithstanding.

The trail is used by horseback riders. If you encounter a horse, do not ring your bell! Bells can startle horses. Call out, ask the rider for permission to pass. Some riders will want to turn their horses to face you.

There were a fair number of people using the trail. If the weather is nice on the day of the ride, expect to encounter a goodly number of hikers taking advantage of the nice conditions. There may also be families with small children on bikes.

We got some welcome sunshine crossing the big trestles. The climbing areas near the trestles were lightly populated. Be aware people belaying climbers are paying full attention to their friends up on the rock. Give them lots of warning and pass slowly.

The portable toilets had been removed from the climbing areas. Three pit toilets are available on the trail, at Alice Creek Campground, Carter Creek Campground, and at the west end of the tunnel. On the east side of the tunnel Hyak has heated restrooms. These are all noted on the route sheet.

If you’ve not been to the Snoqualmie tunnel, it is a surprisingly long way up the trail. But eventually you arrive. Since the day was cold, we did not find the interior of the tunnel significantly colder. There were a few spots dripping water from the ceiling with small puddles beneath. The surface was generally very hard, although bumpy in a few places.

The tunnel is close to the parking area at Hyak. You will almost certainly encounter pedestrians in the tunnel. Most have lights, although somehow some people are able to make their way through without any lights. Virtually none wear reflective clothing nor do any have tail lights. Distance can be hard to judge, so approach pedestrians cautiously.

When we popped out of the tunnel on the Hyak side the air was significantly warmer and we had lots of nice sunshine. Hyak has a restroom building with heated restrooms. There is a water spigot on the west side of the building (nearest the tunnel).

Continuing on the trail we saw lots of foliage putting on its fall colors. Will the show last until the ride day? You will have to ride to find out!

The turnaround point is at a large interpretive sign. The views are great from here (see picture at the top). We had a second look at the fall colors on the way back to Hyak.

From Hyak the route takes the frontage road alongside I-90, passing the ski areas. The second-steepest climbing on the route occurs here. The control at the Summit Deli/Chevron marks the high point of the route. Since this control comes after nearly 60 km of unbroken climbing, it is untimed – you are not required to reach this point within four hours elapsed time. However, if you are over four hours, don’t dally here. You will be able to make up time on the descent, but you don’t want to have to be a daredevil.

A little way from the control the route turns left onto the original pass road, Forest Service Road 58, and begins a splendid descent. On a nice day the day-use areas along Road 58 will be busy. Be aware there may be uphill car traffic around every bend and curve. Around one hairpin I encountered a car making a three-point turn, entirely blocking the road. There are a few metal plates in the road. If it has rained within the last several days the shady portions of the road may still be wet. In some places we could see moss was beginning to regrow on the road.

The fast plunge through the forest eventually ends. The route crosses I-90 and turns onto Tinkham Rd. There is an enormous hole at this turn, 43.7 mi/70.1 km!

As usual, Tinkham Rd has numerous potholes. It will be a good idea for groups to spread out on Tinkham so everyone has a clear view of the pothole fields.

Tinkham has two fixed hazards, a wooden bridge with a gap down the center at 46.6 mi/75.0 km, and a large grate resembling a diagonal cattle guard spanning the entire road at 48.6 mi /78.2 km. These are noted on the route sheet.

After Tinkham there is a 2.4 mile noisy downhill run on I-90 to the next exit. The shoulder is wide but covered with debris. Ride carefully.

Exiting onto Homestead Valley Rd you will regain peace and quiet. From Homestead the route rejoins the Iron Horse Trail, but you have to work to do so! The steepest climbing on the route occurs on this short pitch. From there the rest of the ride is all downhill and then nearly level into North Bend.

To find the exit from the trail look for a building with a chain link fence topped with barbed wire. At the start of the ride the cue sheet prompts you to look at this fence as you pass it. From there it’s a minute or two to the ride finish at The Pour House.

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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.


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.


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

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


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!



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



  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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