Author Archives: Bill Gobie

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.

 

Further comments are disabled. Please respond or post questions on Facebook or the SIR email list.

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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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