Author Archives: Theo Roffe

About Theo Roffe

SIR Newsletter/Blog Editor RUSA 5988

Pre Ride for 200/300K on April 15,2017

by Millison Fambles

The 200k and 300k rides will be run concurrently for the first 80 miles starting at Bertolino Coffee Bar 2421 S Union Tacoma 98405.

The ride starts along the Scott Pierson Trail. This trail has lots of turns and uses crosswalks and sidewalks as it follows along Hwy 16 to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The view from the bridge is spectacular and is a great photo opportunity.  Four miles later, you will be zooming down the hill into old town Gig Harbor. There is a bit of road construction along the water but it should not slow anyone down on a Saturday morning. The congestion and number of turns decreases once you have left Purdy, just in time for the Kitsap climbing to begin. Pine Rd starts the fun and it continues pretty much until WA-3.

The first control is in Belfair and there are a wide variety of food options: Safeway, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc. There is road construction for a short stretch through town. The route follows Hood Canal for a few miles before it makes a sharp and steep climb up E. Trails Rd to Mason Lake. Keep your eyes peeled through the clearcuts for glimpses of the Olympics and Mt Rainier. The next control is at the Airport Grocery outside of Shelton. Please be extra courteous and clean. We were scolded last year for leaving trash outside. If you are going to leave water for the following riders, please leave it neatly next to the trash can.

Follow US-101 south to Steamboat Island Rd. where we escape the business of the highway for the quiet lap along Madrona Beach.  Shortly after the climb up and out of the Delphi Valley, the route splits and the 200k cuts through south Olympia and the 300k continues south the explore the hills and valleys of the Doty Hills.

The 200:

Off Delphi, there are a few new roads to an info control. Congestion increases as the route goes through South Olympia and Tumwater. There are lots of services through this area. Cleveland Rd becomes Yelm Hwy and is busy but has a wide bike lane. Watch for merging and turning traffic. There is an info control then a fast descent into the Nisqually River Valley. Fort Lewis limits our road options for heading north so there will be a 1.5 mile stretch on I-5. Use caution if there are trucks merging to use the scales.  There are plenty of food options in Dupont and only 28k to go.  Continue past the Amazon fulfillment center, the Ft Lewis firing range, the Jack Nicklaus designed VA golf course and across Steilacoom Lake as you wind north through Lakewood. The final 10k follows city streets to the finish.

The 300:

Continues down the valley to Littlerock (services) and Mima Gate to the “End of the Trail” control in Rochester. Stock up on food and water here, there are no services for 50km. After a short stretch on US-12, the route turns into the hills and meanders through quiet, rural hills ending with a beautiful descent down the Lincoln Creek Valley. There is a control at Safeway in Centralia and then easy riding on 507 to Bucoda, Tenino and then on the trail to Rainier. Then, head north to East Olympia and then follow the 200k route to the finish.

Almost half of the elevation gain is in the first 50K, so the Belfair control is well timed for a break. The 200 route has services along the whole route. The 300 has a 50k gap from Rochester to Centralia without anything.

The weather forecast is looking good, but is has been and wet spring.

It helps if you preregister: http://seattlerando.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=608

See you Saturday morning at Bertolino’s.

Millison

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Permanent Change: The Arboretum Trail

by Bill Gobie

1801 Club Car Populaire

2596 Luck O’ the Drawbridges

The first portion of the UW Arboretum Trail opened in the last week of March. The trail parallels Lake Washington Blvd from E Madison St to Arboretum Drive. The two permanents listed above have been moved onto the trail. Southbound in particular, the trail allows riders to avoid the steep climb to E Madison St on Lake Washington Blvd. This location often carries heavy car traffic.

Currently the south end of the trail near E Madison St is not safely connected to Madison or Lake Washington Blvd. The maps below illustrate ways to access the trail. (Note the trail is not mapped yet in Google Maps.)

Accessing the trail when northbound on Lake Washington Blvd is relatively easy. Immediately after crossing E Madison St take the “soft right” onto 31st Ave E. Then turn left onto the trail. Be cautious of cars making the free right from Madison.

Southbound is a little more complicated. Turning left from 31st Ave E onto Lake Washington Blvd is difficult because of the free right from Madison and often heavy traffic on Lake Washington Blvd. The following method has been tested and works well:

From the trail cross 31st Ave E and go left through the gas station. Go to the farthest driveway. Turn right on E Madison St. To go south on Lake Washington Blvd immediately get into the left turn lane.

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Olympia 200K – March 25, 2017 – Pre-ride Report


“On three, we’re going to stand, right foot first. One. Two. Three!” Corey and I (Theo) stood up and pedaled in synch, making short work of the hill. It was my first time as stoker (riding on the back seat) of a tandem, but my second time on the Top Rung 200K course. Most of the climbing is in the first half of the route, so don’t get discouraged if you’re going up slowly, or figuring out how to share a bike! There’s still the second half to make up time.

For the first several hours of our pre-ride, it rained heavily. We felt for our friends riding the Spring 200K brevet in the Snoqualmie Valley. They had the same rain forecast for the entire day. In Yelm, we stopped to eat… and ring out our socks. I bought a pair of dish gloves in a desperate bid for dry hands (they worked).

After our break, we resumed the rolling hills and lovely back roads past Harts Lake and Lake Lawrence. Corey captained the tandem around each turn with confidence and experience, but it’s a strange feeling to give up control and not steer the bike! As a few experienced stokers had suggested, I tried closing my eyes on the descents. But that was too much! It felt better to see the road ahead, trusting Corey’s skill, than to keep my eyes shut. And if you close your eyes, you’ll miss out on the natural beauty of this part of the ride.

We kept up a steady conversation, slowing our words only to pedal harder up the hills. The rain lightened up as we checked out the first three info controls and the sun started to come out. I hoped that the morning’s rain was enough to appease the fates and ensure good weather for brevet-day riders!

From Tenino to the course’s only timed control, in Oakville, navigation is fairly simple: Highway 12 to 183rd, back to Highway 12. It’s not my favorite set of roads in the area, but the shoulder is decent and navigation is easy. To be honest, I tuned out quite a bit of this stretch, looking down at my feet and watching the cranks turn. Corey attended to the road, and took the brunt of our headwind. I enjoyed my simple role as motor and turn signal!

The End of the Trail Shell station has plenty of snacking options, so don’t worry if you’re running low on fuel for the final 50k of the ride. Load up here and you’ll be fine. From the gas station, it’s only a short return on Highway 12 before getting onto more appealing roads: Moon, Mima Gate and Mima. Even their names are appealing! Down to the right of these winding roads, the Black River and Mima Creek overflowed their banks, swollen with heavy spring rain. The tiny trees of Weyerhaeuser’s Mima Nursery looked like a vast, green shag carpet as we rolled by. We passed by the famous Mima mounds. With the wind now mostly at our back, we sped along, making up time.

As we passed the failed logging town of Bordeaux, the sun began to descend towards Capitol State Forest in the west. Then we rode through Little Rock, where the post office and taco truck are the same size. It’s a straight shot from Little Rock to Tumwater. But the route’s zig-zags through Olympia will have you carefully watching your cue sheet all the way to the Woodland Trail. There, be sure to cross two bridges to get past I-5, but not the third bridge over Martin way. And take care when merging across Martin to the protected left turn lane. If traffic is heavy, you can skip the merge and stay right all the way to the intersection, using the crosswalks to get on Sleater Kinney Road. Shortly thereafter, Britton Parkway throws in a few more hills because you’ve got to earn those Top Rung beers at the finish!

This is a fun ride and last year’s edition saw a number of personal record finish times. If you, like many of us, have spent much of the winter off the bike, this route is a great opportunity to get riding again. It’s just hard enough to make you sore, but not so tough that you should doubt your ability to finish.

Please pre-register online. It helps the organizers a lot!

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Permanent Change: Portland

by Bill Gobie

[This is a new series of posts called Permanent Change which will describe significant changes to a permanent route. The first post in the series is about the popular, and reversible, route connecting Seattle, Olympia and Portland.]

0918 Seattle to Portland (reversible)

1124 Olympia to Portland (reversible)

The new route in Portland finishes near many places to control, eat and drink.

These permanent routes recently received a makeover at the Portland end. Susan Otcenas pointed out the old routes had several drawbacks: The numerous railroad crossings on NW Front Ave, and the unappealing atmosphere and lack of services at the terminus, Union Station (Amtrak). Susan suggested moving the terminus to somewhere in the Pearl District.

Portland’s Pearl District is infested with trolley tracks and confounded by one-way streets, making bicycle routing challenging, particularly remotely from Seattle! With input from Theo Roffe, the terminus has been moved to the Safeway at NW Lovejoy St & NW 13th Ave. Within one block of the Safeway there are several coffee shops, restaurants, and a brewpub, providing choices for riders wishing to take advantage of the open control. The Amtrak station is an easy 0.8 km from the Safeway on trolley-free streets. The route sheets are supplemented with directions to the station.

Also with Theo’s advice, a route to Highway 30 was laid out that avoids streets with parallel trolley tracks.

James Walsh rode revised the Portland to Olympia route in January 2017 and pronounced it great!
Theo rode the Seattle to Portland route in February 2017, so both directions have been checked.

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Spring 200K – March 18, 2017

The 2017 Seattle Spring 200k is Saturday, March 18, starting at 07:00 am.

This is an early season ride starting at the Northshore Athletic Fields in Woodinville (14735 NE 145th St) and wandering around Lake Sammamish and Carnation before finishing up at the Redhook Brewery (14300 NE 145th St).

We ride south on the Sammamish river trail, down the east side of Lake Sammamish before climbing to the Issaquah Highlands. After a quick decent into the valley we go right by Sandy’s in Carnation on our way to Snohomish. From there we head north on the Centennial trail to the Bryant store, our northern most point. On the way back we go back through Snohomish before climbing Broadway on our way back to Woodinville and the finish at the Redhook Brewery.

Pre-registration and additional details on the SIR website.

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Spring Populaire – March 11, 2017

 

Artwork by Alice Stribling, San Francisco Randonneuers www.alicestribling.com

Start the 2017 season with our 100 km Populaire Ride!

Bring your friends, wives, husbands, boyfriends, or girlfriends (or both).

Come ride with us (for free) and find out what randonneuring is about. Show up a bit early: we’ll answer your questions and give you a few pointers to help you use the route sheet, as well. The ride will start and end in Seattle. Unlike many of our routes this really is an easy route. [Editor’s note: You hear assurances like this a lot, but, in this case, it’s true.]

 

Date:        March 11, 2017

Location:           Woodland Park Tennis Courts Parking Lot

Green Lake Way N at N 52nd St, Seattle WA 98103

Time:               Register, sign waiver 0815-0900

Ride Start:        0900 (really)

Ride Ends:         Zeek’s Pizza, 6000 Phinney Ave N, Seattle WA 98103

(It’s a 5 minute ride back to the park and it’s all down hill)

Register:           Online at www.seattlerandonneur.org  until March 9

                              Pre-registration helps the ride organizers plan the logistics.

Route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/19202557 (There may be changes after the pre-ride, so check back close to the ride date for the most current route)

Questions:  Andy Speier: andy @ peakrescue.org

Membership:       Not required!

Lights:              Not required! [Editor’s note: Feel free to bring your lights. Please use in solid mode front and rear.]

Fenders:           Not required, but you’ll make more friends if you have them. [Editor’s note: Buddy flap = bonus points]

Tools:               This is an unsupported ride. You are expected to be able to be self-sufficient in the event you get a flat tire or need to  perform a routine repair on your bicycle.

The Route:         This is a new route. We are trying to encourage and recruit new members, so we tried to bypass the truly nasty hills of previous years. We have removed the longer, confusing section of the Interurban Trail.  This is a fun ride! You will need to pay attention to the cue sheet. There are great views of the sound and the Olympic Mountains. You’ll ride west to Golden Gardens, follow a bit of the Interurban Trail North, enjoy a delightful descent down Perkins Way, zip along the Burke Gilman out to the Sammamish Trail to Redmond, and then head back to Seattle with the inevitable climb back up to the top of Phinney Ridge. Finish is at Zeeks Pizza.

Food:               We will provide coffee and snacks at the start of the ride. At the halfway point Control in Redmond there is a Peet’s Coffee, a Whole Foods and several other commercial food places in the shopping center.

 

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WTS # 8 – Carol’s Century 2/25/2017

Starting at 8 am on Saturday, Feb. 25, this is the final and longest ride in our eight-part Winter Training Series.

The Greater Seattle Century (GSC) was the first century (101 miles) ever ridden by Ralph & Carol in the mid-1990’s.  Designed by Carol (hence Carol’s Century), the route takes you on a wide clockwise circle around Seattle with a variety of terrain with many flat stretches interrupted by a few steep hills. We start by heading north along the Burke-Gilman Trail to Bothell, then along mostly quiet backcountry roads through Woodinville, Maltby, Carnation, Fall City, Issaquah and Maple Valley. The GSC then follows the Cedar River Trail to Renton and returns to Magnuson Park via Seward Park, Lake Washington Blvd. and the Burke Gilman Trail.

There is a total of approximately 3,400 feet elevation gain from beginning to end.

Please help out the Ride Leaders by Pre-Registering at: https://www.cascade.org/node/39538

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WTS #7 Conway-Fairhaven-Chuckanut-Edison 2/18/17

Go North young men and women!

Winter training series # 7 Starts in Conway, parking along Dike Rd.  We start at 9:00 AM. Sign up on line on the Cascade website and I will check the box for you when you arrive. Print out your own personalized cue sheet from Ride With GPS: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/17840307

Same route as before, East to Hwy 9 then North and west across to Chuckanut and south through the farming towns of Bow and Edison.

So far 20% chance of showers.

Coffee and eating in Edison or Bow and then there is the Conway Pub and Eatery for acres ride dining.

-Noel Howes

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WTS 6: Kent-Dash & Brown Pts-Black Diamond – February 11, 2017

Hello Randonneurs!

All ready for some nicer weather? Looks like we may get some this Saturday, 2/11.

Come on down for our next training ride. No bothersome paperwork – just riding.

Remember that Soos Creek start won’t accommodate enough cars so we request you park at Kentridge School, 0.5 miles away.

Ralph has rerouted to avoid Green Valley Rd. Closure – his alternate route has an intriguing (on street view at least) climb that I have not done. He also calls out a fine looking espresso establishment in place of the BD Bakery.

RwGPS: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/18026610

Print out your own custom cue sheet – sign in on the Cascade site and I can just put a tick mark by your name when you arrive at the start: http://www.cascade.org/node/39536

Did I say “no paperwork”?

-Noel Howes

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PCH Randonneurs Five Rivers 300k

A trip and ride report by Andy Speier with a few comments from Jeff Loomis

Andy (L) and Jeff (R) enjoy some sunshine.

The opportunity to ride 300 km in weather above 40 degrees sounded good. After riding several sub-40 degree rides in January, I was in need of some re-warming. The flat 5 Rivers 300 out of Corona sounded like it would do the trick. I sent out an email to my local guys and Jeff responded back. Yes, he would love to get a 300 in early in the season but did not want to sacrifice a day off from work. Ok. Less than ideal, but, with a flight out of Seattle at 5:00 P.M., we could do it and be in bed by before midnight. With an 0600 start we could get 5 hours of sleep. More than an overnight control. Perfect.

As with all plans, they started to crumble a bit on the day of the departure. Alaska Airlines alerted us to a delay of 45 minutes. As the day progressed, it became 90 minutes. No harm done. We arrived and waited for our rental car. Jeff had spoken to me at length about the advantage of using Avis and being a “Preferred Member,” so I have reserved a car and enrolled in their program. There is only one Avis guy on duty. A family of 8 is working through the details of their reservation with 4 children running around. The insurance liability conversation seems to go on forever. Jeff is lecturing me on the virtues of the Preferred member status and that I have not attained that designation. [Jeff:  Unfortunately this is an accurate accounting.]  At one point a second clerk appears and he inquires whether any of us are Preferred Members. I say I am. He asks if my name is Chappman. It is not, so he calls the next person in line. When it is my turn, he asks to see my ID, hands me a car key and calls the next person. Apparently, I am in the club. They are just a bit less organized at John Wayne Airport.

Our transportation is an SUV that swallows up our bikes and bags with room to spare. Off to Corona. A 27-29 minute drive on 55 and 91. There is some mention of a toll road, but it is now 11:30 at night. Traffic is flowing quite well. Off we go. After about 10 minutes the traffic slows and then STOPS. Jeff consults his mobile app. There seems to be a long red line. How long? Very long. I will spare you the details: our 29 minute drive becomes 2 hours. Wow. We arrive at the hotel at 1:30. The bad news is there is only one bed. The good news is that it is a king and there is plenty of room.

Now the fun stuff: build up the bikes. My bike is done in an hour. Jeff finishes soon after. [Jeff:  We made the decision to go fender-free because it is California and it speeds the assembly/disassembly process.]  I am in bed by 2:45. Jeff by 3:00. Up at 0500. 2 hours in bed. Yes, this is a 300 with an overnight control.

Morning upon us, we check in with Terry, the ride organizer, at 0530. There are around 14 participants. Nearly all from the LA and San Diego area. Michelle has flown in from Minnesota. The CA folks are bundled up. Jeff and I not so much. It is 54 degrees at the start. Within the hour we will be stripped down to short sleeve wool jerseys, shorts and fingerless gloves. At one point sunglasses are critical to being able to see. [Jeff:  We received many comments during the day about our lack of clothing.]

The route is 80 percent on paved bike trails. Though there has been recent rain and local flooding,  there is little sign of this on the trails. [Jeff:  A few puddles early in the day make us briefly regret the lack of fenders.  Andy rides straight through some of these, having forgotten his bike is naked.] The trails mostly follow rivers, waterways and freeways. This would not be described as a beautiful cycling adventure on rural quiet roads. Often there is the sound of highway traffic. When not along a highway, the trails run alongside rivers and waterways. Most are empty or trickling and filled with debris along the sides. There is much garbage in the trees.  [Jeff:  many of the trails are bordering older neighborhoods that now appear to be low-income areas.  Interestingly, there are large clusters of shacks and paddocks housing horses right here in the city.]

I did this ride last year and saw several homeless tent sites. This year there are tent cities along the trail. Most of these we pass by during daylight hours. There are large cities under the overpasses and at night this will resemble a scene from a Mad Max movie. The good news is that there appear to be several bike repair / replacement shops within the cities. Enter at your own peril.

Andy on top of the Santa Fe Dam

[Jeff:  Heading into Long Beach we chat with a new randonneur from the area.  He is interested in our bikes and has clearly been reading Bicycle Quarterly.  A new recruit!  Andy has much to share…  A bit later Andy is stopped to answer nature’s call and a guy riding the other way on the trail sees our bikes and asks if we are on the Five Rivers ride!  It turns out he has ridden in in a previous year.  He offered to take our photo (at top of post.)]

Across the River from Compton LA River and bike path

[Jeff:  Near this point we also pass a small convoy of mini-bikes and maybe one full-on motorcycle riding the other way on the bike path!]

We hit the Pacific Coast Highway and cycle through towns of Sunset, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach. There is an option to ride the bike trail along the coast and that is a blast. A bit slower than the highway, but it is the beach. The ocean. Waves. Did I mention we were cycling in shorts? Though it becomes windy, it is not a blow in your face knock you down wind, and we are quite happy. It has got to be one of the flattest 300 routes you will find. Terry has done an awesome job of linking up the various trails.

Between the route sheet and Jeff’s ride with GPS app, we get around quite well. We, of course, blow a couple of turns in the dark and add a few bonus miles here and there. “No flats or mechanicals,” I’m thinking as we are 6 km from the finish, topping the hill on a bike trail with a small group of randos. I hear something fall off my bike, but write it off to a stick, as everything on my bike is packed up well. The bike is still functioning and we are beginning to descend. (Note to self: stop and check the bike.) Jeff notices that my chain has too much slack and that something is wrong. I continue to pedal thinking I am not in gear. Then it dawns on me. I stop and investigate and, sure enough, I have lost the lower rear derailleur jockey wheel. Hmmm. Not good. Jeff is upset. We are so close to the end.

I tell Jeff I’m going to go back to look for it. Jeff is skeptical. “You’ll never find it in the dark,” he tells me. [Jeff:  Andy reminds me I am a “naysayer.”  Guilty.]  We turn around and start to ascend the hill we just descended. My bike does not want to go up hill so I run up the hill. I pull out a spare light and begin searching. Found the jockey wheel. Ok. So far so good. How about the bolt? Found it. Jeff is shocked. So am I. Jeff looks for the bushing and side plates, but I’m good with what we found and re-assemble it. A bit of friction, but it actually works. I can use all the gears and I can stand up and pedal going uphill. The bonus is, on the way bac,k I find my spare gear cable and the hotel room key, which I  lost when getting my light out.

We are a couple of km from the finish when we come upon road construction. Road closed. The Police Officer gives us directions and, after climbing a fairly long multi-block hill, we check Google Maps directions: we are now 4 km from the finish. Nothing ever comes easy. At this point it is downhill and flat with more downhill. We arrive at the Best Western Hotel, but don’t know what room Terry is in. The hotel clerk is not allowed to tell me, so I ask him to call. Done. Room 116. Pizza and snacks are waiting. It is nearly 10:00 pm. Not as impressive as our finish just after 7:00 last year, but it was a comfortable 300 in good weather and company.

Back in our room, we take our bikes apart and, just after midnight, we are back in bed. Bikes packed with an afternoon flight, we are all set. Real sleep tonight.

We receive an alert from Alaska airlines of a flight delay. We arrive at the airport and it is delayed yet again. Again, a 90 minute delay. Such is life. If all goes well, we’ll land safely and be home by 6:00 tonight…

Whew!

 

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