Monthly Archives: March 2017

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!

Leave a Comment

Filed under SIR Rides

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.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Permanent Change

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.

Leave a Comment

Filed under SIR Rides