by Ray, Hugh, John, Rachel and Theo
Note: The 6/29/2019 Last Chance 400K and 600K follow the same routes described here.
Magnificent views a little gravel and a lot of hills? We’ve got all that and more in these returns to the wonderful 2017 Chuckamano Views 400K route from 2017. We’ve also added a 200K extension to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River to create a 600K brevet option. The original report covers most of what you’ll want to know for the first 400K, but in this report we’ll provide a few updates as well as information about the 200K extension.
Leaving the Bear Creek Park and Ride on Sunday morning, Rachel and Theo were surprised to find themselves shivering in the mist, trying to warm up on the first few hills. So much for Epic Ride Weather, an app Theo has recently become obsessed with! Though, in truth, its promises of headwinds for the first 200K of their 400K pre-ride would bear out all too accurately. On the upside, the cold, inverted weather held a beautiful layer of cloud in valley trees, making for a lovely view looking down from Broadway rolling toward Snohomish. But let this be a reminder: Bring a warm layer as it could be cold at the start and again on the way back to Redmond via the Centennial trail, even if daytime temperatures are forecast to be nice and hot.
This theme of beauty along the route was a constant for all six pre-riders—and they’re confident that you’ll experience the same. Hugh remarked on the striking flowers, everywhere along the course: California poppies, buttercups, fox glove, daises, and a lot more. He also had this to say about the stiff climb out of Fairhaven: “I enjoyed the climb out of Fairhaven. It was on a small road with many turns and well-kept properties. It reminded me of roads in France.” Whether you have the presence of mind to imagine the roads of the South of France, where the ACP Super Randonneur 600K challenge was born, or not will, depend on your gearing. Bring something low enough that you can settle into a steady spin, or be prepared to stand up and go! (Perhaps easier said than done if one fills up on too much pizza and beer at the open control in Fairhaven.)
From Fairhaven, the routes diverge from the 2017 original and skips Deming altogether. Instead, you’ll ride along Lake Whatcom through the incredibly striking Sudden Valley. Here, preriders saw many deer, experienced a bit of car traffic (likely dependant on time of day), and wondered what it would cost to move into one of the triple-size homes along the gorgeous lake and take up watersports… but they kept pedaling anyway.
Eventually, the winding roads of Sudden Valley meet Highway 9. 600K riders will turn right, riding south toward Sedro Woolley. 400K riders will turn left, riding north to an info control in Acme before turning around to catch up with the 600K riders. For this next section of the rote, whichever distance you’ve chosen, you’ll be on the narrow-to-nonexistent shoulder of the highway and it pays to remain attentive and cautious throughout. Traffic here seems to vary widely by time of day. Hugh specifically mentioned that this section was good. Rachel and Theo were passed by car after car, including a semi-trailer truck which zoomed by much too close, clearly in excess of the speed limit, and nearly hit an oncoming car. Theo rode most of these miles looking over his shoulder. Perhaps a rearview mirror would be advisable. In any case, please be attentive as you ride and be sure to stop and don your reflective gear (vest and ankle bands) and turn on your lights as the day wears on and grows dark.
Both routes return to Redmond via the Centennial Trail (Arlington to Snohomish) and short section of the Sammamish and Marymoor Connector Trails. A welcome respite from car traffic and stop lights, these trails can have a somnolent effect on some riders (looking at you, Theo). But don’t sleep on your bike! Stay alert and on the watch for the many bollards along the way—there are even a few without reflective tape—we don’t want you to hit them. You can, however, sleep at the Redmond Inn, where 600K riders will have their overnight control and 400K riders are encouraged to have a bite to eat and close their eyes for at least a few minutes before attempting to drive home. Better yet, book a room and get several hours of sleep. Driving home after a 400K may seem reasonable when you’re full of energy from the excitement of finishing, but it can be very unsafe as your body will be very tired.
Day 2 finds our tired but determined 600K riders warming their way up Union Hill before dropping down into the cool fog of the Snoqualmie Valley. After a quick stop in Carnation for some hot coffee, there’s a nice section of hard-packed gravel to get you ready for the crown jewel of the day—the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River. The newer asphalt rolls like butter as you take in the views of the river, mountains and forests. If you’re tuckered out at the end of the road near the campground, don’t despair as it’s mostly a nice downhill cruise all the way back to North Bend.
The return back to Snoqualmie features some smooth-rolling gravel. It’s a bit of a climb up to Snoqualmie Ridge, but the steep, flowing descent down Lake Alice Road makes it all seem worthwhile. Don’t get too complacent though, as the climb up the Preston–Fall City Road reminds you that gravity is king! From there, it’s a nice cruise on the mostly shaded Issaquah-Preston gravel trail.
The stretch from Issaquah to Black Diamond is your typical highly-trafficked Sunday bike ride. From the southern terminus of the route, it’s a quick jaunt up WA-169 before more gravel along the ever-pleasing Lake Wilderness. The miles flow quickly on the Cedar River Trail into Renton as you ride mostly downhill like a salmon on its journey to the ocean. The section through Renton is not the typical SIR route, so pay close attention to the cues as you near end of the trail: Instead of exiting onto Mill Avenue and crossing over Houser Way you will take a right turn on the bridge across the Cedar River, hang a quick left and then a sharp right onto Houser Way. Use caution as traffic can be moving quickly on Houser and you’ll need to quickly move 3 lanes to the left to be set up to go straight onto Factory Avenue at the traffic signal.
From there, it’s your typical cruise up Lake Washington Boulevard. Make sure you REALLY DO STOP at all those stop signs, now with additional verbiage spelling it out. No good SIR ride can end without some hills and, yes, there are a few as you make your way onto the I-90 bike trail, through the neighborhood streets and back to the finish at the Redmond Inn.
Additional ride details, RWGPS links and preregistration available on seattlerando.org