Crystal Blue Persuasion 300k Pre-Ride
By Joe Llona
The ride starts off through downtown Renton and on to the Cedar River Trail. At Maple Valley the trail turns to hard-packed gravel and turns onto the Cedar River to Green River Trail. The 4 mile section is really hard packed and riding it with 25’s was a non-issue, except for at three underpasses that get pretty dark. No issues there either really except that I was guessing and the gravel was a little looser there. Just go slower and maybe take the dark glasses off and you’ll be fine.
You get onto the highway for a few miles near Black Diamond and then turn left and go down to the Green River Gorge then climb back up to Cumberland, where the first control will be. This will be staffed and water will be available. Restrooms are available about a mile further down from the control at Nolte State Park.
Continuing onto Enumclaw and then onto Highway 410, which can be pretty busy at times. This will be compounded by the chip sealing operation in that has been in progress for several weeks. This is the case most of the way from Enumclaw to Crystal Mountain Blvd, with a few (very relieving) breaks. No loose tar to gunk up the frame, but lots of loose gravel scattered on the shoulders. Tire size is not an issue, but tire durability is. On the pre-ride there were three flats from the loose rocks on the shoulder. What I would recommend is if you can, bring a bike without fenders. Saturday I rode a bike with fenders with a tight clearance and had several times where a rock jammed between the fender and the tire, usually clearing itself in a few rotations but once I had to stop and remove the wheel to clear it. There are no fog lines and the rumble strips are difficult to see but definitely still there. There has been progress from week to week, with the road sealed in some places already (was not the case the week before) but still no striping.
After about 30 miles on 410 you turn onto Crystal Mountain Boulevard (CMB). Before you make that turn though, take inventory of your water bottles. There is water available 1 mile before the turn onto CMB at Silver Springs Campground on your right. The climb is on a nice road, consistent 6% grade for first 4 miles then levels for a bit then climbs again. If it’s warm it will be a two-water-bottle-climb.
At the top you will find another SIR staffed control. There will be sandwiches, snacks and drinks. Water and restrooms are available and there is a store and a food truck as well.
The descent is fast and easy, then back onto loose chip seal and headwinds on 410. At Mud Mountain Road you are off the chip seal project for good. The descent of Mud Mountain road to Enumclaw is exhilarating, but be wary of on-coming cars coming around the bends.
Back onto 410 (no chip seal project on this stretch) then through Buckley, Burnett, Wilkeson, and Carbonado. The weather forecast is for it to be pretty warm, so I’d recommend stopping in Burnett or Wilkeson for water before the gentle rolling climb up to the Carbon River Ranger Station. At the end of the road you will find the Old Ranger Station and an SIR control staffed by an old ranger. There will be water and drinks available there.
From Carbon River you backtrack down to Wilkeson, and then continue descending to South Prairie, where you get on the beautiful Foothills Trail and parallel the Carbon River into Orting. As you approach Orting, make sure you look behind you for some awesome views of Mt. Rainier. The Orting control is not staffed, but there is a Safeway and a Subway at the shopping center along the course.
Continuing on the Foothill Trail towards Puyallup and Sumner the rest of the ride is pancake flat except for an overpass or two. There are multiple unsigned crossings before your right turn onto Shaw Rd. E, which is clearly signed. In Sumner the White River Trail should be easy to find from the cue sheet, but shortly after you get on it, there are two places that can become confusing, at least in the dark – just remember to take the left fork of the trail two times and keep the warehouse to your right and you’ll stay on course.
As you approach Pacific, you’re off the White River Trail and then eventually onto Interurban Trail, with clear sailing to Renton, but look out for track crossings, the last one’s pretty bad. In Renton you work your way back to the finish at Fred Meyer, where you began.
Steve put an awesome course together here and except for the chip-sealing on 410 I think you will find the ride very worthwhile. See you on Saturday.