RUSA 20th Anniversary Populaire (8/18/2018): Pre-ride report

by Jeff Loomis

This populaire celebrates Randonneurs USA’s 20th anniversary. All finishers will receive a commemorative medal.

 

We met at the 65th Street Portage Bay Cafe.  It’s a good place to fuel up for the ride and is very near to the park-and-ride start.  If you would like to do the same, make a reservation because they are busy.  Bus Stop Espresso, Broadcast Coffee, Whole Foods, and Wayward Vegan Cafe are also in the vicinity.  The later than normal 11:00 a.m. start allows plenty of time for pre-ride eating and pushes the post-ride party into the evening hours.

 

Leaving the start, riders will make their way along Ravenna Blvd to the Burke Gilman Trail.  There is a bit of navigating to get over the Montlake Bridge to the 520 trail.  Make friends with any out-of-town riders to help them through this part.  Once on the 520, we didn’t see Mt. Rainier views due to the first cloudy day in months, but the event riders can hope for some nice views.

 

After the bridge we headed south through Medina near the homes of Bill Gates and other elites.  Nearing downtown Bellevue we passed through a waterfront neighborhood with some nice mid-century houses.  After downtown we grunted up the first serious climb of the ride, followed by some other older Bellevue neighborhoods on the way to the I-90 trail.  We mixed it up with some of the riders on the Obliteride charity ride and get some cheers from their supporters.

 

U-turn on the I-90 trail.

 

The loop around Mercer Island is always pleasant and we enjoyed the winding roads under the cool shade of the trees.  The less pleasant I-90 bridge trail was a good opportunity to push the tandem across in minimum time.

We leave the trail before the tunnel to make the fun descent to Lake Washington Blvd. and enjoy the views on the way to the Seward Park.  The park restrooms are convenient if you need to stop and there is water available at the fountain across the street.

 

 

Dave enjoys some blackberries.

 

 

Circling Seward Park.

 

 

We circle Seward Park and catch another info control.  Shortly after leaving the park is another steep climb up Orcas St. that was new to me.  We then have to connect the beautiful parts of the ride with a trip through the working industrial zone between Beacon Hill and West Seattle.  Watch for the Chili Dog stand to find the best route to the 1st Ave. Bridge bike path.

 

Editor’s note: this is not a chili dog.

 

West Seattle is reached by climbing Highland Park Way which is not the most bike friendly route but there aren’t really any nice ways to the top of the hill.  Fortunately weekend traffic isn’t that heavy.  Getting across West Seattle to the shoreline involves several more ups and downs where Dave starts questioning my route creation abilities.  Finally we drop down to Fauntleroy via a fun series of switchbacks.  It will be even more fun for those of you who don’t have a nervous stoker on the back of a tandem.  A traditional gas station control is a good place to grab a cold coke or maybe a $1.50 taco from the truck that is permanently stationed there.  Most of the climbing is done at this point so if you are close to the time limit you shouldn’t have a problem finishing.

 

The iconic Seattle views continue around Alki point with a control stop at the lighthouse.  On the day of the pre-ride, the road is closed for a Sub Pop event which will culminate with a Pearl Jam appearance later on.  We walk and shuffle through the crowds and then jump on the trail to reach the West Seattle Bridge.

 

 

 

Views from West Seattle

 

Cruise ship passengers and ferry arrivals keep us on our toes through the waterfront.  The route goes through Myrtle Edwards Park, but Dave points out that next weekend during the ride, Hemp Fest will be taking place.  It may be possible to walk your bike through the crowds of potheads and pick up some supplies if that’s your thing…  We scoped out a less scenic detour on Elliott Ave. until we can rejoin the trail at the Galer St. flyover.

 

We enjoy the quiet trails and ship canal views before crossing the bridge into Fremont, the Center of the Universe.  A gentle climb up Stone Way brings us to Green Lake and the final two uphill blocks to the finish.  There was no welcoming party for us, but the Populaire riders will find a party underway.

Please preregister for the ride so we can be sure to have enough food and drink for everyone!

Check out the route on Ride with GPS.

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2018 Barlow Pass 400K Pre-Ride Report

by Jeff Loomis

Ron Himschoot and I checked the route for the Barlow Pass 400k. It is unchanged from previous years except for two construction detours on the Interurban Trail in the Lynnwood area. The first detour is short and signed relatively clearly. The second requires leaving the trail behind the Kohl’s store and riding parallel on Alderwood Mall Parkway / Manor Way for a few miles. All the riders should be past that section quite early in the morning so traffic interaction will not be a problem.

There are several options for the first control in downtown Snohomish. We opted to stop at the traditional Snohomish Bakery at First and Main, which has great pastries, restrooms, and a water spigot to top off your bottles. Leaving Snohomish, you will enjoy many quiet miles on the Centennial Trail.

Once off the trail and onto Route 9, we shortly climb up Finn Settlement Road. Ron was not a fan of the extra climbing, but it is quite pleasant to be on a quiet road. The descent back to Route 9 is very enjoyable as well.

Welcome to Concrete!

After passing Big Lake and Clear Lake on Route 9, the turn onto Old Day Creek Road offers a very steep climb to wake up the legs. Once down the other side the quiet South Skagit Highway leads to Concrete, the next control. Cascade Burgers offers the standard drive-in burger, fries, and shake experience along with friendly service. For those who would like to exercise better control discipline, the neighboring gas station stocks the usual basics. The adventurous are free to foray into Concrete proper where another bar and café might be open.

Leaving Concrete the way we came, we enjoy the quiet-but-chip-sealed Concrete Sauk Valley Road before joining the busier highway along the Sauk River into Darrington. This is not a control, but riders should ensure that they stock up with enough water to make it to the top of the Barlow Pass climb.

The paved portion of the Mountain Loop Highway is freshly chip sealed, but otherwise in good condition. The gravel is also in relatively good shape, but there is one short work zone with loose gravel.  Several short, steep pitches are quite washboardy. I had no issues making the climb on 32mm tires. At the top of the climb there will be a staffed control with food and water available. The extended paved descent to Granite Falls is interrupted by one short gravel section, well signed in advance.

There will be a staffed control at the top of Barlow Pass.

With the adventure portion of the ride done, the rest of the route follows SIR standard roads to Lake Roesiger and the Sultan control. There is a 24-hour Chevron available to meet your late night caffeine needs.

From Sultan to the finish there will be few surprises. Some riders may not yet have enjoyed the short, steep climb up from the Burke Gilman trail. You’re welcome! You may be tempted to stop at your car when passing the Park and Ride, but make the short trip up the hill to the finish where we should have a few treats waiting for you.

The ride details and online registration can be found here:

https://sir.clubexpress.com/content.aspx?page_id=4002&club_id=928629&item_id=827539

 

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Crescent Beach Summer 300 km Brevet Pre-ride Report

by Bill Gobie, ride organizer

Pre-riders: Peg Winczewski, Mitch Ishihara, and Adam Glass

 — Important Notes —

The finish

The finish has been moved to the 24-hour AM/PM convenience store in Kingston. The AM/PM is virtually as convenient to the ferry as the previously planned finish at the Filling Station. The finish will not be SIR-staffed. Riders will be given a stamped, addressed envelope to mail their cards to the organizer (Bill).

Mitch & Adam discovered the Filling Station was in the process of shutting down at midnight. Peg found it was entirely closed up at 1:30 AM. Without an attractive finish venue that will definitely be open, it is too much to ask a volunteer to hang out for hours waiting for riders. We regret this departure from SIR tradition. Early finishers will probably find the Filling Station a nice place to wait for the ferry.

Potential delay at the Hood Canal Bridge when returning

WSDOT is conducting work on the bridge that can only be accomplished at slack water (minimum tidal flow). The bridge is closed to all traffic during this period. A slack will occur at approximately 11:30 PM Saturday night. WSDOT is vague as to whether work will actually occur on a given night. While WSDOT has posted a standing warning about the work, the pre-riders did not encounter a delay. You should be prepared for a delay of up to one hour in the window from 10 PM to midnight. A closure like this is part of the unpredictable conditions randonneurs are expected to overcome; no extra time will be given if the bridge is closed. You may want to pack some warm clothes in case you are forced to wait.

Weather

The weather forecast for the weekend calls for significantly cooler temperatures than we have recently endured. The pre-riders noted a cooling marine effect near the water, and much warmer temperatures after leaving Crescent Lake. Generally high humidity may make nighttime temperatures feel chilly.

Parking

There is ample parking in the Park & Ride lot on Hansville Rd NE, just north of the start location, if you elect to drive your car to the start. The SIR ride page discusses the issues of overnighting or catching the last ferries either to Edmonds or Seattle and why you may want your car.

The Olympic Discovery Trail

The route uses the ODT extensively. While the ODT is a marvelous facility, it is not a bicycle superhighway. It has poor sightlines preceeding sudden 90-degree turns and 15% pitches that can take you by surprise. Some road crossings are a little vague – the trail may resume a bit to the left or right vs straight across a crossroad. It is popular with walkers and families with small children; please ride cautiously and be respectful of all users. Portions are paved with rough, slow chip seal.

Support

There will be vanishingly little support. A volunteer might be available to assist with an emergency DNF until early evening. Phone coverage is spotty; do not count on assistance being available. Bus service is available on the Olympic Peninsula.

Cell coverage/roaming

Bill’s cell phone connected to a Canadian network in the vicinity of Crescent Beach. If you do not want to be hit with surprise roaming charges you might want to put your phone in airplane mode in this area.

— The Pre-Ride —

Our day began with a surprise rain shower in Edmonds. Dawn broke as the ferry reached Kingston. The pre-riders departed on schedule in pleasantly cool conditions.

  

The route begins with a ramble over to Big Valley Rd, then heads north on WA-3 and across the Hood Canal Bridge. We leave the main highway for the quieter, and steeper, parallel route on Larson Lake and Eaglemount Rds.

The first resupply opportunity comes at the Discovery Bay Village Store at 54 km. The store opens at 9 AM, 2 hours 15 min after the ride starts. Fast riders may arrive before the store opens. They should plan to resupply in Sequim, at 87 km. Water is available sooner, at 77 km in Sequim Bay State Park. The Longhouse Deli in Blyn is not recommended because reaching it requires crossing busy US-101.

After Discovery Bay the route uses Old Gardiner Rd. Old Gardiner Rd is remarkably tranquil for being so close to US-101.

In Blyn the route sheet directs your attention to the pedestrian tunnel under US-101. Riders navigating by route sheet should take note of the tunnel’s location. The return route uses the tunnel. Its entrance is difficult to see in the return direction.

In Blyn the route picks up the Olympic Discovery Trail. The pre-riders discovered a wee problem with the trail. Fortunately detouring around the collapsed bridge is easy. The detour has been added to the route.

A few miles after passing through Sequim Bay State Park, the route leaves the trail to approach Sequim on Brownfield Rd, avoiding the strip mall congestion that the trail would lead you into. It is important to stop when turning off the trail because the road to the left is an uncontrolled exit ramp from 101. Traffic does not stop! An information control at this spot reinforces the need to stop.

In Sequim the route passes by the Safeway. Other food options are available off-route on Washington St.

Leaving Sequim you visit the salacious intersection of Woodcock and Kitchen Dick Rds. Proceeding west, the route eventually returns to the Olympic Discovery Trail, remaining on the trail all the way to Port Angeles. If the waves are high you may literally get a taste of salt water!

Port Angeles offers resupply opportunities. The route returns to the trail after leaving Port Angeles. At the Elwha River you cross the cool bike bridge suspended beneath the highway bridge.

The route follows WA-112 for a few miles before turning for Crescent Beach. At Salt Creek Campground military history geeks can take a short off-route detour to see the casemates built shortly before World War II for two 16″ naval guns. Uniquely, the park road goes right through both emplacements.

Scenic Crescent Beach marks the westernmost point of the ride. After passing by the beach, the route climbs and turns inland on a narrow, forest-hemmed road heading for Crescent Lake. At the WA-112 crossing you can go a short distance off route left to the Blackberry Cafe in Joyce for a milkshake, pie, or something more substantial. But don’t get too stuffed; you still have to climb over the hill to Crescent Lake.

Alongside Crescent Lake, Beach Rd offers pretty views of the east end of the lake. After climbing out of the lake’s basin, the pre-riders suddenly encountered much hotter conditions on US-101. The control at Shadow Mountain General Store is a good place to prepare yourself for the challenge of Little River Rd. Be sure to leave with full bottles and good energy. The store’s ice cream is highly recommended!

After some noisy miles on US-101, you turn onto Olympic Hot Springs Rd then onto Little River Rd. Little River has the longest and steepest climbing on the route. The grade reaches 15% in places. About 4 km of this road is dirt. There is not much large gravel. Mitch & Adam rode 25 & 28 mm tires with no trouble, although there are places where you may have trouble resuming riding if you stop. The road heads uphill through a mix of forest and clearcuts. If the day is warm the clearcuts will be exposed and hot.

The route turns downhill on Hurricane Ridge Rd. The road is newly resurfaced and very smooth. However, it has some odd divots, so stay alert on this fast descent.

After passing through Port Angeles, with its resupply opportunities, the route largely retraces itself on the Olympic Discovery Trail. The Sequim Safeway or another restaurant is a good place for a substantial meal. For many riders this will be the last, best resupply opportunity. The 24-hour Longhouse Market at Blyn is a final option but requires crossing 101. The deli in the market may not be open much later than 6 PM.

In Blyn use the tunnel mentioned previously to cross safely under US-101. The route stays on 101 to Discovery Bay; using Old Gardiner Rd in this direction would require multiple left turns across 101.

Fast riders will be able to resupply at the Discovery Bay Village Store. The store closes at 8 PM.

The route leaves 101 at Discovery Bay to again take the parallel route on Eaglemount and Larson Lake Rds. The final information control is at Center Cemetery Rd, just before the turn onto Larson Lake. The control asks a question about the stop sign on Center Cemetery Rd, not Larson Lake. Don’t mix them up.

With some luck you will not be delayed at the Hood Canal Bridge, and can cruise the last miles to Kingston.

As a special consideration for riders overnighting at The Point Casino Hotel, you may ride directly to the hotel and have your card signed there. This is a harder finish than going to Kingston! Mitch and Adam report that the food at the casino is better than a convenience store.

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High Impact Closure: East Lake Sammamish Pkwy & Trail

During August 6-20 the road and “likely” the trail will be closed for a culvert replacement. The closure extends from Louis Thompson Rd NE at the north to 212th Way SE at the south.

There will be a signed detour on Louis Thompson Rd, 212th Ave, and 212th Way. However, judging from Street View images, this will be an unpleasant and dangerous bicycle route. Louis Thompson Rd and 212th Way climb steeply with narrow or no shoulders.

A safer bicycle detour should be NE Inglewood Hill Rd, 228 Ave NE, and SE 43rd Way. This route has adequate shoulders or bicycle lanes the whole way. This detour has about 660 ft of climbing vs 170 ft on the road. The detour adds about 5 km vs the road.

Map: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28173893

City of Sammamish project page: https://www.sammamish.us/government/departments/public-works/current-projects/zackuse-creek-fish-passage-and-stream-restoration-project/

Affected routes (not guaranteed comprehensive, courtesy of Yogy Namara):52, 359, 401, 531, 541, 605, 757, 758, 838, 1004, 1005, 1305, 1315, 1321, 1322, 1449, 1511, 1514, 1515, 1516, 1522, 1704, 1755, 1756, 2173, 2174, 2176, 2292, 2432, 2525, 2575, 2576, 2795, 3022, 3081, 3159, 3226, 3227, 3502, 3539, 3591.

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Filed under Notable Detours, Permanent Change, Permanents

Border to Border 1000K

by Theo Roffe and Rachel Wood

Complete route on RWGPS: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/27656925 
Cue sheets: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nmGcZ86ygDuhFXS0zd_5VuAZgG0SrGz-xAYvsSDB-I0/edit?usp=sharing

Day 1, Friday: Olympia to Bellingham

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28158220

On Friday morning, in the chill air of the South Sound, we started our ride to the Canada border by heading south east. That felt a bit confusing, but the first control is in Rainier and, from there, the route backtracks along the Seattle-to-Portland route into Seattle. While this routing isn’t as scenic as sticking to the edge of the sound through Tacoma and Des Moines, it sure avoids a lot of climbing. And, despite what the cumulative elevation of 6713 m might suggest, avoiding big climbs was a goal for this route.

Riding the Interurban

Beginning in Sumner, you’ll be on the Interurban trail. During the pre-ride, some sections were closed for a repaving project that should be completed in time for the ride. We were able to make it through with only minimal swerving around “Trail Closed” signs and riding through gravel. You’ll also want to watch out for railroad tracks along the trail – some were barely noticeable, but others were quite bumpy.

The Interurban trail drops you off in Renton, where you’ll find your way to the coast of Lake Washington for 40 km of watery views. Along this section, we stopped in Seward park to refill our water bottles, have a snack, and admire the lake with its variety of boats. After the lakeside riding, the route features a section of the Burke-Gilman and Lake Sammamish Trails. Even on a weekday afternoon, these are popular trails, so be attentive to other cyclists and pedestrians who may be moving more slowly.

Things get steep for a while through Woodinville and Maltby before descending into Snohomish County where broad plains offer bucolic views framed by the Cascade Mountains to the east. Marysville offers up some traffic and one of the route’s less pleasant roads, but the rolling hills from Tulalip Bay to Warm Beach are a great payoff. Due to a road closure just north of Warm Beach, you’ll trek back inland to Silvana before heading up through Stanwood and Conway to the Skagit Valley; however, the detour has a nice curvy descent into lovely farmland. Come back in the spring time for a wonderful display of Tulips in this area!

If you catch Bayview State park before 8 pm, there are bathrooms and nice views across Padilla Bay to Anacortes and Gumes Island. Chuckanut Drive, to the north, is a highlight of the route. Yes, it’s climby, but it sticks you right on the edge of Samish and Bellingham Bays where you can watch the sun set behind Lummi Island.

Sunset from Chuckanut, just before the climbing starts

You’ll be able to get food in Fairhaven or Bellingham before the out-and-back to the Canada border. But don’t make the same mistake Rachel and I did and save that out-and-back for day 2! It’ll make for a very long, tough day – day 2 already has more climbing, it doesn’t need more distance. (Our splits for the pre-ride were 325 / 415 / 260 km. The official splits with the revised route are 405 / 338 / 264 km.)

Anyway, the route from Fairhaven to Bellingham features a nice gravel trail that is totally rideable on a road bike with narrow tires. But if you can’t stand that kind of thing, feel free to stay on State Street into town. Keep in mind that Bellingham is a college town: Friday night downtown can be a bit of a party. We didn’t have any trouble, but you should keep both eyes open for young, dumb drivers and bar-hopping pedestrians.

If you’re fast, you might pass through Lynden in time for services, otherwise plan on packing what you need before leaving Bellingham. On the pre-ride, we had some trouble with a dog within 5 km of the border, but he’s likely to be locked up in his kennel at night. We just had the bad luck to come by as his people were opening his kennel and the gate! They came out to the street with his leash and treats and we squirted him with our water bottles until he finally went home. If you meet Duke, squirt him right in his face for us. Thanks! He hates that.

At the overnight control in Bellingham, we’ll have your drop-bags (if you choose to leave one at the start) and beds, but little else. For the pre-ride, we fit a change of clothes for day 2 in our bags. There’s a 24-hour Denny’s in the same parking lot where you can get dinner and breakfast regardless of your timing. We slept for 5 hours at this control. That was restful, but probably too much time by 1 or 2 hours; we were behind the clock all day Saturday.

Snohomish Day 2

Day 2, Saturday: Bellingham to Olympia

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28158228

The route leaves Bellingham without passing many services, so be sure you have what you’ll need as there’s really very little over the next 50 km. There are some steep climbs to get out of town and wake you up, but the bright side is that they aren’t long, and they lead into a lovely descent on a quiet road along Lake Samish, followed by the similarly nice Old Highway 99. We had to avoid a road closure near turning off Old 99 (don’t let the signs scare you up Bow Hill Road! The route uses a much shorter, flatter detour) and headed into Burlington, which was terrible. Lucky for you, the route now skips Burlington and goes into downtown Mount Vernon. There is one section where you’ll have to rejoin main-road traffic to cross the Skagit River, but there is a bike lane on the bridge. In Mount Vernon, the Skagit Valley Co-op has everything, but we enjoyed a leisurely stop at the Calico Cupboard Café and Bakery. It’s an open control, so feel free to stop wherever you like to get your card signed.

The 200K riders were also at the Calico Cupboard Cafe! In Anacortes… 🙁

You’ll stick to frontage roads along I-5 returning nearly to Conway before heading east to Lake McMurray and the Centennial Trail. The trail is a popular place for slow cyclists and pedestrians, so please be cautious and attentive. You can keep a decent pace nonetheless, just ring your bell and pass with plenty of space. The Centennial Trail brings you back in Snohomish where you controlled on day 1. But leaving town you’ll head south east into the Snoqualmie River Valley to Carnation. This section offers mostly shaded, rolling roads with views of the Cascades and picturesque farms. Resupply in Carnation before the hill out of Fall City; there are a couple cafes in town, plus the grocery store where we went. As Rachel said on the pre-ride, that hill is no joke. Descending from the Issaquah Highlands you can pick up some good speed (we were going 40+ mph on our single bikes). Just be sure to get over to the left lane and avoid joining the freeway onramps!

Control in Issaquah and then head out for more climbing: the highest elevation section of the route begins just as you leave Issaquah and ends 50 km later with a lovely descent into Orting on the Foothills trail. There was some road construction on the bridge between Enumclaw and Buckley which narrowed things down to one lane and stopped traffic in alternate directions. This seemed like a bad thing, but it resulted in making the left turn from 410 to Park Ave much easier than usual – there was only traffic coming from one direction by the time we finished the climb up from the bridge! From Orting, you’ll climb a steep ridge and work your way back to familiar roads: 507 to Yelm, the Yelm-Tenino trail to Rainier and Rainier Road back into Tumwater. We got here very late on the pre-ride and it was cold and slow going. Bring your layers for night riding!

After chasing the clock all day and riding extra distance to Eatonville (no longer on the route!), we arrived in Tumwater at 5:00 am. We slept ~3 hours (I really didn’t want to tackle day 3 on any less) and started Sunday behind the clock again. Fortunately, the clock slows down this far into a ride and we started picking up a buffer with each control.

Day 3, Sunday: Olympia to Longview and Back

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28158231

For the pre-ride, day 3 was forecasted to be the hottest, as it is for the event. We started relatively late in the day (9:40 a.m.) and thus missed out on the typically cool morning hours. Instead, we hit the beginning of the heat with a high temperature reportedly about 93°F. According to our cycling computers it was 105°F. Considering that official air temperatures are measured at a height of 2 meters above ground, while you’ll be riding just above the hot asphalt, it’s going to feel much more like 100°F than 90°F. And there’s less shade than you’d expect. That said, we had a strong tailwind for most of the morning and early afternoon.

Curtis Hill Road will probably have you cursing us (blame Ian!), but the descent is fantastic and the roads on either side of the Boistfort Store are beautiful. You’ll get patches of shade here (though Rachel pointed out that all the climbs were sunny) and on the Westside Highway where the route heads south along the Cowlitz River to Longview. Longview has some big terrible roads, so we won’t go all the way to the Columbia river where the border is drawn between Oregon and Washington, but you’re very close. Instead, we’ll stick to lower traffic toads and then cross the Cowlitz into Kelso to join frontage roads along I5 where you’ll head north on the final leg of the journey. These frontage roads were shady and rolling – quite nice to ride!

At the control in Toledo there’s a public bathroom at the boat launch just left after crossing the bridge into town. There’s also an IGA market (grocery store) open until 9 p.m. (they locked the door precisely on the hour!). The info control is at a gas station convenience store that’s open until 10 p.m. If you don’t want to stop, read the question in advance: you should be able to find the answer from your bike and remember it to write down later. Jackson Highway featured, for us, a beautiful sunset. If you’re earlier you’ll probably get great views of the valley, Mt St Helens, and Mt Rainier (we could just see both in the fading light). You’ll also get the last big climb through Lewis and Clark State Park at 939 km. But this means plenty of good descending into Chehalis and Centralia. Then you’ll go on through the valley with a few rollers to Bucoda and Tenino. Another info control at a gas station will leave your card with just one more slot to fill! Climb the last of the climbs out of town and (mostly) descend back to Tumwater. Of course, you can never believe “it’s all downhill from here,” but in this case, it mostly is.

We rolled into the finish at 1:30 a.m. for 68 hours elapsed (the pre-ride started 30 minutes later than the brevet will start. Also note that we rode 1032.9 km and your route will be 1007 km). Then we enjoyed a celebratory beer, a well-earned shower, and bed!

Strava users can look at our ride recording here: https://www.strava.com/activities/1721889143 (if you don’t log in, only high-level details are visible).

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2018 SIR Summer 200K Report: Snohomish–Anacortes–Snohomish

by Narayan Krishnamoorthy

NOTE CHANGE OF START and FINISH LOCATIONS

Ride start: 7 am
Registration start: 6 am
Ride start Location: Snohomish Library
Ride Finish: Trails End Brewery
Parking: Plenty of on-street parking along main drag and near the Library
Warning: Watch for road closures along Downtown Snohomish

Registration and additional details: http://seattlerando.org/content.aspx?page_id=87&club_id=928629&item_id=827535

As 200Ks go, this one is a fairly known commodity, but it combines elements from different types of routes in one rarely found package: low in traffic, high on trails, scenery, frequency of services, and quality of pavement.

We start early on Saturday from the Snohomish Public Library to avoid the hullabaloo of the Kla Ha Ya Days festival in Downtown Snohomish (and some possibly heavy headwinds later in the day); the early start allows us to enjoy cooler temperatures for longer, and the trail is less crowded (it promises to be a zoo once the 5K run starts at 8 am. Don’t be late). The first couple of miles are downhill – and feature very new smooth pavement – but the trail ventures gently uphill past the Machias store, and kicks up one more percent past Lake Stevens. You should have lovely views of the valley and the farms that line the sides of the trail. You’ll have a brief stretch of riding on Highway 9, but traffic volume should be low that time of day. You may begin to notice the first signs of a headwind or a crosswind here, but that bodes well for the return home.

The first control at Lake McMurray is a delight: it features a fabulous lake view and a very happy control volunteer eager to apply her bicycle stamp to your card, but only if you don’t block the gas pumps; if you do, you will get a bit of a talking to. Please make sure you clean up your garbage/recycling here (the store is a one person operation). This is a wonderful opportunity to refuel and to support the local economy. But fret not if you forget something: a brief and easy climb on Highway 534 leads you to Conway where even more services are available. Once you get past Conway, you will be blessed with lovely views of Mount Baker and, as an added bonus, will not see traffic until you hit the right turn onto Best Road. You’ll cross the Skagit River and find one more country store to refuel at (Rexville Grocery, can’t miss it on the right after you descend the Skagit River Bridge).

A short pedal brings you to lovely La Conner (a good coffee stop right as you enter town, should you feel the need) and our first possible hiccup: Maple Ave is easy to miss. Look for the Washington Federal Bank. Traffic was a bit higher than usual for the pre-riders because of Ragnar 2018, but you should have no traffic issues. The pre-riders found brief stretches of glass on Snee-Oosh Road, but the lovely water views more than made up for that risk. A brief battle with the headwind should bring you to one of the gems of the route: the Tommy Thompson trail that goes over Fidalgo Bay and brings you into Anacortes. On a hot day, the cool breeze off the bay will cool you right down and the water views will make you happy that you chose this ride. The trail does feature bollards, road crossings, and some weird chicanes, but it allows for a mostly stress-free ride into Anacortes.

The Calico Cupboard is lovely and has baked goodies and savoury foods that are sure to please your tired self. There is also a tavern across the street, but we found service slow on a previous ride. For quick service, get things to go at the bakery. A sit-down meal is recommended here as you are more than likely to be blessed with a tailwind on the way back. The route is an out and back, so you will have the luxury of retracing your steps with few complications.

The finish is at Trails End Taphouse, where eager volunteers will be on hand to shower you with kudos (and mooch free beers off of you).

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Bakery Run Populaire 7/14/2018

For this summer’s populaire, start with a coffee, end with a beer, and avail yourself of bakeries along the way.

The ride starts at 9:00 AM on July 14th from Starbucks Lake Forest Park.

We will be opening registration at 8:30. To simplify the process for yourself and the organizers on Saturday, please preregister.

It looks like this is going to be one of the rare events where both the pre-riders and the day of riders get excellent weather. This is great because, in addition to passing by coffee shops, bakeries, and breweries, we spend a fair amount of time next to Lake Washington — riders will get to enjoy the views.

Although there is not a ton of climbing, this is not a fast course as there is a fair amount of trail riding. There were lots of children, dogs, and people not paying attention on the trail during the pre-ride. Please be careful. Keep your speed down and break into smaller groups.

The climb up to the control at the coffee shop is steep but only ½ mile long. So, as you are cursing the ride organizer, remember that you’ll have finished 90% of the climbing once you get to the coffee shop.

There are lots of street fairs and festivals scheduled along the course. We saw signs for events in Kirkland, Mercer Island and Redmond scheduled for the same day as the ride.

More information available on the SIR website.

Route on RWGPS

Cue sheet on Google Sheets

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2018 Spring 600K: Olympia–Astoria

by Narayan Krishnamoorthy

(Photo: Josh Morse)

How does that song go?!

Happiness comes double / After a little pain / If you want the rainbow / You must have the rain.

This is most certainly one of those kinds of rides. There are loads of beautiful sections featuring some lovely roads, and there is a small element of what I would call the ugly. But sometimes you have to keep plodding through the bad (Longview bridge, Longview anything really, Highway 30, Monte–Elma Road) to enjoy the awesome (Spencer Road, Apiary Road, Drew Prairie Road, Smith–Anderson Road, OR 202, Blue Slough Road, and on and on). And the awesome outnumbers the awful by a good margin, so, AWESOME is the overwhelming verdict.

Many thanks to Josh Morse, Dewey R. Blacker, Susan Otcenas, Eddie Bishop, and Saint Barbara for all of their efforts this weekend. Especially Saint Barbara.

Short report:

  • We had GREAT weather. Sorry if we soaked up all the good weather.
  • Three Water Bottle ride, if it’s hot.
  • STOCK UP: Grand Mound or Centralia, no services until Morton.
  • HAZARD: One lane Bridge on the road to Morton.
  • STOCK UP: Morton / Mossyrock / Saikum / Mayfield.
  • HAZARD: Take care as you navigate through West Kelso / Longview
  • HAZARD: Take care on Longview bridge.
  • HAZARD: Take care on the left turn across Hwy 30 traffic to Apiary Road. [Update: Route now goes up Old Rainier Road to avoid Hwy 30 and this hazardous left.]
  • STOCK UP: Vernonia. Nothing open until Astoria.
  • HAZARD: Cattle Guards, upon turning into Jewell Refuge.
  • Bundle up for the descent to Astoria
  • HAZARD: Recommend Taillights on Astoria Bridge.
  • Terrain gets a bit easier after North Cove.
  • FREE BUDDHISM CLASSES in Westport!
  • Save some match sticks for the hills in Olympia / Tumwater.
  • HAVE A WONDERFUL RIDE!

Long report:

We started off with a nice flat, fast warm-up to Grand Mound, and, a little south of Tumwater, we were treated to a Bald Eagle and her eaglets landing on the road to feast on roadkill—only to fly away at the sight of four marauding bicycles flying down the road. I hope riders on ride-day are as lucky as us! Keep an eye out for them when you pass Freightliner Northwest. At Grand Mound, you should stock up on supplies because there is nothing until you hit Morton; we found the Starbucks to be fast. The shoulder comes and goes after Grand Mound, so be prepared to move into traffic, and keep a watchful eye.

It only looks flat outside of Centralia (Photo: Susan)

Past Centralia, the climbing starts in earnest. It may not seem like much to those of you who finished the Ephrata 400, but it certainly isn’t nothing, either. And Centralia–Alpha road is there to remind you of that. The road was foggy and, though traffic was light, we switched our taillights on. The temperatures climbed as we hit the 508 turn to Morton, so we stopped to take off some layers. There is one little one-lane bridge, so please take care there. At Morton, Josh and Ricky hit the market, while Susan and I hit the convenience store for a quick 10-minute stop. Both locations have been informed of your arrival on ride day.

The author with Mt Rainier behind (Photo: Susan Otcenas)

The road out of Morton starts climbing, but it is of the gentle, endless variety and the shoulder is in excellent condition. There are services in Mossyrock, Mayfield, and Saikum (at the store), so take advantage and stock up / top up supplies. Spencer Road is a gem, and we were blessed with beautiful views of Mount Rainier (behind), and St Helens (to the left).

Mt Rainier from Spencer Road (Photo: Narayan)

Westside Highway had a nice tailwind, but lots of traffic. We stopped at the store in Castle Rock to top up on fluids and get some ice cream. At Longview, you hit one of the “rain” sections with city riding on a busy street that hopefully can be cut out of the actual ride. [Update: The route through Longview has been changed, but there are a few miles on a busy street that can’t be avoided.] And then, there is the Longview bridge (insert profanity here). The shoulder is dirty, filled with glass and lots of logging debris, and there is no line that you can take on that shoulder that will avoid the crap. Traffic will likely be high so please take care here. I climbed slowly and descended slower as the cars and trucks make a beeline for relaxation. Turning right on Highway 30 takes you on a long climb. I stopped at least two times to “admire the scenery” and Susan was so patient, waiting for me and encouraging me up the climb. [Update: Route now follows Hwy 30 East into Rainier, Oregon, avoiding this climb.]

The gang regrouped atop the summit to make a left turn onto Apiary Road. This left turn can be tricky as you have to cross two lanes of traffic, and sightlines are limited for cars coming around the bend. [Update: Route avoids this turn by going into Rainier, Oregon, and up Old Rainier Road. It’s a much more pleasant climb with less traffic.] We paused for a few minutes under a tree where I had one of my numerous “woe is me” moments, but only because I wasn’t aware of the rejuvenating stretch ahead that would remove all the unpleasantness of the last few miles from my brain. Apiary Road was lovely, low in traffic, and had a nice rhythm after the first little steep pitch. There is a false summit, but the climb to there, and the climb to the actual top are very gentle. If you toodle along in your lowest gear you will eventually get there.

We plummeted down to Vernonia and had a nice ice cream and Gatorade break. Riders may want to stock up here as there are NO services for the next 100K [editor’s note: seriously, there’s nothing]. After a 25-minute break, we left Vernonia and the “hurry up and relax” group threw a Starbucks bottle at us. Luckily their aim was as good as their driving. We stopped a bit after Birkenfeld to dork up for the night because temperatures were so warm that wearing a vest was not appealing. We saw very few cars on this gentle climb. We stopped at the Jewell Wildlife Refuge to use the bathrooms and add layers; watch out for the cattle guards immediately after you make the left turn into the refuge, particularly if it’s raining. I survived the guards, but suffered the disconcerting sight of Ricky doing bridges on the concrete sidewalk.

We left together and stayed together. The temperatures kept going lower and lower. A State Trooper kindly asked how many of us were on the road and sounded relieved when we said just the four of us! So look out for police presence on this climb. I didn’t carry long finger gloves (to save weight), and I didn’t want to waste the time putting on my leg warmers. So, I pretty much froze on the descent. The store in Olney was shut up tight. And the lights of Astoria were beautiful in the night. We made it to Astoria a little past midnight, which meant we rode in the dark only for 3 hours. Riders should actually have more daylight than we had, so this promises to be a low night-riding brevet.

Saint Barbara helped us get situated, had ordered food and drinks, and catered to our every need as we rested and prepared for bed. A warm shower, lots of pizza, some beer, and a nice FOUR-hour nap (sorry, Susan) all helped me wake up well rested. This is the most sleep I have ever had on a 600K. I hope everyone can get at least some shut eye during the brevet.

Crossing the Astoria–Meigler Bridge (Photo: Susan)

Back in Washington (Photo: Susan)

We had a nice breakfast of yogurt, coffee, and fruit (no warm food for us, but the hotel will do its best to have an early warm breakfast on the Sunday of the brevet), and set off with about 10 minutes to spare. The road was foggy—please switch on your taillights, even if you set off in the daylight. Any bit of visibility on the Astoria Bridge helps. The bridge is long, but the shoulder is adequate, the birds are plentiful, and traffic at that hour (5:45 a.m.) should be minimal. Maybe five cars passed us. The road to Naselle has lovely water views and the golden-hour-light of dawn coloured the trees a beautiful shade. The road gets climby after the right turn on to 101, and I was at my slowest here, but conversation with Susan and frequent breaks for this and that helped me recover a bit.

Susan and Narayan heading to Raymond.

The day warmed up considerably at Raymond, where we stopped for drinks and a bathroom break. Josh and Ricky opted for a sit-down meal (on Mother’s Day), and bled time as a result. I had another prolonged low and Susan pulled me down the road for miles to the North Cove Grill in Tokeland. There she bought me ice cream and a Starbucks Doubleshot, useful arrows to have in your quiver on a hot day, or if you have had minimal sleep. The road flattens out after North Cove Grill, and the riding gets even more pleasant thanks to a beautiful turn onto quiet Smith-Anderson road which puts you past a whole lot of cranberry farms.

Tumbledown house in the cranberry fields just south of Westport (Photo: Susan)

We found Heather Road unmarked. It is the first right turn after the road becomes Lindgren Road, eventually dumping you to an unmarked turn onto Highway 105. The control arrives shortly after (the Shell / Subway stop).

Here I was taught the finer points of Buddhism by a rather enthusiastic local riding a mountain bike, who may or may not have had all his marbles together, much to the amusement of my riding buddies. He mentioned something about the three colours in the talisman he was wearing, something about the paths, and the monk in Aberdeen… but I am afraid I am a poor student.

We left with about nine hours to do the last 72 miles or so and set a good pace as the terrain relented and winds became favourable again. We took the trail to Cosmopolis and then Blue Slough Road, which is now open after the landslides of the past years. We took an extended break in Montesano, the heat bothering us, and then a few more breaks as we made our way to McCleary. The pavement on Monte–Elma is as bad as ever!

There were some routing issues for us in terms of missing signs that will be fixed up on the final cue sheet, and we found our turn onto Highway 8. [Update: Street names have been updated on RWGPS and cue sheet to match the real world.] The shoulder on Highway 8 was better than we remembered from February and we worked our way through Mud Bay. I thought that was the last climb—ha! In true SIR fashion, there are some hills before the finish. But I have applied (read: whined) to the powers that be that better routing may be found to the finish. [Update: We couldn’t get rid of all the hills at the end, but we did adjust the route to the finish to avoid some of the busier roads on which the preriders suffered. Please think of them while enjoying a quiet ride along Decatur Street SW.]

The Whole Fam Damily at La Quinta

Eddie Bishop showed up at the finish with pizza, beer, and G&Ts to welcome us in, and so did Mrs Morse, Ian, and Sierra. It was an awesome end to a wonderful ride.

HAVE A SAFE AND WONDERFUL RIDE, ALL!

Ride details and registration on the SIR website.

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2018 Spring 400: Ephrata, WA. May 5.

pre-ride report by RT

Well, this should be a challenging ride for all who signed up!

Unfortunately, due to getting pneumonia and being off the bike for some time, I had to pre-drive the course. So, I apologize that I’m not able to answer questions such as “What’s the chip seal like?” But my observations from that day indicate the roads are in good shape. Typical of Eastern Washington, shoulder space is limited, but traffic is low-volume and so riding is a pleasurable experience.

Ok, now to the ride.  You will leave the Ephrata Best Western at 6 a.m. on Saturday, May 5, and will head north along rolling roads toward Moses Coulee. Then you will then turn left onto SR-2 (wide shoulder) and make your way to an SIR manned control at Farmer (52km).

Once you’ve topped off your bottles and snacks, you will continue north towards the fast McNeil Canyon descent and back to the Columbia River for some stunning views of the area.  There is a water stop available at Beebee Bridge Park before you cross the Columbia River and continue on your journey north toward control number three in Pateros at the 124.5 km mark. This is a great opportunity to stretch, eat some food, and hydrate before the next segment of the ride.

After leaving Pateros, you will wind your way up WA-153 with a little side track along Gold Creek Loop Rd (152km) before heading towards the big climb of the day: Loup Loup Pass (4,020 ft).  But, before that, you will have an opportunity to refuel once again at the Carlton Store (162km) if you can make it before they close at 6pm; otherwise, your next chance for fuel will be Okanogan (220km).  After passing through Carlton, you will be presented with an info control (173km), climb up Loup Loup, and descend into Okanogan where there are 24-hour services at Chevron.  If you don’t want to stop there, continue on down the road to Omak for control number four (228km) at the 24-hour Conoco.  Once you depart from Omak, this will be the longest stretch without services (unless you can make it to the Colville Trading Post at 294 km by 8pm). The next opportunity to refuel is at the Coulee Dam Casino (316km) which is open 24 hours, or control number five at Coulee Gas in Grand Coulee (320km).

Dry Falls

Continuing south into Coulee City there is the Coulee City Community Park (365km) which has bathrooms and water and is open 24 hours a day.  This is the last opportunity to top off those bottles before heading back to Ephrata along WA-17 via Dry Falls and Soap Lake.

Congrats!!  You did it!!

Route on RWGPS: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/27355483

Ride details and preregistration: http://seattlerando.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=651:brevet&catid=62:2018-brevets-and-populaires

Summary of Controls and Water Stops

Location Distance (km) Service Hours
Start / Control #1: Ephrata Best Western 0
Control #2: Farmer, SIR Manned 52
Water: Beebee Bridge Park 93
Control #3: Pateros 124 Until 11 p.m.
Water: Carlton Store 162 Until 6 p.m.
Info Control 173
Water: Okanogan Chevron 220 Open 24 hrs.
Control #4: Omak Conoco 228
Water: Colville Trading Post 294 Until 8 p.m.
Water: Coulee Dam Casino 316 Open 24 hrs.
Control #5: Grand Coulee Gas 320 Open 24 hrs.
Water: Coulee City Community Park 366 Open 24 hrs.
Finish / Control #5: Ephrata Best Western 414

Safety Notes

This is a very challenging and remote ride. Please inspect your bike and lights thoroughly to ensure that everything is in working order. We will perform a safety check at the start to make sure everyone has primary and secondary front and rears lights, a reflective vest or sash, and reflective ankle bands. (Follow the RUSA reflectivity guidelines: https://rusa.org/reflectivity)

This ride also has a few very fast descents, McNeil Canyon and Loup Loup in particular. Exercise caution when descending these parts of the course.  There might be debris or sand build-up from the winter’s de-icing activities on the roadway.

When I was driving along WA-17 through Dry Falls, they were repaving the road.  Since it’s the weekend, they may not be repaving due to increased traffic along the section of the course. In any case, be attentive through this section.

RBA’s Note: With long distances between services, I suggest bringing three water bottles and plenty of food. Keep in mind that temperatures can vary widely in Eastern Washington; pack layers for hot and cold riding.

Ride Reports from the 2009 Edition

We won’t be climbing Disautel Pass this year, but otherwise these ride reports may be of interes.

Jason Karp: http://belgradebobcat.blogspot.com/2009/05/ephrata-washington-400k-brevet.html

Mark Thomas: http://rusa64.blogspot.com/2009/05/nice-road.html

Geoff Swarts: http://greenhornetrandoing.blogspot.com/2009/05/spring-2009-400k-pre-ride-report.html

Matt M: http://cyclinginseattle.blogspot.com/2009/05/big-commute-sir-400k-brevet-north-bend.html

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Time’s Up for the You’re-Out-of-Time Catch-22

New Closing-Time Rule for the First 60 km

The interaction of control closing time with the start control’s one-hour open window has been one of the endearing, or annoying, or nerve-wracking rules of US randonneuring. Ride starts are always open for one hour. You may miss the starting time by up to 60 minutes and still begin a ride. But prior to this rule change, if there were a nearby control you may have been out of luck:  The closing time for all other controls was calculated at a steady 15 kph pace* beginning at the official start time. For example, if the first control was at 15 km, it closed one hour after the start, at the same time the starting control closed! Besides challenging the perpetually tardy, this method severely penalized a random mechanical such as a puncture. This issue complicated course design when the early portion of a route might have required a control.

RUSA has adopted a modified closing-time rule for the first 60 km of a ride. The rule is:

Elapsed closing time = 1 hr + distance/20 kph

You now get the 1 hour start control window, plus the time it takes to ride to a control at 20 kph (about 12 mph). At 60 km the new closing time coincides with the old 15 kph rule. Beyond 60 km, 15 kph remains the minimum speed.*

Here are examples of the old and new rules. Times are elapsed time from the ride start.

Distance
(km)
Old
(h:min)
New
(h:min)
0 (start)
1:00
1:00
1
0:04
1:03
5
0:20
1:15
10
0:40
1:30
15
1:00
1:45
20
1:20
2:00
40
2:40
3:00
60
4:00
4:00

 

The new rule has been incorporated into the RUSA calculators, thanks to Lynne Fitzsimmons. The rule applies to ACP brevets, RUSA brevets, and RUSA permanents.

Control opening times are not affected.

Some of SIR’s permanent routes will need to be updated with new closing times for early controls. The new timing rule applies even if the route sheet and card have not been updated. If you find a route with obsolete times, let us know at permanents@seattlerando.org.

___________________________________________________________________________

*At long distances the minimum speed you must maintain decreases. For details see:

https://rusa.org/octime_perm.html

https://rusa.org/pages/acp-brevet-control-times-calculator

(the explanatory speed tables on these pages have not been updated with the new rule as of 3/21/18)

 

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