NW Flèche 2021

Susan Otcenas and Ian Shopland are organizing the flèche this year, to be held the weekend of 07/23-07/25. Full details will be forthcoming, but if you are interested in riding now would be a good time to start gathering together a team and creating a route. As usual, the destination will be Olympia. In a nod to COVID precautions, we will be foregoing our usual indoor banquet in favor of an outdoor celebration at a city park. With the date shift from cold and rainy Easter to warm and sunny July, we expect there to be a lot of interest in this event. So expect to be asked to have your route finalized and registration complete two weeks in advance of the event. Let us know if you have any questions, and thank you for your patience while we finalize the details.

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Brevet Week 400K Pre-Ride Report

Mark Thomas, Jan Acuff and John Nguyen pre-rode the Brevet Week 400k. Here is their report of the ride:

Starting in Redmond again, the 400k takes a standard route to Snohomish via Paradise Lake Road (with its one deadly little stinger of a hill) and Broadway. The route then follows the river towards Everett before veering north to Marysville. At 59km in Marysville, the pre-riders stopped at a Starbucks (there is also a convenience store) to fuel up for the sturdy climb to Lakes Ki and Goodwin. 

With a Marysville stop, we headed straight through Stanwood and then over the bridge to Camano. Although busy and annoying, the bridge has a decent shoulder and should be fine. We definitely encountered some ups and downs on the north and west sides of Camano Island before refueling again at the Elger Bay store (123km).

There may be nice views as you head up the east side of Camano and than back over to Stanwood. The 55 kilometer or so stretch from Stanwood to the base of Chuckanut is the flattest part of the ride. We stopped for convenience store sustenance at the Whitney control at 178km partway through this stretch. Chuckanut Drive is terrific and a couple of the overlooks on the left would be worth a picture stop.

We had pizza (and maybe a beer) at the Fairhaven control a bit past halfway (212km). In addition to the pizza place, there is a grocery store just beyond and then a few more restaurants past that.

The upcoming climb from Fairhaven to Lake Padden and beyond is a leg buster with occasional double digit grades. We sort of knew it was coming, but it was a doozy nonetheless. A bit of an inconsistent descent took us to Lake Whatcom. Plenty of nice scenery along the Lake, but unfortunately, this was, for us, the busiest section of the ride for traffic. Once we left the lake, it was pretty quiet to Sedro-Woolley. (Note that the 600k takes a bit of an alternate route to Sedro-Wooley, featuring Lake Samish instead of Lake Whatcom, but not depriving its riders of the nasty climb out of Fairhaven).

Services are available in Sedro-Woolley after about 55km of nothing from Fairhaven, but with only another 18km to Mount Vernon, we opted not to stop. The route goes west on Cook and south on Gardner instead of following WA-20 from Sedro-Woolley to Burlington. When the route reaches 20, cross over to the other side and use the trail, which is paved to about a block before the turn south through Burlington. To cross the Skagit River, the route goes under the bridge and then up the ramp onto the bridge over the river. On the other side, there are a few blocks of fairly convoluted routing that kept us from having to cross lanes of traffic to make left turns and otherwise avoid the worst of the traffic.

May be an image of burger and french fries

We stopped at the McDonalds/convenience store across the street from the control in Mount Vernon. I believe that they are both open 24 hours. If you expect to be there late (reference control closure is about 1:30am), you might want to call ahead and confirm the hours. From the control, bike lanes and then nice quiet roads brought us to Conway. It may not be the absolute flattest way out of Mount Vernon, but it’s pretty nice. It got dark for us in that stretch. 
After Conway, the second to last significant climb goes up to Lake McMurray and shortly thereafter, we found ourselves on the Centennial Trail for about a 50km jaunt to Snohomish. If needed, services can be found about a block west of the trail in Arlington at a 7-11 visible from the route. We didn’t stop there and indeed pushed on to the finish without any further refuel stops (about 110km from Mount Vernon to finish). Additional services are available in Snohomish before the final climb up Springhetti and Broadway to Matlby. A quick downhill into Woodinville and trail riding back to Marymoor make for a quick(ish) last bit.

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Solstice 1000k

The Summer Solstice 1000k is a brand new route and should entail some great adventuring. We have traveled most of these roads on other Brevets and Permanents, but there are a few twists and turns to keep you entertained. The route consists of 3 loops all starting and finishing at the La Quinta Inn in Tumwater, WA. While that will make it easy to clean up and grab some sleep after each loop, it will also provide an easy temptation to abandon. There are portions of the ride that will require more than the usual rando self-sufficiency.  Make sure you check your yearning for sleep and civilization at the door so that you can successfully finish the entire adventure!

Day 1 has us heading out for the biggest challenge of the 3 days where we will ride out past Shelton and Matlock on mainly paved back roads. We make a visit to Wynoochee Lake for some incredible views of the Wynoochee River valley, refill our water bottles, visit some civilized restrooms and maybe even take a swim if it’s a warm day. From there, we will head southwest onto Donkey Creek Road (FS Development Road 22) and approximately 7 miles of gravel before the pavement begins again. At Highway 101, we turn north up to and around Lake Quinault, circumnavigating it in a counter-clockwise fashion. The south shore of the lake is a bit of a roller coaster, but nicely paved with a couple choices for services along the way. Stock up there and get ready for another approximately 11-mile stretch of well-packed gravel (rideable on 25’s/28’s) just beyond the east end of the lake and around to the north shore where we’ll head west and eventually rejoin 101 to head south. From there, it’s a 16-mile cruise down the wide-shouldered 101 where we will pick up some more back roads all the way down to Montesano. At Montesano, we head east to Elma along the Monte-Elma Road and then head south all the way down past Oakville on lightly trafficked back roads. The final stretch of the day has us heading north up through the Mima Mounds area and back to Tumwater for a well-deserved night of rest.

Day 2 will be a nice break from the hard work you put in the previous day and should give your legs somewhat of a break in preparation for the adventures of Day 3. We head west to Montesano, Cosmopolis and all the way out to Twin Harbors State Park for a view of the Pacific Ocean where we will head south along the water down to the northern portion of Willapa Bay. From there it’s a trip through Raymond for a restocking of food and water and then along the well-shouldered Highway 6 for a return trip towards the east. With any luck, we’ll be able to ride a 20-30 mile stretch of the Willapa Hills Trail on pavement and well-packed gravel starting at the town of Pe Ell or at Rainbow Falls State Park. How much of this trail is rideable will be determined during the pre-ride or maybe sooner. From there, we’ll make our way back north through Centralia, Bucoda and Tenino for our second overnight in Tumwater.

Day 3 has us going east into the foothills near Mt. Rainier. We head south along generally flat roads through Centralia and Chehalis until we turn east and climb steadily up through Alpha and Cinebar. We will travel along Highway 12 for approximately 20k until we get to Randle and head a bit south and cross the Cowlitz River. With some luck the Eastern Washington wind machine will give riders a nice push up Highway 12.

We travel along the south side of the river along Cline Road most of the way into Packwood. Packwood will be a good opportunity to stock up on food and water before heading up the largest climb of the day, Skate Creek Road. We’ll follow the scenic Johnson Creek all the way up and back down to near the Nisqually River where we will head back to the west and along the river into Ashford for a restocking of supplies. From there it’s east through Elbe and along Alder Lake and then north on Highway 7 to avoid some of the angry traffic along the Alder Cutoff Road. From Eatonville we head north and even further north to avoid the heavy traffic and lack of shoulder along Highway 702. We then head south and cruise through Roy and McKenna until we pick up the Chehalis Western Trail in Yelm. The trail will send us north and east along the north side of Offutt Lake and back to the finish line in Tumwater.

Registration Information:

  • Registration Opens May 25
  • Hotel accommodations – Registered riders will be responsible for making their own hotel accommodations
  • There are portions of the ride that will require more than the usual rando self-sufficiency
  • RwGPS route and or information will be updated on the registration page as it becomes available

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Permanent Route Updates

This week 00751 Bremerton-Elma-Rainier-Seattle was reactivated after being rerouted in Puyallup for the closed Milwaukee Ave bridge.

A new route by Mark Thomas was added, 04119 Mann Up, 201 km, based on the recent Spring 200k brevet.

The North Cascades Highway is fully plowed. This looks like the weekend this year to bike the passes before the road is opened to cars. WSDOT post. Apologies for not having 857 Marblemount-Mazama-Marblemount ready to ride…there’s always next year!

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Permanent Route Updates

01306 Maltby-Granite Falls, 103 km, was added thanks to Jeff Loomis’ work.

Mark Thomas created a new route, 04104 End of Mann, 110 km.

Another new route, 04106 Tulip Tangle, 200 km, was also approved. Enjoy wandering about the Skagit tulip fields while wondering whether your gps is keeping you on route.

Factoria bike flyover and new SE 36th bike trail

The news about cycling on SE 36th east of the bike flyover is not good. At the east end of the new trail you must turn onto SE 36th to continue east. Due to construction of the rest of the trail, the road has been narrowed, eliminating the old bike lanes. A better alternative is to detour to SE Eastgate Way on the north side of I-90. After the new bike flyover, take the spur down to the traffic light, loop under I-90 on the sidewalk alongside Richards Rd, then turn east on SE Eastgate Way. These maps show options if you are headed east, or north/northeast. They are linked on the SIR RwGPS Library home page.

Online maps of the bike flyover and new trail are in flux. Last week I reported that in RwGPS, the new trail was plotted on the RWGPS map. Then the trail disappeared from the map. Now it is back. The trail is also plotted on the OSM map. (But not the OSM Cycle map.) The flyover and trail are not routable on either map at present.

West Seattle News

Starting Saturday April 10, the Spokane St Bridge aka Lower Bridge will be open on weekends to all traffic until 8 AM in the morning. Provided half of West Seattle is not enticed to drive to Snoqualmie Falls for breakfast mimosas, this should help West Seattle randos drive to far-flung morning starts. SDOT Blog (scroll down).

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Travelogue Mann

Mark, Greg, Rose and Jan pre-rode the Spring 200K last week. Here is Mark’s ride report. Enjoy!

The SIR Spring 200k route, The End of Mann, offers a scenic and relatively gentle reintroduction to brevets after our extended pandemic hiatus. With only 1430m (4700ft) of climbing, the route is less hilly than most brevets, but features some really nice scenery.

The first quarter of the route has the substantial climb from Woodinville up to Maltby, but is otherwise quite gentle, with roughly half on gentle multiuse trails (Sammamish River Trail and Centennial Trail).

The climb rewards with some nice views of the hills and mountains to the north and east, including Mount Baker in the distance.

After leaving the trail, a short section of busy road leads to some really nice quiet riding west of Granite Falls, including a pretty stretch along the Stillaguamish River.

The town of Granite Falls, about 1/3 of the way through the ride, offers a few options for refueling, including a couple of gas station convenience stores and coffee stands. (Please wear a mask). River, lake, and mountain views dot the nice rural riding from Granite Falls to Sultan via Lake Roesiger.

Don’t forget to say hi to the locals.

The halfway point of the ride, Sultan offers the last services opportunity for 55km. A convenience store on the left just before you reach US-2 provides an opportunity for ice cream bars on the curb in classic randonneur style.

Please note that the least stressful way through Sultan is to stay on the north side of US-2, using sidewalk (and a bit of shoulder) to reach the pedestrian bridge across the Sultan River. That lovely new bike/pedestrian facility avoids the very bicycle-unfriendly US-2 bridge. After Sultan, the route crosses the Skykomish River and heads out to the end of the pavement on Mann Road, where some overly friendly SIR volunteers will be stationed. The quiet stretch out Mann Road has some nice views of the Cascades foothills and a few curious cycling fans.

After the control, Mann and Ben Howard roads take you over to the Snoqualmie Valley with just a few short, but leg-busting climbs to keep you focused. SIR-familiar farming roads in the valley bring you to Carnation.

If you are comfortable going into a coffee shop, I highly recommend patronizing Sandy’s Espresso on the left at Commercial Street. Sandy and her friendly staff are long-time supporters of SIR rides and the nicest folks in town. The shop has nice (newly expanded!) outdoor seating allowing comfortable distancing.

A quiet flat stretch along the river with views of Mount Si leads to the route’s last significant climbing stretch from the Snoqualmie Valley near Fall City up to the Sammamish Plateau. I won’t lie, Issaquah-Fall City Road hurt me. But soon enough, the route descends to Lake Sammamish and Marymoor Park for a flat finish up the Sammamish River Trail. Please take the trail section slowly and respect the slower users out having fun.

Really hope to see many of you out there. And maybe to share a beer in the large, distancing-friendly outdoor garden of Good Brewing near the finish.

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End of Mann 200K

If you have not yet registered for Seattle Randonneurs “End of Mann” 200km brevet on April 10, there’s still time.  And you don’t want to miss it.

A group of us pre-rode the brevet course last weekend, and we all think you’ll enjoy this ride.  It follows a generally clockwise loop north from Woodinville to Granite Falls and then back south towards Sultan and Fall City before coming back to the start.

Taking in some familiar roads along with a few that we have not ridden in several years, the course passes by rivers, lakes, horse farms, and valleys with mountain views, as well as through a few small towns so that you can replenish your supplies along the way.  Keep your eyes open for eagles, llamas, horses, cows, ducks. You might even see a long-horned steer if you are lucky.  Because this is our first brevet in a long time, it’s not too hilly (although it would not be a brevet without a few bumps here and there.)

Almost all of the course follows quiet roads or trails.  There is one stretch of busy road after leaving the Centennial Trail along 84th Street NE for 3 miles.  The road has a wide shoulder, but please be very careful at the end of this stretch when turning left across the road onto 147th Avenue NE due to oncoming traffic.  Your reward after this stretch is one of the most beautiful parts of the course.

Here are a couple of reminders/suggestions for the ride:

  • Remember that there is no day-of-ride registration/payment.  Please pre-register and pre-pay online at the SIR website. https://www.seattlerando.org/
  • Bring your own pencil or pen. There will be several information controls, and you will need to write the answers to the control questions on your card.
  • Although there are services in towns along the route, none of the controls will be at convenience stores or supermarkets.  For this reason, you might wish to bring some extra food on the bike, and make sure that your water bottles are full.  Best stops for services are probably Snohomish (mile 16, with public restrooms on Main St on the right), Granite Falls (mile 39, with various choices), Sultan (mile 62, various choices but the Arco minimart is well-stocked and has restrooms, located on course at the left turn for Stevens Pass HWY), and Carnation (mile 98, various choices including Sandy’s Espresso, our favorite)
  • If the weather looks inclement, you will make more friends if your bike has fenders and a buddy flap.
  • It’s an early season brevet, so your bike should have a fixed taillight and headlight, and you should have a reflective vest with you.
  • The brevet finishes by taking the Sammamish River Trail from Marymoor Park in Redmond towards Woodinville.  If the weather is nice, the trail may be crowded, so please be respectful of other trail users – don’t ride too fast or in large groups.
  • Make sure you come to the correct starting location:  The Northshore Athletic Fields are the ones located off of NE 145th Street close to Hollywood Hills and the Chateau Ste Michelle winery, just off the Sammamish River Trail.

Finally, please observe good social distancing behavior:  Wear a mask at the start, finish and all controls, and don’t congregate closely; keep some distance from other riders on the road; bring some hand sanitizer; be self-supporting to the extent you can.

Bonne route!

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Permanent Route Updates

Jeff Loomis put 02249 Rome to Blaine and Back, 100 km, back in commission.

A couple of new routes are in the works. Hopefully I can announce them next week.

In other news:

  • The construction closure on the I-90 trail at the future Light Rail station at 23rd Ave S/Judkins Park is over.
  • In really big news, the I-90 trail bike flyover in Factoria across Factoria Blvd is open! A bonus is by not descending to Factoria Blvd, the flyover reduces the climbing on 36th Ave SE. The flyover connects to a new trail on the north side of 36th. Presently the new trail terminates at 132nd Ave SE, where a traffic light aids turning left to the old uphill bike lane on 36th. (The top of 36th is still steep.) Seattle Bike Blog article.

    If you are doing routing work in Ride with GPS, the new flyover is mapped on the “RWGPS” map.

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Permanent Route Updates

Anthony Medina designed a new route in the vicinity of Poulsbo: 04086 Missiles, Torpedoes, and Vikings, 103 km.

At Anthony’s suggestion a control was added to 00998 Whidbey Coast at the Keystone ferry terminal to provide a convenient start for west Sounders.

The east end of the Cedar River Trail is closed until May 10.
Trail Alert: Cedar River Trail closed south of Dorre Don Natural Area (govdelivery.com)
Affected routes include 00401 Leschi-Auburn-Leschi and Southern Exposure and 01076 Southern Exposure. It is straightforward to detour on SE 248th St, work through the subdivision, to Maple Valley Highway and get back on the trail in Maple Valley.

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Permanent Route Updates

Mark Thomas created a new route, 04078 Snakebit, 208 km. Escape from the urban eastside to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Rattlesnake Lake.

Ronald Long joined Baked Goods 100 and Centennial Trail 100 to create – can you guess – 04073 Baked Goods and Centennial Trail, 201 km. This is a low elevation route good for winter riding. Fans of Snohomish Bakery take note: it visits the bakery three times!

Route 03788 Preston Trail Mix, 100 km, was reactivated.

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