A small change has been made at the start due to changing traffic patterns in North Bend. The ride now accesses the trail via Ballarat Ave. (The same change has been made to the Permanent.)
The start and finish will be run differently for this ride. Late starts will not be accommodated. The organizer intends to join the ride. The start will close whenever he gets all the start materials put away.
Proof of finishing and proof of passage will be entirely by electronic means. The finish will not be staffed. When you finish, or if you DNF, text the organizer (me) with your name. This provides the confirmation RUSA wants that you are off the course. If you do not text within a reasonable period after the time limit, I will call your emergency contact. We don’t want that, do we?
Proof of passage will be by providing a gps track in Ride with GPS. Upload your ride to RwGPS, then report the link to the ride on a Google Form that will be made available on the SIR ride page and on an informational card you will get at the start.
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The Seattle International Randonneurs headed to the eastern Washington city of Wenatchee to host brevet week of 2023. My name is Kiel Safstrom, or some in the club like to call me, Hand Grenade. Surprisingly, there was no self-implosion completing all four of these bombastically designed routes by Don “Shiggy” Person. Let’s pull the pin and recount the routes for those aspiring to ride amongst the tumbleweeds.
Saturday May 20th – Lake Wenatchee 200K
15 registered riders gathered before the 6 am. start at the Hilton Garden Inn, the main base of this entire week’s operations. We roll out on the hour north on the Apple Capitol Trail and very soon we are headed west on Easy St. in the Wenatchee hillsides. We jump onto Highway 2 around Monitor for about 4 miles of shoulder riding before we make a right on Dryden St. We ride next to the Ollala Canyon which offers great views of the Wenatchee River. The river was the highest some riders have ever seen, engulfing trees and shorelines normally seen. We pass over the river, skirt under the BNSF Railway through Peshastin and up Chumstick Hwy. Our direction heads northwest to our further point on an out and back to the Napeequa River on the White River Rd.
We turn back, wave and ring our bells at other members proceeding to the turnaround point. The 14.5 miles has us cycling parallel to the Wenatchee Lake, it’s cool near the water and a relief from the high heat the day has brought. Within the State Park, I found a spigot for water prior to the camp store. The store offered sound bits of ‘Free Bird’. The clerk mentioned her spin coach would have them sprint during the four and a quarter minute solo of the song, she loathed it. An iced espresso with coconut milk and Milano’s were enjoyed. Mint Ice cream and a Root beer for the tandem duo, Greg and Rose was their treat of choice for the heat.
Onward to Leavenworth, the Bavarian tourist trap, which I made a costly stop for a schnitzel at the Sausage Garten compared to individuals who had stopped at Starbucks. There were 15 different condiment bottles to squeeze onto the brat, sauerkraut, jalapeños and grilled onions. I can’t forget the misting fans that offered small relief from the heat. A smart rando knows, how to maximize efficiency off the bike. I bit it and doubled my normal allowed time off the bike. Back on, we loop south of the town out toward Icicle Rd. The Temple, Edward Peak, Cannon Mountain makes up some of those mountains in the distance. For good measure on liquids, I stop at the 76 where some other randos are using to resupply.
Out of Leavenworth we return from which we came and eventually are back HYW 2 turning right on Deadman Hill Rd, which turns into Pine Flats Loop. The Wenatchee Valley roads south of HWY 2 are extremely quiet and by then the heat was at its’ highest of the day. We were met with a short sun shower that cooled us off only moderately.
We roll through Cashmere, Monitor and re-cross the Wenatchee River to rejoin with the Apple Capital Trail.
Post the 200K finish, I enjoyed dinner with randouneering legends Vinny and Yonnel, building camaraderie as we filled our stomachs for the 300K the next day.
Sunday May 21 – Ancient Ice Age Floods 300K
12 registered riders took to the road, this time heading south and over the Columbia River per the Old Wenatchee bridge. We cut through East Wenatchee and past Pangborn Memorial Airport before a pleasant descent on Batterman Rd. to join with HYW 28. We ride the highway shoulder for 4 miles, on this Sunday morning it is not heavily populated with vehicles. We make a left turn on Sunrise Ln. and sneak over to the Palisades Rd. taking our adventure northeast through a valley with mountainous hills on both sides. We encountered some cross winds in this section as I watched tumbleweeds get blown up mountain cliff sides.
This section is paved for 15.5 miles until the first gravel section of the day begins. It’s an easy section until the 3 Devils Grade which has a max of 9.8% with some heavily pitted sections. With a planted seat the punchy section is swiftly taken care of. You’ll know you’re done with the climbing and halfway through the gravel when you cross a Cattle Guard, more dangerous than any railroad crossing I’ve needed to make thus far in my cycling tenure. We make a left on B SE Rd after the Mayer Farms which turns into Coulee Meadows Rd and eventually onto HWY 2, where we make a right turn.
It’s 20.5 miles until the Dry Falls Visitor Center, once there a water bottle refill station, bathrooms, the scenic Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park and Stacy’s Top Chef Concessions services are here. Highly recommend a scoop of ice cream or Blue Star espresso from the food truck. I don’t stay longer than a yo-yo mindbender trick can be performed and head out towards Coluee City for the out and back along the Banks Lake.
Along 155, Coluee Blvd., I see Yonnel and Clayton returning from the northern stretch about 22 kilometers ahead of me. The turnaround point is called the Million Dollar North Public Access to the left and on the right is the Lower Lewis Creek Waterfall. Looking back don’t be deflated to have to climb back from that descent, it’s only 6.2% and less then 200 ft.
On the return to Coluee City, around the same section I saw the leaders, I pass the tandem of Greg and Rose, behind them is Mitch and John all looking strong. At the Coulee City Campground, I make a left and dip into the Banks Lake Brew & Bistro for blueberry pastry and Sunrise breakfast sandwich. They were pleasant and accommodating there.
Back on to HWY2 before turning right on 17. It is about 6 miles until a left-hand turn is made on 6 Rd NE / St. Edwards West Rd., the second gravel section. Which, had I been listening more intently at the start, was completely optional! The 9 miles of gravel north seemed to roll on for eternity but was extremely grateful for the intermittent cloud coverage being provided as this was a 30-mile stretch with 1,470 ft. of climbing to Mansfield against a growing headwind.
As I was about to turn left onto 172, I see this BMW turn down the gravel road and chuckle given there isn’t anything in the direction I just came from that would interest anyone. The driver was Mark a randonueer using the extra days for rest for the upcoming 600K. He offered some beverages but politely denied as I wasn’t expecting for anyone out here. I scoot on into Mansfield just in time to be in ear shot of a gun salute for a former service member. Mansfield Mercantile is only open until 5 pm. on Sundays and the Golden Grain next door offers restrooms. All stocked up, I press on through the next 34-mile section where we all battled 25 mph headwinds into Waterville. There were momentary reliefs when we would turn left to head south for a few miles. Never had I been at such an angle while attempting to ride straight.
The Waterville Family Foods provided the last services needed before inching my way, stilling furiously punching through the wind, to the top of the Orando grade on Sunset HWY. It seriously felt like I was on the slowest lift hill of a rollercoaster before the 6-mile descent. Crosswinds during this section were the most dangerous as speed maxed out at 40 mph. there was a small bridge section that was exposed and felt the winds blows from all directions. Back at 740 ft. the 18-mile slugged on. Tree branches were blown down along the back roads of NW Cascade Ave. and dust storms littered the air. The last fight with the wind was across the Richard Odabashian Bridge as road debris was blown up and pelted into our faces. With our heads positioned down we pierced through and finished the soul cleansing route.
Tuesday May 23 – Electric City 600K
16 registered riders huddled around Rose, the SIR RBA, as she gave the pre-ride speech reminding riders to be safe and to ensure communication if having to DNF on the ride. These statements are a must at such lengthy course attempts, best thought through plans are usually discarded as fatigue or discomfort sets in. We roll out a few moments around 6 am. and head north on the Apple Capitol trail across the Columbia River.
Following HWY 2, what goes down must always go up and thus we begin the roughly 6.5-mile ascent up Orando grade. From 785 ft. climbing 1,995 ft. reaching Waterville and rolling through the plains of Lamonie and north of Mansfield. Seeing forever in each direction atop of the plateau, if The Who’s, ‘I Can See For Miles’ isn’t playing in your head yet. The twangy guitar was the chorus was ringing in mine along the 70 miles to Grand Coulee.
A quick hydration stop at the Chevron on the corner was required before proceeding down to the gravity dam producing hydroelectric for four different power houses and irrigation water to Banks Lake.
In another 17 miles, I make a second stop at the Nespelem Trading Post for more liquids as it’s going to be a 45-mile stretch without services along the Columbia River Rd. If you are to stop here, there is a restroom in the far back left corner of the store past the produce and frozen food section. On this Tuesday, there was one cashier working and the line was 6 deep. I quickly ate all my food in line and paid to limit any waste of time.
These next sections of roads are the most scenic of the entire route, riding parallel to the Columbia River until we follow the road to continue heading north west up to Omak Lake, the 3,244 acre lake will be in view on your right as the road provides steady rolling elevation. Soon after Beer Can Beach Rd. your descent will take you into Omak which if you were seeking services, you’ll be out of luck as the dismal looking Omak Market on Jackson is closed.
Proceeding to Okanagon, aka as O-town, if you can’t pronounce it. A 76 on the right of 2nd Ave and Oak St. provided rehydration and a bag of TGIF Potato Skin chips. There is no Subway currently in the store do not be deceived as I was. Some used the IGA Market three blocks on the right off 2nd Ave.
I refilled again about 25 miles down HWY 97 at the Chevorn, McDonalds, similarly designed like the one out in Granite Falls. Major déjà vu vibes in there. After filling up it was time to proceed yet another 25 miles to Chelan Lake.
The Alt 97 climb after having a double century in the legs was humbling. With the sun setting over the lake, the quick descent into town as rewarding. The Port for the Lady of the Lake had an open and extremely clean restroom right on the dock. With dusk and night setting in, lights on from here on out.
With 36 miles remaining until we returned into Wenatchee, the only grade encountered was the climb out of Chelan. Be sure to have your lights on for the Knapp’s Hill Tunnel! On Alt 97 south of Entiat, our visiting Oregon randonueers, Todd and Stuart (John) caught on and we battled 18 mph headwinds before taking a short rest to tackle the remaining 200K.
Having got in around 10:55 pm., I slept until 4:15 am. and was back riding before 5 am., as I rode out a rider was just coming in from the trail. I needed to stop for a moment as my Garmin was having difficulties acquiring satellites. Later found out that changing the GPS mode from GLONASS to GALILEO should resolve that issue immediately without a computer restart, which I needed to perform twice.
Once resolved, I rode south of Wenatchee for a second time, after the climbing near the Rock Island grade, I noticed a highlighter looking individual and arrived just in time, to hold Mark’s bike as he pumped air into his tubeless that had snagged a stable. He had rolled out about 20 minutes earlier then I had and as he mentioned, I had perfect timing.
Traffic was immensely noticeable this Wednesday morning. We stuck to the highway shoulder until the right turn off Rd 10 NW, near the Quincy Valley Rest Stop, we take these back roads on through to Quincy and planned for a stop at Starbucks in Ephrata. We made our way onto Martin Rd. for the 13-mile stretch through the orchards and spun along until four dogs gave chase and attacked. Mark was caught up in a crash, he suffered no injuries but the shifters on the bike had suffered insurmountable damage. He stayed behind to sort out the claim.
I rode on and stopped at the Starbucks as originally planned. The staff was overly nice as I was not in any mood for pleasantries having a few hours of sleep and had been road ridden 300 miles in the last 26 hours. The next 44 mile stretch from Ephrata to Waterville about 2,640 ft. of gain. proved to be the hardest part of this ride. With fatigue taking hold, distant storm clouds and rain showers ensured I didn’t lollygag too much and pressed on along HWY 2 heading west.
I stopped at the Waterville Family Grocery where I was greeted by Jan who was riding some unpleasant gravel in the area. After a pose for a photo and downing the remaining Gatorade. I proceeded up to and down Sunset HWY for the second time and third time being on the road that week. With no headwinds to battle this time around, it seemed I had caught the road all to myself midday on this Wednesday utilizing the full lane through the windy descent.
In no time was I off HWY 2, through Cascade Ave and still on the east side of the Columbia River for the 4.5 miles of trail before crossing on the Old Wenatchee bridge and sprinting to the Hilton, ecstatic to be finished with the 600K.
Friday May 27 – 400K Eastern Washington Loop
On the last event of the week, only 6 riders including myself were present and hungry for the road. Our morning ride out to Quincy via HWY 28 was wet as a storm cloud paraded the first 35 miles. It did make for a refreshingly cool climb up HWY 28 for the second time that week.
The early morning sun was not far behind the clouds and began drying out as I made my way through George and onto Frenchmen Hills Rd. to begin the 73 mile stretch out east to Ralston. On this road, some dogs gave chase longer than usual and out of caution I sent a message to have the RBA warn others.
Pothole General Store was the first stop of the day to rehydrate, carb up just to get stuck behind a gentlemen proceeding to buy what must be the last pack of Marlboro Silvers the store has. May it be the last ride of the week but the inquisitive looks from the local clientele was strong on this day amongst the eastern Washington loop.
Out of the store and back on the road, the road takes us next to the Potholes Reservoir on the left. On the right is Corral Lake. Warden is a potato town; one can tell by the orphaned potatoes scattered on the street. In town, at the Astro Express Mart, I ran into two WXA rider filling up. Jose from Ellensburg was looking strong, and I bide them both a safe journey to Idaho!
20 miles down the road my next services stop was in Lind, desolate little thing. Along the way, I see three horseback riders on my right. The route proceeds with climbs, on the Lind-Warden Rd. on the left at the street of Hoffman is a field that had 6 dust devils before coming into Lind. The tattooed gal running, Jim’s Market was kind to fill the water bottles, whip up a lotus energy drink from my random dice roll and wish me good luck finishing the series.
With a snapshot of the bike near the mural, I’m a sucker for a historic mural, I pedal on through the countryside. Along the way to Ralston, three deer run parallel to the road with me for over a minute. One crosses the road first, the second peels off and the third keeps running for another 20 seconds before crossing in front of me.
I turn north, and proceed the 9 miles to Ritzville for a stop at the Circle K. I waste no time here as I feel as the main attraction for the mass’s eyes. We cut through historic Ritzville and out onto the long straight of Rosenoff Rd. for the 40 miles of headwinds, rolling climbs and chasing a storm cloud off to our right. Even through the route is perceived to be descending over time, this stretch of road felt to be the hardest part of the ride.
I by past the right turn on Rd L NE, to retrieve services at the One Stop Mart. The drink fountains do not have water here, luckily the lady behind the counter fills them up in the kitchen and then back on course through Moses Lake.
We are nearing the end and I’m beginning to sense the accomplishment as I ride on HWY 17 to 282. The afternoon glow makes Ephrata very rustic, and I dip into the 76 for the last stop of the day after the last 23 miles of headwinds.
With 50 miles remaining and it mostly a descent, the only thing that had me worried was having to cycle back on Martin Rd/ Rd 12 NW through those orchard fields that we encountered the dog chase two days before. Sure enough, as I approached those pesks were sitting in the road. Luckily, the dark gray aggressive one was nowhere in sight, and I scooted through unscathed.
By now dusk was here and I was on HWY 28 for what felt like a blitz of 28 miles, yet a minor slog through the 10-mile Rock Island and Eastern Wenatchee stretch. One last time, totaling four crosses of the Old Wenatchee bridge and the sprint up Worhten St. to the Hilton. When I arrive at 10:22 pm. it marks a result of 953.67 miles covered with 42,820 ft. of elevation climbed, having spent 60:41:17 in moving time on the bike. I considered this a resounding success.
400 kilometers is a long ways, and you can see a lot. This ride will keep you interested as it hits many highlights on local roads. With 12,500 ft of climbing, this 400K has a little more elevation per mile than PBP, but the sawtooth profile is similar with endless short climbs and descents.
Parking is pretty restricted in Mukilteo- most on-street parking is at most 4hrs with no parking 2-4am. Nobody wants to find their car towed after finishing the ride. Be sure to allow time to find parking and ride down to the ferry.
By far the most convenient parking is at the pay lot across the street from Silver Cloud Hotel. There are plenty of spots and it’s a couple minutes from the ferry. It’s not cheap at $28 for 24 hours. If you’re staying at the Silver Cloud, parking there will be just as easy- check with the hotel. I did see on-street parking 4 miles up the hill by the YMCA (10601 47th Pl W, Mukilteo, WA 98275).
We’ll check riders in beginning 05:15am at the Mukilteo ferry terminal, after the toll booth. Get your brevet card from a volunteer and get a sticker from another volunteer after passing the safety check (front and rear lights, reflective vest and ankle bands).
The ferry leaves at 06:00am. Once we arrive at Clinton, ride up the hill 1 kilometer to the P&R on the left at Deer Lake Rd behind the Post Office. We’ll finish checking in riders there, and start shortly afterwards for a 0630± start. The start will be open for an hour, in case you miss the 06:00 ferry.
We’ll start out on the leg- tenderizing hills of Whidbey Island with many water views. The Deception Pass bridge marks a change to the quiet roads of Swinomish Island to La Conner. It’s too early for the tulips on the Skagit Flats but there may be tailwinds to push you towards Chuckanut Drive on the way to Bellingham, the northern- most point of the route.
Riding south along Lake Whatcom on our way past Sedro Wooley, we’ll turn on to S Skagit Hwy for an 80K out-and-back to Concrete (wave to your fellow randonneurs going the other way!). We make our way to the Nakashima Barn and the Centennial Trail. Note: the gate at the Nakashima trailhead will be closed when most riders get there- you will need to go around it to access the trail. Exit the Centennial Trail on 60th St NE, 17km after the penultimate control in Arlington. The route through Ebey Slough beginning at km 388 can be confusing for riders who have not ridden it before- see this post for additional information. There’s one more hill on E Mukilteo Blvd before the finish at the Silver Cloud Hotel near the waterfront in Mukilteo.
The route passes through many towns, and finding food should not be a problem. The last two controls at Concrete (278K) and Arlington (359K) are 24hr convenience stores.
The 2023 Spring 400K starts on Whidbey Island and finishes in Mukilteo. All riders will be riding the last 20K at night, many will be doing it well after midnight. There will be very little traffic because of this, but randonneurs navigating this for the first time can be confused with all the turns, one way streets, and road furniture. Becoming familiar with this beforehand will hopefully ease your way to the finish.
17K after the control in Arlington, leave the Centennial Trail by making a right on 60th St NE, one of the many cross streets on the trail. There is a sign on the trail calling out the 60th St intersection as well as a stop sign.
Quiet roads will take you through Lake Stevens, where you will turn right on SR-204 at km 384.5 and go down the hill to US-2. Stay on SR-204 past the onramp to US-2 continuing to the stop sign at 20th St SE. You will turn right on to 20th St SE- there is a bike lane on the left side of 20th St and it will look like you’re going the wrong way on this one-way street.
Stay in the bike lane to the left as it crosses a bridge over Ebey Slough
After the bridge at km 388.4, stay to the left as the road passes underneath the trestle.
At the next intersection (km 388.6) turn right then left to go under the trestle and get on the ‘right’ side of 20th St.
After a kilometer at the stop sign, turn left on Homeacres Rd
At the T intersection at km 390.6 turn right on 43rd Ave SE and the trail over the Snohomish River.
The trail ends at km 392.1 at Hewitt Ave. The route crosses Hewitt Ave to get on Chestnut St. The raised lane divider blocks direct access to Chestnut St. Your choices are to (A) continue on Hewitt Ave past the lane divider to turn on to Hewitt Ave or (B) use crosswalk to access Hewitt Ave past raised divider.
The route to Mukilteo is straightforward from here, passing through Everett to E Mukilteo Blvd and one last climb before the descent to the finish by the ferry terminal. You’re done!
Last summer a portion of the trestle across Fidalgo Bay was burned. Reconstruction finished ahead of schedule last month. Three permanents were affected. They can be ridden now without detouring onto Hwy 20:
3040 San Juans Shuttle, 3043 Snohomish-Anacortes, 3044 Snohomish-Anacortes-Snohomish
I know you all missed chancing your tires on the broken oyster shells.
Thanks to Matt Kreger for alerting me to this news.
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The Populaire starts at Tacoma’s War Memorial Park. There is ample parking at the park and adjacent Park & Ride lot. The park does not have restrooms. A number of fast food restaurants and a gas station are nearby.
The ride starts with the spectacular crossing of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The projected cold weather should discourage tourists, but as always, be careful around pedestrians and other cyclists. The descent to the bridge, climb to its middle, descent and then final climb on the west side set the tone for the route: Up, down, up and down, up and down…. Easily adjustable clothing for temperature regulation is highly recommended. For the most part the route is on relatively quiet roads with pleasant scenery.
After a short cruise on the Cushman Trail the route descends into Gig Harbor, where the traffic circle that was under construction all summer at Stinson Ave is finished. Expect slow traffic and oblivious pedestrians in the downtown area.
A long ascent ensues culminating in a thrilling plunge to Olalla. The store here is closed but does have a chemical toilet available.
Climbing out of Olalla we take the longer route through a little neighborhood while the cars go up the shorter way. This bit has the steepest climbing on the route. There is a scenic spot near the top where you can pretend to take in the view while catching your breath. Once you’ve winched your way to the top you’ve got the ride in the bag. Now about the remaining 100 kms….
Seriously, if you decide to walk the climb on Banner Rd, do use the left side where you will not be hemmed in by a guard rail.
Banner Rd continues north arrow straight. Eventually it begins a “climbing descent” where you can make up some time. Approaching Southworth we weave through a little neighborhood to stay away from any ferry traffic.
The Southworth info control is at the Southworth Grocery. From there the route offers water views as it continues through Manchester and around the point to the next info control at the Waterman Pier. This is a pleasant, speedy section of the route.
Port Orchard comes next where the cue sheet points out a 7-Eleven for resupply. There are numerous cafes and coffee shops if you need a higher-class calorie and caffeine boost. The steady climb on Port Orchard Blvd returns us to the undulating highlands of the Kitsap Peninsula.
After the Fire Station 15 info control comes a fast downhill on Pine Rd where you must be ready to get on your brakes for the turn to Spruce Rd. Warning cues have been added for this and several other turns that are easy to miss.
At Wauna we turn left onto Hwy 302. Traffic may be heavy, be patient with the left turn.
After crossing the little bridge on 302 turn into the 76 gas station. What looks like a parking lot is actually Tyee Dr.
Tyee Dr shortly merges with Purdy Dr. At this point Purdy Dr is functionally a shoulderless onramp for WA-16. At least there are two lanes and most drivers should give you room. Relief comes in a kilometer with the turn onto Burnham Dr.
The route wanders south and west to the last info control at Kopachuck State Park, which has restrooms. Next we swing by the Arletta store on our way back to the Narrows Bridge.
The entrance to the Narrows Bridge trail is via a left turn on a blind right hand curve. Please be cautious.
The finish is at the Starbucks on 6th Ave in Tacoma, a few blocks past War Memorial Park.
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#04412 Redmond-Golden Gardens, 102.4 km, was contributed by Randy Oakley. Apart from the Missing Link in Ballard, it is entirely on the Burke-Gilman and Sammamish Valley Trails. At 47.8 km the route has a curious left turn onto the Burke-Gilman from Shilshole Ave that involves getting on the right-hand sidewalk along Shilshole. SDOT has done what it could to ensure cyclists make the turn under the protection of the traffic light. Please study the map and execute the turn as intended for your safety.
#4481 Packwood-Paradise-Packwood, 126 km, should be a spectacular route once the wildfires pass this year. Note Stevens Canyon Rd is only open Fri-Sun this year due to construction.
#4518 Vashon Ramble, 102 km. Finally I worked out a route on Vashon! With 6500 ft of climbing don’t let the name lull you into taking it easy. Note Burma Rd is closed. The closure signs are on the side of road to allow local traffic to pass. Don’t mistake that for the road being passable. It is definitely cut.
Geoff Swarts has been busy constructing a loop around the Olympic Peninsula:
Someone set the trestle on fire last week. Cascadia Daily News. This is the trestle that crosses Fidalgo Bay approaching Anacortes. Several routes use the trestle:
3040 San Juans Shuttle, 3043 Snohomish-Anacortes, 3044 Snohomish-Anacortes-Snohomish
The routes will remain active. Detouring on highway 20 is straightforward. Leaving Anacortes there are side roads and a bike trail accessible at S Fidalgo Bay Rd about half a mile before the traffic circle on 20. You cannot use this trail and roads going into Anacortes because of the median barrier on 20 at S Fidalgo Bay Rd!
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Heading out of town early in the morning, the route travels some normally busy roads. However, at 5:00 am, there should be lighter traffic than in the heat of rush hour. Before you know it, you’re out of town and almost feel like you’re in the wilderness already. The route travels along Mud Bay and Madrona Beach which are both gorgeous, but you probably won’t see the sights given that it will still be mostly dark during this part of the route.
The next section of the route travels 12 miles along Highway 101 which is a very busy road on a Friday, but there’s a wide shoulder. It will be noisy and annoying, but a necessary evil to get out to the gorgeous sights awaiting you. Your first opportunity for food and water may be the Dayton Store at approximately mile 28. As we rode past a little after 7 am, it appeared to be open even though Google Maps lists its opening time as 8 am. The first control is at the Matlock Store, 37 miles from the start, which again doesn’t officially open until 8 am, but I have shown up there as early as 7:45 am in the past and they let me in. If they’re not open, it may be worth waiting along with the old codgers’ coffee clutch hanging out in their vehicles as the next opportunity for water isn’t for another ~30 miles at Wynoochee Lake and your next opportunity for food isn’t for another ~70 miles at Lake Quinault.
The section from Matlock to Wynoochee is straightforward. There’s a slow 2.5-mile section of gravel at mile 49, but I rode it on tubeless 30’s and didn’t have any issues.
Turn right at mile 66.5 and you’ll have a nice descent on a beautifully paved road down to the Wynoochee Lake dam. Keep riding up the hill until you get to the signs indicating the campground and boat launch. Don’t turn at the “Day Use Area” sign, but instead turn right past the next sign that says, “Boat Launch Coho Campground”.
Stay left at the ICE sign at the campground hosts and take an immediate right. Don’t go into campground loops A or B. Look for a parking lot with boat trailers and go past them and down the hill to the launch. If you can’t find the boat launch, just go back and ask the campground hosts or ask someone who looks like they know where they’re going.
If the clouds aren’t too low over the hills, you’ll have an amazing view up the Wynoochee Valley. We may have a staffed control here, but if not fill up your water bottles in the spotless restrooms at the top of the hill you came down near the boat trailer parking lot.
Retrace your steps to get out of Wynoochee and turn right onto Forest Service Road 22/Donkey Creek Road. The gravel begins almost immediately and doesn’t stop completely for 14 miles. There’s a long stretch of gravel followed by a long stretch of pavement and then gravel and pavement interspersed with each other frequently. There has been some new somewhat chunky gravel added this year so there will be a few loose sections along the way. We saw very little traffic on this road on a Friday, but did find ourselves riding on the wrong side of the road to find a good line. If you do this, beware that people camp along this road and you should expect vehicles. Stay alert, keep your headlight on and try not to ride on the left around blind corners. I rode on 30’s but you may be able to go faster and be happier if you ride on 32’s or larger. Also, there is no Verizon cell service (not sure about T-Mobile, ATT, etc.) from Wynoochee all the way to Highway 101 so it may be a good idea to have a Spot or InReach GPS tracker with you on this ride in case you need help in this area.
Once you turn onto Highway 101, it’s 13 miles along this busy road to your next turn. The shoulder comes and goes so the best bet would be to ride single file. The Lake Quinault area has 2 choices for food and beverages along the South Shore Road and 1 on the North Shore Road. It’s probably best to stock up as soon as you can, as by now, as it’s been a long haul since Matlock. The Quinault Mercantile is open every day 8 AM – 8 PM and has a lot of good choices, including sandwiches that you can warm up in the microwave at the rear of the store. Grab some food and plop down at the picnic tables across the street. The road along the south side of the road is nice pavement for about 8 miles until you hit gravel which fairly smooth but has some nasty potholes closer to your next turn.
Once you cross the bridge over the river and turn left, the road starts off as pavement but quickly turns to gravel. There are a couple tough climbs through here with some loose gravel.
I found that once I turned east onto the North Shore Road, both of my GPS devices were constantly alerting me that I was off route. Ignore the noise and keep riding. There’s only 1 road on this side of the lake so it would be difficult to be off route. Stop at the North Grocery (open 5 AM – 10 PM) and restock your supplies as it’s another 20 miles down to the Humptulips Grocery store which is open until 11 pm and has another selection of fine bio-engineered food and another microwave.
There’s nothing very exciting between here and the end of the ride, except for probably a lot of darkness. The next opportunities for food and drink are Montesano and Elma. The last control of the day, the End of Trail Shell closes at 11 pm. If you’re in need of supplies and aren’t going to make it there by 11, you may hit the jackpot at The Lucky Eagle Casino (closes at 4 am!) approximately 1 mile prior. After the last control, use extreme caution when turning left off Highway 12 and onto Moon Valley Road as although there’s a turn lane there, there’s no light and traffic is moving very fast along Highway 12! Enjoy a quick night’s sleep so you can get up and do it all over again Saturday morning.
Whereas Day 1 headed west to the Olympics, Day 2 takes us east to the Cascades and near Mt. Rainier. The day starts off heading south on less busier roads than days 1 or 3. Pay close attention to the cue sheet near the Home Depot at mile 1.6 in order to get onto the bike overpass that crosses over I-5. You’re out of town before you know it with plenty of services along the way as you’re generally paralleling the west side of I-5 all the way down to Chehalis. Don’t miss the turn at mile 22.7 like I did in 2021! You really do take the I-5 South on ramp, but you don’t get onto I-5 as the road splits beforehand.
There is a nice couple mile long stretch of trail that parallels the road between Centralia and Chehalis which is a nice relief from riding on the road. Make sure you stock up on food and water once you get to Chehalis as the next opportunity to do so isn’t for another 40 miles in Morton. Enjoy the flatness of the first 36 miles or so as once you turn off Jackson Highway and onto the Middle Fork Road, your legs will remind you that you already rode a double century + the day before. There will be more hills as you get closer to Morton.
In Morton, you can choose to continue ~37 miles to Packwood, eat at one of the cafes in town right on the route or head south off route for about ½ mile to get to services at the Morton Country Market. We felt the Market was well worth the effort as they have everything you need including a hot food bar and glamorous seating right outside the store.
From Morton, you’ll continue on a nice stretch of road until you eventually hit Highway 12 which is a busy road but has a nice wide shoulder. The next opportunity for food and water is in Randle where you turn south to get off the highway. Now you’re back on pleasant and peaceful country roads with little traffic, albeit with a few rollers along the way.
There are plenty of choices in Packwood for food and drink, but the 76 station at Skate Creek Road where the next info control is located, has plenty of choices. Stock up here because the next opportunity isn’t for another 25 miles in Ashford.
From there, it’s a beautiful ride up Skate Creek which is a 13-mile climb but it’s a nice, gradual incline coming from this side. Enjoy the shade and gurgling creeks if we’ve had any recent rain. If you get lucky on the descent, you’ll get this amazing view of Mt. Rainier.
Once you turn left onto Highway 706, the traffic increases and the shoulder width decreases. We were shocked at how much traffic was coming out of the park on a Saturday evening, but maybe since the official ride is scheduled after Labor Day and the kids are all back in school, the volume won’t be as heavy as it was on the pre-ride. It’s an easy 2.5 miles into Ashford with Suver’s General Store on the left which is open until 10 pm or a couple bars and another store a little further up the road. Beware of multiple sets of RR tracks on Highway 706 which are located at treacherous angles for bike tires!
The next opportunity for food and drinks is at the Elbe Bar and Grill which is open until 2 am on Saturdays. It’s on your right as you’re heading into town around the curve right across from the junction of Highway 7. You’ll probably hear it before you see it! Again, watch for another bad set of RR tracks just as you’re leaving Elbe! The next 10 miles of road on Highway 7 is very busy with little to no shoulders in places. We tried the Alder Cutoff Road on the pre-ride but decided Hwy 7 was the lesser of 2 evils. Stay single file with all your lights blazing and beware of blind corners on hills with no shoulders! Don’t forget the info control at Pack Forest on the right in order to decompress from the craziness you just rode through. Once you’ve made it to Eatonville there are a smattering of choices to choose from, including a couple restaurants and a grocery store. We ate at Cruiser Café on the left and enjoyed it immensely!
The route from Eatonville up to Kapowsin across to just south of Roy is a last-minute change that wasn’t ridden during the pre-ride. We rode the original route up Highway 161 and the Eatonville Cutoff Road and did not feel safe at all and have thus, decided to change the route. This section has been featured on other rides though and we will have more info about this section in the announcements the morning of the ride.
There seem to be plenty of markets, cafes and bars near Roy, McKenna and Yelm should you need them. You pick up the bike path in Yelm for the next 13 miles. Enjoy being off the road for a while – you earned it! If you’re making good time and it’s still light outside, stop and enjoy the very funky and cool Monarch Sculpture Park. By now, you’re practically home, but don’t miss the turn on to Bonniewood Drive out near the airport as I did!
Once again, we’re heading west, but this time out to the Pacific Ocean instead of the Olympic Mountains. The road out of town takes a slightly different route than Day 1 due to RUSA rules. Early on a Sunday morning, it should be no problem. On this day, you take Highway 8 to go west. Again, a busy road with a wide shoulder. The first opportunity to restock your food and drinks is at McCleary, approximately 22 miles from the La Quinta. You’ll soon be following familiar roads, except that things look all turned around because on Day 1 you were traveling some of these roads in the opposite direction.
Stock up in Montesano because it may be a while longer for any other opportunities depending upon what you’re able to find in Cosmopolis and along the highway to Twin Harbors. Heading out of Montesano there are some narrow bridges and hills along Highway 7 but a good shoulder to ride on otherwise.
As you pull in to Cosmopolis up Blue Slough Road, just past this view of the Pacific Northwest at its finest, make sure you take an immediate left onto 2nd to the left of the Cosmopolis sign as soon as you take a right onto Highway 101 (First Street). It comes up fast! Make your way to the trail adjacent to the yellow Lions Club building. There are restrooms with running water available there. Continue onto to the trail for about a mile and then take a left off the trail and onto South Evans Street and head south and west out of town.
You may get lucky and find some services open along Highway 105 on a tourist-filled Sunday afternoon. If not, enjoy the views of these lush forest and tidal landscapes. Just past the first Twin Harbors entrance on your left, you’ll find a Shell station with a Subway sandwich shop on the right. Otherwise, the next entrance to Twin Harbors where the control is located offers flush toilets and running water.
Once you enter Grayland (I’m starting to understand how it got its name), you get a nice reprieve from Highway 105 by turning onto some flat side roads through some very scenic cranberry bogs. Thank you, Ocean Spray! The next stop on this route offers some nice views of the ever-wild Pacific Ocean. If you hauled your surfboard with you, you may be able to carve some nice turns down there.
Further on up the road, the Tokeland 76 station is open until 9 pm and the casino across the road is open until 12 am. Make your way down the coast to Raymond which has a smattering of cafes and restaurants on route as you ride through town. Otherwise, the 76 station slightly off route at approximately mile 102 is open 24 hours. It may be a good idea to stock up in Raymond, as there’s a whole lot of nothing for the next 28 miles along Highway 6 to Pe Ell. Highway 6 has a decent shoulder and wasn’t too busy when we rode it on a Sunday evening.
At West 4th Avenue and Main in Pe Ell, you’ll find the Pe Ell Country Market and Liquor Store on your right and open until 10 pm. Directly across the street from the Market, you’ll find the Willapa Hills Trailhead, bathrooms and a control. It’s time to take a break from the road and ride the next 17 miles on gravel. There has been some gravel recently added in places along the trail so those areas may be a bit deep and loose. However, if you just ride really fast everything will be OK! If you ride the trail during the daylight, enjoy the beautiful sights. If you ride it in the dark, have your headlights blazing and keep an eye out for heffalumps and woozles.
You exit the trail in the booming metropolis of Adna with the only service there being the Adna Grocery Store which closes at 6 pm Sundays. There’s a 76 station out on Highway 6 and near the turn onto Scheuber Road but I don’t know their hours.
As you’re approaching the underpass of I-5 in Centralia, make sure you stay on the sidewalk to the right of the road to get under I-5 as the road is one-way coming toward you. The Chevron straight ahead of you may be the last chance for supplies so you should probably stock up now if you need it. There will probably also be a lot of entertaining people there late at night, so that alone, may be worth stopping for. The last 30 miles into Tumwater is nothing very exciting and should be straightforward.
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The Iron Horse Trail is always a pleasant refuge from car traffic and should not disappoint. After a couple of blocks in North Bend the route is entirely on gravel. There are several pit toilets and portable toilets along the trail. Water is only available at Hyak. No food or support is available on the route.
Wildflowers are still in bloom. Boxely Creek is running unusually high and noisy for this time of summer.
Most of the route west of the tunnel is protected from the sun, winding along the shaded south side of the valley above I-90. East of the tunnel there is very little cover. Expect full sun exposure for those 10 km. Typically a westerly wind builds throughout the day. You will probably get hit with headwinds in a few exposed spots on the way back.
The shaded area at the west tunnel portal is a good place to stop for a snack. On the east side you will be in full sun.
Expect all pedestrians to have ear pods screwed into their ears, and all dogs to be loose. The trail is popular with families so be cautious around small children. Many cyclists on the trail seem unfamiliar with passing conventions, such as ringing bells and calls of “On your left.” Be careful.
The trail is in very good shape, but being gravel you must always watch for holes and loose spots especially when descending. The east end of the tunnel is very rough.
Inconvenience at Hyak
If you have not been at Hyak recently (at the east end of the tunnel, 46 km into the ride), there is some irritating news: The water spigot on the restroom building has been removed. Water is only available in the restroom sinks, which is kind of gross. And the sinks do not fit larger water bottles! My 24-ounce bottles would not fit under the faucets. Bring a 16-oz bottle if you intend to refill at Hyak. I did the ride with three 24-oz bottles but would have liked another. Address complaints to the Washington State Parks Recreation Commissioners and Directors’ Office firstname.lastname@example.org.
A unique highlight of this route, the Snoqualmie Tunnel is over 3 km long. It has no artificial light. It is profoundly darker than any night riding you have done! Full night riding gear is required: good headlight, tail light, and reflective vest. A headlamp is recommended in case you have a mechanical inside the tunnel. Expect other tunnel users to have inadequate, inappropriate, or zero lights and reflective clothing. Ride cautiously, it is hard to judge distance inside the tunnel. Do not use a flashing tail light in the tunnel.
Riding into the tunnel can be disorienting. Stop for a minute and let your eyes and brain adjust to the darkness.
The tunnel is very cold! The air typically cools as it blows from the west to the east portal. Don a jacket before you enter the tunnel.
Time for Gravel!
RUSA recently implemented a new timing rule for gravel brevets and populaires. 20% additional time is allowed on unpaved segments over the time allowance for pavement. In other words, the minimum speed on gravel is 12 kph vs 15 kph on pavement. (Technically the rule is 1 minute additional per gravel kilometer.) Additionally, gravel distance will be logged as part of your RUSA record. The maximum speed remains unchanged from 34 kph (which inconveniences control workers with 20% longer hours).
The time allowance for this ride is 8 hours and 29 minutes. Which should not encourage you to slack off: I can tell you riding uphill for 50 km even on tame rail-trail gravel is a fair bit of work!
Gravel timing does not apply to ACP-sanctioned brevets.
Presently gravel timing does not apply to RUSA permanents. Because permanents are free-route there is concern a person could free-route on parallel paved roads while taking advantage of the relaxed gravel time limit. Email the RUSA board with your ideas for addressing this problem: email@example.com
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