Permanent Route Updates

Lake Wenatchee

Two new routes were recently added:

04283 Seattle Lakes & Rivers Cruise, 117 km. Mike McHale designed this route. From Factoria it loops through Issaquah out to Carnation, then through Redmond and across the 520 bridge to Seattle, then south through Renton and back to Factoria. The controls offer convenient starting locations for many Seattle and Eastside riders.

04272 Phat Ferry, 100 km. Robert Hendry designed this route. Its 4500 ft of climbing should burn off the calories you consume at the four bakeries along this route as you ride from Bainbridge to Bremerton and back.

In the Almost a New Route department:

01002 Wenatchee-White River, 208 km. Formerly named E Wenatchee-Lake Wenatchee, this is a major reworking of the route to avoid riding on US-2 as much as possible. From Wenatchee the route climbs to Plain, visits Lake Wenatchee State Park for a view of the lake, cruises up to the end of the pavement on White River Rd, and returns through Plain and Leavenworth to Wenatchee.

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Permanent Route Updates

Two routes have been reactivated since the last post:

00536 Hood Canal Loop, 208 km. This was formerly known as Hood Canal Loop 2.0. Only the northbound direction is recommended since this places the rider in the most visible position on curves around the numerous small headlands on US-101.

02100 Sumner-Carbon River, 102 km.

New Routes

04207 Leavenworth-White River, 113 km, goes from Leavenworth through Plain to Lake Wenatchee then to the end of the pavement on the White River Rd and back to Leavenworth.

Seattle to Crater Lake Permanents Tour

The Crater Lake 1200 route was used as a template to create a chain of 100-200 km permanents from Seattle to Klamath Falls. The start was moved to Seattle’s King St Station to facilitate returning to Seattle via Amtrak. Two options are provided for the final day; the longer circles Crater Lake before descending to Klamath Falls while the shorter follows the Craters 1200 route. You can read more about the routes here. The tour routes are also linked on the SIR RwGPS Club Library home page. A big thanks to Crista Borras, who reviews new routes at RUSA, for checking 1300 kms of routes!

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Permanent Route Updates

In Sammamish 3515 was rerouted to avoid private roads. A couple of No Trespassing signs have gone up since this route was created.

Catching up with changes that everyone probably knows about already

In Factoria 3227 and 541 were rerouted onto the new bike flyover. On routes that go eastbound here I recommend climbing Eastgate Way to avoid the construction zone: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/35652417

The construction zone on West Lake Sammamish Parkway is passable to bikes. 3227, 541, 3502, 517, 2173, and 2292 were put back on the Parkway.

1015 was restored to the 520 trail at the Microsoft campus.

In Issaquah a number of routes were updated for the new connection of the East Lake Sammamish Trail to Gilman Blvd.

As always, you should update the routes on your gps unit to ensure you have the current version.

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Permanent Route Updates

Two routes were added this week:

In Factoria, 02795 Leschi-Hobart-Redmond Loop was rerouted for the new bike flyover across Factoria Blvd.

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New Surface Type feature in Ride with GPS

If you have used Ride with GPS recently you may have noticed the newly added Surface Type feature which attempts to depict unpaved vs paved roads. For example:

The dashed portions of the route trace and elevation profile are unpaved road or trail.

Surface Type is encoded in the route file when the route is created or edited. So older routes may not contain Surface Type data, or only portions that were more recently updated will have this data.

Unfortunately this feature relies on, frankly stated, flaky data. From RwGPS:

We’re using imperfect data to infer the actual surface type of a route, but are striving to improve the quality of this data as folks like you submit inconsistencies. We’re excited about this new tool and will be constantly improving it so that we can provide a robust and reliable source of surface types.

We are utilizing surface data from Graphhopper (our routing engine from OSM and also the same one that all of our competitors use) that identifies surface types based on a number of variables (residential vs. highway, lane count, speed limits, rural vs urban as well as a few other factors) to provide any type of hint as what the surface of a path is. Truth be told, only ~10% of the world has actual surface-type data that is recorded on this source, so it’s a bit of a guessing game to get all results 100% right. 

Right now, we’re inferring the surface type from the road classification. “Unclassified” roads are currently listed as paved in our Route Planner, this is likely why you are seeing some inconsistencies. In some cases we’ve found this to be the best option, in other cases, this is the wrong inference, so we’re trying to work through all those surface-type assumptions we are making to come up with the best solution.

At present it is very common to see improperly classified roads and trails.

If you are inclined to help improve surface classification, here is how:

1. You can update Surface Type information on OSM, which is the main source we pull from. Once Surface Type information is entered in OSM, it will be updated on our system within a few weeks. For more information on OSM Routing data as well as information on how to submit edits to OSM, check out the following link: https://ridewithgps.com/help/edit-routing-data

2. You can edit Surface Type data on any route – https://ridewithgps.com/help/surface-types#change-surface. This only updates surface-type information on your specific route.

I’ll emphasize the second option only changes the surface type in the route you are working on. Like other custom-edited items like manually added cues, it is lost if that portion of the route is resnapped.

From my perspective as a route developer and maintainer, this feature’s frequent glitches just add more work. You can turn it off in your personal account like so:

1. Log into your account on the website> Click More> Edit Profile (see image: https://s3.amazonaws.com/rwgps/screenshots/2021Mon16-26242.png

2. Click RWGPS Labs> Toggle on or off to enable or disable (see image: https://s3.amazonaws.com/rwgps/screenshots/2021Mon16-27242.png). 

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Chehalis Western Trail Construction

Contributed by Josh Morse

Thurston County is improving a section of the Chehalis Western Trail (CWT) between Lacey and Rainier. The CWT is closed now between 89th Ave SE and 103rd Ave SE with a scheduled reopening on September 15, 2021.

Thurston County Project Site

There was not an obvious detour instruction on the trail.  When riding from the north (away from Olympia/Lacey) the following route will bypass the construction and rejoin the trail:

  • Ride east 1 mile on 89th AVE SE to right turn on Rainier Rd
  • Go 0.9 miles to Right/south on Stedman Rd
  • Ride 2.8 miles on Stedman Rd to left turn to rejoin CWT. 

The reverse works for the return. The detour adds about 2 miles each direction. 
There is a good size shoulder on Rainier Rd, less so on Stedman Rd but traffic is lighter than on Rainier Rd. 
Olympia/Lacey Area Trails Update- Impact on:

  • 100k Permanents 2985 and 3056
  • 200k Permanent 749

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Summer 400 km Pacific Beach Brevet Pre-Ride Report

Pre-drive by Bill Gobie

This ride starts and ends in Bremerton. If you have not been to the Seattle ferry terminal recently give yourself plenty of time to find the entrance. You can buy your ferry ticket online. The “mobile delivery” option will give you a bar code that can be scanned from your phone. If you are riding onto the ferry you can use the bike scanner to the right of the vehicle lanes at the fare booths.

The route is final pending a final review. The link (same as on the SIR ride page): https://ridewithgps.com/routes/37118933

The biggest changes from the previous running of this route are:

  • Massive rerouting of the southwest corner of the route due to horrible construction on WA-109. I think the inland route from Copalis Beach is nicer anyway.
  • Slight rerouting in Hoquiam and Aberdeen.
  • The grill at You & I Market in Pacific Beach is not operating. The store has the usual convenience store items, but fresh teriyaki or burgers are not available.
  • All intermediate controls are info controls.

Other points:

  • The gravel portion of Cougar-Smith Rd is in very good condition. There are no large holes. Stretches are extremely rough, however.
  • Slower riders will have to cover the final 125 km from Montesano without resupplying.

Full disclosure: The picture was taken about 5pm near Union. Only very fast riders will get to view this scene… perhaps make this a stretch goal!

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Permanent Route Updates

Robert Hendry designed a new route, 04176 PTQ-Pretty Flat for this Side, 100 km. Flat Earth Randonneurs will be disappointed to learn the route is in Jefferson County, which is mostly unflat.

By popular demand (well actually one person asked for it), the canceled Summer 400 km brevet from Issaquah to Yakima Valley & back was turned into a permanent, 04180 Wet Side-Dry Side, 403 km. About half of this route is on the gravel Snoqualmie Valley and Palouse to Cascades Trails. Intermediate controls on the brevet were removed to allow one to free-route on even more gravel on the PTC east of Cle Elum.

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Permanent Route Updates

Route 00342 Bainbridge-Port Townsend, 205 km, has been added. The updated route is a synthesis and reworking of the original 342 and 2360 routes.

The new gravel route 04162 Hyak-Stampede & Tacoma Passes-Lake Easton, 103 km, is a trimmed-down variation of the 171-km 3907 Stampede Tacoma Gravel Lollipop.

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Summer 300k Brevet Pre-ride Report

Mysterious Mountain

310 km, 9000 ft climbing

Pre-riders: Adam Glass, Bill Gobie

The camera doesn’t do justice to my sunscreen

The ride begins and ends in the Renton Village shopping center, 601 S Grady Way, Renton. The start is at the Starbucks. Recommended parking is north across Grady Way at the South Renton Park & Ride. The finish will be at the Applebee’s until it closes at midnight, then at the volunteers’ cars in the parking lot. Fast riders (you know who you are) please text the organizers from Enumclaw so we know when to staff the finish.

This ride will have no on-course support. Carrying adequate water for the climb to Cayuse Pass is essential. Devise a way to carry more water than you normally do.

The forecast is for warm and clear conditions. Be prepared with plenty of sunscreen and perhaps protective clothing.

The descent from Cayuse Pass may be cold, particularly for tired and dehydrated riders. Bring a wind jacket and some warm clothing.


The preride started in early morning sunshine. Clouds soon moved in and conditions remained unexpectedly cool, verging on cold, all the way to Elbe. This was the first time I have been in Eatonville when it was not stinking hot. It’s not all that bad a place.

No rabbits in sight – full speed ahead! Four water bottles!

The route begins with a long roll on the Interurban Trail with its numerous railroad crossings. Many of the rubber tiles at the crossings were recently renewed. Not all, however! Most of the crossings are oblique to some degree, so exercise caution at the crossings.

Stay alert for suicide rabbits. The rabbits look well-fed this year. Hitting one could take you down.

If the weather is clear you should get the first views of Mt Rainier, awakening from its overnight slumber, unaware yet of your approach.

After taking surface streets in Pacific the route transitions to the Sumner Link trail with pleasant views of the White River. The trail has some surprisingly sharp turns so heed the warnings in the route file.

In Sumner you ride the aptly named Traffic Ave, then turn onto Shaw Rd. Shaw begins with a bridge that is steeper than it looks. The extra-wide sidewalk is recommended for the climb.

The next long segment is on the Foothills Trail to Orting. A public restroom with water is located close to the start of the trail. Like the Sumner Link, this trail has surprisingly sharp turns, generally when approaching rail crossings. Expect pedestrian and casual bike traffic to increase as you approach Orting, although it may be relatively light due to the early hour riders should reach Orting. Keep in mind the local drivers expect to have their right of way at intersections.

The route does not follow our traditional way through Orting! The aim is to avoid the busy intersections and pedestrian traffic on the trail in central Orting. Be alert for the right turn onto Whitehawk Blvd. A “landmark” instruction at the school track is intended to wake you up. If you need supplies there is a cue to head off-route at Whitsell.

Next we head south past Lake Kapowsin and Ohop Lake to Eatonville. These roads were unexpectedly quiet on the pre-ride, possibly because we were on them several hours earlier than has been the case with routes that start in Seattle. Turning onto WA-161 expect impatient loud traffic on the climb into Eatonville.

From Eatonville the route follows the less busy option to Alder Lake, highways 161 and 7. Shoulders were good except for a few tight spots. Pretty forest appears. Be alert for deer (and elk) (on the entire route).

Oh deer!

Turning alongside Alder lake on WA-7, Mt Rainier suddenly looms, challenging, “Who approaches?”

“Who enters my domain?”

Running toward Elbe at up to 25 mph we enjoyed a great tailwind. The temperature rose abruptly into the 70s. We walked the evil track crossing just before town.

This crossing is not a peach

In Elbe we found packaged sandwiches (expiration date in August!) at the Elbe Junction, opposite the decaying Heisler logging locomotive. There are several other options for food.

Steel is real

Leaving Elbe we walked the second abominable track crossing. The run to Ashford is generally a false flat. Don’t knock yourself out trying to make speed here. Ashford offers a couple of stores for final supplies before climbing to Skate Creek.

The climb to Skate Creek was well shaded and quiet with good road surfaces. At one point you may feel you are being watched – what, is it Sasquatch? No, the Mountain is surveilling you through the trees. The trees part and the stern, silent Mountain assesses you, then slips back behind the trees. What does the Mountain plan for you?

You persist, mortal?”

The Skate Creek summit transitions gradually to downhill, and then becomes seriously downhill. The road is in much better condition than I have seen it at times, but hazards still abound. Most potholes have been circled with paint, but not all. The dappled light under the trees demands full attention. Be satisfied with listening to the cascading waterfalls. Don’t look at them! Finally the right-hand hairpin turn heralds arrival in Packwood.

Skate Creek

In Packwood we ate at the convenience store at the intersection with US-12. It is now a 76 gas station. The outdoor portable toilets were out of paper; you might want to bring your own supply. There are other food options in Packwood if you go off-route right on US-12. Leave with a full load of water and food.

Heading east on US-12 the climb to Cayuse Pass begins with ascending rollers. They seem fun despite the lack of shade. The temperature rapidly rose into the 90s. Then the Mountain flicks the grade up to 5% and enlists the sun to torment the unworthy. My gps recorded 102 degrees alongside a basalt wall. When you find the rare spot where a tree’s shadow stretches across the road, stop in it and cool down.

Pass the gantlet, and the Mountain grants reprieve on shady WA-123. As a National Park road, commercial truck traffic is banned and most of the car drivers seemed mellow. After about three miles you pass Ohanapecosh Campground. I had drunk so much water in the ten miles from Packwood that I opted to get more water here. It was a good idea. Notes for finding water here and later at Silver Springs Campground have been added to the RwGPS file’s description. These are not in the cue sheet!

Shade on hwy 123

I cannot overemphasize how important hydration on this climb is, and how necessary to carry a great deal of water particularly if you are slow climber. I drank five bottles on this climb plus most of a bottle of liquid food. Don’t be tempted to pour water over your head. With a limited supply it is much wiser to drink your water.

Eventually the tree cover becomes sparse and you are again exposed to the sun. Fortunately the air becomes cooler at higher altitudes. Unfortunately, the air becomes thinner while the grade increases to 4-6%. If you’ve had as little altitude exposure this year as me, you will notice.

Getting high

The only truly unpleasant part of WA-123 is the tunnel at 190 miles. Be absolutely certain to turn your lights on!

Keep plugging along and eventually the Mountain will acknowledge your spirit, permitting your arrival at Cayuse Pass. Don’t fret if you are behind the clock, you’re about to become a gravity bomb. The upper five miles of 410 descend at 7%. Some braking is needed to hang on to the corners and the road surface is a bit rough in places. Drivers may be afflicted with must pass bicycle syndrome despite you perhaps reaching 45 mph or more. I confess it was gratifying seeing how desperately the drivers braked when they realized how hot they were coming into the next curve.

After an info control at Crystal Mountain Blvd you may want to stop at Silver Springs Campground to fill a bottle. Instructions for finding the water are in the RwGPS description.

In Greenwater only Naches Tavern was open when we arrived. Being Sunday night, and being Naches Tavern, they were out of food. Perhaps they will be better stocked on Saturday. The water we got from the bar was vaguely tainted with cherry soda.

We finished the descent to Enumclaw in the dark. This was not fun. I recommend trying to get to Enumclaw in daylight. Enumclaw has numerous food options. We opted for the traditional randonneur repas en plein air, namely chips and soda on a convenience store sidewalk.

From Enumclaw the route courses north across the plain toward Green Valley. We hit surprising pockets of cold air. After dropping into Green Valley the route hits you with a final steep test heading toward Lake Sawyer.

The last fifteen miles are an easy roll down the Maple Valley trail. In the dark don’t miss the turn to the trail from Maxwell Rd. Maxwell becomes steeper downhill just after, so be mindful here. On the trail be careful of the posts at road crossings. At the Renton end of the trail ride slowly and be respectful of pedestrians.

Renton’s one-way streets send us on the usual indirect wander through downtown. There is extensive road construction. Skinny-tire folks should be wary of pinch flatting.

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