Starting February 1, 2024, gravel credit and timing will apply to permanents with unpaved portions! Relaxed timing should open up new terrain and gnarlier routes should become accessible to a wider variety of riders.
An extra minute is allowed to complete a route for every kilometer of gravel. The extra time allowance is computed by adding up all the gravel segments in a route, then dropping any fractional kilometer. (Ride with GPS displays the summary unpaved distance.) For example, at the minimum average speed of 15 kph, a 200 km route has a basic time allowance of 4 min/km, or 800 minutes. If the route has gravel segments of 20.6 km and 2.2 km, the sum is 22.8 km. Thus the extra time is 22 minutes. The total time limit is 822 minutes or 13 hours 42 minutes. This is the same rule that has been used for RUSA gravel brevets and populaires.
RUSA’s RwGPS routes contain the overall time limit in the final cue. Presently the time limit is based on 4 min/km. After Feb 1 the volunteers will begin updating gravel routes with the extra time allowance. It will take some time to work through all the routes. If you are unsure whether a time limit has been updated, you can check it yourself with the method described above.
RUSA’s results logger, where you enter your elapsed time, has been updated with gravel distances. It will know the correct time limit regardless of whether the time limit in the RwGPS route has been updated.
Gravel permanent kilometers will be tracked in your results and apply toward gravel awards.
Checking for Gravel
To check whether a route is a gravel route, use the Permanents Search function at rusa.org > Permanents > Search. The results will list unpaved distance. For example, searching WA routes of 100-199 km gives:
Baked Goods and Cle Elum-Hyak-Cle Elum contain unpaved distance, so you would get gravel credit and timing for riding them.
A route is a gravel route only if the RUSA database says so!
RwGPS might say a route has unpaved distance yet RUSA does not show any unpaved distance. Reasons could be:
The route was overlooked and needs to be updated as a gravel route.
The route is known to be entirely paved. RwGPS’ surface-type data is flawed and has not been corrected.
Surface-type information comes from the crowd-sourced Open Street Map project. Surface-type data is missing or incorrect for some roads, leading to errors in unpaved distance. If you notice errors when riding, such as unmapped unpaved segments, or incorrect unpaved distance, you can report errors with the form at rusa.org > Permanents > Permanent Route Update Request. (If you’re really dedicated, you can also correct OpenStreetMap yourself. Then routes created in the future will have the right surface type.)
I (shiggy) have been riding on the Plateau for more than 12 years, traversing the area on the grid work of farm roads, many of which were established in the 1880s. I picked some of my favorites, and the best surfaces, for this first Waterville Gravel Populaire route.
The 134km route is 70% unpaved. Surfaces range from wide smooth gravel to fine dirt. Few chunky rock sections. May be some loose sandy stretches. Paved sections are dispersed fairly evenly providing regular breaks. Minimal traffic on the gravel and little on the paved roads. Of course, farm equipment ALWAYS has the right of way.
Starting from Pioneer Park take a 134km ride through the greening wheat fields and shrub steppe of the Waterville Plateau, on some of the same roads ridden by the Waterville Bicycle Club 128 years ago.
We will pass through the small communities of Douglas and Alstown, both at the top of the Douglas Creek Canyon. Turning back north and east through sage and wheat on ever rolling hills.
At Withrow we reach the edge of the last ice sheet advancement and roll into the Withrow Moraine. Fewer fields. More rock formations, erratics, eskers, and older basalt flows.
Resupply comes in Mansfield at 74km, with a small grocery, cafe, bar and a pleasant city park, the only shade on the route outside of Waterville.
Here we turn west. More moraine, and back into the wheat fields.
The Fletcher pioneer cemetery, one of many on the plateau, is at 110km. Worth a stop.
The neverending open sky carries us on west and south. Views of the Cascades in the distance over the rolling hills.
We mostly stay on gravel clear to the Waterville city limits, 1km from the finish back in Pioneer Park.
Recommend minimum 38mm tires. Slicks are fine. I usually ride 42-48mm semi slicks.
There is only one resupply point in Mansfield at 74km. Water, small grocery, cafe, bar, city park. Be sure you are carrying enough food and water to get there, and then get back.
It may be very hot, and there is ZERO shade on route.
Restrooms in Pioneer Park in Waterville. Grocery nearby. Knemeyers Eatery & Spirits is friendly and does a good pizza.
RV camping available at the NCW Fairgrounds.
Parking: near the tennis courts in the park or at the high school on S Chelan Ave.
The Interurban bike bridge over the Green River in Kent near S 256th St appears to have been damaged by a vehicle. The bridge is just south of where the Green River Trail terminates at the Interurban Trail. Hopefully the damage is light and the bridge will not be closed for long. Detouring is not difficult – plan ahead.
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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: