Two routes were added this week:
In Factoria, 02795 Leschi-Hobart-Redmond Loop was rerouted for the new bike flyover across Factoria Blvd.
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:
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!
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.
310 km, 9000 ft climbing
Pre-riders: Adam Glass, Bill Gobie
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.
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).
Turning alongside Alder lake on WA-7, Mt Rainier suddenly looms, challenging, “Who approaches?”
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
Ray Whitlock pre-rode the 1000K route, and provided this report. Registration closes next Wednesday, and you can register here.
I have 2 confessions to make. The first, I DNF’d this ride, not necessarily because of ride difficulty or because of medical or mechanical issues, but simply because the rain on Day 1 and for the last 5 hours of Day 2 was non-stop. The second is that I rode the days out of order. With the weather forecasting ½ inch of rain and temperatures in the low 40’s near Lake Quinault, there was no way I was going to ride a route with 30 miles of gravel and going through many areas with no cell coverage. They say that bad decisions make for good stories, but I wanted to survive to tell mine. The good news is that it appears I got the bad weather out of the way for you all and the forecast looks great for June 25 – June 28!
What follows is a daily account of what I found on the ride as if I had ridden it in the proper order. Since I couldn’t convince myself to ride an entire 300K in a downpour, I didn’t ride Day 3 but did drive most of the route and have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Well, except for the pit bulls. I also was able to ride the section of the Willapa Hills Trail that’s on Day 3’s route a couple weeks ago, so have first-hand knowledge of that section.
Heading out of town early in the morning, the route travels some normally busy roads. However, at 5:30 am, it will be no problem. Before you know it, you’re out of town and almost feel like you’re in the wilderness already. On a calm, misty morning, the sights along Mud Bay and Madrona Beach are gorgeous.
Highway 101 is a busy road but there’s a wide shoulder so no issues there. At approximately 8 miles from the Matlock Store, I was shocked out of my zone by a pit bull that came running out of his driveway unimpeded and headed straight for my left foot! It was all I could do to get unclipped and off my bike while nearly falling over to get my bike between me and the dog. I yelled at him to go home several times before he finally started doing so. As I started pedaling again, he once again gave chase. I yelled again and walked my bike for a while until I was certain he was back home, and I could outrun him if need be.
Your first opportunity for food and water comes at the Matlock Store ~37 miles from the start of the ride. The store doesn’t open until 8 am so if you’re fast, you may get there before they open. It may be worthwhile though 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 28’s and didn’t have any issues. Turn right at mile 66.5 and you’ll have a nice descent on a beautiful paved road down to the Wynoochee Lake dam. Keep riding until you get to the signs indicating the campground and boat launch. I had some difficulty finding the boat launch, but if you veer right past the sign that says “Welcome to Coho Campground” and don’t enter Loop B of the campground, you will find a parking lot for boats, bathrooms and a steep, short downhill to the lake. The views are definitely worth it! Enjoy some lunch in the sunshine, fill up your water bottles and enjoy the spotless restrooms with running water.
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. The gravel is in pretty good shape, but I did find myself 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 do this on blind corners. I rode on 28’s but you may be able to go faster and be happier if you ride on 32’s or larger. Also, I had no Verizon cell service 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, but well-shouldered road to your next turn. 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. The road along the south side of the road is nice pavement for about 8 miles until you hit gravel. The gravel along the south side is buttery smooth, but the north side offers some bigger stuff along with some potholes.
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 for the next opportunity.
There’s nothing very exciting between here and the end of the ride, except for the fact that when I was entering the small town of Montesano, I had flashbacks of PBP 2019 as the entrance into town was slightly uphill with a church at the top! It was about then that I looked down at the road conditions and realized, nope, I’m not in France!
Day 2: 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. 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! 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 in food and water once you get to Chehalis as the next opportunity to do isn’t for another 40 miles in Morton. Once you turn east out of Chehalis, it’s a long gradual climb out through Alpha and Cinebar with little traffic. Eventually, you parallel the Tilton River for several miles of beautiful riding through big forests.
In Morton, you’ll have to go off route south for about ½ mile to get to services at the Morton Country Market. However, I felt it was well worth it as they have everything you need including a hot food bar and a nice wood shed located right next to the entrance where I was able to sit and get out of the rain. For the rest of you, maybe you’ll need relief from the sun.
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. That is, until you encounter the Pit Bull Challenge #2 along Cline Road at approximately 3.5 miles before you hit Bennett Road. I spotted this guy barking at me and running along the other side of the fence and didn’t think much of it as randonneurs encounter this all the time. You see the dog running but you know you’re safe because there’s a fence between you and him, so you blow him kisses or say sweet things like, “You’re such a good doggie”. Well, on this occasion, as I watched the good doggie running on the opposite side of the fence, I saw him disappear behind some trees and bushes temporarily until he got to the corner of his property where I thought the chase would end. To my shock and horror, he continued running as fast as ever but there didn’t appear to be a fence any longer! Next thing I knew, he was out on the road making a beeline toward my foot and it was déjà vu all over again trying not to fall over while fighting off this beast. He did eventually give up after a lot of yelling and walking of my bike and using it as a shield between him and I. On neither of these encounters did anyone at the homes of these good doggies appear or voice any kind of commands to their pets, so exercise caution as it may be a regular thing with all cyclists.
With my blood pumping, the next 6 or 7 miles along Bennett Road and Highway 12 into Packwood were a piece of cake. There are plenty of choices in Packwood for food and drink, but I chose the 76 station at Skate Creek Road as they have plenty of choices and there’s an info control there anyway. Stock up here because the next opportunity isn’t for another 25 miles in Ashford at the always friendly Suver’s General Store.
From there, it’s a beautiful ride up Skate Creek which is a 10- or 12-mile climb but it’s a nice, gradual incline coming from this side. The early Summer we had in May, followed by our most recent monsoons in June-uary have the greens of the forests and the whites of the gurgling creeks popping in a stunning array of colors. At the next stop of Ashford it’s a cruise along Highway 706 to Elbe where you join Highway 7. Beware of the railroad tracks both on your way into and out of Elbe as both sets are at treacherous angles to the road.
The next 10 miles of road are pretty busy with little to no shoulders in places. However, with it being a Saturday (instead of a Sunday when a lot of folks would be leaving Mt. Rainier) and the slow speed limits posted at some of the narrow, tight turns I think the traffic won’t be too much of a stress factor.
I must admit I really did not enjoy the 10 miles from Eatonville up to where you make the turn onto Kinsman Road. There’s a lot of traffic and once again, little to no shoulder in places. I did however find that most vehicles were courteous, and I don’t think I got honked at a single time. Make sure you have all your lights flashing and ride single file if you’re in a group.
You get to enjoy some peaceful forested roads once again when you turn left at mile 168. Who knew that a military base could be so beautiful and tranquil? Highway 507 all the way down through Roy and McKenna will snap you out of your bliss as there’s a lot of traffic but good shoulders.
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, make sure you take an immediate left onto 2nd to the left of the Cosmopolis sign as soon as you take a right on 1st. It comes up fast! Make your way to the trail adjacent to the yellow Lions Club building. There’s fountain water and honey buckets available.
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, you’ll find a Shell station with a Subway sandwich shop on the right. Otherwise, the next entrance to Twin Harbors 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 curve some nice turns down there.
Further on up the road, Tokeland may offer some services at the casino or the 76 station. Otherwise, make your way down the coast to Raymond where there is a 76 station, a coffee shop, and a Dairy Queen. All are just a bit off route but probably worth it. The next opportunity isn’t for another 28 miles in Pe Ell.
In Raymond, I was hoping the route could turn onto a short section of the Willapa Hills Trail to avoid some traffic on Highway 6. However, after checking it out in the pouring rain, I’m not certain the chunky gravel is very ridable once the pavement ends. Thus, up Highway 6 it goes with some tight turns and a narrow bridge right outside of Raymond, followed by a couple narrow bridges further on up the road.
There are sections along this road that have little or no shoulder; however, on a Sunday night with your bike lights flashing, I don’t think it will be an issue.
The Pe Ell Texaco station, 28 miles from Raymond, should be open until 10 pm on a Sunday night. Shortly thereafter, you finally get to turn onto the packed gravel and very dark by this point, Willapa Hills Trail. Over the Memorial Day weekend, I rode this section of mostly packed gravel at almost road speeds on tubeless 28’s. The only difference is that then it was broad daylight whereas by now, it will probably be completely dark. Have your headlights blazing and it will probably go just as smoothly for you.
Approximately 19 miles later, as you’re preparing to turn left onto Highway 6, please exercise caution as the gravel here is very large and loose and the left-hand turn onto Highway 6 is a bit of a blind corner with vehicles approaching at high speeds from the left. There’s a 76 station not too far up the road from here.
As you enter Centralia on the sidewalk under I-5, the Chevron straight ahead of you may be the last chance for supplies so you should probably stock up now if you need it. The last 30 miles into Tumwater is nothing exciting but fairly straightforward in getting the horses back to the barn.
Registration link (closes 6/16 at midnight)
When I think of what makes a great populaire, among the important parts are things like:
If this checks any of your boxes, come to our Summer Populaire on Saturday, June 19. Checkin should be quick, just to pick up your brevet card to start around 8:00 AM.
Route & Cue Sheet: RWGPS Route (FINAL)
RUSA Route 1446 Snoqualmie River Run Populaired
Parking: Avoid parking in the Peet’s/ Whole Foods parking lot. There is a bike trail parking lot just to the west of Peet’s, enter from NE 70th St.
Or you may consider street parking on NE 65th street by Postdoc Brewing, less than a kilometer from the start.
Note:Printed cuesheets will not be available at the start. You may choose to print your own. To print it, from the route page, click the More button, then select Print Cuesheet.
00857 Marblemount-Mazama-Marblemount, 238 km crossing Washington and Rainy Passes in both directions was recently reactivated.
The NE 195th St pedestrian bridge across I-5, dubbed the “Tetanus Tube” by some wags, is closed for light rail construction. It should reopen in July if work stays on schedule.
Concurrently, NE 185th St is heavily affected by construction that will extend into 2022.
If only one of these I-5 crossings were closed or compromised, riders could detour to the other. But with both affected, the most expedient option is to deactivate these three 100k routes:
Andrew Sapuntzakis, Sarah Stolz & Kevin Smith pre-rode the Spring 400K, packed with views, climbs, more views, even more climbs—the perfect SIR ride!
Note: There are many turns on this route. If relying on a cue sheet, pick a font you can read, and bring a “map light” once it’s dark. If using electronic navigation, make sure the device doesn’t choke on the 300+ course points, and have a way to recharge it. While there is lots of parking near the hotel and the stadium, for peace of mind please consider using the park & ride ~5 blocks away, just E of 102nd Ave. Now it’s onto the ride!
The start rolls down from McMenamins, crosses 522, and jogs left onto the new ped/bike bridge to the trail. Follow that all the way to Fremont. It’s not as smooth as it once was, so go easy through this part. Be nice to kids, pets, and other traffic along the way. Pro tip: Met Market is on the right at ~11.4 miles (18.3km), with bathrooms, water, and a decadent chocolate chip cookie that is sure to get you through the first few hills.
Northlake Pl, across from Gas Works, makes for a smooth transition onto 34th. A wide left onto the Fremont bridge sidewalk, then some quick rights to the ship canal trail take you under the Ballard bridge. Go through a made-u-look-both-ways railroad crossing, onto the sidewalk on the S side of Emerson, and then follow the 2-way bike lane over the railyard. Bike lane turns right on Gilman, becomes Gov’t Way, right up to the front entrance of Discovery Park. Don’t miss the left at the top, otherwise you’ll be backtracking up a solid extra climb.
Note the (former) stables on your right as you start to head down to the first control. At the bottom, avoid the right fork with the concrete overpass (or you’ll end up in the wastewater treatment plant- yuk). Answer the first question, take in the view to your next control destination at Alki Point, have a final bite of that gooey cookie, then head back up. Turn right just before the stables, and head toward the S park exit. Magnolia Blvd should be an easy cruise with stunning Elliott Bay views and homes to match. Don’t miss the turn onto Thorndyke, with its gentle incline down to the railyard. Admire the other Victorian technology, but be aware of an extremely narrow fenced ramp—communicate with oncoming trail traffic!
Take it easy on the trails through the waterfront parks, then go into the street once you reach Alaskan Way. Stay on it until King St to avoid the sidewalk/trail confusion caused by overlapping construction projects. After a short smooth trail segment, you’re back on Alaskan/E. Marginal Way. Activity is returning to the port, but watch for potholes! The cues will get you through to the W Seattle Bridge trail, but spare a glance for the repairs to the upper bridge. Traffic on the lower roads should still be reasonable, and the green lanes should help you get across the Delridge/Spokane/Chelan/Marginal spaghetti bowl intersection. Once across, getting to Harbor/Alki isn’t bad. The road that loops past the 2nd control has been “pedestrianized.”
As you head south, a short climb connects Beach Dr. to Fauntleroy, but you only head south briefly before turning to bypass the ferry traffic. The Original Bakery is at the foot of the Marine View Dr. climb. Enjoy more Sound views as you climb, then ~2.5 miles to prepare for Shorewood Blvd, which will make you glad you brought “easy” gears. Marvel at its multi-stage reveal.
From ~49 miles (79km) until Dash Point there are several sharp descents with tight turns—stay in your lane! If you’re not familiar with these roads, take it easy.
Work your way down to three-tree point for the next control, then more ups and downs to Redondo Beach, which has public restrooms. More climbs and drops—don’t miss the turn to get to the Dash Pt control. The climb out includes a steep segment and more great views. If you look closely, across the water is your next control destination, so close, yet…. Rejoin 509, but not for long, and don’t follow it down to the water.
As you approach Tacoma, use the sidewalk when you cross the Eells St bridge over the Puyallup. North of downtown Tacoma, the route jogs left to Commerce/Stadium, where construction materials and streetcar tracks make for a narrow path. Stay to the right of the tracks, you don’t need to cross them. Turn right at the light on Tacoma Ave, where Salamone’s pizza (opposite corner) sells by the slice, and it’s also a food option on the way out of town. Ruston Way is like a narrower Alki. The Point Ruston Public Market has bathrooms inside and food trucks outside. Options in the Ruston development may be busy. Consider grabbing some food to eat at the control in Dune Peninsula Park, taking in the sweeping views. Hopefully the Mountain will be out to show your next direction, you’ll be seeing it for hours. Water and bathrooms are available in the park pavilion.
In Puyallup, the river crossings aren’t bad, but take a wide left and get onto the sidewalk where Shaw goes over the tracks. Use the near crosswalk just after the tracks to get on the Foothills trail rather than turning onto busy Pioneer. Cruise all the way to Orting Safeway, McD’s, etc.
The initial climb on Orting Kapowsin Hwy doesn’t have much of a shoulder, so do your best to stick to the fog line. Eventually, the route passes the Kapowsin grocery (Texaco gas station) twice—it’s decently stocked, but has no bathrooms. From there, it’s mostly downhill back to Pioneer and the Foothills trail. The sani-can along the trail was not well maintained, so you might byo paper.
Leaving South Prairie, there’s another climb. On the way into Wilkeson, note the skillet-eggs-n-bacon feature in the skate park. There are a few food options, although the Pick & Shovel saloon is probably your best bet, with outdoor seating around back. Figure ~30 minutes to the Carbonado control and back.
From here, the route profile stays pretty tame for the next 100km, so you can hopefully make good time. Services can be found in Burnett, Buckley, Enumclaw, with a control before the Green River. Then head for the Safeway control (open till 1 AM) on Kent Kangley Rd. The staffed Landsburg control just three short miles away marks the return to trails (no services) all the way to Renton. The Landsburg control will have hot coffee, hot water for tea, cocoa, cup-o-soup, packaged sandwiches and energy providing snacks.
From Renton, it’s the East Side of Lake Washington that most of us can do in our sleep, although the gravel rail trail is almost entirely closed for construction, so we have you on the Lake Washington Loop trail. Then the I-90 trail to Mercer Island, and the scenic way around starting with the twisty bits. After the floating bridge, there’s a steep half block up to Seattle’s Lake Washington Blvd, and a twisty, bumpy descent through Frink/Leschi Park to a restroom info control at Madrona Park. Continue on, up the hairpin, west to MLK, and through the Montlake neighborhood to the 520 trail via the Montlake overpass due to the posted closure on the Roanoke trail stub.
Cross the lake again, and the “rolling” trail dumps you onto Northup, then 24th for some short climbs. Then it’s on the trail again to 148th for the last info control, and then back off the trail once more due to construction. Pass Microsoft and Nintendo, and a quick trail descent to Redmond. Onto the Sammamish River Trail all the way to Bothell, up the ramp, o’er the bridge, and back to the hotel where your author(s) will be waiting to congratulate you.
by Yonnel Gardes
Fabien and Yonnel did a preride on Sunday, May 10th. We had a wonderful time, this route is really special with incredible landscapes along the way. It’s also not a traditional rando event due to the gravel sections.
Speaking of gravel, the first question is about gear. Shiggy recommended 32mm tires minimum. Initially I was leaning towards taking my gravel bike (38, tubeless) but Fabien convinced me to take our road bikes instead. So he did it on 25mm tires and I had 28mm. We got lucky and did not flat or crash. It’s a matter of luck and comfort level on gravel. I think what Shiggy recommends make sense. However, you will only encounter 14 miles of gravel out of 125 – so you will spend a lot more time on nice pavement!
Another major factor on this route is the wind. Tailwinds are almost guaranteed during the first half. Fun and fast, enjoy it while it lasts! The second half is when you’ll be more exposed with dominant northwest/west winds. We got very lucky on Sunday but the day before, the wind reached 20mph.
With regard to services, there is a rest area at 27 miles and this is the last water supply until mile 72. The logical places to stop for food/drinks are at George (mp 72.4) and Quincy (mp 87.7). After Quincy, there is a 30-mile section without any supplies. We stopped at the Shree’s Truck Stop & Gas Station in George, on the left side of the road. Very convenient with a Subway and outside seating. Sage Coffee House and Bistro at mile 74.5 is another good option.
What makes this ride special is the beautiful scenery along the Columbia river and the rock formations. I was in Arizona just recently and that looked just the same, only the cactus were missing. The out and back to the river along the Frenchman Coulee is the highlight of this route in my opinion, and not just because of the name…
Shiggy did a really good job with control locations and questions. Curiously the Frenchman Hills sign is not an official control but I strongly recommend bowing to this sign and take a selfie like we did 😊
The Safeway lot at the start/end has plenty of parking. Shiggy met us at the start and end of the preride, which was really nice. Thanks so much for organizing this really cool event. I am sure all the participants will have a blast! Let me know if you have any questions. Yonnel_g@yahoo.com
Susan Otcenas and Ian Shopland are organizing the flèche this year, to be held the weekend of 07/23-07/25. Full details will be forthcoming, but if you are interested in riding now would be a good time to start gathering together a team and creating a route. As usual, the destination will be Olympia. In a nod to COVID precautions, we will be foregoing our usual indoor banquet in favor of an outdoor celebration at a city park. With the date shift from cold and rainy Easter to warm and sunny July, we expect there to be a lot of interest in this event. So expect to be asked to have your route finalized and registration complete two weeks in advance of the event. Let us know if you have any questions, and thank you for your patience while we finalize the details.