Category Archives: SIR Rides

Third Time’s a Charm 1000K Pre-Ride Report

by Ray Whitlock

Preriders: Jan Acuff, Ben Schauland, Ray Whitlock

Day 1:

Our 3 intrepid explorers looking fresh, bright-eyed (mostly) and bushy-tailed at 5 am!

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.

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. 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!

Day 3:

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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Iron Horse Trail Populaire Pre-ride Report

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 infocent@parks.wa.gov.

The Tunnel

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: board@rusa.org

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Three Volcanoes 2.0 Ride Report

313 km

14,000 ft climbing

Preriders: Yonnel Gardes, Robert Giglio, Bill Gobie, Aaron Jones, Keith Moore

Crashers: Bill Gobie, Keith Moore

Tower Rock

From foxgloves to towering cedars to enormous volcanoes, scenery abounds at all scales on this route. Waterfalls, lakes, marshes and creeks tempt you to linger, but mosquitoes and biting flies will impel you onward! Pray you don’t get a flat!

Abundant also is climbing. Climbing, climbing, climbing! 14,000 feet of it in long alpine ascents plus the occasional vertical wall. Where climbing abounds so does descending. On some stretches you may reach 50 mph, on others you must brake the whole way down. In recognition of the challenge of reaching controls atop alpine climbs, time limits at the staffed controls at Takhlakh Lake and 240 km will not be enforced. That doesn’t mean you can take it easy! And note this route is 13 km longer than 300k. The minimum pace to finish is 15.7 kph.

Gravel

12% of the route or 37 km is gravel roads in four main segments, plus short patches of gravel in otherwise paved roads. Much is not tame gravel like the Iron Horse Trail or the better roads in local private forests. Potholes, soft patches, rocks, and slippery surfaces abound. Hazards are too numerous to enumerate in the cues. Only the most surprising hazards are noted in the cues. You must ride prudently within your abilities.

Tires at least 35 mm wide are recommended, and wider should be better. Moderately knobby tires might be desirable for better traction on gravel, but remember 88% of the route is pavement where knobbies might slow you down and impair high speed handling. As historical perspective, 12-15 years ago 32 mm was a wide tire and people were negotiating these roads.

Water

Hydration is imperative on this ride! You must remain well hydrated to tackle the climbs. Between the exertion and time spent climbing and dry air at higher altitudes, expect to consume a lot of water. Three bottles at minimum are recommended. Water is available at the six intermediate controls on this route. Most people should be able to reach the second intermediate control at Adams Fork Campground before needing water thanks to cool morning temperatures and only moderate climbing. From Adams Fork I recommend you leave each control with every bottle full.

Adams Fork Campground has a water pump located at the far end of the campground loop from the entrance. Pumping water works best with two people: One to pump, the other to fill bottles. Pull the button up to dispense water from the spigot under the pump. If you are alone, pump to fill the reservoir until water gushes out the overflow below the pump, then quickly fill bottles from the spigot.

Lift the button

Food

Apart from the staffed controls, food is available in Trout Lake at the cafe and the store. Eagle Cliff has a store which closes at 8 pm and pizzas available until 7 pm (roughly when a timed control would close).

Bail out

At Takhlakh Lake take stock of your condition. You will have finished the most difficult and highest climb on the route. Fatigue and dehydration will make the remaining two climbs equally if not more difficult. If you go forward from Takhlakh Lake DNFing will be extremely difficult unless you have a sag driver waiting. At Takhlakh Lake you can bail out relatively easily, returning toward Randle on NF-23. Note this is a gravel descent and carries most of the car traffic between Packwood and Trout Lake (which is why this version of the route does not use NF-23) and has not been scouted. Be sure to inform the control workers at Takhlakh and Packwood if you decide to DNF. Route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/40258450. Load this on your gps (or print a cue sheet) before leaving home. There is no wireless service at Takhlakh Lake.

Safety

Ouch. Now I see the pothole.

Good lights and reflective gear for night riding are required. There will be a bike and equipment check. No shiney, no ridey.

Your brakes need to be in top shape. 14,000 feet of alpine climbing means 14,000 feet of alpine descending. Much of the gravel requires continuous braking. Speed control is imperative on the twisting descents, particularly NF-25 after Elk Pass. Brand new brake pads and good adjustment are highly recommended. Check that your rotors are within spec. I have manually-adjusted disc brakes and noticed significantly increased lever travel (pad wear) by the end. 

I highly recommend pairing up with a buddy. Do not lose sight of each other. A 911 emergency response will take hours, and maybe overnight. County names have been added to the cues to help 911 route a call to the correct agency. Your best option is not to get injured, and if you do, make your way prudently to the nearest populated place (Trout Lake, Northwoods, Randle, Packwood).

This route may be the most remote in SIR’s inventory. Once you are out of sight of US-12 there is no cell service until Trout Lake. The Trout Lake store has wifi. At Eagle Cliff (Northwoods) Verizon customers will have roaming service. That is all! This ride is like traveling back in time when phones were wired and a fully-instrumented bike had an odometer, except you get to take your gps.

If you have any doubts about finishing you need to have a sag plan. Due to covid the volunteers will not pick up riders. You need to have your own driver and car. I suggest sag drivers wait at Trout Lake and then Northwoods (Eagle Cliff store), and only search for a rider who is significantly overdue or has sent a distress message via a tracker. Because of dust and congestion I request drivers not to drive the route unless actually searching for a rider. That will preserve the splendidly isolated and pristine experience for the riders. 

A personal tracker is highly recommended. Please join the SIR Spotwalla page if you have a tracker so we can see where you are. Join the page here: https://new.spotwalla.com/lp/b77d-14c1c19-3fa7/join To track riders go here: https://new.spotwalla.com/lp/b77d-14c1c19-3fa7/view  (Thanks to Gary Prince for setting up the page.)

Mt St Helens from McClellan Overlook

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Three Volcanoes 300 Update

Hotel Packwood is open after completing renovations. The entire hotel has been reserved for SIRs for July 22 & 23. Call and book a room directly. Say you are with SIR or Seattle Randonneurs. We will have use of a common room for storing bikes if we take all the rooms. Unused rooms have to be released on July 17. Their phone system may not be taking voicemails yet. Keep calling. Phone numbers:

  • Main hotel: 360-494-5431
  • Kate Bagwell personal phone (handles reservations): 360-801-5596

The route has been updated due to construction closure of road 23. The reroute adds 17 km of gravel, bringing the total to 53 km of gravel. The reroute is slightly longer than the bypassed section of road 23 which allowed cutting the route down to 300.3 km from 314. The route will be slightly slower for fast riders and more doable for slower riders.

The finish control has been moved to Hotel Packwood.

Route: (link unchanged) https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30755658

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2022 Spring 600 km Brevet Pre-ride Report

Hood Canal

Pre-DNF’r: Bill Gobie

This is undoubtedly one of SIR’s most scenic routes. Even with the weekend’s damp forecast this should be a very enjoyable ride.

Susan Otcenas generously shared her Cascade 1400 pre-pre-ride intelligence, specifically regarding hazards.

The most dangerous spot on the course is at 327.9 km / 203.8 mi where you will find the Danger cue: “STOP FOR STOP SIGN.” This is on a downhill 7 miles from the overnight in Forks. The entire right side of the road is washed out. The washout is surrounded by concrete barricades. At night the glare from the stop sign may prevent you from seeing beyond the stop sign. If you blow past the stop sign you will crash headlong into the concrete barricade. Stop and orient yourself before proceeding!

The gravel portions of the route are in terrific shape. The surfaces are very hard with generally little loose gravel. They resemble rough pavement with a few potholes. The steep climbs on North Shore road may be slippery with the weekend’s rain, but they are short and quick to walk. I have never seen Cougar-Smith Road in such good shape. The large potholes that frequently lurk in the shade after the bridge at the beginning of the gravel section are filled. It is a good idea to slow down for the bridge regardless since the tall joints on the bridge could pinch-flat your tires.

Please familiarize yourself with the parking directions if you are joining the ride via the Fauntleroy (West Seattle) ferry. https://blog.seattlerando.org/?p=2100

The prehistoric glaciers that carved Pugetlandia’s topography did cyclists no favors, nor did the road engineers who built strait up and over every ridge. Don’t expect to make good time on the initial leg to Belfair. The first timed control is 340 km away in Forks, plenty of distance to build up time in the bank. At the left turn onto WA-3 before Belfair please wait for a safe break in traffic on highway 3.

After Belfair your speed should pick up as you roll along on WA-108 beside the Hood Canal. If the Canal’s cold saltwater makes you chilly, you should find relief on the stiff climb up Dalby and McCready Roads past the first info control at a gas station. After another climb on US-101 we turn west on rolling relatively flat roads past the Dayton store (no restroom) and onward to another info control at the Matlock store (good restroom).

From Matlock the roads undulate downwards through beautiful forest, finishing with a screaming descent to the bridge before the gravel section of Cougar-Smith Rd. Take it easy on the bridge. I can confirm Cougar-Smith’s climbing remains steep.

A road not taken along Cougar-Smith

After Cougar-Smith Rd we generally descend through Aberdeen Gardens and climb only slightly to Humptulips at 167 km. Gentle climbing continues until the route tips into the Quinault Valley and you zoom to the small resort settlement. For resupply skip the Chevron station, it has almost nothing. The Quinault Mercantile store is open although its restaurant is not. Slightly ahead the Rainforest Resort store is also open but with less selection.

The route continues up the Quinault Valley on South Shore Road. I believe this is the first time we have run a ride up the valley. This is one of the prettiest portions of the route in my opinion. After passing through open farm and pastureland you will cycle into dense forest where the ferns and moss suggest old growth. The trees are too small, however. The easy terrain probably allowed logging the original forest long ago. Nevertheless the regrown forest is marvelously lush. Watch and listen for Merriman Falls on the right.

Both my Wahoo and phone gps lost navigation lock in the narrow valley under the dense trees. If yours does too, carry on anyway. There is only one bridge across the Quinault River, and one road out on the other side. You will find them. From the bridge you can gaze upriver into the interior of the Olympic National Park.

Quinault River Bridge

North Shore Road feels more wild than South Shore. It is narrower and considerably steeper in places. Take care if the forecast rain makes it slippery.

North Shore Grocery at the intersection with US-101 is an important resupply point: It is the last supply for the remaining 100 km to Forks. The store closes at 10 PM. This is roughly the same time a person riding at the minimum pace would arrive, so it behooves you to beat this time. This is a good location to don your night riding gear if sunset is at hand.

Turning north on US-101, the shoulders are often poor or nonexistent. You should ensure you are highly visible for this portion.

At 266 km the route turns onto Clearwater Rd, becoming Hoh Mainline Rd. After passing through the bucolic hamlet of Clearwater, where you may sight elk in the fields, the road begins a relentless climb punctuated by small descents. There are four patches of gravel, 20-50 yards long, along here. They are noted in the cues. They may be difficult to see in the dark. After passing the brightly lit Olympic Corrections Center (don’t stop!) you will crest a second summit on Hoh Mainline and then speedily descend to US-101.

After crossing the Hoh River you have to climb out of its valley until cresting at about 324 km. On the descent beware of the dangerous barricade at the washout at 328 km. Finally some minor climbing that felt Everest-like will bring you to Forks and the overnight. Be sure to check in at the Forks Motel control even if you are not staying there. Fast riders may want to continue to the First Beach control, then return to their lodging in Forks for the night.

For many people the second day will begin with the plunge to sea level at scenic First Beach. From there the longest climb on the route takes you to the rim above Crescent Lake. Along the way the route turns onto a relatively new portion of the Olympic Discovery Trail at Mary Clark Rd. This quiet road and trail winding through dense forest also is one of the route’s gems.

Olympic Discovery Trail

The trail crosses US-101 and twists upward and then down through more forest on its way to the junction with the Spruce Railroad Trail. A long, easy descent ensues to the shore of scenic Lake Crescent.

The sojourn along Lake Crescent ends too soon and you have to climb a low pass over to Joyce, where a meal at the Blackberry Cafe is highly recommended.

After a run along WA-112 the route turns off to cross the Elwha River on a unique cycle bridge slung underneath the road bridge. Do not miss the turnoff for the bridge! The Olympic Discovery Trail resumes and you follow it into Port Angeles.

Once through Port Angeles, where there are numerous resupply and dining options, you leave town alongside salt water on the Olympic Discovery Trail, where you may get hit with salt spray if the weather is rough.

Next comes — can you guess — another climb, albeit short. The route gets on US-101 to avoid a hazardous, slippery portion of the ODT. A “Landmark” cue alerts you to the impending poorly signed left turn onto Old Olympic Highway. Avoiding construction on the ODT, we continue on roads all the way into Sequim, where there is a Safeway and numerous fast food options.

Once out of Sequim the route takes the ODT through Sequim Bay State Park, past Blyn, and almost all the way to Discovery Bay. For many riders this will be the first time on the very new portions of the ODT from Blyn to Discovery Bay.

There is little choice but to tolerate noisy, busy US-101 all the way to the Hood Canal Bridge. At least the shoulders are generally good. On the Hood Canal Bridge stay right on the solid panels on the grated bridge decks.

From the Hood Canal bridge turn left and pass through storybook-pretty Port Gamble. The Port Gamble General Store and Cafe is open until 6PM. Find it by turning left off-route where WA-104 makes a sharp right.

From there the route makes a beeline to the finish at the Quality Inn & Suites Bainbridge. To reach the ferry for Seattle continue south on Hildebrand Ln, continue on the walking path onto Erikson and finally turn left on Winslow Way E. The last ferry on Sunday sails at midnight.

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Parking for 2022 Spring 600k Brevet – Olympic Peninsula Spin

Historically this route has been based in Kingston or Bremerton. The only motel in Kingston burned down. The Seattle-Bremerton ferry is hobbled by crew shortages – with the reduced schedule the ride could not start before 9 AM, wasting almost four hours of daylight. Consequently this year the ride starts in Southworth and ends in Bainbridge. Starting in Southworth lets us begin at 6:15AM, almost an hour earlier than we used to start from other locations. Riders should spend less time in the dark reaching the overnight at Forks. All riders who finish in time will be able to catch a ferry from Bainbridge back to Seattle.

Separating the start and finish adds some logistical challenges. Recommended parking is at the West Seattle Park and Ride, aka Southwest Spokane St Park and Ride, under the west end of the West Seattle high bridge. Drop bags will be collected at the P&R. Riders will need to ride to the Fauntleroy ferry terminal, about 3 miles away including a climb up Avalon Way. Upon returning to Seattle you will need to ride about four miles from the Seattle ferry terminal to the Park and Ride, including a climb up the West Seattle low bridge.

Driving to the Park and Ride is not complicated. Unfortunately, online mapping services may not get you to the Park and Ride. Google Maps does not know how to drive the final 200 yards to the P&R entrance.

Please follow these written directions

For everyone: The P&R is only accessible from westbound SW Spokane St!

Once you reach the 5-way intersection at the west end of the low bridge:

  • Get onto westbound Chelan Ave SW.
  • The street turns slightly right and becomes SW Spokane St.
  • Get in the left lane
  • Go under the sign for Admiral Way
  • As the street starts going uphill look for the P&R sign and entrance on the left

Here is a video of driving from the 5-way intersection to the Park & Ride. Note that most of you will enter the intersection from the low bridge, which is on the right at the beginning of the video.

If you do not need to cross the lower West Seattle bridge: Use Google for directions to the Chelan Cafe. Then proceed as described above.

If you are coming from I-5, I-90, WA-99, or Beacon Hill/SODO: You cannot rely on Google Maps to give you an efficient route. It does not dependably account for the low bridge’s unrestricted hours. The low bridge is open to all users Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights from 9PM to 8AM. Follow these directions:

  • From:
    • I-5 freeway take the exit for West Seattle Bridge. Driving southbound use exit 163A. Northbound take exit 163.
    • From 99 southbound take the exit for Harbor Island.
    • From Beacon Hill/SODO get on the West Seattle viaduct.
  • Once on the viaduct you will be forced down the exit for Harbor Island.
  • Proceed across the lower West Seattle Bridge
  • After the Port of Seattle Terminal 5 traffic light get in the middle lane
  • At the 5-way intersection make a wide left onto Chelan Ave SW and proceed as described above.

Bike routes

These are also linked on the 600k route.

From the Park & Ride to the Fauntleroy ferry terminal: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39250052

After the ride from the Seattle ferry terminal to the Park & Ride: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39250201

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Brevet Electronic Proof of Passage Trial

SIR is going to offer a form of Electronic Proof of Passage (EPP) for this weekend’s Spring 200 km brevet. This is a trial of the system. Anyone is free to participate or to continue using a brevet card instead.

The EPP method we will use relies on checking a gps track against the control locations. This is the only form of EPP that will be accepted.

If you choose to participate, you must upload your ride track to Ride with GPS. Then provide the link to the track on a Google Form. The form will be linked on the ride page on the SIR site. The deadline for submitting your track will be 5:00 PM Sunday. We will not send reminders to provide your track.

Everyone will be provided a brevet card at the start. At the finish you may choose whether to hand it in or inform the control staff you will be submitting a ride track. Failure to submit a track, or submitting an unusable track, will result in a DNF equivalent to losing your brevet card. While we are trialing the system we will work with riders to fix problems. You may use both methods if you like.

The system has been tested by roughly ten riders on two events with no problems. Feedback and testing with tracks from a wider variety of gps devices should help us improve the system, and decide whether to offer brevet EPP in the future.

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2022 February 5 Winter 200 km Pre-Ride Report

Pre-riders: Mitch Ishihara, John Nguyen

RUSA Brevet #2134 Redmond, Lakes, Falls, and Trails – features Peet’s Coffee, Granite Falls (multiple bakery, food, and coffee options), Postdoc Brewing Company

The route features low elevation (below 240 meters/790 feet) on rural roads. 

From the start in Redmond, make a gradual climb up to Echo Lake passing through a short gravel/dirt trail. Descend down to Tualco Valley and Monroe. Climb up rolling hills to Lake Chaplain. Follow it up with a rolling climb up to Lake Roesiger. Continue with a rolling descent down to Granite Falls with multiple food options (roughly the half-way point). Make a net descent across additional rolling hills out to Arlington. Take a short out and back to Bryant followed by the gradual railroad trail grades on the Centennial Trail to Snohomish. Make one more lumpy climb before finishing on the Sammamish River Trail back to Postdoc Brewing Company in Redmond. All of this packed in against a few scenic peeks of mountains in the distance.

The Route

Ride with GPS: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/22218260 

Plenty of lumpy rolling hills before gradual 1-2% railroad grades on the Centennial Trail and flat Sammamish River Trail.

Parking

There’s parking near the finish at Postdoc Brewing Company on NE 65th Street in Redmond.

And parking near the start at Peet’s Coffee at Lake Sammamish Trail Parking off of NE 70th Street in Redmond.

Start location @ Peet’s Coffee

We’ll gather in front of Peet’s Coffee.

Compact Gravel/Dirt Trail to Echo Lake

Entrance to trail – do not go through the arch on the left.

Fresh composting foliage covers the trail.

We removed the small fallen tree.

But that’s about all we would do…

Hello Mr. Ed

Oh deer!

Info Control – Echo Lake and Aspen Way

11.4 miles / 18.3 km

Monroe

23.2 miles / 36.5 km 

Water and restroom at Lewis Street Park on right. 7-11 on Main Street.

Lake Chaplain Service Road

During a temperature inversion, go higher to get out of the cold lowland fog!

Info Control – Lake Chaplain

34.9 miles / 56.1 km

Fog billows over mountain peaks

Our last glimpse of warm sunshine for the day

Back down into the fog

Info Control – Lake Roesiger Park

48.9 miles / 78.6 km

The fog cleared briefly as we climbed up to the park.

Lake Roesiger Store

50.0 miles / 80.4 km

Last services until Granite Falls.

Granite Falls

58.1 miles / 93.5 km – almost half-way!

The place formerly known as Hanky Pies

First course…

Second course…

Centennial Trail to Bryant

Info Control – Bryant

75.7 miles / 121.8 km

“Uhm. John, we’re going to need a new info control.” Talked to the friendly new owners.

Arlington

79.4 miles / 127.8 km

Legion Memorial Park

Water and Restrooms on right

Who’s idea was this to ride in the fog?🥶

Machias Station Park

96.3 miles / 155.0 km

Water and Restrooms (dusk to dawn)

…on Broadway

They say there’s always magic in the air

Finish – Postdoc Brewing Company

125.0 miles / 201 km

Hazy IPA for a hazy day!

Was bone chilling!

Your weather forecast

In Redmond

Epic Ride Weather

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2022 January 29 Rouleur 150-199 km Ride Report: Snohomish – La Conner Out & Back 159K

Advance scouting: Mitch Ishihara, John Nguyen, Andy Sapuntzakis, Kevin Smith

Pre-Riders: Mark Thomas, Jan Acuff

RUSA Brevet #2887 Snohomish – La Conner Out & Back – features Looking Glass Coffee (closed for remodel) outside Spada Farmhouse Brewery, La Conner (multiple bakery and coffee options), Spada Farmhouse Brewery

The route features low elevation (below 110 meters/360 feet), gradual railroad trail grades with flat farm pastures, on rural roads against a scenic backdrop of the Cascade foothills and maybe a peek of Mt. Baker.

From the start in Snohomish, make a gentle climb on the Centennial Trail until passing under the HWY 9 overpass. Descend down into Arlington for a restroom pit stop, coffee (off-route one block), or baked goods. Make another gradual climb past Lake McMurray before descending down HWY 534 to Conway. Meander across the flats out to La Conner, with a chance to see Bald Eagles perched in trees. Grab some baked goods (or breakfast/lunch) at La Conner (multiple options). Return back to Snohomish for a finish at Spada Farmhouse Brewery.

The Route

Ride with GPS: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/38225344 

Long, gradual 1-2% railroad grades on the Centennial Trail itself and Skagit flats.

Start location @ Spada Farmhouse Brewery

We’ll try to gather in front, on the sidewalk/adjacent lot. There’s also an empty field of green grass across the street (Snohomish Farmers Market) in case we need a larger space.

Centennial Trail

Frequently featured in SIR routes and well-traveled, Centennial Trail provides a shared-use refuge for cyclists and pedestrians. Make note of the bollards though.

Arlington

Restrooms at Legion Memorial Park at around 22 miles / 36 km

The Lounge at Moe’s is off-route one block on Olympic Ave. Take West 5th Street from the Centennial Trail and turn right onto Olympic Ave.

Skagit Flats

Up in the trees and on power poles, you may see Bald Eagles.

Down low in the fields flocks of geese honk.

Out far across the Skagit flats, snow capped mountains hide behind clouds.

La Conner

48.9 miles / 78.7 km – about half-way there!

Wikipedia

Gilkey Square – La Conner Info Control

49.3 miles / 79.4 km at the end of Morris Street, you’ll arrive at Gilkey Square where the info control can be found. Mark read my mind on a reasonable landmark question. HINT: we won’t be asking you to find a yellow fire hydrant with numbers on it but the actual sign with the info control question will be nearby.

Soak in the view of the Swinomish Channel.

Refuel & Rest

After the info control, there are numerous options in La Conner to refuel, caffeinate, and grab a pint if you like.

Search on Google Maps: 

Highlighting a few…

North: 

  • The Scone Lady Bakery, 109 N 1st St, La Conner, WA 98257

South:

  • La Conner Coffee Company, 602 1st St, La Conner, WA 98257
  • Calico Cupboard Old Town Cafe, 720 1st St, La Conner, WA 98257

East: 

  • Public Restrooms, 302 Morris St, La Conner, WA 98257
  • NW Fuel Cafe, 313 Morris St #4, La Conner, WA 98257
  • Pioneer Market, 416 Morris St, La Conner, WA 98257
  • Stompin Grounds Coffee Co, 603 Morris St, La Conner, WA 98257

And back…

Kevin stashed and encouraged us to Lake McMurray with a hand pie on the return!

CAUTION: Arlington, Centennial Trail is on the sidewalk along 67th AVE NE against the flow of traffic. Automobiles cross trail from side streets. Take note of stop signs. Drivers may not see you.

Weather Forecast

For Snohomish

For La Conner

Epic Ride Weather

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2022 January 22 Rouleur 125-149 km Pre-Ride Report

Pre-riders: Mitch Ishihara and John Nguyen

Distance: 130K (0.1 km gravel), 81 miles
[The finishing time of 8h 40m is based on the official distance of 130 km. Detours may make the actual route longer. You will still have to finish in 8h 40m.]

Elevation (max / accumulative): 173 m / 1090 m, 567 feet / 3576 feet

Brevet #: 2876 

Name: Sultan Bakery Sandy Coffee Sumerian Beer

Route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/38225020
[The route may be updated Thursday night/Friday morning depending on the status of flooded roads.]

Features: Sultan Bakery, Sandy’s Espresso, Sumerian Brewing Company

SIR Event Listing

There is a perpetually flooded road through a wetland. Detour required.

These people did not make it through.

Tualco Valley had barns and farm stubble.

There were water-over-roadway signs (but not closed).

Automobiles successfully crossed.

So did we. Too much fun.

Snow decorated the mountain backdrops.

Snow decorated the side of the road too… but melting.

We ate lunch at a bakery.

There were a enough tough hills.

More roads were closed. Detours required.

Rivers ran full.

Sandy’s Espresso was open.

We climbed up Tolt Hill Road above the flooded River Road.

There were nice views from up high.

We rode through a fancy neighborhood.

We saw blue skies and sunsets.

We drank beer.

Good times!

The weather forecast for January 22nd looks promising.

For Woodinville, WA

And for the route…

Aerial view of the route with some photos on Relive.

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