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Arlington – Washington Pass 400K

Last Saturday (7/30), Mick set off on the Summer 400K pre-ride from the Best Western Arlington (3721 172nd St NE, Arlington). In short, this is a beautiful and challenging 400K (I know, all 400K’s are challenging), which will require planning to ensure riders have enough calories, electrolytes and water. Mick had two bottles and a camelback, and needed all of that capacity.

I’ll expand on this below, but here are the significant points where riders will have to opportunity to take on fluids and calories:
Darrington (55K)- store, restaurant
Marblemount (100K)- store, restaurant
Newhalem (123K)- water, toilets at Info Ctr
Colonial Creek (139K)- water, toilets in campground
Canyon Creek Trailhead (156K)- water, toilets (SIR staffed)
Washington Pass Overlook (191K)- water, toilets, snacks (SIR staffed)
Colonial Creek (242K)- water, toilets in campground
Newhalem (259K)- water, toilets at Info Ctr
Marblemount (282K)- store, restaurant

Concrete (310K)- store (10pm),  restaurant

Clear Lake (353K) Clear Lake Market (10:30pm), Evelyn’s Tavern (midnight)

Big Lake (362K) Big Lake Grocery (10:00pm)

The start takes us out on Smokey Pt. Blvd, and within 5K we’re on WA-530. There were wisps of fog still in the fields on our way to Oso and Darrington, and not much traffic at that hour. The store at the gas station in Darrington is at 55K, at the left turn to stay on WA-530, but some riders may choose to wait to refuel until Marblemount (100K, 100m off course).

It’s river grade climbing following the Skagit river to Newhalem, where everyone should stop to take on water for the climbing to follow. There will only be water available at the Info Ctr, the store there is closed.

After Newhalem, the climbing starts in earnest. Earlier in the day, much of the climb is shaded. Take advantage of the occasional waterfall close by the road to cool off! There will be water and toilets available at Colonial Creek Campground, 100m from entrance on either side of the road. We will also have water available at the Canyon Creek Trailhead, in a shaded gravel parking area.

The turnaround is at the Washington Pass Overlook. There are toilets, and it will be SIR- staffed with water and snacks. Mick arrived there with approximately 9 hours on the clock for his first half of the ride.

Riders should be able to make better time getting back to Marblemount, possibly stopping for water at Colonial Creek and/or Newhalem. All riders should find a couple choices for food and restaurants in Marblemount (282K) and Concrete (310K). 

In Concrete, we’ll take  Concrete- Sauk Valley Rd and S. Skagit Hwy, shadier and quieter alternatives to WA-20. Near Sedro Woolley, we’ll take WA-9 to the Nakashima Barn and the Centennial Trail back to Arlington. Note that most of the stores after Concrete close by 10 or 10:30.

The finish is back at the Best Western where cold beer and pizza will be waiting for you. I hope to see you at the 0500 start on 8/6! Registration is online here.

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Travelogue Mann

Mark, Greg, Rose and Jan pre-rode the Spring 200K last week. Here is Mark’s ride report. Enjoy!

The SIR Spring 200k route, The End of Mann, offers a scenic and relatively gentle reintroduction to brevets after our extended pandemic hiatus. With only 1430m (4700ft) of climbing, the route is less hilly than most brevets, but features some really nice scenery.

The first quarter of the route has the substantial climb from Woodinville up to Maltby, but is otherwise quite gentle, with roughly half on gentle multiuse trails (Sammamish River Trail and Centennial Trail).

The climb rewards with some nice views of the hills and mountains to the north and east, including Mount Baker in the distance.

After leaving the trail, a short section of busy road leads to some really nice quiet riding west of Granite Falls, including a pretty stretch along the Stillaguamish River.

The town of Granite Falls, about 1/3 of the way through the ride, offers a few options for refueling, including a couple of gas station convenience stores and coffee stands. (Please wear a mask). River, lake, and mountain views dot the nice rural riding from Granite Falls to Sultan via Lake Roesiger.

Don’t forget to say hi to the locals.

The halfway point of the ride, Sultan offers the last services opportunity for 55km. A convenience store on the left just before you reach US-2 provides an opportunity for ice cream bars on the curb in classic randonneur style.

Please note that the least stressful way through Sultan is to stay on the north side of US-2, using sidewalk (and a bit of shoulder) to reach the pedestrian bridge across the Sultan River. That lovely new bike/pedestrian facility avoids the very bicycle-unfriendly US-2 bridge. After Sultan, the route crosses the Skykomish River and heads out to the end of the pavement on Mann Road, where some overly friendly SIR volunteers will be stationed. The quiet stretch out Mann Road has some nice views of the Cascades foothills and a few curious cycling fans.

After the control, Mann and Ben Howard roads take you over to the Snoqualmie Valley with just a few short, but leg-busting climbs to keep you focused. SIR-familiar farming roads in the valley bring you to Carnation.

If you are comfortable going into a coffee shop, I highly recommend patronizing Sandy’s Espresso on the left at Commercial Street. Sandy and her friendly staff are long-time supporters of SIR rides and the nicest folks in town. The shop has nice (newly expanded!) outdoor seating allowing comfortable distancing.

A quiet flat stretch along the river with views of Mount Si leads to the route’s last significant climbing stretch from the Snoqualmie Valley near Fall City up to the Sammamish Plateau. I won’t lie, Issaquah-Fall City Road hurt me. But soon enough, the route descends to Lake Sammamish and Marymoor Park for a flat finish up the Sammamish River Trail. Please take the trail section slowly and respect the slower users out having fun.

Really hope to see many of you out there. And maybe to share a beer in the large, distancing-friendly outdoor garden of Good Brewing near the finish.

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End of Mann 200K

If you have not yet registered for Seattle Randonneurs “End of Mann” 200km brevet on April 10, there’s still time.  And you don’t want to miss it.

A group of us pre-rode the brevet course last weekend, and we all think you’ll enjoy this ride.  It follows a generally clockwise loop north from Woodinville to Granite Falls and then back south towards Sultan and Fall City before coming back to the start.

Taking in some familiar roads along with a few that we have not ridden in several years, the course passes by rivers, lakes, horse farms, and valleys with mountain views, as well as through a few small towns so that you can replenish your supplies along the way.  Keep your eyes open for eagles, llamas, horses, cows, ducks. You might even see a long-horned steer if you are lucky.  Because this is our first brevet in a long time, it’s not too hilly (although it would not be a brevet without a few bumps here and there.)

Almost all of the course follows quiet roads or trails.  There is one stretch of busy road after leaving the Centennial Trail along 84th Street NE for 3 miles.  The road has a wide shoulder, but please be very careful at the end of this stretch when turning left across the road onto 147th Avenue NE due to oncoming traffic.  Your reward after this stretch is one of the most beautiful parts of the course.

Here are a couple of reminders/suggestions for the ride:

  • Remember that there is no day-of-ride registration/payment.  Please pre-register and pre-pay online at the SIR website. https://www.seattlerando.org/
  • Bring your own pencil or pen. There will be several information controls, and you will need to write the answers to the control questions on your card.
  • Although there are services in towns along the route, none of the controls will be at convenience stores or supermarkets.  For this reason, you might wish to bring some extra food on the bike, and make sure that your water bottles are full.  Best stops for services are probably Snohomish (mile 16, with public restrooms on Main St on the right), Granite Falls (mile 39, with various choices), Sultan (mile 62, various choices but the Arco minimart is well-stocked and has restrooms, located on course at the left turn for Stevens Pass HWY), and Carnation (mile 98, various choices including Sandy’s Espresso, our favorite)
  • If the weather looks inclement, you will make more friends if your bike has fenders and a buddy flap.
  • It’s an early season brevet, so your bike should have a fixed taillight and headlight, and you should have a reflective vest with you.
  • The brevet finishes by taking the Sammamish River Trail from Marymoor Park in Redmond towards Woodinville.  If the weather is nice, the trail may be crowded, so please be respectful of other trail users – don’t ride too fast or in large groups.
  • Make sure you come to the correct starting location:  The Northshore Athletic Fields are the ones located off of NE 145th Street close to Hollywood Hills and the Chateau Ste Michelle winery, just off the Sammamish River Trail.

Finally, please observe good social distancing behavior:  Wear a mask at the start, finish and all controls, and don’t congregate closely; keep some distance from other riders on the road; bring some hand sanitizer; be self-supporting to the extent you can.

Bonne route!

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400K brevet – 5/14 Le Tour d’Hood Canal

by Joe Llona


Pre-riders: Jan Acuff, Joe Llona, Rose Pantley, Greg Cox, Albert Meersceidt, and Anita Schiltz

First, the pre-ride team must apologize to all of you good people. Apparently we were overly gluttonous with the good weather and used it all up. We were so bad that we even ran out of good weather before we finished and wound up riding in the rain the last couple of dozen miles as we finished after dawn on Sunday morning.

I  want to be clear about something: this is not an easy ride. It took a fairly strong pre-ride team nearly (or in two cases, over) 23 hours to finish. Now pre-riding has its own logistical issues and maybe a couple of hours could have been shaved off that. But it would not have been enough to catch the last ferry out of Bremerton Saturday night. Besides the difficult course this ride has some difficult logistics, such as parking in Seattle for more than 24 hours and ferry timing.

Parking – I strongly suggest you figure that out now and not Saturday morning. I must admit that even though I work in downtown Seattle I know little about parking there as it is something I find easier to just avoid altogether. Here are some suggestions you might research for parking options:

I would suggest finding a spot on the outskirts of Seattle and riding a mile or two into the ferry.

Ferries – The last ferry for Seattle leaves at 11:40 pm (not 12:50 am as I incorrectly reported on the website). Few of you will make that. The first sailing out is 6:20 am Sunday morning. Some of you will arrive in Bremerton during that gap, but many of you will still be riding when the ferries start running again. For those of you fortunate enough to get in during the ferry gap we will have two rooms available at the Fairfield Inn. This will be a rack and roll flophouse operation though, so if you feel you want some more privacy or want to sleep in I would encourage you to make your own arrangements.

Dropbags – We will be able to take small dropbags. We will not pick them up until you get off of the ferry in Bremerton though, so they have to be something you can ride onto and off of the ferry with. Think toothbrush and a change of clothes. Toothpaste and deodorant too if you insist. Post-ride, the dropbags will be available at the Fairfield Inn only.

Ok, so with the course difficulty and the logistical issues, why do you want to do this ride anyway? Well because you love to ride your bike of course, and this gives you the opportunity to do it for a very long time. Oh yeah, and there’s a definite WOW factor for some of this course. I’ve ridden the Tahuya hills many times, but it’s usually towards the end of an otherwise challenging ride and occasionally in the dark. On this ride you get a whole new perspective on this area because you’ll still have fresh legs and it’s a definite eye pleaser.

Pre-riders Take In The View

A rare bit of flat road, says Jan Acuff

You’ll start at Bremerton, but instead of rolling past the shipyard you’ll go east across the Manette Bridge. Do take note of the grade of this bridge as you descend across Dyes Inlet. After some rollers you get to Silverdale where you’ll have to take a detour off of Bucklin Hill Road due to a bridge reconstruction project. This will be noted in the final versions of the cuesheet and RWGPS file.

After Silverdale the real fun begins. First Anderson Hill with what looks and feels like a wall. After Anderson Hill is Seabeck where your first control (info) will be. Make sure you replenish your water in Seabeck because you’ll be climbing up Seabeck Holly Road shortly thereafter. After an exhilarating descent from Holly you’ll be turning up Dewatto Road and into the Tahuya Hills.

After you descend from the Tahuya Hills you’ll get to the second control at Kay’s Corner. There you will be able to water up before heading to Belfair. As you get nearer to Belfair you’ll start encountering some denser traffic and probably some impatient motorists, so please be careful. After Belfair you’ll head south on SR 300 where some road construction has made the shoulder of little use, so again please be careful. After a few miles you’ll turn onto SR 106 where for a while you’ll still be encountering heavy and sometimes impatient traffic. This seems to calm down by the time you get to Twanoh State Park, where you can find restrooms and water. The shoulder on 106 is on again off again, with a few places where there are some pretty bad cracks. There’s also a lot of parking on 106 so watch out for residents and car doors.

When you get to US 101 you’ll turn north to Hoodsport. There are services along the way. Please make sure you have full water bottles for the Climb to Lake Cushman. At Hoodsport you turn up to Lake Cushman. This is the biggest climb of the ride. The first two miles of the climb are fairly steep running at over 6% but then it transitions to 1% to 3% with some rollers for the remainder. As in last year’s 400 at Baker Lake, we could not find a suitable location to station the third control at the far turnaround point, so that will be turned into an info control with support (snacks and beverages) available about 3 miles after the turn-around point. After this you will descend back to Hoodsport among some more impatient motorists and then continue north on US 101 over Walker Pass. Like the climb to Lake Cushman, Walker Pass starts out steep at about 6% the first 1.5 miles and then tapers off to more like 3% for the remainder.

Pre-riders at Lake Cushman

Lake Cushman. This beautiful spot will be the lunch/control location. Photo by Anita Schlitz

Another view of Lake Cushman. Photo by Jan Acuff

Another view of Lake Cushman. Photo by Jan Acuff

After descending Walker Pass you’ll go through Quilcene. Peninsula Food Market on the left and a couple of cafes on the right. Here you turn onto Center Road to the right for another climb up to Dabob Road. More climbing and rollers bring you to Coyle. Make sure you don’t miss the left turn onto Hazel Point Road. It’s easy to miss as you bomb down the descent towards Coyle, especially in the dark. Your fourth (and final staffed) control will be here to provision you with hot soup, and other snacks and beverages at the Laurel B. Johnson Community Center.

The Laurel B. Johnson Community Center fills several roles in the community, one of which is a food bank, which is utilized by a surprising number of the local residents. You’ll still have a lot of climbing ahead of you so you might want to lighten your wallet a bit at the collection jar we’ll have set up there.

With your wallet a bit lightened and your belly filled you’ll climb back out of Coyle and backtrack your route a way before turning onto Thorndyke Road which will take you to SR 104, then to SR 19 and into Port Townsend. The final control is at the Safeway on your left at the bottom of a big hill. Not much happening there, but at least it’s open, there are restrooms and groceries, but nothing hot at this hour.

Backtracking again from Port Townsend you’ll turn off of SR 19 onto Irondale, SR 116, Oak Bay Rd, and Paradise Bay Road. Please be careful on the final descent of Paradise Bay Road before SR 104. There are two sets of rather aggressive stop sign warning rumble strips that could cause you to lose control of your bicycle.

Also, please be careful crossing the Hood Canal Bridge. Stay to the right of the shoulder as you approach the metal grating sections as that’s where the solid plating is located. Watch for debris – glass, garbage, and usually enough car parts to get a complete build.

After the Hood Canal Bridge you go right onto SR 3 for Poulsbo. Then SR 308 and onto Brownsville Hwy NE. After a few miles on Brownsville Hwy you’ll turn onto Illahee Rd NE. The signage here is misleading (at least it is for me as I repeated the same mistake I made in 2013 on this course). Illahee Road is the second left as you roll into Brownsville. Don’t take the first left down into the Marina.

Following Illahee Road you’ll go south towards Bremerton. You’ll still two pretty good climbs ahead of you, particularly the one just before Illahee Road becomes Trenton Road. As you get into Bremerton you’ll be feeling that you’ve done that last climb, but remember that descent on the Manette Bridge right after you started?

This post wouldn’t be complete without a big Thank You to the pre-riders: Albert Meersceidt, Anita Schiltz, Jan Acuff, Rose Pantley, and Greg Cox.

Start:  May 14th at 7:15am Bremerton Starbucks at the ferry terminal. (Catch the 6am ferry from Seattle and finalize registration on board. We will also have registration at the Starbucks at the Bremerton ferry terminal. Note the control closes at 8:15am.)

Finish: Frairfield Inn & Suites 239 4th St. Bremerton

Register here: http://brevets.seattlerando.org/register_for_event/355

Full ride details here: http://seattlerando.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=573:400k-brevet-514&catid=59:2016-brevets

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