April Bicycle Camping day 4

Written by robert on April 22nd, 2016

Ferry, islands and Mount Baker

 

even for the meadow
butterflies…
the day is long
-Issa

The plan is to go to Orcas Island and spend some time at Moran State Park.  The ferries aren’t really amenable to maximizing ones time on an island. That is I wanted to go over early this morning and return mid afternoon tomorrow. That’d maximize my time on Orcas. But the ferry was either super early, or late morning.  I opted for late morning.

Orcas Island

Another beautiful day, hot already by 10am when I bordered the ferry. Reall,lovely sailing between the islands, checking out the boats and most tempting to me the houses on the islands not served by ferries. We arrived at Orcas around noon and I set off immediately. Orcas is the hillist of the San Juans and it of course immediately climbed up from the ferry.  Soon after I climbed up Uff Da hill.  Then it was allies and rolling hills to Eastsound.

NFE on Orcas

I had a picnic lunch along the way and there was many tantalizing views of the water, coves and a magnificent large piece of kinetic art.  I didn’t linger in Eastsound, stopping only to get some supplies. I shortly set off for Moran and man was there some good hills on the way out to the park The longest of which was over 2 kilometers.

Kinetic Art on Orcas

I arrived at the park around 3pm and made my way to the primitive campground.  This seemed to be free but was perhaps too primitive. It had a nice shelter, but no water and no water even close by. I thought perhaps there might be another primitively area or at least some nearby water so I continued up the hill.  Once I reached the next campground, Mountain Lake, which appeared to be the closest water supply, I decided t just stay there.  There was only a few sites there and only a few people and the sites were on this spit in the lake. Very scenic.  I set up camp and with my bicycle now unloaded I rode up Mt. Constitution.

Great blue heron

This was a good four mile climb (already having done an additional mile) fairly steep and with numerous switchbacks. Mostly in the trees there were few scenic overlooks with increasingly stunning views. Once you reach ‘Little Summit’ at 2200′ things flatten out with one final climb to the total 2404′. At the top is a tower which once you climb it you are presented with a three quarters view from Canada to the north, Bellingham to the east and the Cascades, San Juan Islands and the sound to he south. Great views.  There was while I was there a couple teenagers smoking and making out.  While I was there taking pics they retired to the lookout cabin for some privacy. All rather uncomfortable really.

Observation tower on Mount Constitution

The descent was of course crazy fast though with the serious switchbacks you couldn’t just let it go. Onc back in camp I made dinner and then wandered around  with a cup of tea. The now nearly full moon rose over the lake, it’s reflections broken up by a gentle breeze. A lovely end to the day.

moonlight in mountain lake
scattered by jumping fish

 

Posted from Olga, Washington, United States.

 

April Bicycle Camping day 3

Written by robert on April 21st, 2016

image

 “Thus, the sage performs effortless deeds and teaches wordless lessons.” – Lao-Tzu

I didn’t have too much riding planned for this day, I primarily desired to visit a few of my favorite spots on Fidalgo Island. But being at Deception Pass State Park – which I haven’t camped at in decades – I decided to explore a bit. The park features a unique dual beach, one side on Cranberry Lake the other on the Sound. From the seaside beach, which is a rare sandy beach, you can see Deception Pass Bridge. The Cranberry Lake beach is the swim area which we used to regularly visit when I was in single digits.

Swim beach at Cranberry Lake

It’s a stiff climb out of the park but once back on hwy 20, it’s a short gently slopping way to Decption Pass Bridge. I rode across to the central island where I parked my bicycle and then walked across the east side of the bridge back to Whdibey Island. Then on the west side back to my bicycle. Stunning views as always. I grew up just a few miles from here and these views just don’t get old.

Looking east from Deception Pass Bridge

There is another shorter span of the bridge and then I was on Fidalgo Island. I got off the busy hwy 20 at Pass Lake and rode the short, but uphill way to the turnoff for Rosario Beach. My favorite beach, I had decided to come here for a picnic lunch. I ate, then sat in the warm sun on the east side beach. I’d slept pretty poorly tonight before and dozing in th host sun was very welcome. I spent a bit of time on the west side beach before departing.

East beach at Rosario Beach

Once again it was a short jaunt (still up hill and steeply so to get out of Rosario) o my next destination – Sharpe Park. This park is only about a mile south of ere I grew up and it was basically built while I lived there. It more o less is a trail out to the very edge of the island. Over the years this has become more built up and easier to find ones way, but either way once you are at the headland it is just my favorite place on the island (and maybe anywhere). Right on these rocks on the edge of the Sound, you can traverse down to a bluff right on the edge of the island. There is soft grass the and I just laid in the warm sun for a good spell. No one else came down ther and I was just me, the bees, and in th distance seagulls and boats.

Looking off the edge of Fidalgo Island

From the park I took my usual, scenic, route into Anacortes. Nice riding but I was pretty beat from the cycling and poor sleep. Onice I got into town I decided I’d prefer to spend the evening in town, so I stayed at my usual hotel there.

before dawn the birds rouse –
the croaking of a lone frog

 

Posted from Anacortes, Washington, United States.

 

April Bicycle Camping day 2

Written by robert on April 19th, 2016

Lake, farm and Mountain

“All through the land an unenlightend person is hard to find.”
-Lin-ji (paraphrased)

Overnight I came to the decision that I wanted to sit in cafes, on beaches, in the woods, on the sound just taking things in. This morning dawned clear and bright and was going to be another in this series of “summer in April” days. I took care of business in camp and then rode down into Port Townsend. Now due to leaving spur of the moment like I did it was inevitable that I’d forget some stuff. I did pretty well as I keep all my touring gear in one bag and just need to load up from it. But somehow I forget my backpackers towel and the one thing that isn’t in that bag, my Victorinox knife. So I had some errands to do in P.T.. But first things first: I wasn’t going to visit Port Townsend without a stop at Better Living Through Coffee.

Port Townsend with Mount Baker in the distance

I managed to complete all my errands in PT but I ended up catching the ferry to Whidbey Island petty late. I feel I lingered too long in PT as my mood turned and in the end I was reasy to leave. But things were glorious on the water and once I was riding on Whidbey things were soon sorted. I took my usual route down Whidbey: back roads to Coupeville, Madronna Dr. along Penn Cove, hilly West Beach Dr, past the Gallery Golf Course and NAS Whidbey to Hwy 20. I kept a steady pace due to it being late but did take time to enjoy West Beach.

Penn Cove

As I passed NAS Whidbey jets began flying overhead in series. Having spent my high school years on the Island I knew what was going on: touch and goes.  The navy jets ere basically practicing landing and taking off on an aircraft carrier using a mocked up deck and two or three of them doing this in series. This would continue until about ten pm the boom jets audible throughout the region.  When I was growing up here there used to be a sign that said “Please pardon our noise, it’s the sound of freedom.”

Deception Pass State Park

Amidst the pervasive  sound of the jets I made my way up Hwy 20 to Deception Pass State Park. While I went here many times in my youth this would be my first time in the hiker/biker sites. And what great sites they are! A bit above Cranberry Lake, you take a short trail into the woods and there are six or eight sites off this trail. Once again I was the only occupant so I had my pick of sites.  I setup, cooked dinner and cleaned up. By then it was dark and the waxing moon was shining through the trees as I retired.

bright moonlight
shattered by trees
shines on my tent

Posted from Oak Harbor, Washington, United States.

 

April Bicycle Camping day 1

Written by robert on April 18th, 2016

Port Gamble Park

 

spring comes simply
with a pale blue
sky
-Issa

No-thinking; just tour

I was heading out late Sunday morning for a ride and as I was about to board the light rail for a bit of a head start I decided that I should take advantage of the unseasonably warm stretch ahead and go out on a short tour. So I left the light rail station and went across the street to the grocery store to pick up some supplies. Then back home where I packed up, did some tinkeri get on the bicycle, printed out an initial route and headed out.
 
Sailboat & Mount Rainier
I took the ferry to Bainbridge Island and it was such a fantastic day on the water: clear and windy the sailboats were out in force. Views of Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, the Olympics, Seattle, the Cascades &c. Stunning.  I was leaving late (of course) and I had decided that I was going to head to Port Townsend and then go from there. So I took a pretty direct route, going straight across Bainbridge. Not the most scenic route, but a good wide shoulder the whole way. But once across Bainbridge I was on backroads to Port Gamble.

Fort Towsend
I have have to say I immediately felt free and relaxed once I was on those backroads. Right into the touring mindset. I just wanted to be in the woods, on the water, lingering over coffee and just being out there. After Port Gamble it was into Beaver Valley which I’ve ridden in many times and always enjoy. Rolling hills along the farmland, it ends in Chimicum where I stopped at the farmstand for a bit of a break. But I needed to press on if I wanted to get to camp before dark. Happily from there it was less than ten miles to Fort Townsend State Park where I onc again found myself the only occupant of the hiker/biker site. I setup, cooked and cleaned up in deep gloaming. Shortly thereafter I retired, happily back on tour.

alone in the woods
half-moon shining
through tall trees

Posted from Port Townsend, Washington, United States.

 

WTS #6 – a Rainy Ramble

Written by robert on February 17th, 2016
WTS #6 - NFE at Brown Point

NFE at Brown Point

I missed out on three of the Winter Training Series rides since the last one I did, but made it to Number Six last weekend. I can only make it to the rides that I can ride to, or conveniently take public transit and for this years WTS quite a few of the rides do not fall within that criteria. That included this one, but when I mentioned that to some friends they suggested I use their car while they were in Europe.  I took them up on this offer and on a cloudy Saturday morning found myself driving to Kent. It was predicted to be overcast in the AM and cloudy in the afternoon but as I drove out there, Mount Rainier peeked out beneath the clouds. It is in it’s great late winter cloak, all soft and white with fresh snow. It was obscured but the cloud by the time I reached the starting point at the Soos Creek trailhead so I never was able to capture a photograph.

WTS #6

WTS #6 route on RideWithGPS

It was recommended that you park at a school about a half mile away as the trailhead had only a tiny parking lot. I did so and rode down to the trailhead where there turned out to be plenty of parking. There was probably fifteen or so people there, all bedecked out in their Showers Pass Jackets. As per the last time it was a mix of the Rando and Roadie crowd.  I’d arrived just a few minutes before the roll out so I checked in, used the facilities returning as the ride leader was giving the route overview. Minutes later we left right at 9:01.

WTS #6 - At the start

Sign in

The route wended it’s way through suburban Kent, working it’s way over I-5 and then to the coast just below Des Moines.   Once again not being much of a group rider I kept toward the back. After a couple of unfortunate red lights I’d lost sight of most of the group.  Of course since I use these rides as motivation to get out early and do a pre-planned route I don’t tend to worry much about. Also stopping to take photos doesn’t help you keep up with the never-leave-the-saddle crowd. So it pretty quickly was a solo ride for me and I was really pleased to do this one as it pretty much continued on with a route I’ve followed a few times from West Seattle to Des Moines.  That route I always figured continued to follow the coast to Dash Point and then turned eastward to cross the I-5 and hook up with the Green River Trail to SoDo.  Well this route more or less interested that route just a bit south of where I’ve ended it. And indeed the Dan Henry’s were on the ground and we often were following that route.

WTS #6 - Redondo Beach coastline

Redondo Beach coastline

So this route had a bunch of new territory for me which is always a major selling point.  Once we hit the coast of the Puget Sound it was a screaming descent down winding roads to Redondo Beach. Here I began stopping to take more photographs thus insuring I’d never catch up with the group.  I’d last seem them a ways ahead of me just before this descent. I also passed a roadie changing a tire, but he didn’t require any assistance so I rode on.  It was pretty much all clouded up now and one could see darker rain clouds rolling in from the south.  The route hugged the coast and there was several really stiff climbs followed by curvy descents. Great riding.

WTS #6 - Lighthouse

Brown Point Lighthouse

I took a slight detour off the route, caused by a rather unclear direction, but it actually was a better choice as it stayed on the coast and intersected the busy road that the route used a bit further on. This busy road took me to Dash Point and while it was pretty trafficked there was a terrific section that was all winding and mostly down hill.  Back in the woods, with peekaboo views of the coast I passed Dash Point State Park. I stopped for a photo and while I did so the roadie who’d had the flat passed me by. Taking my time!  Anyway I didn’t really check out the State Park but noted it had camping – I’ll have to do an overnighter here sometime. From Dash Point it was more ups and downs to Browns Point where I again had to leave the route to check out the Browns Point Lighthouse.

WTS #6 - Port of Tacoma across the sound

Port of Tacoma across the Sound

Browns Point is in Tacoma, the first time I’ve ridden into that city (though only on the margins here). However at this point the route climbed up from this coast and turned eastward into Federal Way. The highlight here was riding on the BPA Trail which I hadn’t been on before. This was no flat rail trail; no it is a power line trail that cut due east following whatever the terrain did. Unlike most power line trails it was fully paved, though there were lots of dirt and gravel “cut-offs” throughout. 

WTS #6 - On the BPA trail

On the BPA trail

At the end of the trail it was just a little bit though edge city until I made my way under I-5.  Here I was right by the old Weyerhaeuser Headquarters which is a famously green building (even if the company isn’t) and is another place I’ve seen only from the road and have long been curious about. It had began to drizzle around the time I exited the BPA trail and at this point was a fairly steady rain. Pretty good gusts of wind from the Southeast too as that flag demonstrates.

WTS #6 - Old Weyerhouse building

Old Weyerhouse building

After working my way around the Weyerhaeuser campus and there was some bits through far exurbia and then a long descent back down to the Rainier Valley and shortly into Auburn. I stopped at the Auburn transit center and ate some lunch that I had brought with me.  Now I was back into rather familiar territory. The Interurban (South) trail runs through Auburn and you turn off here for many rides in Southeast King County. WTS #6 followed the route to Flaming Geyser State Park which I’ve ridden to two or three times. The bulk of this time is spent on Green Valley Road and it was steady rain and wind that whole time.  Out here in the valleys and foothills there is a lot of signs of spring’s imminent arrival. The Green River (and later Soos Creek) was swollen and pushing outside it’s banks, there was standing water in many a farmers fields. Today’s rain wasn’t slowing that process down.

Exiting the Green River valley involves some quality climbing, the last real climbing of this ride.  Once I finally crested the valley walls it was a pretty short stint to Black Diamond where I stopped at the bakery. I ingested some calories, changed to a dry pair of socks and pretty shortly continued on my way. From Black Diamond it pretty much is all down hill / rolling hills to Kent. This was mostly on the Kent-Black Diamond road, which has a good should but is pretty busy.  But it was fast riding, though again raining the while time.  Finally I popped onto the Soos Creek Trail which I rode back to the trailhead where it all started. Another first time on a trail for me, this one is a real gem. In wooded green space the whole route, with the (flooding) Soos Creek and wetlands among the trees and fields it went through.  Not a really long trail but a great one. Still I was happy to reach the end and ride the short distance to where I was parked.

Total distance ridden: 109km
All my photos from this ride are here: WTS #6 Album.

Posted from Kent, Washington, United States.

 

January Picnic

Written by robert on January 31st, 2016
January Picnic - NFE at Colman Park

NFE at Colman Park

Sunday January 24th was a splendid winter day. The sun was out, chased around the sky by big fluffy cloud ridges. In the sun I was overdressed and hot but when the sun was behind a cloud it was definitely winter.

January Picnic - Bellevue across the lake and under the clouds

Bellevue across the lake and under the clouds

I wanted to outside, but I didn’t have much of a plan. I left around 11am so I knew that I’d been need lunch. I also wanted to get over to the Eastisde but I wasn’t sure where exactly over there.  Heading to the eastside means the Mountain to Sound Trail so I headed straight there.  At the Mount Baker Tunnel, my plans crystallized and I rode down to Leschi at picked up provisions at the Leschi Market.

January Picnic - Riding up from Lake Washington to the Mountains To Sound trail

Riding up from Lake Washington to the Mountains To Sound trail

I had to get back to the Mountain to Sound trail but I didn’t want to just backtrack. So I road along Lake Washington until I went under the I-90 Floating Bridges and then up the great winding road through Coleman Park. There is a huge P-Patch at Coleman Park and it is a testament to the warmth of this January that there was plenty of work going on there. Getting ready for spring.  This route takes you above the Mount Baker Tunnel and after a short stop for photos, I descended onto the bridge. 

January Picnic - A winter picnic

A Winter Picnic

January Picnic - Coffee Outside

It has become such a routine ride now: across the floating bridge, leave the trail and ride the perimeter road around Mercer Island. Then it’s the second floating bridge and you are on the Eastside. But today I stopped at Luther Burbank Park for a picnic lunch.  I rode down into the park on it’s dirt paths winding around the earthwork The Source to a picnic spot right on Lake Washington. It was warm enough here in the sunlight that I took off my sweater as I unpacked my picnic supplies.

I had planned on making coffee as well on this trip and I brought my Cafflano – an integrated burr grinder, drip filter and drinking vessel.  Instead of boiling my own water I brought a thermos of hot with me. I have to say this worked out well and I had the best cup of coffee I’ve maid out-of-doors.  Lunch was a baguette with smoked cheddar, avocado and an organic honey crisp apple.  Really enjoyable.   The park, like all of the parks I’d go by/through on this day, was quite active as us PNW’ers don’t pass up a warm winter Sunday to get out. Sitting here on the edge of the park I can see out to the Cascades which look tantalizing as if brushed with snow.  I began to feel the stirring in me, drawing me to the mountains.  But I couldn’t go them on this day.

River Snow
-Liu Tsung-yüan
 
A thousand parks: no more birds in flight.
Ten thousand paths: all trace of people gone.
 
In a lone boat, rain cloak and hat of reeds,
an old man’s fishing the cold river snow
 
Translated by David Hinton
from Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China, p. 154

January Picnic - Seattle across Lake Washington

Seattle across Lake Washington

I’d decided now that I’d ride the north end of the Lake Washington Loop which provides for a nice ride along the lake with some hills and would take me through Bellevue, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and back into Seattle via the University of Washington. This is a familiar route, but I don’t do it so often these days. It was a great day for this ride and I did take a few jogs off the route for better sights and around more parks. In Bellevue stopped at Cafe Cesura and had them put loose leaf green tea into a tea bag and refill my thermos with hot water.  In Kirkland I turned off the loop to ride up Waverly Way past Heritage Park and on a bluff above the lake. Then it was hill climbs up Market Street in Kirkland and then up Big Finn Hill from Juanita.

January Picnic - Looking South Lake Washington from O.O. Denny Park

Looking South along Lake Washington from O.O. Denny Park

Once again I dropped off the route, dropping all of the elevation I’d just gained back to the lakeside at Holmes Pt.  Down there among all of the McMansions is O.O. Denny Park, a nice big stretch of open space right on the lake with expansive views north and south.  I stopped here and made my tea and did a bit more reading.  After lingering a bit I reached that time where I’d have to leave if I wanted to be home before dark.  I had to climb up from Holmes point but then it was the long descent down Finn Hill.  This take you to Kenmore and the intersection with the Burke Gillman trail at Logboom Park.  I tend to avoid the trail on sunny weekend days, but I the alternatives are a lot hilly and longer, so I decided to just cruise back into the city.  Well it wasn’t so bad — people were definitely out, just like at all the other parks, but it wasn’t packed.

January Picnic - NFE in the distance

NFE in the distance

I made good time one the trail and the times were the lake was visible there was very tantalizing views of the mountains in the distance. The dwindling sun was coloring the sky with soft pinks and purples. Everyone once in a while I could glimpse Mount Rainier which was obscured by clouds when I was in my prime viewing spots.  No good place to stop for pictures when I could see it, so Mount Rainier amidst torn up purple clouds will only remain recorded in my memories. Once I arrived at the U-Distrct it was back on the Lake Washington Loop through city neighborhoods. I left it on my old commute route along the backside of Capital hill, which let me make my way back to the Mountain to Sound Greenway which I could connect to the Beacon Hill Greenway and then back home.

A lovely day of riding with a mix of winter scenery, tea, snow dappled mountainscapes, blue skies, good coffee, mountain poetry, food out doors and 75km of riding.

Full album on Flickr: January Picnic

Posted from Seattle, Washington, United States.

 

WTS #2

Written by robert on January 24th, 2016
WTS #2 - Riding Dirty
Riding Dirty

Saturday January 16th I left my place on Beacon Hill a bit after 8am and rode across Mercer Island and south on Lake Washington to Newcastle Beach Park. I was meeting an ad hoc group of SIR and CBC members engaged in the second of six Winter Training Rides.  Most of these rides are a bit too far away for me to ride to, thus I’m only dipping into the series.  I wasn’t able to do last weeks ride (though ironically due to ice it was shifted to noon which I could have easily made, but by then other plans had been made).

WTS #2 - Riders AssemblingRiders assembled

When I got up this morning it was pouring rain, but I was committed and pressed on with my morning routine. But the time I left my apt it was just a heavy mist.  It was mist and very light drizzle all the way to Newcastle Beach Park. I arrived about fifteen minutes before roll out – just about right. I’d registered online, so they just had to check my name off a list.  The drizzle increased a bit at this point.  There was maybe sixteen riders or so a mix of rando’s and club riders predominately wearing Showers Pass jackets. We rolled out right at nine and as we climbed out of the park a couple of riders were coming down the hill. They simple swung around and joined the pack.

WTS #2 Route

WTS #2 Route

I rather pushed myself to get to the park before the start of the ride, so I tried to pace myself for this ride. Thus I pretty quickly fell toward the back of the pack, riding in the back quarter for most of the early part of the ride.  When I’d first glanced at the route (see above) I felt that it was mostly on roads that I was familiar with. Well while I was familiar with most of the regions we were riding in, I was familiar with probably only half or two-thirds or so of the roads. So within fifty miles of Seattle there was a lot of new riding!  It began on the Lake Washington Loop but at Renton it forewent the typical route through town to the Cedar River Trail and instead cut through the east side of town and up to the Renton Hills.  This stiff climb separated out some of those riders for whom the WTS was their first ride of the winter.  Not being in great riding shape myself at this point at least my bicycle is geared for these hills. I’d fallen behind the pack due to hitting a series of red lights in Renton – I was riding with just one other rider on a Disc Trucker – but now I was back in the back third of the pack.

WTS #2 - Cedar River
Crossing the Cedar River

We entered a park and at the end of the park there was a really unclear jog on the map and I ended up going the wrong way. I figured this out after about a km and climbed back up the hill and was back on track.  But I would never catch up to the main pack again.  The route now descended down to the valley and I crossed 109 and onto the Cedar River Trail for just a couple of kms. Then left the trail, crossed the Cedar River and followed the excellent Jone Rd along the river for a spell. This was great country riding, not to far from the Renton-Maple Valley freeway, but with the Cedar River between you and the highway you could barely sense it. Steep, wooded valley walls to the north and the little farms and the river to the south. The route wound around the river with ups and downs and was just nice riding.

I crossed the highway again and then the route climbed the southern valley walls. This was a good stiff climb and part the way up I encountered another rider checking his cell phone.  He said he though he was the back of the back and I said I’d taken a wrong turn. He asked if we were supposed to turn at the next road and I replied that it looked like we were on this road for a while. I continued up this hill for a while and it was a tough climb and I was feeling my lack of riding.  At the top I had to stop and eat an apple I’d brought. The roadie continued on, but not long after I set out again I encountered him again checking his phone. He said he just was unsure where we were. So he followed me for a while occasionally pulling ahead and then double checking his phone. Finally we entered Covington and he said “Now I know where we are. I’m back on track again, thanks to you” and he took off. I stopped at the AM/PM to refill my water bottles and to eat some lunch I’d brought.

WTS #2 - Trestle on the Cedar River
Trestle on the Cedar River

After this stop for lunch I knew I was pretty much never going to catch back up to the pack, so I pretty much switched into solo riding mode.  The route skirted the rest of Covington and then climbed up to a plateau.  The riding was in that kind of forested exurban neighborhoods you find around here. Fairly busy roads, a decent amount of houses, most of them with pretty big yards. Not much density. I was on a pretty busy arterial when I heard that sound you hear when a pebble shoots out from your tired. But it sounded more like a puncture. A couple of blocks further on it was clear it was a puncture.  Well that’s the price of these lightweight, “supple” tires.  I pulled over and made the change.  I have to say their is definitely an advantage in disc brakes for the tire change.  I had some trouble with this new small pump I’d brought but hadn’t really used. Eventually though everything was back and I was about ready to head off. At that point a rider stopped checking on me and he, and two others, turned out to be later joiners to the ride.  They rode on and I never saw them again either.

Not much further on from the tire change the route descended into Maple Valley and was in territory I was familiar with, but on a different route. It crossed the Green To Cedar Rivers trail, a soft surface trail that connects to the Cedar River Trail that I’ve ridden on a few times and then ran on back roads to the actual junction of those two trails. It was kind of neat to be on this side road I’ve seen many times from the Cedar River Trail. Eventually though the road joined up with the Renton-Maple Valley highway and ran on it for a short time.  I missed a turn that was almost immediately off the highway so I rode on it a little further and took the next exit and doubled back a bit. It began to rain at this point.

I was now on very familiar roads as this is a route I’ve done many times connected Issaquah to the Cedar River trail. It climbs up over the valley wall and then onto high farmland. You take the Issaquah-Hobart road the bulk of the way. This road is pretty busy as drivers have figured out this nice back way between Renton and Issaquah but it makes for okay riding. Hobart literally has one store and a church and is about the most quintessential small country town around. Before reaching Issaquah the route turned west on May Valley Road. This is another great riding road that alas is a bit overly trafficked. I tend to enjoy it more coming west to east (and in the summer!) which is a bit more downhill, but more because you are on the open side of the valley which is all fields and farmland. These lowlands were all quite flooded on this day and in the now pretty strong rain it wasn’t abetted.

WTS #2 - NFE at Squak Mountain
Taking a break at Squak Mt. St. Park

As I made my way up May Valley, the rain which had been pretty heavy for the last hour or so petered out and there was even some gaps of blue and bright sun. There would be a pattern of sun, clouds and rain for the rest of the ride.  I pulled over a Squak Mountain State Park for a short break and to use the facilities but from there it was pretty much a straight shot home.  My left knee was hurting a bit and I wasn’t sure if it was just being out of shape, or that the still relatively new NFE was precisely adjusted or an old injury to it flaring up. Probably all three.  The pain would come and go but made this last stage a bit unpleasant.  There was one last new bit of riding for me and that was into the Newcastle Hills.   The route seemed to inexplicably turn off the standard way back to Lake Washington and up a super steep hill right into a gated community.  But once up that hill the route wended it’s way through suburbia eventually onto a narrow one way road that skirted a greenspace and then joined Lake Washington Blvd. A very clever backroad route back to the Lake WA. Loop!

I didn’t bother riding back down into Newcastle Beach Park, certain that the ride was long done. I continued on and backtracked my route there: Lake Washington Loop, I-90 Trail, cross Mercer Island, Mountain to Sound trail then the Beacon Hill Greenway back home.  I made it back a bit after 4pm in dwindling light.

I ended up riding 126km (~78.4mi) total of which 93.5km (~58mi)  was the WTS route plus my off-route additions

A few pictures from this ride (iPhone pics alas) can be found in my WTS #2 album on flickr.

Posted from Seattle, Washington, United States.

 

Last ride 2015

Written by robert on January 1st, 2016

NYE 2015 Ride - Mount Rainier at Magic Hour
  Pictures from a ride with Shawn “Urban Adventure League” Granton on a clear, sunny and cold New Years Eve. We did a South Seattle ride through West Seattle, Burien, White Center, South Park, Georgetown, Sodo and for myself Beacon Hill while Shawn ended in the ID. Beautiful, clear and cold with stunning views of the Cascades, Olympics and Mount Rainier.  More pictures can be viewed over on Flickr: NYE 2015  
 
 
NYE 2015 Ride - Bicycles and Mountain

Posted from Seattle, Washington, United States.

 

National Forest Explorer

Written by robert on August 18th, 2015
Elephant NFE - Mural

Elephant National Forest Explorer

Last autumn I was at Free Range Cycles in Fremont, checking out their various Rando bicycles. I’d been interested for a while in a 650b, low trail bicycle and after that previous summers tour in the mountains I was more interested in forest roads, fire trails and other routes off the beaten paths. Talking about this with the fine folks at Free Range on of them mentioned the forthcoming stock National Forest Explorer being pre-sold for a very reasonable price from Elephant Bikes in Spokane WA. It sounded like exactly what I was interested in. I went and checked them out but I’d missed that first pre-sale. But I had myself added to the list of those who wanted in on the second batch.

Elephant NFE - Frame, unboxed

NFE Frame

Eventually deposits were collected and I was added to the mailing list and then began a long period of updates, shop shots and work status along with tantalizing posts and pictures from owners of batch 1.  My frame arrived June 26th and lingered in my living room for some time before I finally had a chance to build it up.  That of course took longer then I’d have anticipated (the biggest holdup being finding a 1 1/8″ needle bearing headset) but I finally wrapped it up last week and finally got in a decent ride this last weekend.  I’m still getting everything dialed in, but so far it’s a lot of fun to ride.  I can’t wait to get it out in the woods!

Elephant NFE - Drive Side

Elephant stock NFE

Build list

Frame: Elephant stock National Forest Explorer medium
Headset: Token Threadless Headset 1 1/8″ silver
Stem:  Nitto threadless Lugged Stem 26.0, 90mm
Handlebars: Rivendell Nitto Albastache
Bar tape: Newbaums Grey
Shifters: Rivendell bar end Silver Shifters
Brake Levers: Shimano Tiagra Road Brake Levers
Wheels:
– Velocity A23 650b rims
– spokes: DT Swiss double butted
– front hub: SON 28 disc
– rear hub: Suzue Classica Disc hub
– Cassette: 8 speed Cassette 12-32t
-Tires: Compass Babyshoe Pass 650bx42
Brakes: TRP Spyre 160 mm rotor
Rear Derailleur: Sun XFD34M
Front Derailleur: Sun SXRD34m
Cranks: Sugino XD2 36/24 165mm w/ Sugino Chainguard
Pedals: Thin Gripster
Saddle: Brooks Cambium C17 Slate
Seat Post: Nitto s83
Front Rack: Nitto Mark’s Rack M1
Lowrider Rack: Tubus Nova
Fenders: Velo Orange Zeppelin 52mm Fenders 650b
Decaleur: Velo Orange Decaleur kit
Front Bag: Ostrich F-104 Rando Bag
Saddlebag: Ostrich S-2 Saddlebag
Waterbottle Cages: King Cage IRIS Stainless
Bell: Hammer Headset Spacer bell

The beautiful wheelset was built by Kathleen at Free Range Cycles and I had the headset installed by my LBS (truly local, about two blocks from me) Hello Bicycle here on Beacon Hill. I’m to blame for everything else. There are still a few things to do, mainly getting the lighting wrapped up. I put my old E6 front light on it so that the generator has a load, but I’ll probably move my Luxos U from my Atlantis over when I disassemble it for repainting. I need a rear light of some sort as well, perhaps something fender mounted.

More pictures can be seen in my NFE Gallery on Flickr.

 

Three Days on the Iron Horse Trail part 3

Written by robert on August 16th, 2015
Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge

Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge

It was again nice and cool in the mountains, for which I remained a bit under clothed.  But I slept pretty well on this night after two days of hard riding and there is nothing better then waking up in the woods to the calling of birds. I packed up, cooked breakfast, washed up and got out in a fairly timely manner.  As I was riding away there was a loud rubbing sound and I pulled over to find my rear tire flat.  Pumping it up did no good, so I returned to camp.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Tenting at Cold Creek Campground

Tenting at Cold Creek Campground

This I have to say is the first real flat I may have ever had on the several sets of Schwalbe Marathon Pluses I’ve used.  On pulling out the tube I discovered that it had split on a seem. Considering that I transferred this tube over from the last set I had put over 10,000 miles on it’s possible it had just worn out. But still I’ve had no punctures on the Pluses. I replaced the tube and returned to the trail.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Looking up Cold Creek

Looking up Cold Creek

I returned to the trail right above Cold Creek and was in the soft gravel section of the trail.  Since there was only about three miles of that, it meant I was back at Hyak in pretty short order. I took advantage of the running water there to wash up better after my tire changing adventure. Again it was mostly clear skies here, but mists were pouring over the mountain indicating that there was plenty of clouds on the west side.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Hyak

Looking west from the Hyak Trailhead

There was a lot less people at the trailhead on Memorial Day proper then there was yesterday. I looked forward to a more sedate trip through the Snoqualmie Tunnel.  Since on this day I was heading all the way home, but starting a almost fifteen miles further away I was going to be pushing the whole day to not arrive home to late.  But it was also going to be a lot more downhill, including all of my time on the IHT after the tunnel. So I didn’t spend much time at Hyak and soon hit the tunnel.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - East Entrance to the Snoqualmie Tunnel

East Entrance to the Snoqualmie Tunnel

There was only a few other travelers making the trek through the tunnel. It seemed to me that there was no point in the two mile stretch where I couldn’t see light from the entrance in my mirror or from the exit ahead. Which I think goes to show just how perfectly straight this tunnel is.  On the other side I took off some of my warmer clothes and took in the scene on the western side. There was clouds and mists everywhere, just pouring off the mountain peaks and into the valleys. But looking to the west it was clear it was breaking up.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Peaks and Valleys

Peaks and valleys in the mists

I had about thirty miles to ride on the trail but it was all gently sloped downwards.  I pushed it all the way, thinking that I’d  try to get to Snoqualmie for lunch. I stopped a few times to take pictures as the mists broke up and more of the surroundings became clearer. It began to warm up a bit, though it mostly a chilly (though not cold) descent.  There was a few other people on the trail, but nothing like the day before.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Sun breaking through the mists

Sun breaking through the mountain mists

Beyond those few photo stops I kept up a good pace on the hard packed gravel trail.  It took me less then two hours to make it back to the Cedar Falls trailhead.  Once again I rode out to the Environmental Center to take advantage of the water fountains. I hadn’t bothered to filter water back at camp as I had enough left over to make it this far, if I was judicious with my use. That all worked out as planned and after filling up I took back to the trails now following the Upper Snoqualmie Valley Trail into Snoqualmie.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Atlantis on the trestle

Atlantis on a trestle on the IHT

Riding on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail in mid-day was definitely a more scenic experience then at dust when I’d come up two days ago. I was able to see into the woods at the various houses,  resorts  and private camps along the Snoqualmie River and look much further up the rivers at the various crossings. But I was ready for lunch and I stayed on the bicycle most of the time pushing ahead into Snoqualmie.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Rattlesnake Ridge Detial

Rattlesnake Ridge

When I arrived in Snoqualmie I decided to return to Snoqualmie Falls Brewery as I’d been pining for another  Pre-Prohibition Pilsner. This time I lingered and had lunch as well.  I’d made good enough time that I decided that I didn’t have to just push my way home so I rode through Snoqualmie taking pictures of the train graveyard. While I was doing this I heard the short line tourist stream train coming up the tracks and I hastily pulled over and managed to get a shot of the engine just as it steamed past.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Snoqualmie Steam Engine

Snoqualmie Steam Engine

I then decided to head up to Snoqualmie Falls, which I’ve visited often and always enjoy seeing. Definitely the premier waterfall close to Seattle not to mention being a prominent feature of Twin Peaks plus the home of the regionally well regarded Salish Lodge means it draws a lot of tourists. So I never linger long, but I always enjoy spending a few minutes gazing into the endlessly cascading sheets of water.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Snoqualmie Falls Closeup

The Falls


After gazing into the hypnotic falls for some time I bought a few postcards, filled up my water bottles and headed out. I took a different route back, which I have to say is definitely the best route to take returning from the area. I rode hwy 207 to Fall City which descending on is a much better deal than climbing up what with all the traffic. This leads to Fall City where I I took the Preston-Fall City Road until I was able to connect with the trails in Preston. You do climb a bit up to Preston on this route, but nothing compared with climbing up to Snoqualmie Ridge. The road has a wide should and while there is plenty of traffic, it’s fine and you aren’t on it for many miles. Definitely the shortest and least hilly way back. Then it was just taking the various trails back to Seattle:  Preston-Snoqualmie Trail,  Issaquah-Preston Trail, and the  I-90 Trail portion of the Mountains to Sound Greenway. Then it was up the greenway to Beacon Hill and home. I’d made it home by 7pm, still light out and enough time to shower, make dinner and relax a bit before bed.  

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - No Shooting

My sentiments exactly

Overall it was a great trip, if much too short. There is so much to explore in the Central Cascades that one could easily spend another 3-4 days there without even riding much further east on the Iron Horse Trail. Cle Elum and Rosyln would provide towns with plenty of breweries, coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores. Then there are just endless miles of forest roads to ride around with such attractions as Stampede Pass, Tacoma Pass and the ghost town of Lester. Lake Easton State Park looks like a nice place to stay and check out the lake and I’m sure there was more stuff around Keechelus Lake as well.  Then there was just countless hiking trails right off the IHT which I would love to stash the bicycle and spend so time checking out. I know for sure I’ll be back to do more extensive explorations.

early season dragonflies
dancing, dancing —
how quickly the sun sets

Miles ridden today: 68
Miles ridden total: 181
Photographs:  this day/all days

Posted from Fall City, Washington, United States.