Since I put the old blog to pasture I’ve of course kept up my riding. But its been a rather rocky year so far, with one of the coldest, snowiest winters I’ve experienced in Washington, one that went on well into early spring. While I of course kept on commuting and doing small rec rides that did eat into the steady increase in distance I experience every year. Then work really picked up with the project I was assigned to having an early June completion data. This led to much work related exhaustion from working into the night and even the occasional bit of weekend work. Additionally the project kept getting pushed out, so the long days just went on and on. Thus as it got nice I still wasn’t riding as regularly as I normally would for this time of year. This kind of stuff happens though and I tend to make it up in the less busy periods. However I had a summer tour planned, starting on the Solstice, and I needed to be “tour ready”. I never “train” for any sort of riding, I just like to ride and do it a lot. I can ride further and longer as the year progresses and so far hat’s been sufficient for the tours I’ve done. This is my most ambitious tour to date at 25 and I’m probably the least prepared for it. However I have gotten in a number of great rides during the late spring and early summer, here’s a few pictures and notes:
I missed Chilly Hilly this year as it ended up conflicting with the Seattle Improvised Music Festival so I decided to do my own ride around Bainbridge Island. I did this on a beautiful spring day and I have to say it was quite a different experience. First off the lack of throngs of other riders is the first major difference a difference that I prefer. Secondly it was of course sunny, warm and the foliage was loaded with green, buds and spring flowers. It was an example of some of my favorite riding, the islands of the Puget Sound. Hilly riding, but on light traveled (though oft chip sealed) roads through beautiful woods, with the sea all around you. It really can’t be beat in my opinion. Not being part of a group ride I was of course free to explore side roads, trails and alternative routes. I didn’t stray too much from the route but I did find several little roads that kept the route a bit more on the water. Also I was able to stop at a few places that always seemed too crowded: first off in the town by the docks, where I had a nice grilled vegetable sandwich and later a little store about 3/4’s the way around where I got a fantastic (and much needed) huckleberry ice cream cone.
I of course rode down to the ferry for the ride, which nearly doubled the length of the ride, but also gave me a chance to directly document the first stage of my upcoming tour. While I’ll be taking the ferry to Bremerton on that day, they leave from the same dock. Kirkland to the ferry is a ride I’ve done many times, but I’m always tweaking the route a little bit. On this occasion I finally took what I now think is maximally optimum. I love Puget Sound rides with the ferry as a connector, it nicely breaks up the ride, gives you a chance to refuel (with beer even!) and is absolutely beautiful. See all of my pictures from this ride, including some on the ferry, in my Flickr set.
Another memorable ride that I did just a few weeks ago involved working out a connection between two favorite routes of mine. The first part is the RSVP route to Snohomish which I last rode in August last year as detailed here. It was a nice partially cloudy day, which kept the heat down though there was quite a bit of wind. I was riding into it for a good part of the route to Snohomish, but thanks to the rolling nature of that ride and a decent amount of it being in the woods it wasn’t too bad. The final stretch into Snohomish when you are riding the flat of the valley was the worst with the wind. Leaving Snohomish was the new segment for me, a meandering route to Monroe and then eventually to the familiar Snoqualmie Valley road. This was the third part of the ride and another old friend that I’ve ridden many times. Here’s a good collection of pictures from one of those rides covering this part of the ride. As per usual I made a stop at rando favored destination Sandy’s Espresso, this time arrive about five minutes before it closed. After that it was this great wending route through Snoqualmie Valley farmland to a point where it crosses the Redmond-Fall City road. Feeling that I was hitting the wall a bit at this point I took this road rather then the more scenic (and hilly) route notated in those pictures, but it was all for the best as I got back home around 7:30pm which was just about right.
The final ride before I set out on tour was just this past weekend. This was another familiar route but one I hadn’t done for a year or so. The route heads from Kirkland to Lake Sammamish and then to Issaquah. From Issaquah its a combination of wooded highways and back country roads to tiny bump in the road, Hobart. From there you take nice country roads to a point where it crosses the Cedar River. From here you can do a trip into Deep South King Country or hop on the Cedar River Trail back to civilization. On this day I had a need to be back home by 5pm so it was on to the trail. I’m not so into trail riding these days, but sometimes they are a nice connector. You can ride on the Maple Valley Highway which parallels the CRT but while its got a big shoulder and is no problem to ride on, its not exactly fun riding. The trail on the other hand, begins as gravel pretty deeply in the woods. It becomes pavement after 5 miles and runs for another 10 miles. It gets used but its not heavily used. It runs along the rive for the entire way and there are some really scenic beautiful spots. I’ve seen eagles pull salmon right out of the river during spawning season here. One thing I really like about this loop is the mix of terrain, from city streets, to country roads, to a nice flat rail trail, its got it all. And beautiful scenery, with Lake Sammamish, Tiger Mountain (lots of para-gliders were out on this day), small little all American towns like Hobart, the Cedar River Watershed, Mount Rainier and the Cedar River. A highly recommended route that has many options for extensions, variants and the like.
So three recent rides, all of them good times and great cyclotourism. Apart from touring this is my favorite kind of riding; exploring the backroads of Washington State. I’ll be back on these roads soon enough.