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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.