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Early Spring Ride: A Photoessay

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

Early Spring Ride - Atlantis in Madison Park closeup

Atlantis in Madison Park

On a particularly warm and sunny day in early April I took a meandering ride along Lake Washington. Riding through parks along the water and then I skirted the University of Washington along the Union Bay Natural Area the wildlife was out in force. I concluded at Magnuson Park where I made coffee and hung out in a little nook next to the Community Garden. Here are a few photos from this beautiful early spring day.

Early Spring Ride - The scene at the Union Bay Natural Area

The scene at the Union Bay Natural Area

Early Spring Ride - Great Blue Heron: got something
While at the Union Bay Natural Area I witnessed this Great Blue Heron catch and eat something.

 

Early Spring Ride - Turtle Log

This log stretching out into Union Bay was lined with turtles sunning themselves.

Early Spring Ride - Line of Turtles with Heron

Log of Turtles, Great Blue Heron – life in Union Bay.

Early Spring Ride - Coffee Out of Doors

I concluded my northward wandering at Magnuson Park where I made coffee in a grotto next to the Community Garden.

Early Spring Ride - Advanced Coffee Out of Doors

Next level Coffee Out of Doors: Pour over coffee with beans ground on site.

Check out all of my pictures from this ride in my Early Spring Ride photoset on Flickr.

It’s all downhill after double digits

Saturday, February 28th, 2015
A Winter Picnic - Atlantis with Space Needle in the distanceMy Rivendell Atlantis at Ten Years

February 2005 my Rivendell Atlantis that I had ordered late 2004 arrived at my apartment in Woodinville, making it ten years old today. In the intervening years I have ridden this bicycle nearly 40,000 miles on many hundreds of commute trips, hundreds of errands, all over Washington State, across the country, into Canada, over the entirety of the Cascade Mountain range and most of the Sierra’s, in Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Vancouver, Victoria, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Cleveland, across the Continental Divide, nearly two dozen states and provinces, countless county, state and national parks and on and on.  Never has a bicycle fit me so well, or ridden so well. I’ve had other bicycles, even another Rivendell but I just ride this one. So happy birthday dear Atlantis and as promised soon I’ll be sending it back to Riv to be repainted and some minor repair.

I’ve taken many, many pictures of my Atlantis most of which I’ve collected in my Atlantis Gallery on Flickr and even more via the Atlantis Tag.

Rivendell Atlantis 2005 - 01 My Atlantis just after I finished assembling it. Not even ridden!

Last Ride 2014

Friday, January 2nd, 2015
Last Ride 2014 - Beachfront Atlantis framing the OlympicsMy favorite recent Atlantis shot

The end of the 2014 has been marked by unusually wet and warm weather (pineapple express!) interspersed with unusually dry, clear and cold.  Sure it’s not the approaching absolute zero of the midwest or what have you, but it’s been cold. However I wanted to get in one last ride for 2014, plus I needed to get some ingredients for a New Years potluck and I’ve had those coffee outside plans hanging fire so on NYE’s I set out for a little jaunt around the city.

Last Ride 2014 - I-90 Tunnel with the Cascades in the distanceI-90 with the Cascades in the Distance

As always I set out late, so I rode across Beacon Hill, stopping only once at a stairway that gave me the above view of snow speckled Cascade Mountains.  It’s only been four months since my summer tour in the mountains, and I have to say I’ve been pining for them a bit.  Both the Cascades and the Olympics, snow covered, but well below average, are really looking lovely on these crisp, icy blue days.

Last Ride 2014 - The Olympic MountainsOn the Waterfront

After this brief photoshoot I rode down the hill into the ID where I picked up Spicy Tofu Bánh mì for lunch at the always great Chu Minh Tofu & Vegetarian Deli. From the ID it was a short jaunt though Pioneer Square and the interminable construction to the waterfront where I had a wintery picnic.

Last Ride 2014 - Spicy Tofu Banh MíSpicy Tofu Bánh mì

On the water there was stunning views of the Olympic Mountains across the Sound and Mount Rainier to the South, somewhat obscured by the Port and haze. While I was eating a train that was just five engines steamed up the nearby tracks.  After lunch I took some pictures on the beach, but the cold air and fell winds soon pushed me back onto the bicycle. It was one of those days where you long for the climbs to warm you up and dread those icy descents.

Last Ride 2014 - Port of Seattle framing The MountainThe Mountain

I rode up the Elliot Bay Trail and then did the a clockwise loop around the Magnolia neighborhood. This begins with a good climb up to Magnolia Avenue which hugs the bluffs above the sound. Some nice views south and west of the Sound, West Seattle, the Peninsula and the Olympics.  I kept moving though and when the road turned inward a bit I took a residential road that dived down right to sea level and then pretty quickly followed was a steep climb out. This brought me to Discovery Park which I pretty much just rode across and through until I was back on the scenic loop route.

Last Ride 2014 - Atlantis makin' coffeeMaking Coffee above the Ballard Locks

I cut over to the Ballard Locks and as I was about to descend down to the locks proper I noticed a little secluded picnic area.  I decided to pull off over there and finally have make my coffee out of doors. Third time is the charm!  It was much cooler in the shade (and it wasn’t that warm to begin with in the sun!) so I was pretty happy when the coffee was bile’d and I sat for a spell enjoying it in the company of Ryōkan.

Last Ride 2014 - Coffee out of doorsCoffee and Ryōkan

Even though this was a pretty isolated part of the park a few people did come through.  A homeless guy came through and I chatted with him a bit. Mainly about the cold weather, but he was also curious if I’d seen his buddy on a ten-speed. I had not. He wandered off and I read this poem:

In town I finish begging for food.
Content, I carry the cloth bag,
wondering which place to call home.
Could that be my home near the white cloud?

Last Ride 2014 - Ballard LocksThe Spillway

My coffee drained I was rapidly cooling down, so I packed up and headed down to the locks. There were people out at all the parks I visited on this day. It may be cold, but it is sunny and many people are off – I’m not the only one wanting to get outside.  The locks were active as I was down there, a series of boats cruising into one of the locks and then slowly rising up as they are brought to the level the lake. A series of announcements from the Lock commander gave everything a bureaucratic edge.

Last Ride 2014 - Still waters run deepStill water in the lock

I walked my bicycle across the locks and through the park grounds and I was back on my bicycle. I rode through town and onto the Burke-Gillman Trail, which has a new separated bikeway in one of the previously more dangerous spots in Ballard. I took the trail to Fremont, where I stopped at the PCC and took care of that shopping I had to do. I loaded my groceries into my front basket – my saddlebag had my cooking kit and daybag in it – and in the now setting sun I began to make my way home.  I took a mix of the BGT, waterfront roads to the U-District where I was able to take my old commute route.

Last Ride 2014 - foam

The sun had set as I climbed up Capitol Hill but there was this layered yellow-orange-red glow outlining the Olympic Mountains deep in shadow above the Space Needle and the Seattle skyline. Glorious.  Since the traffic seemed fairly low on this NYE’s I rode on broadway and the entire length of the newish cycle track. There was still a glow in the sky behind Sodo and the distant mountains as I crossed the Jose Rizal Bridge and began my climb up to Beacon Hill. I arrived home around 5:25 in nearly total darkness after having ridden just over 25 miles on this cold, New Years Eve.  A fitting end to 2014.

 

See and realize
that this world
is not permanent.
Neither late nor early flowers
will remain.

 

More pictures from this ride can be found in my Last Ride 2014 photoset.

420/Easter Ramble

Friday, April 25th, 2014

4-20 Easter Ride - Atlantis at the Locks

Atlantis at the Ballard Locks

It’s rare that these two significant holidays occur on the same day but instead of celebrating either I went for a rambling ride along Seattle waterways. The weekend had been rather grey and rainy and Sunday was expected to be similar but with that spring like character of occasional sun breaks. I’d been hankering for a ride as I’d spent the last weekend (which, of course, had been the nicest of the year to date) sick and was still feeling a bit weak and tired from that. When I got out of doors it was warmer than expected and while grey it was those high thin clouds the sun burned through.

4-20 Easter Ride - Looking west

On the Seattle Waterfront looking West

I rode through the ID and down to the Seattle Waterfront. The waterfront is under a huge amount of development with the former viaduct being torn down, a tunnel built under, the seawall being replaced and a park built downtown. Considering it’s a massive tourist zone makes for fairly chaotic riding. I stuck with riding on Alaskan Way except for a few bits where I was directed onto new Bicycle/Walkways.  It being Sunday morning and Easter/420 it wasn’t all that bad. So I headed to Elliot Bay Trail at the entrance by the Olympic Sculpture Park.

4-20 Easter Ride - rocks

Seaside rocks on the Seattle Waterfront

I’ve ridden this trail many times but this time as I neared the end, where I was going to begin a loop around Magnolia, I decided to do a clockwise loop instead of the usual anti-clockwise.  So I hung a left on a spur on the trail and noted that it had an extension to Smith Cove Park. Well I’ve never ridden this section before! This turned out to be a fairly short stretch (less than a mile for sure) that wended around the rail yard on the east and a bluff on the right to this little park tucked in-between the industrial waterfront and a marina. I hung out at the park for a bit taking photos, reading and relaxing. The little park was empty when I arrived but three other bicyclers arrived whilst I was there.

4-20 Easter Ride - Atlantis at Smith Cove

Atlantis at Smith Cove

Feeling slightly well when autumn comes

Not yet disappeared
like a dewdrop
on a blade of grass,
I am still in this floating world,
moon in the morning.
-Ryōkan

4-20 Easter Ride - The tide is out

The tide is out

From Smith Cove Park, I rode down to the marina which also had a little park there and then I rode back on the Elliot Bay Trail spur and then took the exit for a clockwise loop around Magnolia. This begins with a nice climb up that bluff I’d just been under and then it was gentle ups and downs most of the way around to Discovery Park.

4-20 Easter Ride - Lighthouse side view

Lighthouse at Discovery Park

I rode through Discovery Park and then made my way down to the Lighthouse. This is down a narrow, steep road which always promises a nice slog up from the shore. Down at the beach there was more people than I’d seen so far, but the holidays I think kept it from being too packed. I spent a good bit of time on the shore, enjoying the pleasant weather and being on the water. I walked around the lighthouse and then sat on a log and read and watched for a spell.

4-20 Easter Ride - mud

The beach

If I had known
how sorrowful this world is,
I would have become
grass or a tree
in a deep mountain!
-Ryōkan

4-20 Easter Ride - Ballard Locks

Balard Locks

I made my way up the steep hill back into the park and rode some of the parks trail and closed roads to the northeast entrance from which it was a quick jog through the neighborhoods and along the Ship Canal to the Ballard Locks. You have to walk your bicycle across the locks and on summer days the narrow walkways can be tough to get through – especially if there are people pushing bicycles through both ways. Today though, once again, it wasn’t too crowded even though now the clouds had burned off and it was sunny and warm.

4-20 Easter Ride - Ballard Locks spillway

Ballard Locks spillway

I lingered going through the locks, stopping at each of the sections to look into the water or take some pictures. But soon enough I pushed my bicycle through the park and reaching NW 54th Street I saddled up and begin to ride toward home. I cut though the industrial bits of Ballard to the Burke Gillman Trail, which was as busy as ever on a nice weekend day. I rode the trail into the U-District and there dropped off it and stuck with streets that were on the Ship Canal to the Montlake Bridge. I then followed the Lake Washington Loop along Lake Washington until I rode up the hill to the I-90 Trail which I rode to the ID and then it was back home.

Check out all the pictures I’ve posted from this ride: 420/Easter Ride.
The poetry of Ryōkan is from Sky Above, Great Wind, translated Kazuaki Tanahashi

Rainy February Ride

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Rainy Ride - Trees

Trees on Lake Washington

It’s been quite some time since my last point and while there is a backlog of things I should have put some work into there hasn’t been much of interest going on.  The winter doldrums perhaps, hindering rides and blogging past glories.  There are a couple of events that happened at the tail end of 2013 that I should revisit: we shall see.  Anyway the weather this winter has been pretty… variable, running from sub-freezing, clear days in January, to a couple of days of light snow to the more recent couple of weeks of rain and wind. The general malaise and this weather has kept me indoors even when I’ve been aching for ride.  So this weekend I finally just bit bullet and headed out on Sunday a bit after noon (happy that the days are getting long enough that one can leave 12:30-ish, put in a 4-5 hour ride and be home before dark). Since it was close to lunch time I’d packed a lunch and rode to Luther-Burbank Park on Mercer Island for a winter picnic.

Rainy Ride - Luther Burbank Park

View from my picnic table

It had rained a bit early, but when I set out it was just a fine mist. That didn’t last and by the time I reached the park it was drizzling. I found a picnic table with one end under a tree and had my lunch. I then took pictures of the lake and my bicycle before I set out. These pictures were the only ones I took on this ride.  I had decided that I wanted to ride on May Valley Road which heads east through suburbia and then farmland around Cougar Mountain. It intersects with the Issaquah-Hobart Road which rides between Cougar and Tiger Mountain into Issaquah. From there it is the I-90 “trail” (mostly on roads at this juncture) back to the I-90 Bridge where it returns to being a trail and I close my loop. This map is pretty much my route except that I started/ended a a couple miles west of Leschi.

Leschi-May Valley-Issaquah Loop

More or less my route

It was raining pretty steadily when I left the park and it pretty much rained for the rest of my ride. It increased and decreased in intensity but it was pretty much steady rain the whole time.  I got pretty soaked due to waiting overly long before putting on my rain gear.  May Valley Road is really beautiful in the summer as it descends out of the Newport hills into farmland but was pretty bleak in the winter.  It was really flooded in the farmland in the valley center and while there are signs of spring everywhere (cherry trees, bulbs sprouting up and so on) it was pretty dreary. Interestingly all the various parks and trailheads I passed were packed with people – it’s reached that part of winter when people long to be out of doors.  The roads were a lot more trafficked than I expected. I guess it’s used as a way to get from around Issaquah to around Renton bypassing I-90. But kind of unfortunate.  Anyway what with the rain and such I pretty much only stopped once post-lunch and I never did take out my camera again.

Rainy Ride - Atlantis

Atlantis in the rain

One last thing worth noting is the updates to the Atlantis since I last posted. At the front of the bicycle you can see my new Busch & Muller Luxus-U LED light.  I completely redid the wiring when I put this on, running the heavy duty Schmidt cable to my rear light.  I have to say the light lives up to the hype and while I haven’t tested out the recharging aspect I expect that to work well. Thus this will be the third and hopefully the last charging system I’ve set up. The light is nice and bright and it’s integrated battery really is a nice feature. The light and taillight turn right on with even minimal movement and the stand light is of course appreciated. The only downside is that the wire on the attached switch/USB port is too short to reach from the front of the rack to the h’bars. I’ve got it mounted on my front basket which is okay, but really that should have been something one could get in different lengths.

On the rear of the bicycle is a new saddlebag courtesy of Rivendell: a medium Sackville SaddleSack. My previous saddlebag is in need of some repair and since I need it for commuting I picked up this one.  This is the third saddlebag I’ve gotten from Rivendell in this size range and I have to say it’s gotten better each time.  Their bags are improved in every iteration based on the usage of a group of riders who use them daily.  I’ve only had this a couple of weeks now but I’m pretty pleased with it.

A few more pics from this ride can be found here: Rainy Ride

Autumn ride around the sound

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
An autumn ride around the Sound - The Mountain
The Mountain as seen from Fay Bainbridge State Park

After an unseasonable cool and rainy September the first weekend in October was one of those perfect PNW Autumn days. I’d recently gotten a new camera (a Nikon 1 J2 for you trainspotters out there) and I went out for rides on both Saturday and Sunday with picture taking as a goal but taking advantage of the beautiful weather as my primary motivation.  I’ve been wanting a bit more of a “prosumer” camera for a while with a goal of note only being able to take better photos but being somewhat forced into greater deliberation. That is I’ve done a lot of shooting “from the saddle” and I’d like to think I have a certain proficiency at it. While this allows one to easily document one’s travels it tends to generate a lot of photos and frankly I think this style of documentation just isn’t all that interesting. I’ve moved away from this style of photos in the last couple of years but I felt that having a camera where I’d have to get off the bicycle and spend time on each photo would further facilitate this.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Ferris Wheel on the Seattle Waterfront
Seattle Waterfront

I initially planned to ride down to the Seattle Waterfront and meander along Elliot Bay, perhaps into Magnolia and along the Ship Canal. But as I rode down (heavily under construction) Jackson Street and then up Alaskan Way I decided instead I’d ride around Bainbridge Island.  I turned off at the Ferry Terminal and caught the ferry ten minutes later – good timing!

An autumn ride around the Sound - Seattle from the Needle to the Smith Tower
Seattle from Space Needle to Smith Tower

It was a fantastic day out on the waters and as Seattle receded in the distance our ferry was amidst countless sailboats and other recreational watercraft.  Mount Rainer, of which I would take many pictures throughout this day, was commanding to the Southeast, particularly towering above the West Seattle Bridge. Arriving at Bainbridge Island, I quickly disembarked (always nice that bicycles are first on first off) and riding into town I quickly got onto the Chilly Hilly route which circumnavigates the island anti-clockwise.  But as I was riding I began to think that I’ve done this loop plenty of times and it would actually be more fun to strike out on a more unfamiliar routes.  I began to think that I could pretty easy cross the bridge to the mainland and ride up to Kingston and take the ferry across to Edmonds and then make my way back to Seattle.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Kite
Good kite flying weather

So I pulled over at a little store and sitting on their porch consulted Google Maps and worked out a route.  It turned out to be only 15-16 miles to Kingston from here, which seemed like a perfectly reasonable Sunday afternoon ride.  That settled I continued on to Fay Bainbridge State Park where I sat on the beach, ate a sandwich and watched the sailboats, kites and beachcombers. I didn’t linger too long as there was riding to done, but it was a pleasent break on the beach.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Sailing around Bainbridge
Sailing around Bainbridge

From Fay Bainbridge I was able to stay on nice, country roads usually deep in the woods with occasional open fields of glimpses of the water, but eventually I had to take Hwy 305 off the island.  Not a bad road as hwy’s go – big shoulder and at least on a sunday afternoon, not heavily trafficked. It crosses a nice bridge over Agate Pass after which I took an immediate right and headed north. This was a pretty busy road but again with a good shoulder and among the trees.  This road brought me to Suquamish which was right on the water. I made brief stop here primarily to take pictures and consult the map, before hitting the road again.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Totem Pole
Totem Pole in Suquamish

From here the roads became particularly fine riding. Mostly in the woods a bit away from the coast, it was just ideal riding. Winding roads, a bit of up and down, brilliant colored trees amidst the evergreens all lit by the westering sun. I left the Google Maps route , following a red Dan Henry, at Indianola Road which took me a bit in the opposite direction of Kingston for a spell but was more scenic. Once again it was just perfect riding, especially once I turned onto South Kingston Road where the climbing I’d been doing turned to descending. This route descended down Appletree Cove on twisty roads through the trees. Very nice! After Appletree Cove, there was a slight climb and I turned on West Kingston road which heads straight to the ferry terminal.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Kingston
Autumn in Kingston

However I didn’t ride straight to the ferry – it being 5pm I felt a stop at the Front Street Ale house was in order. I checked on the ferry schedule and resolved to catch the 6:10 sailing and thus spent a nice hour drinking a couple of beers and eating a couple of appetizers. Fully sated I left the pub a bit before 6 and pretty much rode right onto the ferry just before the cars began loading. It was again a beautiful trip with the sun setting behind the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier, Seattle and Edmonds all glowing in magic hour light.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Mt. Rainier in the setting sun
Mount Rainier in the gloaming

It was deep twilight as I arrived in Edmonds and I had a good 20 miles or so to get home. I’d jotted down a Google Maps route from Edmonds to the Interurban Trail while on the ferry and in the dwindling light I set out on it. There was a pretty stiff headwind now and it was definitely chillier – I wish I’d brought some socks along! Google kept me mostly on the signed bicycle route and by the time I reached Shoreline I pretty much knew my way home. I took the Interurban trail – which has a nice new cycle track along Bitter lake – and then the signed Interurban route to Fremont. From there it was a short jog on the Burke Gillman Trail to the University district and then my commute route home.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Setting sun
Sun setting behind the Olympic Mountains

I made it home by 8:45 after having ridden about 48 miles all told. It was a great Sunday afternoon ride with two ferry trips and a nice loop around a good chunk of the Puget Sound.

Check out more photos in my Flickr photoset of this ride: An autumn ride around the Sound

May Micro-Tour Day 4

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

May Micro-Tour day 4 - Atlantis packed up and ready to roll

Atlantis packed up and ready to roll


May Micro-Tour day 4

The last day of the tour is of course the ride home.  Now when I was camping at Twin Harbors, just a few miles up the road, I rode back to Olympia in a straight shot, which I intended to repeat.  It is a few more miles, but the route I did that time took a rather northeastern jog that added a few miles so I hoped it wouldn’t be too epic.  It was going to be about 70 miles regardless, but being that home was the destination it didn’t matter too much when I arrived. I ended up waking up pretty early and was out of the sack before 7am and thus able to cook, pack, cleanup and hit the road by 9am, which is a good start for me.

May Micro-Tour day 4 - Farewell to the ocean

One last look at the ocean

I bid farewell to the ocean and then I was back on hwy 105 heading north.  There was a decent amount of people out and about — primarily people claming at the beach and presumably people heading inland for work or what have you.  This route has become pretty familiar to me and there really isn’t too much to tell.  The last time I rode it, in October, it was pouring rain, whereas today it began overcast but was pretty clear and warm by 11.  The trip has about four distinct legs to it and the first is 105/101 to Aberdeen an undulating route crossing over mudflats and wetlands.

May Micro-Tour day 4 - Wetlands

Riding over mudflats

This was in the nice cool morning and riding the mostly gently rolling hills was pleasant enough. At one point a pickup truck was passing three cars and as it came near me a gigantic red buoy flew out of the bed and bounced on the road in front the car he’d just passed. The truck swerved back into his lane and kept on driving. The car behind him, which I was almost parallel to, though on the opposite side of the road happily, swerved, braked but hit the buoy anyway, shooting it across the road.  I passed all these cars right after that and was happy to be past the fray.  You see crazy things on the roads.

May Micro-Tour day 4 - Wending along

Wending along the Aberdeen to Cosmopolis trail

The next stage is from Aberdeen to Montesano and is mostly on a nice paved trail through Aberdeen an on to the tiny burg of Cosmopolis. I stopped at little park in Cosmopolis to take off my leg warmers and socks and to eat the sandwiches I’d made for lunch. It was only about 11:30 and it was getting hot. Then it is nice back roads around Blue Slough a bit of hwy 107 and then under why 12 and you are in Montesano.  From  Montesano to Olympia it is pretty much going to be on hwy 12, but my Google Maps route put me on frontage roads as much as possible. I’ve ridden most of these plenty of times but there was a couple of new stretches this time. One of these had me cross 12 and then ride to the south of it in farmland where a very aged dog had a go at chasing me, but clearly the spirit was willing and the flesh weak.  As I came round a bend and out of some trees I could see the cooling towers of the mothballed WPPSS (pronounced whoops) nuclear power plant. The landmark in this part of the state.

May Micro-Tour day 4 - WPPSS in the distance

Farmland under the shadow of WPPSS

Alas shortly after this it was hwy 12 for a long stretch. There is a huge shoulder and not much by the way of on/off ramps and of course the highways stay pretty flat. But it was hot, boring and endless traffic. The scenery was mostly farmland in the valley with the Willapa Hills way in the distance.  I was pretty easy to keep up the pace and just grind out the miles. I have to admit that by about 45 miles or so I was feeling pretty tapped out, and I still had 20-30 to go. I pulled off at a rest stop on my 49 and hung out there for a while. Refilled my bottles with cooler water, ate some food and relaxed in the shade.  I ran into a woman there who was driving to Olympia to possibly buy a Trek 520 for touring use. She’d toured when she was younger and was getting back into it. Small world.

May Micro-Tour day 4 - Crossing the hwy

Crossing over 101

From the rest area on it was all 101 until the nearly Mud Bay. This bit of 12 is pretty interesting as it runs in the foothills of the Capitol Forest hills and is not very developed and is filled with some old trees and babbling brooks.  I welcomed the shade for sure!  Then the route took me on the “Old Olympic Highway” which allows one to bypass the 12/101 merger and ride in the countryside for a few miles before crossing over 101 and down to Mud Bay.  From there its the final hump up the long hill on Mud Bay road into West Olympia and then down again to downtown Olympia. One last hill up toward the capitol and then through neighbors and I was home.  Thanks to the early start I made it home around 4:30 in the afternoon.  Plenty of time to break down the touring rig and get everything squared away before delving into some beer and food.

74 miles ridden today
221.4 miles ridden for the tour

Pictures from today: May Micro-Tour day 4
All the pictures from this tour: May Micro-Tour photoset

May Micro-Tour day 3

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

May Micro-Tour day 3 -

May Micro-Tour day 3
With the shift in the tour route I now was able to take a day off and spend it on the beach.  So I did.  I spent the morning on the beach, walking up and down, taking pictures and letting the constant wash of the surf cleanse my mind. After a few hours on the beach I decided that I’d go out for lunch (the only time on this short jaunt) and rode into Westport where I went to the same cafe I went to last time I was here.

May Micro-Tour day 3 -

Cranberry Road Winery and Bogwater Brewpub

On my way back I stopped at the Cranberry Road Winery and Bogwater Brewery. They didn’t have any of their beers ready for consumption yet — they’ve only been around since Nov. 2012 — but had plenty of other brews on tap. I had a couple and then took a growler of Rogue Double Chocolate Stout back to camp.

May Micro-Tour day 3 -

Mostly cloudy on the coast

 
 
May Micro-Tour day 3 -

Dungeness Crab (dead)

I took another good long stroll on the beach enjoying the rather grey day. It wasn’t too cold, but definitely not as sunny and hot as it had been. The skies began to break up toward the end of the day and it would be much clear on the following day.  Back in camp I drank my beer and ate some shelled peanuts while I read news on my iPad.

May Micro-Tour day 3 -

The pleasures of camp

Eventually I made dinner and after cleaning up, took an evening stroll out to the beach. The sun had and it was nearly dark out at the beach. The clouds were rolls of darkness with a faint gloaming in between.  After a brief jaunt in the wind and waves it was back to the tent for some reading, journalling and sleep.

 

May Micro-Tour day 3 -

The Atlantis minus panniers for today's jaunt


19.8 miles
ridden today / 143.4 miles ridden to-date.
Pictures from today: May Micro-Tour day 3
All the pictures from this tour: May Micro-Tour photoset

May Micro-Tour day 2

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

May Micro-Tour Day 2 - Hey, I know that guy!

Fellow traveller

 

May Micro-Tour day 2
There is nothing quite like waking up in your tent in the woods to the not so dulcet tones of a child bellowing through a megaphone.  Fortunately it wasn’t too early and I’d slept pretty decently, but talk about a motivation to get out of bed.  It was a grey morning again but would soon clear up to blue skies and warmer weather than the day before.  I had another ~50 mile route to ride so I wasn’t in too much of a hurry so I made breakfast/packed up and then walked around the park a bit.

May Micro-Tour Day 2 - Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

I walked to the titular Rainbow Falls, which is more an intense section of rapids than ‘falling’ water but is certainly a nice stretch of the river. I leisurely cleaned up, packed up and headed out around 11 am.  The route took me on a road fronting the Chehalis for a couple of miles before it intersected with the Willapa Hills Trail and I was back to riding on crushed gravel.  The trail seemed increasingly little used with grass growing through the gravel and stretch that seemed more like a foot path along the river. It was nice scenic riding with little wind and soon sunny and warm. However the trail itself was increasingly loose gravel and at times I found it more amenable to jump onto the chip seal of hwy 6.  I rode on the hyw for a few miles and then came across a road grader chewing up the shoulder up ahead and right before I reached it I jumped back onto the trail.

May Micro-Tour Day 2 - Riding along the river

Riding along the river

About an hour on the trail and I reached the tiny town of Pe El.  Now this route I had been given from Google Maps was basically taking logging roads over the Willapa Hills down to the Columbia River. I knew I’d be in this hills come lunch time, so I left the trail and rode into town. There I found a grocery store where I picked up sandwich making supplies and various other eatables. By the time I was finished shopping I figured I’d just ride to the town park and eat lunch.  This I did in a park with a WWII era tank as a memorial.

May Micro-Tour Day 2 - Memorial in Pe El

Veterans Memorial in Pe El

Riding back to the trailhead I found that road grader I’d encountered earlier tearing up the entrance to the trailhead parking lot. Strange.  There is very clean, cool water at the Pe El trailhead so a refilled all my water bottles with this and returned to the trail.  The trail was still gravel at this point but even less used than in the previous section (see here). I was riding a track through tall grass and seemed to be only used by local dog walkers.  Now my Google Maps route had me on this for a while and then take a Weyerhauser Company road to a numbered forest road. I wandered around various unsigned roads trying to work this out and ended up on a private Weyerhauser road that I continued on for a bit until I hit a gated maintenance yard. Outside this yard was dozens of abandoned logging and earthmoving machines rusting away in the tall grass.

May Micro-Tour Day 2 - Graveyard of the Earthmovers

Graveyard of the Earthmovers

At this point I decided to give up on my pre-planned route (Google Maps: always an adventure).  I knew the Willapa Hills Trail ran all the way to Raymond on the coast and I’ve ridden out that way several times.  I was figuring I could stick with the trail for an easy ride to the coast and then head to one of the campgrounds out there.  So back to the trail I went. Now the Willapa Hills trail runs over 50 miles all the way to the coast but from Pe El on, it is unimproved and goes from gravel, to ballast to just a dirt track along the river and through the woods. I began to cast around for way back to the road and happily there was an easy escape route to hwy 6 where the trail paralleled it for a spell.

May Micro-Tour Day 2 - Not much left

In which the trail fades away

Now when I was on hwy 6 yesterday it was chip seal, shoulderless and rather busy.  But now all of that was reversed and it was perfectly fine riding. In fact the riding at this point was quite pleasant — it was sunny and warm and the road after a bit of up and down descended into a long valley for the bulk of the days riding. However I didn’t really know how far it was to the coast and where I’d be able to go from there.  After many miles of this nice valley riding along the river I hit the small town of Labam where I had a milkshake in the sole cafe/store there and was able to use the WiFi.  I found that it was both a pretty fair haul to Raymond where 6 intersected with 101 and there wasn’t any ‘cutoffs’ heading NW or SW.  I figured I shouldn’t linger and after finishing my milkshake I was back on the road.

May Micro-Tour Day 2 - Labam!

Labam!

May Micro-Tour Day 2 - trail paved again The whole time I’d been riding on 6, the Willapa Hills Trail was alongside in various degrees of deterioration.  Mostly ballast at this point, sometimes it looked more rideable than others.  The trestles were not improved without a deck and sometimes they were wiped out by the rivers over which they crossed.  I have to say though that if they could get this entire trail improved and especially if they paved the entire stretch this would be one of the epically great trails. Not just in Washington State but one of the great American trails. The wind began to pick up as I neared the coast as did the hills and the traffic.  Happily after one fairly stiff climb I noticed the trail was massively improved and I jumped on it. It soon turned back to pavement (hooray) and shortly I was in Raymond.

May Micro-Tour Day 2 - Metal scultpures in Raymond

Metal scultpures in Raymond

I had determined that it was another 40 miles or so down to Cape Disappointment which had been on my original planned tour route and at 50 miles already ridden I felt that was too much. Plus of course I’d have little other course but to ride back north along the route I’d just ridden south. So I decided I’d head north up toward Westport. I stopped at a cafe in Raymond that offered free WiFi (3G connectivity still not being available) and did some Google Mapping. I found that Greyland Beach State Park was a few miles closer than Twin Harbors State Park and as an additional plus I’ve never camped there. So I had a destination which was about 25 miles away. It was around 5pm and while the long days meant I’d arrive with plenty of daylight left it was definitely going to be a fairly late arrival.

May Micro-Tour Day 2 - Pastureland on the coast

Pastureland on the coast

As the crow flies from Raymond to Greyland is not 25 miles, but the road wound along the coast, diving into deep coves and up and down the rocky coastline. The valley interior was used for farms and pasture and eventually it was forested rocky hills that is so common on the coasts of Washington State. I was mostly riding into the fierce winds off the ocean and into the setting sun and being pretty tapped out at this point it was a tough slog. But the sights were worth it and the roads, which can be very busy, where empty at the this time of day.  I was happy when I reached the western extents and turned northwards and not directly riding into the wind.  It was from that point only five miles or so to the campground which I can’t deny I was relieved to reach. I rode in to the “primitive” walk-in campgrounds which oddly had it’s own parking spaces so you could park and “walk in” to them and pretty directly moved to cooking dinner and setting up.  It was dark by the time I’d cleaned up from dinner and I walked the mile or so to the front gate of the campground to pay for the night.  Then it was back to my campsite and into the tent for the night.

May Micro-Tour Day 2 - Atlantis in the setting sun

 Atlantis in the setting sun

 

66.3 miles ridden today / 127.5 miles ridden to-date.
Today’s planned route: Rainbow Falls to Skamokawa Vista
The route I ended up taking (more or less): Rainbow Falls to Grayland Beach
Pictures from today’s ride: May Micro-Tour day 2
All the pictures from this tour: May Micro-Tour photoset

May Micro-Tour

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

May Micro-tour - prepping the Atlantis

Prepping the Atlantis for tour

Mid-May brought the PNW some unseasonably spectacular weather: about ten solid days in the mid-seventies to mid-eigthies fahrenheit. After going through a weekend in the 80s (F) I felt that sweltering in my apartment was all well and good (I took some top notch twilight rides around town) but that I would enjoy the cooler weather of camping out at night. So I spent some time on Google Maps working out a route and packing up some gear. This was Monday May  5th and I decided that I’d leave on Wednesday the 8th — I had some work I needed to get done on the bicycle before setting out. I spent the next day doing this work along with packing and buying of some supplies.

On the bicycle I put my charging system back on, I did a thorough clean of the drive train (plenty of gunk left over from the cross country tour and winter riding), fiddled with the wiring to the rear light, adjusted the front deraillur (there was way too much slack in the cable), cut my kickstand a bit shorter and numerous other minor adjustments. Then I loaded up everything but the food, toiletries and electronics so I’d pretty much be able to depart within about 15 minutes of deciding to do so. I did make some changes to the setup this time around to facilitate some new gear (more on that as the reports progress), primarily moving my tent out of one of the front panniers and onto the free space at the back of the rack.  This did free up sufficient space and worked out well enough. It does make access to the saddle bag a bit of a pain, so I tried to keep things I wouldn’t want during the days ride there (clothes primarily).  I was pretty much all done by dark and ready for the next days departure.

This post will serve as the index for this Micro-Tour and I’ll update it with links to them  as I write posts for each day. These should follow on over the next four days, so stay tuned!

May Micro-Tour
Day 1:  Olympia to Rainbow Falls State Park (report, pics)
Day 2: Rainbow Falls to Grayland Beach State Park (report, pics)
Day 3: Grayland Beach State Park and Westport (reportpics)
Day 4: Grayland Beach to Olympia (reportpics)
Complete tour photo collection: May Micro-tour set on Flickr