Autumn browsing by tag


A Quick(beam) Update

Friday, December 19th, 2014
 Quickbeam on Beacon Hill

As the days get shorter and the temperatures lower I’ve found that I’ve been enjoying taking little short rides on my Quickbeam. I’m generally more of long exploratory ramble kind of guy, but I often set out late as the mood strikes.  In the winter that leads to my riding being a lot more utility based, or the occasional pre-planned more “epic” outing.  But since I’ve moved to the Beacon Hill neighborhood in South Seattle, I find short rambles in this still fairly new to me region to be a nice way to squeeze some riding into the minimal daylight.

The City in late autumn

The city as seen from Jefferson Park on Beacon Hill

Riding around Seattle, which is plenty hilly, on the Quickbeam I found doable but wasn’t loving it. So last spring right before I set out on tour I converted it to a three speed. I had a wheel built with a Sturmey-Archer S3x fixed three speed hub, to which I put on a freewheel cog. Then it was simply a matter of running cable up to a bar end shifter. I did take some care with this, using nice brackets where I could as this is a “permanent” change as far as I’m concerned.  With the tour looming I abandoned the project, nearly complete but needing a lot of fine tuning.  Well I’ve mostly got it dialed in now and I really love it as a three-speed.  It’s still a bit of effort to get up some hills and of course some of the steepest require the “fourth gear” (i.e. pushing) but that’s all part of the charm.  The Albatross bars have taking some getting used to, but I love just rambling around the neighborhood, perched up high checking things out.  Perfect right for running errands, or like on this day, just head out for a couple of hours in the dwindling late autumn sun.

QuickbeamAnother side of the 'beam


October Overnighter

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Autumn Overnighter - Shrouded Rainier

Mount Rainier shrouded in clouds

Since returning from tour I haven’t had a lot of chances to get out in the (nearly) always beautiful PNW Autumn.  My bicycle needed a bunch of work and it took getting into a new place and emptying out my storage unit to have the necessary tools. Then a visit to family out of state took me away during prime early October weather.  On my return – just last Thursday – it looked like persistent rain had moved in early.  Well that forecast changed and it was looking to be just overcast on Saturday clearing up in the evening, with Sunday being mostly clear with temps reaching the low 70s (F).  Reading this post from Cliff Mass I saw that the lows had been unseasonably high and thus I decided an overnighter was in order.
Autumn Overnighter - Ready to ride.

Atlantis - ready to ride

I had decided to embark on this trip pretty late and I did have a couple of final tasks to complete on the bicycle. In the above picture you can see my Atlantis as set out. Since returning from tour I have replaced the Shifters, the pedals, the middle chainring, the chain and the rear derailleur. This morning I replaced the cassette and the rear tire and I was ready to go. Since this was just an overnighter I only needed two meals and a few pieces of off bicycle clothes, so I was able to pack as minimally as possible. In the saddlebag (a Grant Peterson top 5!) I have my sleeping back, inflatable pillow, Trangia cook set, rain gear and the off bicycle clothes. In the basket I have my air mattress and my Grab Sack (another top 5!) with my camera, journal, iPad Mini and such in it. In my Hobo Bag (best h’bar bag ever) I stuffed in my toiletries and food bag. Strapped on the back rack is my tent with the poles along the top tube. Pretty amazing how light a load camping requires for just one night.
Autumn Overnighter - Clearing up

clearing up

It had rained that morning but by mid-afternoon the clouds were breaking up. I had decided to camp at Fay Bainbridge Park on Bainbridge Island. This is the closest campground to Seattle and it’s really close – I rode 12 miles to the campground. This has it’s positive side – I left around 2:30 and on a day when it is dark by 6:30 that meant I was able to setup and cook while it was still light. Of course I would prefer a bit more of a ride when I have more time, but there is no reason one could ride clockwise around the Island from the ferry terminal and get in those miles. But on this day the late departure, plus the ferry trip and 7-8 miles on the island worked out just fine.
Autumn Overnighter - Camping in Fay Bainbridge Park

Camping at Fay Bainbridge

The campground has an upper area with walk-in camping and a lower area with sites under the hill and along the beach. There is an electronic pay station down there where I paid for the hiker/biker site, a reasonable US$7. I then proceeded to ride around for half an hour trying to find said h/b site. I never did. I did an internet search and found via Google Books a map of the park which indicated that the h/b area was in the walk in area. As there was no-one camping up there (there was about half a dozen campers on the beach) I just took a space up there. This was a good deal as I was able to utilize the covered picnic tables for cooking. I setup, cooked, and by the time I cleaned up it was pretty dark. I took a cup of green tea to the beach and sat there in the glow from Seattle listened to the gentle surf and the rumble of the passing ferries.

a creaking frog,
the bobbing glow of eyes,
this misty autumn night

Autumn Overnighter - Morning in Fay Bainbridge Park

Camping at Fay Bainbridge

I slept late and took my time making breakfast and packing up and then headed down to the beach. It was a lovely morning with blue skies streaked by torn up clouds. Pretty windy too, with stiff gusts of wind. Since I had left late and took the short route here my plan was to ride around the island before heading home. I’ve ridden Bainbridge plenty of times, but usually (mostly) follow the Chilly Hilly route which circles the island, staying on roads that can support 7000+ cyclists. But on this day I started following Dan Henry’s on the road in the shape of a pie and green arrows painted on the road. These routes took me on narrower roads that dove down to the water and then right back up, across the island and through Fort Ward Park.
Autumn Overnighter - Port Madison Bell with Atlantis

Port Madison Bell with Atlantis

It was such a lovely autumn day, with big gusts of wind blowing leaves all over the road. I finally accomplished something I wanted to do for a long time: I caught a falling leaf while riding alone. A big gust of wind blew a bunch of leaves toward me and without thought I just reached out and caught a large blowing right by me. The Dan Henry’s wended a route on and off the Chilly Hilly route so I saw the usual landmarks: Port Madison, the Bainbridge Island Frog, many views of the Puget Sound and of course mostly took me on the great Bainbridge Island side roads.
Autumn Overnighter - Cormorants all in a row

Cormorants all in a row.

The Dan Henry’s eventually took me on this climb up the middle of the Island and then wound down to Lynnwood which had really been built up since last I was here. I had lunch at the Treehouse Cafe there, a location where I have many times had an ice cream cone but never actually stopped for lunch. Well the food was good and while I had a sandwich it looks like they make a good pizza as well. I walked around Lynnwood a bit checking out all the new shops and restaurants before rejoining the Chilly Hilly Route for a stretch. The Dan Henry’s pretty quickly took me off the route and I ended up riding through Fort Ward – completely new territory for me. Well this former military fort, now a small park right along the edge of the island allows one to ride a bit more along the water. Especially if you continue onto South Beach road after the park.
Autumn Overnighter - Heading up Toe Jam Road. Painted on the road: "Good Luck"

Heading up Toe Jam Hill Road.

Riding the narrow road right on the edge of the island is quite scenic and with the wind blowing out of the south, a nice ride. Of course you do then have to ride up Toe Jam Hill which was by far the steepest hill I’ve ridden on Bainbridge. There are longer hills and plenty of pretty steep hills, but this one took the cake. As you rounded the curve pictured above painted on the road was “Good Luck”. I did make it up the steeped, cracked pavement and after a bit more time on the heavily wooded Toe Jam Road, I turned onto Country Club road which took me back to the Chilly Hilly route which I’d follow for the rest of the day.

One of my favorite spots on Bainbridge Island, is this memorial park with a Tibetan Prayer Wheel. As always I stopped and spun the wheel and took in this peaceful spot. But after leaving the park I rode steadily back, along the Chilly Hilly route primarily, back to Eagle Harbor and the ferry. I needed to be back home before six and while there was still plenty of riding I could have done on Bainbridge, not to mention the quaint little town of Winslow which I’ve never really explored, I headed straight to the ferry terminal. Of course I did end up waiting a bit for the next boat, but I enjoyed the waning day and being on the water. The ride back featured stunning views of a cloud enshrouded Mt. Rainier, big fluffy clouds hovering over the Seattle cityscape and many sailboats out enjoying this windy, beautiful autumn day.
Autumn Overnighter - Clouds Over Seattle

Clouds Over Seattle.

Check out all of my pictures on Flickr: Autumn Overnighter.

An Autumn Mixed-Terrain Ride

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

An Autumn Mixed-Terrain Ride - Atlantis in the Leaves

Atlantis in the Leaves

It’s been one of those weeks and as so often is the case there is no better therapy than a nice bicycle ride. I’ve been pining to get back to the mountains and while I set out too late to really get into the Cascades I did make it to the foothills.  I ended up  following the Mountain to Sound Greenway which is a sequence of trails interspersed with road riding: I-90 Trail -> Issaquah-Preston Trail -> Preston-Snoqualmie Trail with a brief sojourn on the East Lake Sammamish Trail. While separating one from traffic (and I-90 which this route parallels most of the time) these trails are usually wedged in where they can and are thus a lot hillier than one might expect. The Preston-Snoqulamie tail is a genuine rail-trail which runs nice and flat except where bridges are gone (such as over the Raging River Valley).

An Autumn Mixed-Terrain Ride - Looking back down the leaf strewn Issaquah-Preston Trail

reaching out my hand
I catch
a single falling leaf

I wanted to get to the Issaquah-Preston Trail which is one of my favorite mixed-terrain routes.  This trail is a rocky dirt path paralleling I-90 that ends (appropriately enough) at Preston.  From there you an take one of the best paved trails in the state The Preston-Snoqualmie trail which is a rare paved trail in the woods. These are all routes I’ve ridden many times and have reported on more than once in these pages but I think this was the latest autumn ride I’ve done on this route. The paths, especially the more wooded sections were deeply buried in multi-colored leaves which was beautiful but rather buried the many large rocks on these trails.  Still it was great to be in the cool mountain air, with the fog shrouded foothills looming above. I wish I’d set out early enough to ride further into the mountains – the dwindling light always a factor this time of year.

An Autumn Mixed-Terrain Ride - Issaquah Creek

Issaquah Creek

I only rode a couple of miles on the Preston-Snoqulamie Trail and decided to stop at a section of the trail that crosses a gorge above a stream. Of all the times I’ve ridden the trail I’ve never gone down to this stream which I rectified on this trip. It was pleasant here; this part of the trail has turned away from I-90 and I was down far enough that the few other users of the trail were mostly unnoticeable.  After a bit of a break by the pools of water I backtracked down to Issaquah and had a couple of beers and some onion rings at the Issaquah Brewhouse. While I was there, a ‘Thriller’ “flash mob” broke out right in front of the pub which lasted the length of the song and as I returned to my bicycle broke up.  On my ride east I was on the north side of the I-90 following the Mountain to Sound route, for my return west I stuck to the south side on the hillier route on the edge of Newport. But I had to back track on the I-90-Mercer Island-et al bit back home.

An Autumn Mixed-Terrain Ride - Pools on a feeder creek to the Raging River

 Pools on a feeder creek to the Raging River

I made it it home in the dark around 7:30 having done around 50 miles on this day. An even dozen photos from the ride can be found in my An Autumn Mixed-Terrain Ride on Flickrset on Flickr.

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

Autumn leaves

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Autumn Leaves


only reflections –
walking in the rain

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4 - Atlantis in the fog

Atlantis in the wind and rain

October 12th: In which the weather turns for the ride home
I was awoken before dawn by wind and rain buffeting the tent. I’d been pretty closely watching the weather for this trip and while it was forecasted to rain on this day it wasn’t supposed to start until later. So I figured I’d be able to pack up, make breakfast and such before it really got started. Not the case it turned out. In fact the weather forecast was pretty much wrong for every day after the first (not a huge shock that). It was supposed to be sunny or partially sunny every day and then clouds move in Thursday night and rain Friday morning. Instead it was cloudy pretty much after the first night and started raining maybe 4am.
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4 - View from camp

View from camp

After packing up my wet gear and making breakfast in the rain I retreated to the campground bathroom to change into foul weather gear. I set off right around 9am in a steady rain with wind off the ocean blowing me home. The route was the same that I used riding in all the way to way to hwy 107. I did ride the trails that I’d seen in Aberdeen both along the dike and then behind playfields and into suburban woods to Cosmopolis. These were nice, flat, pretty new trails. It rained steadily this whole time and was pretty chilly. However in my rain coat and pants I was comfortable enough. The route back diverged on hwy 107 – I rode north-ish into Montesano just past where my previous route had joined 107 from those backroads post the gravel section. I’d reached Montesano around noon and stopped for lunch at the ever popular Subway.
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4 - Bicycle Path to Cosmopolis

Bicycle Path to Cosmopolis

After lunch I struck off eastward on roads that paralleled hwy 12 for a fair piece. I’ve ridden this stretch a couple of times before but it turned northeastward after a dozen miles or so and from here it was new routes until  I finally intersected hwy 101. I’d cooled down during the lunch break and it seemed that the wind had shifted and I was riding into it a bit. This caused me to become quite cold for maybe an hour or so.  It’d been pretty flat so far but as I rode beyond Elma on backroads it began to climb a bit. This helped warm me up and I was comfortable enough for the rest of the ride.  There are a lot of low density housing out here – farms but also just houses on large lots.
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4 - silo


The houses thinned out and there was more farms for a spell and then I was in some hillier forestland. The rain was not just a heavy mist and as I came out of the trees into the valleys these hills were hidden behind tendrils of fog. I rode up a long valley going pretty directly north and then southeastwards on the other side of the valley! I was now quite near hwy 101 and had been on some of these backroads before. A familiar Dan Henry that marks a route that wends all around Olympia and it’s surrounding enviorns appeared and I knew I was nearing home.
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4 - fog in the valley

Foggy valleys near Mud Bay

The frontage roads ran out and I rode a few miles on hwy 101. I’ve ridden this stretch before and with it’s big shoulders it’s no big deal. Still I was happy to exit onto Steamboat Island Road and take backways down into Mud Bay. From there its a long, long climb up to West Olympia – a route I’ve now ridden many times. Drizzle was picking up again as I rode into town a bit after 4pm. I stopped at a grocery store to get some soup and then down into Olympia and back up toward the capitol where I live. I made it home around 4:45 and unloaded under grey, drizzly skies. I was happy to take a bath and eat some hot soup!
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4 - Riding down to Mud Bay

Backroads to Mud Bay

So a pretty long days ride in the rain, but mostly fine and I do enjoy how fresh it is to ride in the rain and the mysterious layer that fog adds to everything. It’s pretty steadily rained since I got back so I’m glad I got in this last trip. This year I camped in April and October – the earliest and latest camping trips I’ve done.
I ended up riding 73.2 miles today.
The total distance ridden for this trip was 172.2 miles
All my photos of this trip can be found on Flickr: Autumn Bicycle Camping

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - a line in the sand

We meet only to part
coming and going like white clouds,
leaving traces so faint
hardly a soul notices.

October 11th: Ocean
While it never did clear up as expected the cloudy weather made for a much warmer and comfortable nights sleep. The night prior I slept in a stocking cap and socks, on this night none of that was necessary.  After arising I did my usual morning routine of coffee, oatmeal and reading the news on my iPad. After cleaning up the dishes as well as completing my own ablutions I was ready for the days activities. I spent this day in contemplation, both in camp and at the ocean. I rode to the nearby gas station for some lunch supplies, but this was less then 1/2  a mile away. Otherwise I was at the ocean or my campsite the rest of the day. Thus there is not much of a narrative for the day so I’m going to focus on photographs and a few words to try to capture the feeling of this day.


Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - solo gull

the seagull stands still
as water swirls about its feet

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - still life

gazing at the sea
grey upon grey –
shells, rocks, seaweed

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - flight

flying above the waves –
three black birds

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - shell

all alone at the ocean
on this grey autumn day

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - feet

footprints in the sand –
boots, paws, birds
and small bare feet

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - grey upon gray

on the beach
forgetting myself


More pictures from this trip can be found in my Autumn Bicycle Camping photoset on Flickr

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 2

Saturday, October 20th, 2012
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 2 - Campsite
Hiker/Biker site at Twin Harbors State Park

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
“• Aldo Leopold, as seen on the sign to the beach.

October 10th: Westport and environs
The clear skies that ended my day yesterday made for a somewhat chilly night but eventually the tent warmed up and I had an all right night.  Since I rode here with my more minimalist touring setup I didn’t have a large stock of food so I decided to ride into Westport get some lunch and shop for supplies for the remainder of my stay.  I rode up the peninsula and bypassing the actual town of Westport ended up at Westport Marina at the tip of the peninsula. I rode into Westhaven State Park and on the waterfront trails and looped around the tourist shops around the marina. Eventuallly I locked up my bicycle and walked around the marina and the shops before having lunch.


Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 2 - Lighthouse
Westport Lighthouse

I always find it interesting to visit tourist towns off season. There are usually still be a few tourists (like myself) and much of the shops and such will be shut down giving the whole thing an air of sadness. The places that remain open usually are favored by the locals and you’ll find them there interacting with the proprietors in a much more relaxed way then during the high tourist season.  I had lunch at the Big Catch Cafe before returning to the waterfront trails to ride back toward Westport proper. The trails ended at Westport Light State Park which is right next to the Westport Lighthouse which seems to be operated by the Coast Guard. This lighthouse is pretty far away from the coast and is thus quite tall, in fact the tallest lighthouse in Washington State (more info here).  It was a short ride into the town where I found a grocery store and got some supplies.

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 2 - walking through the stunted trees to the ocean
Walking to the ocean

After all of this I finally walked out to the beach. This involves walking through the campground, across highway 105S and then through a little wooded zone to the sand dunes. You have to trudge up seriously shifting sands to get to the sandy beach. Slogging through this sand it gets firmer as you approach the water. Firm enough to drive on, which alas they actually let people do. On a cloudy Wednesday in mid-October there weren’t many people out here and I only saw a few cars on the beach the entire time I was here.


Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 2 - The Pacific Ocean at last
The Pacific Ocean

I came here to spend time at the ocean; time to contemplate, to let the constant white noise of the surf wash away the monkey mind.  And this I did spending hours each day on the beach. This day I only spent time in the afternoon at the ocean due to the errands and exploration I’d done in the morning, but I had a nice time in the hours I was down there. The sky never did clear up as it had been forecasted to; it remained cloudy all day and in fact for the rest of my time there. As the light began to dim I returned to my campsite and made dinner. It was nearly dark by the time I was done and so I retreated to my tent for the night.


Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 2 - sand waves
Sand Waves

autumn Frogs –
not so much a chorus
as a lament

Rode 11.6 miles today,
98.2 miles so far in this excursion

More pictures from this trip can be found in my Autumn Bicycle Camping photoset on Flickr

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 1

Friday, October 19th, 2012
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 1 - My Atantis just before heading outThe Atlantis loaded up and ready to go

October 8th: Prelude
Autumn has long been my favorite season with it’s mix of weathers, crispness and that somewhat melancholy sense of change. It is often rather nice here in the Pacific NW in autumn and this year it has really been especially lovely.  I kept thinking that I should do something a bit more ambitious than the day rides I’d been doing since getting my Atlantis back but it was getting so cold here at night that I just couldn’t bring myself to get out (especially in the morning). But then I happened to hear on the radio that the lows in Seattle had been 51 (f) on the same day that it was in the low 30s (f) here in Olympia.  So I did some poking around and found that it was much warmer at night about everywhere else.  Additionally it turned out that this week was about it for the extended good weather – showers were expected on Friday for then rain for the foreseeable future. So I hastily put together a route to the coast, bought a few items that I’d need (for instance I’d tossed all my tent stakes after my cross-country tour) and loaded up the bicycle.


Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 1 - Pretty quickly got outside of Olympia and into the countryside
Great country riding on this grey morning

October 9th: Departure
After the tour I was without a bicycle for three weeks and then was riding pretty regularly but nothing very long. A couple of days ago I took an ~40 mile ride out to Steamboat Island and that had been the longest ride I’d done since arriving in Bar Harbor in early August.  But I felt good and thought I’d do fine on a longer ride. I’d really been wanting to go to the ocean for a few days, just wanted to go someplace to think, but it was about 70-80 miles depending on how much highway riding one is willing to endure. I poked around on Google Maps and eventually settled on a route that went south of the Capitol Forest and was around 76 miles. Now I knew that I’d have to leave early – not “early for me” but actually early – in order to get there before the light dwindles away. So I pretty much completely prepared the night before and the bicycle was loaded with everything but food and my day bag. I managed to hit the road not long after 9 am which was when I was targeting.


Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 1 - Beautiful turning leavesTurning Leaves

After weeks of cold, blue sunny mornings on this day it was grey and while still cold not as cold as a clear morn would have been. Still I was in long fingered gloves, wool socks and leg warmers as I set out. I stopped at a Safeway for a last bit of supplies (it turned out my headlamp batteries were waning) and then was off. The route went through Tumwater and then headed out toward Littlerock paralleling the Capitol Forest (you can check out the Google Maps route here). The route was rather flat for about forty miles, which allowed me to make pretty good time in the morning. However there were several hiccups in the route. The first was it routed me onto what is listed as “Abandoned Railroad” on the directions. I rode down 88th SW looking for said railroad but did not really see it before the road became a private road. I kept riding looking for it and was then chased by a dog (who gave up when I told him to go home) and then a home owner came out and told me this was private property and I’d have to turn around. Which I did. Riding back I did see what I assume is the “abandoned railroad”  but it was completely grown over and had a ‘County Park – No Trespassing’ sign. Well I’d ridden out this way before and knew the roads that paralleled the “railway” so I just sort of made my own way.


Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 1 - The Chehalis RiverLunch stop on the Chehalis River

This was some really nice riding, especially once I headed west after Littlerock. Farmland, forestland and some really empty roads. Eventually I intersected the Google route again and I was back on track. Not long afterwards I was on State Route 12 which was a lot more trafficked but had good shoulders. The route dropped off when I could and one of the best stretches of riding was one of these frontage roads: Elma Gate road along the Chehalis River.  I stopped at a boat ramp for lunch and a bit of a break. The clouds were beginning to break up now and by the time I was routed back onto SR12 for another short stretch I it was mostly sunny and warmer.


Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 1 - Closest I've been to Satsop
Cooling Tower at the never completed Satsop Nuclear Power Plant

Leaving SR12 the route turned Southwest-ish and for the first time began to more steadily climb (there’d be the occasional short uphill section but nothing sustained). It turned out that the route was climbing up toward the decommissioned Satsop Nuclear Power plant. I’ve seen these iconic cooling towers many times, including on three tours but this was the first time I rode right next to them. It is a big business park up there now, but it really is barely utilized. Underneath one of the big cooling towers there was a truck driving test going on but otherwise I only saw a few cars while I was up here. Not far past the towers there was the second adventure served up by Google Maps: the road ended and became gravel.


Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 1 - End of the road
End of the road

There had been a weird jog in the road right before this where you could make an argument that the bend north was going “straight” on the road so I backtracked and took that turn. But pretty quickly it became clear that it wasn’t going to head west at all and was in fact heading northeast. So I fired up the iPad and looked at the maps and found that the route did indeed expect me to ride on the gravel. So back up there I went and proceeded to ride about four miles of rolling hills on loose gravel. This became a private road for most of the way and had gates at either end of which the eastside one was open but not the westside one. I had to take off my panniers and wriggle my bicycle through the gate to get out. Not really the best route for Google to route you on – a road bicycle wouldn’t have had much of a good time on the gravel and in the winter I image this would be pretty impassable (and both gates closed I suspect).  Past the gate I was on this incredibly back road that had a few abandoned houses on it but was mostly woods along a slough. Eventually it got a bit more populated and then intersected 107S.  This seemed familiar and when the route turned onto Blue Slough road I knew I’d ridden this before: on my 2009 West Coast Tour.


Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 1 - Blue Slough
Blue Slough

Blue Slough Road is pretty up and down and it parallels 107 which you’d think would get all the traffic, but it was pretty steady with cars.  When it ended I was in the tiny town of Cosmopolis which flows right into the bigger town of Aberdeen. Taking backroads through these towns I noted there was some new paths and trails that would be worth checking out on the way back.  Once outside of Aberdeen there is one road to the coast and I’d have to take it there and back. This was a pretty busy highway but had big shoulders and was pretty flat. The wind always comes off the ocean and I recalled the last time I rode this there was a brutal headwind. Well there was some wind but it really wasn’t bad at all and luckily wasn’t a factor. The sun was sinking as I finally began to see the ocean and was right in my face as I crossed the (shoulderless) bridge into Westport.

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 1 - Crossing over to Westport
Crossing to Westport

From here it was only a couple of miles to Twin Harbors State Park where I would stay for the duration.  I stopped at a convenience story less then a mile from camp for some refreshments – I got a bottle of locally brewed root beer, and then into the campground. There was a surprisingly more people then then I’d have figured for a Tuesday in mid-October but still the campground was mostly empty. These people were all RV-ers or fisherman and there was nobody else in the Hiker/Biker section. I made dinner and setup and it was completely dark after I finished eating. Any further exploration would have to wait for the next day.

I ended up riding 86.6 milestoday.
Check out all of the pictures I took on this trip here: Autumn Bicycle Camping.



A Beautiful November Ride

Friday, November 11th, 2011

The Atlantis in Autumn

November is historically the peak of storm season in Western Washington but it doesn’t really kick in until mid-month. This year appears to be no exception with storm season beginning today, but yesterday was a perfect autumn day.  We are at the point where the trees have fully changed colors, but most of the leaves have yet to fall, leaving them looking like huge smokeless fires.  With daylight savings time having ended this week the sun sets “earlier” and the shadows are longer mid-afternoon.

As seen from the Ship Canal Trail

Riding along the Ship Canal.

This week had become rather unseasonably warm as it progressed and it peaked yesterday with a temps in the upper 50s (f) and clear blue skies.  I sort of dithered around in the morning and early afternoon but finally set out to ramble around the city.  I avoided the Burke-Gillman Trail, opting instead to ride from my place in the U-District to the Fremont Bridge via Wallingford but after crossing the bridge dropped on to the Ship Canal Trail. I think I’ve only ever ridden the SCT once before, typically just sticking with the roads that parallel it, but I wanted to check out the new section they were adding to it.  There is one bit of hazardous street riding you have to do right now to get between the SCT and the Elliot Bay Trail (or the street equivalents thereof) which takes you to the downtown Seattle Waterfront. They’ve been working on a new section of the SCT that’d bypass this little jog on an interchange and I was curious to see that in action.  It wasn’t open for riding on it, but I did take a look at it and it seems to be done with just finishing work going on. When this is in place it’ll definitely make it a lot easier to ride into the city or to West Seattle.

Riding in Discovery Park

Riding the unused roads in Discovery Park.

Magnolia LoopSince I was now in Magnolia I decided to ride around this neighborhood and through Discovery Park. I’d ridden through this area for the first time every about a month ago on a beautiful October day and with the sun already sinking toward the ocean seemed like an ideal route to return to. The signed Magnolia Loop takes you around the neighborhood that sticks out Northwest into the sound from downtown Seattle. The route takes you to Discovery Park, the former site of Fort Lawton. A sort of odd park in that it has a still active federal Radar Station, a selection of old historic buildings and a rather Levittown-esque block of private homes roughly in the middle of the park. The northern portion of the park has a water treatment plant and a lighthouse.  Most of the roads through the park are closed off and make for some nice cycling.

Autumn Leaves

Like a tree of fire.

After you ride through the park the route mostly hugs the coast, much of which is a narrow park with just a few benches but no houses between the edge of the land and the water. This is some nice, easy riding – you have to climb to get to the center of Discovery Park but it’s pretty much all downhill from there. On this route  allowing unobstructed views to the south and west and with the sun heading downwards there is just amazing views over the Olympic Peninsula to the west and Mount Rainier and West Seattle to the South with the Seattle Skyline popping up as you look south eastwards.  Hard to beat.

Mount Rainier and West Seattle

The view to the south of Mount Rainier and West Seattle.

Having made my way around most of Magnolia the route is now inland, through residential and commercial propers that parallels the working train yard and then back on the edge of the ship canal as you head toward the locks. From here the sun is behind the hill of Magnolia and while only twilight wasn’t enough light for my remaining iPhone pictures to come out. Sadly the last time I rode this ride I dropped my camera (the perils of shooting from the saddle) which survived except for the button that allows you to take pictures which was lost. All I’ve got left now for picture taking is my iPhone which alas has too small a sensor for good lowlight pictures.

...and the last light of the setting sun

The Sun Setting Over the Olympic Peninsula.

My ride was nearly over though; I overlapped with a bit of the start of the Magnolia Loop as I headed to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, where you can walk your bicycle across to Ballard. I’ve taken this route a few times but this was the first time that I’ve been there when one of the locks was empty. Alas no picture of that. I then rode through industrial parts of Ballard to Fremont where I visited my favorite end of ride destination: Brouwers Cafe. Here I had a few pints of beer (as I posted on Google+) and what may have been about the best non-pizza post-ride food I’ve had: Porter infused Mac-n-Cheese made with with Fusilli pasta, sharp cheddar and chanterelle mushrooms.  I’m getting hungry just typing that in. It’s looking like we’ll be hunkering down for the late November storms for some time, so I’m glad to have gotten out for this day. It was a good ‘un.

Reach skyward

See all my pictures from this ride, in my Beautiful November Ride set on Flickr.