Autumn Rides

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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