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WTS #2

Sunday, January 24th, 2016
WTS #2 - Riding Dirty
Riding Dirty

Saturday January 16th I left my place on Beacon Hill a bit after 8am and rode across Mercer Island and south on Lake Washington to Newcastle Beach Park. I was meeting an ad hoc group of SIR and CBC members engaged in the second of six Winter Training Rides.  Most of these rides are a bit too far away for me to ride to, thus I’m only dipping into the series.  I wasn’t able to do last weeks ride (though ironically due to ice it was shifted to noon which I could have easily made, but by then other plans had been made).

WTS #2 - Riders AssemblingRiders assembled

When I got up this morning it was pouring rain, but I was committed and pressed on with my morning routine. But the time I left my apt it was just a heavy mist.  It was mist and very light drizzle all the way to Newcastle Beach Park. I arrived about fifteen minutes before roll out – just about right. I’d registered online, so they just had to check my name off a list.  The drizzle increased a bit at this point.  There was maybe sixteen riders or so a mix of rando’s and club riders predominately wearing Showers Pass jackets. We rolled out right at nine and as we climbed out of the park a couple of riders were coming down the hill. They simple swung around and joined the pack.

WTS #2 Route

WTS #2 Route

I rather pushed myself to get to the park before the start of the ride, so I tried to pace myself for this ride. Thus I pretty quickly fell toward the back of the pack, riding in the back quarter for most of the early part of the ride.  When I’d first glanced at the route (see above) I felt that it was mostly on roads that I was familiar with. Well while I was familiar with most of the regions we were riding in, I was familiar with probably only half or two-thirds or so of the roads. So within fifty miles of Seattle there was a lot of new riding!  It began on the Lake Washington Loop but at Renton it forewent the typical route through town to the Cedar River Trail and instead cut through the east side of town and up to the Renton Hills.  This stiff climb separated out some of those riders for whom the WTS was their first ride of the winter.  Not being in great riding shape myself at this point at least my bicycle is geared for these hills. I’d fallen behind the pack due to hitting a series of red lights in Renton – I was riding with just one other rider on a Disc Trucker – but now I was back in the back third of the pack.

WTS #2 - Cedar River
Crossing the Cedar River

We entered a park and at the end of the park there was a really unclear jog on the map and I ended up going the wrong way. I figured this out after about a km and climbed back up the hill and was back on track.  But I would never catch up to the main pack again.  The route now descended down to the valley and I crossed 109 and onto the Cedar River Trail for just a couple of kms. Then left the trail, crossed the Cedar River and followed the excellent Jone Rd along the river for a spell. This was great country riding, not to far from the Renton-Maple Valley freeway, but with the Cedar River between you and the highway you could barely sense it. Steep, wooded valley walls to the north and the little farms and the river to the south. The route wound around the river with ups and downs and was just nice riding.

I crossed the highway again and then the route climbed the southern valley walls. This was a good stiff climb and part the way up I encountered another rider checking his cell phone.  He said he though he was the back of the back and I said I’d taken a wrong turn. He asked if we were supposed to turn at the next road and I replied that it looked like we were on this road for a while. I continued up this hill for a while and it was a tough climb and I was feeling my lack of riding.  At the top I had to stop and eat an apple I’d brought. The roadie continued on, but not long after I set out again I encountered him again checking his phone. He said he just was unsure where we were. So he followed me for a while occasionally pulling ahead and then double checking his phone. Finally we entered Covington and he said “Now I know where we are. I’m back on track again, thanks to you” and he took off. I stopped at the AM/PM to refill my water bottles and to eat some lunch I’d brought.

WTS #2 - Trestle on the Cedar River
Trestle on the Cedar River

After this stop for lunch I knew I was pretty much never going to catch back up to the pack, so I pretty much switched into solo riding mode.  The route skirted the rest of Covington and then climbed up to a plateau.  The riding was in that kind of forested exurban neighborhoods you find around here. Fairly busy roads, a decent amount of houses, most of them with pretty big yards. Not much density. I was on a pretty busy arterial when I heard that sound you hear when a pebble shoots out from your tired. But it sounded more like a puncture. A couple of blocks further on it was clear it was a puncture.  Well that’s the price of these lightweight, “supple” tires.  I pulled over and made the change.  I have to say their is definitely an advantage in disc brakes for the tire change.  I had some trouble with this new small pump I’d brought but hadn’t really used. Eventually though everything was back and I was about ready to head off. At that point a rider stopped checking on me and he, and two others, turned out to be later joiners to the ride.  They rode on and I never saw them again either.

Not much further on from the tire change the route descended into Maple Valley and was in territory I was familiar with, but on a different route. It crossed the Green To Cedar Rivers trail, a soft surface trail that connects to the Cedar River Trail that I’ve ridden on a few times and then ran on back roads to the actual junction of those two trails. It was kind of neat to be on this side road I’ve seen many times from the Cedar River Trail. Eventually though the road joined up with the Renton-Maple Valley highway and ran on it for a short time.  I missed a turn that was almost immediately off the highway so I rode on it a little further and took the next exit and doubled back a bit. It began to rain at this point.

I was now on very familiar roads as this is a route I’ve done many times connected Issaquah to the Cedar River trail. It climbs up over the valley wall and then onto high farmland. You take the Issaquah-Hobart road the bulk of the way. This road is pretty busy as drivers have figured out this nice back way between Renton and Issaquah but it makes for okay riding. Hobart literally has one store and a church and is about the most quintessential small country town around. Before reaching Issaquah the route turned west on May Valley Road. This is another great riding road that alas is a bit overly trafficked. I tend to enjoy it more coming west to east (and in the summer!) which is a bit more downhill, but more because you are on the open side of the valley which is all fields and farmland. These lowlands were all quite flooded on this day and in the now pretty strong rain it wasn’t abetted.

WTS #2 - NFE at Squak Mountain
Taking a break at Squak Mt. St. Park

As I made my way up May Valley, the rain which had been pretty heavy for the last hour or so petered out and there was even some gaps of blue and bright sun. There would be a pattern of sun, clouds and rain for the rest of the ride.  I pulled over a Squak Mountain State Park for a short break and to use the facilities but from there it was pretty much a straight shot home.  My left knee was hurting a bit and I wasn’t sure if it was just being out of shape, or that the still relatively new NFE was precisely adjusted or an old injury to it flaring up. Probably all three.  The pain would come and go but made this last stage a bit unpleasant.  There was one last new bit of riding for me and that was into the Newcastle Hills.   The route seemed to inexplicably turn off the standard way back to Lake Washington and up a super steep hill right into a gated community.  But once up that hill the route wended it’s way through suburbia eventually onto a narrow one way road that skirted a greenspace and then joined Lake Washington Blvd. A very clever backroad route back to the Lake WA. Loop!

I didn’t bother riding back down into Newcastle Beach Park, certain that the ride was long done. I continued on and backtracked my route there: Lake Washington Loop, I-90 Trail, cross Mercer Island, Mountain to Sound trail then the Beacon Hill Greenway back home.  I made it back a bit after 4pm in dwindling light.

I ended up riding 126km (~78.4mi) total of which 93.5km (~58mi)  was the WTS route plus my off-route additions

A few pictures from this ride (iPhone pics alas) can be found in my WTS #2 album on flickr.

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

First real ride this spring

Monday, April 25th, 2011

First real spring ride 09

Can’t help whistling, the morning, the woods, how blue. -Hōsai Ozaki

As I’ve noted earlier this has been a long, cold, wet winter in which I’ve been extremely busy with a project at work.  All of these conditions have added up to the slowest cycling spring I’ve had in years.  Well things have finally slowed down a bit at work and I’ve begun working on the bicycle a bit and taking a few rides. Last weekend the temperatures got into the mid 60s(f) and I was free from work so I took a opportunity to get in a real ride; the first real ride of this spring.  I’d had no set plans; I just wanted to try to get out in the nice weather for a good long meander. Well that and I knew I wanted to stop at the Issaquah Brewhouse at some point. First thing though I needed to do a bit of work on the Atlantis.

IRD Derailleur

A new front derailleur

After a winter of commuting there always is a certain amount of work that needs to be done on the bicycle, at the very least some cleanup. I’d adjusted my brakes and done a basic cleaning two weekends ago, but my derailleur was no longer shifting to the inner ring, no matter how I adjusted it.  A lot of the components on the Atlantis are approaching 20,000 miles which seems like a good long run so I’ve been just replacing them as need and opportunity arises.  I’d ordered an IRD Front derailleur from Rivendell Bicycle Works, which came in this cute little bag (pictured above).  I imagine this little bag is great for hanging on store racks and provided me with a little bag so I’m all for it. Replacing this part was trivial: I mounted it on a front derailler clamp that I’d also bought from Riv, attached the shifter cable, made a couple of adjustments and was done. I’d say I spent 15 minutes tops on this repair and now front shifting is super smooth across the full range of gears.   It was after noon at this point and starting to get warm. I packed some extra clothes as I knew it’d cool down after the sun set but set off in shorts, a seersucker and fingerless gloves – the first ride in shorts and short gloves this year.

First real spring ride 01

Looking down on Lake Washington

Now the first part of any ride from my place puts me either heading north or south on Lake Washington Loop or striking east across Rose Hill to Redmond.  These routes have become so familiar I can do them in my sleep.  I set out on south Lake Washington Loop, for as I stated in the intro I meant to hit Issaquah at some point and heading south would give me several options to get over to Issaquah. I wanted multiple options regarding the length of the ride as while keeping up the commuting has helped keep my endurance from not completely disappearing over the winter, the lack of longer rides and the toll of too many late nights at work meant I wasn’t sure how I’d last.  Anyway Lake Washington Loop was super busy – its a popular ride, especially among those  just making their first forays beyond trail riding, and as I’ve said, this was the first real nice day of the year. Everyone seemed so happy to be out on such a nice day, even the roadies kitted out for le Tour would smile and wave as I  (an unapologetic phred) rode past. I wanted off the Loop though so after about 10 miles I headed east into the small town of Newcastle which begins with a steep climb to a nice lookout above the lake. It was really nice and warm now so I stopped to remove my socks, a sign of the temps being in the mid to upper 60s – my favorite riding weather.

First real spring ride 05

Early section of May Valley Road

This route, which I believe I modified from a Randonneuring route (Rando routes are a great resource; check out your local Rando group for tons of route ideas), wends through some back routes of Newcastle, has a brief section on Coal Creek Parkway and then turns onto May Valley Road. This was where I wanted to ride on this day: beautiful country roads, through May Valley which is mostly farmland and horse pasture and is one of my favorite place to ride on sunny warm days.  Usually you just see the occasional cyclist, or motorcyclist out enjoying these roads with only the occasional car. There was a bit more traffic today and definitely a few more cyclists than normal – again I lay this all on the fact that its the first nice day and everybody wants to get out. Further evidence for this mounted as everywhere I went it was packed with people, since after a good long string of nice days these places become a lot less frequently visited as people either stay home, do something else or look further afield. Anyway May Valley Road is a nice road to ride and with its mix of sun and shade, fantastic on a sunny days.

 

First real spring ride 06

Atlantis post chain repair

About half way down the road I was flagged down at a section where Comcast was doing was work on a telephone pole. As I was allowed to pass I stood on the pedals and my chain broke. Not sure exactly what caused this breakage, it could have just been my chain was worn from a winters worth of commuting, or I’d weakened it when I broke it to put the new derailleur in, but whatever the cause it was time for some roadside repair. I always use SRAM chains and I always have quicklinks on hand, so this was a quick and painless fix.  I even had a small section of chain in my tool bag so with that and a couple of quicklinks, I was back on the road with my chain not shortened a bit. The farm and pasture land continues for a bit longer and then becomes increasingly wooded. Toward the end you pass the Squak Mountain State Park and then the route finally ends when it intersects with the Issaquah Hobart Road which runs inbetween Squak and Tiger Mountains.

First real spring ride 08

May Valley Road

The Issaquah-Hobart Road is always busy with cars, from those out enjoying all the hiking and other activities along the road plus those just cutting between Issaquah and parts south. This day was no exception, again most likely abetted by the nice weather. At Tiger Mountain, the para-gliders were out in force and the cars overflowed all of the parking lots and lined the roads. I stopped at the Tiger Mountain parking lots and took a few pictures of the para-gliders but my digital camera, which I had thought had died actually, suddenly no longer would zoom. It seems the issue the camera is having is with the motorized lens and it would go into an error state whenever I’d zoom, or often just turn it on.  With the camera giving me such grief I mostly stopped taking pictures of the ride at this point.

First real spring ride 18

Parasail landing below Tiger Mountain

 

Eleven Year FrogIt was only a couple of miles into Issaquah and as intended I made my way to the Issaquah Brewhouse, which, as with everything this day, was packed. Now it is often packed at lunchtime, especially on nice days, but here it was 3:30-ish and they were taking names at the door. Luckily I squeezed in at the bar and had a nice cold, Juniper Pale Ale to wash down the road dust. I spent about an hour and a half there and had a plate of onion rings and a couple more beers: Issaquah Brewhouse’s own 11 Year Frog (pictured at left) and a New Belgium Trip IV, which was really chocolaty. The sun was a bit lower in the sky, but it was still nice and warm as I left and took the eastern side of Lake Sammamish Drive.  This is another super frequent route for myself, (one which I’ve written about before), but on a sunny day, along the lake, its always a nice ride, with its gently rolling hills. Its about ten miles from Issaquah to Redmond and the miles just swiftly rolled by. In Redmond I stopped at the Malt & Vine (about which more later) for some reinforcements and post-ride refreshment and then took a rather circuitous route home through Woodinville where I ran some errands. I finally made it home after dark, around 9:30pm after full on day of riding and pubcrawling. It’s good to be back and even though the temps have dropped ten degrees and its back to raining, it finally feels like spring.

Total miles ridden:  57.00
See more pictures from this ride in my First Ride of Spring Flickr set.