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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Parasail landing below Tiger Mountain
It 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.