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SIR Spring Populaire 2017

Monday, March 13th, 2017
SIR Spring Populaire 2017 - A wet section of the BGT

A typical stretch of Spring Populaire 2017

This was the third Populaire I’ve done with the Seattle International Randonneurs and the third one where it rained. This was the rainiest of the bunch though.  The ride started 9am at Woodland Park in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle.  It started drizzling a few minutes before the start and was a good steady rain by the time we reached the Burke-Gillman Trail (BGT) heading toward Golden Gardens State Park.  By around mile 15 my cue sheet had completely disintegrated. By mile 21 my bicycle computer konked out.  I pretty much relied on the fact that the route was mostly a there and back to Redmond on the BGT and trying to stick with a group of riders.

SIR Spring Populaire 2017 - Pre-ride announcements

Pre-ride announcements

The downside of that though was that most of the ride was on rail trails.  We rode a stretch of the BGT to Golden Gardens, did the climb up to Loyal Heights, cut across to the Interurban which we rode north to the BGT Connecter.  The Connecter – which is a newly “signed route” – was one of the routes I’d worked out back when I lived on the eastside.  It features a long descent down to Lake Washington in Lake Forest Park.  A soaking wet descent on this day. Then it was pretty much the trail to the Redmond Whole Food Plaza which was a control and place for food/coffee/drying out.  I changed my socks there and grabbed some produce bags to try to keep them dry for the ride back. I also downloaded the route to my phone, but it being so wet I wasn’t sure I could really rely on the phone.  But since it was 11 miles back on the BGT I knew I was set for a while.

SIR Spring Populaire 2017 - Randos disppearing ahead

Randos disappearing ahead on the BGT

It was a slog back on the BGT, though there was a good 20 minutes without rain.  The fresh pair of socks in their shopping bags did a good job keeping my feet dry.  I was alone most of the time, once passed by about 8 randos who’s pace was definitely outstripping mine.  The next group that overtook me, I made a point of sticking with and was able to take advantage of their surviving cue sheets and GPS to get to the finish. This last bit climbed up into Ravenna, made it’s way under I-5 and then the final climb to Phinny Ridge.  As always the ride ended at Zeek’s Pizza where I had my usual Veggie Thai pizza and a couple of pints.

SIR Spring Populaire 2017 - Pumpkin Orange XO-1 at the finish

Pumpkin Orange XO-1 at the finish.

The rain had stopped when I left but a brutal wind out of the south (the direction home of course) had picked up. So I rode to UW and took the Light Rail to Beacon Hill. So good times all in all. Character was built.

Spring Populaire 2017 Route on RideWithGPS

Spring Populaire 2017 Route on RideWithGPS

My Photos here: SIR 2017 Spring Populaire
Ride info here: Spring Populaire
Map here: Ride with GPS map

Posted from Seattle, Washington, United States.

April Bicycle Camping day 6

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

April Bicycle Camping day 6 - King Street Station

sunset—
tears shine in a frog’s eyes
too

-Issa

I had to be back this afternoon so I decided I’d take the morning Amtrak Cascades train back to Seattle. To maximize my time I’d chosen to camp at Bayview State Park which is only about ten miles from the train station. The train left around 9am and I wanted to be there half an hour early so I got up pretty early and rolled out of camp by 7:30 am.  It had been a nice night overnight with a chorus of frogs and the nearly full moon. At one point inexplicably there was what sounded like an air raid siren for a spell. It was overcast this morning – the stretch of unseasonably warm weather had come to an end.

April Bicycle Camping day 6 - Looking West Across Skagit Valley

I rode across farmland in the Skagit Valley ending at Hwy 20 which I rode into Mount Vernon a pretty directly to the train station.  I was a half hour early and all I had to do was print out my ticket from a vending machine. The station was increasingly occupied and the people were appropriately strange for a train station: a weird religious nut going on and on about “there is only one sin” which seemed to be negative thoughts. An older man in full native garb came in with a teenager, bought an energy drink from the vending machine and then went into the main (and quite full now) area and began chanting and playing a drum. The train was late of course but not by too much. I had to quickly remove my bags and hand it off to a porter to “roll on” to the train. I was then able to just sit back and enjoy the couple hour ride into Seattle.

April Bicycle Camping day 6 - Barn in the Skagit Valley

I sat across from a teenage who sat with his feet up on the seat next to the window the whole time, so I went up to the cafe car for most of the trip. When I first arrived there a girl who must have just been over 21 bought an Irish coffee and something like a rum and coke. Breakfast of champions! I spent most of the trip going through photos, updating the blog and looking out the window. There was some nice sections along the coast from Everett to Mukilteo and then into Seattle.  Mostly though it was to the east of I-5 in the flats before the Cascade foothills. We arrived in Seattle a bit before 11am and I got my bicycle out, put the bags back on and then rode my usual route back home. Was there before noon!

serene and still
the mountain-viewing
frog
-Issa

 

Photos from this day: April Bicycle Camping Day 6
Photos from this tour: No-Thinking Tour

Posted from Seattle, Washington, United States.

January Picnic

Sunday, January 31st, 2016
January Picnic - NFE at Colman Park

NFE at Colman Park

Sunday January 24th was a splendid winter day. The sun was out, chased around the sky by big fluffy cloud ridges. In the sun I was overdressed and hot but when the sun was behind a cloud it was definitely winter.

January Picnic - Bellevue across the lake and under the clouds

Bellevue across the lake and under the clouds

I wanted to outside, but I didn’t have much of a plan. I left around 11am so I knew that I’d been need lunch. I also wanted to get over to the Eastisde but I wasn’t sure where exactly over there.  Heading to the eastside means the Mountain to Sound Trail so I headed straight there.  At the Mount Baker Tunnel, my plans crystallized and I rode down to Leschi at picked up provisions at the Leschi Market.

January Picnic - Riding up from Lake Washington to the Mountains To Sound trail

Riding up from Lake Washington to the Mountains To Sound trail

I had to get back to the Mountain to Sound trail but I didn’t want to just backtrack. So I road along Lake Washington until I went under the I-90 Floating Bridges and then up the great winding road through Coleman Park. There is a huge P-Patch at Coleman Park and it is a testament to the warmth of this January that there was plenty of work going on there. Getting ready for spring.  This route takes you above the Mount Baker Tunnel and after a short stop for photos, I descended onto the bridge. 

January Picnic - A winter picnic

A Winter Picnic

January Picnic - Coffee Outside

It has become such a routine ride now: across the floating bridge, leave the trail and ride the perimeter road around Mercer Island. Then it’s the second floating bridge and you are on the Eastside. But today I stopped at Luther Burbank Park for a picnic lunch.  I rode down into the park on it’s dirt paths winding around the earthwork The Source to a picnic spot right on Lake Washington. It was warm enough here in the sunlight that I took off my sweater as I unpacked my picnic supplies.

I had planned on making coffee as well on this trip and I brought my Cafflano – an integrated burr grinder, drip filter and drinking vessel.  Instead of boiling my own water I brought a thermos of hot with me. I have to say this worked out well and I had the best cup of coffee I’ve maid out-of-doors.  Lunch was a baguette with smoked cheddar, avocado and an organic honey crisp apple.  Really enjoyable.   The park, like all of the parks I’d go by/through on this day, was quite active as us PNW’ers don’t pass up a warm winter Sunday to get out. Sitting here on the edge of the park I can see out to the Cascades which look tantalizing as if brushed with snow.  I began to feel the stirring in me, drawing me to the mountains.  But I couldn’t go them on this day.

River Snow
-Liu Tsung-yüan
 
A thousand parks: no more birds in flight.
Ten thousand paths: all trace of people gone.
 
In a lone boat, rain cloak and hat of reeds,
an old man’s fishing the cold river snow
 
Translated by David Hinton
from Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China, p. 154

January Picnic - Seattle across Lake Washington

Seattle across Lake Washington

I’d decided now that I’d ride the north end of the Lake Washington Loop which provides for a nice ride along the lake with some hills and would take me through Bellevue, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and back into Seattle via the University of Washington. This is a familiar route, but I don’t do it so often these days. It was a great day for this ride and I did take a few jogs off the route for better sights and around more parks. In Bellevue stopped at Cafe Cesura and had them put loose leaf green tea into a tea bag and refill my thermos with hot water.  In Kirkland I turned off the loop to ride up Waverly Way past Heritage Park and on a bluff above the lake. Then it was hill climbs up Market Street in Kirkland and then up Big Finn Hill from Juanita.

January Picnic - Looking South Lake Washington from O.O. Denny Park

Looking South along Lake Washington from O.O. Denny Park

Once again I dropped off the route, dropping all of the elevation I’d just gained back to the lakeside at Holmes Pt.  Down there among all of the McMansions is O.O. Denny Park, a nice big stretch of open space right on the lake with expansive views north and south.  I stopped here and made my tea and did a bit more reading.  After lingering a bit I reached that time where I’d have to leave if I wanted to be home before dark.  I had to climb up from Holmes point but then it was the long descent down Finn Hill.  This take you to Kenmore and the intersection with the Burke Gillman trail at Logboom Park.  I tend to avoid the trail on sunny weekend days, but I the alternatives are a lot hilly and longer, so I decided to just cruise back into the city.  Well it wasn’t so bad — people were definitely out, just like at all the other parks, but it wasn’t packed.

January Picnic - NFE in the distance

NFE in the distance

I made good time one the trail and the times were the lake was visible there was very tantalizing views of the mountains in the distance. The dwindling sun was coloring the sky with soft pinks and purples. Everyone once in a while I could glimpse Mount Rainier which was obscured by clouds when I was in my prime viewing spots.  No good place to stop for pictures when I could see it, so Mount Rainier amidst torn up purple clouds will only remain recorded in my memories. Once I arrived at the U-Distrct it was back on the Lake Washington Loop through city neighborhoods. I left it on my old commute route along the backside of Capital hill, which let me make my way back to the Mountain to Sound Greenway which I could connect to the Beacon Hill Greenway and then back home.

A lovely day of riding with a mix of winter scenery, tea, snow dappled mountainscapes, blue skies, good coffee, mountain poetry, food out doors and 75km of riding.

Full album on Flickr: January Picnic

Posted from Seattle, Washington, United States.

Last ride 2015

Friday, January 1st, 2016

NYE 2015 Ride - Mount Rainier at Magic Hour
  Pictures from a ride with Shawn “Urban Adventure League” Granton on a clear, sunny and cold New Years Eve. We did a South Seattle ride through West Seattle, Burien, White Center, South Park, Georgetown, Sodo and for myself Beacon Hill while Shawn ended in the ID. Beautiful, clear and cold with stunning views of the Cascades, Olympics and Mount Rainier.  More pictures can be viewed over on Flickr: NYE 2015  
 
 
NYE 2015 Ride - Bicycles and Mountain

Posted from Seattle, Washington, United States.

Three Days on the Iron Horse Trail part 1

Saturday, July 11th, 2015
Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Setting off

Loaded Atlantis at Jefferson Park

This year I’m not going to be able to do any extended touring, so I’m attempting to make the most of three-day weekends and overnight trips.  As I’ve noted in these pages it has been quite warm this spring so when Memorial Day Weekend rolled around I finally decided to do a trip I’ve been planning for years: ride a good chunk of the Iron Horse Trail.  Iron Horse State Park is a narrow park that surrounds the trail which runs from Rattlesnake Lake near North Bend to the Columbia River following the Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad. More than 100 miles of trail extends from the trailhead at Cedar Falls to the Columbia River.  The railroad of course continues on past the Columbia and so does the trail, though it is not a state park and is run by the DNR. Reportedly it’s quite primitive and more of a horse camping route.

Iron Horse Trail West

Iron Horse Trail Western Side Map (pdf)

I chose to ride to the trailhead though I seriously considered taking the bus to North Bend in order to maximize my time on the trail. It is a pretty decent journey to North Bend from Seattle with much more up and down and steep climbs then on the trail itself. But if I can ride I like to and in the end I decided that it’d be nice to do some road riding along with the many miles of gravel trail I’d be on (for a recent report on a multi-modal IHT trip, check out this Seattle Bike Blog post: Bus-bike-backpacking on the IHT).

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Trolly in Issaquah

Issaquah Valley Trolley

Hobo ArtAs usual I got off a little later than planned, but I still pretty quickly got into touring mode.  I followed the usual route following the Mountains to Sound Greenway to Issaquah where I stopped to eat lunch. I had packed some sandwiches and I stopped at Issaquah’s Depot Park to eat it. Well while I was there I found the Issaquah Valley Trolley up and running and an art exhibit in the Depot Museum from Shaun Doll that utilized the symbols that hobos used to communicate: Hobos and Homelessness. I didn’t end up riding the trolley, but I did spend some time checking out the art and the railroad exhibits. I’ve encountered hobo signs before in various places and interestingly enough had just been discussing come that had shown up near the Columbia St. onramp in Pioneer square near where I work.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Atlantis on the Preston Snoqualmie Trail

On the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

From Issaquah I followed the Issaquah-Preston Trail which is a hard packed gravel trail that runs along I-90 to the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail which is paved and heads northeast-ish, both of which I’ve ridden many times. Now the real missing link in the Mountains to Sound Greenway which I’m pretty much following all the way is from this trail to the Upper Snoqualmie Valley trail which connects to the Iron Horse Trail.  There are basically three options: ride along I-90 for a stretch, descend into the Snoqualmie Valley and take the lower Snoqualmie Valley Trail, or work your way up Snoqualmie Ridge and then into Snoqualmie. The short, but steepest, route is up onto Snoqualmie Ridge and this time Google Maps hooked me up with a route through there. You exit the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail at Alice Lake road and ride the very (very) steep road up to the Lake. The road dead ends around the lake but Google Maps had routed me onto a power line trail the connects to a housing development trail network on Snoqualmie Ridge.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Wetland

Wetlands near Alice Lake

It was at this point that I encountered the only real snafu of the day: I went the wrong way on this trail.  Google Maps was very ambiguous, with just a Turn left off of the road that I was on. But it curved around and it wasn’t clear whether they were including this curve and then the turn on the trail in which case the direction wasn’t clear. I have a strong sense of direction, but since I’d gone on a winding road up to Lake Alice and then perhaps two-third’s of the way around the lake and I didn’t know what GM was doing, I made the wrong choice. I basically took this power line trail, which became increasingly rough, almost all the way back to where the Preston-Snoqualmie trail crosses the Preston-Fall City Road. At that point I consulted a map app and figured out what I’d done wrong and backtracked. Once I got back to where I should have been it turned out to be less than a mile on this trail before exiting onto the nicely paved Snoqualmie Ridge Trails.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - On a powerline trail

Powerline Trail

PreprohibitionPilsnerThe downside of climbing up to Snoqualmie Ridge is that you have climbed quite hight and then you take a screaming descent into Snoqualmie. This of course is altitude that you will slowly regain as you work your way up the pass. If you take the Snoqualmie Trail from the valley you don’t do this superfluous climbing. But it is more circuitous and longer (and you still descend from Preston into the valley). The trail interests Snoqualmie’s Centennial trail, a short trail that runs almost from the Falls into town. This trail would be the continuation of the Preston-Snoqualmie trail if they were still running a tourist steam engine on the chunk of the line that runs by the falls. I got into Snoqaulmie around 3:30, a bit later than planed, and was tired and hungry enough from the extra riding that I went straight to the Snoqualmie Falls Brewery for some snacks and beverages. I was quite pleased to see that the brewery had their summer beer, a Pre-Prohibition Pilsner, which is one of my favorite beers when I’m really thirsty. I’m not much of a lager fan but there is so much more character in this pre-prohibition recipe which since they brew it with ale yeast might be why I like it so much…

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - River Crossing

Crossing the Snoqualmie River

After recuperating at the brewery it was a pretty quick jaunt around Snoqualmie and the backroads to North Bend (home of the Double R) where I connected onto the upper Snoqualme Valley Trail. From here on out I’d be riding on gravel with a very slight grade.  It’s nicely hardpacked gravel and that grade is slight, but the combination of the two means that you never make as good of time as you think you would. I was needing to make good time at this point as I was well behind my itinerary due to the late start, the wrong turn and the unplanned stop at the brewery.  You ride through some far flung suburb’s, cross the Snoqualmie River and then into the woods up to Rattlesnake Lake. The Cedar Falls Trailhead, the western terminus of the Iron Horse Trail, is on the north edge of Rattlesnake Lake.  Nearby is the Cedar River Watershed environmental center which is the last tapwater you will find until you are across the pass. I filled up my bottles, as well as an extra 2-litre bladder and finally set of on the Iron Horse Trail.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Major Trestle crossing

Trestle Crossing on the Iron Horse Trail

This was an overcast day in contrast to the last few weeks and as I climbed into the mountains I reached into these clouds which streamed down the spring green slopes.  The light was dwindling and with few exceptions the remaining people on the trail were all heading west back home.  The trail was nicely packed gravel and the large ballast the used to be on all the trestles had been removed and could be found in large piles on either end.  Several sections along this first part of the route are shear rock walls that are popular climbing destinations. Most of these were empty at this late hour, though I saw a few climbers heading home. The trail slowly climbs until I-90, which it pretty well parallels, is far below.  The wash of traffic though was always present, sometimes more distant, but always in the background.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Clouds rolling down the hills above I-90

Clouds streaming down the mountains above I-90

There are four campgrounds, two on either side of the Pass, each pair fairly close to each other. I’d planned to go to the second campground on the western side, to get a jump on the next days ride, but by the time I reached Alice Creek Campground, the westernmost ‘ground, it was late enough I called it a day. All of the campgrounds are primitive with no running water but are all next to a creek. In this case though it was quite a hike down to Alice Creek. So I did all my cooking and cleanup with the water I had lugged up (and I had lugged up enough for breakfast the next day as well) and as the light truly failed I hung up my food from an old telegraph pole across the trail.  I made it into my tent just a bit after 10pm, after a long day.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Alice Springs Campground

Alice Creek Campground

 

Grey skies
reach down
envelope green hills

Miles ridden today: 63
Photographs:  this day/all days

Posted from North Bend, Washington, United States.

Spring Populaire

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

SIR Spring Populaire 2015 - Echo, blinded by the setting sun

For various reasons this year I’m going to have extremely limited options for bicycle touring, most likely limited to overnights and three day weekends. For me what I really love about touring is the mindset that you get into, a form of mindfulness where you are in harmony with your surroundings, bicycle and body.  After all my touring I’ve found that I’ve been able to slip into this mindset on longer day rides, where I just let go of the thoughts and concerns of everyday life and just ride. I tend to have no problem coming up with rides that I like to do, but motivating to get up early and do really long rides can be lacking. This is one of the reasons why I really like the PNW summers where you can start late and still be rolling in the twilight well after 9pm.  But it isn’t summer year round and so I’ve finally decided that this is the year to dabble with randonneuring.

SIR Spring Populaire 2015 - The throngs preparing to set off

Almost every time I return from tour, I say to myself that this year I’ll start randonneuring in order to keep my tour fitness. Hasn’t happened.  But for the reasons listed above I finally made a start of it with the SIR 2015 populaire.  Not a brevet, so not quite randonneuring proper, but a good start. A 200k will certainly be in the cards for this spring, but I was happy to do my first organized ride in years.  Another stumbling block for me and randonneuring has been the early starts, but in the last year I’ve completely switched from being a night owl to being an early riser.  Now most rando events start pretty much well after my normal rising time.

SIR Spring Populaire 2015 - Stripped down Atlantis

March 7th was the SIR/RUSA 100k Spring Populaire and it was a beautiful warm late winter day. It was no problem for me to ride to the start at Woodland Park about 8 miles away, arriving a good 30 minutes early.  It proved to be a well attended ride with over a 100 riders pre-registered and plenty more day of registrations.  I wandered around drinking the free coffee and checking out the diverse bicycles. As with any organized event, you are going to see all kinds of ‘cycles from classic 70s steel bicycles, to the au currant low-trail, big boxy bag, 650b machine, to the latest carbon fibre racing machine.  Some lovely bicycles there for sure. As for myself I was riding my venerable Atlantis, but stripped down about as much as I ever had.  While a populaire is not what I’d consider “big deal” distance, even with the ride to and from the start, I knew it’d be much faster than my usual “spacing out” pace.

Seattle SPRING POPULAIRE 2015

The big group set off right at 9am riding along Green Lake in the morning sun. The day was already beginning to warm up and not too long from now I’d have to stop to remove my wool cardigan and switch to short fingered gloves.  The route took us east from Greenlake – including a short gravel stretch through Cowen Park – to the U-District and onto the Lake Washington Loop.  Then it was up to the I-90 Bridge Trail across to Mercer Island.  By this point things had sorted themselves out, with the fast riders jackrabbiting off and the rest of us settling into little groups of similar pace. I ended up riding with a group of guys from Olympia and Seattle who were perhaps just a bit faster than I would ride, pushing me nicely the whole way.

SIR Spring Populaire 2015 - Gravel riding in Cowen Park

I’ve ridden all the parts of the ride many times and had even ridden the reverse of this one last autumn (modified to start and end at home of course) so it was familiar territory. But out on this sunny winter day, pushed on by 100+ riders it was definitely a different experience. Of course there was also the controls which I’ve not had to contend with before. No big deal; you just have a card with a series of locations that you either get signed by a SIR volunteer or you answer a question proving you were at the spot. It does require you to be self-policing for the most part, but really any cheating on the routes or anything is just cheating yourself.  There’s nothing to win, so no real point.

SIR Spring Populaire 2015 - On the I-90 bridge

The route worked it’s way around Issaquah (where I’ve rarely ridden to without a stop at the Issaquah Brew House!) then out on some more country roads as it worked it’s way to the Cedar River Trail. We had the first Info Control just outside of the (always) quite crowded Tiger Mountain Trailhead, where had to note what was written on a particular sign. Then it was back on the road to take nice wooded roads to the Cedar River Trail.  There was a short stretch here where I was riding alone and of course this was the one place where the sign for a turn was obscured and easy to miss. But I only rode fifty feet or so past it before feeling I should check it out looking back saw the sign.  Glad I did as it was above to do a long steep downhill dive that I wouldn’t have appreciated backtracking on.

SIR Spring Populaire 2015 - Control with snacks!

Where we entered the Cedar River Trail there was another control, this one stocked with snacks and water and such. I got my card signed, refilled my bottles and ate a few snacks. It was about noon at this point and I realized that not bringing some real food with me was a mistake.  Snacks are fine for some quick energy but I’ve found on any decent length ride I need to eat some actual food. I compensated as best I could with peanuts and other snacks with some protein content, but pretty much figured getting to the pizza place at the finish was my best bet.  So back on the bicycle and on the Cedar River Trail.

SIR Spring Populaire 2015 - Cedar River Trail

I figured the Cedar River Trail  was an opportunity for some easy, fast riding to eat up some of the remaining miles before returning to the city and the several climbs to the finish point. It did begin that way, but due to a constant headwind, it slowly wore me down. That and the aforementioned lack of food made for the last few miles on the trail to be kind of a slog.  Once I was in Renton though things perked up a bit. We wound through side roads until we reached the Renton Airfield and were back on the Lake WA Loop route.  It’s a pretty fast ride from here into Seattle Neighborhoods though Rainier Ave is a pretty trafficked and loud route.

SIR Spring Populaire 2015 - Riding on Lake Washington

As we made it to the Rainier Beach portion of town there was a blocked off chunk of road, for some utility work it looked like. I hopped on the sidewalk and through a parking lot of a park to bypass it staying on route.  Past that it was a bit of a climb and then a descent down to Seward Park and we were back on the edge of Lake Washington. A lot more cyclists on this stretch of road, which is certainly on of the more popular Seattle Riding destinations.  It leaves the lake with a classic winding climb up in the Washington Park neighborhood and then across the arboretum.  This route through the arboretum is not one I’d done before (I just typically stay on the main road through) and it was I much nicer option, though a wide paved trail across the park.

SIR Spring Populaire 2015 - Riding into the Arboretum

Once out of the arboretum we cross the I-520 and were back in the U-District. The route took us on a short stretch of the Burke Gillman Trail to Fremont, up Stone Way and then Fremont Ave until we had climbed up Phinney Ridge – always nice to end your ride with a good climb! Phony Ridge featured the Zeeks Pizza where the ride ended.  I had completed my first SIR event at 5’20” – about middle of the pack it appears from the results.

SIR Spring Populaire 2015 - The finish at Zeeks Pizza

I got into Zeeks and immediate ordered a Veggie Thai Pizza (my favorite thing from them) and a beer. Ended up hanging out with a few of the riders I’d ridden with for some of the time, plus several others. Everybody was really nice telling many a story of brevets past and speculating on those of the future.  The 200k was just the next weekend, but alas I had a prior commitment. But I will be back for the next one!

SIR Spring Populaire 2015 - The Sound, the Port and Mount Rainier (in the distance)

Feeling really well recovered I took a different, slightly longer, route home along the Seattle Waterfront. It was packed with people of course, so I set a nice leisurely pace. The sun was going down and everything was lit with the rich light of magic hour. I was feeling pretty good after this ride, which as I suspected I did at much faster pace than normal. But of course I did have to climb Beacon Hill to get back home – as noted always good to end your ride with a good climb.
Check out all of my pictures from this ride on Flickr: Spring Populaire 2015.

Posted from Seattle, Washington, United States.

Pictures from First Rides 2015

Saturday, January 10th, 2015
First Rides 2015 - Atlantis Framing Mount Rainier
Atlantis framing Mount Rainier

The beginning of 2015 found me waylaid by a cold and thus I didn’t get out on my bicycle until January 5th 2015. As per my wont I didn’t get out of the house until late and I ended up doing a fairly standard ride here in the Puget Sound area: South Lake Washington Loop. I rode the anti-clockwise on the loop from the I-90 trail on the west side to the I-90 trail on the Eastside. Then I rode the south half of the loop around Mercer Island before return to the westside.  Two days later I did the North Lake Washington Loop again in between the I-90 trail and this time the north half of the Mercer Island Loop. It has been clear and cold with an inversion layer keeping in fog and smog, which presented some pretty views which I’ll present some photos of here with captions. For more pictures check out my First Rides 2015 photoset on Flickr.

First Rides 2015 - Looking down on SeattleLooking down at Beacon Hill, Seattle and in the distance the Olympics

First Rides 2015 - Atlantis on Lake WashingtonAtlantis on Lake Washington looking at the I-90 Floating bridge
First Rides 2015 - Clouds, Mountain, Lake, BeachAt Seward Park looking at Mount Rainier across Lake Washington
First Rides 2015 - Reflections in the SloughMercer Slough reflecting an overpass
First Rides 2015 - Atlantis above I-90 Floating BridgeAtlantis Above I-90 floating bridge
First Rides 2015 - Looking toward the 520 Floating bridgeAbove Lake Washington with the 520 floating bridge to the left
First Rides 2015 - Smog over BellevueSmog over Bellevue
First Rides 2015 - Finger paintingFinger paint the sky

Posted from Medina, Washington, United States.

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.

Posted from Seattle, Washington, United States.

A Rainy, Winter Ride

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Rainy Winter Ride - Rain

As I noted in my Solstice Ride post, I’d set out with the thought of walking along the shore and making some coffee (or tea) in the out of doors.  That did’t end up happening as my wandering nature got the best of me and the lure of exploring new territory proved stronger.  With the weather predicted to turn clear and much colder over the next week, plus frankly I’ve been feeling a bit sedentary these days, I set out yesterday amidst heavy clouds, wind and threatened rain on a second attempt at making coffee out of doors.

Rainy Winter Ride - Looking back at Seattle from Mercer Island

I’ve been contemplating taking part in an organized ride (!) next year that begins in the AM in Redmond so I thought I’d ride there and gauge the miles and and time that would require. But the straight shot there isn’t super scenic so I decided I’d ride to and around the east side of Lake Sammamish. There I’d be able to stop at the park and make my coffee.

Rainy Winter Ride - North Fork of Issaquah Creek

There were gashes of blue sky amidst the layers of grey clouds and low black clouds blowing in on the wind. This rainy weather coming in was warmer, if not warm, and the hilly route over Mercer Island kept me warm enough. Exiting Mercer Island I continued on the I-90 Trail to Issaquah. Here I encountered Lake Sammamish State Park, but decided I’d stop a bit further on, on the east side of the lake. From Issaquah I was able to hop on the East Lake Sammamish Trail which pretty quickly took me to the Lake Sammamish State Park and boat launch where I’d planned to stop. But there were no picnic tables there so I decided to press on to Marymoor park.

Rainy Winter Ride - North Fork of Issaquah Creek, detail

Back on the trail, which is newly paved inside Issaquah city limits, but the moment you cross into the city of Sammamish it reverts to the old hard packed gravel. At which point I returned to the road. I hadn’t been on the road long when I saw a cyclist pushing his ride up from the trail and he yelled out to me. I looped around a turned out he had a flat and had neglected to bring 5mm allen wrench to remove his front wheel. I of course had my multi-tool and helped him out. He was a pretty fast tire changer so it wasn’t that long before I was back on the road.

Rainy Winter Ride - Waiting out the rain in Marymoor Park

Following the edge of a lake the road has it’s ups and downs. The wind had shifted too, so what had been a cross/tail wind was now more of a head wind. But I was in trees enough that the wind wasn’t much of a problem, but it had blown in low, dark grey clouds and as I pulled into Marymoor Park, it was quite dark, though still an hour and half before sunset. I wanted to make my coffee on the lake so I made an executive decision that I’d ride a loop around Lake Sammamish and make my coffee at Idylwood Park just on the west side of lake. But as I pulled into the main parking area of Marymoor park the skies open up and a real downpour began. I rode to the park concession building which had large eves. There were two other cyclists sheltering there along with a couple arguing in Russian. We all waited out the worst of the downpour but set off one by one as it slackened.

Rainy Winter Ride - Sunset over Lake Washington

At this point I abandoned my plans to ride around the lake – not a bad road but in twilight and pouring rain I figured a more direct route was advisable. Plus I ended up taking that direct route I had wanted to judge the timing of. This route follows the 520 Trail to the outskirts of Bellevue and then takes more out of the way roads to where it intersects with the Lake Washington Loop route which then connects to the I-90 trail. During this ride the rain slowed and there was just showers on and off for most of the rest of the way. I was about to cross onto Mercer Island the sun set and through gaps in the clouds at the horizon I could see the orange, purple and yellow glow.

Rainy Winter Ride - Atlantis on Lake Washington

I was back on the I-90 trail and simply reversed my earlier route across Mercer Island and then onto the Beacon Hill Greenway. It was after five pm, just fully dark and my odometer ticked over to 41 miles as I rolled to my front door. Once again I failed in my making coffee out of doors, but it was a satisfying ride on a gloomy winter day.

Check out my photos from this ride on Flickr.

Posted from Bellevue, Washington, United States.

Winter Solstice 2014

Friday, December 26th, 2014

Winter Solstice Ride 2014 - Clouding up over the Sound

 Winter Solstice on Puget Sound

I was inclined to take a ride in the short amount of sunlight available on the Winter Solstice and thought I’d head to the beach at West Seattle and bile up some coffee.  I loaded up my trusty Atlantis with my camp stove, alcohol, some coffee (also tea, in case I decided I was done with coffee for the day by the time I pulled over), put on my winter ride togs and set off just a bit before noon.  I decided that I should get lunch in West Seattle before any other activities so I took the most direct route there. I exited Beacon Hill on Columbia which is pretty much a direct I-5 and West Seattle Bridge entrance.  I thought there was an exit that wouldn’t put me on either of those highways but as I descended past the point of no return I became less sure.  I decided to just press on figuring I could get off the first exit on the West Seattle Bridge if I had to. It being Sunday, noon-ish, there wasn’t a lot of traffic which made these decisions easier.  I always think one needs to take a certain amount of chances when on is riding, especially on routes.  This one worked out okay as before I was on the West Seattle Bridge proper I was able to exit onto Spokane Street.  From there it was a straight shot (with a short jaunt around a stationary train blocking the way) to the Alki Trail.

Winter Solstice Ride 2014 - Atlantis in front of West Seattle's most distinctive building

 Atlantis in front of West Seattle’s most distinctive building

 

Winter Solstice Ride 2014 - Lunch at Zeeks PizzaOver the Duwamish and onto another trail to Avalon and then the long slow climb up to downtown West Seattle. I rode down California street, past the Sunday Farmers Market, to where it intersects with Fauntlaroy where I stopped at Zeeks Pizza for lunch.  While I’m mostly a Neapolitan Pizza kind of guy Zeeks makes this Thai Pizza, that barely counts as a pizza, but I find myself needing to have every so often.  Being out of their delivery radius in my current dwelling this seemed like a good opportunity to avail myself of this fine item.  The Thai “pizza” is a pizza crust with peanut sauce, cheese and then Thai approrpriate veggies: broccoli, red onions, green peppers, bean sprouts, julienned carrots, cilantro and so on.  Such a great thing. Since pizza – even if it’s basically Thai-fusion flatbread – requires beer so I paired it with a Reubens Brews Roasted Rye IPA, which had distinctive rye notes and was appropriately winterly robust.

I didn’t linger overly long at Zeeks and was soon enough back on the road and heading down Fauntleroy toward Lincoln Park where I’d initially thought I’d get back on the Alki Trail and find a beach to bile up my coffee. But it was only a mile or two away from where I’d just had lunch so I thought I’d keep heading south on the coast and stop at a convenient park when I felt moved for coffee. I passed the ferry terminal and then there was a pretty good climb up from sea-level. Trying to stay on the coast I stair stepped through little residential streets until I was on Marine Drive.  There were plenty of big houses on the bluffs above the water but not much by way of parks or access to the beach. But it was nice riding with the occasional great views of the sound.  At one point way up ahead I could see a point sticking way out into the sound. It looked too far away to ride to on this short day, but I filed it away for future explorations.

The road curved inland to make it’s way around a cove and I noticed that I was on a route used for some bicycle ride with an ‘R’ symbol in it’s Dan Henry’s. As I’ve related many times in these pages, following random Dan Henry’s is a favorite pastime of mine so once again I set off on unknown routes.  I was in suburbia now with the occasional busier arterial, but clearly this route was working it’s way toward that point I saw. There was several good climbs on this route but it flattened out as I came into Burien.  Old Town Burien, which I can’t ever recall having visited, looks pretty nice. A brewpub of the Elliot Bay Brewery, numerous good looking coffee shops, several books and a big brand of the Seattle Public Library all along the main drag.  I kept following the Dan Henry’s even though the sun was waning and it had really clouded up from the days earlier partial cloudiness.  I even felt a few drops of rain.

Winter Solstice Ride 2014 - Dwindling sun over the sound on this, the shortest day of the year

 Dwindling sun over the sound on this, the shortest day of the year

The Dan Henry’s led me into the woods and down a real steep winding road, that I was hoping I wouldn’t have to climb out of.  It opened up, right at sea level on the sound. I rounded that point I saw earlier and snapped the above pictures.  Wind was blowing from the south, it was pretty cloudy now and much cooler.  But I’d soon heat up as I climbed back up to Burien. Thankfully it wasn’t a there-and-back and the road and the Dan Henry’s hugged the water before climbing back up.  At last I reached a point where the marked route was heading back down to the water and further south where I felt I had to start making my way back home. I pulled up Google Maps and found that I could return to 4th Ave which I’d ridden into Burien and follow it almost all the way up the Duwamish Valley.  So this I did.

4th went up and down and there was definitely some traffic on this route but it had either bicycle lanes, or a mostly empty parking strip most of the way, so on a Sunday afternoon it was fine enough.  It more or less ended at Westcrest Park where you could either head east into South Park or West into White Center.  I rode through the park on dirt trails – which was good fun – and then through residential neighborhoods until I dove down into the valley and onto the Duwamish Trail.  From there it was an easy jaunt over the 1st Ave Bridge and into Georgetown.  Pretty deep into dusk now, I made my way toward I-5 where I had previously scouted a signed bicycle route up to Beacon Hill.  This worked out well and I soon crossed I-5 and was up onto the Beacon Hill Greenway.  I made it back to my pad right as the sun was sinking below the horizon, lighting up the clouds a dark orange.

This rather aimless route turned out to be really great, with certainly a few sections I would tweak for a longer ride. Those Dan Henry’s I was following I ended up seeing again when I was on the Duwamish Trail. I figure that route followed to coast perhaps as far as Dash Point State Park and then cut east to the Green River Trail where it would eventually connect with the Duwamish Trail where I encounter those symbols. That would be a pretty great ride and I want to get back out there and do the whole thing. But that would certainly require more daylight than I allowed on this day, but could very well be a good winter ride.

I put the route up on to RideWithGPS as you can see below. My odo stated 31.1 miles for the ride and the below route is as well, so I think I recalled the route pretty well.

Beacon Hill/West Seattle Ramble