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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.

Riding into Autumn

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
Kitsap Color Classic 2010 -15Atlantis in Poulsbo

The primary reason I’m a member of the Cascade Cycling Club is to support their advocacy work, but I do try to do one of their rides every year or so. Previously I’ve ridden Chilly Hilly (reports on these rides here) and RSVP (my report here), but the one other ride of theirs that I’ve wanted to do for a while is  the Kitsap Color Classic (hereafter KCC). The KCC takes place on the Kitsap Peninsula upon which I’ve ridden a section of before:  Hood Canal Bridge to Kingston on my 2004 tour, in which you can see some pictures of the most of route from the ferry to near where I live now. Not being able to do Chilly Hilly this year and with work and my summer tour more or less counting out their summer rides (not that I was all that interested in their big, crowded multi-day rides to be honest) I signed up for the KCC just a couple of days before the online registration deadline. It’s only been about three weeks since I’ve returned from my tour and I’m trying to keep my riding up as opposed to years past where I enter into a post-tour doldrums. This seemed an ideal way to keep on riding into autumn.

KCC  LogoThe last of Cascade’s organized rides the Kitsap Color Classic has previously been held in the first week of October, but due to the inconsistent weather they moved it this year to the last Sunday in September.  Now autumn in the Pacific NW is highly variable, some years September is the best month of the year, sunny, crisp with cool nights and the trees starting to change color. Other years it can rain the whole month; this September is apparently nearly at a record level of rainfall. There have still been plenty of nice days and its not been all that cold but when its rained it really has rained.  The day before the ride was beautiful with clear skies and temperatures in the low 70s, but a stiff wind broadcast the change that was about to occur.  During the night this wind blew in clouds and a steady rain began to fall.  I got up early after a fairly poor nights sleep to this wind and rain, but even at dawn it wasn’t very cold. This is the famous “pineapple express“: warm moist air from the tropics on a beeline for the Northwest.  I donned rain gear and set off around 7am in a pretty steady rain.

Kitsap Color Classic 2010 -0On the Ferry to Kingston

I’d say most of the people who do these Cascade rides drive to the ride, which frankly just strikes me as odd.  This difference in mindset perhaps explains part of the reason I don’t really do many club rides: it’s just a completely different culture.  This can also be seen in that I rode my touring bicycle, fully prepared for about any contingency as opposed to the plastic bicycles prepared only for a race with a support vehicle that the bulk of the (non-racer) riders utilized. If I had driven to the ride I could have gotten up about an hour later and would have missed most of the rain. As it was I rode a quite familiar route from Kirkland to Shoreline and then down into Edmonds where the “start line” is and I picked up my registration.  I tend to take the latest start time on these rides as it misses the early birds which seem to be the bulk of the riders (the other distinguishing feature of myself and most other club members) but I’d made this ride quick enough that I ended up on the middle of the three ferries you can take to the peninsula.  There was only a hundred or so other riders on this ferry – indicative of the fairly low numbers of riders that do this ride (I didn’t see a bib number greater than about 380) also perhaps reduced thanks to the rain. On the ferry I got a coffee to help warm up and changed my socks – this was a great move as with the fresh socks (and coffee!) I felt a lot better, almost dry. As we approached Kingston, I could see that the clouds were breaking up a bit and it looked like the whole day wouldn’t be in rain. After about twenty minutes on the ferry we docked, the cars were let out and off we rode.

Kitsap Color Classic 2010 -4Riding from Kingston to Port Gamble

The first part of these rides are always the least pleasant: the scrum of riders jostling into position and there usually is a bit of a climb right off a ferry which of course the wide variety of riders all handle differently. As I was riding in this group I began to wonder why I do these rides at all; even with the rain the early morning ride by myself was a lot more enjoyable to me.  But after a couple of miles we reached the Kingston “food stop” which is at the beginning of the ride as this ride is actually three loops that all start and stop at this point.  I didn’t need to stop at this point, so I just rode on with a fraction of the peloton remaining.  As I said this ride is three loops on the Kitsap Peninsula of fourteen, twenty-five and thirty-six miles that you can string together as you please. If you do all three loops you end up encircling the peninsula and have done about sixty-five miles.  The ride to Edmonds and back would add about thirty-six miles to my ride so if I did the whole loop I’d end up at over a hundred miles. Not impossible of course but on this day I didn’t think I’d be riding quite that much. So I set off on the longest loop figuring I’d add one of the others as I saw fit.

Kitsap Color Classic 2010 -5Riding from Port Gamble to the Hood Canal Bridge.

I’d set off with a half-dozen other riders or so but we began to string out along the route as we progressed. I’d ride with a couple other rides just in sight ahead or a few behind, passed every once in a while or occasionally even passing a rider myself. But most of the time I was riding by myself on these great roads.  My mood changed from wondering why I had done this, to thinking this was the best Cascade ride yet.  I love these kind of roads, they are the typical PNW back roads: in trees, winding through valleys with farms, rolling hills, mostly light traffic and the occasional quaint little town. The weather too was slowly improving; a bit of drizzle in the beginning gave way to merely overcast skies and finally patches of blue began to appear.  The first little town we approached was Port Gamble, which was celebrating their Old Mill Days.  Due to the increased traffic expected for this we were mostly routed around the town. Perhaps because it was still early, perhaps due to the rain, their was little traffic and the crowds were pretty spare.  From Port Gamble it was mostly valley riding which was fantastic – along green farms, among trees, mostly flat. When we reached the intersection with the Hood Canal Bridge though we were now on highways which while not as pleasant weren’t bad riding either, the route would always go off these highways when it could, so it was never too long on them.

Kitsap Color Classic 2010 -9Entering Poulsbo

A bit more than half way ’round the thirty-six mile loop was the cute little town of Poulsbo.  Here was the other food stop in a water front town, which I took advantage of.  The clouds had mostly cleared up at this point and while there was wind it was now quite pleasant riding. I hung out at the park for maybe a half an hour, eating a bit, refilling my water bottle and checking out the park. The park was in front of a harbor with many nice looking sailboats, had a boardwalk along the all of the harbor and various other amenities. The city of Pouslbo had a number of good looking pubs and restaurants – too bad the ride didn’t end here!

Kitsap Color Classic 2010 -14Poulsbo Harbor

There had been a few hills, or grades really on the route so far, but exiting Poulsbo was the first (and pretty much only) steep climb on this route. It was short though and while I drove me to the small ring it wasn’t very onerous.  The route then descended back to the water and wended along the coast for a bit before diving back into the woods. I did a good long stretch here without seeing many other riders and apart from damp roads this was some of the best riding of the day.  A couple of parts the road would dive down into the trees, like riding into a a tunnel.

Kitsap Color Classic 2010 -18Riding from Poulsbo to Kingston

Kitsap Color Classic 2010 -22There was another section of highway, a bit more along the water, some farmland and then suburbia as I approached Kingston.  As enjoyable as this whole day had been I was feeling fairly tired already.  The riding wasn’t the issue for the most part I think it was how poorly I’d slept the night before.  I decided to have lunch in Kingston (it was now around 12:30) and see how things went from there. I’d been wanting to return to the Main Street Ale House since I was last there on my 2004 tour so I jumped at the chance. The pub was pretty empty, which was a bit unexpected as all the nearby pubs are always packed when I’ve done Cascade rides – another indication how sparsely attended this ride was (or I suppose everyone was still out riding).  I had a beer and some prawns and really felt much better after this. But I was just so tired, so I decided I was done for the day – I still had the eighteen mile ride home afterall.  I walked around Kingstons main street a bit and then rode down to the ferry which was unloading cars. Only a few minutes later bicycles were loaded – pretty much perfect timing. Cars were then loaded and we left the peninsula and the end of my Kitsap Color Classic.  The weather had completely turned now and it was warm with blue skies and big fluffy clouds.  It was a much more pleasant ride home then it had been on the way here.

Kitsap Color Classic 2010 -27Sailboat reveling in this windy day

This is definitely a ride I’ll do again – there are those other two loops waiting for me after-all. I think on a day that I was feeling better I could do the full loop even with the ride to the ferry – perhaps a goal for next year. I made it home around 3:45pm with a total of 76.5 miles ridden.

See all the photos I took of the Kitsap Color Classic in my KCC Set on Flickr.

Tour 2010 – day 6

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

At last it’s cleared up;
Today I will do the wash.
– Santoka

A day off from my travels, a chance to catch up on the mundane details but also a chance to walk around this great city. I spent the morning on those activities (laundry, currency exchange, blah, blah, blah), but the afternoon I walked to Granville Island.

We used to visit Granville Island all the time when I was a kid but I’d avoided it since: I recalled it as too touristy, too crowded, too much of a pain to get to by car or foot. Well it is all those things, but like Pike Place Market in Seattle it has a real farmers market and much fresh and locally made foods. I ended up combing the stalls for items for dinner.

I also wanted to go to the Granville Island Brewery but it was completely packed. So I walked around some more and had a sampler at an Artisan Sake Brewer! I thought their sake was great, though I’m no expert. I did make it to the brewery and had their Pale Ale which was good, but was told when I wanted to order another they could only sell 12oz of beer per customer, due to only having a tasting license. Well, time to walk back.

The evening was spent at a concert from some guys I know who were touring from back east. I’d missed their Seattle dates so was lucky to encounter them here. It was good ones in this tiny little bookstore/coffee house on the edge of Gastown.

So that was my first rest day and last in Vancouver. Now that I’m leaving the hostel my posts may be sporadic.

Some pictures from the tour

Tour2010 – day 5

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Its a serious juxtaposition, walking around the streets of Vancouver, one of the largest cities on the west coast, mere days after being in a campsite in the Cascades without even potable water. I’m staying at the downtown Vancouver hostel, which I have to say is pretty nice, with the exception of an ensuite bathroom I’ve stayed at worse hotels. The hostel is more or less right in the portion of Van I know best so I walked down to the Yaletown Brewery where I knew I could get a good, cold draft. For the days ride was hot, dusty and in traffic most of the day.

In my campsite
A woodpecker knocks for his breakfast
Water is all I have

I had run out of fuel for my stove the day before but I didn’t want to replenish it as I knew I’d be crossing the border and then staying at the hostel today. But that means no coffee this morning. Luckily there was a market just outside the campsite where I could rectify that. And again 8 miles later in Blaine after some beautiful country roads.

The Border wasn’t much of an issue (though they pressed me on handgun ownership) and I’m in Canada. The ride then mostly becomes somewhat of a slog: almost all on highways (with big shoulders for the most part), with lots of traffic. While there was nice scenery: farmland, coastal views, Mount Baker and other cascade range mountains I mostly had to pay attention to the road and the traffic. Still a lot of that filters in.

Hurrying along the road,
I can’t look back.
– Santoka Tenada

Once I got through the Geroge-Massy tunnel (which is done via a shuttle service) I was back on the route I took for my 2008 tour which one can check out for further details. Needlessly to say on this hot day at the end of summer all the beaches were packed and there were a lot of other cyclists. It all went well and once I crossed the Burrard bridge I was just a few blocks from the hostel and done.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 59.75
Miles ridden to date: 276.5

Posted from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Tour 2010- day 4

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Growing in my campsite
— wild blackberries!

Somedays, the best days really, things just flow into you and are with you and you don’t really think beyond the moment. This day particularly the morning was like that. These sort I’d days are hard to record so this entry is just some impressions and notes.

Wide open roads under blue skies, following the winding coast and then across open fields. Of course the wind: cross, head even tail at times. Over a bridge to Chuckanut drive — I’ve ridden here before. Tree lined rocky coast, out of the wind and cool in the days heat.

Just when I most needed a beer I reach Bellingham and head straight for Boundary Bay Brewery for a couple. Plus some lunch and cell recharging.. Across from me sat a girl with a tattoo so fresh it was still wrapped in plastic.

Wandering the city streets makes me feel strangely sad, so I hit the road and it is back to coastal and country riding. Not too far really and barring a couple of hills it was pretty good riding wit Spectacular views of Mount Baker across the fields. Soon enough I’m at Birch Bay state park which is pretty big and filled with people. Nothing like campgrounds to hammer home that it’s journey not the destination.

The sun has already set
Leaving only shades of orange
The ocean waves

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 48.2
Miles ridden to date: 216.7

Posted from Blaine, Washington, United States.

Tour 2010 – day 3

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Like grinding gears
The cry of the heron.

The morning was foggy and cold, but it was obvious that once the clouds burned off it would be pure blue skies. Walking back from washing my dishes I saw a great blue heron perched, huge and gargoyle like in the trees. It hunched up and flew down into the fog covered river, releasing that mechanical sounding cry as it flew.

Impressions from the road:
On highway 20 halfway to Concrete I saw three empty Bud longnecks and a black Cowboy hat. What’s the story there?

The short order cook at the Hi-Lo Country Bar & Grill in Concrete where I had the best short stack I’ve had in ages has a tattoo of a busty naked woman all stitched up like Frankenstein’s monster proudly, and prominently, displayed on his arm.
It’s Lady Luck, he says, she takes all the bad shots for you.

A white cloud in a blue sky,
Floats over green hills
— a summer breeze

There’s a gravel rail trail from Concrete to Sedro-Wooley, tired of gravel but it’s good to be off the highway. Sunny and warm now, the shade of the trail is another point in it’s favor. When country roads would parallel the trail, I’d switch to riding them as a break, even though their chipseal surface was almost as rough.

At the Skagit River Brewery in Mount Vernon, my first pub this tour, a cold ESB washed down some if that trail dust. An IPA followed then I set off on the the final stretch across the Skagit Flats with their everpresent headwind as the sun was low in the sky.

Camp setup I watched the sunset over my old hometown of Anacortes as the full moon rose in the east. Shortly thereafter I was chased off the beach as the rangers “locked it up.” Can’t say that’s ever happened before.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 55.4
Miles ridden to date: 167.5

Posted from Mount Vernon, Washington, United States.

Tour 2009: day 18

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Tour 2009 - day 18-2

I got up early and left camp by 7:40 wanting to hit the legendary Leggett hill (the highest point in the West Coast route at 2000′) before the day hit the projected 90+ degrees. I was prepared for the heat but it was still chilly as I turned off 101 (yay!) onto highway 1.  The climb up Leggett Hill began soon after and continued for about 3.5 miles but it was actually a nice winding gentle climb through the trees for most of the distance. So I never got overheated, on the contrary the descent was cold and quite long and at the bottom I rode into fog. Cold now I stopped at Redwood Grove (the last of the Groves) to put on socks and leg warmers.

Tour 2009 - day 18-7

Of course there was then the next hill, the Rockport hill at 690′; thankfully the legwarmers roll down. This one was shorter than Leggett Hill but steeper and I was still a bit weary from the last hill so overall it was a bit of a slog. After another cold descent I was back on the ocean which I was happy to see. The fog was back as were the seastacks but they now are heavily  fragmented and more like strewn rocks.

Tour 2009 - day 18-9

Tour 2009: day 18The road was right on the top of the bluffs with occasional dips up and down into coves and river valleys. At the first store since Leggett there was a mini conference of touring cyclists including the Beerhounds who we had thought were long gone. We were all making for North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg and after another 15 miles of up and down (with increasingly worse traffic) many of us did meet there. North Coast Brewing makes Old Rasputin Stout which IMO is the best stout in America. I had two at the source. We all also went for handmade ice cream at Cowlick’s Ice Cream Cafe just down the road. I had coffee ice cream, but a tried a sample of a mushroom ice cream, which was as strange as you’d think: earthy and with more umami than one wants in ice cream

Now technically I had ridden the days mileage Fort Bragg actually being 2 miles past the days campsite. But it was so early that a number of us decided to press on another 16 miles to a site just beyond Mendocino. This was again pretty quick riding on the 1 with some ups and downs and a few shoulder-less bridges. Coming up on a side route to Mendocino I took it and spent some time in this quaint little hippie town. I resupplied my consumables and then rolled the few short miles to Van Damme State Park.

Tour 2009 - day 18-16

They had a pretty small Hiker/Biker site but so far it was just C&C and the two German Girls besides myself. I set up made dinner and then walked around a bit. On my return I found another five cyclists had squeezed into the camp. It was cold and gray so I retired into my tent to read fairly early.

Miles ridden today: 58.3
Miles ridden to date: 971.21

A few pictures from this day can be found here

Tour 2009: day 16

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

tour 2009 - day 16-10

This was truly a great day of cyclotouring, one that had everything: it began in an interesting town, wandered through scenic farmland and ended back in the Redwoods along the famous Avenue of the Giants. It was almost as short of a route as the previous days so I really milked it too, I did all the scenic routes and extra side rides mentioned in the guidebook.

tour 2009 - day 16-1

Tour 2009: day 16Even though it was going to be a short day I hit the road earlier than ever. This was mainly because I was out of alcohol for my stove so I couldn’t make my usual breakfast coffee and oatmeal. It was gray and foggy and starting to mist as I left the KOA with a plan to hang out in Eureka at a coffeehouse. It was an easy ride into Eureka and once there I followed the guidebooks scenic route through the Old Town part of the city. This was at first old Victorian style houses but then it became the towns original downtown which was fully restored and packed with shops. On the edge of Old Town was Has Beans Coffee Roaster where I stopped and hung out for some time drinking coffee and eating a bagel and cinnamon roll. I also ended up talking to this guy about touring for quite some time, he was a long time cyclist wanting to start touring. I then walked around Old Town Eureka, visited the Eureka Books, the Old Town Art Gallery until it was about lunch time for which I went to the Lost Coast Brewery. I had their 8-Ball Stout, which was thick and malty, and their Double IPA which was good, hoppy but fairly well balanced by the alcohol.

Tour 2009: day 16

The sun had burned away the fog by now and it was a bright clear day as I returned to the 101. The 101 was fine, pretty easy riding for he most part, but I took  every opportunity offered to not ride on it. The first of these was a somewhat hilly route to the tiny town of Loleta, where I stopped at the Loleta Cheese Factory and sampled tons of cheese. All of it was Cheddar and Monterrey Jack based but with various additions. My favorites were their hickory smoked cheeses and I bought small bar of hickory smoked Monterrey Jack to have with dinner. Back on the road I encountered a fruit stand and got a pluot and a white nectarine for later. You can’t beat being able to pick up this fresh and locally produce foods. I was able to route right onto the second alternate route without returning to the 101, which ending up adding miles but was great riding through green farmland to the small town of Ferndale which is filled with seemingly out of place Victorian architecture. It’s main Street was the very definition of quaint all antique shops and candy makers. The most interesting part to me was the cemetery which was on this hill and terraced with masonry walls. Sort of reminded me of some of the cemeteries in Japan, though of course not nearly as dense.

tour 2009 - day 16-11

Riding out of Ferndale was again across farmland but with a wicked tailwind. I made great tome until this series of three steep hills at the end. It was hot now to boot. Back on 101 for only a couple of miles before I pulled off at the next alternate route to the little town of Scotia. I got water and applied sunscreen here but passed on the recreational activities which were all logging oriented. This one was only off the 101 for a mile or two, and then it was the highway again. But this was the last stretch of the day here and it wasn’t long before I exited on the Avenue of the Giants.

tour 2009 - day 16-16

The Avenue of the Giants is the most well known of the Redwood parks and it is again an amazing ride through these incredible trees. Not quite as impressive as the road along Prairie Creek but it was still a great way to cap the days riding. After about fifteen miles in the trees (stopping constantly for pics or to just gaze in awe) I made it to Burlington Campground where the Hike/Bike area wad small and packed. There was the biggest crowd I’d seen at a campground to date: the usual couple, a pair of German girls I’d last seen at Cape Lookout, a solo German girl, a pair of guys riding south to north who were also rock climbing as they went and several more I didn’t meet. A boisterous bunch who did various levels of ambitious cooking including making lasagna in a fire pit. I pitched my tent right in between two others and ate my cheese, fruit and crackers sharing with several others. I went for a short walk in the trees with the couple and then chatted for awhile with the south to north boys before retiring.

Miles ridden today: 64
Miles ridden so far: 865.71

A few pictures from this day can be found here

TPMD – The Celtic Bayou

Sunday, July 13th, 2008
celtic bayou

The pub which is most frequently my destination is the Celtic Bayou in Redmond.  Redmond is so often a junction point in my rides, either starting or ending that I so often choose to visit the Celtic Bayou for lunch, dinner or just a cold beer.  As the name implies they are an odd fusion of Irish and Cajun, which while seeming odd actually works out for the best. You get Irish style beers and Cajun style food.  A good deal as one doesn’t go to Ireland for the food or Louisiana for the beer.  Of course you can get your Irish Breakfast there and yeah they got Bud longnecks in the fridge but that isn’t why you come here.

Next door to the Celtic Bayou was the Far East Ireland Brewing Company.  I use the past tense as they are now sadly departed.  They were a solid little microbrewery that made a fine selection of very competent ales and some superb seasonal brews. Of their regular drafts their porter was the best, but I had no complaints w/r/t their IPA or Pale Ale.  Their stout was a little weak (though they had a much more impressive seasonal Imperial Stout but as they always had Guiness, that wasn’t much of a problem.  Alas the Far East Ireland Brewing Company didn’t last and the Celtic Bayou no longer served their own beers but a nice selection of local and international beers.

celtic bayou bar

On this particular day I was in need of lunch after a long morning of riding up and down hills checking out various garage sales (didn’t find anything of interesting fwiw).  It was a hot day over ninety degrees by the time I reached Redmond around 1pm.  The pub was pretty empty, with a few people in the restaurant area and a couple out in the beer garden. I saw at the bar and ordered a Blueberry Wheat beer.  Now wheat beers (with the exception of Belgian Wit’s on a hot day) aren’t my favorite and I tend to Sea Dog Blueberry Wheatavoid fruit beers, but I’m kind of obsessed with blueberries.  Thomas Kemper, back when they brewed beer, used to make a blueberry lager that was amazing. Again lagers aren’t my favorite style but it was such a refreshing drink with a hint of blueberry flavor that it was a major exception.  Interesting thing about that beer was that the blueberry flavor came from an error in the brewing process that they chose to maintain for that beer.  It was originally called Helles “blueberry” lager, though later they did begin to put actually blueberry extract into it.  Anyway this wasn’t that beer, it was Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat, which was quite nice and very refreshing on this hot day. Again it was just a hint of blueberry flavor that was nicely blended with the Hefeweizen beer.  A winner.

Iversion IPAIt being lunch time I took the opportunity to get some of that Cajun food. I had their shrimp po’boy, which while being incredible inathuentic is quite good. It uses fried shrimp which are mounded on the hoagie giving the hungry cyclist plenty to consume. I’ve sampled other of their cajun dishes in the past and they are much more authentic. I can definitely give their etouffe a thumbs up.  I’d finished my Blueberry Wheat by the time this arrived so for a second beer I ordered a Inversion IPA. After AnchorDeschutes is my favorite all around brewery. Their Black Butte Porter is my favorite porter, their Obsidian Stout is an amazing, strong, rich stout, their Mirror Pond Pale Ale is second only to Sierra Nevada and their Bachelor ESB is a fine example of that style.  Oddly though I’ve never been that impressed with their IPAs. They make a few seasonal ones that a totally decent but their standard one, the Inversion, well it’s never done much for me. Hard to say why really, it’s not a gonzo IPA, it’s fairly well balanced. Maybe it’s the hops they use.  Anyway on tap it was a bit better I think, but it’ll never replace my favorite IPAs.

After finishing my IPA I headed out for the rest of my ride in the now even hotter day, with once again a satisfying visit to the Celtic Bayou.  While I do miss their own brews they do keep a fine selection on hand and they do serve reasonably priced and tasty food there.  They have an outdoor beer garden and put on live music on the weekends. I used to go every so often for Irish Sessions but I’m not sure if they do those there anymore. Always a good time though free live jamming and good beer. So the Celtic Bayou remains a regular destination for me in my riding and is well worth the visit for any thirsty (or hungry) cyclists in the area.

TPMD – Snoqualmie Falls Brewery

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

I’d spent this morning at the 2nd round of the Washington State primary as an alternate delegate for Obama. My services not required I decided that I’d make the trek up to Snoqualmie to finally visit the the Snoqualmie Falls Brewery. So the pub truly was my destination for this ride (read my report on this ride here). .

I’ve bought Snoqualmie brews in bottle form many times in the past and always thought of them a solid workman like brewery with nothing truly spectacular.  My favorites have always been their porter and what they call an “American Ale” which is probably the only Anchor Steam clone I’ve ever had. Bottle though is never a substitute for draft and any respectable brewery has draft only brews so I was excited to finally try their beers direct from the source.

I arrived mid-afternoon, quite hungry not having had lunch yet and having ridden for a couple few hours.  The pub itself is pretty small with maybe a dozen tables, a small bar and a little side bar like counter.  It was fairly full the main bar and all the tables fully occupied. So I took a seat at this side counter but was soon able to move to a stool at a little table.  I immediately ordered a porter (had to see how my favorite fared on tap) and perused the menu. The menu was fairly typical pub fare of pizza, sandwiches and salads. I ordered the Olive and Veggie sandwich and savored my porter as I waited.

Snoqualmie Falls Brewery
The bar at the Snoqialmie Falls Brewery.

Their porter is nicely chalky and while not rising up to favorite status a totally solid drinkable porter.  I find myelf often just wanting one good beer in the evening so I’ll often pick up a 22. As Snoqualmie Falls brewery seems to only bottle in 22s I often get their beers and their porter is of course my go to selection.  It was as good as ever, maybe a bit better on tap.  So on arrival of my sandwich I ordered their draft only Oatmeal Stout which was being served on a Nitro Tap.  This came with a huge rich head and as I waited for that to subsided a bit I devoured my sandwich.  The sandwich was completely edible if not remarkable. I’ll have to sample a bit more of their menu to make a real judgment on their kitchen but I can confidently say that one will be able to fill ones belly as one quaffs brews.

Inisde the Snoqualmie Falls Brewery
Inside the Snoqialmie Falls Brewery.

The Oatmeal Stout I have to say was fantastic.  Certainly not the best of the genre but a really great brew, thick, rich and creamy it almost seemed halfway between a Guinness and something like Rogues Shakespear Stout. Highly reccomended, just writing about it here is making me thirst for one.  I didn’t try their other nitro tap which was a Pale Ale but I will the next time. As should be obvious I’ll definitely be returning to this pub and really, is there a better reccomendation then that?