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A Winter Picnic

Saturday, February 28th, 2015
A Winter Picnic - Space Needle and FerryCascades, Space Needle, Seattle across the sound

Way back on the 8th, in this abnormally warm February, I took advantage of a Sunday afternoon to ride to West Seattle for a picnic. Not much of note to really report on the ride – it was all pretty familiar territory I’ve ridden (and written about) before. But I did end up riding behind the Macrina Bakery and was drawn in by the smell of fresh baked bread and thus acquired a baguette. Later on in West Seattle I rode up a super steep winding hill up the shopping area where i went to a Metropolitan Market. There I got some nice soft cheeses and a bit of noodle salad. I descended back to where I had climbed up on an even stepper road down. Possible the longest, steepest climb I’ve experienced in the city proper. I rode around Alki, whose trail was packed with Seattle-ites enjoying the warm winter weather, until I was to Lincoln Park. There I secured a picnic table and boiled water for tea and ate my lunch. I continued through the park and across West Seattle until I was down by the Duwamish from whence I made my way back to Beacon Hill via Georgetown. Here are a few pictures from this enjoyable Sunday afternoon. As always all my pictures can be found on Flickr: A Winter Picnic photoset.

A Winter Picnic - Crossing the West Seattle BridgeCrossing the Duwamish on the West Seattle Bridge

 

A Winter Picnic - Seattle from the Space Needle to the Columbia Tower
 Seattle from the Space Needle to the Columbia Tower

 

A Winter Picnic - Atlantis, tree, soundAtlantis, tree, sound

 

A Winter Picnic - Picnic lunch (food and drink)Picnic Lunch

 

A Winter Picnic - On the beachOn the beach at Lincoln Park

 

A Winter Picnic - Olympic Mountains across the water with container ship
 Olympic Mountains across the water with container ship

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.

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

Rainy February Ride

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Rainy Ride - Trees

Trees on Lake Washington

It’s been quite some time since my last point and while there is a backlog of things I should have put some work into there hasn’t been much of interest going on.  The winter doldrums perhaps, hindering rides and blogging past glories.  There are a couple of events that happened at the tail end of 2013 that I should revisit: we shall see.  Anyway the weather this winter has been pretty… variable, running from sub-freezing, clear days in January, to a couple of days of light snow to the more recent couple of weeks of rain and wind. The general malaise and this weather has kept me indoors even when I’ve been aching for ride.  So this weekend I finally just bit bullet and headed out on Sunday a bit after noon (happy that the days are getting long enough that one can leave 12:30-ish, put in a 4-5 hour ride and be home before dark). Since it was close to lunch time I’d packed a lunch and rode to Luther-Burbank Park on Mercer Island for a winter picnic.

Rainy Ride - Luther Burbank Park

View from my picnic table

It had rained a bit early, but when I set out it was just a fine mist. That didn’t last and by the time I reached the park it was drizzling. I found a picnic table with one end under a tree and had my lunch. I then took pictures of the lake and my bicycle before I set out. These pictures were the only ones I took on this ride.  I had decided that I wanted to ride on May Valley Road which heads east through suburbia and then farmland around Cougar Mountain. It intersects with the Issaquah-Hobart Road which rides between Cougar and Tiger Mountain into Issaquah. From there it is the I-90 “trail” (mostly on roads at this juncture) back to the I-90 Bridge where it returns to being a trail and I close my loop. This map is pretty much my route except that I started/ended a a couple miles west of Leschi.

Leschi-May Valley-Issaquah Loop

More or less my route

It was raining pretty steadily when I left the park and it pretty much rained for the rest of my ride. It increased and decreased in intensity but it was pretty much steady rain the whole time.  I got pretty soaked due to waiting overly long before putting on my rain gear.  May Valley Road is really beautiful in the summer as it descends out of the Newport hills into farmland but was pretty bleak in the winter.  It was really flooded in the farmland in the valley center and while there are signs of spring everywhere (cherry trees, bulbs sprouting up and so on) it was pretty dreary. Interestingly all the various parks and trailheads I passed were packed with people – it’s reached that part of winter when people long to be out of doors.  The roads were a lot more trafficked than I expected. I guess it’s used as a way to get from around Issaquah to around Renton bypassing I-90. But kind of unfortunate.  Anyway what with the rain and such I pretty much only stopped once post-lunch and I never did take out my camera again.

Rainy Ride - Atlantis

Atlantis in the rain

One last thing worth noting is the updates to the Atlantis since I last posted. At the front of the bicycle you can see my new Busch & Muller Luxus-U LED light.  I completely redid the wiring when I put this on, running the heavy duty Schmidt cable to my rear light.  I have to say the light lives up to the hype and while I haven’t tested out the recharging aspect I expect that to work well. Thus this will be the third and hopefully the last charging system I’ve set up. The light is nice and bright and it’s integrated battery really is a nice feature. The light and taillight turn right on with even minimal movement and the stand light is of course appreciated. The only downside is that the wire on the attached switch/USB port is too short to reach from the front of the rack to the h’bars. I’ve got it mounted on my front basket which is okay, but really that should have been something one could get in different lengths.

On the rear of the bicycle is a new saddlebag courtesy of Rivendell: a medium Sackville SaddleSack. My previous saddlebag is in need of some repair and since I need it for commuting I picked up this one.  This is the third saddlebag I’ve gotten from Rivendell in this size range and I have to say it’s gotten better each time.  Their bags are improved in every iteration based on the usage of a group of riders who use them daily.  I’ve only had this a couple of weeks now but I’m pretty pleased with it.

A few more pics from this ride can be found here: Rainy Ride

Winter Picnic (and beyond)

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - Shadow Rider

Shadow Rider

January was pretty bleak this year with some quite cold weather here in Olympia. I can’t deny the impulse to hunker down and hibernate in these conditions. The rains came back and it warmed up a bit but while I’m always game to ride in the rain it doesn’t really inspire one to all day rides. As the month waned I began to do a few more lengthy rides including a near all day ride in the rain. But word that Groundhog Day would be dry, partially sunny and in the low fifties got me itching for a more ambitious ride. What I wanted to do was ride into the woods and have a picnic.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - The State Capitol Dome in the distance

Capitol Dome in the distance

I cobbled together a route using a SIR permanent with some tweaks and alternates and I managed to get myself on the road before noon (always the big hurdle for me in the winter – the days just aren’t long enough). I took one of my typical routes through Olympia, Tumwater and around Black Lake. From there it was nice backroad riding to Capitol Forest. Not too far along I encountered Waddell Creek Road and with some quick consultation with Google Maps I decided to abandon the rando route.  This was a good choice as Waddell Creek road takes you into the eastern edge of capitol forest and while more hilly is a lot more scenic then the section of Delphi Road on the route.  It also took me by Mima Mounds Natural Area where since it was already after 1pm I decided to have my picnic lunch.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - Lunch

Picnic at Mima Mounds

The Mima Mounds are an interesting natural feature – prairie land with irregularly spaced and sized mounds. The theories behind their development are varied; check out the linked Wikipedia article for a survey of them. The natural area preserve has a paved trail through a section of mounds plus a picnic area. It was at the latter where I took a break, ate my lunch and read some Chinese poetry.

To be shown to the monks at a certain temple
 
Not yet to the shore of non-doing
it’s silly to be sad you’re not moored yet…
Eastmount’s white clouds say
to keep on moving, even
if it’s evening, even if its fall.
 
– Chiao Jan

Keep on moving I would have to do if I wished to make it around Capitol Forest before night fell.  So while I had a nice picnic I did not linger overly long. Back on the road I wended in and out of the Capitol Forest until I reached Bordeaux road. There I entered the forest and cut across it’s southern extent. This would turn out to be one of the best rides I’ve done in Thurston county – a narrow one lane road with minimal traffic, entirely in the forest mostly following streams.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - Atlantis in Bordeaux

My Atlantis at the Bordeaux entrance to the Capitol Forest

This route into the woods began on Bordeaux Road which then splits to head more southernly toward Cedar Creek Corrections Center or Northwesterly. I chose the latter route which then continued on to about two miles of climbing. There was a decent amount of clear cutting in this section (this is sort of what Capitol Forest is for; it’s not just recreation its a “working forest”) but still mostly wood and alongside little cricks.  Eventually I came to the top of this climb and while roads went off in several directions I stuck to this paved road.  I do want to get back here soon and ride on the various hardpacked gravel roads, but it’s been very wet and the days are still a bit short for that kind of wandering.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - Clearing

A clearing in Capitol Forest on this beautiful winter day

The day had been foggy and grey but it had began to break up not long after lunch. Now it was completely clear and sunny and the sun would shine through the trees and fully open up in the clearings. The road then preceded to descend and this was some mighty fine riding. The road was single lane and not much wider than some of the rail-trails I’ve been on and at least this time of year almost deserted; I think I encountered three cars total the entire time I was here. It followed Cedar Creek for a good piece and there were several campgrounds (closed this time of year) right on the river. Definitely a place to come into for an S24O as they open up.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - brook

Forest brook

Since I was once again off the map (the rando route didn’t go through the forest at all) and I wasn’t really getting data on my smartphone I didn’t really where I was going to exit the forest. It turned out to be on Hwy 12 about 13 miles from the tiny town of Porter. I’d ridden a bit on hwy 12 and frontage roads on my ride to the ocean last autumn and while fairly trafficked it’s not a a bad road. It has a large shoulder and is along the Chehalis River and the river valley.   I was able to make good time on this road which I took advantage of as the the sun was dipping toward the horizon and I had many miles to go.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - Randos!

Rando's at the Porter Grocery

When I reached the tiny burg of Porter, where I’d turn northward on more country roads, I stopped at the first store I’d seen since Black Lake. There I found a pair of SIR riders taking a break from a permanent that they were riding. They asked if I was riding with SIR and I said I was just riding. We talked about their ride a bit and at one point a commented that I found randonneuring too organized. And thinking about it I think that is true. I great respect the randos and I use their routes all the time. But just think about this ride – I deviated from the permanent route three or four times where the road was more interesting, the scenery more compelling; in short I followed the inexorable exhortations of my soul. Not to mention that I set out at 11:30 in morning and so much randoneuring starts at the crack of dawn. I definitely can see the value of it all and I can see myself getting involved with it, but my mindset is that of a cyclotourist and of “bombing around” like I did as a kid.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - pasture land

Magic Hour: pasture land and Capitol Forest in the distance

It was now magic hour with the sun casting long shadows as it prepared to bid farewell to these parts. I still had a ways to go though I wasn’t really sure how many. Google Maps steadfastly would not let me use the bicycle routing with Hwy 8 in the mix. But that bit was on the permanent route and I’d ridden this section heading the other direction on my 2012 tour. So I’d just let my route end at that point as I didn’t need directions. But before I arrived at the highway there was about 8 miles in a valley alongside Capital Forest. Another excellent section of country riding in this valley, studded with farms. The road was chipseal and less of a good time but the traffic wasn’t too high and the scenery was very fine.  But soon I was on a frontage road along why 8 and then 8 itself.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - Frontage Road

Frontage road on hwy 8

The sun was setting now and after a few miles of twilight I spent the rest of the ride in the dark. Luckily I have a good set of lights, there was a wide shoulder and I was nearing the end of the ride. At one point I looked back in my helmet mirror and saw a set of headlights clearly on the shoulder and slowly gaining on me. I picked up the pace slightly and kept looking back and checking the bailing out options. But it wasn’t really gaining on me anymore. Then the lights jogged into single file and I realized it was those two rando’s I’d encountered earlier.  As it became fully light their lights were a constant rearward pressure pushing me on and then after they pulled off no doubt at a control I was again on my own.  But now it was just a scary merge with hwy 101 and then the exit onto Mud Bay road and I was done with highway riding.

cold winter air –
keep on moving
keep on moving

It had been fully dark for a while and riding at night reminded one quickly that it is still deep in the winter. I was well protected with my wool and my rain coat but as the temps dropped I definitely felt it. The big hill up Mud Bay Road warmed me up and then I was in West Olympia. From there it was simply a matter of riding through west Oly, descending into downtown and then climbing up toward the Capitol where I live. I arrived home right around 7pm after riding a hair over 68 miles (109km). A great winter ride with everything I enjoy in a ride. It’s good to do rides that push you this time of year as one begins to emerge from hibernation.

Check out all my photos from this ride.

Map of the Ride

 

First ride of the new b’ak’tun

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Last Ride 2012 - Shrooms
First ride of the new b’ak’tun or last ride 2012 or bombing around Oly

I was in TN visiting family during the rollover from the 13th to the 14th B’ak’tun and thus am only now getting around to a ride. This day, which is also the final day of 2012, began with snow in Olympia which coated my neighborhood with a fine, wet layer of snow. By the time sufficient coffee and the like had been ingested this snow was mostly gone and I was itching to get out. I layered up to fight off the cold and set off in the grey afternoon light.

Last Ride 2012 - traces of snow still in the back alley
 

I was interested in the remaining snow and if there were spots that received more then we had. I wanted to be in the woods as well and to search for some photographic opportunities amidst the bleak winter landscapes. The trail system around Olympia I felt was the place to go in order to avoid any snow bound traffic but also to be able to bicycle in the woods and find those photo ops. It turns out that as soon as I descended the modest hill upon which I reside the any traces snow pretty much disappeared.

Last Ride 2012 - Woodland Experimental Groove Trail
 

The trails were pretty much abandoned this NYE and while wet and oft strewn with leaves there was only faint traces of snow.  There was many targets of opportunity for the photog though and as I rode along I’d stop to take advantage. But a mile or two up the Woodland Trail I passed a gravel path that I’d ridden by several times but had yet to explore. And just like that this ramble for photos and snow transformed into bombing around.
 

Last Ride 2012 - and the ride turns mixed-terrain

 

Last Ride 2012 - now almost single track

What is bombing around you ask? In my youth those days for which I could give no clear accounting of how I’d spent the entire day out doors my mother would say I spent it “just bombing around”. In a bicycle context for me bombing around means riding without a goal following ones curiosity. It differs from a ramble as a ramble is an aimless perambulation around a set destination. You ramble around town you bomb around the countryside. These are the rides where you ride down a dead end road because you suspect there might be a trail or foot path at the end. Where you ride down path into the woods that ends in a bramble, or a meadow or an impassable thicket. Or you just turn down a gravel road next to a wetland that disappears into the treeline.

Last Ride 2012 - nice downhill off-road route to the Woodland trailThe gravel path continued apace, rounded a small hillock and then became almost singletrack as it entered a stand of young white birch. This wound around through the trees a bit and then climbed up to exit in a cul-de-sac in a new housing developing which was being worked on on this New Years Eve. I wandered these streets for a bit eventually hitting a road I knew returned to cross over the Woodland Trail. At that overpass I took a nice trail that switchbacked it’s way back down to the Woodland Trail about half a mile south of where I’d left on this little jaunt. As I re-rode this section of trail I noted a pair of gentlemen out doing some landscaping work along the trail. One of these guys had ridden out to do this work and had panniers full of landscaping tools.

Last Ride 2012 - not sure what's going on here in this wetland

As the Woodland Trail skirts the edge city of Lacey it intersects with the Chehalis Western Trail which I impulsively turned onto. I’ve ridden chunks of this trail a number of times since returning to Olympia and of course the bulk of it returning from Mount Rainier on my 2011 tour.  It is mostly wooded after it passes though the suburbs and exurbs and golf courses outside of Lacey. There a number of small lakes along the trail and I figured lots of opportunities for more mixed terrain riding.

Last Ride 2012 - a boy and his bike

 

This opportunities indeed did arise and all along the perhaps ten miles I rode on the trail I would jump off to ride little trails down to lakes or meadows or tracks that paralleled the main route route. I ended up in a few sketchy situations – a hallmark of bombing around – where the trail would be deep mud, blocked by trees or a descent to steep for my confidence. But a good time was had by all.

Last Ride 2012 - hazy lake
 

There were a few more people out on this trail, mostly dog walkers but I saw a couple other people riding. The afternoon was wearing away and while I had no set agenda I began to think of turning around. At this point I saw a meadow off the the trail with a track running into it and I immediately pulled off and rode down to it. This minimal track rode into the woods where there was a course of sorts set up. Much of it blocked by branches, I kept dead ending. I ended up pushing my bicycle up a steep hillock of dirt to find a too steep (for me) descent on the other side. So back down the way I came and I rode around the wooded bit on a grassy near-trail paralleling a road. Then back into the woods on a trail that led back to the Chehalis Western. A fun little jaunt that brought to mind the woods around the house where I grew up that were so clearly heavily used by all of us that lived around them. And yet, again like today, you almost never encountered anyone else there.

Last Ride 2012 - tires

Back on the paved rail trail my thoughts again turned to retracing my steps. I never really like to do there and back again type rides, always preferring to do a loop of some sort. Was this a warm summer day I would have have just set out on roads more or less in the direction home trusting that I could find my way back eventually and not really caring how long it would take. But that is the downside of winter riding – the light ends fast and the already cold day would become a quite cold night. Of course I’m well prepared for that as well – generator lights and rain gear which can be put on for added warmth. But that kind of wayfinding can be tough in the dark in winter in relatively unfamiliar territory. As I was mulling this over I crossed a street and then found the trail ahead blocked:

Last Ride 2012 - The Chehalis Western temporary terminus

Looking through the barrier the trail looked fine for as far as I could see. Hopefully it will open soon. But this seemed as good a place to turn around as any. And so I did. I did drop off onto frontage roads as I saw them, to vary it a bit and again I headed off-road on some trails I hadn’t hit on the way out. On of these began with deep mud, steeply climbed up next to railroad tracks and then petered off into the trees that followed the tracks.  The sky was clearing a bit and while hazy, there was patches of blue sky. Of course on a winter day this just chilled things further but it was nice to see some sun and blue sky.
 
Last Ride 2012 - Tracks and Atlantis

After this last little excursion off the Chehalis Western I steadily rode back to the intersection with the Woodland Trail. Again I backtracked riding south again passes those landscapers, now packing up to head home.  I planned to end my ride with a stop at a grocery store to pick up some dinner supplies and I needed to cut over to the I-5 trail which parallels the Woodland Trail at this juncture. Once again I took to the trails, riding this great section, as narrow as singletrack, but on pretty flat ground that wended around the trees.  Eventually it hit a more conventional connection between the two trail and I was on the I-5 trail. Here it was much darker and the trail clearly little used as it was liberally strewn with trees.  It wasn’t long until I made it to an intersection where I turned off into East Olympia where I did my shopping. It was fully dark after I finished and I rode through Olympia neighborhoods and a bit more on the I-5 trail until I was back home.

Not an epic day by any stretch; all in all I rode around 28.6 miles, but on this, the last day of 2012 that began with snow and ended clear and cold, it was a great day of bombing around. I took many more pictures on this day all of which can be found on Flickr in my Last Ride 2012 set.

 
Last Ride 2012 - End of day

Signs of Spring

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Signs of Spring 2012 - 01

 

It’s been really nice of late and I’ve been more interested in riding than writing if you catch my meaning. However the weather has turned to pretty typical Pacific NW late winter/early spring – colder with persistent rain. Of course this doesn’t deter me from riding, but things do tend to be more utilitarian in these cases. However I have built up a backlog of photographs and reports that I’ll take advantage of these dreary days to put up.

Signs of Spring 2012 - 36

 

Signs of Spring 2012 - 21All things considered it has been a mild winter. Sure we had nearly a week of snow early January, but apart from that there has not been near the amount of rain an El Nino year typically portends. There have been a number of warmer days as well, with temperatures climbing into the sixties on several days in February and over the last couple of days here in March (no lousy Smarch weather this year!). I’ve been trying to ramp up my riding quicker this year, building up my endurance for longer and more consistent riding. On the days I don’t ride I almost always go out for walks in about a 2-3 mile radius of my place near the University District. From these perspectives I’ve seen the plants and trees began to wake up from their winter slumber; first the cherry trees and dogwoods, then bulbs began to come up, buds began to appear on certain trees and in the last week or so flowers blooming all over.

 

Signs of Spring 2012 - 28

Apart from this rambling into, this post is going to be more of a photo-essay documenting this annual wellspring of life and beauty. I’ve added a new set on Flickr, Signs of Spring 2012, which I’ll keep adding to (so keep an eye on it), and I’ll post a half dozen or so here.  I’ve  been experimenting more with macro-photography and these early flowers are a fantastic subject for that.  I hope you enjoy these photos and the signs for warmer rides yet to come.

 

Signs of Spring 2012 - 31

Aloof and silent
like the Buddha, I lie still–
still troubled by flowers
-Issa

Signs of Spring 2012 - 15

Among blooming flowers
we continue our writhing–
all living beings
-Issa

Signs of Spring 2012 - 23

From among the flowers,
indifferent to the world,
foxes bark and cry.
-Issa

Signs of Spring 2012 - 02

The cherry blossom
are truly cherry blossoms
only while we wait
-Hakuhi

Again for a lot more photos, check out my Signs of Spring flickr set.

Slow Start

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

And?

My Atlantis in Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Garden.

Been a slow start to 2012, what with holiday travel and then a solid week of snow and ice upon my return.  But things have been picking up this week which has had some sunny (though cold) days.  Of course I’m not a fair weather rider at all (I do skip out on the ice though); it was quite windy and rainy during an evening ride I took last night. I’m definitely feeling the lack of riding and the fifty mile or so I’ve ridden this week has been welcome, though I was feeling that lack of fitness.  It’s harder to keep up the recreational riding in the winter but luckily I do have a number of activities that keep me riding.  But rec rides are certainly taken when in the mood.  On a beautiful crisp day earlier this week, I checked out the new chunk of the Ship Canal Trail, which makes it pretty straightforward riding from my place to the downtown Seattle waterfront. With a couple of more sunny days forecasted this week I’m definitely going to be getting out again.

 
IMG_2457
 

What’s really on my mind now though is touring.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who dreams of warm sunny days, riding through new scenic lands in the winter months.  It’s a good time to sort through old photos and to plan for upcoming trips. This is what I’m doing right now, plans for a 2012 tour and finally getting the photos from my 2011 tour posted.  Look for a post soon with updates to my 2011 tour entries feature the new photos. If you want to see them as they come in, keep an eye on my Flickr photo stream.

Winter was hard

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Snowday - 02

 

While I’m never going to be a daily (or even weekly) blogger I never intended for it to be this bleak here.  The truth is that I’ve only really done one ride of interest since my last post (which I still should write up).  Work has been unbelievably crazy this winter (I’ve been working on a project for the new Nintendo 3DS and developing for a new console is hard) and it has been a cold and wet spring (for reals: this has been the coldest spring on record).  All of this has conspired to limit my riding, hiking and other outdoor activities to my commute. All of that extra work, which  meant many extra hours in front of the computer, lessened my interest in spending even more time on the computer:  of late I’ve been spending my limited  free time reading and listening to music.  But things have eased up at last and spring has finally begun here.  Last weekend I finally did some needed tuning on the bicycle  – brakes and drivetrain mostly, but took the opportunity to give the the entire bicycle a good cleanup.  Then I finally took a short but enjoyable rec ride.  I’ve still got a bunch to do to get fully back in the swing of things; for instance it turns out my digital camera has shuffled off this mortal coil leaving me only a cameraphone for picture taking, there is  further work I need to do on my bicycle and my current work project isn’t quite wrapped up yet.  I’m itching to get out there and explore more places and see more things. I’ve got plans for interesting things to do and I intend to document these activities in various ways and I see this blog as instrumental to that. So stay tuned; there will definitely be an up-tick in activity here over the next few weeks.