Winter Rides

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WTS #6 – a Rainy Ramble

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016
WTS #6 - NFE at Brown Point

NFE at Brown Point

I missed out on three of the Winter Training Series rides since the last one I did, but made it to Number Six last weekend. I can only make it to the rides that I can ride to, or conveniently take public transit and for this years WTS quite a few of the rides do not fall within that criteria. That included this one, but when I mentioned that to some friends they suggested I use their car while they were in Europe.  I took them up on this offer and on a cloudy Saturday morning found myself driving to Kent. It was predicted to be overcast in the AM and cloudy in the afternoon but as I drove out there, Mount Rainier peeked out beneath the clouds. It is in it’s great late winter cloak, all soft and white with fresh snow. It was obscured but the cloud by the time I reached the starting point at the Soos Creek trailhead so I never was able to capture a photograph.

WTS #6

WTS #6 route on RideWithGPS

It was recommended that you park at a school about a half mile away as the trailhead had only a tiny parking lot. I did so and rode down to the trailhead where there turned out to be plenty of parking. There was probably fifteen or so people there, all bedecked out in their Showers Pass Jackets. As per the last time it was a mix of the Rando and Roadie crowd.  I’d arrived just a few minutes before the roll out so I checked in, used the facilities returning as the ride leader was giving the route overview. Minutes later we left right at 9:01.

WTS #6 - At the start

Sign in

The route wended it’s way through suburban Kent, working it’s way over I-5 and then to the coast just below Des Moines.   Once again not being much of a group rider I kept toward the back. After a couple of unfortunate red lights I’d lost sight of most of the group.  Of course since I use these rides as motivation to get out early and do a pre-planned route I don’t tend to worry much about. Also stopping to take photos doesn’t help you keep up with the never-leave-the-saddle crowd. So it pretty quickly was a solo ride for me and I was really pleased to do this one as it pretty much continued on with a route I’ve followed a few times from West Seattle to Des Moines.  That route I always figured continued to follow the coast to Dash Point and then turned eastward to cross the I-5 and hook up with the Green River Trail to SoDo.  Well this route more or less interested that route just a bit south of where I’ve ended it. And indeed the Dan Henry’s were on the ground and we often were following that route.

WTS #6 - Redondo Beach coastline

Redondo Beach coastline

So this route had a bunch of new territory for me which is always a major selling point.  Once we hit the coast of the Puget Sound it was a screaming descent down winding roads to Redondo Beach. Here I began stopping to take more photographs thus insuring I’d never catch up with the group.  I’d last seem them a ways ahead of me just before this descent. I also passed a roadie changing a tire, but he didn’t require any assistance so I rode on.  It was pretty much all clouded up now and one could see darker rain clouds rolling in from the south.  The route hugged the coast and there was several really stiff climbs followed by curvy descents. Great riding.

WTS #6 - Lighthouse

Brown Point Lighthouse

I took a slight detour off the route, caused by a rather unclear direction, but it actually was a better choice as it stayed on the coast and intersected the busy road that the route used a bit further on. This busy road took me to Dash Point and while it was pretty trafficked there was a terrific section that was all winding and mostly down hill.  Back in the woods, with peekaboo views of the coast I passed Dash Point State Park. I stopped for a photo and while I did so the roadie who’d had the flat passed me by. Taking my time!  Anyway I didn’t really check out the State Park but noted it had camping – I’ll have to do an overnighter here sometime. From Dash Point it was more ups and downs to Browns Point where I again had to leave the route to check out the Browns Point Lighthouse.

WTS #6 - Port of Tacoma across the sound

Port of Tacoma across the Sound

Browns Point is in Tacoma, the first time I’ve ridden into that city (though only on the margins here). However at this point the route climbed up from this coast and turned eastward into Federal Way. The highlight here was riding on the BPA Trail which I hadn’t been on before. This was no flat rail trail; no it is a power line trail that cut due east following whatever the terrain did. Unlike most power line trails it was fully paved, though there were lots of dirt and gravel “cut-offs” throughout. 

WTS #6 - On the BPA trail

On the BPA trail

At the end of the trail it was just a little bit though edge city until I made my way under I-5.  Here I was right by the old Weyerhaeuser Headquarters which is a famously green building (even if the company isn’t) and is another place I’ve seen only from the road and have long been curious about. It had began to drizzle around the time I exited the BPA trail and at this point was a fairly steady rain. Pretty good gusts of wind from the Southeast too as that flag demonstrates.

WTS #6 - Old Weyerhouse building

Old Weyerhouse building

After working my way around the Weyerhaeuser campus and there was some bits through far exurbia and then a long descent back down to the Rainier Valley and shortly into Auburn. I stopped at the Auburn transit center and ate some lunch that I had brought with me.  Now I was back into rather familiar territory. The Interurban (South) trail runs through Auburn and you turn off here for many rides in Southeast King County. WTS #6 followed the route to Flaming Geyser State Park which I’ve ridden to two or three times. The bulk of this time is spent on Green Valley Road and it was steady rain and wind that whole time.  Out here in the valleys and foothills there is a lot of signs of spring’s imminent arrival. The Green River (and later Soos Creek) was swollen and pushing outside it’s banks, there was standing water in many a farmers fields. Today’s rain wasn’t slowing that process down.

Exiting the Green River valley involves some quality climbing, the last real climbing of this ride.  Once I finally crested the valley walls it was a pretty short stint to Black Diamond where I stopped at the bakery. I ingested some calories, changed to a dry pair of socks and pretty shortly continued on my way. From Black Diamond it pretty much is all down hill / rolling hills to Kent. This was mostly on the Kent-Black Diamond road, which has a good should but is pretty busy.  But it was fast riding, though again raining the while time.  Finally I popped onto the Soos Creek Trail which I rode back to the trailhead where it all started. Another first time on a trail for me, this one is a real gem. In wooded green space the whole route, with the (flooding) Soos Creek and wetlands among the trees and fields it went through.  Not a really long trail but a great one. Still I was happy to reach the end and ride the short distance to where I was parked.

Total distance ridden: 109km
All my photos from this ride are here: WTS #6 Album.

Posted from Kent, Washington, United States.

WTS #2

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

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

WTS #2 - Riders AssemblingRiders assembled

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

WTS #2 Route

WTS #2 Route

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

WTS #2 - Cedar River
Crossing the Cedar River

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted from Seattle, Washington, United States.

Quickbeam in the Park

Saturday, April 4th, 2015
Quickbeam in February - Entering Seward ParkQuickbeam at Seward Park

See more Quickbeam glamour shots in my Flickr Gallery: Quickbeam

 

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 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

 

Posted from Olympia, Washington, United States.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Atlantis in the shower

Showers on part of this ride

I’ve been living in Seattle for about nine months now (and of course just across Lake Washington for 12+ years) and am going to at the end of this month set out on an extended bicycle tour. I’ve moved in at the tail end of summer and was here for all of autumn and winter and about half of this spring.  During this time I’ve ridden (and walked and bussed) all over the city for recreation, for utilitarian purposes and for transportation. I broke my camera on one of these rides so a lot of them went undocumented, but I got a new (used) camera for my birthday and was back to taking photos. So this post is the first of at least a couple with rides around Seattle. These posts will mainly be in the form of photo essays with pictures of sights and scenes witnessed while out riding as opposed to routes or individual rides.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 -Ballard Locks 2

Looking toward Ballard from the Lock

This post will focus of rides taken in the winter, mostly late February and March as that is when I got my replacement camera. Some of my more regular rides took place mostly in the dark what with it being winter and all, so this is by no means total documentation of all my rides.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Ballard Locks

Ballard Locks

Prior to moving to Seattle I think I’d ridden through the Ballard Locks only once or twice, but it has since become a regular part of several rides. On a warm summer day it can be packed at the locks and walking your bicycle along the thronged walkways a real trial. But in winter, even on a clear day, it is a nice route.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Peeking between some trees at the University Bridge.

Lake Union,Fremont and Aurora Bridges as seen from Capitol Hill

One of my more frequent rides was to ride up Capitol from the U-District heading toward Beacon Hill. I did this the most in the Autumn and early winter often in the dark so never got any pictures of it. Riding up to Capitol Hill during daylight hours there are many beautiful views of Downtown and Lake Union on the west and the U-District and Lake Washington on the East.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Montlake Bridge from Capitol Hill

Montlake Bridge, the U-District and Lake Washington as seen from Capitol Hill

As per it’s name there is a good climb up to Capitol Hill no matter which direction you come from – it is a ridge between Lakes Union and Washington. Amusingly enough it is the heart of Seattle’s hipster culture so you often get to see those fixed gear bicycles pushed up the hills. It also has some of the worst pavement I’ve encountered in the City (which is rife with bad pavement) including on the bulk of the signed bicycle routes. Still lots of great riding, good exercise with all the hills and culture rich with parks, museums and endless amounts of restaurants, bars, coffee shops and the like.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Gasworks Park

Gasworks Park

In order to get about anywhere in the city from the U-District you either ride up into Capitol Hill or west to Fremont/Ballard and various routes to downtown. Along the Burke-Gilman Trail (a major rail-trail route) is Gasworks Park, which is built around the remains of a refinery. With it’s location, views of Seattle and Lake Union, lots of open space and of course the industrial age novelty this is always popular park.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Boats on Lake Union

 Boats on Lake Union

Lake Union which is surrounded by Seattle and the neighborhoods of Fremont, Eastlake, U-District, Wallingford and Ballard and looked down upon from Queen Anne and Capitol Hills is clearly a central features. From water-skiers to house boats, sailors to rowers and of course the ubiquitous sea plane tours it is an active severely urban lake. It connects to Lake Washington via the Montlake Cut and to the Puget Sound via the Ballard Locks.  The sequence of the Puget Sound to Lake Washington is a major water thoroughfare.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Golden Gardens

 The beach at Golden Gardens Park

This whole water way is lined with parks and trails with the Burke-Gilman Trail being a corridor that stretches along it all. From it’s terminus at the northern end of Lake Washington (where it connects to the Sammamish River Trail which you can take all the way to Lake Sammamish in Redmond) it follows Lake Washington to the Fremont Cut, skirts around Lake Union to the Ballard Locks and via the infamous missing link, reaches Golden Gardens Park on the Puget Sound. (check out this map for the whole route: Burke-Gilman Trail Map).

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Looking west toward the Olympics

 Looking West toward the Olympic Mountains from Golden Gardens Park

From Golden Gardens Park you can climb up a winding hill to the neighborhoods of Loyal Hights and Phinney Ridge. These are more residential neighborhoods mainly smaller houses but also the infrastructure to support that. Continuing east you reach Greenlake where the lake and its parks are a major feature attracting many people. Further easy you reach I-5 which bisects Seattle, after going under it you are in Ravenna which is north of the U-District.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Ravenna Pea-patch Gate

 Ravenna Pea-Patch entrance

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Ravenna Pea-peatch

 Ravenna Pea-patch

All these neighborhoods are more residential with their small parks, open-spaces, shops and lots of little houses and apartment buildings. A totally different character than those areas that surround the water-ways or the dense younger demographics of Capitol Hill. From Ravenna it’s a short mile or so south back to the U-District where I live and is a good place to wrap up this post. This only scratches the surface of Seattle and it’s neighborhoods, but this is just the first post in the series.

For more photographs from this series check out my associated set on Flickr:
Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012

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.

Mixed Terrain Ride

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Entering Watershed Park

I had nothing going on this Sunday and was itching to get out on my bicycle. It was almost perfectly clear weather with little wind and with a week of clouds and rain forecast I wanted a bit of this winter sun. As usual I dawdled around my house until the early afternoon and didn’t set out till around 1pm. This was okay on this particular day as I figured a nice four hour ride would suffice – this would be my first longer ride in three weeks, it was pretty cold and I was still riding the Safari which I find uncomfortable for too long of rides. So I set off with thoughts of doing that classic loop around Lake Sammamish. A favorite early season ride of mine I figured it’d be and ideal ride this morning. About 30-40 miles, depending on options, it would perfectly fit the constraints of time and distance I was under.


My Safari in the park

First though I wanted to cut through this park that I had first ridden through in late November (I lost the pictures of that ride in a computer problem I had in early December last year). This park has a nice network of trails that were within my abilities to handle and actually were easily ridden with the Atlantis so I thought it’d be fun to return on the more trail oriented Safari.  There’s been plenty of rain so I wasn’t sure of the trail conditions but they turned out to be totally fine. Only in the inital climb up to the ridge did I have to push the bicycle due to lack of traction. Possibly with more off-road oriented tires even that would have been okay. At the top of the ridge is this large concrete bowl that must have formerly had a huge cistern or some such but now was abandoned. I was assuming that I’d be able to find a trail out of this park that would put me on a route toward the lake so I took the paths here in the direction I needed to go. This put me on a couple of sections of the park trails that I hadn’t ridden before including a fun descent into a little valley. From there I found a path in the direction I needed to go and headed on. This trail was right along I-405 and was pretty sketchy, I rode when I could and walked a few sections. It was real narrow, overgrown and rough. Fun though.  It came out behind an apartment complex pretty much where I’d figured it would and I made my way to the 520 trail.


Mount Rainier as seen from the park

This trail runs along interstate 520 from Redmond to where the 405 and 520 intersect. Its got some good ups and downs for a cycling trail which keeps it a bit interesting. Riding right next to the freeway a little less so, but it does give one a greater appreciation for the less trafficked portion of the ride. This trail ends right at Lake Sammamish Parkway, the road that runs all the way around the lake. I’ve written up this route at length in this post, so I won’t go too much into it. But it was a fantastic day for riding; very comfortable in the sun, a bit chilly in the shade with fantastic views all along. I saw a lot of other cyclists which is nice, often this early in the year even on nice days like this I only see a few other riders.


West Lake Sammamish Parkway

My timing had been right on and for the first time in a long while I rode the east side of the loop in the daylight. I often am chasing daylight at this point as I tend to ride home from Redmond and thus it’s toward the end of my ride. I was feeling really good on this part of the ride better then I had on the other side of the lake. Perhaps it was because I was more in the sun here, the other side being more shaded. Possibly a slight headwind had just made it a little tougher. Either way I kept up a steady pace and ended up at Marymoor park where this route ends at around 4pm. From here its about 6-7 miles home though its about 3 miles of climbing. That was a bit tougher at this point – it was well in the shade and the sun was finally about done for the day. Still its a familiar route so I just slogged along and soon enough I was home. It was twilight at this point but still light. A perfect amount of riding for the amount of time I had and the level of fitness I was in. All told it was 36 miles, not too far really, but just right on this day. For more pictures of this ride checkout my First Ride 08 photoset on Flickr.


Sunset over Kirkland and Lake Washington.