Thursday, May 1, 2014

Verlot (2014-04-26)

The Mountain Loop Highway is nothing to sneeze at!

More after the break…

Part 1: To Snohomish

I started at about the usual time of 05:00 and headed north along the normal route. It was fairly a fairly routine first several miles, except it wasn't raining. It was nice not dealing with the rain noise for one.

Last Thursday, I had a bit of a skid-out on the way home. I had a couple of nasty scrapes around my knee and, although they didn't hurt too much, they certainly hadn't healed at this point.

This park always caught my attention on rides though here, and I stopped at it for once.

I had been dealing with some nasty bumps along some parts, mainly because tree roots had been breaking up the pavement. It wasn't as bad as the UW section of the Burke-Gilman Trail, though. (Hopefully when they repave that, they will do a better job of laying the foundation.

Later on as I continued in the general northbound direction, I was stopped by a red light on 112th St SE when I wanted to turn left onto 7th Ave SE. To my displeasure, I saw a couple of cars cut off a pedestrian while they were making a left from 7th Ave SE onto 112th St SE, despite a sign explicitly stating "TURNING TRAFFIC MUST YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS." This sort of thing is why I think people aren't getting enough training and condition for driving in the US.

I took my normal "Lowell/low" route from Everett to Snohomish, following the river.

I stopped at the new location of the Rock City Cafe for water, and saw a lot of bikes around.

There were multiple groups involved. I recall the outline given by one of the coordinators involving some familiar stuff in the area, including some of what my planned route included. Despite that, I wouldn't see any of those riders after leaving Snohomish.

From there, I took my typical route toward and along the Centennial Trail north.

Part 2: To Verlot

I left the Centennial Trail around Machias and headed east. This was a bit further north of where I joined the Centennial Trail on my way back last time, and I recognized some of the off-trail landmarks.

The signs posted out here indicate how paranoid everyone is.

Sat Apr 26 10:11:39 2014@Forest Glade, United States

It started to rain when I hit Forest Glade. That was all fine and good, but then it started to hail pretty hard, which was discouraging. Thankfully, the hail only lasted for a little while. After it had stopped, I saw some other cyclists, but they had trouble understanding what I was saying when I asked them how they fared in the hail as I rode by.

Eventually, I joined up with the route from last time, except in reverse. (Notably, my intended route for last time was along this road, but the whole GPS mess had me taking a much more difficult route around Lake Roesiger.)

While there, I ate a caramel apple. (I don't see them very often, oddly enough, so I almost always get one when I see them.) I also removed my waterproof jacket and shoe covers, as the weather was pretty good at this point.

I noticed one of these old bike racks out front. How are these supposed to work? My front wheel certainly doesn't fit in there, so I haven't been able to figure it out.

I headed north out of town, then along the Mountain Loop Highway.

(The sign references the mudslide.)

And then I crossed the South Fork Stillaguamish River. While I could hear the falls that give Granite Falls its name, I couldn't see them.

(I don't think this bridge meets modern accessibility requirements.)

The highway involved a great deal of climbing, some of it rather difficult. A certain hill comes to mind, and involved a lot of climbing both outbound and inbound.

Hey, snow!

While heading east, I saw more nasty weather further on, but it was moving faster than I was so I didn't have to deal with it.

(This reminded me of when I entered the Olympic National Forest.

I stopped at the Verlot Campground to look around a bit.

It was NOT easy getting up here.

Sat Apr 26 13:40:42 2014@Verlot, United States

It really is to the point where I can recognize a chemical toilet anywhere.

I then stopped at the nearby service center to have another look around.

The place talked a lot about Monte Cristo, which I have also visited before.

I mentioned how I went into the ice caves with a friend, and they talked about how dangerous it was.

Part 3: Return via Snohomish

Rather than continuing on to Barlow Pass (near Monte Cristo), I headed back the way I came, toward Granite Falls. It was rather difficult still, but a bit easier as the net elevation gain was negative.

When I got back to Granite Falls, I headed north along Jordan Road, which I did on the outbound leg last time. Like before, it was a generally pleasant and reasonable ride for the most part. However, I did end up with yet another pack of dogs starting to chase me, from an unfenced yard.

However, they didn't give chase along the highway and nothing happened.

Just like before, I headed back to Arlington via Arlington Heights. I was a bit dismayed about how late it was already, likely due to the difficulty of the Mountain Loop Highway.

I was delighted to find a little surprise along my way south from Legion Park:

On previous rides, I either had to ride in busy traffic on the formerly narrow road, or had to detour around it due to repaving. Now, it's just like the bits of the Centennial Trail a mile or so further south. Of note is how the trail deviates from 67th Ave NE north of 204th St NE (it's so new that most maps don't include it). In that deviation, there was also a tree in the middle of the pavement, as some rural areas tend to do with their bicycle trails.

When I started up Culpeper Hill, I rode by a guy and his two kids. One of them couldn't understand why I had a light on my bike, and I told them, "I ride at night." Their father seemed to understand.

There were some strong southerly winds, and I was having a lot of trouble keeping a good pace because of that. In order to save time, I rode behind a 'normal' person on an unladen bike in order to get some drafting against the wind.

A bit after climbing the hill a ways, I started getting a pretty significant speed boost and hammered as best I could, mainly because I wanted to get to the Rock City Cafe before it closed. This was probably not a good idea, as I would find out later. I also saw one guy with a cue sheet, who may have been part of the group ride from earlier. Aside from that, the ride was pretty uneventful until Snohomish.

I got there at 18:50, shortly before the normal closing. I was worried about having to drink my coffee outside, but I was lucky enough that a band was playing who would keep it open a bit later than usual. The music was a treat, too (I left a tip for the band).

Fearful of the rain in the forecast, I donned my jacket and shoe covers again.

Part 4: Return home

Things up until this point were, for the most part, not too bad. They got worse in this last part of my return home.

I first started by fighting the nasty winds to the SR-9 hill climb, then started up the hill. At this point, I knew I had worn myself down too much.

After I was up the worst of it, I started feeling intermittent drizzle. This brought back memories of Thursday, and I made a note to be a bit more careful on the downhill speedrun after.

I took a slightly different route when I got to Woodinville, using Woodinville–Snohomish Road instead of NE 177th St. I think I prefer the new route over the old one.

Again, I didn't want to experience Thursday again.

The ride along the trail was more difficult than I remember, and I wasn't able to cruise in my normal gear, instead being a step down from it. Again, this likely had to do with how hard I pushed myself earlier..

By the time I was past the University District, I managed to pick up some speed despite being so worn down.

I originally thought that they were realigning it so that 45th would go straight into Shilshole (as it stands, one has to make a 'left' to go from 45th to Shilshole), but they were just fixing the ratty old pavement there. Huge puddles tended to form there, too, which made it pretty dangerous.

It was rather late for the distance I had covered, and I was feeling very unhappy after having had so much difficulty getting home.

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