Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tacoma and Green River (2014-10-25)

Or, "Rain, Wind, and Caffeine."

Some related albums:

More after the break…

Part 1: To Tacoma

I started at my usual time around 05:00 and headed straight south along my normal route. I don't recall if it was raining from the start this time, but I did have my full rain gear on.

I recall seeing some new bike lanes on the ground around Tukwila during my flights on my trip to Salt Lake City, and I had the pleasure of using one of them.

Once I was south of Kent, the rain hit. I stopped at a diner/cafe for some coffee and added on some eggs so I wouldn't feel so bad about only ordering coffee.

When I mentioned I was in a bit of a rush, the staff accommodated me which I appreciated.

The rain actually let up only a little while after I left.

I continued via the West Valley Highway, noting a lot of trucks lining up in Sumner, many more than I've seen at once before.

I didn't really stop in Tacoma; I just took the bypass to the south along old US 99 previously.

Part 2: Hills and Valleys

I then passed through Lakewood, still following the same road.

I accidentally missed my left turn in Lakewood, so I had to turn back and make a right instead.

My route took me through areas that screamed "Pierce County" to me as I meandered toward South Hill. There were little bits of drizzle here and there, but I hadn't had my rain jacket on since Sumner.

I passed by this lot and wondered why it was barricaded like that, too.

My next stop was for water (and a cupcake) at a small bakery in South Hill.

And then I started south on the familiar SR-161, before I made a two-stage left onto a smaller road to head east. This lead me to Kapowsin—Orting Road, which sent me barreling down a very steep and windy road to the latter.

I then got on the Foothills Trail to South Prairie. I had a pretty hard time there, as the coffee from earlier wore off. I usually try to avoid caffeine for the majority of the rides as it gets me to work too hard, but I've since learned to pace myself to at least some degree.

There were also leaves all over (below was the least bad of it).

I stopped at the trailside espresso stand for water and a sugar-free Red Bull to boost the energy shot I also had.

As usual, getting out of South Prairie was a bit tough, but it was easier than it often has been.

Once I got to Buckley, it started to drizzle some and the clouds threatened far worse. The winds were also shifting around akin to back when I was in Wales. I was a bit more confident in these tires than then, though, so I wasn't worried about skidding. I just took to SR-410 to Enumclaw.

The winds chose to be tailwinds and I zipped along the highway at high speed, then went through downtown Enumclaw and emerged at even higher speeds on SR-169 before turning off to head toward Franklin.

Last time, I didn't get a chance to photograph the bridge substructure, so I made it a point to do so this time.

And then came the climb over to Black Diamond, which was actually pretty easy thanks to the wind.

From there, I took the steep, windy road down into the Green Valley, then had a fairly reliable tailwind shove me northwest through it.

I got to Auburn at least ten minutes faster than the folks at the gas station suggested for how long it should take for bikes to get there.

I did see a few other cyclists on the road there, most of them fighting what was a tailwind for me.

Part 3: Extreme Tailwind

With the wind and rain at my back and my destination tens of miles in front of me, I punched it as hard as my tired legs would go. It was dark at that point, and there was nobody else out there.

Through Renton, I was almost able to keep up with car traffic. In the distant sky, I saw lightning flashes in a way I had never seen them before.

In the Seward Park neighborhood, streetlights went out as I rode through, one block at a time. I started to see leaves and branches littering the pavement, which my Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires had no problem rolling over. I joked that my tires "ate branches like nobody's business." I did skid the rear tire while braking hard one time, though.

It felt really good to rip the branches off the tree and simply walk around to continue along the road, while the cars had to stop and turn around. This must be one aspect of cross-country mountain biking that appeals to riders.

I took the lane much of the time, stopping and getting off the road to let cars go by. It wasn't safe to hug the shoulder or curb. I also avoided my plan of going through the Arboretum due to the number of trees there, and instead stuck to the 'official' Lake Washington Loop route.

The wind couldn't really do anything to me from the side, as my heavy bike with its heavy tires and load just wouldn't relent. Folks with light racing bikes just wouldn't understand.

I had to fight the wind a bit while heading west to get home, but of course I made it there just fine.

Post a Comment