Another gravel adventure! I went up to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie campground on my Soma Double Cross.
More after the break…
Part 1: To Downtown
I started by heading downtown at 05:30 to take the bus to Issaquah.
Wow, regular Schwalbes Marathons sure roll more slowly than the Supremes on pavement. I wonder how they'll do on dirt and gravel. #cycling— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
The new Mercer St is something I'd expect from Bellevue, Redmond, or Marysville; not a city like Seattle. #seabikes— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
I guess the people who threw it together think the '60s are our future. #seabikes— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
There's another cyclist on this bus. He's wearing his helmet backwards, with the visor point behind him.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
Part 2: Outbound
Once there, I took the multi-use trail that I missed last time to hit the local Tully's for water and a little coffee..
I was a bit worried about the remnants of yesterday's rainstorm, but didn't see much rain in Issaquah.
To exit Issaquah, I headed out along the Issaquah–Preston Trail.
My Double Cross is doing a good job on gravel and dirt despite all the storm debris. There's scattered drizzle out and about, though.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
And, after stopping to use the restroom in Preston, I continued along the Preston–Snoqualmie Trail all the way until the Raging River valley.
I followed the river down toward the Snoqualmie Valley, as the trail is pretty much useless east of that road.
Once in Fall City, I crossed the Snoqualmie River and continued heading north to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.
The bumps on gravel really aren't much worse than those on pavement. I'm not wishing for a spring saddle at all. #cycling— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
Once on the trail, I started heading south. At a clearing, I saw the continuation of the Preston–Snoqualmie Valley Trail off in the distance.
I knew I was getting close to Tokul Creek because I started hearing the firing range a ways back.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
Saw a guy riding with the elusive mustache bars.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
I eventually got to the end of the official trail at an underpass/tunnel, then went a bit further until I hit a property line.
I wonder what that noise in the distance could be. Sounds like some sort of steam whistle.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
Since I couldn't keep going, I headed back to the underpass/tunnel and started the dreaded climb.
Only to find that my planned route was blocked off.
Road closure forcing a slight change in plans.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
Despite not being the best idea, I did press forward a bit to see what it was all about.
Convinced that continuing was a bad idea, I headed back to road over the underpass and then turned right, only to find another dead-end. Thinking again, I headed back and turned right again, eventually finding a familiar route that skirts the hill near DirtFish.
This also sent me past the bridge that marks the end of the upper portion of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. The stairs, previously lost to arson, were now in place again.
After crossing the nearby road bridge and passing through the remnants of old downtown Snoqualmie, I headed back to the trail and took it into North Bend, where I saw the Snoqualmie Valley Railroad operating.
I also stopped at Twede's Cafe for soda and water.
I'm at North Bend, WA in North Bend, WA https://t.co/iTAkbRPBUz— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
From there, I headed southeast out along North Bend Way, then went along some minor streets before finally making it to Middle Fork Road.
This road featured some fairly steep grades on its paved section, but eventually calmed down when I got to the gravel.
The scenery out along the river was particularly beautiful.
And the road crossed over both it and another of its tributaries.
While I don't doubt the utility of suspension for real MTB, there's more of a fun challenge when riding cleared trails without having it.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
There was construction in various places, and I found something very surprising.
Two long stretches of Middle Fork Road way out of town are paved with fresh asphalt. Weird.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
More information on the paving of Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road. http://t.co/AHXf21H6wg— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 16, 2015
But the pavement was only a mile or two long.
It did start up again as I got closer to the campground, though, but ended again right before crossing the Taylor River.
Some folks were staying at the campground, too.
A group of college-age guys were meeting their friends, but seemed largely lost.
Part 3: Inbound
Rather than sticking around, I started on my way back, expecting it to be easier due to the downhill grade.
I wasn't disappointed. While on the upper paved stretch, I saw my first cyclist (a group of three, actually) out here. They were on mountain bikes and maintained a lead ahead of me that I couldn't shrink.
I really like how cantilever brakes feel when offroading. It feels like I have better control with them. #cycling— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
#Cycling off-road is tons of fun, and suspension is certainly not needed!— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 16, 2015
Toward the lower end of the road, I saw this odd device.
Is that a stream gauge of some sort? Radio tower?
Continuing along, I dealt with a steep grade I hadn't noticed in the other direction on the section below Mailbox Peak, then zipped down to North Bend where I stopped for coffee.
I'm at Georgia's Bakery in North Bend, WA https://t.co/QMcFbltk7C— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 15, 2015
When I was at the bakery in North Bend, I chatted with barista, who had grown up in the area.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 17, 2015
She mentioned how she saw Snoqualmie Ridge go from forest to tract housing and strip malls. Such a shame.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 17, 2015
And then I rode I-90 to Preston, switching to the Issaquah–Preston Trail to get back to Issaquah. I noticed that two traffic lanes on the road I took through issaquah had recently replaced with parking instead.
Yay. (@ Issaquah Transit Center/Park & Ride in Issaquah, WA) https://t.co/wJe0Rp3gX6— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 16, 2015
To get back to Seattle, I took the same bus route as I had taken to get to Issaquah that morning.
Part 4: Return Home
Between downtown Seattle and home, I took the old route up 4th Avenue rather than the newer one along 2nd Avenue. Other than that, it was the same as always.
Hoo boy, that was quite a ride! Offroad EXP↑↑— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 16, 2015
Spent much of the ride forcing my pedal stroke to be properly aligned. New muscles are sore, so it must be working.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 16, 2015
The following Monday, I noticed that the back of my right hand was a bit puffy. Recalling a bug latched onto a small cut on this ride, I realized it must've been a bug bite.
Some sort of inflammation on the back of my right knuckles. Probably a bug bite from Saturday. I did see something latched on that day.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) August 17, 2015