Friday, November 20, 2015

Don't go Into the Mountains During a Storm (2015-11-14,15)

My plan on this ride was to go off-road to avoid the drone of wet car tires. I ended up with more than I had gambled for with a flood warning and wind advisory, with the worst flooding taking place precisely where I was headed. After getting banged up a few times, I visited a friend. The latter half of my ride was an exercise in hypothermia, and I gave up after my worst fall. I phoned in a ride from my parents, then rode home the next morning after recuperating.

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More after the break…

Part 1: To Downtown Seattle

I left at about 05:30 as the first bus left at 06:27. However, I got downtown at 06:00, so I tried to find a coffee shop or similar that was open. No luck, of course, as it was a Saturday.


The bus ride was uneventful.

Part 2: Outbound

After getting to Issaquah, I rode over to the Newport strip mall area in search of coffee as it was pretty darn cold. I also ate a cinnamon roll.

I left Issaquah via the Issaquah–Preston Trail. The paved section was the same as always, but after I got over the first hill and dip, I saw that the creek basically turned into a creek bed. There was maybe an inch of water flowing along the trail, with dead leaves causing it to pool in a lot of places. My tires wouldn't give up their traction, of course.

At a couple of points, there were creeks flowing across the trail!

And the Grand Ridge Run was taking place, despite the terrible conditions.

Once on the section of the trail east of High Point Way, I saw a lot less flowing water. However, there was a lot of grass on the gravel instead.

Once past Preston, I rode along the paved trail up until I came across my first fallen trees.

Shortly after was the infamous hairpin turn that lead to a steep descent and the crosswalk across the main road in the area. Once across the crosswalk, I tried to make the turn to the trail behind the Jersey barrier, but it was too tight and caked with slick leaves.

After seeing the state of the 'trail' there, I decided to just follow the road's shoulder to where the trail rejoins with said road, then walked my way up the gravel switchbacks.

Once up there, I resumed riding along the paved trail until Lake Alice Road, which I tried to climb before giving up due to getting 'wigged out' over how my center of gravity felt like it was in a strange place. (In the map, the thick blue/green lines are my track and the thin red lines are my original plans.)

Instead, I headed down the road to Fall City, which was unnerving due to how poor my cantilever brakes worked.

I started heading up the route to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail I'd heard about a while back, which was mostly okay. However, there were slick logs creating a puddle where I would've been able to just push my bike through otherwise (left part of the photo).

Once to the top of this access road, I rode along the trail for maybe several hundred feet until I found another downed tree. It woludn't budge and the only way through was rather unsafe, so I took it as a bad omen and called a friend in the area to see if I could visit their place just to hang out for a while. I also called my local bike shop to put an order in for a disc brake conversion.

By the way, below is my original plan in the area. Like before, blue/green is my track and red is my original plan.

After their approval, I rode down to Carnation along the trail, then made their way to their house. There were some downed trees along the way, but they weren't bad.

The Tolt River was raging, too.


I spent maybe a couple hours there and had quite a delightful time. I also learned that alpaca wool is a good cold-weather fabric.

Part 3: Inbound to Issaquah

Shortly after leaving their place, I noticed how cold it really was outside. Stopping for so long like that probably wasn't a good idea.

In order to warm up, I hit the local Starbucks up for a mocha before leaving town via the trail.

When I got back to where I first joined the trail, I saw that the downed tree was gone. It reminded me off how, in RPGs, one's progress is blocked until an event is triggered. Once the event is triggered, the path is cleared.

I then headed down the same access road I took earlier, though I took it slowly due to the thick, leafy buildup.

And then I took the road back up to the Preston–Snoqualmie Trail. Once at the trail, I managed to ride my way up despite the steepness. (In the past, I would walk up that little bit due to the center of gravity thing mentioned earlier.)

I then made my way along the paved trail, then the unpaved past past Preston.

About a mile from High Point Way, I had to duck under a low branch in order to keep going. However, a branch of a couple feet in length and 3-4 inches in diameter was right where my tire went, which caused me to go down, scrape my leg up, and break one of the mounting hooks on that side's pannier. After that, I had a bit of an emotional breakdown and called my parents to see about getting a ride to their place from Issaquah. It also didn't help that my phone's earphone wasn't working normally.

I then went back to the event area and got some wound cleanup and coffee to keep going. Based on my experience on all the trails here, I knew that going downhill on that mess was a terrible idea, so I took the shoulder of I-90. It wasn't fun, but the debris wasn't as terrible.

Once in Issaquah, I made my way to the local Red Apple grocery where I waited for my father.


I ended up having something to drink and some chili to warm up. I also bought a bottle of wine for my parents to thank them.


The ride home was comforting, but the roads were still dangerous in a car.

Part 4: Return Home, Next Day

The next morning, my parents took us all to the Malty Cafe for breakfast.

After they left for church, I started my ride back home via my typical route. Even though there were a lot of wet leaves all over, my tires had no trouble with them. After all, this was nothing like the gravel trails in the foothills!

I hit up my local LBS to replace the part of my pannier that broke, then left the bike there to get disc brakes installed. I had to walk home carrying four heavy bags, which was worth it to get it converted as soon as possible.

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