Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Elbe (2016-04-16)

I rode down to the hometown of the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad on Alder Lake, using Link Light Rail to avoid downtown Seattle. In the end, I rode nearly 160 miles, but didn't feel too weak at the end as I got my saddle position dialed in almost perfectly.

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More after the break…

Part 1: To Train

Since the first Link train left at a 04:45 from UW, I left at 04:00 to make better use of daylight hours. The ride to the station was pretty uneventful, though I did appreciate the lack of car traffic.


When I got on the train, I had a bit of trouble putting my bike in the proper spot.

Part 2: Outbound

I got off at Rainier Beach, then headed south through Renton and Tukwila via a route new to me.

From there, I stuck to the Interuban Trail all the way to Auburn.

And then took the C Street Trail and East Valley Highway to Sumner.

In Sumner, I got a soda as I was having a little bit of a hard time.

With all the work tweaking my saddle position—mainly raising it and adjusting fore-aft to where my legs wanted me to be—I got some pretty good results. I started noticing some different pedaling technique occurring, with less of a "driving down to the bottom" occurring. This sped up my cadence.

When I got to Orting, I left the Foothills Trail for Oroville Road toward Eatonville. A group of roadies all in matching kit passed by before I started the first climbing portion of he road, and they remained in my view for quite a while.

When I stopped to take care of business on the long, barely-uphill section, I saw a couple of middle-aged guys who were spinning at a very low cadence up the gradual grade.

And when I got to the climb into Kapowsin, I was finally kicked into my granny ring, which I hadn't yet touched!

After Kapowsin, I took the rolling hills all the way to Eatonville, and was taking a bit of punishment on my rear due to the chipseal.

I stopped at an espresso stand (one with a deck) to pick up water, and while I waited in line I chatted with someone who was a resident of nearby Alder (which I'd see later). I learned about the area, both about people and the land itself. Apparently, Wilcox Farms has some operations in the area, too.

I then stopped at a nearby grocery store for a cool beverage before heading up Alder Cutoff Road.

That road was something else, and reminded me of mountain passes!

After all that work was a short descent to Alder Lake, which is a reservoir on the Nisqually River.

From there, I headed east on SR-7 along the lake toward Elbe.

My entry into the town was first indicated by old tracks of the Tacoma Eastern Railroad.

Followed by the strong presence of the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad, which I rode with my father when I was a child. There were a lot of restaurants and hotels in the old rolling stock.

The town itself was rather cute.

At one of the railroad's restaurants, I ate an elk burger to get me on my way back home.

And then I stopped by an old locomotive for a good photo op.

Part 3: Inbound

Heading back, I took SR-7 west along the lake, past where I first joined it.

The highway quickly began to ascend away from the lake.

Along the way, I saw a rockface covered with tons of graffiti.

And a clearcut hillside.

While Alder was barely a settlement with only a large general store, La Grande had some stuff related to its dam in town.

Eventually, I left SR-7 in favor of SR-161 back to Eatonville. I had no idea the latter ended this far out in the middle of nowhere!

SR-161 was almost all downhill, with one last short climb into town.

Next up was unwinding my way back along Oroville Road, which was very uneventful. I passed through Orting, which was very lively!

The Foothills Trail was pretty busy, but I zipped along without paying much attention beyond my desire to go home.

At Sumner, I drank another soda, which ended up being a terrible idea, as I was already pretty dehydrated. I made one last tweak to my saddle's height, which gave me a super boost despite the dehydration!

Darkness fell as I headed north along the Interurban Trail through the valley, and I ended up feeling very sick after a while. Eventually, I had to stop to carefully drink water. At one point, a group of teenagers tried to harass me, but I paid them absolutely zero mind and they lost interest.

The only real thing of note I noticed was this sign for the Green River Cyclery in Auburn, which I'd never heard of before. I ought to check it out sometime!

Rather than taking the Lind Avenue overpass as before, I took my usual route along Oakesdale Avenue, SW 7th Street, and Rainier Avenue to the Lake Washington Loop, then made my way up the last minor hill to the light rail station..

Part 4: Return Home

From the light rail station at UW, I simply took the quiet route along the Burke-Gilman Trail all the way home.

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