Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mount Rainier National Park II (2016-04-30)

Or "A Crash Course in Underbiking."

More after the break…

Before Leaving

While setting up for the ride, I noticed that my bike's kickstand wasn't working as expected. When I took a closer look, I noticed that the weld was "peeling" from the chainstay.

Since I didn't want to mess around with trying to take the kickstand off, I simply strapped it down tightly and considered it unusable.

I later got in touch with Soma about it.

  1. They first said that the both wheels should touch the ground with it deployed, even though I found no evidence of that being common practice. Everywhere, they said it should be at least 2" off the ground in order to accommodate uneven surfaces.
  2. In their next reply, they said that the plate wasn't meant for double kickstands, and only utility bikes with "almost solid" chainstays should be used with those. However, their site explicitly states that the plate "fits some double kickstands."

I'll likely end up getting it repaired locally, since their second reply indicates that the design isn't really up to snuff. I contacted a local builder who said he'd reinforce the chainstays as well, which will solve the real problem. As this is a touring bike, a little extra weight really means nothing.

Part 1: To Light Rail

With all the mess above taken care of enough to get me going, I left home at about 04:00 for the light rail station.

Part 2: Outbound

After disembarking at Rainier Beach, I took the same route as my last time through the area to the Interurban rail, then followed it south.

Once in Auburn, I jumped over to the East Valley Highway to Sumner, then made my way to the Foothills Trail. Once I hit South Praire, I found some other folks heading the same way as me.

From South Prairie, I took the familiar highway through Burnett and Wilkeson, then made my way up the steep climb past Carbonado, which was hard as always. From there, the climbs weren't too bad.

While I was eating while stopped on the Upper Fairfax Bridge, the roadies crossed, then turned around to stop and get some photos at the midspan.

They left before me, but I ended up catching and passing them on the long, uphill slog after the bridge. The beautiful scenery kept them enthralled the whole time based on what they told me.

Once I eventually made it to the park gate, I didn't do what I did last time, and kept going. This involved going along what started as a gravel trail, then turned rocky and sandy from time to time. This was pretty much underbiking for me, so I didn't get over 10 MPH on that part.

Eventually, I ended up being unable to continue due to both a washout and fallen trees.

Even though I was able to see the continuation of the trail on the other side, I didn't want to walk on a rocky riverbank to get there.

Part 3: Inbound

My water supply was very low when I started heading back, so I ate carefully until I was able to get some water at the ranger station.

The ranger was kind enough to dump water from another bottle into mine, even though they can't hand water lout like that regularly. Also, I wasn't aware that I needed to pay a $10 fee to access the park at all, so I felt pretty bad about it. He didn't charge me, but I'll certainly pay it next time I enter the park!

There was a guy who rode his bicycle in from Seattle to stay at the Ipsum Creek campground to at ranger station. The ranger told him about the washout and downed trees, and I gave more details. He said he was going to try to get there himself, but I don't know what happened to him. His friends were going to drive in to join him, and possibly give him a lift home if necessary. There's no mobile phone reception out where we were, so he had no way of contacting them before they got to the park.

With the water I obtained, I was easily able to make it back to Carbonado. After all, the route is mostly downhill in that direction.

When I got to Carbonado, I stopped at the Carbonado Saloon as I often do. A couple of patrons at the saloon were really interested in my riding. The guy apparently worked on the Lake Washington Boulevard drainage work, where his employer essentially just shoved the new pipes, which destroyed the old pipes without needing to tear up the pavement.

When I tell people about my rides, they often can't figure out how I get to where I get. They often immediately consider whatever freeways they drive, but then realize that bicycles are generally not allowed on them. I haven't ever really run into anyone who is upset that I'm out on a bike on the roads when I talk to them in person, which is always nice.

Leaving the saloon, I headed out along A P Tubbs road to avoid using the highway. Unfortunately, I saw something I hadn't expected based on OpenStreetMap's designation of the road as a bicycle route.

I saw a couple of guys on dirt bikes come out from the property and asked them about it. They said the unpaved road wasn't too crazy, and that it was only a mile to the other side. The other side involved a gated community, but they said it was easy to get through the gates. Thus, I plowed ahead.

It ended up being pretty steep and rocky, so I was very careful.

Every now and then, a dirtbike or ATV went by, which wasn't too much fun considering how narrow and loose the surface was.

I had to take my panniers off the bike and move everything piecemeal a couple times to get through the fairly sparse gated community, but eventually made it out onto Johns Road E, which I took down to South Prairie.

From South Prairie, I stuck to the Foothills Trail all the way to Sumner, then bought a $1 gallon of water there to refill my bottles and rehydrate. I kept the gallon free of Nuun, as having plain water at that point really helped my stomach. Maybe I'll do one bottle of Nuun and one of just water when riding in general, just to be safe.

I took the W Valley Highway from Sumner to Algona, then the Interurban Trail all the way to Kent. I did stop for a soda for a caffeine bost in Tukwila, after which I needed to pee every half-hour. After experiencing this over and over again, kicking my caffeine habit seems like a good idea.

While I wasn't surprised to see so many people riding on such a good day, seeing so many riding at night was a bit different. There was even a guy with a randonneuring setup, which definitely signifies the start of the cycling 'season'.

This leg of my ride was finally done once I got to Rainier Beach for the light rail.

Part 4: Return Home

Once in the University District, I just took the Burke–Gilman Trail home. I felt like I could keep going, but I was pretty darn sleepy after all that!

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