Thursday, June 16, 2016

Rain Dodging (2016-06-11)

I rode along the unpaved trails in eastern King County, ducking out rain by going indoors multiple times.

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More after the break…

Part 1: To Bus

After having read the weekday schedule, I left home extra-early expecting a 05:30 departure from downtown. That wasn't the case.

I walked around and rode a bit to kill time. Nothing was open, so I didn't have much else to do.

On the ride, I noticed wet pavement and spray the further east the bus went, so I got ready for a wet one.

Part 2: Outbound

In preparation for a cold soaking, I got coffee and a hot breakfast in Issaquah.

However, it wasn't really warranted, and the ride was pleasant, albeit with some spray from the saturated gravel and mud.

To clarify, that ride was quite a soaker. I really needed the coffee then!

I quickly passed through Fall City—the detours for Fall City Days not having any impact on my route—then started my way up the gravel driveway to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. On that ascent, I did have to yield and pull off to the side while locals drove up and down it a couple times.

Once on the trail, it wasn't long until I found my first downed tree, which is almost normal out there.

It was pretty uneventful for a while on the trail, though my knees weren't happy due to a slighty off saddle position.

I did a guy with a sign indicating the upper limit of a half-marathon, likely related to the event in Fall City from earlier.

The last time I was out there, the trail was closed due to floods washing out a couple of trestles. I had heard the work was done, but was still a bit worried. Thankfully, the trail was pretty much open, albeit some regrading work still ongoing.

The surface was a bit soft, but my wide tires at fairly low pressures made it easy enough.

Shortly after, I made it to the end of this section of the trail and started pushing my heavy bike up the steep incline. A constant annoyance.

Thankfully, the Tokul roundabout construction was done and I wouldn't have to deal with the nasty, steep detour anymore.

Rather than dealing with shouldering my heavy bike up stars to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail bridge across the river, I just went through Snoqualmie and took the easier route. When I stopped to eat in Snoqualmie, I chatted with a group of people who regularly do sponsored runs for water research in Africa. They had just finished their run and were cooling down.

On my way out of Snoqualmie, I saw something that was very representative of today's ride.

Once on the trail again, I headed to and continued past North Bend, starting the climb up to Rattlesnake Lake.

At the base of the incline, tried a couple of things with my saddle position, and ended up with the saddle as high as my knees would let it go, and it slammed as far back as the seatpost would go (16mm setback, so not very far with the 73° seat tube angle). While my knees weren't happy with it being too high all day, they finally weren't complaining after that. Maybe I'd finally gotten it right after so long, and have the proper procedure! Something like lower it until I'm lifting off a little, then raise it until that's not happening, and lastly move it back until the discomfort above my knees goes away.

The climb up from there wasn't too difficult at that point, and the formerly soft gravel had 'degraded' enough to lock together. Unlike asphalt that gets slick when wet because the oils are 'reconstituted', gravel tends to lock better together when wet because the wet sand adds friction.

After all that climbing, I made it to the Cedar River Watershed Education Center, my 'highest' point on the ride.

While stopped there, a large group of people on mountain bikes rode by. I was really curious at why they continued all the way to the far gate, since that wasn't publicly accessible. While I didn't see them start on their way back—I was in the restroom—it was obvious that they had turned back to start on their way down the incline we'd all just climbed.

Part 3: Inbound

On the descent from Rattlesnake Lake, i quickly passed that same group from earlier.

Even after the trail leveled out, I was definitely going faster before. My guess was that the southerly wind turned from a headwind into a tailwind, but maybe my corrected saddle position helped.

I stopped at a familiar cafe in North Bend, only to stick around for longer as a squall passed through. I used this time to eat a nice ham and cheese crepe.

After that rest, I continued down the trail, backtracking all the way through Snoqualmie, up Tokul Road, and down the gravel staircase (still a pain!) to the trail. From there, it was a fast downhill ride all the way to Carnation.

I'm almost 100% certain those guys knew me from the 2015 BQ Un-meeting.

I continued along the trail to Duvall, which was a lot easier than I remembered from last time.

I was lucky enough to not have to deal with the closure of the trail near a bend of the Snoqualmie River, which had been scoured out by flood waters recently.

I stopped to take shelter under a stand of trees maybe a half-mile away from Duvall due to the rain. Since I had been able to dodge the rain all day, I didn't want to deal with it.

At Duvall, I had a number of route options. I went into details in the map's Flickr page, but in short: I chose Woodinville—Duvall Road. The climb involved only a 5% sustained uphill grade, so it wasn't too crazy.

While said climb did take a lot out of me, I did manage to winch my way up without too much immediate difficulty.

I had a pleasant surprise awaiting me once I passed the Woodinville city limits: they had upgraded the road to feature sidewalks and bicycle lanes, rather than mere shoulders.

I eventually made it over the final crest of the ridge and zipped down at 30 MPH into Woodinville. Unfortunately, after not being able to merge left to my intended turn due to traffic, I made the mistake of turning left into a residential and commercial development, and had to fight a couple of hills before finally making it to Woodinville–Snohomish Road, which I took to the mall where I stopped one last time for coffee.

I left Starbucks before the rain had fully cleared up, but it wasn't bad at all. Thankfully, the remaining ride home on the Sammamish River Trail and Burke-Gilman Trail was pretty flat.

At some point, a group of people on skateboards and BMX bikes was headed the other way with another guy and his drone following them. While I'm not surprised at this now, I'm surprised that I hadn't seen it before!

I was glad to get home and get some sleep after all that. I was also glad that my knees were no longer unhappy!

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