Monday, August 8, 2016

Skagit City and Sedro–Woolley (2016-07-30)

More riding in Skagit County, away from the mess of the Seattle suburbs.

More after the break…

After my problems last weekend, I knew I had to fix whatever was causing them. In the end, increasing electrolyte and B vitamin intake on non-riding days took care of it. I was able to finally get a real ride in!

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Part 1: To Freeway Station

As usual, I left at about 05:00. This left me with a lot of time waiting for the bus to Everett.

Thinking about how I've been carrying a heavy Kryptonite U-lock, I decided that it wasn't really necessary when riding through areas where theft isn't as much of an issue. Instead, I could simply use a TiGr Mini, which would take care of folks simply walking away with the bike I'm riding on the trip. It wouldn't stand up to an angle grinder, of course, so I'd still use the U-locks in the city.

Part 2: Outbound

When I got to Everett, I stopped at the local Starbucks for water and a lightly-caffeinated beverage. Having these 3 liter bottles might seem like overkill to some, but I definitely was thankful for them as the day got hotter!

I took my usual route north out of Everett, through Marysville, and past Smokey Point.

And then followed the Pioneer Highway through the Stillaguamish Valley and Silvana, where I saw some sort of festival going on. There were signs around about a big garage sale, but I have no idea if that was it.

I then took Norman Road—still closed like last time— to Stanwood.

And then followed the low route to Conway in Skagit County. While there, I noticed that there was actually a small downtown west of the gas stations.

I saw someone riding a road bike headed the same way I was right before I left, and eventually ended up passing her while in Skagit City. (It's not really a city today.)

I would later find her stopped on the left side of the road, chatting with some other folks she knew.

And then I rode with her until she turned off to ride home.

Something that caught my eye while running through the photos is how the distortion caused by the hot, rising air made the photos look like paintings.

To get off Fir Island, I took the same bridge near Rexville as last time, but then hung an immediate right rather than going straight toward La Conner. Among the farms, I saw a sign for Rexville Farm Power that piqued my interest (I'd look it up later).

My directions eventually sent me onto a small road away from traffic…which quickly ended at a gate. While I could've tackled the gravel road behind it with my Troll, the 32mm tires on the bike I had this time would've been a bit too much work.

I turned back to the main road, then headed through Mount Vernon without any significant stops.

My route to Sedro–Woolley involved a short leg on the Kulshan Trail, which was fairly empty.

At its end, I followed a jumble of roads that took me to what appeared to have been a bike trail into a residential neighborhood that subsequently turned into a wide sidewalk.

Following that was another jumble of roads that wound up at SR-9, which I took north to Sedro–Woolley. There was a lane closure while a roundabout was being constructed just south of the city.

I first tried to find water at a convenience store, but they didn't have a fountain or public sink (common in rural areas). I ended up getting water at a pizza restaurant, with a small pizza.

Part 3: Inbound

After digesting it a little, I started on my way south through and out of town.

I first passed through Clear Lake, which I'd completely forgotten about.

In the past, the climb between Clear Lake and Big Lake killed me, but I didn't have so much trouble this time with the saddle higher. However, it still felt a bit wrong, with my knees telling me either "too high" or "too far back." In moving the saddle forward, I discovered that the driver bit in my baby socket wrench had gone missing, and had to resort to a multitool for the meantime.

When I got past Big Lake, I saw the pavement turn to chipseal, which I dreaded. There's apparently a program underway to redo a bunch of roads in it. I guess I'll be going through Conway in both directions more often now! Sure, the car tires will smooth it out eventually, but it was worse than the pavement in Seattle as far as comfort goes!

While stopped for a minute, I saw a bunch of randonneurs head south ahead of me, and later on I saw two headed north. (No idea if the latter group was a splinter of the former.)

When I got to Lake McMurray, I was pretty dehydrated in the normal sense (rather than low on electrolytes) and drank straight water purchased from the store.

From there, I worked hard to get to the hardware store in Arlington by 18:00 for a new bit for my wrench. With all my efforts (and the saddle too far forward probably!) I made it there five minutes before closing after having trouble finding it.

The store was huge! It had assimilated four store fronts in downtown Arlington, and each space had different floors and walls. I was only able to find the 6mm hex bit I needed in a set of 30+ bits, but the set also had some I didn't already have. I bought two sets.

The only coffee shop open at that hour was an espresso stand, where I got both an iced americano and more water to offset the electrolytes.

Once done with my coffee and water, I started on the ride south on the Centennial Trail. Culpeper Hill was significantly easier than before, though my knees didn't like the saddle being cocked so far to the side.

In the end, I gave up on that and decided to try some more 'normal' options.

By the time I was heading west out of Snohomish, it was starting to get dark.

And I had to catch the last bus south out of Everett.

Part 4: Return Home

I really had to use the restroom when I got off the bus, so I headed to Gasworks Park. While there, I saw a what was supposedly going to be a rave very soon. In the bathroom, a guy asked me for some sort of hard drug, but I didn't recognize the name.

The ride home was pretty uneventful, but the temperature was very nice.

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