Monday, January 30, 2017

Snoqualmie Valley Trail and Tolt Pipeline Trail (2017-01-27)

The first real ride on my Crust Romanceur, after commuting on it a bunch. Got the saddle in a good spot for my knees, but I still need to pace myself while my leg muscles get used to that.

The real killer on the ride was too much caffeine, dehydration, and poor dietary habits. No more big meals!

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More after the break…

Part 1: To Bus

I left home at about 04:45 to make sure I'd catch the 06:00 bus to Issaquah, but ended up catching the 05:30 bus instead.

Part 2: Outbound

Getting to Issaquah even earlier also meant that I'd need to warm up to handle the freezing temperatures in the mountains, which I did with some coffee at Panera.

I headed out of Issaquah just as the sky started to lighten, taking my typical route along the Issaquah–Preston Trail and Preston–Fall City Road.

And then I took the gravel driveway out of the valley to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. The bike handled very well on the unstable service thanks to its low-trail front end. The trail itself presented no additional challenge over that ascent, either. Seeing a fox run across the trail during the ascent amused me, though.

When I got to the end of that section of the trail, I dealt with the climb up to Tokul Road and descent to the big Snoqualmie roundabout. I ended up going along Mill Pond Road and through town to get to the next section of the trail rather than using the staircase and bridge over the river.

Once back on the trail, I was fighting a frigid headwind the whole way, so I decided to stop for coffee in North Bend before the ascent to Rattlesnake Lake. I also got a doughnut since they looked so good, but it ended up taking far too long to digest.

It was a fairly slow ascent the whole way up, but otherwise uneventful beyond patches of refrozen snow. There weren't many trail users as it was mid-day on a Friday.

When I finally got to Rattlesnake Lake, I noticed some either Park Service or military folks out on the dry, rocky mudflats on the northern end of it.

Part 3: Inbound

The descent seemed the same as usual, too.

However, when I got to the bottom and crossed Tanner Road, I noticed that my front tire had zero pressure and my rear tire was very low as well. I'd pinch-flatted without even noticing it! The handling didn't change at all, thanks to the geometry of the frame and fork.

Getting that front tire off took me maybe ten minutes, as the bead was super-tight, even though the rim wasn't tubeless-ready or anything. After putting on a touring tire with puncture protection, I ended up going to the nearby bike shop for tubes. They even had Slime tubes, so I had them put a new one in the rear tire as I didn't have another spare tire. The mechanic had a lot of trouble getting the tire bead to sit correctly, and recommended new tires even though the tread wasn't done. I've heard that Panaracer-made tires tend to be a bit inconsistent, so this didn't surprise me too much.

With that taken care of, I continued backtracking all the way to where I joined the trail, then continued north along it.

By the time I got to Carnation, I had definitely bonked. I hadn't felt hungry since I ate that doughnut, and even the trail mix I ate while waiting at the bike shop in North Bend hadn't helped. I stopped at a gas station for some potato chips and a small sugary soda to try to get a boost.

The trail north of Carnation had received fresh hardpack since I last used it, which was a major improvement over the loose gravel closer to Duvall.

As I approached Duvall, I saw some partially-frozen ponds, a sign that this frigid Winter's grip was weakening.

Rather than going through Duvall and dealing with that narrow highway to get to the western edge of the valley, I used NE 124th Street, which I found to have nice, wide shoulders. While the road on the western edge of the valley didn't have shoulders, NE 124th Street was closer to my turn-off than NE Woodinville–Duvall Road by a noticeable amount.

I had to push my bike up the steep slope to the trail, which caused the rough padding above my shoe's heel cups to abrade the backs of my ankles harshly.

Once I finally got onto the trail, I was met with a lot of saturated hard-pack and mud. Any significant slope wigged me out to the point where I walked them, as my spare front tire was a bit narrower than the one I'd started the ride with. Once I got to Avondale Road NE, I just took its shoulder and bike lane all the way to Redmond.

Once in Redmond, I had to stop quite a bit to get my bearings and find my way to the transit center. I also got some Gatorade at a convenience store, which proved a mistake. I really should've gotten water.

The bus ride wasn't fun, as I was sick to my stomach and had a terrible headache. The bus driver was a pretty cool younger guy, though, and he commented on my bike's front rack.

Part 4: Return Home

I felt better once I got riding again in Seattle, but still ended up going to PCC in Fremont to get some water. A cyclist who was waiting for his partner in front of PCC offered his help, but there wasn't much he could do.

Before getting home, I also stopped at a convenience store for some Pepto-bismol, which helped enough to get me all the way home.

Days later, I noticed that with the saddle at this height, maintaing a high cadence is significantly easier than with it any lower.

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