Thursday, May 25, 2017

Skykomish II (2017-05-20)

Headed out into the mountains again, just like old times.

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More after the break…

Part 1: To Bus

Remembering my past mistakes, I left home at 05:10 and headed to the freeway station to for the bus ride up north. It was so warm out that I had to take my sweater off after the climb to the station!

Part 2: Outbound

It was already light out when the bus got to Everett Station, and warm enough to still not need a sweater. I was in awe of the vivid colors after such a bad Winter.

Since Proper Joe (the replacement of the Rock City Cafe) was not yet open when I got to Snohomish, I asked a couple of roadies who were riding through about coffee, and they said that a place next to the local hardware store was open. It was indeed open, so I stopped there for coffee.



Now energized, I started my ride in earnest, heading east along US 2 out of Snohomish. Traffic was pretty heavy when I got to Monroe, likely due to the fairgrounds, but my route took me away from the busy highway near SR-522, before bringing me back to the highway near the edge of town.

A common theme of this ride was having to wait for breaks in traffic before crossing bridges without shoulders, which started immediately as I left Monroe.

When I got to the westernmost extent of Sultan, I saw that there was repaving work going on.

Thankfully, it was mainly the general purpose lanes receiving the work rather than the shoulders. I just had to carefully ride around signs and cones that were needlessly in the shoulder.

For this ride, I bought a four-pack of muffins instead of granola to see how they'd work, since I've had a history of becoming dehydrated with granola. They worked pretty darn well!

The first noticeable climbing started past Gold Bar. It wasn't bad at all, though.

Somewhere around here, I started noticing a sort of "thok" once per wheel rotation while braking. It wasn't particularly bad, so I just kept going.

When I got to the Espresso Chalet, I stopped for some coffee, just like last time.


From there, I kept continuing west along the highway.

A few miles before Skykomish, I hung a right onto Money Creek Road so I could check out the washout from 2011.

After going past the "ROAD CLOSED" sign, I did indeed find out that the road was gone.

It's a bit of a funny situation, since there's a bridge just past the washout where the river used to run. There's a river without a bridge and a bridge without a river!

Since I obviously couldn't continue on the old highway here, I turned back to the new one and headed to Skykomish that way.

There was an old guy on a mountain bike with a Burley trailer who was getting going near the Money Creek campground. He didn't know where he was going in the long run, but he was pretty unhappy about the washout on the old highway.

One of the most prominent hotels is the Skykomish Hotel, which is undergoing renovation and restoration into a hotel again.

After getting a photo in front of a city sign while a BNSF train passed by, I went to the Cascadian Inn & Restaurant for a pastry and water.

I decided to turn back here rather than 10 miles further on because time was tight. I'll have to stay at the inn someday so I can do a two-day ride, with the first day having a longer ride.

Part 3: Inbound

Before starting on my actual ride back, I called my bike shop about the "thok" while braking. The guy who worked on it said it should be fine for the return trip, but I should bring it in ASAP. I was still a bit worried, so I made a note to be careful while braking.

I wasn't looking forward to the ride back, mainly due to a couple of pinch points where the road narrows, but I still had to get home!

While the narrow bits of the highway weren't so bad, I was definitely relieved when I finally got back to Gold Bar, which is past the worst of it. I definitely needed some coffee to keep my spirits up.


I had to deal with a few of narrow bridges again on the way back, with more traffic, but they weren't as long or as hilly as the bits before.

I did end up having to walk quite a bit due to solid traffic in Monroe, probably leftover from the collision and the fairgrounds. I ended up passing the same people over and over on the shoulder because it was so slow.

Between Monroe and Everett, I felt my blood sugar get pretty low, so I stopped twice to eat. I guess that coffee really causes me to burn energy! The constant headwinds from Gold Bar all the way to Everett didn't help, either.

By the time I'd gotten to Everett, it was still light, and I only had to wait 15 minutes for a bus.

Part 4: Return Home

From the freeway station, I took the less steep of the route options to get to the Burke–Gilman Trail. I also noticed that the "thok" was getting worse and caused braking to become jarring each time, so I was even more cautious on that section. Thankfully, the route from there to home was pretty flat.

I was glad to be home, since I didn't have to worry about that rim anymore.

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