It was a pretty good ride aside from the downpours in the mountains. The multiple helicopters, ambulances, and police responses were pretty odd, though.
More after the break…
Part 1: To Bus
Like usual, I started at about 05:00. Since the solstice was only a week away, it was already light out before I left home, and it only got lighter as I made my way to the freeway station.
It sure is light out already!— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
Heading north today. (@ University District North Bound Freeway Bus Station) https://t.co/q49FpwhPoC— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
Part 2: Outbound
I left Everett via US 2, but rather than heading towards Snohomish as I've often done, I climb SR-204 to Lake Stevens, as it's the shortest way to get to Granite Falls.
SR-204 is a pretty good warmup! #cycling— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
Then I rounded the northwest 'corner' of Lake Stevens and took SR-92 to Granite Falls. With the drafting provided by the highway traffic, it was a pretty quick ride.
A few of the locals asked me about where I was headed with all my bags, which hadn't happened for a while on my rides.
Folks here seem to be interested in where I'm headed.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
Didn't take too long to get up here. (@ Granite Falls IGA in Granite Falls, WA) https://t.co/OGxYCwYHqf— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
Moved my panniers all the way to the rear of the front rack to see if that'd further improve handling. So far so good!— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
My saddle is finally breaking in, but it's doing to so quickly that I've already had to tighten it a bit.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
Getting out of Granite Falls was as difficult as always, with a fairly constant uphill grade being the theme after the South Fork Stillaguamish River, including the climb that always comes to mind when I think of that part of the route.
The funny thing about the Mountain Loop Highway is how the hardest part is shortly after leaving Granite Falls.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
It wasn't long until I'd arrived to the town of Robe, where I stopped at the general store that had just had its grand opening last time. I was glad to see that it was still operating.
It was a gradual climb from Robe to Verlot. I'd packed a fourth liter bottle for extra water capacity and had originally intended to fill all four of them at Verlot, but forgot when I passed through the area.
Thankfully, someone was kind enough to help me out.
Someone was kind enough to give me some of their water from their camping trip after I forgot to top off at Verlot.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
Unfortunately, it wasn't long until rain started to fall, which became pretty bad for a few minutes before mellowing out some.
The rain remained a theme much of the way up to the pass.
Saw what I think was a black bear heading up the side of the highway.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
I was hoping to stop to eat at the Big Four Picnic Area, a helicopter that had been overhead earlier was landed there and the area was closed off, so I had to eat at the trailhead instead…where a search and rescue vehicle was parked. What happened?
Saw two police+ambulance responses out there, plus a helicopter+search and rescue.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
It was pretty hard getting up there! The downpours closer to the pass didn't help, either. #cycling— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
From the Big Four area, it was a constant climb. I was powering up it in a slightly too-tall gear most of the way until it steepened just a little too much, which kicked me into the granny ring. I probably should've paced myself better there, as I was pretty slow for the last little bit to the pass. I sure was glad to finally be up there, though, and it was even sunny!
A group of hikers asked me about what I was up to, and one was even nice enough to take a photo for me. A hiker on the other group complimented me on my Davidson.
One guy at Barlow Pass was familiar with the Davidson brand and the quality of the bicycles under it.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 11, 2017
Part 3: Inbound
As expected after all that climbing, the descent was pretty quick. I did eventually start feeling out of breath and worn out after all that spinning, so I consumed one an energy shot to get me all the way back to Granite Falls.
As I approached Verlot, I saw a couple on a tandem headed the other way, but they didn't respond when I asked them where they were headed. Around the same area, I had to stop once when an ambulance headed the other way, and another time when there were a number of cars behind me.
I hit a very high speed when that steep descent to the bridge over the South Fork Stillaguamish River, and ended up pulling out of traffic to wait a while after the bridge. I was afraid of ending up with a bunch of folk stuck behind me again, but when I did climb up from the river, only one or two cars had to pass me.
While it was enough for most descents, the bike still needed a knee on the top tube at over 25 MPH. Highest speed: ~38 MPH.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
The large amount of traffic on the highway this afternoon made me weary of the last two steep climbs this way, but they turned out fine.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 11, 2017
I'm at City of Granite Falls in WA https://t.co/3Wqnq1xF6Y— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 10, 2017
I stopped for my final coffee at an espresso stand in Granite Falls. While talking to the barista about the weather in the mountains, she told me that it's only clear up there if it's hot and sunny at Granite Falls, and it was partly cloudy in Granite Falls even then.
The ride on SR-29 back to the Centennial Trail was pretty quick aside for having to wait for yet another ambulance. My route had me taking a side road to the trail that turned out to be very steep. While it only gave me a bit of work after all the riding throughout the day, I thought it'd be best to avoid it in the future.
Saw yet another ambulance response between Granite Falls and Lake Stevens.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 11, 2017
Thankfully, the construction on the trail from last time was already complete. The trail was honestly about as bumpy as it had been with the tree roots for the most part, but the lack of bollards was a welcome improvement.
While the bollard removal on the Centennial Trail was very welcome, the pavement repairs are kind of bumpy. #seabikes— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 11, 2017
Another helicopter over Snohomish. What a weird day.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 11, 2017
I merely passed through Snohomish rather than stopping for anything. Along the river road, I saw a number of tents in the bush, which only pointed to one thing:
Wow, there are homeless encampments along the Snohomish River.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 11, 2017
My saddle's stretching made it pretty uncomfortable at this point, so I tightened it quite a bit.
Can't tell if my Berthoud saddle is finally breaking in/stretching or if the tension screw is merely not holding it's adjustment.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 11, 2017
Since my quads and hamstrings will both be feeling this ride in the morning and I have no knee pain, I'm guessing the fit is finally good.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 11, 2017
Experiments with half-hourly snacks after the final mocha. The results were quite good. #cycling— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 11, 2017
I was sure glad to be largely done when I got to Everett Station. It was a pretty tiring ride!
Part 4: Return Home
It was even still light out when I got back to Seattle, which made the ride home pretty nice.
There was yet another police response in Ballard. What a weird day!— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 11, 2017
Managed to make it home before nightfall.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 11, 2017
I prefer a #bicycle that makes it easier to correct mistakes than one where mistakes are less likely but more catastrophic.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) June 11, 2017