Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Washout Before Galena II (2019-06-29)

Headed out past Index again.

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More after the break…

My original route plan this time was to ride in the King County foothills, but I decided to do something that'd motivate me more and head into the Cascades in Snohomish County.

Part 1: To Bus

I started at about 05:00 and headed over to the University District Freeway Station to take the bus to Everett.

Part 2: Outbound

After a quick snack, I left Everett Station and headed out along my usual route parallel to the Hewitt Avenue Trestle. I hadn't even left Everett when I saw something that caught my eye: a private BNSF train consisting of an old lightweight passenger car and a track measuring car.

Rather than following the user route close to the Snohomish River, I jumped onto US 2 at the east end of the trestle, but unlike last time, I stayed on it all the way through Snohomish. Along this stretch, I started seeing some bizarre pavement where the two-foot wide part where the rumble strips used to be was instead smooth pavement…set a few inches lower than both the travel lane and the rest of the shoulder. WSDOT is apparently adding medians, but I'm not sure how doing this facilitates that. I was a bit sad because I was afraid that I wouldn't have the opportunity to summit Stevens Pass after this year. A more immediate issue kept me on my toes, though: WSDOT loved to make the higher portion of the shoulder away from the travel lanes unusable by spanning it with "MOTORCYCLES USE EXTREME CAUTION" signs. Lovely.

Thankfully, it didn't persist very far past Monroe, but I did have to deal with getting into traffic to cross the narrow bridges at regular intervals. At least the bridges aren't constant annoyances.

I stopped to eat in Sultan, where I found an odd archway at Travelers Park. Perhaps it's used for weddings?

After Sultan came the descent into Startup, where I found a bar that I'd like to visit someday.

And after that came Gold Bar, where a gas station I'd visited for water/drinks before was closed. It saddens me to see these places shut down, as they're often a welcome reprieve.

I finally got to leave US 2 at Gold Bar, taking the parallel May Creek Road instead.

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On my way to Reiter Road. #cycling #bicycletouring

A post shared by Neil E. Hodges (@takenji1989) on

While on May Creek Road, I saw a nice surprise: they'd replaced the little one lane bridge with a new, wider one. To be frank, this tiny road really didn't need a bridge fit for a highway.

A little further along brought me to the turn off to Reiter Road, one of the real stars of this ride.

It wasn't long until the road pitched up, and it got to the point where I had to walk a hundred feet or so. While my gearing certainly wasn't as low as some of my other bikes, with all of the futzing with my saddle position, my body position was such that I wasn't engaging my core, so I ran out of gears when climbing. Once I moved my hands up to the hoods and engaged my core, I was able to ride up the part after the steepest bit.

While I always remember the climbing up Reiter Road, the descent to Index sure surprises me every time! It's certainly not forgettable, but it zips by so fast that I can't keep track of anything outside of the road.

It didn't take long for me to hit Index, where I saw some houses with Pride flags, as well as a riding mower towing one. While I futzed with my camera setup to get a bicycle self portrait with the mountains, a car cruised by with the driver making bubbles with a wand in my direction, a cute gesture also associated with Pride.

I wasn't able to find a satisfactory camera position, but a young adult couple walking by said they'd take my photo when asked. The man got a few, but the woman really wanted to take some. Her sunglasses apparently made it hard for her to see screens, so she had to pass in the end. They said they were from Wallingford, and even went to the other side of the washout to ride the road out there, where they had to hike their bikes over some rough trail to the empty roads on the other side. Apparently, the only people over there are campers who drive the long way around.

While I passed through Index, I saw a small group of roadies riding in circles, which seemed a bit odd to me.

While making a quick stop at the general store, I discovered that it was run by an older Korean couple. Despite stopping by a few times, I had no idea! I suppose the Korean specialty items listed on the menu would've been a good clue. This finding brought to mind a number of other similar general stores scattered in rural parts of Western Washington that are also run by older Asian people.

Once done eating, I didn't stick around and headed out towards Galena.

I'd forgotten how tough Index–Galena Road is! It's rolling hills, but with my large bags acting as both air brakes and weights, there were only a few places where I could use my momentum to climb back up hills. At one hill, I did have to walk maybe 50 feet because of how steep it was. At another hill, I slowly winched my way up while a bird I'd never heard before flew overhead with a very unique cry.

When I finally got to the washout, I saw a guy loading large river rocks into the back of his SUV. He said that the last time he was out this way, the road still existed, and that it was a beautiful drive.

Part 3: Inbound

Since the road was still not repaired after all these years, my only choice was to head back the way I came, but with something of a tailwind.

Once I hit US 2, I started heading back west.

This section has some narrow spots, but it didn't end up being too bad.

When I got to the steep climb up the bridge just east of Gold Bar, I even was lucky enough to get a hole in traffic! That luck would persist across most of the bridges to and past Sultan.

I was pretty hot after climbing the hill up to Sultan, and decided to stop at the McDonald's in East Sultan, mainly for a bathroom break, but also for a McFlurry. After I had finished it and started on my way up, a guy walked up to me and said "Nice 333fab," which prompted me to ask if he knew Max. He replied with a "yes" and asked how Max was doing, to which I replied about his current state with the cancer treatment and how he got a dog to help him through it.

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Curious. #cycling #race #skykomish

A post shared by Neil E. Hodges (@takenji1989) on

After leaving the McDonald's, I made my way through Sultan and crossed the Sultan River Bridge, where not only did I not have to wait for a hole in traffic, there weren't even any cars behind me as I crossed! While crossing it, I also noticed construction of what appeared to be a bridge directly parallel and to the north, which is a bike/ped bridge! That'll provide a nicer alternative to the highway.

When I got to Monroe, I pulled into the old Safeway/Haggen to eat in the shade. Through past rides, I saw it as a Safeway, as a Haggen, and with shelves emptying as it was shutting down. It's definitely pretty spooky now.

I headed through Monroe along the side streets to avoid the SR-522/US 2 interchange's traffic. While doing so, I heard a car crash take place under SR-522 a few hundred feet ahead of me, and saw its aftermath. A lady asked everybody if they needed medical, and a guy was mad at another guy because the second guy didn't stop at the stop sign.

Between Monroe and Snohomish, I stuck to US 2. The winds were very unkind, and I seriously considered bailing like last time and taking the bus. I kept with it until Snohomish, and decided to stop to eat at a restaurant to regain the energy for the last leg back to Everett. The Mexican food was quite tasty, but I ended up feeling quite ill for the rest of the day because it was too hard to digest.

As I started preparing to leave, I saw some hydroplanes going back and forth along the Snohomish River. When I asked some locals, they said it happens "every warm day."

I definitely had a tough time getting to Everett, but I made it…only to have to sit for a half-hour as I pulled in as the bus I wanted pulled out.

When I was finally on the bus back to Seattle, a guy struck up a conversation around fancy watches starting with my Orient and his Seiko. He was surprised when I told him that my watch's movement contained some plastic parts.

Part 4: Return Home

My ride back home was pretty standard, though the gnats were insane!

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