Friday, July 1, 2016

Old Blewett Pass

I wanted the backroad experience of riding the Old Blewett Pass highway without the hassle of sharing the roads with lots of big, heavy highway traffic on the main route, so I drove down the approximately 15 minutes from Leavenworth to the Scotty Creek Road.  There were some nice shaded empty campsites next to the creek to park and change at.

From the campsite, the gradients begin right away; however, they never make up their minds for very long about how steep they want to be – this road is definitely graded much less consistently than the main highway.  It’s a delightful little two lane road that twists and turns and bucks up with little regularity.  It’s also very sparsely trafficked, as I rode up on a Friday afternoon preceding a holiday weekend and encountered no cars, 3 motorbikes, and a couple of fellow cyclists.

There is some cost to the lack of traffic and the fact that this is a route that time has left behind means that the road is quite unmaintained, with gravel across the road in places, as well as some fairly substantial pot holes that could taco a road bike wheel in no time.  Such road conditions were duly noted on the way up, and I reminded myself that I would take the descent cautiously, as the speed of descending combined with rock walls in close proximity, steep drop offs, irregular pavement, and varied areas of shadow and light could be treacherous. 

I huffed and puffed and made it to the pass just as I was starting to feel good this hot summer day, where a couple of the motorcyclists who had passed me on the way up had stopped to take in the views.  I had climbed it from the east side, and wanted to descend to the west, but I had an event that evening so just started my descent.  I made good on my promise to take the descent slowly, recording a top speed of only 20 mph, enabling me to win at rule #1 – Returning home safely. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Snoqualmie Valley and Iron Horse Trails

I've been wanting to explore the Iron Horse Trail for some time now, and last weekend presented a sunny opportunity to do just that.  The trail, like the Burke Gilman in Seattle, is a former railroad right of way that has been retired and replaced with a gravel bed.  We actually started our journey in North Bend, at a park that served as an access point to the Snoqualmie Valley trail.

Monday, April 18, 2016

North Cascades Highway 2016

Last weekend, I headed up to the North Cascades Highway for my annual Spring Pilgrimage.  Every Winter, the west side of the pass is closed at milepost 134 due to avalanche danger.  Each Spring, the road closure remains here while work being done to clear the pass all the way over both Rainy and Washington passes to Mazama and points beyond in Eastern Washington.

Looking back down the way I had come.
I had been checking the WSDOT Web, Twiiter, and Facebook pages for updates and the most recent news had them clearing the roads about 10-15 miles up from the road closure.  So I paced myself with this distance in mind.  To my surprise, the mile markers kept rolling by and as I was up to about 18 miles, my thoughts went from, “oh, it’s nice to get some good miles in” to “when will this end?” as the fatigue accumulated.  I can do shorter hill reps and repeat them multiple times, but this doesn’t really prepare the legs for an uphill effort of 15 miles.  Finally, the end was in sight, and I rode past the snow blowing equipment to the point that I could ride no further.

Looking further up the road.

Here, I took the few pictures posted here, ate a banana, added some layers, and started my descent.  As the road was closed to cars, I took full advantage and rode both up and down on the racing line, trying to shorten the distance by apexing the corners.  This is much more fun on the way down, and I didn’t change out of the biggest gear the first 10-12 miles of the descent.  With the road wet from runoff and the speeds high, it was quite cold initially, but losing altitude rapidly helps.  There is a short uphill on the return just at the end that always manages to make the legs feel fried, and this time was no different, but the road closure gate and parking lot soon appeared and the effort was over.  All that remained was to fill the stomach and legs.

The trusty carbon steed.
It was a great day out on the bike and I hope that I might be able to make it up one more time this season before they open the road.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Driverless Future?

A very interesting article on the future of transportation from Mother Jones that makes some interesting points about some trends at the intersection of transportation and technology, which also relate to cycling because we cyclists share the road with cars.  While the thought of driverless cars can be initially alarming, consider that the systems responsible could detect cyclists and pedestrians at a much higher rate than human drivers, and also wouldn’t be subject to the emotional responses that humans are, for example, giving cyclists the finger while buzzing them unnecessarily closely.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

An Interesting Article on Saddles

An interesting VeloNews article on Saddle Setup.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Benefits of Shifting to Cycling

The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy created a study that found cities could save $25 Trillion over the next 35 years by embracing cycling.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Riding the Yakima Area