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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Nice and Eightmile Creek

I travelled east last weekend to the Winthrop area to partake in yet more biking, hiking, and camping with the Velomihottie.  This time, we car camped, taking the bikes on the trunk rack and ended up staying in Nice, which turns out to be a campground in addition to being a cycling Mecca on the French Mediterranean.  The campground was a simple 3 unit affair that offered a great deal of shade, which would be handy in the summertime, but meant that it warmed slowly for us from the cold fall mornings.

The first morning, we rode up Eightmile Road after a hot breakfast and coffee and tea to warm us up.  The road surface changed from pavement to gravel within the first couple miles.  As is often the case with roads that follow rivers up a valley, the rise in the road is almost imperceptible, except that here, the false flat and gravel conspired to give the initial part of the ride a feeling like wheels had been dipped in sticky honey.  However, gorgeous views of colorful fall foliage on the valley walls beside awaited us every time the view opened up.  Even when secluded in deeper forested sections, the dry air brought a delightful scent of sage to our noses, which are more accustomed to the heavier wet air west of the Cascades.

As the road continued on, it began pitching up and flattening out at irregular intervals, accompanied by the sights, sounds and smells of the open pasture that this area is a part of.  We encountered several cows and calves along the route, who mostly seemed to not mind us riding through their midst.

On gravel roads such as this, often the descent can be more hair raising than riding up.  On some of the steeper downhill sections, the washboard road surface which had been only mildly annoying on the ascent as one tried to keep traction down became a major source of full body vibrations which on a couple of occasions made me feel like my head was buzzing acutely in a way that was somewhat like being tipsy.  But we both made it down with no more significant issues, trying to pick the best line between washboarded tire tracks, the less washboard but more rocky center, and pine needle covered edges that were less bumpy but not the greatest for traction.

All in all a great ride in a Nice area that was new to me and very unlike the riding anywhere west of the Cascades.