First real bike ride of 2017, around Mercer Island! It's been a really wet winter, so haven't had many chances to actually get out and ride. Apparently everyone else had the same thought: Gasworks was packed (people were parking far up the street), lots of bikers around Mercer and everywhere else. It was not exactly warm, so I started the ride with long sleeves and my vest and gloves, took off the gloves halfway through, unzipped the vest, and by the time I was back on this side of the I-90 bridge, I was re-zipping and putting the gloves back on. Temperature right at the "there's no best thing to wear" level. the actual ride around Mercer felt pretty slow, but I don't think it was actually far off my usual, if at all: probably the wind? I also took the road on the north side, instead of the trail: made it more interesting, I think. Logged.
Finally a nice day, so I went and explored the Interurban trail, up to 205th st. More of a saunter than a full up ride though, but it was fun. The nicest part of the trail is probably the first part (to ~130th st.), where there's art and things, but there's a short bit at the very top (north of 185th) where it's more of a forest path, complete with wet moss on the trail and bumpy root-lifted sections. Also lots of little birds. Some of the places it turns are not as well marked as they ought to be, because it's basically a wide sidewalk and I didn't know which sidewalk to continue on. For a bit of variety, I also rode past two open houses, just for kicks, and down into Carkeek park for a bit of hill. Getting around Greenlake was crazy because of all the cars. Glad I don't ever have to drive around there. Logged it.
Biked to Chris Dunkle's house for the Music Committee meeting, then around the north side of Lake Washington, returning via Mercer and I-90. Biking along 145th from the west side is fun, because the hills are long enough (with few potholes) that you can get up speed and push through the next climb. (also, some guy in a purple van thanked me for biking?) Quite a few people, and a headwind, on the north part of the Burke. Need to figure out a better way to get through Bellevue, though: that's the worst part of the ride. Lots of people at the park on the lake there, taking prom photos. Even though I ate ate lunch before, and then some more at the MC meeting, and had two bars with me, I was still really hungry and tired by the end. Also, need to remember to wear my cycling gloves (hands got a bit cold), and get another water bottle. Not bad ride though, for third this year.
Finally got the MTB out for a ride, this time getting off the 554 at Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride and biking up Fall City Road to play around in Duthie for an hour. Tried out one of the Free Ride sections, Voodoo Child, and was not a huge fan: I'm too scared. Also tried Braveheart for the first time: it was challenging, but managable. I think with some work I could get through the whole thing without having to bail (a few very technical climbs). Plus the usual laps on Step It Up, Movin' On, Ryan's (no drops), and some playing around in Bootcamp and the training sections in the middle. Managed to pretty consistently get through the medium logrides in the cleaering, which was a first. Headed out via Grand Ridge, but I was already pretty tired and was pretty beat by the end. That final descent out of Grand Ridge is killer on my arms. Next time bring a sandwich, in addition to bars? Logged.
The cycling gods were not able to prevent Jim and I from riding this time, although they tried. As we were driving up to Dad's from Mom's, there was patches of heavy rain, so we went straight there instead of stopping to ride first. Then when we drove back down to Hickory Ridge, Jim's car started making a squealing noise, so we went back and moved the rack and bikes to Dad's truck. Tht got us there ok, and we had a nice ride, though it was a bit muddy. Jim waited for me at the intersections, and I think I was around a minute behind him at each intersection. I was on his hardtail, and accidentally had the front suspension locked out for about the first quarter of the ride. Even with it opened up, I can tell I've gotten used to full suspension. Jim was on his new Salsa, and he was hucking it with style. Jim's ride log is here, I didn't have a way to carry my phone.
On his way home, Jim took me to Lowe's Creek, near Eau Claire. Some nice technical trails here, but we skipped the boardwalk warmup near the start after Jim went down as soon as he got on it: things were still pretty wet. I had a nice caking of mud on everything once we got back to the car. Jim's raced here before, which would be fun, but I can't carve the corners nearly as quickly as he can, so it'd probably be frustrating for me (and whomever was behind me!). Went to Ron's on the way out, to meet up with Dad. Jim's log here.
That was rather unpleasant. The plan was to take a ride around Mercer Island and meet Crystal to talk about houses at Larsens. But the heat slowed me down so much that I had to cancel the meeting; getting a bit lost (and stuck in traffic) in downtown while trying to get across Capital Hill certainly didn't help. In addition to being very hot (maybe over 33ºC?), it was quite clear, so I had a nice view of not only Rainier, but also Baker. I did find a water fountain at the north end of Mercer, next to the tennis courts in W I-90 Lid Park. Also a bald eagle as I was returning on the bridge. And hordes of people sitting along the water on Lake Washington: it was packed! I guess today's lesson is that I'm not quite ready for hot heat. Logged it.
Using my newfound knowledge of where to turn to get on Juanita Dr. and, instead of 100th Ave. (from taking Chris and Bob to the Skandia event at St. Edwards), I did a Lake Washington loop after work. Started by riding with Simon on the Burke until the turnoff for his house. Juanita drive is a huge improvement over 100th: it's a long steady climb (5-6% grade) with few traffic lights, and then an even longer descent, where you can hold a steady 25-30mph speed just by tucking, and there's an ample shoulder and good visibility. I gotta get back there soon! Unfortunately, I still need a better way to get through Bellevue. And more unfortunately, something went wrong with my front shifter and it won't hold on the big ring anymore. Of course this is after I get everything back together after rebuilding the rear shifter, so I'll have to carefully extract it from the bartape. Logged it.
While Alina's in Tanzania, I've got the car, so I'm taking a chance to explore some other mountain bike trails. Today I went to Paradise Valey Conservation Area, near Maltby. There's a mix of hiking, biking, and horseback trails, well marked, though no maps after you leave the main parking lot. I stayed right for the first part, which made for a nice almost-loop, except there were quite a few brambles growing into the trail, and it was very rooty, making for technical riding. Had to dab or walk through a few sections. I eventually found my way to a newer one-way descent, but it was more of a freeride thing: several platforms, drops and a couple wallrides, all of which I walked around. There's another one-way section near that, with a fun climb to it, that's more flowy: my only complaint is that it's short! Met someone else at the intersection there, and we did that loop a couple times together, before he went to do the harder descent. Worth coming back here, but I'll need to work on my root skills. Logged it.
Looking for something to do on the weekend, I found a Cascades MTB meetup, in St. Edwards Park (very glad I took Chris and Bob there for the pre-Midsommer party!). A handful of folks were there, one of whom was a very strong rider, one of whom was totally new to mountain biking (she was borrowing a bike, but was an avid road rider, so was quite strong, just lacking in confidence). We wandered through St. Edwards and into Finn Hill, which has a lot of trails looping through it. We took the gravel path down to the lake, and then climbed back up it: that's a nice long climb, but the gravel makes it a bit slick. Finn Hill has some highly groomed sections to practice short drops and log rolls and such. Could be fun to come back and try again. Logged it, but forgot to turn off logger when I was driving home.
EPIC! While I have the car, I decided to take an adventure, and rooted around online, eventually settling on this ride. It was about 1.5 hours driving, the last 20-30 minutes up a quite steep gravel road to the trailhead (the car is no longer clean). Route up to the first peak was slow and a bit loose, but I managed with only a couple dabs. Then a long fun descent, with some wide log bridges and a few switchbacks, switching to a double track logging road for a while. After that, the singletrack to the lake was pretty overgrown: almost felt like a bushwack for a while. Final approach to the lake was steep, sharp switchbacks, on loose rock. I ended up pushing it the last bit, as I couldn't keep momentum up. Hung out at the lake briefly because of mosquitos, and then reversed. Shortly after reaching the doubletrack again I passed a couple guys who I'd seen at the main peak. They said something about "you're a beast!" as I went by, and they caught me when I stopped for a break and some photos of all the flowers. Followed them for a bit, before passing again (guess I am "a beast?" I wanted to say "you should see my brother!"). Final descent off the peak was really fun: just steep enough to get some good speed, while a little bit twisty to keep your attention. This ride definitely put the "mountain" in mountain biking! I want to come back and try it again, though I should get full coverage bar ends to protect against the brush. Logged it here, with a bunch of photos.
Finally had the time to put my front shifter back together, plus I put on new shifter covers: looks like new! Had to do some kind of ride, but it was getting late, so I did a loop with a few hills. I wasn't trying to push hard, and I felt like I had quite a bit left on both the Counterbalance and W Dravus, so next time I'll go all out and see what happens. Saw an amazing sunset from Fremont bridge, and then appreciated it all the way home. Logged it here, with a sunset photo.
Post-work loop around Mercer Island. Weather continues to be great, but traffic getting onto 520 was pretty crazy. I like that I've found the non-trail way to get around the north side of Mercer: the road there is quite nice, not busy, and less bumpy (except for one bit with construction). Managed a new best time up Lakeview Park, but even then I think I could go faster. Clearly all that biking to work does add up.
North loop around Lake Washington, and a better way around downtown Bellevue! Tired of riding the Burke to get everywhere, so I cut across on 70th St., which has a lot of hills. Not sure it actually saves much time because of those hills and traffic lights/stop signs, but it was a good change of pace. Juanita Dr. continues to be a fun climb and descent. And after looking at various ride reports, I found a way to completely avoid downtown Bellevue by taking the 520 trail and cutting south through Median. It's actually a very fun section. Logged it here, including a new fastest time up the Lakeview park switchback.
Rode to Mercer from work and did a few hills there (the ones I thought went over the island are actually dead ends, but they're good climbs anyway). Coming back, I decided to take a "shortcut" by going over Capital Hill. Which did mean I could ride up Roy St.'s 25%+ grade, but it meant I had to get through the rest of it, and find my way past I-5, which is always annoying.
Another short ride to Mercer, up some hills, and back. The days are getting short, so if I want to get a longer ride in, I have to leave at 5pm at the latest! Mercer Island's SE 32nd St. hill continues to be a fun one: 2-ish blocks long, but wonderfully steep. Ride with GPS claims it peaks at 16% grade, but I think it's steeper than that.
First ride leaving from our new home. Decided to go north for a change of pace, doing Carkeek hill (it got very cold going down into Carkeek!) and wandering into Shoreline. I'd planned to take the left turn at the corner of 3rd and 145th, but that goes to a golf course and gated community, so I had to turn around. Further up Greenwod, I went past Shoreline Community College and down into the really expensive part of Shoreline. Huge houses, palm trees, giant garages and an amazing view of the sound. Speaking of which, I had a bunch of different views of the sunset at various times from various angles, and saw a big full moon rising from the other side on my way home from a stop at Sunset Hill Park.
Wanted something to do to do on a beautiful Sunday, and found a MTB meetup that let me join them. Got out to Issaquah with Alina for her hike, and found the riders at the Highlands P&R. We'd planned to do the full out-and-back (14 miles each way), but an hour+ waiting for some people who went a different way and then finding the "bridge" by the hotsprings was washed out nixed the full loop. The start section was very technical and slippery (why the two guys turned around), so I did plenty of hike-a-biking and I had trouble getting over the many log steps. But overall it was a great ride and I'd love to come back. There were two guys faster than me, particularly on descents, but they weren't willing to trade bikes. *grin* I had one minor endo at a rocky stream crossing, but at very low speed. Logged.
Finally got out and rode with Zoey (from the Meany Lodge work trip). She was late arriving because of traffic coming back from Bellevue, so we only could ride an hour and a half or so because of my party that evening. Took her up to Shoreline and the fancy houses up there. She was still recovering from a cold but made it up NW Innis Arden WAy like a champ. Logged.
Rode with John and Daniela today, taking them up the Interurban trail into Snohomish County. We rode all the way to where the trail starts paralleling I-5, at the Lynnwood Transit Center. It was a bit of a chilly ride, but fun to chat with them and show them around a bit. Took them home and gave them tea, and then John and I did 59th st. while Daniela went home the smart way. John's a pretty good hill climber for someone whose never had a nice bike before!