Sunday, February 11, 2018

(Un)Luck O' the Drawbridges

We had a nice break in the weather over the weekend, so Friday I skipped out of work about noon and tried to do my February metric. As time was tight, I decided to do a route that started just a few miles from our house in West Seattle -- RUSA permanent 2596: Luck O' the Drawbridges.

This is a fun route if you want to see some of the sights accessible to cyclists in Seattle. With 2600 feet of climbing, it's tough enough to give you a good workout. And it's a good learning experience for anyone who neglects one of the first rules of randonneuring: Research your route before you ride.

I failed to do that, which is why I did not officially finish this ride.

Naturally, I looked at the route map and elevation profile on, and I looked over the cue sheet ... but the cue sheet was three full pages and I kind of got information overload. This looked like a good opportunity to try out my new Wahoo Elemnt Bolt -- which, by the way, I cannot fault for my failure to finish -- and see if it's as good at navigation as people say. I have to give the unit high marks for this, since it kept me on the route all day. But it was my own stupidity, and a little bit of laziness, that did me in.

The start was an Open Control, so I went to one of my favorite bakeries in West Seattle. I barely got there at the start time because I had to do some work, so only had time to get my card signed and buy a scone. I scarfed the scone while I loaded up the route on the Bolt (very fast load), and then followed the usual route into Seattle proper.

At this point, much of the route had been multi-use trails or bike lanes. (One complaint about the bike lanes in Seattle -- the ones in industrial areas have a LOT of debris.) The route from here turns onto a really nice trail that winds along the shore and up to the canal. There was an information control at mile 7.7 just after the start of this trail, and then another information control at mile 12 near the end.

After the trail, you turn on Fremont and cross your first drawbridge before climbing a long hill up into some lovely neighborhoods. After five miles of rolling through these, the route gets on the Interurban Trail for four miles before the third control at mile 21. And this is where I messed up.

This Starbucks was actually an information control, but I confused it with the control that was at mile 24.8. That Starbucks is a control-control.

So I stopped at the Starbucks at mile 21, but didn't stop at the Starbucks 3.8 miles later. Instead, I just blithely followed the route down a really fun descent and through a park and some quiet neighborhoods.

Then I got on the Burke-Gilman Trail and rode along the edge of the lake for another five miles.

So it was maybe mile 30 when I thought, "I wonder where my next control is." And that's when I realized that my route sheet had fallen out of my pocket (I think on that nice descent). So I stopped and pulled out the brevet card and realized that I had messed up.

Now, I briefly considered riding six miles back up the trail to the Starbucks that I had missed, but the problem was that wasn't enough. You see, the control that I had treated as a control-control was an information control, so I would need to go back to that one. That meant climbing that hill that had given me such a fun descent. With some effort, I probably could have made it back to the first Starbucks and gotten the information, and then come back to the second Starbucks by the closing time.

But it would be close. And it might have me finishing after dark.

And I just didn't want to.

So I went on with the route, but didn't bother with controls any more. At this point, it was just for fun and to see some stuff, and to test the route out for another day. No pressure.

We had a bunch of rain, and my weather app kept telling me there were mudslides. Here's one.

After passing through the university area, the route goes back over the canal on the Montlake Bridge (the second of the drawbridges) and gets on the Lake Washington Loop. This goes through the Washington Park Arboretum and then a bunch of huge houses on Lake Washington Road.

Rich people have nice boats.

For some reason, the wind was in my teeth for most of this stretch and I was working hard to keep my speed even close to 15 mph. It was a tough five miles.

At the end of Lake Washington Road, the route goes into Seward Park. It was really pretty in there on Friday, and since it was so nice there were a lot of folks out walking.

 After the park, the route headed back inland. This stretch was kind of yucky. There was a bike lane, but again you had to really watch out for broken glass and metal and rubber and just general crap. It gets worse on the other side of I-5 and Boeing Field.

The route passes through South Park ("they killed Kenny!") and then gets on the Duwamish Trail. Since I wasn't riding the route "for real" at this point, I got on W. Marginal Way here instead. The cars have no trouble passing me, and it's easier to go fast on roads than it is on trails. I also skipped the last few miles where the route goes on the Alki Trail and around the peninsula. I've done that part, and daylight was fading.

I might try this route again, since it's nice to be able to just ride to the start. But after I got home Friday I decided that the next route that I do out here needs to be something out in the country.

So that was what I did on Sunday. But I'll tell you about that next time.

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