Monday, June 26, 2017

Rail to Trail: Snoqualmie - Easton. More pics, Less words

Mid-July 2016: Snoqualmie, WA

Ok, so I've gotten recharged after my not-so-epic journey from Issaquah and I'm biking through Snoqualmie.  Taking the Centennial Trail to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.  Nothing too exciting to report about in this section, just follow the gravel/dirt trail.  Went by another golf course before North Bend and filled up with water.  Chris' route leaves the Snoq. Valley Trail in North Bend and takes a more direct route - there might be a brewery worth visiting - but I stayed on the trail as it meandered along.

I triumphantly reach Rattlesnake Lake, and the Cedar Falls Trailhead:

I kept my gopro in the Revelate Feedbag for easy access, and usually took pics with it, sometimes my phone.
Watched the rock climbers for a bit

I remember more people on the early section of the trail. I think I was so happy to finally be on the trail, that I just biked and didn't take many pics at first.  Passed the young couple on their way back from Lake Keechelus - "oh there you are you made it!"

Snoqualmie Tunnel - it's a long one, over 2 miles

Keechelus Lake

It wasn't too late, and I didn't feel like sleeping with the bears by myself at Keechelus, so I pushed on to Lake Easton State Park.

 Lake Easton has some good bike camping spots, and I spent the night there in relative comfort especially compared to the night before.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Rail to Trail: Seattle to Snoqualmie

warning: this turned out real wordy.

As I am preparing for another foray on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail this July (I hope before yahoos in the legislature give the eastern section away),  here's more on my endeavor last year:

Back to Mid-July 2016:

At the end of the last post (Rail to Seattle - All Aboard!), I was at the start of the I-90 Trail/Mountains to Sound Greenway in Seattle, after an overnight Amtrak journey from Spokane.  Debbie and I had ridden this trail a few years ago, with me hauling the dogs, from Bellevue/Factoria to Seattle and back, so I was a little familiar with it.  I knew there were a couple tricky spots for me to navigate through, but I figured I'd be ok. I had the cue sheet from Chris Rhinehart's Ride with GPS JWPT Seattle Start.  I only had the basic Ride with GPS app on my phone without the navigation capabilities cause I'm cheap, and didn't want to use up phone battery life. (Excuse #1)

I was ok until Mercer Island.  There's a spot on N Mercer Way by the Park and Ride where the trail crosses a street, and I wasn't sure which way to go after that.  Soon I figured out I went the wrong way.  There were a lot walkers and bikers around, so I asked a couple roadies who had stopped to fix a flat.  They said sure, we're heading that way and we think we know, you can follow us.  So I did and we took off at a good pace.  Just before the trail, my left pedal came loose, so I stopped and hurriedly tightened it back up.  Or so I thought.  (Pay attention here, this is called foreshadowing if I remember freshman English correctly).  I raced back up and got on the trail and bid adieu to them.

I made it to Bellevue ok, and after taking a wrong turn up 256th, I met a young couple biking to Lake Keechelus to camp.  I biked with them to find the way to Issaquah.  In a classic why-didn't-i have-the-gopro-on moment, her hat got caught on a tree limb as she rode by, and I deftly snatched it from the tree and saved it for her.

Things were going good, and the rest of the way seemed straightforward biking on Sammamish Rd and Lake Sammamish Trail, so I stopped for a rest and water, and let them bike ahead.  Big mistake.  I rolled into Issaquah, and found the left turn from the East Lake Sammamish trail to the Issaquah-Preston trail. (Mile 17 on Chris Rhinehart's Ride with GPS JWPT Seattle Start).  Patted myself on the back.  Rode about a 100 yards, and arrived at a busy highway interchange, and no sign which way to go.  At this point, I read my cue sheet wrong and was looking for High Point Way, but the street signs were for other highways. (Hint: the trail is across the street on the other side.)

This began the world's worst afternoon in Issaquah.  I rode back to the Sammamish Trail, looked around, couldn't figure it out.  Got out my phone and plugged in Issaquah-Preston Trail into Google Bike Beta apps, and it kept zipping way over to the west somewhere.  I tried to backtrack it to Issaquah, but didn't have much luck on the small screen (Excuse #2).  I found other trails in the area and rode into town to find the Rainier Trail which leads to the Issaq-Preston Trail.

And just where was I going?  From Preston, the route connects to a few rail trails, all with Snoqualmie in their name.  This route goes far north of I-90 whereas the JWPT Trailhead at Cedar Falls near North Bend is south, but it's one of the best ways to get there there as it connects via various old rail trails.  It's a nice nod to the spirit of the JWPT, by taking these other rail trails. You go from the Issaq-Preston Trail, to the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail to the Snoqualmie Ridge Trail, to the Centennial Trail, then the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.

The Rainier Trail headed towards a steep hillside, and I returned to town to get my bearings.  I rode through the parking lot of a XXX Root Beer Drive-In and almost stopped for a float.  (It's a regular drive-in, despite the XXX moniker, an old Washington spot.)  In hindsight, I should have.  Maybe I would have figured it out with some rest and food. (Excuse #3) But I kept wandering around, looking for a way to get to Preston.  I couldn't even find a back road, just I-90.  

I went back to the Rainier Trail, hauled my bike up the steep hillside to find the Issaq-Preston Trail.  I peered at the Google Maps Bike Beta version and found a route from the Rainier Trail to Puget Power trail and who knows what other trails (note: the Puget Power Trail leads to Tiger Mountain south of I-90, and I'd love to find a way from Tiger Mountain to Cedar Falls).  Almost a year later, I'm not sure if I took this route by design, or because I couldn't find the Issaq-Preston trail again.  My Garmin froze up somewhere along the line and I didn't get my journey saved, so now I am not sure what trails I took, but I took the Puget Power Trail, and a few others to eventually hook up with the Issaq-Preston Trail.  Looking at maps and satellite, maybe, just maybe I crossed I-90 at 270th Ave to connect to the Issaq-Preston Trail, which would be about mile 20.5 on Chris' JWPT Seattle start.  Anyway, looking at it now, it's not a bad way to go.  Except for hauling who knows how many pounds of bike and supplies up that hillside.

Whew, back on track! Now I'm on the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail.  Back home, Debbie has been following my progress on the phone with interest and some alarm.  She can only see I spent a lot of time in Issaquah, and am way up north of the JWPT.  It's starting to get late, dusk is near.  I stop at probably the Preston-Snoqualmie Trailhead, and there's a map that shows the Whitaker Trail which heads down to the Snoqualmie Ridge Trail.  It's the next trail to get to.  I ride on, see a sign for another trail, go past and come to the end of  the Snoqualmie Ridge Trail.  No Whitaker Trail. Ride back to the Trailhead, and go hmmm.  It's a nice grassy spot, good to camp in.  Mr. Google maps shows some bars and brewpubs nearby.  There's also a warning sign: bears. mountain lions. maybe wolverines, too. Well, there's was some kinda warning about some kinda animal.  I ride on, finally find the unsigned Whitaker trail and head down.  It's not straightforward;  twisty turns, with other trails beckoning to lead me astray.  I finally pop out in a subdivision,  and follow some power lines to a road.

I'm following Google Beta bike directions, and soon I'm in a big parking lot.  It's a golf course, the TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge.  Real nice; pleasant summer evening.  I wander around a bit, and google beta directs me to a route to the right of a green, but there's no road.  I don't feel like turning back and going around the course.  I stop at the clubhouse, and charge my phone in an outlet in the entryway.  No one is paying me much attention, a sweaty biker with a loaded down bike.  I'm out of water, so I head in to the bar.  The bartender's friendly, and fills me up with ice and water.  I ask him if he knows how to get to the Snoqualmie Ridge Trail and he checks with some folks at the bar.  First thing a guy says is which Snoqualmie Trail, laughing.  He takes a look at the route on my phone, and says, oh it's trying to send you down a cart path to those houses to the right.  He show me where I can follow the route.  They're friendly, happy folks.  I hang around by the door charging my phone, and they check with me before I leave if I got the route.

I head down the cart path, and run into a snag - there's a locked gate blocking my way to the houses.  I think about it, and head back to below the clubhouse and look at the 18th green.  The Snoqualmie Ridge Trail is directly south according to the maps.

I say what the heck, and head down the cart path on the left of the fairway.  I walk by people grilling, chatting on their decks.  The sound of Led Zeppelin on a very good sound system floats through the air.  The song with Gollum, the evil one, in it.  This seems just a little funny. At the bottom, I hike-a-bike between two fairways through a little marsh, over a short barbed wire fence, and I'm on the trail!

I get to the end of the trail and I'm a little lost.  Now I'm looking for the Centennial Trail into to Snoqualmie. It's starting to get dark, and I'm wondering where to spend the night. Can't find any cheap hotels nearby.  I head back up to the Snoqualmie Fire Department I'd passed, and wonder about camping there.  I head back down the trail, and at the bottom of the hill, before the Snoqualmie Parkway/Railroad intersection, I spy a big green utility box. I settle in behind it, blocked from view by it and some bushes. I get out my sleeping bag and settle in for the night.  What a long day!

This is my campsite in the morning.  Not bad.

I head back up the trail to a shopping center I remember passing.  A perfect spot - Starbucks and a donut shop side by side.  
I charge everything up, get my bearings (and coffee), and realize I was so close to Snoqualmie the night before.  Just need to turn right at the bottom of the hill onto Railroad Ave,, and the Centennial Trail into town.  I'm on track.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Rail to Trail: Rail to Seattle - All Aboard!

Spokane Vintage Prints by Chris Bovey
Friday, mid-July 2016:

The Amtrak Empire Builder train to Seattle will leave Spokane at 2:15am tonight, and I took the day off for last minute prep.  I have Comcast coming out after 12 to fix the internet, and our house painter is finishing up also.  Lots going on.

Last night I upgraded my ticket from a regular seat to a SuperLiner Roomette.  It's a little compartment about 3'6" x 6'6" with two beds (one drop-down) and room for all my stuff.  A wise move, but what had been a $100 up charge a few days ago, was now a lot more.  So I guess I'm not going to go buy the Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy to use instead of my REI Quarter Dome tent.  Not a real problem, it just would've been great to have a less bulky shelter.

Lots of little things with the painter, and the final look-over happens at 9:00pm.  I'm getting antsy because I still have some trip things to take care of.

Finally, I'm packed and ready to go. Overpacked: 2 rear panniers packed with clothes, heavy-duty rain pants/jacket, food, freeze-dried packs, snacks, empty platypus water containers. Salsa Anything packs with jetboil and food. Frame bag with tools and more snacks. Sleeping bag, handlebar bag, tent. More food. Camel-Bak. I hope I have enough food and water carrying capacity for the remote sections in Eastern Washington.

I let Debbie give me a ride downtown to the train station, although it seems like cheating. Downtown Spokane on a Friday night is hopping.  Still surprising to see lots of people out and about, and not a ghost town.

I check in and get a bike box.  (Note from future self: next summer you won't have to box your bike because Amtrak begins roll-on bike service on the Empire Builder after your trip.)  The attendant mentions that I can't put my panniers, backpack, sleeping bag etc inside the box - I reply cheerfully "oh I know - I've got a Superette". Even though the boxes are huge, bigger than what you'd get at a bike shop, I am a little concerned about getting the Fargo and it's flared Woodchipper bars inside.  But I brought a multi-tool and pedal wrench.  Also my own strapping tape and marker - I read online that at some stations, there is little if any assistance.  I try to find an out of the way spot in the lobby.  The pedals come off, and the handlebars.  The first attempt at backing the bike into the box reveals the stem is too high.  I lower the stem and get the bike in with the handlebars dangling, and the top of the stem pressed up against the box.

This actually took awhile and I'm glad I arrived plenty early.  I drag the box over to the check-in, and it turns out they were watching my progress with interest and weren't sure if I was going to get it in.  But they also said they have plenty of experience getting bikes in boxes, and would've figured it out.  Great folks, everybody's friendly and helpful.

The Spokane Intermodal Station is a bit of a mixture of grand old building and half deserted mall look.  There's a good restaurant - Kochi's Teriyaki - open at night when the station is, but I wasn't hungry.

I get settled in my room, and relax as the train rolls out under a bright moon.

I sleep fitfully off and on, wake up at the stops.  Morning comes.  Maybe around 5am and maybe near Cle Elum, the intercom crackles on and a voice announces that breakfast will be served in the dining car.  (Note to future self: next time you do this, get up and get some coffee and eats.  You're not going to sleep much more anyway, and you'll thank me for it.)

Rolling into Seattle:

After we arrive in Seattle I wait in the baggage area for my boxed bike.  Another guy is waiting for his bike, too, and we chat a little.  He's come from Boston and is going to bike down to San Francisco with some friends.  He's shocked by the size of my box when it comes sliding through the chute - he used a box from a shop, and had to disassemble his bike more.

I drag everything outside and set to getting the bike back together and outfitted.  I'm a bit distracted, hungry and need caffeine.  I talk to a woman with a bike and BoB trailer who is doing a practice run to Portland on the train.  Finally, the bike is put together and ready to go.

I have Chris Rhinehart's Ride With GPS Seattle Start for the JWPT saved on my phone, but his route starts a few blocks from the station and I don't get it synced up with my location on the phone.  No matter, I know the way to the Mountain to Sound/I-90 trail, and it's pretty well signed.  I don't want to use too much battery juice on my phone anyway.

I'm a little disappointed to discover that with the bike fully loaded, it is waggling, and has a bit of tail wagging the dog going on.  It was ok on my test ride at home.  I suspect I have way too much weight in rear. I move some stuff up front and it's a little better, but still wobbly at faster speed. Next time - probably mid-July 2017 - I'll carry the tent and sleeping bag on a rack upfront.  And pare down the weight.

Coming up next - I'll get to it eventually - will I find my way out of Seattle? Will I blame any unintentional detours on lack of sleep, coffee, and food, or just my own sad sense of misdirection?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Gran Funk Ephrata

stupid blooger/google/Mac/ipad interface. 

Well, it's been a few weeksa month, over a month, but less than a year since the 2017 Gran Fondo Ephrata. The good news is I finished and my time was better than the unicyclist! And my bike didn't break down. And I got a Dusty's Cheeseburger afterwards. And in a first, somebody may have drafted off me on the road to Palisades!

Not really any bad news, even though my time went from 6hr 10mins the last time I did it, to 7hrs 27mins this time.  Well hey, the course was 6 miles longer this year because it had to be re-routed due to road closures.  I figured I'd be a bit slower as I didn't get out on many long rides beforehand because our winter lingered on forever, but not that much slower. My getting-into-near-fondo-shape plan consisted of climbing the stairs at the 17 story Paulsen Center during lunch, and at least one 25 mile bike ride. And a 4-5 hour meandering fat bike ride in the snow at Riverside State Park.

Cutting to the chase, here's my Garmin of the Gran Fondo Ephrata 2017.
Here's the quick glance version:

A couple weeks before the ride I came across One Up's 42t Sprocket x16t combo - the 16t replaces the 15t and 17t on your 10-speed cassette and you add the 42t. In my quest for lower gears, that seems like the ticket. I almost ordered it, or a wider range cassette, but decided it was too late to play around with changes. Also almost ordered the Maxxis Re-Fuse 40mm tires, as they look smoother than the Kenda Flintridges on my Vaya. Looked like the course might have more pavement this year, but again decided to stick with what I have. The Kenda Flintridges roll fairly well, and have many miles left on them.

(more TireTalk diversion: why doesn't WTB make a 700c Horizon? Excited for Clement's new 50m X'Plor MSO tires for the Fargo. No to the supple Compass tires - Don't trust their sidewalls or tubeless tech, their 700c not wide enough.)

Here's some of the 200-250 riders at the start.  Usual assortment of road and cross bikes, some mountain bikes, and more gravel oriented bikes and tires this year.  I should've started an hour or two earlier with the unicyclist.

Instead of climbing up into the hills at the start on the northwest end of town, we were escorted on the canal road towards the Southwest end of town.  Which meant we rode past the old homestead on C Street where I grew up.  We used to skate in the canal in winter, throw rocks across it in the summer.  My sister drove my folks up to the bridge to see me off:
Hi Mom & Dad!

After a few miles on the canal road, we turned onto Martin Road.  Hit a little wind and gentle rollers and my legs said oh we're not going to go that fast. People passed me left and right.

not completely last at this point, but off the back as they say
My legs and lower back were aching for the first 2-3 hours and then settled into a tolerable level of numbness and uncomfortableness.  (First thing I did after I got home was order a shorter stem, and raise the seat height to get more leg extension. I think I lowered the seat too far last year; and been thinking of a shorter stem for awhile.  These two adjustments probably just put me back into the same position as before {LAUGH OUT LOUDLY}, but it does feel better and at least I'm getting more leg extension..)

After Martin Rd, we rode on the outskirts of Quincy, and then to Overen Road - part of the detour and a new road for me.  Fun to ride, it connects to about the mid-point of Baird Springs Road.  Missed riding the whole downhill.  Love going too fast downhill.  I usually make up a little time on Baird Springs and I pass riders, but most were further ahead at this point.

The tunnel at the bottom of Baird Springs Rd.

Below, this is maybe the infamous Stuhlmiller Rd, which gets lots worse. This year as I passed riders fixing flats on this section, I smugly said to myself "glad I'm riding tubeless."  And then hoped I didn't get to test my tubeless setup.

A couple riders from the Moses Lake Bike Shop, good guys to ride with.

After this, the battery in my gopro died.  I had run it as video off and on until sometime on Martin Rd, then took random pics after that.  I had two extra batteries, but I hate to stop and never replaced it.  I could've used my phone, but that would've required stopping and digging it out of my pocket.

(camera talk sidebar: new point and shoot in the house: Nikon Coolpix A900 to replace my old bulky Coolpix. Didn't research the A900 much, and was interested in the Panasonic Lumix ZS50 at first but some reviews influenced me against it.  Probably crappy photos but oh well.  Great thing about the size of the A900,  ZS50, and similar flat, rectangular shaped point and shoots, is they fit in the Revelate feedbag.  Will be easy to reach in and pull out for quick shots on the fly. And it's wi-fi/bluetooth. I can get real good to great shots with my iphone 6s, but the little cameras have more options and better zooms without having to use up phone battery life.)

After Stuhlmiller, we turn on to Hwy 28 for the stretch to the Palisades Rd where there is a supported rest stop.  This stretch seemed to take forever, and I was getting hungry.  None of the treats I carried in my frame bag seemed appetizing.  Finally, made it to the turn to Palisades got my fill of cookies, mini gyro rolls provided by Pita Pit, small PB&J, fruit, more cookies.  I rested a bit, more than I usually do, and admired a light turquoiseish-blue bike laying on the ground by mine.  It had WTB tan sidewall tires, maybe Horizons but I didn't look close enough. (See 1st Martin Rd pic above - went thru the vid and found it).

And I got a Coke. Prefer Pepsi or Dr Pepper, but I'm not complaining just glad to get a shot of sugar and caffeine.  I'm going to start carrying pop on all my longer rides, as I start craving it after a few hours.  I started out the Fondo with coffee in a small hydroflask, and thats has been helping lately, too.

So, now I'm plugging along on the road to the Palisades, and I hear a bike behind me.  They don't pass.  We ride along a bit more, and still they don't pass.  Wait, are they drafting off me?  Maybe because there's somebody on my wheel, I keep a steady and little quicker pace.  I figure out they're not really drafting, just riding the same pace. Eventually, the rider pulls alongside me, we exchange greetings, and ride together for awhile.  Her riding partner/group is back a bit, and we pass each other off and on the remainder of the ride.

Eventually, we get closer to the Billingsley Ranch, and a support vehicle pulls up alongside me. He's picked up a rider and their bike, and asks me how I'm doing.  Oh, great, tired and aching!  I realize he's checking to see if I need a ride in, and just how far back I am.  No way, I'm going to make it!

The Three Devils hills are next and I make it up the first couple, but in a first for me, I stop and walk up the last long one.  Oh well, I heard you can conserve energy by walking up a hill instead of struggling on the bike.

Cutting this short - Finally make it to Sheep Canyon Road.  My sister and parents never got my message that I was going to be later than I told them, so they are up there looking for me.  Mom, being a mom, asks her late 50's son if I want a ride. No way - I am not going to skip the super fun Sheep Canyon downhill.  And it was a blast.

<Insert abrupt end here> ok I finished, and got my Dusty's cheeseburger.  Well worth it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Positively, Most Sincerely,

it's a foto dump!

I made the mistake of accidentally updating our old MacBook Air to Sierra, and now can't find photo files to load into blogger. So now I'm on my iPad (oh and now I'm back on the MacBook after uploading pics) and it's a little sketchy with blogger and also not easy to edit and upload. I was able to get some pics from this winter uploaded to blogger.

There's a 2-way bike lane on the left, and the street is one-way towards you viewing it. The city plowed snow piles on both sides of the street because of weight restrictions on the bridge.  I biked the wrong way to get to work, and got yelled at by a city worker.  I had ducked out of the way in between the snow mounds when I saw his car coming from around the bend.  I yelled back. "fookoff, I know what I'm doing!"

We've having a good winter.  Nettleton Street on one of the lower snow level days.

Side streets were the worst this year.  Usually during winter we'll get a few days here and there that are difficult biking, but this year it was tough for a good chunk of the winter due to the heavy snowfall and freezing.

Speed or style - can you have both?

This is on the Centennial Trail past Kendall Yards - we had a good snow the day before, but somebody (probably Kendall Yards/Greenstone builders) plowed the trail all the way around the bend. Thx!

good snow biking this year!

holiday crafting:

Professional chip repair in progress:

My Marin Muirwoods came with thick decals that were starting to peel off so I finished the job with liberal applications of Goof-Off.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

110BCD 48/32 crankset

I'm usually happy with my Vaya's 2X10 48/34 and 11-36 gearing. Certain rides, like last years Midnight Century that almost did me in, have me dreaming about lower gearing for those Big Rides with Hills and Then More Hills.

(Speaking of the MC, I finally looked at the official unofficial results, and I finished 14 out of 25 finishers that signed in! I was sure I was almost last. I thought there were more ahead of me - there might have been that didn't sign in).

Searching for lower gears is easier than actually getting in shape, and building strength. What I need is a 32t, or better yet a 30t.  I searched, but no 110BCD option found for a single 32 or 30 ring. Checked my bike, got the ruler out, did more research.  Ohhhh...maybe 32 or 30 isn't possible.

But wait! I ran across a post on Bike Forums that mentioned some bikes like the Specialized Diverge & Sequoia that have a 110 X 32.

FSA has a new Omega MegaExo 48/32 and 46/30 (but maybe it's not really 110BCD) . One problem - doesn't seem to be available yet, or is OEM only.  Oh well, I'm not sure about BB compatibility.

Luckily, there're more brands working to help riders like me. Praxis is mentioned having a 48/32, and Compass has more options at $435 which is more than I want to spend. And somehow I overlooked White Industries VBC (Variable Bolt Circle) rings.

I'm going to look at these options closer, and in the meantime start climbing stairs on my breaks and/or lunch.   Paulsen Center, here I come!

Monday, January 16, 2017

I went for a garmin...

  Here in Spokaloo our ground is covered in many inches of snow, but a big meltdown is on the way including 2" of rain in the forecast.  Saturday I took my fatbike out while there was still snow to ride over, thinking it could be my last chance this winter for a good local snow ride. I was off work sick mid-week and still not feeling up to par; I finally left the house around 1:00pm on the venerable Pugsley Neck Romancer.  It's set up up for commuting with front and rear lights, which I almost took off.  It's under 20F and I'm wearing jeans over smartwool thinking I won't be out too long. No time to put on the gopro, so I hope I don't have any epic wipeouts or get chased by coyotes and miss getting it on camera.  As I head out I see I forgot my trustworthy Garmin Edge Touring. My phone is out of the way in a back pocket of my jacket.  This ride will just have to be undocumented!

  I told Debbie I'd be gone a couple hours at most, just ride to Albi/Merkel and tool around the flat area between the ridge and Aubrey Parkway that is part of Riverside State Park. And I stick to that plan. At first. The first half of the Merkel Trail I'm on and off the bike. Foot traffic has carved out a very narrow path and I'm having trouble staying on it due to a combo of my great bike handling skills and the front tire's delayed turning response.  It wants to keep going straight when I want to turn. It's all worth it though when I make it to the downhill section leading to the flat area. A fun little spin, I try not to get going too fast.

  On flat ground, the trails have been carved out by walkers and skiers. It's prit near perfect snow biking. After a bit I end up at Rifle Club Rd and the north edge of the flat area. The plan was to turn around, head back on a few different trails, but instead I hop on Aubrey Parkway and ride to Seven Mile Rd. It feels good to ride on the smooth packed roadway and keep a steady speed. I need to build up some endurance, anyway, in case there's a gran fondo in my future. At the Seven Mile bridge I can turn around, but I'm so close to the Centennial Trail and Riverside State Park across the river I just have to go check it out.

  I turn off the road at the new parking lot by the old airstrip and hit the trails. Whoa, these trails are great! I can't tell you exactly what route I took, but it went from Trail 25 (of course) to a 2-lane trail, looping out and around and ending up at the Wilbur Trailhead. This was some of the best riding I've had out there - none of that slogging through deep unpacked snow that makes you want to quit snow biking. I pull out my phone and see it's 3:30. Hmmm, have an hour or so of daylight left, maybe I should head back.

  I could either take the Centennial Trail to the Bowl and Pitcher to home or ride back the way I came. I decide to go back the same way, since I wasn't sure what condition the Centennial is in further down the trail. Back on Aubrey Parkway, my legs are starting to feel it, and it's not as easy pedaling as on the way out. My hands, inside a wool liner and 4-fingered gloves, are getting cold.  I'm wishing I had got those insulated pogies. My feet, even inside light liners, wool socks, and winter boots, are getting tingly.  If I had my garmin with me, I'd know what the temp is.  But it's not a life or death situation, as I'm riding past some nice houses along the river inside city limits.

  "Just a couple hours at most".  Yep.

  I have to walk up most of the Merkel Trail and can't stay on the bike for more than a few feet at time. It's a long fricking haul. Somebody really needs to widen this path, and I try a bit with the fat tires. Finally, I make it back to the start of the Trail behind the baseball fields and it's getting dark. I'm glad I kept the lights on the bike!  Just as I get out my phone to text Debbie, she texts me to see if I'm ok. Yup, just about home. She tells me the Seahawks game just ended and there are a lot of idiot drivers out there. Luckily, the sidewalks by the Naval Reserve and/or VA Hospital on Assembly are plowed, and when they end I cross the street and head through the residential section to get to Wellesley. A few more blocks and I'm home.

  It's after 5 when I get upstairs and plop down on the couch. I think I overdid it.

Edit: Monday, my nerve endings are on fire, 9F outside, but I think I'll head out for a quick ride. Just an hour or so.