Our Own 300 km BrevetJan Heine
Mark and I were signed up to do the Seattle Randonneur’s 300 km brevet last weekend. A few days before the brevet, it snowed, and the organizers decided to play it safe and cancel the brevet. Mark and I decided to ride 300 km on our own instead. If it was icy, we’d take a lowland route, but otherwise, we’d head into the mountains on our favorite roads.
We met at 6 in the morning, and by sunrise, we were already descending into the Snohomish River valley. It promised to be a gorgeous day.
We were riding our 650B randonneur bikes. Funny thing, we talked about a lot of things all day long, but not once about bikes. When you have a bike that is close to optimal, you no longer think about it and just enjoy the ride. The photo was taken while we stopped at a bakery, but this being a brevet, we got some pastries to go rather than sit down for a while. We also limited our photo stops, and most of the images you see in this post were taken while rolling along.
We headed into the mountains on familiar backroads, enjoying the beautiful, sunny day.
The recent dusting of snow made the scenery all the more spectacular. Fortunately, the roads were free of snow and ice.
Usually we turn around in Index, but today we continued to Skykomish. Mark was reluctant, as he dislikes Highway 2. I kept telling him of this beautiful backroad that winds its way into Skykomish. When we finally got there, the road was washed out after just a mile or two.
The Skykomish River had changed its course right through the former roadway. In the photo above, you can barely see the now useless bridge in the background. In the photo, the embankment on which Mark is standing hides much of the river, which was was too wide and deep to ford on a cold spring day. In late summer, when the flow is greatly reduced, it may be worth a try… as I hate to lose a wonderful specimen from my collection of backroads.
Neither of us had been to Skykomish in years. Skykomish used to be where the trains across the Cascades changed from steam to electric locomotives, and where locomotives themselves were maintained. This left behind heavy metals and other toxins that started to find their way into the river. Over five years, much of the town was moved, the contaminated soils excavated, and the town rebuilt. It was odd to see a town with older houses, all repainted, with new roofs, linked by brand-new streets. It looked like a model railroad that hadn’t been “weathered” to make it look realistic.
One building had more than enough “weathering.” Sadly, the grand old hotel remains closed and decaying. Presumably, it’s so old that the soil underneath never was contaminated.
The store in Skykomish provided generous portions of ice cream. Too generous even for famished cyclists. We lost about 15 minutes here…
We had been riding into headwinds all day, as cold air flowed out of the mountains. Just before we reached Skykomish, the wind turned as the warm air from the lowland began to rise up the valley. All the way home, we had to battle headwinds again, which increased in intensity as the day wore on. But we did not complain with weather and scenery like this!
We returned home at 7, after 13 hours on the road, glad to have ventured out on this gorgeous day.