21 June 2010

Seattle's Flattest 100K - The Pacific Rose Permanent #889

The Pacific Rose - Seattle's Flattest 100K

We start out from the Hilltop Red Apple market at the north end of Beacon Hill. There used to be a lot of parking on the street around here, but since they opened Link Light Rail last year, everything is now 2-hour parking Monday - Friday, so if you're driving to the start line, you need to park a ways north or south. There are several options open to you if you decide to start before the store opens at 7:00 am including two ATMS and a couple of mini-marts within a block.

The Start Line

Starting out on top of a hill is nice for one thing: A screaming descent to start out. Today wasn't bad, but I've ridden down this hill that crosses a very steep bridge (steepest in Western Washington) over I-5 at 11% dropping to cross over some railroad tracks at the bottom, so it can be exciting - either severe cross winds that try to knock you off the bike or teeth breaking experience if you don't slow down in time at the bottom. From there to Pacific, though, there is only 300' of climbing, over half of it going up and over the Spokane Street Swing Bridge

Duwamish Waterway from Swing Bridge

where the route cuts south to pick up the Duwamish Bikeway,

Duwamish Bikeway

the Green River and Interurban Trails,


Interurban Trail

dumping out to S. 196th before the overpass

Leaving the Trail

(I could have named this the Cranes, Trains and Planes 100K just as easily)

Frager Road for some nice views of the few remaining farms in the Kent Valley

Red Barn on Frager Rd.

and eventually West Valley Highway for about 8 miles. It was too early to buy any strawberries at the farm just before the intersection, but I enjoyed seeing the workers out on this misty late-spring morning

Strawberry Fields Forever

but never too early to enjoy one of my favorite landmarks at S. 277th and West Valley

Smith Bros. Dairy

The turnaround stop in Pacific is at a dumpy little convenience market.

Giu's Market - Pacific

At least it has a bathroom and the owner is very friendly. I paused long enough to eat a half-dozen mini-donuts from the mini-mart, appropriate, I thought since I'm doing a mini-ride with absolutely mini-climbing effort.

Always Time For Donuts

After a few minutes hanging out and enjoying the fact that the light rain I'd been riding in for the last 20 miles had quit, I headed off back north, with the first 13 miles of the return route being along the Interurban Trail where the route isn't particularly interesting unless you like to watch bunnies dart in front of you, see an occasional bald eagle or coyote, and listen to the sounds of the trains as they blast by hauling the freight into and out of the Seattle area.

Interurban Trail N of Auburn

Approaching Renton, the route exits the trail and heads through Longacres and South Renton to introduce you to just the first mile or so of the Cedar River Trail. We added an informational control to this turnaround spot that any good northwesterner will be able to appreciate, especially if they are prone to riding out in the wetlands in the early morning or late evening hours.

Cedar River Trail turnaround point

From here, the route turns back and heads along the southwest corner of Lake Washington into Rainier Beach. On any given weekend morning or afternoon, hundreds of cyclists use this route circumnavigating the lake, and so it is possible to either pass or be passed by any number of cyclists. I managed to pass a gang of five guys and prevent them from overtaking me again, and enjoyed seeing that our local law enforcement was out doing it's job.

Rainier Avenue - North of Renton

As I turned north from Rainer Ave S. to Seward Park Avenue, I saw one of the "blue shirts" coming the other way. Sometimes it takes a while to recognize folks, but with his infectious grin and tall stature on the bike, it didn't take any time for me to recognize Vince Muoneke. As soon as I got a break in traffic, I turned around and chased him down. Fortunately, he'd caught the light which is the ONLY way I caught up to him. After chatting a few minutes, I turned back on my course.

Now at this point in the ride, it is mile 59 out of a 63-mile course and I've climbed a whopping 388'! Now is when the fun begins, with a nice little 300' climb up to the last informational control at the south end of Beacon Hill

Carkeek Drive

and another couple hundred feet of climbing over the next couple of miles to make it back to the finish line registering a sum of EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY-TWO FEET of vertical over 63 miles. Along the way you can see all kinds of interesting wild life.

Mimi and Luna

Mimi decided to come out and do the last couple of miles with me, but I was careful not to accept any assistance (like drafting help....) from her.

I do believe I have successfully generated the flattest 100K route in the area and challenge anyone to come up with one that is less hilly!

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