Tuesday, August 12, 2014

BRSCI-XIV: Seattle to Cle Elum and back, Aug 9-10, 2014

I was afraid BRSCI might not happen this year, scheduling issues and whatnot, but Ocean and Dyno worked it out, and the new flagship cycling event of BRS was on, like Donkey Kong!

I admit, had I known I was about to ride a double century, ¾ of which would be on ass-crushing gravel, I prolly would have bagged to work on the lecture slides that are due tomorrow morning (I can still get up at 1am and start/finish them, maybe…) I shoulda known after hearing about Dyno’s “Roslyn Ramble” and experiencing that long trek on private property gravel at last year’s BRSCI that “adventure” is a loaded word. But as usual, I completely ignored logic. Luckily for us Ocean did not, and was to meet us in Easton.

One of the New Yurt’s selling points was being only a couple blocks from the I-90 “Mt to Sound” bike trail. I noticed right off Dyno forgot his helmet (Grrrr).  But we were already behind schedule, and apparently helmets are not required outside of King County? Was that a load of crock or what.

We stopped periodically so Dyno could check directions. I was only too happy to follow blindly and dilly dally as much as possible, it was a beautiful sunny day and I had not been out riding much, being the Japanese tourist and enjoying the orange flower sculptures randomly on the path.

There was the I-90 trail, then fairly soon we were “off road”. So far so good…the Issaquah-Preston trail, the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail.   A couple brief detours, then onto the first cyclo cross section, the “Lincoln Logs”.

An unexpected monster climb up Lake Alice Rd (felt almost like Zoo hill) I had to walk over half of it while Dyno rode it twice, the weight of Raul and lack of training too much for me.

A long paved downhill in Snoqualmie…. Awesome long/ fast descent tainted only by the knowledge that we’d be going back up this hill tomorrow….

We got to North Bend much later than anticipated, there was a huge lunch crowd due to the Moby Duck truck filled with Seafair pirates and toursists that landed at Scott’s Dairy Freeze at the exact same time.

And onto the JWPT. There were spectacular trees and mountain views.

But I had never done it uphill, only seen the pissed off cyclists while running down it in my favorite marathon, the Tunnel marathon. 26 miles staight uphill, albeit only 2% grade is a long climb.
Toward the end of marathons when I’m tired I have an irresistible urge to knock a cyclist off their bike and steal it to the finish line. Now I know what it feels to ride the course. We stop for a rabbit shortly before the tunnel.

There were tons of tourists at the 2 mile long Tunnel. Spooky dark and cool. I gotta get some headlamps like Dyno.


Just after the Tunnel/ Hyak tailhead is what Ocean would call the “white meat chicken” of the course. Spectacular lake views and flat relatively light gravel, mirror-like reflections of the lake.

Then we hit an intersection with a road, and Dyno says we should try this other road (which looks much smoother) that eventually meets up with the trail. We swerve onto this road, and I learn first hand that there is indeed something worse than riding on gravel…. It is riding on horizontal washboard gravel.
Luckily there is a crossover path and we cyclocross back onto the JWPT. We dilly dally a bit more, so I can be a Japanese tourist and Dyno can point out the local flora, including thimble berries….

I tried to text Ocean that we were running hopelessly late… but the messages didn’t go through. Finally I called and learned he had failed to find the trail and was already settled at the Aster Inn in Cle Elum. The last 13 miles from Easton to Cle Elum were some of the roughest gravel …. I so wanted to be done and drinking beer.

We arrived nearly 11 hours after we had started, I was covered in dust but soooo happy to see the BRSCI sign in the window and a freshly grilled burger, salt & vinegar chips, and beer waiting complements of Ocean.

Too soon my iPhone alarm was ringing, the Boys were already up but I still had dark circles under my eyes from a week of sleep deprivation (and being old). We walked over to the local breakfast place for the best part of cycling, which is eating a very large breakfast with a pot of coffee and bacon.

I thought it would be good to hit the roughest gravel when I was “fresh” in the morning, but it wouldn’t be a BRS event if I didn’t fall at least once. Where was that HUGE rock I rode over? Everything hurt, hands, neck, shoulder, thighs, ass.

I resolved to not dilly dally but it was another freakin beautiful day full of freakin beautiful views. Dyno very patiently stopped so I could ooh and ahh (Awww man, ANOTHER picture of the lake? Ok….)
mirror reflections.

We stopped to look at some Maidenhair ferns, eat fresh blackberries from the bush. The 26 mile downhill on JWPT was among the best descents in history. Gravel is less annoying when you are going fast.

Then the Snoqualmie paved climb...It was hot hot hot by then, and shade was welcome. 
Stopped again at Scott’s Dairy Freeze (3rd burger in 2 days), and Salted Nut Rolls, my new fav race/ ride snack. Sharp switchback off the trail.

Riding down Lake Alice Rd was a little scary, but unexpectedly after all that descending the late afternoon sun (87 degrees in Issaquah) suddenly hit me hard. I looked over the highway overpass and saw a sign for 405. What? We were only at 405??? I knew it was only 10 miles to home but it suddenly seemed insurmountable. God bless Dyno, who kept stopping though he prolly couldn’t understand why after 180 miles I couldn’t just do 10 more.

After yet another stop for hydration and sitting for no good reason on a park bench, made it back to yurt. I actually had to fight back tears. Not sure if I was just sad or glad the ride was over. The Fin du Monde beer and splash of cool water on my sunburned face helped. I’d do it again, (maybe minus the Easton to Cle Elum gravel) but there are so many other rides waiting to be done…

I'm a little sad that Tour de Muk won't be happening this year (Ventoux, aren't you sad too?) but BRSCI lives on. 


  1. Thanks for the write up, I finally just watched the video of me walking/kinda riding your bike down the Donkey Kong ladder (my mobile didn't like it very much). Ps. i did find a way to avoid the lincoln log section - it's how all the roadies can get there and ride - easy if you know where it is, we just didn't.

    For next year maybe we look at riding in OR. Ventoux, we need to get you out for this event. Maybe we all all amtrack to PDX and ride a big two day loop out to Tillamook and back? We do have a year to come up with something.

  2. Impressive, sorry I missed this one!