joie de vivre I'm back now
Ride time – approximately 8 hours
Route: Bellevue – Marymoor Park in Redmond to Woodinville via Sammamish River Trail; RSVP route to Snohomish
Centennial Trail to Arlington
Return same, except from Maltby, used Paradise Lake Road/Mink Road to Avondale back to Marymoor Park
Weather – lower 60s to lower 70s, sunny to partly sunny; winds 5-10 mph, variable, mostly from the north
We left the house right at 8:01, but found the gears out of adjustment. We rode up and down our street until we got them into rideable condition, which probably took about ten minutes. It was a little chilly for the drop down to Marymoor Park, but it was clear and sunny. It was early enough that the Sammamish River Trail wasn’t that crowded, and we soon made it to Wilmot Park in Woodinville. We got out of the park, up the Woodinville-Duvall Road, and then out to Maltby in short order.
As we made the turn off of Broadway, you can see the whole valley outside of Snohomish. Craggy Glacier Peak and the perfect volcanic snow cone of Mt. Baker were etched against the cloudless deep blue sky. We dropped into the Valley and made it to town – the 25 mile mark – by 10:00. David ate a clif bar and I had an iced latte from the Java Inn. Thus refreshed, we got on the Centennial Trail north towards Arlington.
They’ve taken down the horrible gates on that trail – we used to have to dismount because our tandem’s wheel base is so long, and walk the bike through. David used this new freedom to not exactly stop at the stop signs. After me freaking out, he finally deferred to his loving stoker to be a little more cautious at some of the crossings.
With the gates gone, the trail is even more pleasant than it was before. Pastoral in parts, woodsy in others, we did a slow steady climb up towards Lake Stevens, and then a similar slow steady drop to Arlington. We pedaled the brief section that has no shoulders and some traffic, and were in town before noon.
Rather than eat at the Blue Bird, where we’ve eaten on every bike trip, we rode the length of Arlington’s old main street, looking for other food. We finally settled on a bar and grill with outdoor seating. We sat in the summer sunshine, a few fluffy clouds in the sky. A group of motorcyclists were at another table drinking beers. Another group of cyclists wandered in and sat down – they were also riding a century, were at about the 40 mile mark, riding out of Edmonds. Then another group of motorcyclists came in. As we were leaving, another tandem team pulled up, so I moved our bike so they could take the prime tandem parking spot. I think the lure was the seating in the sunshine, as the food was adequate, no better or cheaper than the Blue Bird.
We then reversed course, and we had a little bit of a tailwind at times. We rode up the grade from Arlington at 15 mph, dropping down to 13 only at the steepest bits, passing some of the other cyclists like they were standing still. Once at the top, we flew down the other side, 17 to 24 mph all the way back to Snohomish. Based on our time, I think we were averaging about 20 mph for this entire leg. David and I both had goos and water. I drank a quart and a half, which I think shows that I probably wasn’t adequately hydrating for the last 25 miles. We refilled the bottles, and headed back out of town.
We had talked about maybe taking a little break in Maltby, but instead did a little breather – David didn’t even dismount – earlier, and decided to push on. As we turned on to Paradise Lake Road, I was surprised to hear David say, “I’m looking forward to the fun part”, as I didn’t know he enjoyed that stretch so much. But it is fun, especially on a tandem – a roller coaster of ups and downs, with an emphasis on downs. We whipped up a rise at 22 mph, and a pick-up thought he’d pass us. He didn’t realize that the down was coming soon, and we’d be breaking 40 mph. And it’s through the Paradise Valley Conservation area, so it’s leafy green all around, little traffic, and the road is shade and dappled sunshine.
We were on the heavily trafficked Avondale Road in no time. By the time we hit Marymoor Park, all that water I drank in Snohomish had finally circulated through, and I asked for a brief potty stop. Then, we climbed up Bel-Red, and shortly after the top, our chain jammed. We were just at the 100 mile mark, and both of our patience with this minor mechanical was pretty thin. David adjusted the gears, I yanked on the damn chain, and we got it free. We then sailed back down the hill to the house, pulling in at about a quarter after four, 103 miles, and about 8 hours from when we left the house.