This is what we did today:
Oh, the curlecues of indecision...
I was eager to get back up to the Snohomish environs and try out some back roads, appetite whetted by the jaunt up the Centennial Trail last Sunday. There’s just something about that area that I love. Lots of lakes, rivers, vistas, Windows Sevens, scary drivers, rollers, more rollers, insane rollers. It’s good stuff.
Today we parked at the usual spot in Snohomish, on Maple I think it is (?) and headed north on the Centennial Trail, spinning our legs and warming up for the day ahead. The trail was much more crowded today than a week ago, yet the weather conditions were about the same. I think the difference is that all Thursday and Friday people in Seattle could talk about was “Sunday is supposed to be nice!” while hopping over puddles and wishing they actually had an umbrella and not just one of the 10 million black North Face rain jackets in town. We’ve had a lot of rain. March and April lion something something. So when everyone looks at the weekend forecast, sees that Saturday looks shitty, yet Sunday has a sun graphic with just a few sprinkles, you think it’s like freaking spring break time on a Florida beach, all the stores run out of BBQ supplies and sun blocker, the sun tan salons suddenly have their schedules open wide up, the stationary bikes in the gyms get all sullen and quiet, convenience stores be selling way more 12 packs than usual and basically this area freaks out. (Remember my story about Seattle-ites having 10,000,000,000 or so words for complaining about rain? Think about what happens here at just the prospect of even a peekaboo sun!). And, of course, today was totally gray, with scattered showers and only a hint of sun behind the screening cover here and there.
Anyway, we stopped at the railroad station to take a tinkle and a stretch, separately, and in separate sequences, then hit the trail for a little longer before offroading near that one picnic table to hit the road back down to Machias (we don’t like going on the scary no-shoulder part past that tavern, prefer to tuck in from the north) and went up OK Mill Road (actually it’s Happy Hollow road for a few hundred yards… for some reason…) for a pinch then turned north on 147th, in the opposite direction of the Tour de Cure ride in May. I love that road, you get to follow (and cross) the Pilchuck river, see lots of happy farms with happy cows and happily-coated horses… today we kept going north, on a stretch we’d never done before, turning right on River Road which… within a few feet turns into Schwarzmiller Road and then back to River Road and then again to Schwarzmiller Road (?) all the way up to Lochsloy, to see our friend Robin, Robin of Lochsloy. Aw, c’mon, you knew I couldn’t avoid that one.
It's a wee happy farm. Like, a hobbit farm!
The road, before hitting Hwy 92, turned into 147th again before turning into Miller Road… not Schwarzmiller Road, but apparently Miller Road. Yes, that’s why you saw the guy looking at his map and iPhone a lot today in that area, pulled over on the side of the road with that gorgeous Salsa Vaya, oh you didn’t think I noticed you speccing out my bike? Well, it’s mine!
We crossed the scary Hwy 92 and stayed on the same road (147th still I think) even though there was a sign declaring DEAD END. Ha! We’re not afraid of you, sign. We kept going, on faith in Google above (literally, in some cloud of servers somewhere).
And it turns out Google was right. But Google is always right. Godgle is infallible.
147th turned into a long gravel parking lot next to some athletic fields (there are PortaPotties for those inclined) and then the gravel parking lot turns into a long gravel lane leading between a number of houses. GRAVEL! Salsa Vaya and Surly CrossCheck, to the rescue!
We wound our way through some boo-teeful-colic areas to the west of Granite Falls until we got to 84th or Getchell Road, following that east until turning at 163rd Ave. At this juncture we saw the first bicyclists of the day, aside from on the Centennial, and they promptly told us we had a death wish riding down 84th/Getchell… but it seemed to have a generous shoulder to ride on, to me, and was better than Hwy 92… so question mark. Maybe 84th/Getchell is okay for a short stretch like we did, but further out (west) it’s scarier. Soon we were in Granite Falls itself. Just got to say it’s one of my favorite little towns. Would love to move there, start a law practice, have some kids, hire another local lawyer to represent me when people find out I don’t have a law degree, then hire yet another lawyer to defend me against the first one I hired when he found out I couldn’t pay, then start up a dental practice a la Freddy and Fredericka.
The camera adds on about 10,000,000,000 gallons.
We scooted through Granite Falls, not even deigning to donut ourselves at the groc store, headed south on Granite Falls-Pilchuck Road. A much traveled piece of roadway for bikies, though we still hadn’t seen anyone else. Then I made the fateful decision: let’s go to Lake Bosworth and check out this meandering thing on Google map (ommm, Google oh Google please don’t smite us or relegate us to automarketing hell) that looks like a way down south from Lake Bosworth back to the OK Mill Road or whatever the hell it’s called in that stretch of it. This meant we had to go up… up… and more up… that crazy hill on the way to Lake Bosworth. SurlyLady was shooting hatred my way. Even me, the indefatigable hill lover, was feeling a wee bit blah. Then we noticed the meandering route was all gravel, and mutually decided we’d attack it later on a less rainy day. Instead, we rounding Lake Brian Bosworth and onto the Newberg Road with its heartbreaking rollers. By the time we got back to OK Mill Road way further south I knew we’d pushed things a tad bit too much, so I decided to curtail the day’s travail and instead we headed back to Machias. But! I said, with a wag of my head, why don’t we try this intriguing Carlson Road instead! It can’t be all that much climbing, right Fred (Vaya)?
Well it turns out Carlson Road, going south, is one humminah humminah of a series of shelving hills… shelves just in time to catch your breath and get demoralized all over again. After I think we got close to Dubuque Road I could tell we’d had enough and we turned around to enjoy some downhilling, back to OK Mill and Machias. Where, to my surprise, SurlyLady said “Why don’t we do the Centennial Trail?” Which, admittedly, we tried for a few miles, but turned around. It was just too cold, windy and sprinkly to punish ourselves much more. We’d had a very cool ride, we’d gotten that old flavor of adventure back in our mouths (it tastes like M&M peanut candies and old bike glove, in case you’re interested). We wound back down the trail, threw everything in the truck, and stopped off at Pilchuck Drive-In for a late lunch. And, really, it was kind of gross. We haven’t had fast food in a looong time, and it just didn’t hit us right.
I can’t wait to go back up and try out the full route I’d had in mind (including Storm Lake, Spada Road area, sweeping down toward Monroe and then back over to Snohomish). And, include some of that gravel road goodness in the middle, near Lake Bosworth.
And I just have to add: the Salsa Vaya is working out so great. It truly is the perfect adventure bike. I am just having a ball with it. It’s sort of like a cross between the Long Haul Trucker and the Poprad… perfect for a day like today, with unknown, uneven roads, a little bit of gravel, a lot of winter-strewn muck and plenty of non-rim grinding disc brake action.
Good stuff, indeed.