One Bike to Ride Them All

If you read my previous posts you can review the on-going evolution of my hybridized mountain bike. I decided that I want just one bike for local errands and recreation. I live in Seattle and the region has many rail trails and local governments that promote cycling.  So my bike needs to handle city streets and the obstacles as well as asphalt and gravel trails. Comfort, maneuverability, and load-carrying take precedent over speed.
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A February Bike Ride on the Cedar River Trail

I gave my wife a ride to a conference in Renton Washington yesterday (2/11/15) and took the bike along. We haven’t traveled any of the rail trails south of Seattle and this was a good opportunity with little extra gas used. I had the southern section of the Interurban Trail in mind, but I checked for other trails in the area and found the Cedar River Trail that started a mile from the conference site.

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The Snoqualmie Valley Rail Trail

We got out for a ride last week on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, between the towns of Duvall and Carnation, Washington. We got a late start and the weather was cloudy and gray and threatening rain. We had walked a few miles of the southern portion of the trail a month ago and I was curious about this northern section that follows the Snoqualmie River. The banner photo above is from the trail a couple miles south of Rattlesnake Lake at the north end of the trail. This section runs very flat and mostly straight for about 11 miles between McCormick Park in Duvall and Tolt-McDonald Park on edge of Carnation.

We started out about 1 PM on a Wednesday afternoon and found the trail nearly vacant, which is so different form our usual experience on the heavily traveled Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River Trails. We had a leisurely ride out through the pastures, corn fields and wetlands of the valley.

The path surface is mostly 5/8″ minus crushed gravel and packed down well. There is some forest duff or dirt mixed in on some parts. We are both running 32C tires with a touring/randonnuer tread and I didn’t know what to expect. Neither of us have any real experience riding off pavement, so this was a bit of an experiment. I figured we could always turn around if the going got too rough. We did ride the Interurban Trail south of Bellingham, Washington earlier this summer and this is fairly similar– just a bit rougher overall. We did notice that the rougher surface effects speed and coasting power. The only time we felt at all challenged was where loose gravel collected at the ends of the short bridges.

We rode along at 10-12mph and took in the fresh air and views, traveling just 22 miles round trip. It is odd to be on a road that is so straight in this area. With all the hills and waterways, there is no lack of twisting curves. On the path there were sections that you could it going off into infinity for a couple miles.

We like to hike and these more rural rail trails are much more like forest hiking. I have one fat tire bike in the project cue and I’m looking for another. These trips are short enough that we really don’t need expensive technically sophisticated bikes to enjoy them, but a little more traction and cushion from fat tires would be great.

 

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A typical farm road crossing on the trail
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There are sections that run arrow straight for a couple miles across the countryside. You can almost feel the old trains rumbling along.
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There is a suspension bridge at Tolt-MacDonald park leading to the campground. The bridge is not part of the trail.

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