April 13 – Index via forest service roads – 119mi in 7636ft climbing
A few guys I had met on the Seattle International Randonneurs 200km and 300km rides invited me to a dirt road exploring route. I can’t pass that up! This turned out to be an amazing day of riding with spectacular views.
We started in Seattle with about 8 or so people. We lost one due to a bum knee. We stopped in Duvall to stock up on food and drink before riding into no-where-land. We turned off the main roads and onto the the Tolt Pipeline, which starts as a paved road with no car access that just keeps going up and down along the terrain with a mountain view in the distance.
We turned off onto forest roads, and climbed up gravel forever. The company was great, and the roads were all passable with just a few steeper sections that some walked up. Then the fun really started. From the top was about 5 miles of descending. The road twisted around, and the sweeping corners were a blast to speed through, even if they were a little scary on 32mm road tires at moderate speeds. The views were spectacular as well. Huge soaring points out of the ground, snow topped, and just massive. Apparently Index is a hot spot for rock climbing. Everyone made it down fine, and it only took a few miles on the highway to get into this tiny town.
After a nice long break, we meandered on back roads to the northwest to get back. The climbing was mostly in the first half of the day, but we were all clearly getting spent. Things split up on the one main climb, and we regrouped far ahead. The two women that joined in near Duvall split off to head back, and one guy had to call in for a ride home because his knee was acting up and he didn’t want to push it. The rest of us pushed on and rode the trails back into Seattle.
It was surely a long day, but at a pace that made the effort manageable for the day.
More pictures: http://abg.smugmug.com/2014/Cycling-2014/