Ennie and I went on a ride on the bike today. It was a nice long ride up through Arlington, by the Skagit River, down through to Darrington, then taking the mountain loop back through Granite Falls before coming back home. A total of  210 miles for the day.

We’ve done almost exactly this earlier in the year — except with better weather.

About the weather… As we got off I-5 by Arlington we got a spot of rain. Nothing really bad, and it only lasted perhaps five minutes. We were suited up for rain if it happened to come so we came out of it dry. No problem.

We enjoyed a pretty, if overcast, ride through the changing leaves by the Skagit River just taking in the scenery. As we were going south on 530 near Darrington (where it says “Sauk River” on the map where we start heading south-east) we hit another spot of rain. We were looking to take a break anyway at that point so we stopped at a gas station and got something to drink and a pair of Snickers bars to tide us over until dinner. The rain seemed to pass and we were back on our way.

Here we had a decision to make though. Should we head back to Arlington and I-5 taking 530 West, or should we try the mountain loop through Barlow Pass?

I was worried about the 10-15 miles of dirt — would it be mud?

We decided to give it a go.

We got to where the pavement ended and set the bike up for off-road.

It started off OK. Gravel, while making the bike twitchy, drains well so the wet didn’t have cause too many problems.

Around half-way it started to rain for real.

At about the three-quarter mark the dirt section it became really quite pucker-inducing as the gravel had been washed away over time leaving nothing but muddy ruts in the road.

!

There’s something very, very wrong about feeling your front tire hunting for traction. When I say “hunting” I mean “noticing that steering input is taking longer to get a reaction and it sliding over the ground as opposed to rolling on it.”

As we were headed up to the pass we rode by some folks that were camping up there next to the road. Badass, like us. ;-)  We decided to camp there next year next to the southern fork of the Salk River. Looks more than tempting. But not on a bike in the rain today.

I’m happy we took this direction. We were going uphill. I hate going downhill in bad conditions. Yes, I know… use the rear brake and don’t touch the front. I still am not a big fan — especially with someone else on the back!

We both let out a whoop as we got back on the tarmac.

As soon as we descended down from the mountains the rain stopped and we had mostly dried out by the time we got back home. The bike had a nice patina of dried-on mud.

Next time: knobby tires.  :-)