Recently some of the Element Cycles staff took a chilly trip to Vashon Island and documented their ride. For more local rides you can check our previous article on Seattle’s Best Bike Rides. Big thanks to Ben for all the photos!
What gear were you using?
-2xu base layer, top and bottom
-Rapha Breve bib short and Breve long sleeve jersey
-Fizik R3 shoes
-Endura wind stop gloves
-Kask mojito helmet
-Rapha RCC cap
-Assos padded shorts, not sure the exact model off hand
-Castelli windproof jacket shell
-a million layers of normal clothes
I was wearing the shop Castelli kit along with some extra toasty gloves, shimano r171 shoes, troy lee helmet, Castelli rain fly, leg warmers
How did you feel going into the ride?
Had a good start with 34* weather, clear sky, and mild frost on the ground. Wind stop layer is a must when starting in cold temperatures, but good to take off about 5 miles into the ride. Would suggest hand warmers and toe warmers
Definitely chilly, no matter how warm you dress it will feel cold until you start moving. Weather was perfect though, clear skies and mostly dry roads.
I was very cold but actually feeling pretty good, I haven’t ridden for awhile and I’m super out of shape.
What was your favorite part of this route?
The scenery and history of the island. Great view of Mt Rainier, lots of wildlife, very few cars, lots of twisty roads.
Ferries are always cool, but of the actual cycling route the twisty roads right after the first climb on vashon were extremely fun, lots of elevation change and tight corners.
My favorite part was the super sketchy descents, the first part of ride was rolling hills with punchy hills and steep downs, it was a really cool section.
What was the most challenging part of the route?
Ride would have been safer during summer. There were a lot of corners where the shade left frosty leaves making descents a bit tricky.
The first climb was long but you are fresh so it’s actually not too bad. The climb up from the south end of the island is tough right after taking a break for lunch, getting back into the zone took about three fifths of the climb.
The actual hardest part of the ride was the entire section on Maury island after taking the wrong turn, several hundred feet of climbing on straight roads.
The hardest part was probably on Maury island, the route we took was full of big climbs that seemed to never end.
Where did you stop/ wish you had stopped?
Wish we would have taken the time to enjoy the history of the island. More time to explore the agriculture, the K2 factory, and the abundance of deer on the side of the road
We stopped at the k2 factory and the vashon bicycle tree, and every ten feet or so in between to wait for Ben.
There’s not anywhere I am aware of that I wish we had stopped, but more time to explore the k2 factory before losing daylight would have been nice.
We stopped at the bike tree and the k2 factory, we also stopped at the beach at the south end of the island to rest and eat a snack.
Any noteworthy landmarks, vistas, etc?
Bike left on the side of a tree during WWII and the tree grew around it, K2 factory, view of Mt Rainier at the transfer station.
K2 factory and bike tree, there were also good views of the water and Mt Rainier along various points of the ride.
The bike tree is really cool and there is a really good view of mt rainier at the transfer station
What should first timers on this route be aware of?
Be prepared to start the second hardest hill of the ride as soon as you get off the ferry. When approaching the south side of the island and doing Maury Island MAKE SURE YOU GO RIGHT! If not you will be adding 1000 feet of climbing to your ride. Bring lots of snacks since there aren’t many places to stop.
Don’t miss the right hand corner onto dockton road (I think) on maury island, it adds about 1000 feet of climbing on very boring straight roads.
If riding in the cold/damp/leafy, the first section of descents is also very slick and has some bumpy off camber corners.
There is a big climb as soon as you get off the ferry, it helps to wait for the ferry to unload so that there are less cars when you climb it.
Will you do anything differently next time?
Bring hand and toe warmers, dress in plenty of lightweight layers to take off and put on, and a go pro or helmet cam would have made for better documentation of the cool descents.
Bring more food, there’s not many places to stop on the way.
Bring a pack of some sort to carry clothing layers throughout the ride, despite the cold beginning I was sweating in the middle of the ride.
Take less breaks in order to have a bit more time to explore and see the sights.
Ill bring a lot more snacks next time, I ran out of food about halfway through the ride and there aren’t very many places to stop and get stuff.
Summarize the whole ride in a few short but sweet sentences.
Lots of elevation change, steep climbs punctuated with tricky descents.
Good scenery, minimal traffic, definitely a good place to ride.
Would have been better on some carbon Rolf wheels.