Sunday, April 5, 2009

Red Brick Road Revisited

Ah, sunshine! As our group gathered on this Sunday afternoon enjoying the April sun, we watched folks exit Eastside Foursquare Church following the morning services. The day was beautiful and warm. No jackets, leggings, or shoe covers were needed today. In fact, Ken greeted me by sharing, "I feel naked! I'm not wearing a jacket or cycling pants... just a jersey and shorts! I'm naked!" Thanks, Ken...

Our route today was to hit the Old Red Brick Road in Redmond. This has been a favorite route of mine for a few years now. And each time I take our group there, we always have one or two riders who have never experienced it. Today was no exception. We had our usual faces: David, Ken, Gary, Warren, and myself, but were also joined by Tom and his wife Charla, who had not ridden the Red Brick Road before.

We set out on the Sammamish River Trail and soon discovered that everyone and their sister was on the trail today. It's like Seattleites had just discovered the sun and were relishing it's warming power. So, we left the trail and rode the streets through Bothell, Woodinville, and onto Rt. 202 into Redmond. We stopped briefly at the Bella Botega shopping center to buy... of all things... sunscreen!

Now lubed up with SPF50, we turned east and began climbing Union Hill. It seems Union Hill has gotten steeper since I last rode up it from the west. So huffing and puffing, we reached the top, rode another block, and turned right for a sweeping downhill. I always love it when a seriously hard climb comes with a payoff like this.

After just a few minutes on Redmond-Fall City Road, we reached the entry onto the Red Brick Road, also known as Mattson Road. Here's the historical tidbit...

The Mattson Road contains the longest stretch of exposed historic red brick highway in King County. In 1901, the northern route between Seattle and Snoqualmie Pass, first developed as a road in 1865, was realigned to create what is now 196th Avenue NE in order to eliminate a long, difficult grade. The dirt and gravel road was often impassable, and with the growing popularity of automobile travel, local resident James Mattson and his neighbors pressed the county to pave the road to provide an all-weather surface. In 1913, the road was paved with red bricks manufactured in Renton. In the late 1910s, the road became part of the Yellowstone Trail. This was a well-signed and promoted transcontinental driving route developed by automobile promoters to encourage and direct early automobile travelers in the age before state or federal highway networks were created. In the 1980s, the King County Roads Department restored the brick surface, which had deteriorated severely.

As I said, I love taking riders who have not experienced this stretch of roadway. For Tom, this was a new experience, a new ride, and a lot of bumpiness.

Upon completing the stretch of red bricks, we headed back west for our return. I decided to give my group just one more sizable hill to tackle so we took Willows Road and rode up the long winding back way into Kingsgate.

The sunshine, the red bricks, and good cycling fellowship made the Sunday afternoon ride a good one. I wish every ride was this good... if a little bumpy.

Riders: David, Ken, Gary, Warren, Tom, Charla, Bob H.
Dist: 27.81
Time: 2:03
Avg: 13.4
Max: 35.0

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