Doing it all the hard way...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ride Evo, Ride

I'm going to put my finger in my mouth and blow until my hair stands straight up.

Hottie and I had been debating for a couple of days where to ride on Saturday morning. When the day dawned as promising as we had wished it would, Hottie felt emboldened and suggested we take off from our driveway and go around Lake Washington. That would be 56 miles and a 2,500’ of climbing. We rolled out and the warm sun felt good on my bare arms. After an endless winter of full fingered gloves; my fingertips almost caressed the bar tape as I rode.

Construction on the Burke Gilman trail made our ride an "adventure."

Hottie climbed with ease and soon we were in Kirkland where people on wide surfboards were sweeping the lake.

We rolled through downtown Bellevue on our journey.

Hey, is that Rainier in the distance ?

We stopped and ate bars and topped off our bottles.

With forty miles behind us, we stopped for a treat before the final climb up from the lake.

Hottie was tired afterwards, but not debilitated. She is well on her way to a great summer of riding.

Sunday dawned grey and cooler and I did the usual morning ride with my team. Initially I felt no after effects from the four hours in the saddle the day before, but on the later part of the ride my legs told me it would be really smart to just back off a bit. Sensing that my legs would win any ensuing argument, I relented and backed off. Dave F was happy to join me, and we had ourselves a small groupetto.

An afternoon visit by my daughter and our grandbaby, my mom, and Hottie's sister, rounded out the day.

My mum and Kyson (Kyson is on the right)

A little birthday celebration for Hottie's sister

Last week, Hank had proposed a RAMROD training ride for the 4th and it seemed like a great idea.

My alarm went off at a reasonable hour and I had plenty of time to fumble with my bike stuff and not be rushed. The roads were deserted as I made my way to Hank’s place. We loaded up his van and in no time we were through Enumclaw and on the way to the Crystal Mountain turn off. We were in a line of seven or eight cars and they all turned off highway 410 toward Crystal to squeeze in some late season skiing. This seemed to indicate we would have light traffic as we rode up 410.

Two guys who should know better...

Soon we were underway and we were in the shade riding on the western side of a long, high ridge. Although the climb was steady the cool air kept our temperature down. Views of Mt. Rainier to our right got better with each mile. I watched my Garmin tick off the elevation and in little time we were turning at Cayuse and heading up to Chinook. We had passed some riders on the way up who were going really, really slow.

The short section from Cayuse to Chinook had snow piled up on both sides of the road, and the retaining walls were made of granite blocks the size of microwave ovens. The sky was a deep blue and the bright sunshine made the snow look like it had just fallen. The whole scene had a Disney castle feel to it.

Evo is going to Mt. Rainier..

The snow was thiiiiis deep....

Riding in the sunshine we could peel off arm warmers and bask in the beautiful views in every direction. The air was clean and crisp, so we were neither hot nor cold.

The grade was steady, but our enthusiasm kept our legs spinning as we took in the setting.

Does this snow make me look fat ?

We stopped near the top and snapped some pictures and soon we donned our arm warmers and began the rapid descent back to the Sunrise turn off.

Organic bike racks !!

The twelve miles of climbing had gotten us used to a slower cadence and the eight mile descent gave us a chance to spin out our legs.

After passing the toll booth, we began the gradual climb from 3,100’. With little perceived effort I noticed the terrain dropping off to our right and our views to the valley floor just got better and better. At first the valley was a hundred feet below, and then it was a thousand feet as the road bobbed back and forth. The sunshine felt good and I unzipped my jersey to keep cool. The grade lessened and I picked up my pace. I was in a rhythm and not suffering at all. My legs could feel the miles and elevation of the long weekend, so I wasn’t about to sprint out of the saddle, but I felt surprisingly strong. The road has three major switchbacks with the last one being at 6,100’, only 300 feet below the parking lot at Sunrise. There is a turnout with a viewpoint at this final switchback and it was populated with people snapping pictures of the view we had been enjoying for a couple miles. From this point we had 360 degree views and we paused to take it all in.

The final mile or two was a victory lap and we enjoyed it as we began licking our lips thinking about getting some real food.

We made it !

We each had a deli sandwich and cold drink. It felt good to relax. We had almost twenty miles to go back to the car, but the fact that the car was 3,800 feet lower than where we were sitting meant the trip down would be an easy roll.

Dressed for the descent...

We put on all the clothing we had and braced for a chilly descent. The road surface was rough with chip seal, but there were few potholes or other potentially catastrophic impediments. We were soon leapfrogging each other. We saw a handful of riders struggling to climb uphill as we flew down at thirty-five miles an hour. When we saw a bear on the side of the road we grabbed a handful of brake and I captured it in digital format.

That is a bear !

We continued to slalom the turns, only occasionally braking, and whooping as we went. After finally reaching the valley floor we enjoyed the short climb back to highway 410 as it warmed us up. Four more quick miles and we sprinted (at least what we old men will call a sprint) for the park boundary of a huge log across the road. I came around Hank and he sped up. Neither of us could be sure who won, but it was probably better that way.

After toweling off and changing it was time to head back home.

A cooked Hank..

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