Today we had a winter sized crew of five total people, and given the cloudy, cool weather, I guess it was appropriate. The upcoming Ramrod this Thursday also was a factor, as many of our regulars are participating.
I woke up to wet roads in Downtown Seattle. Riders who had ridden to the ride from Ballard said it was actually drizzling when they left home. Luckily for us, the roads were dry at the 7:30am start, and we had a nice day for riding, although the sun never did come out. During the ride I was trying to remember if we have ever had a July or August rain cancellation of the HOWC, and I don’t believe we have. Knock on wood.
Whenever Chris R. shows up at the ride start line, I know that the pace won’t be easy. Chris tends to force the pace upward, but in a way that makes everyone want to dig deep and ride well. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him go really hard, and I know that there is always plenty in reserve, but then you’ll have that with a world record holder for 24 hour endurance road cycling.
We are always flattered when Chris shows up at our regular ride, and glad that he can find some value in it for his training program. Just watching him ride is inspiring, and as with all great riders, his cadence and position on the bike never give any indication of how hard he might be working.
There were only five of us, and that meant fewer people to give Chris an occasional break on the front. Nevertheless, the pace was hard from the beginning of the ride until the end. We crossed Mercer Island, and worked our way south to May Valley, and then took 148th south, eventually linking up with Jones Road for some “spirited” riding. Next up was the fairly long and steep 196th hill, and then we took 196th and Sweeney to wind up south of Maple Valley. We worked our way over to Tiger Mountain, climbed it from the south, and then took a break at the store near the end of the climb.
After a quick flat repair at the break, we headed back west on May Valley. Thanks go out to Steve and Peter for doing most of the work on the flat to rolling terrain, and enabling us to carry good speed the whole way. After we polished off the climb up to Newcastle Golf Club, we headed up Lakemont and then down 164th, where we encountered the first of many Seattle Century riders we were to see on the way home. They seemed to be everywhere, but I don’t think any of them took the detour up 150th to the top of Somerset like we did! The view from Somerset has to be one of the most dramatic in the area.
Chris led us across the I-90 bridge taking care to safely pass a large number of the Century riders. I’m not sure they knew what to think of our multi-rider freight train express as it motored by them!
Today's ride was a nice change of pace from many of the spring and summer rides where we have had a concentrated focus on climbing. We've spent a lot of time at Cougar and Squak Mountains, and it was nice to get out into the "hinterland" today.
We wound up with 72.7 miles of riding with 4706’ of climbing at an average speed of 17.7mph, and most importantly, it was a safe, incredibly fun ride.