Having just returned a week ago from a pretty intense European cycling trip, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about today’s Hills of the West Coast ride. After a recovery week of low miles and no intensity, I didn’t know if I’d feel like “making the effort” to ride hard with the group.
Thankfully, I felt like riding hard, because even though I chose one of the easier routes that we use, by no means did we ride “easy”.
We did one of the routes that I used frequently when I started the ride five years ago. We worked our way south through White Center and Burien, and then dropped down for the scenic Three Tree Point climb. Marine View Drive took us to our first rest stop at Des Moines Waterfront Park, and then we kept heading south on Green River Drive to Auburn. We climbed out of there and turned back to the north on the steep SE 304th St. climb, and then followed quiet roads to our second stop at Soos Creek. After climbing some short, somewhat steep hills, we dropped straight down a steep grade into Renton, cut through Boeing, and then took Rainier, Seward, and Lake Washington Blvd. back to the I-90 overlook. Ultimately we made our way back to Downtown Seattle, where we had departed at 7:30am from Pier 70.
Despite the early start, we had 14 very strong riders show, and the attrition rate held low. We lost Emil due to a mechanical, and Reg had to turn back early due to a family commitment. Everyone else hung in there on what I would call a day featuring quite a hard pace over a route with fewer long hills than normal. We wound up at 65 miles with about 3800’ of climbing.
The weather forecast promised a lot of sun, and wind out of the south changing to a northerly sometime during the day. Even though it was cloudy for almost the entire ride, they got the wind part right. I actually think it switched right as we hit our most southerly point, and we wound up riding into a light wind pretty much the whole ride.
Given the wind in our faces, a special thanks go out to all who helped out on the front on the ride. One effort that really stood out was from Luke, who spent an inordinate amount of time laying down a hard pace while cutting the wind for all of us.
A ride story of note: When we were soft pedaling to get the group all together at the Boeing entrance, a guy on a Colnago went by us feigning a nonchalant attitude. Well, I guess we showed him, as well as another equally determined rider in a Byrne kit, the power of the HOWC group. We blew by him several times, first on Rainier, and then again after he passed us as we waited to re-group where Rainier hits Seward. Another pass occurred on the “Seward Hill”, despite his very best hard efforts to stay ahead. Mr. Colnago hammered the descent to Seward Park to get ahead once again, and then Luke finally cracked him for good on Lake Washington Blvd. I give him a lot of credit for the valiant effort!
As usual, the ride seemed to go by at a whirlwind pace. Please feel free to comment on the ride, and fill in any details that I may have omitted.