After brushing off a few cigarette butts, I was able to carve out our usual spot where we gather for the Hills of the West Coast sign in. I was at an outside table at the Uptown Café located at Pier 66, and I was surrounded by a few early arrivals for the Hempfest, that ubiquitous Seattle festival that celebrates all things hemp, including marijuana. Actually, I suspected that it was more likely that these Hempsters were leftovers from Saturday’s celebration!
We had a solid, strong group of regulars, and the 10 of us rolled out on time and headed out through the tunnel and across Mercer Island. Today we went into the hinterlands to the south, via Jones Road, the 196th climb, and Sweeney Road, which took us to just south of Maple Valley.
We headed back north and east on Lake Francis and Cedar Grove. After a quick stop and photo op (thanks to Ray and his new Blackberry) at the Tiger Mountain store, we headed north on the Issaquah-Hobart road, and in Issaquah we took Newport Way back through Eastgate, and then retraced our path across Mercer Island, and back downtown. We finished with 70 miles and between 3450’ and 3800’ of climbing, depending on whether you elected to do the optional Somerset climb toward the end of the ride.
We lost Emile early in the ride, and we didn’t know where to look, so we never found him. His disappearance remains a mystery. Reg cut out early, and Ed looked like he was in the hurt locker during the first half of the ride. Ed dug deep, rallied, and finished the ride strong.
By design, this week we climbed fewer steep hills than on a normal Sunday, and today was a great prep ride for the upcoming High Pass Challenge. We were looking for good mileage with a high pace. Expect a similar ride on next Sunday’s HOWC.
A lot of credit for that high pace goes to the riders who unselfishly “sacrificed” themselves at the front of the ride, pulling the whole group along. Special recognition goes to Luke, Steve, Ray, and Bob, and I apologize if I left out the names of other contributors. It was truly a one for all, all for one type of ride, and we had a great time. I was extra appreciative, as my legs didn’t feel as sharp as I like them to on a Sunday ride. Perhaps it had something to do with a long ride at Rainier on Thursday, but more likely it’s simply that I have ridden a lot of miles recently, and I need to take a few days off. It’s that time of the year! Gotta take advantage of it.
It’s been five years since I started the ride, and it’s really great to have a group of riders who will take up the pace-making. I normally like to lay low during the first half of the ride, just staying in the bunch, and then if I feel good, do some work on the front to bring us home. Perhaps because it has been five years, I really enjoy just being the rider in the group who keeps thing organized and prevents us from getting lost. Getting everybody involved by taking turns setting the pace and sharing the work is a big reason why the riders have developed a lot of camaraderie.
As always, please feel free to comment on my comments, contribute more details, or dispute the ones I have provided!
I hope to see you on the road.