Miles: 46 (51 for Steve and Mike) Climbing: 3700’ (5000’ for Steve and Mike) Route: Downtown--Mercer Island--Factoria--Honda Hill--Eastgate Elementary--Newport Way to Issaquah--Mountain Parkway climb at Squak Mountain--Newport Way--Montreaux (Village Parkway) climb at Cougar Mountain--Lakemont--down 164th--Mercer Slough--Mercer Island--Downtown (Steve and Mike added the Newcastle Golf Club climb--“The Hill” (142nd Ave SE off Forest drive, average grade is somewhere around 20%)--Highland Dr. to the top of Somerset)
It seems that somewhat of an odd karma pattern still is casting its spell over the HOWC. We had a postcard picture perfect day, but, as you might expect on a Mother’s Day, only six riders made the start, and fewer made the unofficial finish.
Squak Mountain is simply my favorite local climbing area, and I rank Mountain Parkway as the second hardest (of four) ways to ascend the 1000’ vertical feet on the north side. You get only one tiny break from the 8.8% average grade, and you exceed 15% at four different points of the climb. Looking for a pretty good hill TT?
Montreaux is only easier because it is shorter. You touch 15% three times, but those sections are longer, and the average grade is a Giro d’ Italia like 9.96%. The climb is on a wide, beautifully surfaced road, characteristics that make it one of my favorite descents in King County.
Back to that odd Karma. As we climbed up Lakemont toward Lewis Creek Park (on top of the Lakemont “Col”), I noticed that my rear shifting was deteriorating. By the time I arrived at the re-group, my rear derailleur cable was broken, and it was obvious that I wouldn’t be doing any more sustained 15% climbing for the day.
I had to abandon the ship. This was a real bummer because I was having an absolute blast, but like the true riding troopers they are, Bob and Ed accompanied me home.
Reg had left the ride after Squak (he rode over 100 miles the day before), and that left Mike and Steve to go off and play some more in the superb hills of Cougar Mountain. Steve had done the Team HPC fitness test at Cycle U on Saturday, but I guess he just viewed that as a warmup for Sunday’s ride.
So with one frayed cable, I went from 22 gears to two. I thought it would be a pain to only have use of the 34/12 or 50/12, but it actually was fun, as it reminded me of all of my wintertime riding on the Bullet Bike, my trusty singlespeed steed. Sometimes shifting and gears are way over rated.