Sunday, May 24, 2009

5-24-09 Hills of the West Coast Ride Report

Miles: 74.5 Climbing: 4000’ Route: Downtown--Mercer Island--Honda Hill--Newport Way to Downtown Issaquah--Issaquah-Preston Trail to Highland on the Sammamish Plateau--Issaquah Fall City Rd.--Duthie Hill Rd. climb--202 North--Ames Lake Rd. climb--Carnation Farm Rd.--203 to Carnation--Tolt Hill Rd. to West Snoqualmie River Rd.--40th St. SE climb--Flying Wheels Route to E. Lake Sammamish--Issaquah--W. Lake Sammamish Parkway--Trail on north frontage of I-90--Eastgate Park and Ride--Mercer Island--Downtown

We have a new “standard” HOWC route to add to the many routes we have deployed over the years! For six years now, I have been looking to have a longer ride option to the north that doesn’t involve riding to Edmonds one way or another. Generally, we like to return with the wind at our backs, and that means mostly riding to the north during summer’s fair weather breezes.

I have never really considered the option of taking the HOWC out to Snoqualmie Valley, due to the lack of a safe and fun way to climb up to the Sammamish Plateau. With the addition of the Issaquah-Preston trail that parallels I-90 before connecting with Highland, we now have that option. Today’s route makes for a longish day on the HOWC, but the opinion of the route quality amongst our 11 Memorial Day weekend riders seemed universally positive. There is an option to shorten the mileage by cutting out Carnation Farm Rd., but those of you who have ridden Flying Wheels know that this is a great road.

Despite having only five “significant” climbs, we managed 4000’ of climbing, and we had only a few short sections of any traffic at all, and during those sections we always seemed to have a decent or better shoulder. We could always "toughen up" today's route with a climb up Squak on the way out, or a trip over Cougar on the return.

We had an out of town guest from West Texas. As we rode into a 10-15 mph headwind at one point, Bill commented that it’s not even a breeze in West Texas until it gets to 25mph. He also mentioned that the climbs we referred to as “hills” were all mountains to him.

Our second woman rider of the year (well, actually of the last 3-4 years) made the ride, and Rachel was a solid, smooth, and safe cyclist. Rachel is an MD, and it’s always nice to have a Doc (and maybe a lawyer?) along on the ride.

We had a few riders dip into the Hurt Locker late in the ride, but everyone did great, and waiting time was minimal. Thanks to all who helped share the work on the front of the ride.

I felt really good today, and I hope my “timing” is good. Starting with the June 7th ride, we go to “Super Strenuous”, and likely all hell will break loose. We shift it up a gear or two, and in general we go pretty darn hard.

I hope to see you on the road.


psorr said...

Sounds like a great route, looking forward to trying it. Tricia and I did the Carnation Farm segment on Monday as part of the 7 Hills of Kirkland route. The rest of our northernmost leg (Carnation-Duvall->Kelly->Cherry Valley) was not fun: virtually no shoulders, and I've never encountered so many hostile drivers (yelling/gestures/close passing) in a 10-mile segment before. Other than that, a good ride.

Tom Meloy said...

Every year, Cascade seems to get more complaints about Flying Wheels than any other event.

Personally, I have kind of a love-hate feeling about the Snoqualmie Valley area. I think the roads are great. Typically, there are miles and miles of safe riding but there are brief moments of terror created by close passing, fast moving cars on roads with no shoulders.

It's a great place to have one of those tiny mirrors I wrote about.