Wednesday, August 19, 2009

8-16-09 HOWC "E Ticket Ride" for a First Class Weekend

Miles: 57-62 Climbing: 4000’-5000’ Route: Downtown—Mercer Island—Coal Creek Parkway—May Valley—132nd climb on Tiger Mountain—Issaquah—Wildwood climb on Squak Mountain—Montreaux (Village Parkway) climb on Cougar—Montreaux directissima option to the school on top of Cougar (60th)—Pinnacle climb option—Forest—Coal Creek—Mercer Island—Downtown Attrition Rate: 15%, but we had a few riders deep in the Hurt Locker

Luke led the HOWC this past Sunday and here is his take on the day:

I had this ride’s route set before I rolled out the door in the morning. I really didn’t care who showed up or how many. HPC in the Park (Rainier) is Thursday and I needed to tune-up. It seemed back loading three tough climbs on the HOWC would get the job done.

We had a rare double flat and dealt with a route diversion due to some construction early on. When things did finally get rolling for that long stretch on May Valley, the paceline was whipping around a lot more than I like. Funny thing. The group agreed to short pulls, no more than a minute. I counted 11 pulls the entire stretch of May Valley!

Climb #1 was the “Far North Tiger” up 132nd. This climb gets really steep near the end. After climbing a very hard ramp the turn reveals a nice view coupled with an unexpected continuance of the punishing grade. A few guys almost blew up on that part.

Climb #2 was “Wildwood on Squawk”. This is the most even gradient way to climb Squawk. It still delivers over 1000’ of climbing and is pretty tough so close to the previous climb.

Speaking of hard climbs after hard climbs, Climb #3 was “Mountreaux+Pinnacle”. For the core of six or so riders who stuck out all three climbs, this is where the suffer-based camaraderie emerged. Lots of chippy comments as we did the “+” - extending Montreaux up those two steep ramps to the utility crossing strip. Lots of big smiles as we finished off Pinnacle and enjoyed the view. Credit to Warren and Death Ride Bob for pacing this phenomenal workout.

This was one of my favorite HOWCs thus far in the season. A great workout on a beautiful day with good people. Bring on Mount Rainier!

I did two group rides this past weekend, and I was a passenger on both. David did a great job on the Team High Performance Cycling ride on Saturday, and Luke ran a very smooth operation on Sunday. Leading the HOWC over the last six years has been a fantastic experience, and I must thank the Cascade Bicycle Club for giving me the opportunity. Every so often it is really nice to do the ride, but not have to be responsible for leading it. Thanks to Jeff, Luke, and soon to be HOWC ride leader Emil, we have a deep bench of strong riders who are eager to step in and safely lead the ride. Thank you, gentlemen!

Luke covered all of the bases today with a very hard and diverse route, “summiting” all three of the Issaquah Alps (Tiger/Squak/Cougar). Luke continued a theme I have been working with this summer: trying to offer a super hard route, but with options to cut out a few of the extreme sections. Some days, even super strong riders are not really into it, and it’s also great to have an alternative for someone who is just barely hanging on. As we all know, a cracked rider is a slow rider. The HOWC always gives even very strong riders plenty of opportunity to toast yourself, but we find the ride often goes more smoothly if we give an option to stay away from the toaster.

We had a really strong group overall today. The ride went smoothly even with a few riders in the Hurt Locker, mostly because they were able to take a “break” now and then. I felt good pretty much all day, and was climbing pretty strongly. I skipped a few of the 20+% grade sections, not so much to save the legs, but just because those type of climbs were not what I was looking for on Sunday…not that I really seek them out very often anyway. I got exactly what I needed and wanted from the ride, and I think the same can be said for most of the riders.

Usually when you lose someone, they are behind you. We managed to lose Reg when he was in front of us. He had gone ahead by zipping onto a bike path on Mercer Island while we waited at a light. I tried reaching him on his cell phone, and we waited for five or ten minutes. When we came upon him just past Mercer Slough, I was wondering if he caught a helicopter ride, but Reg said, "I figure if you guys are going to hammer, I’ll get a head start." Is this kosher?

About the only criticism I can level is one that Luke has already pointed out. Namely, the May Valley paceline went off at a very hard pace, but it wasn’t the smoothest train I have been on. I had a few ideas as to how to make it better, but I kept my mouth shut and just enjoyed the E Ticket Ride as a very content passenger.

Thanks, Luke and David.


Cascade Cyclist said...
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Cascade Cyclist said...

I think your mention of "smooth" is important for recreational riders to think about--whether it's an inconsistent pace on the flats or attacks on the hills, each of us has a limited number of hard efforts in us on any given day.

On a group ride when the testosterone is flowing I think it's tempting to try to emulate the way the pros repeatedly attack one another.

Some days you might actually want to blow up your legs, but if you want to survive a ride like HOWC, consistency is probably more important than earning maximum KOM points.