Sunday, August 23, 2009

8-23-09 HOWC Report Passing the Torch

Miles: 71.4 Climbing: 4039’ Route: Downtown Seattle--Mercer Island--Factoria—Honda Hill climb—Eastgate Elementary—Newport Way to Issaquah—Highland Trail climb to Sammamish Plateau—Issaquah Fall City Rd—SE 40th—W. Snoqualmie Rd.—Tolt Hill Rd.—Rt. 203 north—Carnation Farm Rd.—Ames Lake Rd. climb—202 north—244th climb—Inglewood Hill Rd.—216th climb—212th—E Lake Sammamish—Issaquah—Sammamish Parkway—I-90 north frontage trail—Eastgate P&R—Mercer Island—Downtown Seattle Attrition Rate: 0% of 12 riders

Emil led his first HOWC today, and he pretty much took care of things from start to finish. For the first time in the six years of the HOWC, I actually had the crazy thought that this ride could still be going on 100 years from now. Long after all of us are gone, will some future generation be reading this blog’s archives to see how the Oldtimers survived the ride? I don’t have any kids, so it will be up to others to insure that the legacy of the ride continues. Down the road will there be a little Jeff, or little Luke or Emil to spearhead things? While it’s kind of a silly thought, it’s also kind of a nice one for me.

Based on intuition derived from six year’s experience leading the ride, I would have wagered early in the ride that at least two of our riders would not be with us at the end. I would have bet poorly, as both Jim and Mario dug really deep and hung in there. All of us dig deep on the HOWC. Churning up a steep climb or pulling into a headwind hurts everybody, no matter how strong a rider might be. It must have been pretty rewarding for Jim and Mario at the end of the ride to realize that yes, indeed, they pulled it off. I hope they come out again, as they are both good guys, and you just know they won’t quit.

It’s also rewarding to see how things progressed during the ride in terms of skill level and safety. We had a few people freely admit that they were not very experienced with group rides, and the HOWC is not really a good place to learn the basics. Our first paceline was a little ragged, and at our first stop at Tibbet’s Park, Emil made a few suggestions as to how to tighten things up a little. By the time we got to the opportunity for a long uninterrupted line on West Snoqualmie, we were operating like a finely oiled machine. The machine averaged almost 24mph for about five miles of riding directly into a pretty stiff headwind (at least by Seattle standards), so it was a good effort, but it was more satisfying to see all of our riders going smoothly. Even as fatigue built in all of us, I thought the group rode more cohesively the longer the ride went on.

I had kind of a weird day, in that early on my legs didn’t feel great, and I thought it prudent to hang in the draft and see how things developed. I was pleased that I was with the front group up every climb, and that I made every move. There were gaps behind me, but never in front of me. The legs hurt, but they were working. Late in the ride, I felt good enough to do some decent work on the front, so my reward for perseverance was to be pleasantly surprised at having a pretty good day when I didn’t expect it. Overall, I would say the pace was hard, but not super maniacal hard.

Thanks go out to Sami, Steve, and Nick, the three of whom did a lot of work on the front throughout the ride. Mark C. did some nice pulling before he left the ride to head home for a family obligation. Very late in our 72+ mile ride, Nick pulled us strongly back home across the I-90 Bridge, and just stayed there when we hit the uphill ramp. Pretty impressive, considering we had already knocked off 68 solid miles.

My best guesstimate is that I have ridden somewhere close to 10,500 miles on the HOWC. I had a flat today, and I’m pretty sure it was only my third one, and one of those was due to a presta valve separating from the tube. I can’t blame it on the “fragile” Vittoria 320tpi open tubular, as the rather large imbedded glass shard would have cut through just about anything. On Thursday, my friend Justin and I both received a ticket for “Not obeying the rights and duties of a motor vehicle operator,” which is a kinder and gentler (non-moving violation) version of running a stop sign. The officer was correct; we did indeed roll through a downhill stop at about 5mph, although he did point out that we did much better at the next one at the entrance to Seward Park. It’s a little ironic that both Justin and I have really made the effort to do our part to clean up cycling’s image by following the rules, and I even do my best to keep things clean on the HOWC.

Emil would like to lead the HOWC through the winter, and it’s great to have him onboard. I’m out of town next weekend, but Luke promises a special ride next Sunday, our last ride of the season at summer pace. Forget about 100 years from now. I think it best to take it week by week, and we have had some great Sundays.

I hope to see you on the road.


Mark C said...

I had a great time on the ride. I was concerned that I might be falling off the back three days after the hardest ride I have done this year (Luke's Excellent Adventure). But I felt strong and we had a good group doing a beautiful ride. Mark

Sami said...

Great riding with you guys, too!

For future reference, it's spelled "Sami" :-)

LB said...

Sorry I missed you guys Sunday...some last minute issues held me back. As for next Sunday it should be special indeed. Tom, what would you say is the current HOWC record for feet climbed in one ride?

Tom Meloy said...

While I don't have a precise number for you, it sounds like you are determined to exceed any number I might give it's moot point.

I'm guessing somewhere around 7000' climbed as the highest we have seen.

Sounds like I will be missing a real epic.

Jim said...

Great ride Tom and thanks for the kind words. I hope to see you again this weekend.

Emil King said...

Nice to hear the good feedback about the ride. In an effort to keep the HOWC continuing through the late Fall and Winter this year, I’ll be helping out as a ride leader when it inevitably becomes a little colder and wetter. This being my first lead of the ride, I was fortunate to have Tom along to keep us on route in the Sammamish area as I focused on the necessary logistics and training moments that come with running a Cascade and HPC ride. I think the route was perfect for the group we had show up. I was impressed by the effort that was put in by the regulars as well as the newcomers. Great pacelines and well-paced climbing was the norm. Everyone contributed on the front, and I think the newbies Jim and Sami will likely be back. I heard a number of comments from our veterans somewhat familiar with route, about how much fun it was to ride major portions of the Flying Wheels route–but in reverse. Riding really fast down a hill that you’ve only climbed in the past definitely will add perspective the next time it’s climbed. This might have been the quietest run through the Sammamish Valley area I’ve had on a HOWC ride with regards to car/truck traffic. The only minor brush-up came on East Lake Sammamish Parkway, but was nothing major. I always enjoy the variety that comes with riding back to Seattle from Issaquah on the north side of I-90. It is definitely the road less taken as far as biking goes, but offers some really nice grades approaching Bellevue from the east and fast stretches back down to Factoria. Rolling back into Seattle I was a tiring, but very satisfied that the group was able to ride safe and stay together for the entire day.
Take care,
Emil King

Sami said...

I'll definitely be back and had planned to join you guys today but needed the day to run some errands. See you next Sunday!