Tuesday, August 4, 2009

8-4-09 The HOWC Takes Flight

Miles: 58-60 depending on options Climbing: 3600-4000’ Route: Downtown Seattle--Mercer Island—Enatai--Medina—Kirkland—Juanita with Holmes Point option—Brier to 212th—212th to Edmonds—Pine to Woodway—Richmond Beach—175th with Innis Arden climb option—Shoreline—Ballard—Myrtle Edwards Park—Downtown Seattle Attrition Rate: 0%* (only 6 finished out of 17, but no one cracked)

Every year we do a ride on Sea Fair Sunday, and this year was no exception. I always take the ride on the same route; the only route I can think of that minimizes traffic hassles. With both the I-90 Bridge closed from 12:15-2:45 and Lake Washington Blvd. closed all day this means only one thing—don’t go near the lake, at least past early in the morning. We have not used what I call the North Counter-Clockwise Outer Loop for a while, and it was enjoyable to ride it today.

Early on, Warren, Justin, and a few others set down a pretty serious 26-28mph pace on the flat, and with few big climbs on the agenda today, that was most of the time. It was pretty obvious that some of our 17 riders were hurting. I had been riding towards the front (but not on the front!), and I asked the gang to ease off just a little more after stops to let the group re-form, and that seemed to help the folks on the rear of the ride. The climbing pace was pretty high energy all day long, but with the usual plethora of difficult climbs lacking on the agenda, re-group waiting at the top of climbs was never an issue.

Just at about what felt like a critical point, the ride turned a little more social, and a little less frenetic. Had the early frenzy continued, I believe we would have had a few DNF’s, but as it turned out, all we had were some people who, as is typical on the HOWC, dug deep and hung on.

Due to the anticipated traffic congestion, many people rode to the start with the intention of leaving the group at some point before the finish. Only 6 of the original 17 finished, but the ride had turned quite social long before the numbers dwindled. Notably, I never saw one rider put a wheel “out of line”, and the ride had a nice safe feeling overall.

We were back at the start line before the Blue Angels took flight.

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