Monday, October 26, 2009

10-25-09 Hills of the West Coast--The Urban Guerillas

Mileage: 50 Climbing: 2500' Route: Downtown Seattle--Alki--Rose St. Hill to top of West Seattle--Georgetown--1st Ave. Bridge--Beacon Hill via 15th Ave. and Cheasty Blvd.--Central District--Mt. Baker--Leschi--Arboretum--U District--Green Lake--Ballard Bridge--Magnolia loop and Mossy Hill Attrition Rate: 0%

Just when I was starting to think that I had ridden my bicycle on pretty much every road there is to ride in the metro area, with Jeff’s help I discovered some new roads never more than five or six miles from downtown as the crow flies. Reg made the comment that in thirty years of cycling in the area, we were on a few roads that he had never driven in a car, let alone ridden on his bike. Jeff led the ride and did almost all of the work on the front today, which was appropriate, since he was the only one who knew where the ride was headed a lot of the time.

Jeff took us through some "gritty" areas, the kind that one doesn't normally seek out on a bicycle. I thought it was a lot of fun, and a really great route for this time of the year. We've all put in a lot of seriously hard miles in 2009, especially Jeff and Warren, who both completed their first Ironman races. Sometimes it is nice to simply explore on the bike.

We did a lot of short and steep climbs, and the first climb of the day was on SW Rose St., just north of Fauntleroy in West Seattle. While I had seen this one before and knew what to expect, that didn't make it any easier. As a matter of fact, my legs felt bad on this climb; really, they hurt more than felt badly.

I wasn't sure if the legs hurt because of yesterday's pretty solidly paced ride, or simply because I wasn't warmed up yet on a quite chilly morning. Toward the top, it seemed like things were loosening up a little, and much to my relief (surprise?), for the rest of the day my legs felt great. Just as with a HOWC out to Squak and Cougar Mountains a while back, once I got over the initial hard effort of the day, I felt good for the rest of the ride. I thought everybody rode strong today, and it was fun to have a small group of five, all of whom knew each other well.

As with that recent HOWC to Issaquah, if I would have gone out by myself today, I would have thrown away an opportunity to get in a solid ride. If I had been solo, I am sure I would have figured I was tired, and just cruised the rest of the ride after that first climb, perhaps even cutting the ride short. Once again, I was reminded of the power of the group. When you ride with others, and you are forced (ok, compelled) to ride hard, you ride hard.

The lowlight of the day, if there was one, occurred when a helmetless goof that we caught decided to sit in with us. Despite never even saying a word, there he was in the middle of our group as we bombed down through the Arboretum at 30mph. After I noticed him riding with his hands nowhere near the brakes on the top of his handlebar, I was damn glad to see him leave. I guess he thought he wanted to show us his stuff, but the stuff I saw was a reckless fool riding without a helmet, barging into a very social group of five riders who happened to be riding hard.

The entire rest of the ride was a blast, and felt about as safe as a ride can be. I always look forward to the change of seasons via my bicycle, and today was a great "shoulder season" ride.

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