Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hills of the West Coast Ride Report

Route: Sam Smith Park--Mercer Island--Medina--Kirkland--Downtown Bellevue--Mercer Island Loop (or south around Lake Washington)--Sam Smith Miles: 37 or 45 or so Climbing: 2700' Attrition Rate: 20%

I have always loved the sound of the wind whistling through the trees, and luckily for us, we have a lot of trees in the PNW. Other than that beautiful sound, I can't think of anything else worthwhile that comes from the wind. Obviously, wind is great for sailing and windmills, but what else is it is good for? Certainly not for golf or cycling, two things I have done a lot of in my life.

If yesterday's wind was silly and ridiculous, today's gusts were, well, just simply a little obnoxious. It was the type of day, that had I headed out solo, I could have simulated long climbs (and descents!) simply by heading into and with the wind. That likely would not have occurred, because I have found the wind to be at least as psychologically draining as physical. Our normal light prevailing winds are yet another reason the PNW is such a nice place to live. I imagine cyclists from Wyoming or West Texas would be amused (or maybe not) that the gusts I am describing likely did not exceed 20mph, and were mostly in the 10-15mph range. Besides, we didn’t have a drop of rain fall upon us, and that always makes for a Class A Day, correct?

Yes, today was a good day to be with the bunch, even if the bunch were only five strong. It was great to see Jeff riding really well, as he is still recovering (on the bike) from a late fall surgery. Emil rode strongly as well, and the two of them did a fair amount of work on the front. We took turns battling the headwind, and then retreating to seek shelter.

No such shelter was available for me in June of 2003, when I went on a truly incredible tour through British Columbia, Alberta, Idaho, and Washington. On this solo trip, I rode 1000 miles over 10 days. When I departed from Whistler, record high temperature readings were widespread across British Columbia, and it was consistently between 85 and 92 degrees F. I enjoy riding in hot weather, so no problem there; but, just as in Seattle, fair and warm summer weather generates prevailing northerly winds in BC. From Whistler, I headed northeast to Lillooet and 100 Mile House, then east over to the Yellowhead Highway. Riding back to the north, I rode past the Heli-Ski towns to Mt. Robson, and then east to Jasper, the far northern terminus of my route.

The very day I reached Jasper, a low pressure system rolled in, bringing with it southerly winds and cooler temperatures. From Jasper, I then headed southeast to Banff, then south through Kootenay National Park to Radium Hot Springs. From there, it was south to Kimberly and Creston, BC.

Still heading south, I rode to Sand Point, Idaho, and then southwest to Priest River and ultimately Spokane, where Tracy picked me up. (Much to her chagrin…I had planned on riding all the way back into Seattle.) While the trip was absolutely one of my best experiences on a bike, I rode into the sometimes mild, sometimes wild wind almost every one of those 1000 miles. Nothing motivates you more than that to work on your "tuck!" Maybe this trip had something to do with me always paying close attention to the weather forecast, and doing everything I can to start a ride into the wind and return home with it.

Speaking of winds, there is a chance I am going to Maui this summer with Tracy and my bike. Emil, having grown up in Maui, gave me the complete lowdown on the summer trade winds. Seriously, that sounds like some wind that will kick your ass!

Today was the first HOWC that I have led for awhile. It was an inauspicious start with the unstable weather, but it was really great to be back on the ride as more than just a participant. I’ve led the ride since 2003, and as with past summers, I’m looking forward to some memorable jaunts on the bike this year.

I hope to see you on the road!


psorr said...

A good ride, after splitting off Gary and I rode pretty hard around the south end of the lake and traded pulls. We ended up with about 42 miles on the day, but it felt like more after fighting headwinds and blustery crosswinds much of the ride. Fortunately we stayed dry all morning!

Cascade Cyclist said...

If you go to Maui, talk to Rob Templin @

Rob is a former RAAM competitor (winner?) and now runs a cycling tour company. His Maui trip is (in)famous.

Although the volcano climb sounds like it would be the toughest ride, apparently the ride from Hana has brutal headwinds, lousy roads, and steep rollers that make it harder than cranking out 10K of vertical.

Mark C said...

The dogs woke me up at 3 am Saturday. It took me over an hour to get back to sleep, so I turned over at 7:30 and went back to sleep. I rode 30 miles in the afternoon and the wind was still pretty brisk.

Anonymous said...

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