Miles: 77 Climbing: 3450’ Route: Sam Smith Park—Honda Hill—Newport Way to Issaquah—Issaquah-Hobart to Landsburg—Black Diamond—Auburn Black Diamond Rd.—Moneysmith—148th—Thomas—196th—Jones Rd—Cedar River Trail—Lake Washington Blvd—Sam Smith Soldiers of the Day: Jeff S and Bill T Attrition Rate: 12.5% (1) Cima Coppi: N/A Walking Wounded: 2 (almost, including me)
We returned from Maui last Monday, and I had a pretty big cycling week (See below, and I’ll be doing several more posts about Maui cycling) at 250 miles with 23,000’ of climbing. I planned on taking it somewhat easy the rest of this week. I did short rides on Thursday and Friday, and felt absolutely fantastic both days—almost like I was using one gear larger on the climbs at the same effort level. Perhaps I rode a little harder than I should have because I felt so good, but I figured that with a DOB (Day Off Bike) scheduled for Saturday, why not?
A DOB it was, but a day off it was not. Tracy and I went hiking with David L and Paula. We used to hike a lot, but had not done any hiking lately. It wasn’t a difficult hike, and I didn’t have to work hard at all on the 4.5 miles of climbing. Unfortunately, what goes up must come down, and descending definitely required deploying some muscles that have been on the shelf for a while. Yes, thigh muscles, but I thought that wouldn’t be a problem. They are different thigh muscles from my cycling muscles, aren’t they?
On Sunday, my legs hurt from the get-go! Most of the ride, I tried to laugh the pain off with this image in mind:
As I write this hours after the ride’s end, my legs still hurt. In fact, they hurt more…a lot more. The legs feel like I imagine they might if I did a 150 mile off-trail backpacking trip in Alaska without hiking for two years prior. It’s a little odd in that normally I may be bone tired after a hard ride, but usually the legs are not too bad.
One thing that I have learned about the HOWC is that I need to be at my best to do well on the ride. If I am off a little, I can survive like I did today. But there have definitely been some periods where I wondered if I would.
We used a new route on the ride today, which isn’t that easy to do after all of the rides that we have done. We pushed the stated mileage window a little, but that let us ride all the way out to Black Diamond, as well as throw in a few extra quality miles. Everyone seemed to really like the route, and I believe that today’s route will become one of the “standard” routes we use to the south. We shared the work on the front, but Jeff and Bill did more than their fair share. Jeff is getting ready for a triathlon, and he looks to have excellent form. In fact, everybody on the ride was pretty darn fit, as they should be this time of the year. We had another very strong group with one newbie (Eric G, who was super strong), but most importantly, we had a very experienced and safe group. I never saw a wheel out of line, and my leading today’s ride consisted of, “Right turn, left turn.” That’s the way I like it.
We rode the whole way from Issaquah to Landsburg on the Issaquah-Hobart Road, and it was almost eerie how devoid the road was of traffic. Later on in the ride we had pockets of traffic, but for the first two hours it was almost like we were on our own.
Today’s ride is powerful proof that you don’t have to do hard climb after hard climb to put the hurt on…literally. In the seven years that I have been leading the HOWC, I can state unequivocally that my legs have never hurt this bad after (or during) a ride. I am pretty sure that I am not the only one in the Pain Cave right now. We had a group of eight, really a perfect size for using a paceline, which we were able to do quite a bit. After all of the climbing in Hawaii, I was looking to do something different today than all of the climbing we have been doing on the HOWC.
Tracy and I are leaving to walk around downtown to run some errands. Instead of shorts, I am wearing jeans to hide my goofy looking knee-high recovery compression socks. If I was as tough as my friend Justin, I’d take an ice bath. Ouch.