Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hills of the West Coast: Congrats to Cadel Evans

Miles: 69.6 Climbing: 2574’ Route: Tibbets/East Lake Sammamish/Avondale/Bear Creek/Mink/Broadway/Maltby/High Bridge/Carnation/Fall City/Tibbets Attrition Rate: 2

Back when we used to start the ride from Downtown Seattle, I would often ride up the first climb at the back of the group. My goal was to get a feel for the type of group that we had on the ride that day. If someone looked to be in over their head, I would find a way to have “The Talk” privately. Normally the rider would have already figured out that they were not likely going to be able to hang with the ride. If not, I would tell them that the ride was likely to get harder, and certainly not easier. I’d make sure that they knew the way home, and it made sense to have this talk while we were still close to the start.

When we head north from the new ride start in Issaquah we often head up East Lake Sammamish, riding a paceline in the generous shoulder. There is a very small hill towards the south end, and for the second time in the last few weeks, a rider popped off of the back. We did hit the hill a little hard, and I asked the group to take it easy down the back side of the hill. I thought for sure that whoever was off the back would easily catch back on. I was wrong, and that person never regained the group. It was very early on in the ride and I was checking everything out, making sure that we had a safe and solid group of nine. I couldn’t afford to be distracted by looking behind us.

I’m not sure what the solution might be. With no re-group at the top of a tiny hill, if I hang around with someone off of the back, I’ll have to dig deep to regain the paceline, something I really don’t want to have to do. Besides, that won’t help the popped rider anyway.

As we have a lot this year, we headed out into the hinterland, and everyone was very complimentary of the route. We had an on the road average of around 20mph, and once everyone got the feel of things, we had a pretty smooth paceline most of the time. When riding this type of route, we certainly don’t get the same training effect as we would if we were doing 6000’ of hard paced climbing by staying local in the Issaquah Alps or hammering in super hard pacelines like we often did in past years. But hey, it’s finally summer (maybe), and it just seems like a lot more fun to ride out in the MON (middle of nowhere). Spring is normally the time of the year for heavy duty climbing, but since we didn’t really have a spring this year, we have sort of skipped that phase.

I have been listing the ride as having “some hills,” and the pace as “HOWC Lite,” so riders should know what to expect. If people come out expecting the maniacal pace of past summers or the big climbing days, they must be adjusting well. Now I just have to figure out how to have the ride go smooth right from the start, and to not lose anyone right out of the gate.

At least no one is complaining!

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