My first Cascade CATS ride

You know how some days you feel like you’re riding solo, going up hill, into the wind, and in drizzling rain on a flat tire?

Well guess what. Today I did. For 15 miles of 65 miles (stats).

I was so pleased with myself figuring out how to get in extra miles today. I had heard from Mitchel that there was going to be a change in plans for the Cascade CATS ride since he wasn’t going to be able to ride the (blue) 16-18 group for century much less 130 miles. He said likely a blue group was only doing 100. Since I did a century last week (and a hilly one at that), my plan was to bump up to a 130 mile ride as a max to “prove” I could knock out STP in a day. I was bummed until I figured out a plan that would get me a tiny bit more mileage.

I got up at 6:00, and was on the road at 6:42. I decided to ride up to Log Boom and back before the start of the ride. Well I had left a little later than my intended 6:30, so I had to cut it short by 1 mile at Lake Forest Park. I had done 1 extra hour of riding which felt fine.

I was back at Magnusson at 7:50 and saw Mitchel and signed in (and had 1/2 a Kashi go lean bar to eat). It was a much smaller group than RAMROD from two weeks ago, and much smaller than Cascades CTS rides (Green group = 14-16). I knew there was no way I could keep up with the Purple (18-20) group doing 130, so I stuck with the century. There was also a purple group doing the century, but that wasn’t happening either. There were only 2 other girls in the whole batch.

We left all as one big group, went through Windermere – and the first hill was steep. I was kind of at the back of the back and “happy” to hear one or two other people huffing and puffing up the hill AND that one of the other women was a little concerned if the ride was going to be that hilly about keeping up. Lemme tell you, I was *really* concerned. Particularly when I saw early on what the pace really is.

See I think of the blue group as 16-18. Meaning my 16.1. Apparently the ride leader thought it was closer to 18.5, because that’s where we were most of the times I looked down at my GPS. Even with my 1 hour warm up, I was dragging. And while the winds had been calm for me going to the top of the lake (thank goodness), as soon as the sun tried to peer out the wind picked up from the south at a good clip.

Let’s put it this way: I was working, I could feel it in my legs. I wondered if I would be able to finish the ride. What I figured is that if I could keep up with the group through until we were on the May Valley Road, I’d be good – I feel MUCH more comfortable riding a route I’ve done before. I had gone out to Flaming Geyser – so most of the ride down was ok. However, we weren’t going to Flaming Geyser. We were vering off and going to Black Diamond, then out to places I had never heard of: Cumberland, Palmer, Kanaskat and Ravensdale (although I have heard of this because of Erik’s racing). Here’s a map.

Our first stop was to be at Isacc Evans park down between Kent and Auburn – 32 miles into the ride (and 47 miles into my ride). Early in the ride (near Husky Stadium) one guy lost his bike rack, but the group kept on figuring he’d catch up. Then in Renton one guy slid out. He made an AMAZING recovery but his tire looked like it might have been out of tru or it was rubbing his brake pad. Everyone stopped for that one, and he was fine. I mostly kept up although there was once or twice I lost the end of the line – it wasn’t really a great paceline – very spurty, but then again they specifically said that this wasn’t a pace line ride – to give room. Still people were moderately drafting.

In Kent we wound up making a few left/right turns. In one turn – just near the King County court house, I thought I had slipped on something slippery – maybe because of the rain last night or because of the cross walks. Then a few blocks later the same thing happened. I looked down at First and Titus (about a block from a bakery none the less) and saw my tire was flat. So I told the group, they asked if I had everything (I did), and they went on.

I got a text from Ruben about that point – he was planning on taking Elias out to meet me at the bakery anyway. So this was perfect timing. I told him what happened and that I was changing my tire. He grabbed tires and the pump and started driving my way.

I spent a LONG time changing my tire and realized there was no way I’d catch up to the group at the park. I had a really hard time getting the new tire off – it’s one of those somewhat pricey foldable Vittoria, supposedly somewhat puncture resistant. However, we had gone over a lot of rocks and glass in the last few miles. Anyway, I couldn’t get my tire levers in enough to get out the tube. Finally I did. I could hear the leak but didn’t find it – it was too windy and noisy. So I just put on the new tube and stuffed the old tube in my bag to deal with later.

Product UN placement: DO NOT BUY Innova road tubes. They’re a piece of crap. I wound up buying a 10 pack of these from an on line retailer (I will tell you which if you ask, but I don’t feel like ragging on them in this post). Both Ruben and I have been getting a LOT more flats with them. But more than that, the stems just do not hold up to the bike pumps (both floor pumps and hand held pumps). They bend way too easily

Both the tube with the puncture AND the tire exchanged it with are Innova tubes. Crap. Crap crap. I got the new one on, pumped it up and the @)(*$*( stem got bent (this is the same type of tube/stem that blew out on Ruben on the RAMROD training ride). So the tire wouldn’t stay at 120 psi. It started to go flat again in a block. So I pumped again and this time I got the stem to kind of hold air. I didn’t put on the cap either – because I think that was causing it to push on the stem and lose more air.

So here I was thinking crap. Do I go on or do I have Ruben pick me up in Kent. I decided to at least make it the 4 miles to the park and use the facilities. I was right, no bike group there.

The tire was holding the little air it had at this point so I decided I could go an hour/15 miles and pressed on.

Little did I know it was hilly and into the wind. Then it started to drizzle. Which made it all feel worse. But slowly I pressed on – which slowly == approx 15mph. Which wasn’t bad considering it was about when I got the flat that we started climbing up 600 feet to Black Diamond. I did see one other rider from the group who was stuck with a flat in Auburn (under the overpass for route 18), but he had gear so I kept going.

I texted Ruben when I was about 7 miles away. About 3 miles away I got a text from him saying my group actually just showed up around 4 minutes prior. I suddenly thought “Oh I can catch them!” I wouldn’t keep going with them, but I could at least say I caught up, then fix my flat and turn back on the path I’m familiar with and go home. However that wasn’t to be. With about a mile to go I got REALLY hungry and my legs just wouldn’t press on much more. I could tell the bakery was devoid of all bikes (save one loan rider) when I got there. I was a bit bummed until I heard Elias’ voice from the car.

The other guy who was there had been on one of the rides, but was having an off day and decided to just go his own route on his own pace. Ruben had apparently seen both a RAMROD training group and my CATS blue group come by. He spoke with the CATS group, told them he was my husband (the one who go the flat in Kent), so they at least knew I was taken care of. He apparently gets the best husband/SAG wagon award from that group.

We decided to put the bike in the car and have lunch. It was 12:30… and I was really hungry so this sounded good. Plus the weather was looking like it was threatening to rain. I felt like a wimp because I had my wet weather gear with me. But I had done 65 miles, and I was concerned about the forecast for rain at 4pm. Plus mentally I just was done. I thought about going home and doing 2 more hours on the trainer, but opted to take Elias to the skate park instead. The irritating thing is that the a) the sun came out shortly after we got home at 1:30 AND b) the showers they promised late today never materialized.

Given that this was going to be my one big opportunity to get in over 100 miles in one day, I’m a bit concerned I won’t make it to Portland. Ruben and I have to figure out some kind of SAG support/back up plan of where we can stay or get picked up. I know I’ll need a light – I think I’ll start at 4:30-4:45 and I’ll probably get in around 9pm in Portland. If my legs will hold up that long.

Cookies to anyone who read this far!

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