STP 2011 – One day redux

3:15 in the morning is still dark. It’s before the alarm, and I’ve only had about 3.5 hours of real sleep, interrupted once by people outside on the street.

Getting dressed, including the ritual of the “butt wax” (chamois butter), migrating laundry, eating, emptying the dishwasher, loading the dishwasher, feeding the cats, letting the cat out, trying to get the cat back in, packing the last minute things into my bag and doing the last minute check of the bike… somehow it all gets done by 4:20 and we’re in the garage putting gear on our bikes. Rob cycles up to my house, having stayed at friend’s house just a few blocks away. We leave our bags in the garage for Sharlyn to pick up (Thanks Sharlyn!), I run into the house for that inevitable “one last thing I forgot”, I lock the garage and we’re on our way.

The birds are chirping. The sky is lightening. Still the streets are dark and quiet.

We meet up with Bill at 25th and the Burke Gillman, he had gotten there just seconds before. We ride to the start – Stephen’s new front and rear lights fall off as we go over some bumps as we enter Montlake and a car runs over his tail light.

Anthony and Steve, coldWe connected up with Anthony and Steve G “where the espresso stand used to be” – as Rob goes off to drop his bag on the truck. Anthony and his crew are in front of us, we figure out how to connect.

“Are you excited” says the guy over the loudspeaker? Yes, really, but mostly kind of chilly and nervous about my recently sprained ankle and just wanting to go. At least this is better than 2 years ago, I’m better trained and not riding on a bruise the size of a cell phone.

The start is slow, as usual. Someone bumps into the curb as we leave the Montlake parking lot. First bike down… not an auspicious start to the ride.

I get a phone call, there was an issue with some of the Portland crew Anthony knows, and they are behind us. We figure they’re faster than us and will catch up at REI. I can’t find Mitchel or Brad – I figure they’re going to start later and will just zoom passed at some point (it turns out they were in front of us and we had NO chance of ever seeing them. Brad finished in just over 12 hours. Mitchel had a great ride speed wise, but also was a ride ref and had to stay with the 8 accidents he saw. He finished at around 6:45pm).

But even as we climb the tiny little hill on Brooklyn from Pacific to Campus Parkway, I’m noticing something. The hill doesn’t bug me, I’m not winded and I don’t have to downshift.

SunriseOur one siting of Michael LIt gets bright over the Cascades as we are making our way along Lake Washington Blvd, but we don’t see the full sunrise this time until we hit Rainier Blvd. Michael in his flannel shirt, cotton socks and gardening gloves catches up briefly to us as we are climbing up from Lake WA to Rainier, he hangs with Stephen and then we never see him again. Apparently he finished his first STP, in one day, in about 12 hours. Amazing.

I know we’re about 1/2 way to REI… I eat half a bag of sharkies and hand the other half to Stephen.

Skateboarders In the Kent Valley we see two things: the skateboarders who started at 3:30 am and another accident – an unhappy guy who obviously had a broken shoulder/collar bone/something being tended to by medics.

At REI One day riding is great for a few reasons but one of them is getting to the REI food stop early and getting your pick of the Odwalla and the semi fresh sanicans. Can’t emphasize the importance of the latter. I eat a 1/2 banana, a whole odwalla chocolate protein, grab a bagel and throw it into my bento box. We hooked back up with Anthony (who had shed his coat and was now flying the PPTM jersey), Steve G & the Portland crew. Average speed to REI was 16.6mph, and we were at the rest stop about 10 minutes total.

We had a really nice pace/paceline going through the valley, through Puyallup. Steve’s rear water bottle carrier shattered in front of me after hitting a bump and he lost a water bottle and half of the carrier, but no one got hit by the debris. We didn’t go back for the bottle either. It was one of many things we saw on the road – bike lights, bottles, sunglasses… you could collect a bounty if you took the time.

I ate half a NuGo bar as we turn into Puyallup, and the other half as we pass the mini stop. I knew the hill was coming and I wanted to have something in the tank for that, plus we were about 1/2 the way from Kent to Spanaway. I feel like I did reasonably well on The Hill because I didn’t make everyone wait as long as I thought they’d have to! It only took me a song and a half on my speakers to get up it… Not many people passed me either. So I was pretty happy about that. I ate the mini bagel at the top. (Average speed to Spanaway was 16.8mph).

In the line at Spanaway. Grabbing food as we canAt Spanaway we stacked our bikes against the fence with Stephen’s remark “bike stacking is the corollary to bin packing.” I grabbed some cookies and rice crispy treat packets and stuffed them into my jersey, ate an oreo, a few oranges, pretzels, and a yummy Jamba juice. The bathroom line was long but the sanicans – really, for sanicans I can’t complain (and I hate sanicans). Unfortunately the lines were longer and we were here about 20 minutes though. I still think the better thing to do is to skip Spanaway and go 2 blocks to the Safeway around the corner to the bathrooms but I’ve never done it. Then again, had I done that I’d miss the Jamba juice…

The next section is back behind Ft Lewis and we didn’t really have much trouble with it – just fast and flat, taking turns pulling. Anthony, Steve and crew pulled ahead, but we figured we’d catch up eventually. Average speed to McKenna was 18.1mph, where we stopped for just a few minutes to pick up some Vitamin I and hit the bathrooms (no lines!). We hooked back up with “Legs” Lamarca and crew again. I ate something here, one of the rice crispy treats I think, I’m not sure. I also remembered to start putting sunscreen on my lips…

The next section of the ride is that Yelm Tenino trail – people have really mixed feelings on this. On one hand, it’s SO much nicer than years ago having to ride on the road next to it and dealing with the cars. On the other hand – 10,000 people on bikes going between 15-25mph on a skinny trail with “posts” in the middle (the posts were removed and this year they at least had some yellow cardboard or something covering the post holes – in past years it was either the post or the holes)…. it’s kind of crazy. In past years I’ve seen at least one or two accidents along this spot. This year we saw a bad one – a guy lying perpendicular to the trail with a group of people around him. We had to really slow down and put our feet down to get by. I heard someone asking “do you know where you are” and someone else calling 911, so I felt like it was ok to keep going. Still it gets you shaken a little bit.

Average speed for the 17 miles from McKenna to Tenino (including the trail): 18.1mph.

PPTM in TeninoAt Tenino I pulled into our “usual” spot under the trees and yup, there was Anthony again. I love that we’re creatures of habit. At least this time he wasn’t asleep like a few years ago. I got three cookies from the bake sale folks (the cookies there are GREAT), I ate one, gave one away, and saved one for later. We filled up water bottles. Some used the rest rooms but the lines were long so I wanted to wait until Centralia. We stayed about 15 minutes. Longer than I wanted, but we were still making good time.

The next section was 13 miles, mostly down hill to Centralia and we averaged 17.5 mph – although our speed before hitting the stop lights in Centralia was 18.5. The photographers were in a slightly different place this year – not taking photos with the red barn behind us – I’m wondering what they’ll turn out like. But we were in a nice paceline as they were firing away. I bet they got some good shots.

Creamsicles!We arrived at the college around 11:30 with about 5:45 ride time under our belts. We at our creamsicles (YUM!), drank our chocolate milk, got our free one day food, got in the line for the one day sani-cans. In line for the bathrooms, someone says to Stephen “That’s the nerdiest jersey I’ve ever seen!” I talked with Linda at this point who told me she had just supported Mitchel who had just left Centralia about 10 minutes ago, was in Chahalis, and she was still over by the highway. I told her we probably didn’t need support until Oregon, but we would check in between now and then. Anthony, Steve G, Boyd and the Portland crew left and we said we’d catch up with them at least by St Helens. Rob left to use the bathrooms at the shorter lines in Chehalis and we’d catch up. We only stayed in Centralia 25 minutes total – down from the almost hour I stayed last time. If you’re really trying to save time you don’t get your support here – you grab the creamsicles and go find support other places. It just takes too long.

The tenor of the ride changes once you’re passed Centralia or Chahalis on the one day ride. First off it’s a LOT less crowded. Also it’s getting hot. The winds get “squirrelly” even if you had a tail wind for most of the ride to this point because your cutting back and forth across the valley. Also on a two day ride it’s about the social aspect, like the riders of the fat tire bikes we saw early on, stopping for longer at each stop, chatting more on the pacelines. If you’re on a one day ride it’s about making sure you’re gear is good, eating at the right times, spinning your legs, metering your heart rate or watts, watching the pedals in front of you and keeping the sticky side down.

We caught up with Rob somewhere in the valley but before the Napavine hill. Actually of all the hills on STP, Napavine is my least favorite, particularly on one day. It’s hot. It’s exposed. It’s just a long drag. One two days there’s fresh baked bread for sale at the top. One day I guess there is but I missed it. We stopped so Stephen and Bill could get more water. I overheard some other guys talking about gu packets, and thought about eating something but I didn’t because I was full from lunch and that was my mistake. Instead I drank some accelerade and stretched my leg to try to relieve the pinch point/numbness in my left ring toe which was already starting. Our average speed from Centralia to Napavine was 15.6mph and we were literally only there for 5 minutes.

The EggNapavine to Winlock was pretty easy and I insisted that we needed a picture of Bill with the Egg (no STP is complete without your picture with the Egg!). It turns out a) we just missed the Winlock Egg Days and b) speedy Brad has gone through there countless times and had no clue there was a giant egg there. We stopped for coffee at the espresso stand. I was hungry (I needed the protein in the iced soy latte) and more than that I needed a caffeine boost. I was so desperate I even got a double. The extra ice went into my accelerade bottle – the heat from the road was starting to make that taste nasty. I also ate my other Tenino cookie. Bill didn’t partake of the coffee but was apparently tempted by the smells of the BBQ. Average speed to Winlock was 18.2mph and we were there about 10 minutes, with the coffee stop. I also checked in with Linda at some point in here – she told me when she was going to be in Vader, I told her I’d look for her but not to wait if she didn’t see us.

Winlock to Vader was surprisingly quick (it is only about 7 miles and it took us only 23 minutes (18.4mph average). I wanted to stop to stretch my foot out again, someone needed the bathroom, we put on sunscreen. We were here 10 minutes but it seemed much longer. Particularly when you immediately have to start up the “hill that no one tells you about” right away.

Up and over. Then up and over more rollers. Then into Castle Rock another 10 miles away. I did a quick scan to see if I saw Anthony & crew, or even Linda, or Joan and Paul (who were driving my van down and had texted they were just passing the Vader stop a bit before this). It took us 36 minutes to get there, averaging 16.6 miles an hour on the rollers and hills. We stayed at least 15 minutes here – eating (as an after thought I ate the rice crispy treat), refilling water bottles, using the REAL bathrooms, I reapplied chamois butter, stretching out to un-numb my toes, and then wet my buff down and put it back under my helmet. I checked in with Linda, who just decided she’d meet us at Goble – I was thankful for that.

St. Helens to Lexington was another 1/2 hour at an average of 16.2mph (I blame the rollers and the heat). Just before the turn into Lexington we were stopped by an ambulance pulling away and a bicycle on the side of the road. Only later did we find out that someone had a heart attack and they were taking him, eventually, to Harborview. Sad and scary to see a fellow cyclist taken off like that. It just gives me pause and I hope he is ok.

And then there were 4... at LexingtonWe turned into the park and there we see Sharlyn and Helen! Helen was even brave enough to hug her sweaty dad. Usually there’s pretty good food at Lexington – it was a little light this time and there were no turkey wraps by the time we got there. I was bummed and had a PB&J but they still had roast beef. The trick, I told Stephen, is to take off your helmet and use it to carry all the food. He had a serious case of hat head under there… We stayed 20 minutes to eat (sandwich, fruit, and I saved the pretzels), relax, stretched the toes again (which were numb again), recharge my garmin… I kept dropping things on the ground at this point. I get so clutzy when I’m tired. I called and left a message for Anthony – just to let him know where we were. I figured we wouldn’t see him again at this point. I called to let Linda know we were leaving Lexington.

Stephen and Bill on approachOregonI knew that last time I got into Oregon at 4:45 pm. I was on track to do better this time, but I had hoped to do even better than we were. Particularly with the tail wind I thought we could get across by 4pm. We hit a huge headwind going towards the bridge – which is a good sign, meaning we’d have a great tail wind once we got across into Oregon. But still Bill and Stephen were tired, and I had aerobars and they did not. I jumped out ahead before I knew it and waited for them at the light before the approach. The bridge was just a slow slog up and over because your single file (as opposed to two day riders who go up in waves). You’re as fast as the person in front of you, for better or for worse. Spin and just get there. Our average speed from Lexington into Oregon was 14.3, to Goble was 15.9 mph. The 17 miles took us just over an hour… and somewhere in here we lost Rob…

Linda and CokeLinda, true to her word, met us in Goble with oreos, potato chips and thankfully coke. Now I don’t drink coke but I was totally craving it the last time I rode and it was no where to be found passed the gas station as you get off the bridge. But here I was, drinking, no chugging, this cold, black, sweet, salty liquid and loving it. We did stay here about 20 minutes, I used the bathroom (with no line!), stretched to reset the toes again, I ate 2 oreos and some chips. We refilled our water bottles. I charged my garmin again (every little bit helped). Even Stephen had a coke, and he doesn’t drink coke. We thanked Linda and were back on our way.

Bill and a mountainRoute 30 in Oregon is usually pretty nasty. Late in the day there is a lot of traffic, but at least it’s cooler because the sun is behind most of the hills and trees. It makes it almost bearable – particularly when you’re going down into some of the valleys near some water. It’s cool, the air feels crisp, particularly on your skin that’s been baking in the sun all day. I was fired up on caffeine and sugar. It took us 45 minutes to do the next 13 miles at 18.1 mph. We stopped at St. Helens, just briefly (10 minutes), I ate my pretzels (from Lexington), and someone used the bathroom. Bill went under the sprinklers and said it felt really nice. We couldn’t figure out where Rob was. (Rob withdrew at St. Helens with stomach issues. He’s fine; we saw him Sunday morning at breakfast and gave him a ride back to Seattle.)

We saw Mt. St. Helens, Mt Adams, Mt Hood, all covered in snow and looking gorgeous. Not a cloud in the sky. We did see many of the same riders over and over – for instance we kept leapfrogging a tandem team (and their support vehicle) with “Jolly Roger” pirate jerseys on them. Their support team kept passing us by and shaking their cowbells. Kind of the equivalent of your support team riding by and screaming “Nice butt” on Ragnar, it did feel good.

Shuffling off (13 miles) to Scapoose took us another 40 minutes at 18.7 mph. I was a little sad to think I wasn’t going to be meeting up with Erik, Joanna, Rich and my usual PPTM gang to ride into Portland together. I was surprised to see there was a bit of support there – but very few people. Linda pulled in to a driveway a few blocks down and we got more support (a little more food and more water). We only stayed about 10 minutes and a few of those were just helping poor Pucker (Linda and Mitchel’s dog) back in the truck after getting to stretch his legs. At this point we just wanted to be done. It was 18 more miles according to the cue book, including a new route over the St. Johns bridge. The end was in sight, so to speak.

St. John's bridgeThis was the only time getting back on the bike and spinning took a little more effort. Once on and going, I was fine… not sore (except for the stupid numb toes), but the legs were just a little…reluctant. I was a little worried about the climb onto the St. John’s bridge and how it would compare to what I affectionately call the F.U. Hill (by Montgomery park on the old route), particularly after *seeing* it as we approached. The climb was slow, but steady and not too steep, but really my legs were pretty tapped out.

The route on the other side of the river in NW Portland is MUCH nicer – the view is pretty, it’s shaded.

NW PortlandNW PortlandNW Portland

There’s a stretch with a 15mph sign that I got to blink at me for doing 18 (I found it in me to sprint, but couldn’t catch the picture in time… next time I will). Then we hit all the untimed stop lights. That was annoying. I think the route may be 2 miles longer than last year too. But the finish is mostly downhill, which is nice. We averaged 15.1mph but the last 18 miles took us almost an 1:15. We arrived at the finish line to get our 1 day tags just before 8:20 to see Paul, Joan, Steve G, Helen and Sharlyn on the right side of the finish shoot.


After getting our bags from Sharlyn and checking in and that WONDERFUL shower, we had a great meal (and I had 2 drinks!) at Andina. MMMM. Thanks to Brad, who had been in since 4pm, for organizing that. Breakfast was at the J&M Cafe the next morning.


Many many thanks to Paul and Joan for driving my van down and being my Oreo Fairies, Sharlyn and Helen for bag transport (and smiling faces in Lexington), and Linda for the support in Oregon. Big thanks to Silvia, Mitchel, Anthony, Steve, Stephen, Bill, Rob (and the Portland Crew) for their many hours of ride support (aka, allowing me to suck their wheels). Thanks to Elias and Matthew for putting up with my crazy training schedule. Big thanks to Stacia for her fantastic coaching and Neal Goldberg (Footworks PT) for putting my sprained ankle back together enough so I could do this.

And thank you to everyone for all your words of encouragement and support. Riding STP in one day is not a solo experience by any stretch of the imagination… I could not have done this (yes that’s the data) without you all. All the pictures are in my gallery.

RSVP 2009

First, of course, the data from Day 1 and Day 2. Photos are here.

Ruben and set out at 6:25 and climbed up and over 65th just like last year. Friday morning was threatening rain, so we were dressed in pretty wet weather gear for a summer ride. We opted not to use the same Sherpa Service as last year as we figured out the Best Western is just 2 blocks from the Rodeway Inn in Bellingham. We got on the road around 6:50 in the morning.

We rode without stopping the full 28 miles until we hit Snohomish and had coffee, biscotti and a bran muffin. The only thing of note here was my realizing it was a Friday not Saturday as the construction work on Lake City way was going on and I saw a few commuters. The trail north of Snohomish was pretty much empty except for us riders. We had a quick stop in Lake Stevens to get some more road food, and use the sanicans, which because we were early in the ride were still clean. Gotta love that.

We opted not to stop in Arlington as we did last year, and continued on to Mt. Vernon. We hit some rain just to the east of Mt. Vernon for about 15 minutes – it was hard enough that I had to stop and put my electronics into baggies which we had remembered to bring.

The Mt. Vernon stop was practically empty and I was just starving at this point. Fortunately it was only sprinkling. I ate a half a bagel with PB&J, and tons of fruit and grabbed some crackers. I could have even eaten more, but we decided to move on and to find a coffee shop (out of the potential rain) or eat lunch in Bow. The route, however, doesn’t really go past any shops at this point. I did see an espresso place in Avon (small town to the West of Mt. Vernon), but we didn’t stop…

We were really lucky this year – the rainy weather brought us a tail wind through the Skagit Flats. There was a small stop at Bow, but it was 1:15, we had 20 miles left, we were hungry and I had heard good things about the Rhododendron Cafe. So we stopped and actually had a lunch. Two other cyclists were there with us, but they had cycled down from Bellingham just for lunch. The quote from them was “those guys have numbers, like they’re in jail”… Still they sat and watched riders go by for a while after they were done eating.

Service was a little slow, but the food was tasty… and the berry cobbler was quite good. We got back on the road around 2:30 and started the climb up Chuckanut drive. This year I could totally climb the hills and appreciate it – not feeling the constant pain of the hamstring tear. Our next stop was at Rocket Donuts in Bellingham about an hour later, and then onto the Best Western to pick up our bags and our hotel for some much needed clean up. Total for day 1: 112 miles riding, 7:25 ride time, 10 hours total time, 15.1 mph and 2 REALLY nice pit stops.


We had dinner in a pretty good Thai restaurant where we saw some other riders. During our conversation we mentioned we had stopped for lunch in Bow, took our time, etc. One guy said “oh that’s the way to do it, (pointing at his friend) – he wanted to be the first to Bellingham” (apparently they were actually second into Bellingham). So I said “well we did our intense riding earlier in the year when we did STP in one day, so this time we wanted to relax and enjoy the ride”… Hehe. Not many years I’ll be able to use THAT as a trump card 🙂

Day 2: we woke up again at 5:45, and got ready. We crammed a bad bowl of cereal courtesy of the hotel, checked out and rode to the bag drop off at the Best Western. Our plan was instead of heading back to McLeod and the route that way, we headed north on Meridian and west across Bakerview back to our route. We left at 6:35, and then stopped a few blocks down the road at a Walgreen’s and then at Woods Coffee – for coffee and a scone. Much better than the breakfast at the hotel. We were ostensible on the road by 7:15 – about 45 minutes after we had originally wanted to be, but happy we had found a good coffee shop.

The valley north of Bellingham is also beautiful and we had no wind… great for a morning riding. A detour had us go up and over a hill back to Hanegan road sooner than the cue sheet had listed. We passed our share of folks and were passed by a fair share, but the road was mostly empty. Having had breakfast already, we skipped the Dutch Mother in Lynden (although Ruben used the public restrooms) and kept going to the border.

I still get a chuckle about the ditch into Canada. Don’t cross it! (And yes, there was border patrol watching…)

This year the “Wall” (the big hill) was MUCH easier than last year, although this was the only time I even remotely felt my hamstring. It is better but not 100% (and I have to accept it may never be again).

It was sad that the ferry in Fort Langley wasn’t part of our ride this year… Ruben was especially sad since he did this just this spring. Instead we rode this very beautiful NEWLY paved road near the water for quite some time (and managed some great averages) and then went over the Golden Ears bridge – which was just gorgeous. The descent on the other side was a little odd (the sidewalk felt funny under the tires). The rest of the ride from this point feels “functional” – loads of city riding and traffic, but I still like the excellent park in Port Moody and want to take Elias there. We stopped there, had another little snack (I should have eaten more), then headed UP the hill on route 7A. Again, SO much easier than last year.

I was passed by a bunch of people, but eventually we caught up with them during all the stop and go of the bike way in Vancouver. Eventually we caught up to riders 1, 2 and 3 and rode in right behind them. Even though I registered on January 5 we were rider 1280 and 1281 respectively, I guess because RSVP sold out on Jan 6!

Ruben and I finished just around 1pm. Stats for day 2: 5:06 ride time, 6:30 hours total time (if you include breakfast at the coffee shop), 15.5 av speed. We got into the garage and found there were probably 50-75 MAYBE bikes down there. In fact we had made such good time and were so early that our bags weren’t ready. We did a lot of stretching and ate the burgers at the “party” while we waited. Eventually we got our bags and were among the first to shower. It felt awesome.

While waiting for my sister and hubby to come into town, we walked down Robson and caught the Zombie meet-up, walked with the zombies for a bit, then sat and had more snacks at a coffee shop around the corner from the finish line. Jacki and Ron showed up, we had dinner at a Malaysian place called the Banana Leaf restaurant (quite good), then headed home. There was 0 wait at the border, and we were home by 9:45pm.

I saw this quote on one of the message boards “Not only are there fewer cyclists on RSVP, since there is less support, there are fewer inexperienced cyclists. The slower riders may be slower, but they are more likely to know what they are doing and are more predictable. You’ll be able to more comfortably pass them.” (by Claire Petersky). It’s really true.

Old La Honda and Tunitas Creek

As always, we’ll start with the stats: Lauren and Ruben, although I can’t really account for the difference in the elevation gain between the two.

Ruben and I are visiting some friends in the bay area while Elias attends a camp down here. The original thought was that Ruben would do the Vineman Aqua Bike. Although he decided not to do that ride, we decided to still bring down our bikes for some rides. In particular it’s been his goal since getting the new bike to bring it down and re-do the Old La Honda hill climb. Details of the grade of this climb are here.

Ruben did a bit of research and found a bunch of interesting rides on this site, and of course goes right to the “hilly” section. We both wanted to get out to the coast so we picked this ride with 54 miles and purportedly 4700 feet of elevation gain. The author said he did it in under 4 hours.

I almost bailed on the ride this morning. We woke up later than I had wanted to and I just was feeling a little off and nervous about a few things. For one – the hills and the feeling like I would be slowing Ruben down. Two: I promised to be home in time to pick up the kids from camp if our friend dropped them off. Now when I initially read it, I noticed Old La Honda was on there, but this morning Ruben said it wasn’t. Turns out it was.

We took off around 9am, and it was still cool and cloudy in the Palo Alto area. Even heading westbound through Stanford, I told Ruben I was feeling like I was biking through water. He said it was because we were going up hill slightly. Also my bike was having trouble, the chain was skipping in some of the gears when it was on the front chain ring. We biked through beautiful Portola Valley, and as I was looking at my Garmin, I noticed it was about 40 minutes into the ride. I thought that I’d eat soon, but I also realized that I tend to warm up about 45 minutes into anything (like about the time I get to Seward park from home).

For whatever reason though, I forgot to eat something. Big mistake. We got to Old La Honda and I was still dragging, but some part of me really wanted to do it again and prove that I had gotten to be a stronger cyclist. Ruben was going to stay with me, but I told him I knew he wanted to attack the hill because he can and that I’d meet him up at the top (and I’d call if there was trouble). I also didn’t want him to stay with me because then I’d feel pressure to do more than my pace and I really didn’t want to be rushed. So he went off.

The first part wasn’t too bad and I was feeling pretty good about it. I hadn’t gotten into my lowest of low gears – I was in the small front chain ring . I forgot how long the hill was – I seemed to remember 1.3 miles, so some how I figured I would be done in 15 minutes, that maybe I could do it without getting into my granny gear, and that I could do it without stopping. Boy did I get that wrong. By 10 minutes I was starting to get a little tired, but knew I could keep going. I saw a Lara bar on the ground and realized Ruben had dropped it so I stopped and picked it up, but got right back on the bike. I passed the 2 mile mark, then the 15 minute mark and there were still more switchbacks and I started to get a little frustrated. About 2/3 of the way up I started to notice my breathing was changing, I was wheezing. I tried to change my breathing and catch deeper breaths, but I was just gasping for air. I started to get fuzzy headed too. I switched into my lowest gear and kept plodding along, frustrated and crying on and off.

I wound up finally reaching the top about 32 ish minutes after I had started, practically fell off the bike and just sat on the road crying and feeling like I was going to totally hurl. Ruben had been up there for about 10 minutes (watching a deer for a large part of it). He sat with me, and asked if I had eaten, and I told him no, but that I had found the food (his hint that I should have). When things mellowed out a little bit, I ate some sports beans and drank water.

At least I had done better than the last time I did this (sometime in the 2004-2005 time frame), where I seem to remember coming in just over 40 minutes, which according to the Felix Wong site is a category ‘B’ rider. So I guess it’s good: I bumped up a category.

I was a bit concerned about going on – I had no idea the hill profile going out to the coast, much less going back. Ruben asked another cyclist who came up the same road what he knew and told us it was mostly down hill to the coast, with a few rollers at the end. He also told us that the way back was less of a steep climb, but it was more exposed. We checked the time and even though we knew we weren’t going to be coming back up the way we went down, we thought the other way up wouldn’t be as steep either.

Boy we wrong.

So most of the ride down was pretty easy, although I think something is going on with my bike. I keep feeling very unstable on down hills – it may be the new tires (with less tread on the sides, or there may be something going on with the frame. I don’t feel very comfortable going over 25 miles an hour. Ruben is much more confident than I am. I was also still not feeling quite right (still kind of fuzzy headed). At one point I got very frustrated and angry and unfortunately for Ruben, he got the brunt of it (I have since apologized). But other than my bonky outburst, the rest of the ride down 84 to the coast was uneventful.

We stopped briefly at the one store in San Gregorio and I used the bathroom. We thought there might be a store or something on the coast, so didn’t buy anything to eat there. We did ask the woman if she knew anything about the ride up Las Tunitas. She said the hill starts about 3 miles in and continues only up from there.

Lauren on PCH near San GregorioAbout 1/2 a mile later, we were on the coast and things felt better but there was no place to get something to eat and we didn’t have any official lunch on us – just regular ride food (bars, sharkies, etc). We also noted there were some markings on the road – big arrows going our way. I wondered if a supported ride had gone through there earlier this month/year.

Turning onto PCHOur next turn had us going up a hill that is about the size of the “hill” on STP – 400+ feet of elevation gain in a mile. On the way up we saw the same guy who gave us some information at the top of Old La Honda zip out in front of us and disappear fast up the hill. On the way down I had to stop – I wasn’t about to let a beautiful vista just zip by because we were on our bikes. Enough of going fast to get someplace, I wanted to stop and enjoy the ride. So we stopped to look out over bluff and take some pictures. We met a woman with a french accent who was unloading bagels, books and some peanut butter from her bike. She was biking from San Francisco to San Diego. She did ask us if we knew about how bad the hill is near Big Sur but we couldn’t help her out.

Pacific view north to Half Moon Bay from the hill   Ruben on the coast

Our turn was at the bottom of the hill. A little while later we saw a sign for a Bike Hut with snacks and drinks. I think both of us were hoping for an espresso drink but we were ok with whatever we found.

Lauren at the Bike Hut     Bike Hut description

At first I thought it would be closed on a weekday. But it said open. It was an honor system shack with organic snacks and water, bike tools, bike books and a sign in sheet. There was an explanation of how they opened in Feb 2009 and how the Tour De California had gone by earlier this year. It was wonderful. Basically it’s on this organic farm called Potrero Nuevo – they are trying to grow organic food that’s affordable for low income folks. We signed the book and thanked them for having such a wonderful spot and even got to thank the owner in person when he came in to check that there was enough water.

The first part of the Tunitas creek climb wasn’t so bad and I had largely recovered from the earlier problems I had. My legs were tired, but I wasn’t feeling tight in the chest. But true to the woman’s estimate, about 3 miles in the road got steeper. I knew it was 6 more miles to the top, but I was hopeful they weren’t too steep.

Boy was I wrong.

First off, I swear my Garmin wasn’t changing distance. I looked down and saw it said 35 miles. A few minutes later it still said 35 miles. Then a few minutes later it did creep up to 36 miles. I saw a sign on the ground saying 5 miles to go. And this was the easy part. At 4 miles to go, all of a sudden the wheezing started again. This time Ruben was with me and heard what was happening. I don’t remember exactly when, but at some point we stopped – I just couldn’t catch a breath at all – it felt like I was drowning and I was losing my mind. After things subsided a bit, I started to walk up the hill straddling my bike. Ruben got me to get off my bike and I used it to hold me up as I continued to walk. He insisted on taking the bike from me and we walked for about 1/2 a mile. I ate and drank a little bit. The unfortunate thing is neither of us brought our inhalers – I have problems in the cold, not the heat! I suspect what happened was that the particles in the air down here are so different from those up in Seattle (most notably the Eucalyptus) that it trigged the asthma.

When I felt better we got back on the bikes and I tried again. (at this point I think we saw the 4 miles left sign). This time I stopped just as I started to wheeze so it didn’t get so bad, but I was pretty dizzy. We kept trying to calculate how fast we could make it back, even if we were walking to the top. I knew we couldn’t make the whole way home in time to get the kids so I asked if Ruben wanted to go ahead. He wouldn’t leave me – which was probably a good idea considering how desolate it was (we saw 1 car on the whole ride up).

At this point the grade was much easier – only about 4-7% as we later found out. It turns out that the 2 miles I had to walk a 1/2 mile each on were about 9-11% grades AND on one there was 1200 feet of elevation gain (even according to Ruben’s data which is better than mine). the other hill was “only” 800 feet.

The ride down (on Kings Mountain Road) was not easy either. It was about 5 miles of downhill – on a bike that was still feeling weird (or maybe it was my head). There are a LOT of switchbacks that say 15mph and they really mean it. There were two or three cyclists that passed us, but they obviously knew the road way better than us. Both of our hands were hurting by the time we hit the bottom (and I thought at least it wasn’t just me). But I was totally and utterly exhausted.

When we got down to the corner where Portola meets Sand Hill, we saw the markings on the road for the tour De California going left. Ruben indicated he was going right, but I seemed to remember that the cue sheet said to go left. But I couldn’t read it that fast and I just followed him. I said something to him about a mile down the road and he looked down and said that I was right. So we had to turn around and do another roller in reverse. But this was an indication to me that it wasn’t just me being effected by the ride – superman Ruben was also getting tired. We also missed another turn that may have taken about 1 more mile off the route, but it turned out to be ok. We just took Sand Hill back to Alma back to our friend’s house. We got home around 3, Ruben didn’t even change, just grabbed some food, left me at home to shower and change, and went to get the kids. He even got there 10 minutes early and got to see their projects.

Now I almost didn’t write this up because I was feeling so cruddy about how relatively “weak” I am in comparison to Ruben (and how I feel like I slow him down) and because of my falling apart the way I did on this ride. I felt almost “drunk” with tiredness and lightheadedness through dinner. Even now, 9 hours after I got home, I am still a little light headed and hungry. However, knowing just how hard it was, I don’t feel so bad. Would I do it again? Yes. But this time with no time limit, on a tuned up, wheel-trued bike and carrying my inhaler and a better camera. The pressure of feeling like I was going to not make it home on time and the bike issues really exacerbated things, but not having my inhaler was a real problem.

Seattle Century Year 2

Just a quick post: Ruben and I met up with Chris and Andre at 7am at the start of the Seattle Century. I had met Chris (who lives in Ravenna) and Andre (who lives in Nome Alaska) last year on the same ride. Andre also had a friend with him named Steve.

Here are the stats.

We skipped the first stop in Bothell – which had moved from last year from across the bridge to the place where the “Killer Chickens” live and went onto the second stop at Marymoor. Although the though of Fried Chicken at the second stop was not too thrilling to my morning stomach, it was a little odd not to see it there this year. Steve was splitting off from us at this point to do a modified 50 mile loop and would meet us in Issaquah.

The next section on the century route had the hill – up and over to the Snoqualmie river valley. The stop was at Cherry Valley elementary. My problem: my stomach wasn’t “booting up” this morning and getting food into me was a little difficult. I couldn’t quite get myself to eat the yummy Dave’s Killer Bread.

This year there were no problems with the signs on Cherry Valley Road as they used the Dan Henrys instead of posted yellow signs that could be turned around. However I’m grateful for those signs – I wouldn’t have met Chris and Andre if it wasn’t for the tricksters that tried to turn us around.

Next stop was my favorite. Remlinger Farm and Peach Raspberry pie. Oh man, it totally hit the spot. I also bumped into Brandy, who was also doing the century, as I was leaving. She was arriving as we were leaving, but we got to chat for a bit before we headed out.

Our next stop was Preston and the Talking Rain site. The cold ActivWater tasted SOOOO good. We stretched and took off our shoes. And fortunately for Chris they had the pasta salad, although I avoided it this year.

Once again the ride on the highway was a thrill, but my back tire felt like it was coming out from underneath me. I wondered if it was the cross winds or if something else was going on. I took it slower than the rest of the gang. Still it’s quite the rush to be on the highway for an exit!

In Issaquah we met back up with Steve and headed towards Bellevue up Newport Way. The question became: would they have us go up the killer Zoo hill this year and this year they did not – they even eliminated the killer approach to the killer hill. We were all very grateful for that.

The Mercer Island stopped moved from last year at Luther Burbank Park to the Lid Park. Unfortunately we missed out on the strawberries for strawberry shortcake. Ruben came up with the good idea to use the jelly on the poundcake and put the whipped cream on that. It did in a pinch.

The last bit of ride was uneventful, but a little slow. It was heating up (I think the final temp was in the mid 80s, although the original forecast was for the low 90s). I was a little behind on calories and felt it. Brandy caught up to me on the last stretch on the Burke Gilman trail and we chatted about the various events we’ve done or are planning to do.

The dinner was great as always, although they were slow on getting the salmon out. I couldn’t stop touching the ice sculpture. I was pretty wiped out. Ruben, still energetic was talking about getting home and trying to convince me to go up 65th. I told him if I rode home at all it would be around to U Village and even then I may ask for a pick up to get up the hill. In the end, he went up 65th and I went around and even made it up the hill (with Chris along to help motivate me), but Ruben only got home about 5 minutes before I did.

It was a good ride, great company and food, and I really wasn’t sore after (although I did do an ice bath).

A newbie’s version of STP in one day

This is pretty long, so here are the short bits:

Stats. Photos are at Marathon photo- Ruben is 4655 and I’m 4654.

Highlights from the trip:
– It’s amazing what a body can do on little sleep.
– Ruben recovers from tumbles exceedingly well.
– Ruben and Matt are fantastic for sticking with me even though I’m slower than him.
– Riding 202 miles with a flashing princess crown.
– “It’s a small world” even on a bike ride with 10,000 people
– 0 flats for 3 people.
– Compression on a bruise helps.
– Food, food and more food.
– The 3 H’s kicked my ass mid-day – heat, hills and headwinds.

Longer story:
My story starts the Wednesday before when I went down a water park slide. I turned sideways at the end of the slide’s cement ramp, the plastic sled I was riding came out from under me, I skid on my back on the concrete and the sled flipped over and it’s handle hit me in the “gutter” between my leg (panty line) and the girl parts. It hurt, but it was hard to see so I didn’t ice it all day. The resulting bruise was at least 2″ x 4″ and the worst shade of black and red and really hurt once the bathing suit came off. I iced it and put Arnica on it for 2 days and got pretty low – all that training and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do the ride.

When I came home on Friday – I tried sitting on my bike. It was a little painful, but ok. I went for a 5 minute ride on my bike outside, including a short 1 block hill, then put the bike on the trainer. I did 1/2 an hour and it was ok but I didn’t want to overdo it.

Being ever prepared, I wound up making a few contingency plans
a) Getting on the bike at 4:30 am, hurts to much, punt and get in my car and drive SAG for Ruben
b) Stopping anywhere in the first 10 miles, finding a bus and getting home that way
c) Stopping at REI, calling someone for a pickup.
d) Stopping in Centralia – I had packed a separate bag and sent it with Rich and Joanna’s bag (with MK). Rich and Joanna said I could spend the night in their room if I had to.
e) Stopping any time between Centralia and Portland – Liz, the sweetheart she is, who was driving SAG for her hubby and friends, was even willing to come back and get me if it got to be too much.

Then there were the super secret contingency plans
– I gave the 18 year old instructions on how to find us on the route so if I had to I could call and beg him to come pick me up and take me home
– Ruben carrying enough cash in his pocket that would get me by cab anywhere.

Still even with all these contingency plans, I was a nervous wreck.

Elizabeth and Greg kindly hosted a carbo load party which was a lot of fun. Stephen, Kristina, Erik (with Laura), Joan (who wasn’t riding, but joined us for good wishes), Rich, Joanna, Ruben and I got to partake of the yummy chicken burritos and limeade. Elizabeth gave out our prizes for the STP supplemental training program. During this I was being a little bit Princessy about not sending in “points” – just what I had done to train for the week and leaving it up to Elizabeth to determine points so my prize was a princess crown that blinked! This *obviously* had to be attached to my helmet.

The rest of the evening was about ride preparations and I got into bed around 10. I started to fall asleep reading, but when Ruben came in, I woke up. I realized I had forgotten a few things on my bike, got up around 11:30 and put on a back light and pumped the tires. My heart was pounding and kept singing “Help I’m Alive” by Metric to myself: “” –

Help, Im alive, my heart keeps beating like a hammer
Hard to be soft, tough to be tender
Come take my pulse, the pace is on a runaway train
Help, Im alive, my heart keeps beating like a hammer, beating like a hammer

I tried sleeping on the couch to keep from waking Ruben. He came down and tucked me in anyway. I wound up getting about 2 hours of sleep, waking up right after a dream and realizing at least I got 1 cycle that included REM sleep. It was just before the alarm went off at 3:45 am. I went upstairs and Ruben was also waking up. He told me he only got 1 hour of sleep.

Getting ready was pretty uneventful. We left the house at around 4:30 and it was still dark and I had no front light so I had to take off my amber sunglasses to go down the hill to the starting line. I was pretty nervous and tentative as we started out and kept my speed down. We saw a lot of other folks with bikes on their cars on the road, plus a few other cyclists as we came closer to the parking lot. The cars were backed up a long way. I’m glad I live close to the start.

It was kind of odd going passed all the other baggage trucks for midpoint lodging… finally we got to our Portland bound truck and dropped off the bags. Then we waited where the espresso cart used to be – it wasn’t there this year :(. It turned out that Erik, Rich and Joanna missed the first wave, but we decided to go anyway because we knew it would be a long day ahead.

I noticed it was starting to get a little lighter out and I relaxed a little bit more. We saw the rider with bib number 10,000 pass us on Boyer. What caught our attention was him saying loud enough for us to hear “yeah, I had to pay extra for it.” (it was raising money for Cascade’s Major Taylor project).

Our one major incident happened in the first 6 miles of the ride. We were going down the S-turn to Lake Washington Blvd. I was apparently ahead by a little bit and came around the 2nd curve on the inside. So did Ruben, only he got crowded out by folks who cut the curve closer from the center. He had a choice of going into the curb or trying to jump it, so he did. The tumbled over the bike, going down between two big boulders on the side of the road! I saw someone tumble and was worried, but had to keep going as people were behind me. Then the yellow sleeves of his jersey caught my eyes. I immediately pulled over even though others were whizzing past, got off the road and ran up the hill calling his name. Other riders were calling out “He’s up, he’s ok,” but I thought that was the end of the ride anyway. I was really glad to see not a scratch on him, and he didn’t even seem to shaken. His front brakes didn’t work but other than that the bike seemed ok. With a little adjustment he could go on and we debated stopping at Seward for a check. Strangely, part of me relaxed more thinking our trip was “pre-dinged.”

We saw one of the skateboarders early in the ride – on the flat part of Lake WA Blvd. Either I was really early or he started later than normal (I usually pass him on the trail between Yelm and Tenino).

We passed the Seward park stop as Ruben didn’t feel like stopping and we got to the top of the Seward park hill right at 45 minutes. We stopped briefly to have a bite to eat and fix the speakers which kept coming off both our bikes. Erik came by right then with Matt T (they both work at Amazon, but apparently the wives know each other) and said “What, a flat already?” We got on our bikes and started to follow him. I noticed almost immediately that he had a flat. He commented that it was because he teased us and pulled over (Matt stuck with us and we figured Erik could catch up). Unfortunately Erik apparently and a bad spare and CO2 cartridge, so he took some time and eventually hooked up with Rich and Joanna.

The ride to the REI stop was really uneventful. The winds were fairly calm and there wasn’t that much traffic early in the morning. Happiness was the early day bonus of relatively clean restrooms and a pretty quick stop. Ruben and I shared an Odwalla and a peanut butter tortilla, and I had had some fruit. I also checked on the bruised area which was hurting but not getting any worse, so I decided it was ok to press on.

Between REI and the Puyallup hill we wound up with 2 folks on the tail of our pace line. She was a chatty woman – an engineer from Boeing. We lost her on the hill though as she was surprisingly slower than me on the hills. I passed a few people – maybe only 5. Ruben and Matt were waiting at the top, but not for too long. I didn’t stop at the top and they caught up. Ruben saying he passed 97 people (he was aiming for 100). Yes he counted.

Ruben at SpanawayRuben was really good about reminding me to eat at 45 minute intervals. I ate something as we were riding, but I don’t remember what – maybe more sharkies. Mitchel caught up with us on the way to the Spanaway stop and rode with us for a brief bit before catching up with his train of folks. I wanted to skip Spanaway and go to the Safeway that I recalled was just beyond the stop from last year. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember how far beyond the official stop it was (it’s only 3 blocks) and Ruben needed the restrooms. So we stopped to get food, water, and wait in the LONG lines for the port a potties. There was a “standing room only” port a potty for men, which prompted a discussion with the women about how the rest of the men would be going into the sit down ones and will make it smelly for the girls, but we had no solution to the problem as we can’t really stand like guys can. I saw Ruben’s old co-worker Jude in the line. He’s also working at Amazon now, and it appears he may be in the same area of Amazon as Matt (as we discovered much later at St. Helens in Oregon).

Lauren and the Rice Crispie treatThe food at Spanaway was at least good (Whole foods!) so that made up for it. This was one stop where they had Rice Crispie Treats but I couldn’t find any peanut butter to put on them. I had some fruit and took a packet of cookies to go. Still the next time I *will* go to the Safeway instead.

Our next section was non stop from Spanaway (at mile 53) to Tenino (at mile 85). I missed the start of the Yelm/Tenino trail, but Ruben and Matt hopped right on. I got on at the next entrance. This is where I started to feel the heat again. And once again I looked longingly at the really cool lake next to the trail and wondered “why can’t I stop and just go swimming.” Ruben said “that’s a different kind of ride, not the ride we’re on right now.” I know he’s right but that lake looked SO darn inviting.

We made Tenino in amazing time. It was only 10:30 am, and I think we had only been on the bike around 4.5 hours. This was amazing time in my book. The highlights were Ruben buying a diet coke (which tasted so damn good at the time) and a chocolate no bake cookie. But nicer was the “clean” bathrooms with a real toilet, real soap and real running water.

Matt and his "doppio"The last 15 miles to Centralia were also uneventful, except for my toe starting to fall asleep from cramping in my leg. Ruben saw a coffee hut on the way into town that had a frozen coffee drink. We tried to find another coffee place that was more on the way to town but eventually circled back to it. It was the “best frozen mocha ever.” Matt asked for a doppio but got a third frozen mocha because they don’t know what doppio means in Centralia. Ruben discovered his mocha could fit between his aerobars and once again thought the aerobars were the best father’s day gift ever. I carried mine in my left hand (which meant I couldn’t high 5 the kids waiting near the college), but I did ride through the spray of water the mocha in one hand. Someone took a picture, but I didn’t see it on Marathon photo. It was epic.

Lauren and Ruben in CentraliaWe headed through the college to the other side and the best part for me – getting to go to the 1 day rider stop! For me! I felt so special! It was also my best Century time ever – 5:50 ride time, 7 hours total time. I had this sudden vision of being in Portland by 7:30 or 8pm.

I went immediately to the first aid tent to ask about the bruise. They immediately gave me some ice and asked if I needed ibuprofen. There was a really nice nice MD there who was willing to go actually look at the horrible thing in a stall in the bathroom. She said that I had bled under the skin (as opposed to just bruising?), checked a couple of places, and then gave me the go ahead to go on if it wasn’t too painful. Liz and I touched base and I told her I was going on. I also sent a text to Erik and Rich who were staying in Centralia (at Great Wolf Lodge) to tell them I was going on.

I ate a 1/2 a sandwich (PBJ or turkey? I can’t recall but I think it was PB&J) while I iced my bruise and it did feel a lot better after that. While riding I took to sticking the ice in my shorts which helped my hip which was bugging me from squeezing the seat more than I normally do to avoid sitting down fully on the bruised parts. I also wound up in my aerobars a lot more, even following Ruben, which is NOT a smart thing to do, but was necessary especially the second half of the day.

We stayed in Centralia for about 1/2 an hour, and then had a fairly easy ride to and through Chahalis. As we were going across I-5 for the second time Ruben and I saw a dust devil of straw kick up right in our path and we both had to ride right through! I wound up with a piece of straw in my handlebars and I think something irritated my eye… it was a very weird experience to have the wind speed up like that as we rode through it.

Then things got hard. It was getting hot already and the headwinds picked up. To top it off we were getting to the hilly part of the ride. The hill from the valley up to Napavine was particularly hard for me. In fact I was passed by unicyclist on the uphill! I told the guys I needed break for food a the top of the hill and also because my leg cramped. I filled my water bottle and almost choked on the water I tried to drink out of the hose.

The EggOur next supposedly quick pit stop was in Winlock. The stop took a little longer because Matt and I wanted to reapply the chamois butt’r. On the line for the bathroom I saw guy-gal tandem team I had seen on many other Cascade rides and Ruben saw on RAMROD last year, but I still don’t remember their names. I begged some ice off the gas station folks and put the pack back on my hip in my shorts to keep the pain down and took more advil.

We skipped the stop in Vader and made quick work of the hill there. Ruben and Matt were not having to wait too long for me at the top of hills, but the heat was hard for me. My stomach was a little upset, but I continue to eat something, or at least drink my now warming Accelerade. I had to stop at Castle Rock to give my leg time to uncramp so my toe would stop hurting. I also got more ice, at a little more, and checked in with Liz who was already in St. Helens waiting for Brad and crew.

On one of the hills in the 7 miles between St. Helens and Lexington I started to think I really had a flat. It’s just that my legs were starting to really feel like I had nothing left to give. I didn’t quite understand as I was eating and I should have had enough energy not to bonk. But the 3 H’s (hills, headwinds and heat) were just getting to me. The irritation of the bruise and my toes weren’t helping either. Nor was the lack of sleep which was starting to hit me. We had been on the road for 11 hours.

We took a longer stop in Lexington and was able to recharged my GPS a bit. We saw Jude & his crowd resting as if they had been there for a little while already. I sat on the ice I had left from Castle rock but it was almost all melted and there was none at Lexington. I was really tired from lack of sleep the night before and just wanted to curl up in the shade. I saw Ruben laying on the bench and was jealous for his little shut eye.

After the 20 minute or so stop, we were back on the road through Longview and then Kelso. Near Kelso had some jerk scream “Pedal Mother f-ers” from his car as he passed going the other way. Nice.

The headwinds were pretty incessant at this point, although we had heard from someone else on the road that there was a tailwind on Route 30. I was hopeful, even as the horrid cross wind was blowing me sideways as I crossed in the single file line across the bridge in to Oregon (one day riders do not cross in waves as the 2 day riders do). I lamented that this year I didn’t have Ruben’s camera to take a picture.

Usually there is a lot of “found treasures” on the downhill side of the bridge – water bottles, rear lights, etc that have come off bikes as they go over the expansion joint. There’s not nearly as much even at the “tail end” of the 1 day riders as we were. It was nice not to have to avoid that stuff.

The tailwind for the first 10 miles to Goble on route 30 was GREAT. We really picked up speed AND the road was mostly in the shade by this time of day which really helped. At this point I was seriously craving a Diet coke to help settle my stomach, for the caffeine and probably for the salts in it. Worst was the light headed feeling I was getting as I was staring at Ruben or Matt’s wheel/chain. We arrived in Goble with my legs shaking.

There was no diet coke at Goble! I was really disappointed and the Gatorade was a really crappy alternative but I bought it anyway. I ate some cheddar/peanut butter crackers I found in my jersey that I had picked up in Lexington. y. I had salt crackers that i Had picked up along the way and some gatorade. There was “only” 40 miles left. We had made such great time in the first half of the day and the second half was just sheer exhaustion. I likened the ride at that point to working in the garden all day until I was completely exhausted and then still having to ride from my house to Redmond and back. What’s usually a *really* easy ride seemed so hard at that moment. However, as tapped out as I was, stubbornness won out and I knew I had to make it on my own.

Unfortunately the wind got a little squirrely again and our precious tail wind was no more. We did have another stop at St. Helens, where I ate some more pretzels and grapes. There wasn’t any popcorn which is what I was really craving. Because this is the stop where I usually love to have the oreos (and I was so sad when they were out last year), I force myself to eat one of the 2 oreo cookies I took. I threw the other one out because I knew I needed the salt more. I thought more about Diet Coke (there was none) and also the story of Silvia K having chicken soup on her Iron Man ride. Chicken soup sounded really good at that moment.

We also saw Jude and his crew again. I suspect they were arriving at the stops before us and leaving usually just before us. This time we left before they did.

Fortunately the road continued to be shady AND it was getting cooler! The lack of heat was allowing me to do better. And best of all, the wind mostly stopped and our pace picked up. Matt kept riding off faster than I could start, but we’d eventually catch up and joke that our “peloton” had caught him.

I had to stop at Scappoose to use the bathroom, which I should have done in St. Helens, but Ruben’s calculations were that we were going to get in right at 9 if we didn’t start to leave right away. Matt bought me a diet coke while there, and then we were off, with Matt in the lead. We passed Jude & co on the road – they had started out after us from St. Helens but didn’t stop at Scappoose. We caught up to Matt again (inside of Portland city limits, which is 10 miles from the finish) and he did a great job leading at the end, pulling at 21-22 mph. I don’t know if it was the salt or the sheer will just to be off the bike, but I was keeping up.

We finally peeled off route 30 and cheered! I did pretty well at attacking the bottom of the “last hill” at Montgomery park, but totally petered out at the top. Some guy pushed me for about 10 feet and I told him I loved him. He said I shouldn’t tell his wife.

Coming in at the end – near downtown – is much easier on the 1 day ride than the 2 day ride. There is a LOT less traffic and a lot fewer people. We saw folks from Portland dressed up for their Saturday “night ride.” I commented that there were no photographers on the bridge like there usually is for the 2 day ride. Ruben and wound up at the tail end of one group and slowed down enough so that we were the only people in the chute when we were. I turned on the blinky Tiara light and did the princess wave as I came in.

Somehow Ruben, Matt and I managed to catch up with Liz, Brad and Mitch at Andina for a fabulous dinner AND stayed awake until almost midnight. I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and the next thing I knew it was 9:30 am.

Day 2: We woke up at 9:30 and had breakfast with some friends before heading to the finish line. We found Mitchel and saw some riders coming in looking splotchy from rain drops. I overheard stories of lightning and hail and wondered if Linda, Rich, Joanna, Erik or Mark got hit with it. At one point I saw some my old Danskin in Training teammates (Brandi and Jennifer) arrive looking strong and fit. I never did see the other teammate – Sharon. Ruben and I waited with Mitchel to cheer Linda and Nadine (from Team in Training) come in. Ruben and I also waited for Joanna and Erik – who were told by Rich and Marc to go ahead without them as it had started to rain pretty hard and they were still 1-1.5 hours away. Rich and Marc came in around 5:15pm and Stephen and Kristina and their crew came in apparently around the same time. Most importantly – everyone was safe (albeit a little wet)!

Erik  Mitchel and Lauren   Joanna, Lauren and MK

I want to thank everyone for all the support, not just for doing the ride uninjured, but being my back up in case I needed an “out” from being hurt. An especial thanks to Ruben who really stuck with me even though I was so much slower than he normally goes. It meant a lot.

Trek to Camano Island

It appears this is becoming an annual event. We have some friends who have a place on Camano Island, so we’ve been getting up early and biking there. Matthew arrives later – last year with a friend, this year with Elias and his girlfriend. Last year I was only able to make 76 miles going straight through to their house, This year’s goal was to make it the “long way” around the south end of the island before making it to their house (the route Ruben had done two years ago).

Stats from this year are here.

I woke up at 5am on Saturday, partly to get ready and partly to see how dark it is at that time (I’m trying to determine if I need to buy a light for a 4:45 start time for STP). After the usual running around and last minute watering of all the poor pathetic plants and dealing with my GPS which wouldn’t boot (Ruben let me use his), Ruben and I were on the road at 6:25 – a little later than my goal start time of 6am, but reasonable.

The weather was cool for the start – we needed our arm warmers. We started by going straight to the BG trail – up the hill at NE 82nd to 30th NE, then across 35th NE to NE 95th. Only after we descended onto the trail did Ruben mention that we should have taken the “fast cyclist route” – down 35th to Lake City Way up to Lake Forest Park. I’ve never done that and considering there were SO few people on the road, it would have been a perfect opportunity. Oh well next time.

By Bothell I was starting to feel hungry, which surprised me until I realized that we had gotten on the road a little later than expected and breakfast was wearing off. It was odd to really “feel” the calorie deficit. As if reading my mind, Ruben, who promised he’d remind me to eat every 45 minutes, tells me it’s time to eat. I had a package of Sharkies out of the bento box as we passed under 405.

We paused briefly to hit the restrooms at that park in Woodinville and then got onto NE 175th. As we headed up the hill on Woodinville Duvall Road, me as typical plodding along, I get passed by a guy in a Cycle U team outfit. He is obviously trying to catch “speedy” Ortega who is up the hill. He caught Ruben at the top and passed him as Ruben waited for me.

We caught up to the guy again just at the left to Broadway. At this point there were 2 of them. We went on ahead. but a little while later they came speeding by. I was still sort of waking up by this point and not quite zippy enough to see if we could form a pace line with them. We eventually saw them again in Maltby, at the gas station just before we crossed 522. I commented that we were slower, but we kept passing them because it appeared they were having to stop more.

Broadway was *wonderfully* quiet – few cars but we did see a lot of cyclists. Just before we dropped down into the Snohomish valley, Ruben noted the time (food time) and said we’d eat in town – I thought that might be a little long – the stomach clock was starting to go off as I started to feel it again, but we were going down hill so I held off. As we dropped into the valley I notice the winds were starting to pick up as the day warmed up. We were chugging along with a cross breeze, and near the airport guess who caught up! Yup the two guys, and two other guys had joined their ranks. They were doing a really “official” pace line with the lead guy only staying in the lead for a short time then pulling to the left. Round and round they went. We were slightly bad about our cycling etiquette and didn’t ask to join, we just latched on, but when the formerly lead guy pulled in, he pulled in in front of Ruben. I was at the tail end.

Eventually one guy decided to fall in behind me. I told him we promised to take our time at the front. But by this time we were practically in Snohomish. I thanked them for the pull and Ruben and I stopped for coffee at the Java Inn. We sat out front drinking coffee, eating biscotti and orange bread, and watching the other cyclists go by. One in fact saw us and turned around to get coffee too. This was our longest stop of the day at 20 minutes.

Back on the road, we hooked up with the Centennial trail. Near Machias we saw someone had set up a couple of bicycle stands for a mini tri or brick. There was a woman hanging out and watching the gear. I felt a little sluggish trying to keep up with Ruben who was trying to do closer to 17-18, so I finally reminded him that we were going uphill slightly. Eventually the trail starts downhill and we just really flew until we hit the end of the trail. We stopped briefly, I called Elias who was up (but Matthew wasn’t, of course), and used the lovely port-a-potties.

The trip through Arlington was pretty uneventful, except to note that the sign on the bank on 530 near the highway said 87 degrees. It was warming up and by that time I guess it was 80, but it did feel pretty hot! We stopped at the gas station just before the highway, and I got some corn nuts and vienna wafers. I saved the corn nuts, had 1.5 of the cookies because 1 fell on the ground and I could only save 1/2 of it. We also filled our depleted water bottles.

The wind had really picked up by this point. We started on Pioneer Highway through through Silvana (blink and you’ll miss it!), but then we veered off onto some smaller roads that meander and eventually hooked back up onto Pioneer highway as it climbs up from the valley to Stanwood. The only nice thing about the meandering was at the very end we actually were riding into the wind for about a 1/4 mile… and suddenly our speed went up 3mph! The hill up from the valley really burnt me out last year, but this year I noticed it was much easier and commented to Ruben about that.

We reached 532 and made our left, through the “downtown” part of Stanwood. There’s a hill that again, last year, was really tough for me. This year I used the construction cones as a way to do “hill repeats” – every three cones I’d upshift and stand in the pedals, then I’d downshift and spin for a bit to recover. We stopped at the top of the hill to eat, even in the sun, heat and with the noise of the cars.

We were able to make good time from there onto Camano Island and to the turn where we head southbound. I noted on the clock that it was 11:43 – not even noon! I was really happy with our time. And although we were getting hot, I was feeling pretty good. We hit the turn off for East Camano Island Road and had a decision: 2-3 miles to our host’s house or 20 miles around the southern tip. We knew Matthew, our SAG support, wouldn’t be there until 2, so we decided to brave the rollers around the southern tip. Fortunately there was a LOT more shade here, particularly on the east side of the Island. Most of the rollers I was able to handle pretty well, although I started to have that numbness in my foot again. We stopped again for another food/stretch break on the east side of the Island, and I asked for another stop on the west side. I’m discovering that part of the weirdness in the foot stems from my hamstring and calf cramping up. Ruben also noted his knee was starting to ache and was looking forward to icing it.

With 1 mile to go, and not having heard from Matthew who had my packet of recovery drink, Ruben and I had a decision: head straight to our friend’s house and wait for the recovery drink to arrive, or go passed our turn off to the Elger bay store for some recovery ice cream. Ice cream won out and we shared a Haagen Daas. Best. Ice. Cream. Ever.

It was an easy bit of cycling (< 1/2 a mile) to get to their house. The last part is a single lane dirt road and there was an oncoming car. This is where I almost bit it. I tried to pull out of the way into the deep gravel, but hadn't pulled out of my clips and almost went down. Fortunately I pulled out of the clips quickly enough and recovered, only looking like a dork. We arrived at their house, said our hellos, turned down the path to see Matthew showing up in the car! We both felt really good, but I was really happy having made the extra 20 miles of rollers. (My GPS said a total of 8,592 elevation gain, as did Ruben's) Funny post script: on the way home on route 532 heading to the highway, Ruben got a little confused once we passed the usual place where we turn onto the road in Stanwood. He said he didn't recognize the road, but then he realized he didn't because he usually doesn't drive home!

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!

Century? What Century?

That would be Flying Wheels Summer Century. First the stats.

Anthony woke up at 5 and bike out to Marymoor. I took the more leisurely route by sleeping in until my body woke me up at 5:45 and drove to the start. (Hint, park in the East parking lot, it’s free). Anthony met me there at 7:30 and we were off.

We started out slowly so I could warm up (even though Anthony had his 20 mile warm up)…. well by slow apparently it was 18 mph on East Lake Sammamish. And yet we were being passed.

I knew what to expect from that first hill (Ingelwood hill) because last year it’s where I had to stop with Elias on the tandem 1/2 way up. Still, plodding along, still being passed. In fact we were passed a LOT for the first 1/2 of the ride. Then again I expected it.

Occasionally we found “trains” of folks we could latch onto. We couldn’t maintain hanging onto the crazy trains doing 20-22mph. Same paced trains (we’d find them just after stopping at a rest stop or light) – we could hang with with less effort, which was nice.

However, if they passed us somewhat slowly we figured we could hop on for about the same effort as what we were currently doing, only go a little faster. We’d mostly hang on until we’d hit a hill of some kind – then I just lose them (note to self: keep working on hill climbing). Some were good – nice and consistent, the annoying ones were spurty – fast, slow, fast, slow, fast, slow. We found a couple of smaller ones (i.e. 2 other people) and would hook on to them. One pair the guy had an Italia shirt on and (as it turns out) his boss was as Anthony put it – a human billboard (tall cyclist – great to draft!). In another case just outside Snohomish we hooked on to a pair, on guy in a Washington Husky jersey.

The route for the most part is beautiful. I still hate the part on 203, particularly since the road is or was under construction, has a horrible surface AND a ton of gravel just on the side. Plus the drivers there are totally obnoxious. I called out for folks to gear down just before the turn onto Stillwater Hill Road. one guy didn’t hear me apparently and totally died on that hill, and fell over. Ouch.

On Cherry Valley road I remembered how last year I was in tears at this point – exhausted from lugging Elias around on the tandem. Anthony called it “rickshawing” him… because really he wasn’t doing much work. I was feeling a LOT stronger at this point than last year.

I remember hitting the turn off for the 100 mile route at 9:50 and just being amazed. The loop was the same that we had done the previous week for the RAMROD training series, so I knew better what to expect. I also now know why I lost that train last week – it turns out that we had been going up what the cue sheet said was a 1 mile hill… and I remember last week not eating enough before it. This week was better, but I still got tired on the little blip right as we passed under route 522 the first time (the place I lost the train last week).

In Snohomish we skipped the pie and instead had coffee, and I had an orange cake that was mighty tasty. We had a slight tail/cross wind going across to Monroe, then a tail wind for a while. I couldn’t figure out where the winds were blowing from – up there it was out of the north and West, down on East Lake Sammamish it was blowing from the South and West. I don’t know how much of that has to do with the “convergence zone” or if it has to do with the hills and how wind get squirrelly near the hills. Probably both.

Until we hooked up with the metric century route we were still mostly being passed instead of passing. We found a pretty good train of people once we hooked up back up with the rest of the crowd. The Camp Korey food stop had almost run out of food by the time we came by the second time (as opposed to the bounty we found there the first time through).

West Snoqualmie River Road is one of my favorite parts of this ride – even with the headwind. We wound up hooking onto a medium sized train doing around 19mph. I almost lost them once or twice, but kept up at the tail end. Then my toe started to bug me. I think I was cramping up in my leg and the pain was referring down into the toe. Still I hung on. Later I heard from the other guys leading that they were cramping up too. So I didn’t feel so badly.

The next step is the 3 mile long killer hill at the end. Anthony did *really* well on this hill – he’s gotten so strong. I plodded up, but my plodding was faster than a large majority of the other folks on the road by this point. I have to say that made me feel a little better – like all this training has done *something.* However, by the time we got to the last food stop, I needed to have a slightly longer rest to “reset” my left leg and get it to stop hurting. Before then we were able to have these nice short “get food, use facilities and leave.” However the rest was good and I had enough energy to get through the last hill on 228th AND the rollers on E. Lake Sammamish Pkwy.

Now for irony: at the end of the ride we stopped at the light at Inglewood Hill Road. I turned and saw the dad of a kid from Elias’ baseball team last year (I had also seen him the previous year). He’s a strong rider and had done the century last year and this. So the light turns green and he zips on ahead with two other guys – one in a U of M jersey. A little while later a train goes by – a little faster than us, so we decide to hook on. After a while they’re going a LOT faster than us – like 21-22. Up hill. (we did have a tail wind though). I was having to push from time to time to keep on but it was FUN! Then the irony: one by one we wind up passing the three guys who had sped off at the light.

Anthony split off before heading to the finish line – he had to be in Shoreline by 5 and was pretty much amazed he could finish the whole ride AND get the ride up to Shoreline by 5pm. To quote him “I was so far ahead of schedule, I made it all the way home and managed a 90 second shower before the family left.”

Anthony’s gear said we averaged 16.1, but I have 15.7. His total mileage was 142, mine gear said I did 97.

And I slept 10 hours in a row last night. 🙂

My First RAMROD Training Ride! (and Pie!)

Ruben *finally* convinced me to go on a RAMROD training series ride today (ride 8 to Snohomish). Anthony met us over there. All three of us had our PPTM shirts on.

Ruben jumped off with the Rabbits (not the Bunnies as I tried to call them, and that Just Will Not Do). Anthony and I held back. Note: if you go on one of these rides, Per the ride leader is VERY strict about the safety rules.

I still am slower than most on the hills, but I felt like I held my own with the “last” group on the flats. Around mile 40 I wound up petering out up a hill and lost the group (I think it was a food energy issue – I just bonked). I still had them in my sights, but they were about 1/4 mile ahead of me.

Then I saw Ruben on the side of the road with a flat. So I pulled off an helped him. We go the flat fixed, but we were way behind and by the time we got to Snohomish – no one from the group was left. I insisted on Pie – you *can’t* bike to Snohomish and not get the pie. So we had a quick lunch and popped back on the road to hit the headwind.

It was brutal. Probably 15 mph. Big flags waving in the wind. Against us.

Anyway, Ruben was a great pull and we managed to make some good time. But Ruben’s tire was looking flat again. At one point we pulled over and I pumped it up using my pump.

And the tip of the Presta valve popped off when I pulled off my pump.

Meaning another tire change. I felt bad. Ruben was frustrated.

The other frustration (for me) was the horrible stomach ache I got last 15 miles of the ride I think because of the the turkey sandwich. But I pushed on. We skipped the last stop and made it back by about 4:00. There were still folks in the parking lot so I didn’t feel too terrible.

Meanwhile Anthony thought he was behind us, and was pushing hard to catch up, not realizing that he was actually ahead of us. He finished about 45 minutes before us, but also didn’t stop at the last rest stop. He apparently heard the tire tail of woe from folks who passed Ruben on the side of the road. Also Bill(?) from Microsoft had said that I had fallen back (he had passed me) but that I told him about the Pie, so Anthony helped out by showing him where the Pie company was. The shirts came in handy by folks noticing we were together and relaying info up the route.

Stats: 78.5 miles, 6:34 total time, 5:28 ride time, average speed 14.4. My legs feel MUCH better than after the 11+ hills of Kirkland 2 weeks ago. Oh and I should mention this is after a 11.4 mile run yesterday too.

WOOT! I survived. Thanks Ruben and Anthony!

Why helmets are important.

Today Chris and I biked out to Redmond and back. This was partially to enjoy the sun and just get the legs spinning for more than the 1/2 hour bike commute, and partially to test the look bike cleat/shoes I borrowed. The ride was great, minus the typical headwind both ways. On both sides of the lake. Seriously. I think the only tail wind I had was going up hill (northbound) back to my house.

Most of the time Chris and I rode side by side, leapfrogging if we needed to go single file. We had an interesting conversation about who should go forward (faster) and who should go slower and fall behind when switching from doubled to single file. We stopped at Redmond Town center for the Starbucks, then headed back. I wound up getting a little tired and mildly drafting Chris on the way home. Some other guy wound up hooking on, and we started a conversation about drafting and safety. He dropped off around Kenmore thanking us for the pull. More safety/drafting conversation ensued.

About 1/3 of a mile from Lake Forest Park Town center, we were behind 2 people (although I thought there had been a third guy between that group and our group of two). What happened next was very quick. One guy went down. He wasn’t sure what happened but he thinks his tire wound up slipping off the trail into the ditch that is on the north side of the trail, he tried to cut back and totally flipped. The guy behind him said he wasn’t sure he had time to go around him (there were others on the trail too) and he had experience with mountain biking and thought he could jump the first guy.

He did, and he didn’t make it. Landed in a total heap, yelled in pain and wound up flat on his back.

Chris and I stopped, called 911, pulled stuff off the road and helped the guy out. Both were cut in various places. I didn’t want the guy to get up until the paramedics arrived, but he eventually insisted – I only let him up because he could move his hands and feet while still on the ground. I helped the other guy clean out his wounds and put band aids with neosporin on (I love the first aid kit I got from REI).

Eventually the fire truck showed up and had to use a ladder to get over the fence from the street on the other side (they really need better access there). The ambulance that arrived after eventually wound up driving UP the trail. They really need to have better access at that point of the trail for just such emergencies.

So here’s the point of all this: The guy who landed on his back’s helmet was cracked clear through and kind of buckling on top. His eyeglasses were broken. His back is hurt.

If this guy didn’t have a helmet on, the scene would have been MUCH different. I hope he accepted a ride to the hospital to get that head of his checked out (they did the quickly on scene neurological exam… not sufficient if you ask me in a case like that).

Chris and I left, knowing that there were folks there to take care of the guys. I was a little worried about the first guy who went down, he seemed pretty shocky about the whole thing, but I’m really worried about the guy who’s helmet was trashed. I think he was in such shock he didn’t realize how bad off he could be… I learned a lot last year from my mom’s brain bleed – a lot about taking head injuries very seriously and not leaving a darn thing to chance.