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!