Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Flying Wheels Summer Century

Another weekend, another century.

Kasia and I (and a cast of thousands) rode in the annual Flying Wheels Summer Century this past Saturday. As with many other organized rides, this one provided a variety of ride lengths for riders of different abilities. Last year we did the 65-mile loop. This year, we did the full century.

Once again, we ran into our cycling buddy CliftonGK1 at the starting line. After the required (by us) photos at the starting line in Marymoor Park, we headed out.

Kasia & I are right off the truck; CliftonGK1 has already put in 11 or 12 miles.

A few short miles into the ride is Inglewood Hill. It's not the steepest or longest hill of the ride, but it's a bit of a challenge to climb on cold not-yet-warmed-up legs. Near the beginning of the hill we spotted this sign, and couldn't resist.

Probably not the type of "heavy traffic" they intended.

After passing Inglewood, the route wound around The Plateau a bit, descended to Redmond-Fall City Road, then climbed up Ames Lake Road. To me, Ames Lake is one of those rare roads that looks worse while driving a car than it really is while cycling. It's not so bad, mostly because it's not a continuous climb. There are a few relatively flat areas that give you a chance to catch your breath and ease back a bit.

Soon after Ames Lake Road, we descended into the Snoqualmie Valley and arrived at our first food stop at Camp Korey. This is a new stop location for 2008 -- on last year's ride, the first stop was on West Snoqualmie Valley Road, maybe a mile or so from the new stop. The new stop was well organized, easy to get into and out of, and had plenty of porta-potties.

We ran into our other cycling buddies Emily and Mike at this first stop.

Emily and Mike cruising into the first stop at Camp Korey.

The next leg was rather straightforward: cross the valley to Highway 203, north on 203 to Stillwater Hill, climb the hill, cruise around Cherry Valley Road, descend into Duvall, cross the valley again, find the water stop at the intersection of Woodinville-Duvall Road and West Snoqualmie Valley Road.

As I've mentioned before, CliftonGK1 is fast rider and a strong climber. He hung back with us for a while (I think he was sand-bagging) but he disappeared when we hit Stillwater Hill. We finally caught up with him at the second stop.

Just as we pulled into the stop, my cell phone starting ringing. It was Emily; she and Mike had to drop out of the race due to a medical emergency with her mom. They caught a ride back home and hopped on the next plane to Chicago. Thankfully, her mom is doing much better now.

The next leg took us into unexplored territory: this was part of the ride we didn't last year (since we did only the 65 mile loop). It was a very pleasant ride up High Bridge Road (yes, another hill) to Snohomish, across the valley to Monroe, another food stop, and then back to the water stop again.

Apparently, this part of Snohomish County is not exactly bike friendly.

The locals express their opinion; Kasia provides a rebuttal.

After reaching the water stop for the second time, we cruised down the rolling hills of West Snoqualmie Valley Road, past Novelty Hill Road (which, thankfully, we didn't attempt to climb) and back to Camp Korey. We made this a fast turnaround: fill water bottles, grab cookies for the Bento Box, visit the porta-potty, and hit the road again.


Back across the valley again to 203, but this time we headed south on 203 to the city of Carnation. We cruised through town, crossed the Tolt River, wound around Tolt River Road, another turn on Snoqualmie River Road, then rode through lovely farm land and near a golf course.

At this point, Kasia & I were both feeling great. We were sustaining 17-18 MPH on the flats -- this may not be much for some folks, but this was rather high for us. Life is good, life is grand, and cycling was almost effortless.

Until we hit The Hill.

40th Street SE is a three-mile climb up The Plateau. It's not all climb (there are a few flat-ish areas along the way) but it's at the 81 mile point of the ride. We slowly (very slowly) ground our way up the hill.

By the time we reached the summit, my legs were "done" for the day. The remainder of the ride was uneventful, but I felt every hill. It was good to get back to Marymoor Park.

Woo hoo!

Hopefully, this will be our last century on mountain bikes. We have two Co-Motion Nor'Wester touring bikes on order that should arrive this week.

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