The route generally follows the Thrilla in Woodinvilla mountain biking loop. This is a fun ride, and quite a workout (~18.5 miles, ~1450 feet elevation gain). It utilizes parts of the Redmond Powerline Trail, the Tolt Pipeline Trail, the Trilogy Trail, and the Redmond Watershed.
This year, to celebrate the rides fifth anniversary, it was decided to ride the Thrilla loop backwards (clockwise vs the traditional counter-clockwise). This meant everyone started the day by climbing the dreaded Heart Attack Hill (~300 feet elevation gain in ~1/4 mile) along the Tolt Pipeline Trail.
Traffic jam up Heart Attack Hill.
I've been training a bit for this (it helps that I live about 1 mile from the trail). On my first attempt at the hill, I think I stopped 20 times to rest. The next time, I stopped 12 times. On the third attempt I stopped 6 times, and on the fourth attempt 4 times. For my fifth attempt (the final one before the ride) I only stopped twice.
Could I climb it cleanly and earn one of the coveted medallions?
Nope. Climbing in a crowd is much more difficult than climbing solo. I made it up to the asphalt cross street (~1/3 up the hill) without problem, but stopped about 1/2 up the hill due to traffic. By necessity, I've gotten rather good at restarting after a break on the hill, but again, too much traffic. As my single-speed friends say, the final climb was performed at "24 gear inches" (24 inches = 2 feet = walking).
FWIW, despite walking the final half of the hill, I manged to set a personal best for my climb time. This is probably a sign that I need to work more on leg strength & climbing ability. Or maybe I should just always walk the damn hill.
The remainder of the Tolt Pipeline Trail featured a few more climbs, some fun descents, and the inevitable horse poop. Once past Lake of the Woods, we turned off the Tolt and onto the Trilogy Trail.
This part of the Trilogy Trail has recently received a heavy dose of loose gravel. It's no big deal with my 2.2" mountain knobbies. A couple of months ago I rode it with smooth non-mountain-biking tires with predictable consequences.
Gravel 1, me 0.
After a relatively short jaunt through Trilogy Trail, we entered the Redmond Watershed. I love biking through the watershed solo, but it's a different experience when you're biking with 800 other people. Most people seemed to enjoy the ride, although a women riding directly in front of me wiped-out on one muddy corner. Luckily, she had a cushy landing in a bed of moss & ferns.
Somewhere near the end of the watershed my front disc brake began making unpleasant grinding noises. I suspect mud & grime got in the caliper. By the time I got to the Powerline Trail, the front brake was completely useless.
Note to self: If a brake starts to grind due to contamination, STOP AND CLEAN IT. I foresee some quality time with my bike in the garage soon.
The Powerline trail is another fun ride (with a couple of gnarly climbs). It ultimately deposited us onto the Sammamish River Trail. From there, only 3 or 4 miles back to Redhook!
Somewhere along the Sammamish River Trail the rain turned to sleet.
Shortly later, it turned to snow. Big, wet, gloppy, potato-chip-sized, stick-to-everything flakes.
Stinky, stinky, stinky!
The Stinky Spoke 2012's weather definitely lived up to its name.
My helmet was similarly adorned by the end of the ride.
Overall, I'd say it was a awesome ride benefiting a great cause. I look forward to riding it next year. Until then, I'll keep riding it solo. I want my "cleanly climbed Heart Attack Hill" medallion next!