Monday, October 15, 2012

Coffeeneuring Challenge, Part 2: Woodinville, WA

Sunday, 10/14/2012

Sunday was my second Coffeeneuring ride. I planned to ride Saturday as well. Not just any ride, but a "practice" run of the Stinky Spoke loop with a group of local biking crazies. The loop itself is about 18 miles long, ~1200 feet elevation gain, mostly on gravel and dirt/mud.

Unfortunately, my legs had other plans.

I've recently been attending "Metabolic Effect-style" exercise classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, plus working out with a personal trainer on Fridays at the Redmond Athletic Club. Friday's workout was "leg day", and my legs were still trashed on Saturday. My big accomplishment for the day was to buy a foam roller to soothe my poor, aching hamstrings & quads.

By Sunday my legs were feeling a bit better, so I decided to ride the loop myself. Kasia wanted to do some plant shopping at Molbak's, so did our usual routine:

  • Load the bike & related paraphernalia into the truck.
  • Drive to downtown Woodinville.
  • Park at Molbak's.
  • I ride, she shops.
  • We meet back at the truck at an agreed-upon time.

A couple of months ago we were accosted by a Cranky Old Lady(tm) in the Molbak's parking lot (on a particularly busy day), complaining that I shouldn't park there if I'm going to ride my bike. We had just parked in the crowded lot, I was preparing the bike, and Kasia was next to me when the lady approached. The conversation went something like this:

  • Cranky Old Lady: You shouldn't park here if your going to ride your bike.
  • Me: I'm going for a ride while Kasia shops here.
  • COL: It's doesn't look that way to me.
  • Me: We do this almost every weekend, Kasia is one of their best customers.
  • COL: It's not fair to the people who shop here.
  • Me: Look, we have one bike, and two people. {pause} Do you need help with the math?
  • COL: You're taking up a parking space that could be used by someone shopping here.
  • COL: It doesn't look that way to me.
  • Me: Well, it's a good thing your opinion is irrelevant.


Before attacking the day's ride, I knew I would need some rocket fuel, especially to get me up the first hill (see below). I decided a visit to Chateau Espresso in Woodinville's Wine District was in order. It's a new-ish drive-through espresso stand (it's been around a while, but recently changed ownership) and, more importantly, it's new to me.

The place is cute, clean, has easy bike access off the Sammamish River Trail, and they serve an excellent small double-shot Americano.

Chateau Espresso

Unlike most drive-through places, they have actual seating -- patio tables & chairs on a small deck area.  It was just starting to rain as I got my coffee, and the barista apologized for not having the umbrellas installed in the patio tables. I assured her that I was going to be out in the rain for at least a couple of hours, and if I was worried about getting wet I wouldn't be riding today.

While enjoying my Americano, I took the following silly photo:

Coffee To Go

I have two Revelate Designs "Mountain Feed Bags" on my mountain bike. One might be tempted to use one as a coffee cup holder. I've tried this in the past, and trust me -- it doesn't work. Hitting the slightest bump and even low speed causes the coffee to slosh and spill over everything. I love the feed bags for holding munchies, headlight batteries, cell phone, car keys, etc, but it ain't a cup holder.

With two shots of espresso entering my blood stream, it was time to hit the trail. The first obstacle just happens to be the biggest of the day: the aptly named Heart Attack Hill.

Heart Attack Hill

 As always, it's hard to get a sense of scale from a mere photograph. The numbers actually paint a clearer picture of the misery in store:

  • 0.3 mile long
  • 300 feet elevation gain
  • Average grade ~18%
  • Maximum grade ~30%

Also, it's kinda rough, covered in dirt and gravel (or, on days like today, mud and mud-covered gravel).

The first time I attempted Heart Attack Hill, it took me nearly 20 minutes, including 12 stops to let my legs rest & gasp for air. My most recent attempt was 8:30, with only 2 stops. Today's attempt took a little longer. I've always had problems with this hill, so after a bit of research I decided to try a couple of new hill climbing techniques. None of them seemed to help on this hill. Grrr...

Eventually, I made it to the top of Heart Attack, and proceeded east on the Tolt Pipeline Trail. A mile or two down the trail (coincidentally, very near my house) it becomes obvious how this trail got its name.

The Tolt Pipeline Trail's Namesake

After departing the Tolt Pipeline Trail, one enters a relatively new area called Trilogy, a giant planned urban development that actually features some rather nice soft multi-use trails.

Once past Trilogy, the route enters the lovely Redmond Watershed. The trails through the watershed are wide, flowy, well-drained and non-technical. It's one of my favorite places to ride, and thankfully, it's only a couple of miles from my house.

Redmond Watershed

After leaving the watershed, the trail joins the Redmond Powerline Trail. The riding is not bad, but it's not exactly scenic (the trail follows a high-voltage power transmission right-of-way). The lack of scenery plus the heavy rain conspired to prevent any reasonable photographs of this section.

Once past the Powerline Trail (and after climbing yet a few more hills) the trail dumps onto the (blissfully flat) Sammamish River Trail. From there, it was a flat and relatively fast ride back to Woodinville.

Yes, it was a wet, muddy, sloppy, gloppy, nasty, hilly ride, but I was biking & enjoying coffee -- it doesn't get much better than this.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

That looks such a fuuuun ride. Hills, trees, mud. My favourite kind!