Monday, April 28, 2008

A beautiful Spring day is not to be wasted

This all started when Duane sent me a note asking me if I "wanted to fall sick" on Wednesday. I replied in the affirmative as the weather forecast was slated to be good. A few hours later the man writes to me again, this time wanting to ride on Saturday, because it was going to be "spectacular". After the soggy 300, I was entitled to a spectacular ride. So, we made a deal to ride Woodinville - Granite Falls on Saturday.

Since I am one of the permanents co-ordinators, I get to read first hand accounts of people's rides. This ride was initially reported to contain 3300 feet of climbing. And then Shan Perera, Galvin Chow and Thai Nguyen rode it one time and sent me a note informing me oh-so-politely that the total elevation gain posted was wrong, and it was more like 5500 or 6000 feet, depending on who you ask.

This was our chance to find out. I rode down to the Tully's (being only a mile away from my house) and was pleasantly surprised to see randonneur like bikes sitting in the parking lot. Maybe Duane had some of his friends show up too. I sat there eating a donut while waiting for Duane. He arrived only 5 minutes late, and after some food and conversation, we got up. The other riders introduced themselves as SIR riders by asking "Are you guys doing 359 today too?". (359 is the Permanent # for this ride). The riders were Jack Brace and Ryan Schmidt (sp?) of SIR. Jack is a current member, while Ryan is not (I found this out on Sunday). I asked them if they had paperwork, but they didn't. Jack was going to get no credit for his ride, but that is not the only reason why we do these things, do we ? We left the controle at 0715.

The morning was chilly. Temperature were in the low 40s, and we set off on the flat stretch towards Issaquah. We talked about Duane's running, and his bike riding, and my past running days, and my wife's recent troubles with injury problems. There are no real hills between Woodinville and Issaquah, and the first controle was upon us in no time. I almost spaced out, but luckily read the cue sheet properly. After the usual control rituals we headed out to climb Issaquah Fall City Road.

Our legs were sufficiently warmed up for the nice climb up the ridge, and after the Endeavour School turn, the low traffic allowed for more conversation and side-by-side riding. We plummeted down the valley, I more than Duane, who took the descents a bit more cautiously. After the SR 202 crossing, the route is more or less flat all the way to Carnation. However, we came upon a "Road Closed" sign before Tolt Hill Bridge. Construction workers littered the bridge, and I politely begged my way across, making sure I asked permission and remembering to thank each of them as I passed. We were in Carnation in no time, but not before Duane peeled off to use his favourite Port-A-Potty.

Ryan and Jack joined us here. I had a cookie, and took off my jacket. The day was warming up, and near 10a. We never saw the two again, not even at a controle. Quite a large contingent of cyclists were out riding. It was too beautiful a day to not be out and about. Of course, this also meant being passed like we were standing still on some of the roads of the Snoqualmie Valley. A huge contingent of riders led by a woman hammered past us on W Snoqualmie River Road, as did a rider on his beautiful Trek 5500. Duane was ahead of me on most hills, and I was better on the flats and the downhills. We saw SIR rider Urs Koenig riding in the opposite direction from us, and waved to us. Duane opined that Urs beat a hasty retreat from us, because he was scared of us "hammerheads". We had spectacular views of the snow covered mountains to the east.

Ben Howard road was as beautiful and quiet as always. Not as many anglers today, and surprisingly not a lot of bicyclists either. This was also the first time that I rode Ben Howard road towards US 2, and it was a different experience. After the left turn onto US 2, we had to hold up traffic, and were greeted with some nasty honks, not from the car right behind us, but somebody behind that vehicle. I mentally steeled myself to not react, and the moment we pulled over to the shoulder, the SUV passed us and so did the offender, yelling something that rhymed with Crass and Dole. I have ridden with Duane on several Permanents, and I have never heard him swear. It was funny to see him yell an obscenity, while I was waving my hand to the offending driver, all while the driver was flipping us off. Duane's philosophy was to use voice (which the driver could not hear), rather than sign (which the driver could see), and get it out of the system. As we pulled into the gas station, the same car driver was there, but he drove off after making a right turn onto Old Owen Road.

Drivers are a constant when riding in the Seattle area, so we started talking about some unforgettable incidents that our riders have had over the years: The one where a BC randonneuse was so harassed by drivers in Snohomish county, that she was almost on the verge of abandoning her ride, and the one where a man threw a full pop can at one of our riders.

I got rid of my leg warmers, booties, and skull cap, and swapped the heavy gloves for some SmartWool full finger gloves. The easy part of this ride was done, and now began the "lumpy" bits. After averaging the better part of 20kmph, we would get introduced to single digit riding. Duane was not using his granny at all, which meant he powered up hills. I was slow, dragging my ugly carcass all over the road. I have never ridden north on Old Owen Road, and this was the first time. Reiner Road was more of the same. Rollers, and some nice steep but short pitches. Duane wondered if Old Pipeline Road would come at the bottom of a hill, but I had to demoralize him by telling the truth (not to mention SIR tradition).

The steepest part of Reiner Road slowed me to a crawl, and Duane pulled ahead and kept riding uphill, while completely ignoring the left turn onto Old Pipeline Road. I of course, was a touch familiar with these roads as they were on the Fall 1000 that I did in 2006, albeit in the opposite direction. A big yell caught Duane's attention and he came flying down informing me that he was testing my navigation skills! Old Pipeline is a private road, had very little traffic and had good pavement. The next few stretches were extremely low traffic, but I was low on power for much of it, and it was very obvious that I was weighing Duane down. The calmness of Woods Creek was great, as were the beautiful views on Lake Roesiger and Menzel Lake Road. The latter two roads punished me though, and all I wanted to do was survive them. We finally arrived at the Granite Falls Chevron, not a controle but a good spot to get some food. I had some Jojo's and some Gatorade. I sat down while Duane patiently waited for me.

Not wanting to waste more time (Duane called me a "Slave Driver"), we set off and made excellent time on Jordan Road to Jordan Trails park. We were greeted by cheers from the folks below on the river and we waved, but pressed on. A special treat was seeing the bird pictured. He (or She) looked beautiful. Duane kept saying redhead, and I kept looking for a pretty redhead :) The climb out of the park was a bit severe, but not very long, and we arrived at the Burn Road intersection. Duane spotted the Info control and we didn't write the answer down, as it was easy to remember, but hard to guess.

I had ridden Burn Road in the opposite direction on the 1000, and I forgot that I was going to get a nice long downhill. We bombed down the hills and got into Granite Falls again, for more Gatorade and water. This time Duane wanted a sit down, and we relaxed for about 10 minutes before heading out again. Some not very hilly stretches later, we arrived at the very easy to miss turn onto N Carpenter Rd. The only reason I saw the turn was because I spied painted Dan Henry's on the road, and looked up to see the turn. Duane was very appreciative of my efforts: he said it was above and beyond the call of duty for me to have driven the route and marked Dan Henry's. :)

We hit the last Info control of the day, and just as we were writing the info down, Duane threatened to quit on me. He said he was going to ride back the way we came. I wanted his company, and so had to beg him to reconsider and ride with me. A big dog stood about 200 yards from where we were. Duane graciously allowed me to go in front, and I kept yelling "Go home", and even though the dog was wagging its tail, I took no chances. After a few warning barks, the dog went home, as commanded. We headed on, until we hit Dubuque Road.

Our first vision of Dubuque road was a wall. A wall rising about 200 feet into the sky. We started plodding out way to the top - Duane in front as usual - when we started hearing the unmistakable signs of an aggressive vehicle: A SUV was driving towards us, with the passenger yelling out at us with the usual invective directed at cyclists: "Get off the road", and the words that rhyme with Crass and Dole. However, as this mania jumped out the window curse at us, he also lost something that flew onto the grass. The Vehicle itself gave us lots of clearance, but the passenger was not so nice. He was either high or really drunk.

Duane stopped to pick the object and stuffed it in his jersey: they were the maniac's sunglasses. Now, a lesser human being (say myself), would have either smashed the thing with a stone, or thrown it in the nearest trash can or left it in the middle of the road to be crushed by a vehicle. Duane is not such a human. He crossed the road and left it atop a green power box, so that somebody might find it. I told Duane that he was a better man than I was.

After a few more walls, and a few very exhilarating descents, we turned left on Dubuque Cut off road, only to be met with the same type of riding. I crawled uphill, while Duane powered uphill and slowed down for me to catch up. We rode through Snohomish, and its traffic, and finally found our way to Springhetti Road, where we saw a bike commuter. We almost caught him, but he turned left just before the turn onto Broadway. Broadway of course, had been on the tail end of the 2006 Fall 1000k, so I knew it was going to be a while before I made it to the top. Duane became a dot in the distance and I plodded through the false summits, before finally reaching the top.

Duane guided me through the next few turns, and pretty soon we were on Bostian Road, where I stunk again. The steep slope to Woodinville-Duvall Road was the end of this long day of climbing, and we hammered down to the left turn and then again down to 140th. In my infinite wisdom I turned left onto a shopping mall, and then jumped on the sidewalk. Duane followed me, and we used the pedestrian crosswalk, before continuing on 140th. We were at the finish in no time, and saw the bicycles of Ryan and Jack at the Gas Station across the street.

We got more food and Duane gave me a ride home up the Winery hill, before setting off for Seattle. A wonderful day to be on our bicycles.


bill dussler said...

Yes, a red headed woodpecker, Melanerpes erythrocephalus (but I'm sure Duane knew that). You were lucky to see one that clearly.

Shan said...

Wow - that's one stunning photo of the woodpecker Narayan. And as I've now come to expect from you, a colorful and thorough ride report as well.

Narayan said...

Shan, thanks. But the picture is linked to from another website. I didn't take it :)

Michael Huber said...

Great ride report, Narayan. The photo you posted is in fact a Red-headed woodpecker, however this bird is only found in eastern and central parts of the U.S. What you likely saw was the very similar Red-breasted sapsucker, which is common in these parts.