80+ Degree weather in Seattle in the spring is a rarity. A gem not to be missed. Knowing that the Cascade 1200 is a month and a half a way and likely will be in some hot riding conditions, I simply have to take the day off to get some practice hot weather riding in. Yet there are two calls I need to be on for work. Hmm. Well, I can listen in on the first one by cell phone with the ear piece and, in what must be a sign from above, the second one is cancelled. I love it when a plan comes together!
What to ride? Well, I don't want to drive too far afield, what with gas at $3.99 at the neighborhood gas station, and I want to do something with a bit of climbing. Mud Mountain loop, starting in Snohomish is closed due to snow ... how about going back to Dubuque ... RUSA 359 Woodinville - Granite Falls - Woodinville. It has the advantage of overlapping with the 400K ride that is on Saturday, so I can check out the course a bit in case anything has popped up.
My conference call starts at 7:00, so I dial in, put the phone on mute and head over to the Woodinville Tully's. Not being a coffee drinker and already having had breakfast, I pick up the cheapest item at the counter ... a 25 cent chocalate. The barista asks if I'm just getting it to prove I was there ... I guess I'm not the first rider to buy something there. So I'm off. What a gorgeous day. It isn't hot yet, but very comfortable in shorts.
Now riding through downtown Redmond during morning rush hour isn't optimal, but all in all wasn't too bad. There were lots of bikers on East Lake Sammamish, probably the combination of the fantastic weather and it being Bike to Work day. Reaching Issaquah, the first control, I decided I'd warmed up enough to take the sleeves off my jacket. Then it was time to put on the sun screen... between bites of my Egg McMuffin.
Back to the bike ... and up the first monster hill ... Issaquah-Fall City Road is a nice ride ... after the first climb up to 400' or so. I start wondering if the Tolt River Bridge is going to be open ...it was closed last weekend with big orange DETOUR signs. Narayan had ridden it recently and been able to talk the workers into letting him go past anyway. But I'm enjoying the quiet Issaquah-Fall City road too much to worry about it. And the conference call ends. Freedom! After the first few miles with lots and lots of cars rushing off to work, the last few are heaven ... only one or two cars.
I can see 202 and no orange DETOUR signs. Yahoo. I cross over and start what I anticipate to be 5 miles of very quiet, picturesqe roads. Oops! What's that? Darn, Road Closed ... Local Traffic only. On a white sign. Should I chance it and risk an extra 10 miles or so? Nope. Time for a deteur. Over to Fall City and on to Carnation via 203. Mileage is about the same, just not as pretty ... although not bad by any means. I get to Carnation and as I have lots of fuel on hand ... water, Gaterade, and food ... I decide to get an ATM receipt at the Bank of America instead of going into a store. I have 20 minutes of time to spare, but am a bit puzzled as to why so slow. I guess I took too much time at the first control?
The ride along the Snoqualmie Valley is wonderful. Perfect temperature. Gorgeous blue sky. Fantastic scenery. This is why we bike. On to Ben Howard Road and then to Sultan. Finally acting on Wayne Methner's suggestion, with Mark Thomas' concurrance, I figure out a consolidation of the control and info control at/near Sultan. We'll use the Sub Shop ... friendly folks there. I fill up my Camelback with ice and water. I'm set.
The down side of Sultan is the way out of town is a bear of a hill ... Old Owen and then Reiner Road are tough ... and then there was that dog at the top of the hill last week. Will it be there today? Fortunately not, so I can cruise at the top. Up and down thru the back roads. Not much activity back here. The dogs and cattle I do see are content to lay in the shade, trying to keep cool. I discover another advantage of the hot weather ... gals are out in their swim suit tops. I do enjoy this!
Now at about 75 miles it finally gets to me. I'm not going very fast. While I'm not trying to break any speed records, and I know it is a slow route with all the hills, something isn't right. I pull over and look the bike over ... the front tire is rubbing. If I spin it, it slows down and stops right away. I had a flat last night when I rode to Bainbridge HS for Jessica's Playoff Lacrosse game and I must not have put the tire on right. What a dummy! Well, it was good extra exercise ...like bonus miles. I adjust the tire and off I go. Much better. I convince myself it is much easier now.
Thru Granite Falls and down Jordan River Road, then back on Burns Road. I pass a police radar trap. He tells me I'm going 14 mph. Bummer. I had hoped I was going faster than that. After a stop at McDonalds in Granite Falls and a refill of the Camelback, it's more back roads and then ... Dubuque. Those killer hills.
I get there and they don't seem as bad as last weekend. I guess legs with only 100 miles in them are fresher than legs with 200 miles in them :) I turn off Dubuque onto Dubuque Cutoff. The spot where we are going to have the secret control tomorrow is entirely in the sun ... no shade nearby and a big puddle in the middle. Not good. Down the road a ways is a spot with shade and a wide shoulder ... perhaps we can move the control there.
The rest of the ride seems like a piece of cake. Broadway is a long, graduate climb, but not bad at all. And it hasn't been all that hot ... low 80's perhaps. I guess I can ride in at least moderate heat ... good for the confidence to have learned that.