Thursday, May 22, 2008

RUSA 417 Bellevue to Leavenworth: 1p + e > 3p +e

Memorial Day Weekend with the family at a cabin near Leavenworth. It should be a great time ... we'll have all four daughters plus son-in-law, fiance, and boy-friend, plus my mom, my father-in-law and his wife. How to get there? Why the new Permanent 417, Bellevue to Leavenworth of course. It is also a great reason to take an extra day of vacation ... ride up on Thursday to avoid the traffic. Too bad I can't take even another and ride back on Tuesday.

The weatherman promised a reasonable day ... chance of showers, with afternoon clearing. We'll see. When I ride my bike to the start point ... adding 6-7 miles, it isn't quite raining, but isn't dry either. Not wet enough to put on the rain pants, just enough to be glad I brought them just in case. At 7:25 I depart from the Eastgate Shell station, munching on a breakfast bar that I bought in order to get a receipt. The ride to Issaquah on Newport Way is uneventful, just a fair amount of morning traffic. Then the climb up Issaquah-Fall City Road. Definately a hill, but only the first of many today. But then the 400K pre-ride a couple of weeks ago was twice as far and over three mountain passes and today I'm only going over one pass and half the distance, so it should be an easy day ... relatively speaking. Expectations!

I've assumed that the Tolt Bridge is still closed so I'll have to ride up 203 instead of W Sonqualmie River Road and, darn it, I'm right. So I head to Fall City on 202 as the mist begins to turn to light rain ... yes, there's a difference. And enough of a difference that it is time to look for a spot to put on the rain pants. I pull into the bus stop by the Fall City Library and pull on the rain pants ... avoiding the syringe on the ground. Onward to Carnation I go.

At Carnation I pull into QFC to get a receipt, 9:05 AM... a box of breakfast bars and a smoothie do the trick. I polish off the smoothie and stock up the pockets of the handlebar bag with the bars so several of them are within reach. I munch on them as I head up West Snoqualmie Valley Road, then onto Ben Howard Road. The rain lightens up ... for most of the time. Still, it is a good thing I have the rain pants on.

The next control is Index, but I want to have something more to eat first. So I stop at the Sultan's McDonalds. Yes, I confess, I do eat at McDonalds. Usually on rides ... there is something abount a Quarterpounder with fries that provides a nice counterbalance to the breakfast bars and fruit that I munch on.

Before the grease can settle, I'm off onto US-2 again, thru Startup and then turn off US-2 at Gold Bar to take the back road to Index. It is a nice tradeoff - a bit longer/hillier than US-2, but much quieter and definately prettier and safer ... I avoid several bridges without shoulders. At Index I stock up on Gaterade and get rid of my trash ... why carry those wrappers on the climb up to the pass? It is a light rain at this point and someone comments on it not being a great day for a bike ride. I point out that at least it isn't pouring nor is it 100 degrees out, so all in all it isn't that bad.

Onto US-2 again, slowly gaining elevation. I make it to Skykomish and call Dorothy at about 2:00 to give her an update ... I think I'll make it to Leavenworth around 6:00, give or take half an hour. Maybe I'll meet them there, as that's close to when they'd get there. While the Permanent ends there, I'll have another 17-18 miles after that to get to the cabin.

Back onto US-2 once again. By now it has stopped raining, but lots of clouds, so I keep my rain pants on. Shortly afterwards, while crossing a bridge without shoulders, I make the mistake of riding towards the middle of the right part of the lane (instead of the far right) ... the bridge has a series of deep ruts that are bone jarring as I bounce thru. Defintely need to remember to stay on the far right when I come this way on the 600K in a couple of weeks!

At about 2:45 I make it to the bottom of Stevens Pass ... or at least what I consider to be the bottom. This is by the entrance to the train tunnel and the top part of the Iron Goat Trail (Old Cascade Highway). Unfortunately that was closed due to snow, as is the back route from here to the top, so it is up US-2 to the top. It is less than six miles to the top ... a five minute drive according to MS Streets & trips, but it takes me just over an hour to get to the top. Slow and steady, slow and steady. I'm definately tired when I get to the top.

Now I'm glad I have my rain pants on, as the ride down is cold at 33-35 mph for the first several miles. Without my rain pants I would be too cold. I didn't bring full gloves, so my hands are freezing. I figure it is only for perhaps 10 minutes, so I keep on going. I get to an uphill portion (fortunately?) and slow down, warming up as I work harder again. Doesn't last for long and I'm going downhill again, but at 22-25 mph it isn't so cold and I enjoy the ride and the scenery. Before I know it, I'm in Leavenworth and it isn't quite 6:00 yet.

It was a nice ride (particularly that last downhill part!), but I am tired. I feel like I'm as tired or more than I was at the end of the 400K ... it must be the expectations. Expecting it to be a breeze on a 200K one pass ride makes it (relatively) tougher than expecting it to be tough on a 400K three pass ride ... (1p + e > 3p + e). I need to remember that.

Meanwhile, Dorothy calls ... they're close to town ... do I want a ride to the cabin? Darn right I do ! Thanks.

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