I was psyched. The 10K ride was approved! This was going to be a great winter training ride .... lots and lots and lots of climbing, yet a maximum elevation of only about 1,100 feet. I had sent an invite to the SIR list for the inaugural ride of the 10K on Wednesday, but needed to pre-ride it to make sure the route sheet was a-okay and, most importantly, to come up with the information control questions.
I started from Peet's Coffee at 6:30. The ride starts gently, going through Marymoor Park and then going down the east side of Lake Sammamish. At the south end of the Lake I was warmed up and ready for some climbing. Up to Eastgate and then up to Somerset. Nice views here of Lake Washington, Mercer Island, etc. No time for enjoying the views though. I am barely within the control time limits. Okay, they don't apply to information controls, so it isn't absolutely critical at this point, but I need to stay on time so that when they do count, at a regular control, I'm within the limit. I come up with a couple of information control questions and hit the road.
Now for a downhill portion ... down to Newport Way and then along Newport Way to the base of Cougar Mountain. I hadn't ridden up Cougar Mountain until the Issaquah 100K Populaire ... the inspiration for this ride. It is a great climb. So up I went. It was close to a 1,000 feet of climbing, with much of it in the 10-15 % grade range and a max of around 20%. By the top I was definitely warmed up.
Even though I was hot, the way down would be cold, so I bundled up and headed down Lakemont to Newcastle. Chilly yes, but a restful change. Before turning onto Coal Creek Parkway it was time for another Information Control ... a few minutes to spare now. The sun was out and it seemed to be warming up a bit.
No more big hills for a while, so I had the chance to put some time in the bank. I headed off. By the time I got to May Valley Road my hands were freezing ... it was much colder in this valley. Time to put my gloves back on ... what had I been thinking?
Up a modest hill, 148th Ave SE, into Renton and over to Jones Road by the Maple Valley Highway. Jones Road was a nice alternative to the Maple Valley Highway...rural, windy, and scenic. It was then time to cross the Maple Valley Highway and head up 196th Avenue. I had never been along this road before - found it on the King County Bike Map. It is a nice road to ride on ... a bit more climbing than I had expected, but then that's what this ride is all about!
By the time I reached the first real control on the Auburn-Black Diamond Road, I had about half an hour in the bank. However, it was beginning to look like the ride wouldn't hit 10,000 feet of climbing ... so I started thinking of how I could tweak the course to get some more climbing in. But from here it was a nice long, gentle descent towards Auburn and the start of the Green River Valley. Very enjoyable. And from there the ride up the Green River Valley is one of the best. So picturesque !The climb up out of the valley towards 169 and Black Diamond was gone in a flash. A climb yes, but no killer grades here.
Lots of rolling hills and then a real climb up Tiger Mountain to the Fire Station. No need for a 911 call here, the climb is very doable. A nice descent to Issaquah and time for a climbing check ... 5,000 feet so far. I now expect the ride will be only 7,500 feet ... how did it get to be so far shorter than the projected 10,000? Oh well. I figure I can add perhaps a 1,000 feet with a few teaks - up Squak Mountain, over Tolt Hill Road, offset by shortening the ride in a couple of other places.
But before that, I have to make it up the next set of hills ... up Highland Drive and then probably the toughest climb of the day ... Lake Alice. I ride up Highland Drive ... on the road, not the bike path, just to check it out. I decide the bike path is better. Can't get the bike to shift into the smallest gear in the front though ... that is a disappointment as I work my way slowly up Lake Alice Road. Still doable though. It is quite a relief to make it to the top ... only one real climb left - Union Hill Road.
By the time I make it to the last info control at Lake Ames & W Snoqualmie Vally Road, it is just starting to get dark. The ride to the end is pretty straightforward except for the routing through the Park & Ride lot. Not sure how that got in there ... but simple enough to take out. I make it to the end just before 5:30 ... just under 11 hours. Not bad. 7,700 feet of climbing. I guess I'll have to rename the route, as I can't get it to 10,000 feet of climbing unless I make major changes. Should be able to get close to 9,000 feet with some minor tweaks though.
Now hopefully I can recover enough to ride it again day after tomorrow!