Wednesday, November 26, 2008

RUSA 517 - The Alps Inaugural Ride

Vincent Muoneke and I rode the inaugural ride of "The Alps" today. It was going to be the inaugural ride of "The 10K", but since it turns out to have just shy of 9,000 feet of climbing, I had to rename the ride. 9,000 feet was plenty of climbing as it was.

We met at Peet's, across from Whole Foods, so we started off with a warm beverage in our tummies ... nice since it was cold out. We left at 7:09, checking at Whole Foods in case another rider was going to join us.

We were a few minutes behind pace at the first control - Somerset Elementary School. Even though we were at the top of the hill, clouds were coming in ... fog was going to be an issue.

Riding with Vincent was great. This his sixth Permanent this month. Wow. He was in awesome shape and zoomed up the hills. Since he had the original route sheet, which didn't have the info control questions nor the route changes I had made Monday night, he couldn't get too far ahead of me. We got behind a school bus on Newport Way and had to stop three or four times as it stopped to pick up kids. Then up Cougar Mountain, one of the toughest climbs of the ride. We did pretty well on it tough and were back on time by the time we hit the info control towards the top.

The next control was a bit confusing. While just a four way stop, an intersection of two roads right? Wrong - there six road names ...lots of different road signs (133rd Ave, 134th Ave, 72nd Place, Newcastle Way, Newcastle - Coal Creek Way, & Newcastle Golf Club Road). How did that happen?

We don't figure that out. From there it is off towards Renton. Part way down 148th Vincent stops ahead of me and picks up a SIR mud flap ... it was probably mine from Monday's ride, as I had the mud flap last week and don't have it now. Well, that was fortuitous.

Down towards the Maple Valley Highway and then a turn onto Jones Road. Another nice road find from the Issaquah Populaire. Foggy though. Pretty too.

We zipped down the Auburn-Black Diamond Road and then up the Green River Valley. More fog.

Out of the valley up to Black Diamond and then up Tiger Mountain. No fog though ... gorgeous blue sky. From there it was on to Squak Mountain (a nice little 500 foot addition to the ride since Monday). Then up Highland Drive and over to the Snoqualmie Valley ... what fog again? Thick fog. Fortunately Vincent's Garmin beeps as he reaches the Issaquah-Fall City turnoff ... as otherwise we might not have even seen it.

And now for the ultimate climb ... we head up Lake Alice Road. This climb had a maximium grade of 24 % when I rode it a few weeks ago. While I doubt it really has changed, my Garmin read a maximum of 32 % as I rode up. Ouch! I had plenty of time to read it as I ground my way up. As the turn-off came into sight I saw Vincent pedaling onward and upward ...I yelled, but he didn't stop. Since there isn't another way out (well, not an easy one anyway), I figured I could sit and wait, but then decided I'd ride up and find him ... it was only another 100 feet of climbing. He was at the intersection at the top, getting directions from a car that had stopped. We went back down and then through the path to Snoqualmie Ridge.

Food. We were both hungry when we got to the Shell station at Snoqualmie Ridge. I had a corn dog ... hit the spot. It was starting to get dark now, so we didn't stay long. I wanted to make it down the descent to Fall City while there was still some light. With darkness falling, heading into the misty fog again, the ride along 203 was not pleasant. The mist kept collecting on my glasses, which magnified the headlights of the oncoming cars, making it difficult to see. A few miles down 203 there was a deep grate on a bridge that I barely missed. It was a relief to turn off 203 and climb Tolt Hill.

As this part of the ride was new from Monday, I was looking for a good place for the information control ... fortunately we found a spot near the top that had a street light ... much easier to have an information control when you have light. After a climb up Lake Ames Road and the last information control, it was over Union Hill Road and back to Whole Foods.

We made it in 11 hours and 40 minutes. 8,800 feet of climbing. My legs felt like rubber. A piece of pizza and I felt somewhat renewed ... at least I know had enough energy to make it home for dinner.

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